Last weekend, I decided to move my laptop from Slackware Linux to Open SUSE. The reasons for this will be detailed in another blog post, but the change gave me an easy way to try out the new OpenGL based XServer Xgl.
After installing it, all I can say is WOW! It’s been a few days and my jaw still drops when I use my computer. The special effects alone are really neat. The windows become transparent and wobble when you move them around. Trying to resize a maximized window causes the window to pull away in that direction. Menus fade in and out. Windows have real transparency (ie you can see contents of the window behind the front most window). When you switch desktops, you can actually see your desktop rotating around a 3D polygon.
Most impressively, these features are only the tip of the iceberg. The real meat is each window updates in all views in real time. This means that when I’m looking at my desktop “cube,” cycling through the desktop-switcher, alt-tabbing through the window list or using the Mac OS X like Expose feature, I can see exactly what’s going on in my windows at that time. So not only is this great eye-candy, but real useability too. I no longer have to look through every terminal via alt-tab to find the one I want. I can simply drag my mouse to the top right corner and see every open application. Add the automatic transparency and suddenly I have a very solid spacial awareness of where all my windows are.
Of course, these statements might just be justification for all the eye candy, which, to reiterate, is absolutely amazing. I could easily spend a day just rotating the cube and moving windows around.
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