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Novell Contributes Xgl and the Community Offers Kororaa LiveCD
Sunday, March 12 2006 @ 06:37 AM EST

Novell is on a roll. First, they announced they were contributing Xgl to the community, with its 3D capabilities. That was in February. Now they tell us they are dropping the Novell from their Linux desktop name and rebranding as SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, and this summer's release will have not only Xgl but something else Novell developed, a real-time macro interpreter for which can read the most common Microsoft Excel spreadsheet macros.

Here's a bit of the announcement about Xgl:
Novell Raises the Bar for the Linux Desktop
Significant enhancements to Xgl framework enable development of advanced graphics to enhance functionality for end users

Novell is announcing its contribution of the Xgl graphics subsystem and the 'Compiz ' compositing manager to the project. These enhancements open up a whole world of hardware acceleration, fancy animation, separating hardware resolution from software resolution, and more. As a result, Linux desktops will become more usable, end-user productivity will increase, and Linux is firmly positioned at the forefront of client computing technology.

Under the leadership of Novell's David Reveman, Novell has sponsored and led the development of this powerful new graphics subsystem for Linux since late 2004. Xgl is the X server architecture layered on top of OpenGL and takes advantage of available accelerated 3D rendering hardware.

They have screenshots and videos of Xgl on that page, as mpg, ogg and streaming flash, so you can see the true transparency, shadow and the "movie cube".

So they release Xgl to the community, and a month later, we get something exciting to enjoy and play with, Kororaa LiveCD, which is an easy way to install Gentoo, they say, that features Xgl. I learned about it from an email from Groklaw member 'troll', which he said I could share with you. Since it's the weekend, he thought I might like to play, and he remembered how interested I was in Looking Glass.

Here's his email:

Dear PJ.

Yesterday a piece of news has caught my attention, a new Linux live distribution called Kororaa LiveCD!

Kororaa is featuring the newest thing in Xwindow developement developed by SUSE (Novell) programmers and introduced a few days ago, Xgl. Xgl is a technology that can use the incredible power modern graphics cards have for drawing desktop items in Xwindow.

I have downloaded an iso image, burned it and booted a PC with it. I would like to say that my experience was "breathtaking", "astonishing", "jawdropping" but I simply can't do that. It would be a gross understatement. The desktop in Kororaa does incredible things, like translucent wobbling windows on the face of rotating 3D cube, yet it is much more responsive than the most spartan window manager optimized for speed I have experienced. And all that on a relatively modest system.

One user said that after trying this out his new Mac seems to have a dull, clunky and unresponsive graphics environment.

Just search the web for xgl-demo1.xvid to get an idea. Virtual desktops we know from Linux (Xwindow) are placed on sides on cube. You can drag and turn the cube in 3D together with windows playing video, you can adjust translucence of windows and other things. The windows behave as if they were from heavy rubber and when you move them they are wobbling.

Just download the video and then try Kororaa live CD.

The point is, you can *try it yourself* on an ordinary PC that is up to 2 years old and is equipped with a modest graphics card that can "do" OpenGL. (Kororaa seems to have problem with Ati cards.)

You can even try the newest SUSE 10.1 beta6 where you can install xgl following these instructions.

I have never tried such an astonishing new technology, that would be so far ahead of everything else. I have read your article about Looking Glass some time ago and I thought you might be interested.

People all over the world are discussing if we need such an eye-candy. This is not about eye candy. Even if you switch off most of the effects, you still get a desktop that is MUCH more responsive to basic things, like dragging the window.

It is also reported to be working under Ubuntu after some tweaking.

I know. Irresistable, no? More rave reports from Eclipse Zone:

For those of you that didn't see it, Novell demo'ed what they are working on ... and it was basically a demo of XGL in all it's glory. Here is a short-cut to a video of the demonstration (large XVID video):

As you can imagine, they received a standing ovation from the crowd.

At this point you are probably wondering what in the world this has to do with Eclipse (or, maybe you don't care). Well, in general I wanted to take this moment to say that Eclipse on XGL+Compiz is a blast . Everything from the open type dialog, to the code assist and quick-fix popups all fade and wobble in to focus under XGL. Eclipse still runs like a champ on Sun's Java, and everything worked flawlessly. Using Eclipse on side-3 of the cube while I write articles on side-2 is a perfect visual representation of what I've always struggled to remember to do with older releases of Gnome and KDE (multiple-workspaces is an old tool, but now that it's fun to do, I actually use it!)

I probably won't try it out until I get to feeling better, but the screenshots are spectacular. And if you would like to know if I need eye candy like this, the answer is, Yes! I absolutely do. The transparency appeals to me so, so much, because the way I work, I always have a lot of things open at once, and I hate trying to find where I put a window, so I can't wait to try this stuff and see if it helps.

Macros are very important to lawyers. Some can't live without them so they stick with Windows in spite of their misery, so this contribution is really an important development. Thank you, Novell, for doing that. Also for the very beautiful 3D.

Remember that Kororaa is beta stuff, and you need to check the specifications to make sure it will work on your computer, so if your computer ends up on its back on the living room floor with its little penguin feet up pointing straight up in the air, don't blame me. If you're not the beta type, think SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop when it is released this summer, with Xgl and macro playback capability. I'll likely try them both.

More screenshots on the Kororaa download info page, along with this quotation:

"I've tried about 100 different distro's over the past 2 years and can honestly say I've never seen anything on a PC as spectacular as Kororaa XGL... It makes the hairs on my neck stand up. It's that good. I'm like a kid who's found the keys to the local sweet shop, I just can't leave it alone... nearly fell out my seat the first time I spun the desktop. Once again thanks to all involved."
Andy - England.

Feldegast found screenshots of a Kororaa install. I have to try this ... when I get to feeling better. Today I feel like that penguin computer, just absolutely flattened. Talk to you when I recuperate. Meanwhile, have fun.

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