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Before installing Ubuntu, almost everyone has seen the spinning cube or the classy MacOSX-like dock bar and many other effects (4 desktops with 2 caps) in some videos, but some didn't figure out how to enable/install/use them.

To understand better, this is the dock (look at the bottom of the image):

avant-window-navigator pic

Along with the Cube (it's even a tutorial on how to enable it):

First, here is how to enable the cube and all other cool effects, using Compiz

1. Go to System > Preferences > Appearance, on the Visual Effects tab and click on "Extra". You may be prompted to install restricted drivers and if so, click yes, if not: you will have wobbly windows and a few other effects enabled. Drag a window and see if it's wobbly :)

2. Then we need to install CompizConfig Settings Manager. To do so, open a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

3. Then, go to System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager (or type in a terminal: ccsm) and enable "Desktop Cube", "Cube Reflection and Deformation" and "Rotate Cube". You can of course alter their settings as you wish (set images for the cube faces, cube caps and so on), and also you may enable other effects if you like. Then you need to go to General Options, on the last tab "Desktop Size", set the "Horizontal Virtual Size" to 4. And now you have a spinning cube. To trigger it, press Ctrl + Alt + LeftClick and drag to spin it. You may also use: Ctrl + Alt + LeftArrow/RightArrow to go to previous desktop / next desktop or Ctrl + Alt + DownArrow to unfold it and then LeftArrow/RightArrow to move around the unfolded cube. Now go back to CompizConfig Settings Manager and try out some other cool effects.

For the MacOSX-like dock (there are many such docks for Ubuntu or Linux in general, but i find AWN - Avant Window Navigator - best):

1. First, if you didn't enabled Compiz (point 1. from above), this won't work!

2. Make sure you have the universe repository enabled and then open a terminal and type:
sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator awn-manager libawn awn-applets-c-core awn-applets-c-extras awn-applets-python-core awn-applets-python-extras

Update: for Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx, use the following command instead:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator awn-extras-applets

3. After installing, go to System > Preferences > AWN Manager (on Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx it's called AWN Settings), on the "General" tab and set it the way you want it to be (you don't need skins because you can set it all manually, although you can google for AWN Themes) for instance: on the "Bar Appearance", set the Look to 3D, set it's height, angle and so on the way you like it, then on the Applets tab on the left you enable which applets you want to show up on your dock. Then hit: Alt + F2 and type:
The dock should now appear.

4. To make AWN start whenever your computer starts (Startup), go to System > Preferences > Sessions, click "Add" and in the name field type:


and in the command field:


There you go, now you have Compiz enabled, cool desktop cube, AWN dock and you learned how to enable apps to start when you power-up your computer.

You may also want to check out the other parts of the Ubuntu Newbie Guide