This is just a plain simple way to have Compiz installed on your system ( i use Debian Etch ).
$ sudo apt-get install compiz
now edit the xorg.conf file: /etc/X11/xorg.conf, add the following lines at the bottom
Option "Composite" "Enable"
create a .xinitrc in your home directoy i.e. ~/.xinitrc with following lines:
Now, kill your current X server session by pressing Ctrl-Alt-BackSpace .
login onto a ( virtual ) terminal using your username and password, then just fire the following command:
And here you go! All the nice effects of wobble etc. at your desk and a terminal window on your screen.
this is really a light way, without putting too much of memory on useless applications running along with GNOME/KDE.
Whatever you really need to use, just start from the terminal.