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Novell Software Linux

Novell Makes Public Release of Xgl Code 339

hamfactorial writes "Novell has announced the public availability of the Xgl code, an openGL accelerated X server layer. Available binaries ought to be coming soon for distributions running the modular 7.0 release (possibly 6.9, though unconfirmed). A temporary page for Xgl information is up at the openSUSE website. This is the same code that was running in the Novell Linux Desktop 10 preview videos as seen earlier. Further information is also available at Miguel De Icaza's blog."
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Novell Makes Public Release of Xgl Code

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  • Window manager land (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @03:43AM (#14667687) Homepage Journal
    Should I kill my fluxbox and use compiz as my default window manager ? Or can compiz actually live along side a normal windowmanager which has about half a year of short-cuts that I use heavily ?

    I would love if someone could actually tell me if fluxbox (or indeed xfwm4) will work with XGl out of the box.

    • It's an extension. It's in no way like a window manager at all. At least you don't use gnome or kde, I suppose...
  • by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @03:46AM (#14667698) Homepage
    Most people who dislike eye candy do so because it slows things down or clutters the UI. Watching these videos and seeing what Apple has done with OS X made me realize that eye candy can make the interface more intuitive when done right. The virtual destop cube -thingy really looked like something usable for a change.

    I suspect the possibilities created by hardware accelerated UIs will lay the groundwork for a whole new set of UI paradigms, but the real implications are probably still years away.
    • by ardor ( 673957 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @03:59AM (#14667754)
      I agree. Furthermore, the current state actually does not make much sense. Considering that, for example, nvidia-chips do not have a dedicated 2D core anymore, the driver has to emulate 2D for the legacy 2D APIs that have been used until now. Essentially, dedicated 2D development is dead; its nonsense to have a 2D core since the 3D one can do everything 2D-related much faster and with extras like blending or shaders.

      So right now we have an artificial distinction between 2D and 3D. The vendors have to deal with composite stuff AND with opengl acceleration, sometimes simultaneously. Using OpenGL as the base for everything is much better, since opengl already has a client/server-architecture, driver development gets easier, X as a whole becomes leaner, responsiveness and look-n-feel of X improve, and the CPU does not have to deal with fake transparency stuff.

      So its all about moving the 2D/3D-distinction away from the driver into the X server.
    • The virtual destop cube -thingy really looked like something usable for a change.

      Actually, something similar has been available at least since 2002: []

      It's still cool of course, and it probably works much better with Xgl.

    • What you said seems interesting superficially. But when you examine the technology, you will see that nothing really groundbreaking will come out of this. The only real benefit from using the 3d hardware of a graphics hard for GUIs would be the independence of the image from the underlying video resolution. But since the GUI display will never become a vector display, this benefit will never be realized: all solutions currently implement top-level windows as 'textures', thus the bitmap world is here to stay
  • Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @03:49AM (#14667709)
    Real Transparency! But who's providing the hardware accel? This is still kinda sticky, right now your choices boil down to nvidia's closed source driver (not that I have a problem with that), ATI's bug fest (sorry, but it's true), or a really old Radeon. Oh yeah, while I'm idly wondering, what are the odds of this making it into mainstream desktops ( stock gnome/kde )?
    • Re:Finally! (Score:3, Informative)

      by crwl ( 802043 )
      The open source R300 drivers ( [] - now part of Mesa/DRM + X.Org source trees) for the 9600 and 9800 series of ATi Radeons seem to be currently at least somewhat usable.

      I mean, at least Planet Penguin Racer (ex-Tuxracer) seemed to work fine, 3D acceleration and all..! :P

      • I have played with those drivers (actually, I'm kinda stuck with the new xorg ati drivers and dri because the kernel I use doesn't work well with the 'old' dri module).

        They are nice, tho fairly incomplete as far as r300 support goes. It is a real step forward tho, and the difference with pure software rendering is huge.

        For those with slightly older cards, the difference is quite substantial as well. For the first time I have seen a 9200 perform at least good enough to be usable for things like enemy territo
    • Re:Finally! (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think Nat Friedman was using a Centrino Vaio laptop with 512 mb of RAM and a GeForce 6xxx card for his preview demo of Novell Linux Desktop 10 at the Linux Solutions show last week in Paris (and it was pretty fluid). I don't know which driver he used though.
    • Re:Finally! (Score:2, Informative)

      by PhilRod ( 550010 )

      Oh yeah, while I'm idly wondering, what are the odds of this making it into mainstream desktops ( stock gnome/kde )?

      Well, to some extent it's already there: KWin uses COMPOSITE to do translucency and shadows, for example.

      There are plans to extend use of these features in KDE 4. Zack Rusin from KDE, has been working on this sort of thing (you can see an interview with him from the Summer []). There's also the Plasma [] project, which has beauty and usability as its key aims built in from the start.

      And best

  • Whoa (Score:5, Funny)

    by strider44 ( 650833 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @03:49AM (#14667710)
    This is a great advertisement for Novell here - their servers have lasted something like ten minutes already after posting 4 videos on Slashdot!
  • A little preemptive. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stalyn ( 662 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @03:52AM (#14667724) Homepage Journal
    "Xgl has already been checked into the public repositories, Compiz will be checked in after David Reveman's presentation at the X conference."

    Which is Feb, 8th at 10am PST. []. Also the XGL code has been available for some time. Browse the CVS []. I'm somewhat expecting an update of the code tomorrow too.
  • Debian (Score:5, Funny)

    by Saxophonist ( 937341 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @03:52AM (#14667729)
    Wow! I can't wait until this hits Debian stable, probably in the Debian 15.8 release in 2028.
    • Re:Debian (Score:2, Funny)

      by 1310nm ( 687270 )
      You give them too much credit.

      I predict version 5 by that time, and Xgl will still be in an unstable apt repo.
    • Re:Debian (Score:3, Informative)

      by Karora ( 214807 )

      Clearly this is contradictory. If you "can't wait" until it hist Debian stable then you are looking for a release which is less stable than Debian stable.

      The reality is, of course much simpler. Odds are that given it's optional "runs on top of Xorg" nature it will be available in Debian testing within 3 months and will consequently be released next time the 16000 or so Debian packages are declared stable enough for a release.


    • I guess the only way to point out the truth on this site is to work it into a joke.

      The last couple times I expressed disappointment in how far behind Debian Stable can get, I was marked as a troll several times over. And no, I won't load unstable or experimental software onto a server or workstation if I can avoid it, I'm just saying that Stable can move a bit more more often and not get so behind.
      • Re:Debian (Score:3, Informative)

        by muyuubyou ( 621373 )
        That may be a valid point for libraries or server-related packages, but for anything that has to do with a windows manager, you're just wrong about your concept of stable. You're looking at "unstable" or "testing", or Ubuntu which isn't any more stable than any of those two BTW.

        It's just that their choice of names is a tad misleading.
      • How about this for a solution. Debain make a stable server version and a stable desktop version. The server version can be as stable (or even more so) as the current stable releases. The stable desktop version would be released every 6 to 12 months and be pretty damn stable but not as stable as the server version. That way you get the benifit of most of the stability on the desktop without falling horribly far behind. I'm currently tracking unstable because I don't want to fall too far behind but I would pr

  • by BerkeleyDude ( 827776 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @04:20AM (#14667826)
    This is great news! Weren't we waiting for the Xgl?

    Why is everyone complaining about Novell, graphics drivers, Debian, and lots of completely irrelevant topics?

    Nothing can make Slashdotters happy...
  • by semiotec ( 948062 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @04:23AM (#14667838)
    I watched the demo movies, the last one (Spinning Cube) especially looks quite impressive.

    However, I am wondering if the step from 2D to 3D desktop is as significant as say, going from commandline to GUI.

    It doesn't seem like these 3D desktops actually offer much more functionality than existing 2D desktops. For example, the screen captures of Looking Glass 3d desktop from Sun doesn't seem to offer much more than just some eye candies. Or in case of the spinning cube demo, it doesn't seem to offer (functionally) more than virtual desktops, essentially a fancy way of changing from one desktop to another, which probably can still be done faster with some keyboard shortcut.

    I am trying not to sound like some diehard stubborn conservative who wants to bring back the glory days of command line only interface, rather, I am asking if 3D desktops will change the way that we interact with computers, in the sense that barely anyone remember what it was like to work in DOS? Is this a step towards to (gasp shock horror) VR-based interfacing? Will a new hardware tool be needed like the mouse was necessary for the transition away from commandline?
    • Well, its a new tool for UI design. As with all tools, one has to learn how to use it properly first. For example, OSX shows that alphablending can be useful.

      The main advantage is the sheer responsiveness. Everything feels more fluent, and lags are no longer noticeable.
    • Forget 3D desktops - the real beauty of Xgl is that allows the use of OpenGL to render parts of your desktop, which means your video card won't just be using 1% of its potential anymore. This is done by OSX and it means faster and sleeker graphical desktops.

      Also, combined with the new X.Org extensions (Compositing, Damager, Cairo) it means, of course, eyecandy [] galore :)
      • Forget 3D desktops - the real beauty of Xgl is that allows the use of OpenGL to render parts of your desktop, which means your video card won't just be using 1% of its potential anymore.

        What about those of us with crappy notebook display cards that use main memory, you insensitive clod?!

    • I had a few [] thoughts []about desktops going 3D a while ago, if you're interested.

      It basically says that, instead of making 2D windows go 3D, we should throw away the whole concept of "windows" and switch to multiple 3D layers instead

    • There are many things this can do. Functionally, the fastest way of minimising a window is to simply make it disappear. This, however, can be confusing because it is not obvious where the window went. A fancy window shrinking effect like on OS X thus improves usability. If done correctly you will not lose time on it either.

      Functionally, the fastest way of switching virtual desktop is to simply make the old one disappear and the new one show up. This, however, makes most users think all their applications cr
    • However, I am wondering if the step from 2D to 3D desktop is as significant as say, going from commandline to GUI.

      This kind of thing isn't really 3D. Yes, it uses 3D visual effects and all, but the overal metaphor involved is still 2D. That's why you don't see much new functionality. Even the cube-rotation virtual desktop is just a visual cue for a 2D movement. Instead of thinking "that window is on desktop #2", the user can intuit "that window is to the right of where I am now". There's still a lot of
    • It's hard to say what the benifits are because we haven't really had the tools to play with yet. What I think history shows though is that given the tools we generally find something to do with them. I admit that we don't always find something good to do with them but that's part of research. I think in 5 to 10 years we will look back and wonder how we ever worked on 2D desktops. I wouldn't like to say what the final 3D interface will look like though - my guess would be that this is the first step towards

  • by idlake ( 850372 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @04:35AM (#14667884)
    I think what will be more important than XGL will be the Windows and OS X versions; the currently available free X11 servers on those platforms tend to be slow and feature-limited. Apple's X11, for example, doesn't handle international keyboard input correctly, doesn't implement RANDR, and doesn't adapt to changes in screen resolution correctly.
  • Finally! (Score:3, Informative)

    by sepelester ( 794828 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @04:41AM (#14667908)

    I've been waiting a long time for this. And this [], and this [], and this [].

    I'd sure like to see 3d GTK+ widgets and window decoration, all following the same global illumination, complete with specular maps [] and all the advanced pixel shader techniques available the desktop could become truly beautiful.

    • "I've been waiting a long time for this. And this, and this, and this."
      GNOME Storage: Dead.
      Beagle: Braindead.
      Dashboard: oh dear christ.

      The one thing about the whole GNOME project which is about to uproot me and make my move back to QT, is their extreme dependance on Mono. Not only does this put them in legal limbo, it doesn't fix the problems underneath, thus it's building a zoo on top of a house of cards.

      I've played around with GNOME Storage, it was a disaster. (No wonder it died; installing a ke
  • Look is important (Score:5, Insightful)

    by William Baric ( 256345 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @04:50AM (#14667938)
    I can't understand why there is so many posts saying that eye candy are not important. For people who can't judge the internal quality of a software, how it looks is what tell them if it's good or not. You can't impress a PHB with some C code, but you can sure impress him with a lot of eye candy. I need this very badly to be able to "sell" linux to my client as a desktop and I need it BEFORE Microsoft do it.
  • Target Vista (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cyberjessy ( 444290 )
    The target surely seems to be Vista. If Linux did not do this it would have meant that Vista would have a free ride with fancy hardware accelerated 3D transparent glassy glossy grossy interfaces. For J6P, the OS is only as good as it looks.

    Since Miguel is involved I sure hope we can target all this hardware accelerated goodness with Mono as well. Mono makes making Linux apps amazingly easy, atleast for those of us with years of Windows programming background. This step is absolutely essential for Mono while
  • I know what a window manager is, and I understand the idea of a resolution-independent GL display layer, but would someone mind filling me in on why we now need a composite manager as well as a window manager?
    • "My understanding while talking to David Reveman this past week was that the complexity of keeping a compositing manager as a separate process from the window manager was too high (too much bookkeeping that made it error prone, and there were some fundamental problems that he could not solve). So some time ago he abandoned his effort to patch Metacity and have a separate composition manager, reduced the complexity and eliminated a lot of bugs and the source of these bugs. That is what David explained to m
  • A temporary page for Xgl information is up at the openSUSE website.

    That is no temporary page. It is a Wiki page on the openSUSE website. No idea why the article talks about a temporary page.
  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @03:24PM (#14671788) Homepage Journal
    From the article: "...we're not going to cede 3D graphics acceleration to proprietary software."

    But will we be required to use a proprietary video driver to get it? It would be nice if Novell were putting its resources behind open source drivers or pressuring the release of hardware specs. Proprietary firmware doesn't bother me at all, but the drivers (both kernel and user mode) for open source systems need to be open source themselves.

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