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Sun Microsystems GUI Linux Business Software

Sun Wants to Make Linux 3D 545

Posted by Hemos
from the frantically-building-a-future dept.
gruenz writes "Linux Planet writes in this article about a project inside Sun developing "an experimental 3D successor to Java Desktop that they believe will change the way we interact with computers." A demo is available from Sun. 'In the demonstration, Jonathan Schwartz, vice president of Sun's software group, increases the transparency of a window so that you can see through it, turns a window on its side so that it sits at the edge of a screen like a book on a book shelf, turns a window completely around and leaves a note on the back, and takes a database of CDs presented as physical CDs, that you flip through, reading the labels, just as you would with real CDs, until you locate the one you want.'" It's called Looking Glass, in case you've heard that name before.
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Sun Wants to Make Linux 3D

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  • by MoonFog (586818) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:51AM (#8644043)
    Would a 3D desktop be more difficult to use ?

    There are more to it than just the desktop, but it sure is a start, and if you've tried Sun Java Desktop system .. it's VERY easy to use as well.
  • by Krik Johnson (764568) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:54AM (#8644073) Homepage
    Sun's Java desktop comes with Realplayer installed. So its not a problem for customers of Java Destkop, who are most likley to use it. For everyone else there is Mplayer [mplayerhq.hu], the universial media player!
  • Re:I Know This! (Score:2, Informative)

    by hplasm (576983) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:59AM (#8644118) Journal
    It's IRIX, it's SGI, it's called File System Navigator. Different thing from Looking Glass.
  • by Krik Johnson (764568) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:00AM (#8644131) Homepage
    Have you tried Mandrake 10? It has just what you want!
  • by gameweld (215362) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:01AM (#8644137)
    Web Book and Web Forager [acm.org] were tools created by Xerox Parc which allowed you to organize webpages into books, which could be placed onto a bookshelf or table.

    You could interact with the pages, and move them around the desktop. You could flip through the pages like a real book. This paper was done in 96.
  • by DrWhizBang (5333) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:07AM (#8644186) Homepage Journal
    Sun has no history of doing _anything_ at all interesting in terms of UI work.

    Actually, Sun invested heavily in usability studies that have been used by the Gnomers in developing their HIG and Sun usablility testing directly influence the Gnome 2 release.

    Not that disagree with the usability concerns of trying to mirror the real world in computer space, but hopefully we have seen enough bad examples (MS Bob, IBM apps from late nineties) that we can use this kind of technology properly.

  • It was a novelty I turned off fairly quickly - text on windows underneath makes things hard to read. The best analogy is to try and read a collection of transparencies on your desk. If they are stacked on top of each other, they quickly become unreadable. Your pencil and paper desk isn't really 3D either. The same thing with voice recognition. Speaking text to your computer wears pretty thin too after a while, and imagine trying to do this in a crowded office!

    Anything that involves waving your arms about to manipulate things in 3D won't work either. You will get great exercise, but try doing this for 8-10 hours a day.

    But let the research continue - maybe somebody will eventually hit upon a way of interacting with your computer in a way that improves upon what we have. My bets are with a set of glasses with a "heads up" eye movement tracking display, projected in front of you. We just have to figure how to do this without giving users splitting headaches from improper/inadequate motion compensation.
  • More Info (Score:2, Informative)

    by sleepnmojo (658421) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:11AM (#8644221)
    You can read more about it here Another Review on Sun's Java Desktop [slashdot.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:12AM (#8644223)
    The server has the ability to make windows transparent/opaque by degree as focus is lost/gained or hidden/shown

    There's a utility called "Glass 2k" for Windows that does the same thing. It works with Windows 2000 and Windows XP - and it's completely hardware accelerated. It was mentioned in November 2001. On Slashdot [slashdot.org].

    Yawn.
  • Re:I Know This! (Score:-1, Informative)

    by Nurseman (161297) <nurseman@gmail . c om> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:15AM (#8644247) Homepage Journal
    Ok, I give. I know that is from some movie where a teen is about to start hacking on a system
    This movie is "Wargames" see it here [imdb.com] It stars Matthew Broderick

    Jurassic Park?

    That is a movie about cloned dinosaurs Here [imdb.com]

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:18AM (#8644264) Journal
    But this is not what Linux needs right now.

    Huh? Are the hordes of programmers going to drop everything and go 3-D? I don't think so.

    You're talking about a group of programmers who weren't doing anything for linux, who are now. That can only improve Linux. At worst case, they produce nothing and we maintain the status quo.

    Linux is about choice, not about being the best damn desktop possible (though, thanks to the wonders of choice and "apt-get install best-damn-desktop" it could still be possible). Developers choose what to work on, users choose what to use. Things nobody uses will eventually no longer be developed.

    Don't forget, a 3D desktop has considerable technical merit. Do you have any idea of the amount of 3D-on-Linux development you're writing off as useless because it doesn't fit your narrow worldview? I don't suppose you include games in your desktop worldview, do you? 3D games?
  • Re:I Know This! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:20AM (#8644280)
    You dumbass. He was right the first time. When the blonde girl in the movie tries to get the door locks back up in the park's computer room she sits down at the terminal and says: "I know this! It's Unix!"
  • NeWS to you (Score:3, Informative)

    by Epeeist (2682) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:21AM (#8644286) Homepage
    > Sun has no history of doing _anything_ at all interesting in terms of UI work.

    Many years ago, when X11 was in its infancy Sun came out with a windowing system called NeWS. Like X11 it was network transparent, but it used a variant of Display Postscript.

    So yes, Sun do have a history in UI and have done some interesting work there.
  • by foobsr (693224) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:23AM (#8644303) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I have heard the name quite a while ago [computerbits.com] (Open Linux)!

    Now, what light does this shade on the quality of innovation (and marketing) ?

    CC.
  • by Durandal64 (658649) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:26AM (#8644326)
    Nope, the Mplayer guys reverse-engineer a lot of codecs that they don't have licenses to, like Windows Media, which has no official implementation on Linux and MPEG-4, which they technically can't use without paying a license.
  • by CaptnMArk (9003) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:58AM (#8644707)
    He said open source.

    If the linux desktop is to go 3D this is a hard requirement.
  • by Nooface (526234) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:05AM (#8644777) Homepage
    Here are some other 3D file system visualizers:

    - FSV [sourceforge.net] is modelled after FSN, but runs on Linux. FSV lays out files and directories in 3D, geometrically representing the file system hierarchy to allow visual overview and analysis.
    [Screenshot [sourceforge.net]] | [Download [tucows.com]] (Linux)

    - Xcruiser [nooface.com] lets you fly through a filesystem in 3D as if it were interplanetary space. Directories are represented as galaxies, files are represented as planets (whose mass is determined by the file size), and symbolic links are represented as wormholes.
    [Screenshot [sourceforge.net]] | [Download [sourceforge.net]] (Linux)

    - TDFSB [hgb-leipzig.de] is a 3D filesystem browser for Linux. Take a walk through your filesystem!
    [Screenshot [hgb-leipzig.de]] | [Download [hgb-leipzig.de]] (Linux)

    - 3Dtop [nooface.com] is an extension for Windows that represents desktop icons in 3D, letting you to fly around your desktop. You can create coloured spotlights, background and floor textures, "paintings" (bitmaps), clocks, and "flags" that represent shortcuts.
    [Screenshot [3dtop.com]] | [Download [3dtop.com]] (Windows)

    - ROOMS [nooface.com] turns a Windows desktop into a 3D world. You can see the world either through a first person perspective or with a map view, and you can populate the world with sounds, animated images, and 3D icons.
    [Screenshot [rooms3d.com]] | [Download [rooms3d.com]] (Windows)

    - CubicEye [2ce.com] organizes windows into a navigable cube. Cubes can be arranged by thematic or functional subject matter, and can be explored either individually or collectively as part of a more comprehensive structure of multiple cubes representing various areas of interest.
    [Screenshot [2ce.com]] | [Download [2ce.com]] (Windows)
  • by mwood (25379) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:21AM (#8644948)
    Time to hear from the VMS fanboy again. If you want to see what error messages *should* be, find a way to make a VMS application fail. Paraphrased, a typical VMS error stack might look like this:

    "I couldn't open that window you asked for"

    "because I couldn't initialize SOME-SUBSYSTEM"

    "because I couldn't read SOME-SPECIFIC-FILE"

    "because you are denied access to it"

    Sure beats the stuffing out of "OUT OF MEMORY" or "invalid parameter". You could think of it as various layers of the program catching the error and re-throwing it with annotations. Each layer contributes its "understanding" of the failure and, if it is well done, the user gets the complete story of what went wrong and usually has enough information to understand and correct the problem without diving into the books.
  • by cozziewozzie (344246) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:46AM (#8645199)
    It's a matter of getting used to, I guess. You can always use sloppy focus and move the mouse to the root window once your target window is activated, or have the mouse cursor disabled on text input (I think KDE has this).

    With click-to-focus you always have to be careful not to click on a button or if you click on an editor, it automatically moves your cursor from where it should be.
  • by LonelyKindGuy (639679) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:52AM (#8645259)
    I saw the demo for Looking Glass at Borcon and yes, its way cool!

    The San Jose Mercury ran an article a month or so ago about how it was conceived of at Sun. It turns out a Sun programmer just worked on this in his spare time at home (much to the distress of his girlfriend). Then one day he takes it to work and shows his manager, who is blown away. His boss shows the higher-ups in Sun who are also blown away.

    They make it a full scale project, take it away from the original author, and now take full credit as "visionaries". The truth is, this whole concept was the midnight creation of a hacker.
    So much for industry R & D.
  • by Pengo (28814) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:56AM (#8645301) Journal
    "Although cool 3d interfaces are nice and do create a more intuitive user interface, the reasons that ease-of-use is so low (even on the Mac) is the problems of system configuration and the mismatch between command-oriented input systems (both GUI and CLI) versus goal-oriented users."

    Does the mac get around this using their netinfo tool? Maybe I am off base, but about everything you can do from the config screens can also be done through netinfo on the command line, and it's all funneling through 1 config system..

    I don't think they loose sync at all.

  • flipping through CDs (Score:2, Informative)

    by hak1du (761835) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @12:20PM (#8645591) Journal
    Simulating real-world devices to make computers more usable is a common idea, but not a very good one. Physical devices have lots of limitations and painful user interfaces (sometimes literally). Have a look at IBM's attempt [libero.it] at this. Some of the best attempts at using 3D as part of regular user interfaces probably come from these people [parc.com]; you can judge for yourself whether their user interfaces are useful.

    These kinds of attempts at general-purpose 3D user interfaces have the smell of failure--companies desparately trying to look "hip" and "modern", but without anything real to show for it. To me, it's an indication how far behind Sun really is. Good user interfaces should be unsurprising, simple, fast, and use the medium they are presented on well. In the case of computers, that's a 2D, low-resolution, high color depth screen. Design for the medium.
  • by Jon_E (148226) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @01:25PM (#8646475)
    nice - but I think LookingGlass isn't really a filesystem virtualizer - you're looking more at a window manager.

    Of course you could always layer the doom sysadmin control interface [unm.edu] for the background .. works well until your processes start killing each other ..

  • by funwithstuff (555638) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @01:37PM (#8646653) Homepage
    BoingBoing mentions a way to get a spyware-free RealPlayer through the BBC:
    How to get spyware-free RealPlayer through the BBC An anonymous reader sez, "The BBC made a unique deal with Real Networks which disposes of their spyware tactics. Basically, if a user clicks on a link to download Real Player from a BBC website, the referrer script sends them to a page where they can download an expiry-free, spyware-free and nuicance-free version of the player. It's because the BBC have such a stringent public service remit, that it was offensive to charge people a license fee for BBC content, then make them pay all over again for the facility to view/listen to it."
    Link [bbc.co.uk] (Thanks, Anonymous Reader!)
  • by Jahf (21968) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @01:55PM (#8646898) Journal
    Almost.

    Clinton was, as far as I can find, officially impeached by the House, however it was never voted on in the Senate and so impeachment did not proceed. I consider it "partially" impeached.

    Nixon was a similar situation. Had he not resigned he -would- have been impeached by the House (first step), but he decided to avoid that and so was never actually impeached and so Clinton was closer to impeachment

    Andrew Jackson was censured for refusing to extend the Bank of the United States (impeachment was considered and this was the basis for the consideration of censure for Clinton). Censure was later revoked by Congress after he had ended his term.

    The only US president to be impeach was Andrew Johnson. While it was for a number of issues, the key to forcing the impeachment was Johnson's removal of Edwin Stanton (a long past relative and the reason I paid attention to the other possible impeachments from curiousity) from the office of Secretary of War. I won't bore with the details, they're available on Google [google.com] if interested.

    In the end Johnson, while being the only impeached president in history, was not removed from office and Stanton resigned. No US president has ever been successfully removed from office though if I guess correctly I think that Nixon -would- have been had he not resigned (which is a big reason for him to have resigned when he did).

    Yeah, all off topic from Looking Glass, but a little history is a good thing now and then. I wonder if I'll get more -1 offtopics or more +1 informatives?

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