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A Look at the Compiz and Beryl Merger 250

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the mind-melds dept.
invisibastard writes to mention that Linux Tech Daily has an editorial on the merger between Compiz and Beryl. "This state of affairs was a shame. Something that was finally getting the general public excited about Linux, the 3D desktop, was wasting time with duplication of effort and fighting. There were concerns about the long term viability of Beryl. The perception in the community overall was, Compiz = old and stale, Beryl = fresh and exciting. This despite the feeling in the Compiz community that the "real work" was being done by David Reveman and Compiz, and there were exciting things with Compiz core (like input redirection, etc...) on the horizon."
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A Look at the Compiz and Beryl Merger

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  • by evilviper (135110) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:44PM (#18578093) Journal
    Error 500 - Internal server error

    Server committed seppuku rather than face a slashdotting.
  • by BierGuzzl (92635) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:45PM (#18578105)
    http://lists.beryl-project.org/pipermail/beryl-dev /2007-March/000371.html [beryl-project.org]
    (ok, so that might go down in flames too)
  • Good for them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by reldruH (956292) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:46PM (#18578131) Journal
    It's really great to see this. One of linux's greatest weaknesses is the amount of duplication that happens. Sometimes it's necessary but a lot of the time the community would be better served by everybody working together instead of against each other. This is one of those times and I applaud the beryl and compiz devs for realizing that and having the good sense to swallow a little bit of their pride on both sides. I'm looking forward to the great things that will come out of this.
    • Re:Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:58PM (#18578297)
      [...]a lot of the time the community would be better served by everybody working together instead of against each other.[...]

      I disagree.

      People are not working AGAINST each other; that is what Microsoft does - form teams that actually try to take down competitors by hook or by crook.

      With open source, it's more like many different interpretations of what needs be done competing and the end user profits by choosing what lives. There is no active sabotage as in the case of MS, so don't try casting it (even unintentionally) in such a light. Even competing open-source projects can use each other's ideas without fearing repriesals.
      They are not working "against" each other, they are evolving in parallel.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gwern (1017754)
        Did you read the article? There was actual sabotage involved here, directed against Beryl's (I think) website.
    • Re:Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Epeeist (2682) on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:02PM (#18578351) Homepage
      > One of linux's greatest weaknesses is the amount of duplication that happens.

      It is also one of its great strengths. This one, along with things like the free desktop project are starting to address the next step along. How, once a good decision has been made, to converge multiple projects into the best solution.

      Think of it as evolution in action.
    • Re:Good for them (Score:4, Insightful)

      by evilviper (135110) on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:10PM (#18578459) Journal

      Sometimes it's necessary but a lot of the time the community would be better served by everybody working together instead of against each other.

      Having a kitchen-sink approach in order to please everyone usually makes for crappy software. And putting all your eggs in one basket is very bad.
      • Re:Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:24PM (#18578649) Homepage Journal
        The problem is that it horribly splits up development work. It isn't as if there are enough OSS developers as it is, and they seem to fork their way out of existence. These developers have to compete against multi billion dollar software companies that provide reasonably unified APIs, UIs and frankly, better backward compatibility. I'm still using a piece of expensive CAD software made in 1994, designed for Win32S on Win 3.1, and it still works fine on XP, for all I know, it might even work under Vista, I won't know because I don't plan to get it. Sure, statically built linux binaries from that time probably will work, but should it need a library, you are more likely than not stopped right there.

        Also, I've never heard of Compiz until this story.
        • Re:Good for them (Score:4, Informative)

          by evilviper (135110) on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:36PM (#18578811) Journal

          I'm still using a piece of expensive CAD software made in 1994, designed for Win32S on Win 3.1, and it still works fine on XP

          Those are the lucky exceptions, not the rules. I know from bitter experience. Microsoft breaks some backwards compatibility with every minor revision.

          Also, I've never heard of Compiz until this story.

          And? You've heard of X11, which is where all this stuff is going when it's mature.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Rob Y. (110975)
            >Those are the lucky exceptions, not the rules. I know from bitter experience. Microsoft breaks some backwards compatibility with every minor revision

            Come on now. At least they try to maintain backward compatibility (except, of course, when they want to play planned obsolescense with Office). The Linux desktop projects don't even try. And that's been 'good enough' so long as nobody runs anything but the stuff that comes with their distro. Yep. We've got the source, so stuff can be rebuilt every time
            • > We've got the source, so stuff can be rebuilt every time backward compatibility breaks. But that's definitely *not* a good thing

              MOD PARENT UP! Agreed! I for one *hate* having source code. It makes no sense to me - especially when written in some crazy out-dated language like C++. I'd much rather just get the binary, or if it has to be source, then I want it in something that doesn't need to be compiled like Python or Unlambda.
      • And putting all your eggs in one basket is very bad.

        I never really understood this. Are people really so uncoordinated that they can't carry a big basket of eggs without dropping it? I've personally handled several hundred dozen eggs in my lifetime, and have not yet had an accident. I want to meet these "egg breakers:. I need proof of their existence. Until that moment, I'll keep on putting all my eggs in a fat ole basket (usually under the bread) untill I hit that mythically improbable moment where
    • by xappax (876447)
      One of linux's greatest weaknesses is the amount of duplication that happens.

      I dunno if I'd go so far as to say that it's a weakness. That's like saying Microsoft's greatest strength is how their entire development process is centrally planned - there's two sides to that coin.

      There are definitely times when it's good to have multiple tools to do the same thing - if one app or codebase is incompatible or inappropriate for whatever reason, it's nice to have another option. Additionally (though open sou
    • by Hatta (162192)
      I'm just wondering when they're going to get the 3d accelerated stuff out of the window managers and into the x-server. compiz/beryl are great and all, but I'm a fluxbox user. Try as I might I can't use anything else. But what am I to do for transparency?

      It's looking to me like the future of the linux desktop 3d accelerated monoculture. And if you want any of the flexibility that has made X so great you have to give all that up. And what happens when applications start depending on the 3d accelerated fu
  • slashdotted (Score:5, Informative)

    by Harik (4023) <Harik@chaos.ao.net> on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:47PM (#18578139)
    corel cache is up here [nyud.net].
  • There are complaints about the egos of the developers in the forums.


    I believe it is a pretty generally accepted theory of Computer Science that humble programmers aren't much good on a project. So why would they discuss the inflated egos of programmers on these projects as though it was a bad thing?

    For future reference, the formula is:

    (BIG EGO == GREAT CODER)
    (HUMBLE == BAD BAD BAD CODER)

    Are we all clear on this now?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:55PM (#18578243)
      (BIG EGO == GREAT CODER)
      (HUMBLE == BAD BAD BAD CODER)


      Hey, wait a minute - not only am I a great coder (possibly the best), but I'm also the most humble person you will ever meet!
      • Alright... (Score:2, Funny)

        by Gazzonyx (982402)
        OK - we'll settle and give you the title of 'Great Java Programmer'.
        Hey, at least I didn't say J#.
        *DUCKS*
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ryan Amos (16972)
      This seems to be true of all things.

      The more you boast of how good you are at something, the better you must be!
    • by misleb (129952) on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:14PM (#18578513)
      Let me guess, you think you're a a really awesome coder...
    • It's not ego! A good programmer is simply right about everything and has brilliant design ideas. If other people (Managers, other programmers, etc) would simply realize his inherent superiority and let him do what he wants, much more work would get done. Good programmers HATE to have other people fight with them about their designs, which are quite clearly Good and Correct!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by martin_b1sh0p (673005)
      I'm not sure if you were trying to be funny or insightful. But just in case, I must disagree. I happen to work with a guy who is a great developer. Incredibly bright (probably a genius but I've never asked). Has a PhD in Chem E. yet chooses to be a software developer because he enjoys that right now in his life. And I'm not talking just some hacker, he actually knows a crap load about comp sci (theory and all). He's the type of guy (this actually happened) that re-wrote one of our display drivers over
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I disagree.

      Have you ever worked with someone with a huge ego? If the person with the ego is wrong, and unwilling to admit it, there's a huge problem.

      Good coders need more than an ego. I'm in music, and there's a big problem with musicians that have an ego. Try telling them they are out of tune. Try telling them that they learned their music wrong. Try correcting anything... it doesn't work.

      I'd imagine it's the same in computers. If you're dead-set that you're right because you're better than any

  • I started reading the article and I felt like this could be really insightful, and then it ended.

    I'm glad these projects are merging since eye candy (done properly) is definitely something that can stand to make Linux a player in the desktop market. We'll be able to say to people who catch a glimpse "oh, you can't install that, you don't run Linux".
  • Here's TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by rrohbeck (944847) on Monday April 02, 2007 @03:58PM (#18578295)
    I got through after a number of retries...

    Editorial: Compiz and Beryl Merger

    It isn't official yet, but Compiz and Beryl are merging. For the last few weeks I have been following the mailing list discussions on this topic. A lot of the work has been started. It is sort of unofficially announced, so I feel now is as good a time as any to comment. First some back story:

    The war between Compiz and Beryl has been entertaining if counterproductive. Originally I planned to interview Quinn (Beryl's unofficial leader) about the Beryl project. That turned into an interview with the team that never really got anywhere. I dropped the ball. My feelings at the time were typical of those in the community. Beryl seemed to be this fantastic project that saved Compiz from being boring and a slave to Novell. They launched a beautiful website. It was exciting to see the frequency of their releases. At the time, I decided to check out Compiz to see what it was up to. It was surprising. Their forums were very helpful and positive. The more I read, the more I realized that I had made a mistake. There was more to the story than I was aware.

    The communities were getting along a lot worse than I had realized. People in the Beryl camp dismissed David Reveman (creator of Compiz and XGL among other things) as a bad coder. Compiz dismissed Beryl as hacky code. Personal attacks flew around. Through decisions made with (hopefully) good intentions, like the insistence that Beryl code be GPL (thus unable to move upstream to the MIT licensed Compiz core) or the desire on some Beryl developers part to rip apart the Compiz core and " improve" it, it looked as if the teams were hopelessly split.

    Meanwhile, Beryl continued to grow. Resentment grew in the Compiz community. One estimate was that Beryl used 95% Compiz code while taking all the credit. YouTube filled up with tons of spinning transparent cubes and burning windows. Any Digg story mentioning Beryl received a lot of Diggs. Flamewars in comment sections broke out regularly. Things reached a low point when a frustrated Compiz community member hacked the Beryl site.

    This state of affairs was a shame. Something that was finally getting the general public excited about Linux, the 3D desktop, was wasting time with duplication of effort and fighting. There were concerns about the long term viability of Beryl. The perception in the community overall was, Compiz = old and stale, Beryl = fresh and exciting. This despite the feeling in the Compiz community that the "real work" was being done by David Reveman and Compiz, and there were exciting things with Compiz core (like input redirection, etc...) on the horizon.

    It was a pleasant surprise to see talks of a merge start to show up on the mailing lists. This article by Kristian Hogsberg seemed to kick it off. The talks so far have been bumpy. There are fights about whether to rename the communities. There are heated discussions about what the merger means and where things should go from here. Old wounds have been reopened. There are complaints about the egos of the developers in the forums. At one point, reading a twenty-four page forum discussion, I wondered if the merge was a good idea after all. Little by little things seem to be working out, though. Quinn mentioned in one forum post that the fork was a mistake and regrettable. It takes a big person to make an admission like that.

    I have to hand it to both communities. This is a brave and bold step. Not many of us can check our egos, put hurt feelings aside and move forward. The road ahead won't be easy, but the benefit to the Linux community will be immense. Energy won't be wasted on fights and duplication of effort. Confusion over what to use will be eliminated. Hopefully more effort can be spent by the distributions on getting the combined product packaged properly (How many times can I install a distro and the 3d desktop only to have no window borders in KDE?). The discussions I read are passionate. It looks like the project will be a meritocracy,
    • by g2devi (898503) on Monday April 02, 2007 @05:04PM (#18579175)
      Contrary to what is claimed, the war between Compiz and Beryl was productive. It did three things:
      1) Forced David and friends to restructure his development process to be more like Beryl's
      2) Forced Quinn and friends to realize that maybe David was right on some issues
      3) Allowed Beryl to experiment with alternative ways of developing Compiz without destroying Compiz's approach.

      Okay, maybe the conflict was a bit less civilized that than it could have been, but sometimes you need a good fight to raise the issues and so you can look for ways to solve them. You can't fix what you won't even acknowledge. The approach taken before the split up was disfunctional and didn't give people what they wanted. It's likely the new approach will be a lot better since it'll allow David to focus on what he's best at and Quinn to focus on what he's best at without stepping on each other's feet.
    • Re:Here's TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by at_slashdot (674436) on Monday April 02, 2007 @05:16PM (#18579341)
      "One estimate was that Beryl used 95% Compiz code while taking all the credit."

      Maybe they should use a license that ask for credit. I have sometime the impression that people don't get what "free" code means... it's even sadder when those people are the one that develop it (or even worse: try to promote the freedom idea without understanding what it means)
      • by JohnFluxx (413620)
        And I find it sad that you cannot comprehend that they pretty much had to chose that license in order to push changes upstream to X11.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          That doesn't change the fact that they're releasing code under the license. Not that most folks would care anyway, really, to ever look at the list of contributors. Look, everyone wants credit for their good work, but if the Compiz folks are jealous about Beryl adding 5% work and getting all the glory, think of how the GCC crew must feel about the whole OSS/free software universe. :)
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Just because you use something that is free doesn't mean you can't give credit where credit is due. It also doesn't mean that you shouldn't give credit where it is due. I have no idea of the specifics behind the compiz/beryl case so this isn't a comment on that, but in general it's considered bad form to not give credit where it is due.
  • Big deal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iamacat (583406) on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:02PM (#18578353)
    There is always place for multiple projects. Different focus, different personalities even different geographical location. Multiple projects encourage innovations that wouldn't be thought about otherwise.
    • by misleb (129952)

      There is always place for multiple projects. Different focus, different personalities even different geographical location. Multiple projects encourage innovations that wouldn't be thought about otherwise.

      Agreed. There a misconception of "wasted" time and effort in open source. Like if you have 20 total programmers working on 3 similar projects, it is necessarily better that all 20 combine efforts on one project. The problem is is more programmers doesn't necessarily make for a better product or even fast

  • Future (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Narishma (822073) on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:18PM (#18578563)
    Personnally I believe the future is not Beryl or Compiz but already existing window managers like Metacity and KWin, seeing how both of them should provide 3d effects in their next version. Once everyone can get their wobbly windows and other useful effects with the standard window manager, no one will care about Beryl or Compiz anymore.
    • by PitaBred (632671)
      Whereas when you get it integrated with X11, it can happen in every window manager and everyone wins. Yay!!! (That's the direction this is all heading, which will prevent Metacity/KWin/Fluxbox/Enlightenment/fvwm/xfce/et. al. from splintering and having different implementations of 3D effects)

      Sounds like it's time for you to go find a different non-problem to solve :)
      • Re:Future (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rutulian (171771) on Monday April 02, 2007 @06:19PM (#18580049)
        Uh, no, you have a couple of things mixed up. Xgl/AIGLX is the part that goes into X11 and provides the hardware accelerated 3D functions. Compiz/Beryl is a compositing window manager that actually does the effects. Every window manager has access to the 3D stuff, but they each individually have to implement their own effects. Early in the game it was attempted to separate the compositing manager from the window manager, but there were problems doing this (mostly performance, I think). So now everybody agrees that you have to integrate the two. I think the GP is right. As soon as Metacity, KWin, and whatever the XFCE WM is implement their own compositing effects, Compiz/Beryl will be an obsolete experiment. Personally, I'm holding out for Metacity. I've played around with Compiz/Beryl, and I like it, but I think it can be trimmed down quite a bit, and some major usability studies have to be done to make things like the wobbly windows less annoying.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by macshit (157376)
          As soon as Metacity, KWin, and whatever the XFCE WM is implement their own compositing effects, Compiz/Beryl will be an obsolete experiment.

          On the other hand, as far as I can see, compiz is more or less functionally identical to metacity, just with more wobbling -- it even uses the same window themes. Why would I want to run metacity instead?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Nutria (679911)
            On the other hand, as far as I can see, compiz is more or less functionally identical to metacity, just with more wobbling -- it even uses the same window themes. Why would I want to run metacity instead?

            Better question: why run a compositing window manager? What's the point? My kids LOVE the wobbling windows, but I'm a grown up and wobbly burning windows are nothing but a waste of RAM and cycles that could be better spent making the system more responsive.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:30PM (#18578715)
    Linux programming may be a "boy's" world...

    ...the perception in the community overall was, Compiz = old and stale, Beryl = fresh and exciting. This despite the feeling in the Compiz community that the "real work" was being done by David Reveman and Compiz...
    ...but they sure can gossip like seventh-grade girls.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2007 @04:50PM (#18578977)
    Compiz and Beryl are mostly eye candy. I don't see much useful in either. Metisse [mandriva.com] looks much more interesting. I'm anxiously awaiting the release of Mandriva 2007.1.
  • Xinerama support (Score:5, Informative)

    by agm (467017) * on Monday April 02, 2007 @07:07PM (#18580527)
    I would love to take advantage of the eye candy a 3D accelerated desktop provides, but until I can do it with a multi-head setup it won't get used by me. The COMPOSITE extension doesn't play well with the XINERAMA extension. It's a showstopper for me.
  • 2.5D (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday April 02, 2007 @10:46PM (#18582369) Homepage Journal
    3D, whatever. Just as long as they've got my X system using the superfast graphics coprocessor for rendering, offloading from my CPU, they can keep it looking "old and stale", by doubling (or more) my old, stale PC power. If they actually find some 3D features, like rotating idle objects into profile for less screen real estate, or 3D pipes among onscreen widgets for dataflow direction among app GUIs, then that's great. But not nearly as great as offering multiprocessing desktops on these multiprocessor machines.

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