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Next-Gen X Window Rendering For Linux

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the future-looks-pretty dept.

X 652

Bytal writes "Seth Nickel, a GNOME hacker, has an extensive treatment of the next generation Linux graphics technologies being worked on by Red Hat and others. For all those complaining about the current X-Windows/X.org server capabilities, things like 'Indiana Jones buttons that puff out smoothly animated clouds of smoke when you click on them,' 'Workspace switching effects so lavish they make Keynote jealous' and even the mundane 'Hardware accelerated PDF viewers' may be interesting."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692097)

fpfpfp

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692174)

FINALLY, after all these years I FINALLY got a first post.

I can't tell you how good it feels.

First, I'd like to thank Slashdot for making this all possible. And all of you fellow Slashdot first posters for making it such a wothy challenge...

YOU FAIL IT!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692221)

FP only counts if you are logged into an account (it doesn't necessarily have to be your own). FP is worth nothing if you don't sacrifice some karma for it. Thus FPs by ACs do not count.

YOU FAIL IT!!

Re:YOU FAIL IT!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692299)

shut up you cock-smoking teabagger.

Linux (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692497)

Yes. Great.

We all know that it is not the mixture of 10,256 different toolkits, each one uglier than the other, for every fucking application that makes Linux unusable as a Desktop-platform, it is the lack of "omg k3wl" effects that are the problem.

Good a big company like Rat Had is working in the right direction.

"Hardware accelerated PDF viewers'' ? (5, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692102)

And only a few days ago we were asked, "Where have all the cycles gone?" Sheesh.

Re:"Hardware accelerated PDF viewers'' ? (5, Insightful)

AJWM (19027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692132)

Um, if it's hardware accelerated, it will be eating fewer of your CPU cycles.

Re:"Hardware accelerated PDF viewers'' ? (1)

RaguMS (149511) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692154)

And only a few days ago we were asked, "Where have all the cycles gone?" Sheesh.

It's not a bad idea. I wouldn't exactly call current PDF viewers 'fast'.

Re:"Hardware accelerated PDF viewers'' ? (5, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692244)

Hardware-accelerated PDF viewers, huh? Aqua beat already does that. The entire OpenGL-composited interface is described using PDF, which also makes it awesome for publishing because what you see on screen is how it's going to look on paper (and you get a free "Save to PDF" in your print dialogs).

Not that it isn't cool to see the OSS desktop community finally looking ahead like this. It's something people have definitely been crying out for. But when I see the section titled "What It Might Look Like," I look over at my Mac and see what it already looks like. :)

Then again, I am quite happy to have people follow Apple's lead rather than Microsoft's. Please, no more taskbars, "start menus," integrated filesystem/net browsers, and whatever else is coming over from the Windows world and polluting desktop Linux. Though KDE is still cool, at least Gnome is willing to try some different directions in the name of usability (rather than familiarity...because from a usability standpoint, the Windows GUI sucks the most of all, and we should not be cloning it).

Re:"Hardware accelerated PDF viewers'' ? (3, Informative)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692520)

Keep in mind the taskbars and menu's were highly influenced from NextSTEP before MS added them into Windows. Same with using a graphical language like postscript and now pdf.

Also gnome is very macintosh like and one of the early macintosh developers wrote nautilus if I recall.

No one is stealing anything. Even the menu bars on the top of the screen came from Xerox before Apple used them.

What I like about kde and gnome to some extent is that they are highly customizable compared to either mac/windows. The problem is the later versions of kde look a little cluttered as a result but you can make your desktop look like anything.

Also you can have kde put a menu on the top of the screen just like gnome and macos. I think you can add a task bar to gnome as well.

I think perhaps some new innovative idea's are needed instead of just borrowing existing ones. Perhaps a way to handle many apps running at once without the desktop looking cluttered is next.

But I believe(could be wrong) that Windowmaker,kde,gnome all use ghostscript which is a postscript clone. The original macos and nextstep used it. Windows has an equilivant but I do not remember the name since its been a long time since I admined Windows boxes.

I think their efforts would be better spent on... (4, Insightful)

TrollBridge (550878) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692106)

...negotiating with graphics card manufacturers to get some solid, open drivers for Linux.

That would make this endevour much easier in the long run, would it not?

Re:I think their efforts would be better spent on. (4, Insightful)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692207)

Seriously. Otherwise all the effort being put into X.Org's newest extensions is basically tied to the good will of card manufacturers when it comes to modern videocards.

Anyway, there's a lot of terrific work being done on X.Org - Cairo, XComposite and Damage specially. When these extensions become supported by the GUI toolkits, we'll be in for a treat. It's a shame it took guys like Keith Packard so long detach themselves from XFree86.

+1 insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692462)

... where are my mod points when i need them

Re:I think their efforts would be better spent on. (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692220)

I second this. At the very least, we want the appropriate documentation for the cards. I can understand if they can't release their current drivers, but I don't understand releasing the info on how to interface with the card. What's it going to reveal? That they have some sort of super-secret magic instruction on the GPU?

s/understand releasing/understand not releasing/ (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692265)

Oops.

Re:I think their efforts would be better spent on. (2, Insightful)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692241)

no... because basing it on OpenGL means that they are abstracting the GUI from the GFX card and the GUI will run on a computer that does not have the right hardware. if the right GFX card existed in the system, all the better.

Re:I think their efforts would be better spent on. (1)

arkanes (521690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692260)

Because somehow, deciding to not implement these features will magically make historically recalcitrant GPU vendors more open and willing to talk?

Re:I think their efforts would be better spent on. (1)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692313)

You would think. However, remember - you need to get a profit-motivated corporation to spend money on something with no forseeable returns.

Re:I think their efforts would be better spent on. (1, Informative)

erikharrison (633719) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692340)

No.

The XAA sucks sweaty donkey ballsack. KAA (or it's successor) needs to be firmly in place, with solid proof that it works (software implementation) before vendors are going to write drivers for it.

Getting the vendors to open up specs, or to write OSS drivers themselves is just gonna get you blue in the face, and besides, it is pretty orthogonal to actual technological growth.

Only programmers can do this work, any consumer or advocate can push to have specs opened up. How many GPU manufacturors have you contact this week?

Re:I think their efforts would be better spent on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692385)

This could be one step in that direction.

If RedHat and Novell and the FSF go to NVidia and ATI and tell them - we'll endorse one or your products, which ever gives us the best support (or both, if both do well); it's a big enough market to matter.

(of course the OSI'll probably simply bless the highest bidder adding some confusion)

Re:I think their efforts would be better spent on. (1)

Unique2 (325687) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692397)

It's a chicken/egg situation, the hardware manufacturers are going to support the most popular software and unfortunatly thats the software with the most eye candy.

If a great windowing system is exclusively available for one manufacturers card, the other manufacturers will be jumping over each other to add support.

I say, work with what you've got, let the others kick themselves when they realise their ignorance and complacancy lost them the market.

Re:I think their efforts would be better spent on. (2, Insightful)

DarkMantle (784415) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692405)

Well, forgetting ATI, the nVidia drivers are solid, and I don't see why you're so adament on them being open. I've created some great 3d renders in OGL code without needing to know the details on the drivers. Also Windows GUI was designed all without knowing exactly what code is in the drivers.

Good documentation is all that's needed, and if you are going to insist on something from the manufacturers being open, how about we get Open standards so the same calls work on all vid cards.

Wait, we have that, it's called OpenGL and standard driver formats.

No (4, Insightful)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692435)

Such "negotiation" would be largely a waste of time. You need to give graphics card manufacturers a market to care about and demand for their cards. Currently usage of 3d on Linux is very limited, a few games, visualisers and niche apps.

If 3d is used more widely used on the desktop then more card makers will see linux as a market for their cards and more people will be using 3d and pressuring for better, more open drivers.

Re:actually their efforts would be better spent.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692460)

..on rewriting the entire GUI framework in Linux, ie get rid of X, Qt, GTK, Gnome, KDE, and any other flotsam and just start again.

Re:I think their efforts would be better spent on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692500)

Let's see. Matrox offers some of the best graphics cards around, and provides solid Linux support for them. For example this [matrox.com] and this. [matrox.com] Fast and feature packed, perfect for scientific and business computing.

But you I suppose you are talking about drivers for that rad game box your mom bought you for your birthday, you know, that awesome deal she got on it from the QVC shopping channel.

In case of slashdotting... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692108)

Forward: For a drawn out post on next-generation X rendering, this blog entry is really short on eye candy. I apologize, but I'm at home, separated from my beloved eye candy, and figured I should write this while I felt motivated. As a way of forcing my own hand, I'm making a link now to a blog entry I haven't yet written that will contain screenshots in the future :-)
Next-Generation Rendering For the Free Desktop

For the past half year or so Red Hat's desktop team has had people working toward making accelerated graphics rendering on the free desktop badass, but doing an ass job of actually talking about what they're doing in a larger public / GNOME context. They've been doing a combination of experimentation (from that cracktastic OpenGL compositing/window manager luminocity to xsnow for the Xcomposite generation) and knuckle-down no-holds-barred infrastructure work (like making Win32 GTK work on Cairo so GTK can move to cairo as the default backend). With RHEL4 kicked out the door we've been able to rebalance day-to-day work on GTK and X onto other people to give the nextgenren hackers free hands. Currently the full-time nextgenren team at Red Hat is Owen Taylor (gtk/pango maintainer), Søren Sandmann (x hacker), Diana Fong (visual designer), Kristian Høgsberg (x hacker) and Carl Worth (cairo maintainer).

I'm really excited because these guy's expertise is across a broad chunk of the rendering pipeline, from the toolkit down to the x server, which is going to give this effort the ability to work on this from a global perspective rather than optimizing the bits where we happen to have influence in. I'm doubly excited because other companies (well, Novell at least, but hopefully others will join) are starting to invest in this effort too!

I'm hoping to drag Owen into spinning this off into an umbrella effort (ala project utopia) to help maintain a coherent story/platform even as lots of people pour work into lots of different packages and distros. There are so many different ways to attack the X rendering issue that I'm a little worried about seeing a lot of fragmentation of effort and the result not being particularly coherent. I do hope people experiment with lots of different approaches, but I also really hope that in we can give developers a consistent platform for doing cool graphics on the free desktop. It would be a real shame to end up with the message in two years being "well, platform X has the feature you want, but you have to worry about also working with Y because X won't work well on distro Z". This sort of technology-choice morass can really dampen developers playing with this stuff and adding support all over GNOME, which is exactly the sort of quick-fiddling big-payoff stuff I think we'll see a lot of as soon as this stuff starts landing. In other words, lets push toward the point where people can feel confident and start hacking up cool things for this system inside GNOME.
What It Might Look Like

A really good system needs to have lots of pieces in place all hooked together....its not something that can be hacked apart and replaced by arbitrary random incompatible bits (though there are points of commonality, such as OpenGL or Render). For example the pieces in one imaginable architecture - by no means the decided-upon final one or anything - might look like:

* A sophisticated drawing layer (cairo using glitz/opengl or render as backends)
* Stock renderers built on top of that drawing layer (pdf/ps rendering backed by cairo - such as Alex Larsson's xpdf fork in evince, svg rendering backed by cairo, etc)
* A toolkit that agressively takes advantage of the features in the drawing layer, exposing them to applications and themes (gtk+)
* A window+compositing manager that can work closely with the toolkit but essentially takes the window contents as a static image in compositing (metacity with luminocity-like GL compositing manager features fused in to deal with window effects, synching up smooth resizing, live window thumbnailing, crazy pagers, etc)
* A hardware driver system to expose a low-level hardware accelerated rendering path to the drawing layer (opengl or render with hardware accel)

With that model we can implement things like:

* Toolkit themes that draw with layer blending effects, delightful bezier curves, and irritating alpha gradients
* Indiana Jones buttons that puff out smoothly animated clouds of smoke when you click on them
* Alpha transparency in applications whenever and wherever the urge strikes us
* Live window thumbnails
* Hardware accelerated PDF viewers
* Hundreds of spinning soft snowflakes floating over your screen.... without messing up nautilus
* A photograph of a field of long dry savanna grass as your desktop background... where the grass is gently swooshed around by a breeze created by moving your mouse across the background
* Windows that shrink scale and move all over the fucking place with cool animations
* Synchronized smooth resizing so there's no disjunct between window borders moving and the contents redrawing (you should see the demos of this in luminocity... it really makes a difference in how real the interface feels, just as double-buffering did for stuff moving)
* A shared path between on-screen display and printing (using Cairo's PDF/PS backends)
* Vector icons with very occasional super subtle animations rendered in realtime...a tiny fly which buzzes around the trash every several minutes, etc... think mood animations as in Riven (which as a total random aside is still a shockingly beautiful and atmospheric game years after it came out, postage stamp sized multimedia videos notwithstanding)
* Workspace switching effects so lavish they make Keynote jealous
* Brush stroke / Sumi-e, tiger striped, and other dynamically rendered themes where every button, every line looks a little different (need to post shots / explanation of this stuff, but another day)
* Progress bars made with tendrils of curves that smoothly twist and squirm like a bucket of snakes as the bar grows
* Text transformed and twisted beyond recognition in a manner both unseemly and cruel
* A 10% opaque giant floating head of tigert overlayed above all the windows and the desktop.
* etc etc. In short: awesome.

And that's a conservative approach to this: each window essentially renders into a texture which are then combined in a separate rendering pass by the compositing manager. A lot of the work Diana does challenges our assumptions about what this rendering system should be able to do. For example, something as simple as a swoosh that cuts across both the window and the titlebar is currently very tricky. Diana's work has illustrated something that may be obvious, but seems to be forgotten in the excitement to build the One True Graphics Pipeline (this does not exist!): Its very important to figure out many of the things you want to do with the graphics system before you get in too deep and dirty, because there are a lot of directions we could go that call for rather different architectural choices. To give one example, if we decided we really cared about having lots of animations throughout GNOME (this isn't something we're pushing, but we talked about it) that would dictate a very different approach from a graphics system where we really really cared about printing. You can't always have your cake and eat it too... especially not when you consider implementation constraints.

Another example of how prioritizing "what do we want to improve with this" can change the direction: Since taking advantage of these new toys would require a new theme system, Havoc and I have been talking about how a very different theme / widget rendering system might work with this that allows for custom design of any window, widget, or anything in between. One of the things us designers have been experimenting with behind closed doors is what you can do with a window's design when its not drawn out of a bunch of stock widgets but you have a freer hand. (This does not mean visual inconsistency, just as a magazine can maintain a consistent look but still do a fresh layout for each page using a mix of stock and new elements.) The results can be really good. No matter how good the artist, you can only get so far designing a crude palette of some fixed number of widgets which are then used in preset. A good theme/widget rendering framework would help us negotiate this balance between re-using stock elements, and overriding the rendering of widgets at appropriate points to customize how a "Control Center Preference Page" is drawn or to simply shift the text in buttons over 10 pixels to the left. Figuring out how this stuff works, or if we just want to leave the theming issue alone (which would sort of be a shame given how much of the old flooring we're tearing up around it), may also have a significant impact on the final architecture.

A radical model (which also avoids multi-pass rendering without opening up security issues present in sharing direct access to existing graphic cards between processes) might involve a centrally rendered scene-graph where each client is given a subtree to add higher-level primitives. That could give us access to candy like pixel and vertex shaders (which we experimented with several months ago as part of rendering subtle but live backgrounds of grass fields, etc), which are attached to nodes on the render tree. Of course, there are many paths for leveraging shaders short of a full scene graph system. The scene graph model has a lot of significant concerns that are not as relevant to, say, 3D games where this model is common. Text rendering is one example.

Owen and company have slides from the X dev conf, but the punks did them as SVGs so unless you have their k-rad Cairo backed SVG slide presentation program, or if you're willing to view slides in Inkscape... they're not much good (though it is cool that you can find the slide you need using Nautilus thumbnails, but I digress) (hmmm, you can also open them in eog). Honestly, not the most inspiring OR detailed slides in the world either. I don't think they'd had much sleep when they wrote them up. *grin*

Anyway... I'm rambling. I've given a couple points too much depth, most points not enough depth, many points I've missed, and doubtless some I've gotten wrong, but I knew if I waited to write the perfect post on this there'd be only more backlog of material to share... so a braindump it was. :-) I guess in the end I'm pretty excited. It feels like we're running the last couple miles to get to the giant great-rendering payoff Keith Packard kicked off in the X world several years ago.
Code and stuff

* Cairo I think everyone knows about... writing for Cairo in Python or Mono is especially cool. Its really easy to get something that looks good going in short order. If you haven't played with it, you should!
* Luminocity is in GNOME cvs with the module name 'luminocity'
* Metacity compositing work is in 'metacity' with the branch 'spiffifity'
* GTK+ / Cairo integration.... gtk+ HEAD!

Apparently they also have a jhbuild setup that'll build all this stuff thats headed for CVS in fairly short order.

And for my last point...
Hula!

So basically (3, Interesting)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692114)

OS X.

Actually reading through it now, it looks like they are going for a combination of OSX and XP. Still got to ask, are they beating a dead horse, when OSX does Xwindows too?

Re:So basically (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692160)

OS X, at least in its current incarnation, does X11 badly. Hopefully Jobs will find it not stylish enough and come up with a clever way to fully integrate it into Quartz. So they're basically cloning OS X. For example, run that Indiana Jones app and select to keep the icon in the dock. Quit the app, then drag the icon out from the dock. {POOF!} with a lovely cloud.

Re:So basically (1)

sgant (178166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692179)

True, but OSX doesn't work on my machine.

I want an Intel/AMD based machine...and OSX doesn't work nativly on my machine. Nor on all the other machines that run Linux.

Would buy OSX in a heartbeat if they made an Intel based one...hell, would even buy two! Then get WINE to make XP system calls on it so I can play some of the XP only games...yet run it on OSX on my Intel based computer. Even get Apple to throw some dev money into WINE.

Why can't the world be this simple? One can dream though.

Re:So basically (4, Insightful)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692231)

OS X and quartz is no standard, it runs on one architecture and one OS only. This is meant for all the other OS:es who needs good visuals. Apple puts their mony on qartz, all other unix companies on this. Lets se who wins, whall we.

Re:Battle has already been won (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692413)

..by Apple. Apple humilated all other Unixes especially Linux when Jaguar appeared. It taught a shaming lesson to KDE and GNome afficinados in how to construct a WM, GUI, appropriate drivers and deliver fast results in a slick appealing and unobtrusive interface.

This current initiative is no doubt pleasant news for Linux heads, and provides them with a glimer of hope but the fundemental problems with Linux GUI(s) are simply too great for this to help them (it will make them worse) and they need tackling first. Of course it won't get tackled, instead the ever growing tower of graphics library layers in Linux is set to meltdown into an ugly mess anytime soon. Well it kind of has already.

You heard it here first

Re:So basically (1)

dsginter (104154) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692237)

A flat out copy of OSX's graphical driver model wouldn't be a bad deal since the two big graphics manufacturers already have excellent drivers available for that system.

Whatever they do, driver quality needs to be at the top of the list. This is getting crazy. Its almost like someone at Microsoft is paying someone to keep this from happening.

Re:So basically (1)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692335)

Of course not. Even though they are both unicies, Linux and *BSD/Darwin/OSX are very different things. More similar than XP and Linux, but still different enough that this deserves mentioning. Of course, XP and OSX are NOT free.

OSX Trolls (3, Insightful)

SalsaDoom (14830) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692356)

You know what? I'm really sick of seeing OSX trolls posting all over slashdot.

Everytime ANY topic comes up, some OSX troll pipes in "So its just like OSX!" well, OSX isn't fully (or even mostly) open source, Quartz Extreme isn't an open standard, etc. Ok? Do you understand that? Even if it was, we like our software to be GPL'd so that we don't just shift ourselves from being slaves to Bill Gates and Microsoft, to being slaves of Steve Jobs and Apple. Mabye you don't care if you really 'own' your PC or not but we linux users do. So STFU with your OSX this and OSX stuff that.

Its even getting absurd. Someone mentions making a Linux network for sharing sound -- some OSX Troll pops in "Just spend thousand of dollars on mac parts and there you go! You don't have to use an inexpensive solution!"

Pretty soon I'm gonna start seeing "If those idiots voted in OSX instead of Bush everything would be perfect now".

The Gentoo-Emerge trolls never came close to the kind of witless trolling that you OSX fuckers are reaching!

I don't like your cheesy OS! I think the widgets are ugly! I think that stupid bar on the bottom of the screen looks like CDE back from the grave! I like my Athlon64 instead of your goddam PPC! I like my beige case instead of your tiny little silver box! I want to be able to open my case and see what shits inside it, and I don't want to have to use a fucking laptop harddrive in a non-portable computer!

Every-fucking-topic some OSX troll shoes his stupid platform in, its worse then the Liberal-Conservative crap from the Americans.

Look you obnoxious pricks -- not everyone digs your fucking Macs.

--SD

So, uh, tell me... (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692483)

...how do you really feel?

linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692120)

Are those techniques only available on one kernel? IMHO that "for Linux" part is optional.

But why do they need their own... (4, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692135)

oh. sorry. parsing error.

I read that as "Next Gen-X Window Rendering for Linux"

AMD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692262)

I thought AMD bought NextGen.

Re:But why do they need their own... (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692438)

Yeah, I read it that way, too, and all I have to say is whatever, man.

Cool (5, Funny)

M3rk1n_Muffl3y (833866) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692137)

I am sure the new Linux desktop will make OSX look like Windows. And then the entire creative department will rush out and buy Linux based laptops just to look trendy.

Re:Cool (1)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692369)

And a million geeks just creamed their pants thinking of that.

Envious Fanboy Alert (1)

_damnit_ (1143) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692409)

I am suprised it took me this long to find a linux fanboy post. Wow. The zealots are getting lazy around here.
OTOH, it was a nice effort to bash Windows, Apple and everyone who owns a Mac in so few words.

All this, and yet.... (1, Flamebait)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692141)

BeOS *still* does it better and faster than any other OS out there.

Here's a little hint to the (future) OS coders out there:

Don't make it snazzy, make it *functional*, snazzy can come later.

Re:All this, and yet.... (0)

ignorant_newbie (104175) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692187)


BeOS *still* does it better and faster than any other OS out there. Here's a little hint to the (future) OS coders out there: Don't make it snazzy, make it *functional*, snazzy can come later. /blockquote
yeah. functional... like multi user. be's multi user capability was just kick ass.

Re:All this, and yet.... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692230)

This isn't talking about an OS, just window rendering. Providing hardware acceleration won't force DE designers to use snazzy effects, but it will make it so any snazzy effects they do use will be able to take advantage of modern hardware to render things quickly and efficiently.

So... I'm not sure your comment is on-topic.

Re:All this, and yet.... (1)

crimoid (27373) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692234)

> Don't make it snazzy, make it
> *functional*, snazzy can come later

Some would say we currently have enough functionality.

Re:All this, and yet.... (4, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692240)

"Don't make it snazzy, make it *functional*, snazzy can come later."

I was under the impression that most of the UIs for Linux already are functional.

With that said: Visual feedback is part of being functional. Imagine if ythe cursor you used in the field you typed this into didn't blink. You could adjust to it, but admittedly this 'snazzy' feature is helping you.

'Snazzy' is more benefical than most realize. Remember that we, as a species, are interactive creatures. Visual snazziness really isn't all that different from body language.

Re:All this, and yet.... (4, Funny)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692266)

Hey, this will get you "Windows that shrink scale and move all over the fucking place with cool animations". What more could you want?

Re:All this, and yet.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692380)

Clippy.

Someone had to say it.

Re:All this, and yet.... (1)

eric_brissette (778634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692353)

Functional for who?

For me, Gnome is plenty functional. I wouldn't mind a little more snazzy. Maybe I'm just not geeky enough to realize what functionality I might be missing.

Re:All this, and yet.... (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692420)

Don't make it snazzy, make it *functional*, snazzy can come later.

Or not at all. Personally, I turn off just about any eye candy. Don't even need rendered window dragging.

Re:All this, and yet.... (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692465)

Yet something such as OS X is snazzy and functional.

It can be done, it can be done well. I'm actually considering a move to Macs simply because they work, they work well, they let me work well, and they look good whilst working well.

Evas? (4, Insightful)

ZennouRyuu (808657) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692142)

Seems to be working toward the same goal as the E folks with their DR17 and associates libraries.

Don't get too carried away now (3, Funny)

cronius (813431) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692158)

Windows that shrink scale and move all over the fucking place with cool animations

Yes, sounds... nice. And easy to work with.

Re:Don't get too carried away now (3, Funny)

bestadvocate (816742) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692336)

"move all over the fucking place with cool animations"

Like duckhunt for your x-windows?

Inevitable comment about bloat (5, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692161)

"Indiana Jones buttons that puff out smoothly animated clouds of smoke when you click on them"

This is kinda cool. I know it seems gimmicky and all, but I have to say there's something to be said for having a UI that subtley lets you know what you just clicked on.

I know a few people aren't keen on eye candy. They worry about slowing things down etc. But I have to say, in my own experience, the more visual feedback I get from my computer, the more attuned I get to using it. A lot of my actions become reflex instead of having to decipher what I should do next. For example, I use Opera. When a page is loading, a red X lights up. (Click on it and it stops the page from loading.) It's subtle, but I actually do react to that red icon there when it's on. Somewhere deep down, I have a sense of "This page is ready for you to browse". I find that sort of thing useful.

Of course, it can be done badly or absurdly, but eye candy like this can actually be really useful.

Re:Inevitable comment about bloat (5, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692371)

What you're describing are called visual cues.

There's a difference between eye candy and visual cues. The genie effect on OS X looks cool and is fast because of the hardware compositing going on. But more importantly, it's a quick visual cue to show you that you have just minimized a window, and it travelled down to the second spot on the right of your dock, so you know where it is. You also get a scaled version of your window down there. When an icon bounces for your attention, it's a cute little effect, but it's also a visual cue to let you know the app is wanting your attention.

It goes beyond animation effects, too. People have commented on OS X's "gumdrop" window controls, which look cute and friendly, but few seem to notice they're arranged like a traffic light, which is intuitive for most people. Red, yellow, and green circles--red closes the window, yellow minimizes, and green zooms.

Note that I use OS X as an example simple because I think it's the undisputed king of GUI visual cues. I think Linux needs more creative taste and aesthetic in its interfaces. I'm willing to contribute.

Re:Inevitable comment about bloat (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692507)

"here's a difference between eye candy and visual cues."

I'm not sure I understand this particular point. (I think I get the rest of your post, though...) Can you give me an example of something that is eye candy without serving as a visual cue?

"I think Linux needs more creative taste and aesthetic in its interfaces. I'm willing to contribute."

Heck, I would too, if I thought anybody'd listen. Not only am I an artist that can create graphics, but I also have some (light) UI design experience.

Re:Inevitable comment about bloat (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692386)

I think that th e"bucket of snakes" progress bars will advance usability by 20 years, or so.

I also like the well-placed use of the word "fucking" in the descriptions.

Re:Inevitable comment about bloat (1)

bestadvocate (816742) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692412)

>They worry about slowing things down etc.
Part of the "etc." is the constant bombardment of distractions, as pointed out recently from the nytimes article http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/10/technology/circu its/10info.html?8cir
(free regestration required and worth it)

but hey some people like to be destracted. I know I use my computer for dumb things like /.ing

Re:Inevitable comment about bloat (2, Insightful)

jerometremblay (513886) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692424)

I think that most people who say they dislike visual effects actually think about USELESS eye candy.

A visual effect is useful only if it conveys additional information. It must not be used simply because it's possible to do so. For background/low importance tasks, I'll take a subtle icon animation over a modal dialog box any day.

Re:Inevitable comment about bloat (2)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692437)

Exactly. There's something to be said for more Visual Feedback as opposed to just eye candy/bloat. Visual Feedback lets you know something has happened and actually lets you work more intuitively with your computer. Eye candy is there for nothing more than the purpose of looking cool - and usually takes away from productivity. There is sometimes a fine line between the two, however. Of course, another problem is frame rate or rendering speed. Many effects of this nature are sure to be graphics card/processer intensive, and many linux graphics drivers are not up to par, like ATI. I have an ATI card, and I wish I had an NVidia again for using Linux. I know that, no matter how cool something looks, or how much better it may be, if it slows down my computing because I can't render it Quite fast enough, it gets turned off.

XGL, OpenGL-based X11 Server (5, Interesting)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692163)

I submitted this story to Slashdot last week, but for some reason it seems to be stuck in "Pending" status, so go here: http://nat.org/2005/february/#9-February-2005 [nat.org]

It's an OpenGL-based X11 server, complete with some screenshots. Apparently, window dragging is very smooth (no repaint events are even given to the apps), and with Cairo and GTK, this really could be the future backend for Linux desktops.

Re:XGL, OpenGL-based X11 Server (1)

learn fast (824724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692378)

OS X's X11 already has this:
Fast graphics

Quartz icon X11 for Mac OS X takes advantage of the Mac OS X Quartz [apple.com] graphics system to deliver hardware-accelerated 2D and 3D graphics. Quartz provides snappy scrolling speeds for text, live drag and resize of windows, as well as no-compromise 3D animation through OpenGL Direct Rendering.

Re:XGL, OpenGL-based X11 Server (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692389)

You see, this is the difference between GNOME hackers and KDE hackers.

GNOME hackers put the work in where it belongs. KDE hackers shove everything into either QT or the KDE libraries... always ensuring their work is tied to TrollTech's (and SCO/Canopy) cashcow Qt.

KDE builds eye candy and a shitty, buggy and complicated desktop. GNOME has been quietly (and I do mean quietly, without all the slashdot hype that KDE gets) building an XP/Mac OSX rival the right way... from the bottom up and getting all the pieces in place.

Re:XGL, OpenGL-based X11 Server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692494)

There is a point where "making it actually work" takes precedence over "making the underlying design perfectly fucking beautiful". See Linux vs. Hurd.

That said, I still think Gnome's design sucks. I'd thought XFCE was firmly entrenched as the Apple clone for OSS, but Gnome's been trying to shoulder in on that action lately.

As long as we're dreaming... (-1, Troll)

Scutter (18425) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692167)

I'd like a pony, too.

Re:As long as we're dreaming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692268)

Done. Plus, it will be rendered in real-time. With a swishy tail.

Re:As long as we're dreaming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692323)

well I don't have a pony, but I do have something you could stick down your throat....
That'll make you a little horse.

Fully accelerated FBDev across monitors? (2, Interesting)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692180)

I didn't see any specific mention in here, but does this include having a fully 3D accelerated Framebuffer device across graphics cards? I've been missing this for a while in X, having just gotten triple-monitor across two Radeons working. It would be cool to be able to play any 3D game across three monitors.

I'm not losing any sleep over this, but it would be cool. I read on an X board that some people are looking at this, but it's obviously a big undertaking.

Some issues... (4, Interesting)

bani (467531) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692181)

overall the idea is good, however...

1) rendering to texture is slow on some GPUs, especially GPUs with limited memory.
2) alpha blending is expensive on almost all GPUs.

imo X needs an overhaul, needs to ditch the legacy crap (lose Xaw for example) and move on. stop interfacing with video hardware like it's 1980.

Re:Some issues... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692258)

You won't spend a single CPU cycle on Xaw if you don't use it. Just half a cent's worth of disk.

Re:Some issues... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692332)

alpha blending is expensive on almost all gpus? is this really the case? i always thought they did it quite fast. maybe a little slower at some insane resolutions but otherwise id think it should be fast.

Re:Some issues... (3, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692349)

"2) alpha blending is expensive on almost all GPUs."

Well, to be fair, compare the task of running Doom 3 to the task of being a pretty desktop UI. Cards will always get better. If the idea takes off, new cards will be tweaked to make the experience more interesting. (For this reason, it's a good thing for all of us that Microsoft is heading in this direction, too.)

Re:Some issues... (1)

hugg (22953) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692401)

<Lumbergh>Yeaaah, I'm just not sure about that right now...</Lumbergh>

1) Rendering to texture is an API issue. DirectX has pretty decent support for this, the only performance hit being a state change when you switch to this mode. OpenGL's support with pbuffers exists on most cards, but less spiffy until this Uberbuffer thing gets standardized (wait awhile, that is). The memory question, well, that's a valid point if you like to stack windows 10 deep, but clever management of buffers will help this.

2) Huh? Simple alpha-blending is essentially a no-op on modern cards, unless we're talking Doom-3 style mega-layering. I don't think that's the context here.

Re:Some issues... (1)

hab136 (30884) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692408)

imo X needs an overhaul, needs to ditch the legacy crap (lose Xaw for example) and move on. stop interfacing with video hardware like it's 1980.

Then you want Fresco [fresco.org] .

Even has pretty screenshots [fresco.org] .

Compatibile with GGI and X for your old applications.

There is this little thing called a network effect, though.. which means you run X because everyone else runs X, and nobody wants to be the first guy to try something new. So good luck getting it adopted.

I wish this was here sometime soon... (2)

bheer (633842) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692182)

but considering this guy has basically laid out a "What It Might Look Like" roadmap, this looks like more more vaporware than Avalon ever was. Three more years, at least.

Re:I wish this was here sometime soon... (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692492)

Red Hat has been working on this for months now. It's already able to be ran and now Nat from Novell hopped on board too. Its going places, and very quickly. The architecture is the most advanced design of an graphics system today. More so then Longhorn and OSX.
Regards,
Steve

What next... (5, Funny)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692184)

'Indiana Jones buttons that puff out smoothly animated clouds of smoke when you click on them.

...a paperclip that bats its eyelids and talks to you when you click on it? We could call it Xlippy.

Re:What next... (1)

nebulus4 (799015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692414)

"a paperclip that bats its eyelids and talks to you when you click on it"

Oh, just admit it... you like it, aren't you?

Re:What next... (1)

mattyrobinson69 (751521) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692478)

or make it 'talk' too much and just call it Lippy

No Screens?! (0)

ect5150 (700619) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692190)

No screenshots? Someone please post a dupe-story when the screens are up. Thanks in advance ;)

Re:No Screens?! (1)

wawannem (591061) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692393)

You know you're on /. right? I mean, a dupe article is guaranteed... Just give it a day or two.

xdesktopwaves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692195)

I've just discovered it, and I love it.

Graphic Card Dependencies (3, Insightful)

lxt (724570) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692203)

Particularly true with Tiger (what with the new CoreImage technology), OS X really can push eye candy more than Windows (and Linux) for one main reason - the mac development team have a limited number of graphics cards to develop for, and the drivers are pretty much rock solid.

I just don't see that happening in Linux / Windows - developers must write for as wide a range of hardware as possible. One would therefore imagine that such eye candy being talked about in Linux would be optional, and you'd only get the full benefit with the highest powered and most compatible graphics card - whereas in OS X, most users can get the eye candy without any problems. Of course, there are certain graphics cards on macs that don't support Core Image, Quartz Extreme etc, particularly on the older macs people are upgrading, but I'm willing to bet the majority of macs will be able to run Core Image etc. Whereas here, the minority of PCs will be able to run the Linux eye candy.

Re:Graphic Card Dependencies (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692338)

coreImage is an API that will make it easier for developers to used the GFX card for processing images. it will scale to the abilities of the card. the GUI will not have any need for it.

Re:Graphic Card Dependencies (1)

DaveJay (133437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692473)

There's an interesting idea: perhaps there should be an effort to develop a core set of hardware that is Linux-compatible with rock-solid drivers, then sell those as Linux Boxen the way Apple does. The big difference, of course, would be that you are still free to run Desktop Linux on other machines, but this would be a great way to get newbies involved.

Oh, wait. Linspire and Desktop/LX are already doing this.

Oh, wait. OSX is now cheaper than ever, thanks to the MacMini.

Nevermind. Perhaps we just need a "these specific hardware devices are ROCK SOLID and FULLY SUPPORTED" list instead. Anyone know of one?

Almost (1)

aurifex (830870) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692277)

If Linux can beat Longhorn to the punch with a fully 3D rendered GUI, ala OS X, I will switch 100%.

Furture of Theme managers? (1)

bestadvocate (816742) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692281)

"Since taking advantage of these new toys would require a new theme system, Havoc and I have been talking about how a very different theme / widget rendering system might work with this that allows for custom design of any window, widget, or anything in between."

Theme managers for Gnome seem to me to be just stabilise to stableize under hoary. I hope the flow of new features with a major revision to theme management won't break down the continuity of it.

Yet more eye-candy... (4, Interesting)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692285)

Looking at the article, I see:

A few things that sound useful, like:

  • Hardware accelerated PDF viewers
  • Synchronized smooth resizing so there's no disjunct between window borders moving and the contents redrawing (you should see the demos of this in luminocity... it really makes a difference in how real the interface feels, just as double-buffering did for stuff moving)
  • A shared path between on-screen display and printing (using Cairo's PDF/PS backends)
  • Alpha transparency in applications whenever and wherever the urge strikes us
A couple things that may lead to greater usability:
  • Toolkit themes that draw with layer blending effects, delightful bezier curves, and irritating alpha gradients
  • Live window thumbnails
And lots of rather pointless fancy eye candy:
  • Indiana Jones buttons that puff out smoothly animated clouds of smoke when you click on them
  • Hundreds of spinning soft snowflakes floating over your screen.... without messing up nautilus
  • A photograph of a field of long dry savanna grass as your desktop background... where the grass is gently swooshed around by a breeze created by moving your mouse across the background
  • Windows that shrink scale and move all over the fucking place with cool animations
  • Vector icons with very occasional super subtle animations rendered in realtime...a tiny fly which buzzes around the trash every several minutes, etc... think mood animations as in Riven (which as a total random aside is still a shockingly beautiful and atmospheric game years after it came out, postage stamp sized multimedia videos notwithstanding)
  • Workspace switching effects so lavish they make Keynote jealous
  • Brush stroke / Sumi-e, tiger striped, and other dynamically rendered themes where every button, every line looks a little different (need to post shots / explanation of this stuff, but another day)
  • Progress bars made with tendrils of curves that smoothly twist and squirm like a bucket of snakes as the bar grows
  • Text transformed and twisted beyond recognition in a manner both unseemly and cruel
  • A 10% opaque giant floating head of tigert overlayed above all the windows and the desktop.
Now, these fancy effects are certainly kind of cool, and may look nice. (Though I can guarantee that when they're all in, I'll probably still be using Blackbox.) However, is that really all that the future holds? More special effects, without any substantial improvements in usability?

Re:Yet more eye-candy... (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692316)

the underlying technologies that allows for those effects are what will promote new usability features. the 2D GUI is maxed out for usability... now we have a 3d accelerated GUI based on PS/PDF.... that is where the future lies... though I think Windows will have their GUI based on .DOC bleh

overview of modern display systems (5, Informative)

OmniVector (569062) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692298)

i wrote a paper [otierney.net] on this topic for my CG1 class, and it covers most of the modern display systems with a few right around the the horizon.

i'm hoping cairo/glitz will give quartz extreme a run for its money. now we just need to get started on implementing something similar to coreimage/corevideo!

Re:overview of modern display systems (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692471)

Too bad your paper confuses Quartz 2D and Quartz Compositor. (I don't blame you too much, since Apple marketing confuses them as well.)

That's great and all (2, Interesting)

theantix (466036) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692333)

It's a nice idea, for sure. I just hope it fares a little bit better in reality than Seth Nickell's last grandiose idea [gnome.org] . I'd like to see some of these idea implemented and not just discussed. Of course, I've contributed nothing to the success of these projects either -- and Seth's ideas are great. I'm not saying that I'm so much better than him, just that I hope some reality can emerge from this grandiose idea so that Linux doesn't develop the same reputation for vaporware as does Duke Nukem.

Nice quote (1, Funny)

SpyPlane (733043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692337)

"Windows that shrink scale and move all over the fucking place with cool animations"

Fuck yeah mutha fucka... watch those cool animations fucking fly... wooohoooo

Cairo Based Canvas (1)

knipknap (769880) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692347)

We are also working on a Cairo based canvas [debain.org] , currently using gtkmm, but with portability in mind.

It will be good.

Oh, (and of course I had absolutely no intention to say that when I started writing this posting), btw., we are still looking for developers.

Gen X Windows Rendering... (1)

Lazarus_Bitmap (593726) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692399)

Anyone else read that and immediately think Pearl Jam wallpaper? Maybe a grunge-inspired flannel theme??

Welcome to last week (2, Informative)

shish (588640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692411)

Those of us who like out UIs fast, featureful, and pant wettingy gorgeous, already have what we want [enlightenment.org]

I don't have any problems unless... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11692419)

I guess I don't have any problems with criminals being tracked, it would probably be a better alternative for high flight risk accused, than the imprisonment they are forced on at the moment. (So what if they aren't actually convicted of a crime yet...) I think the real question is , What happens when all of us [blogcritics.org] are criminals? [grayzone.com]

Uhm, E17 anyone? (5, Informative)

CountZer0 (60549) | more than 9 years ago | (#11692445)

From reading the article, it really just sounds like they are talking about ideas that Raster and co. have been long advocating (and developing) in Enlightenment DR17.

Granted, Enlightenment is a window manager that lives on top of the existing X protocol, but nearly every single piece of 'eye-candy' this guy mentions is already do-able in E17.

Since taking advantage of these new toys would require a new theme system, Havoc and I have been talking about how a very different theme / widget rendering system might work with this that allows for custom design of any window, widget, or anything in between. One of the things us designers have been experimenting with behind closed doors is what you can do with a window's design when its not drawn out of a bunch of stock widgets but you have a freer hand.

Sounds just like the themeing system in E17 to me... http://enlightenment.org/pages/systems.html [enlightenment.org]

Don't get me wrong, the things Seth describes sound cool, but the way he describes it makes it sound like they're the only ones with these ideas, when in fact Enlightenment 17 is already enabling most of what he mentions in this article. Sure, it's not a "production" release yet, but DR17 is certainly usable today, and has most of the features he mentions.

Heck, some things Seth talks about (Live window thumbnails) have been available in Enlightenment for quite some time (I know DR16 has them, and maybe earlier versions as well)
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