I happened across a technology known as Xgl in my new exploration of the world of Linux. First thoughts were along the lines of “sounds nice, but whats the use?” when reading about 3D desktops and transparent windows.

However, I then watched a video by Novell and thought “Looks REALLY cool, i’ll have a play and figure the point out later”.image 3D desktop with Xgl

Installed xgl and compiz (a window manager for xgl) with ease (go Yast2!) and am a big fan of the results. Basically I get some snazzy windows effects (jelly-like, edge-snapping, transparency etc) which are nice to look at but arguably not any real use, maybe transparency but thats about it. I get real time screen switching (think alt+tab in windows but instead of icons real time thumbs of each app). But the 3D desktop is really cool.

A 3D desktop is just that a desktop in 3D, you can set how many faces it has, default is four which i have found to be plenty. Basically just use it as normal but acres more desktop space. I first expected it to be difficult to navigate and manage where each window is but this isn’t the case. The taskbar offers quick access to any window, you can zoom out to see all desktops stretched across one screen, theres even a shortcut to display all windows in one view for you to select the required one.

My only issue so far with this has been there is a setting to have random water drops which ripple across the screen, having played about with this I found it takes a fair amount of work for my old desktop to run so tried disabling it. No go! I’ve tried the shortcut (Shift F9), the window properties dialogue but it refuses to stop. I’ve resorted to setting the frequency to very low but I still get a drop every 10 minutes which is annoying. I’ve been referred to the config files which I will give a try next.

Overall though I’m a big fan of Xgl and hope it brings some more end-user attention to the Linux desktop.