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3D Window Manager

CmdrTaco posted more than 14 years ago | from the bells-and-whistles dept.

X 244

xmda pointed us to a website for 3Dwm which, as the name implies, strives to be a 3d window manager for X. They talk about hardware that it might be useful with, and show some screenshots. It looks very rudimentary, but its a pretty interesting thing none the less. I'm just wondering how long with have a good 3d display and 3d input device that would make this really fly. And for that matter, will flatland be better for coding anyway?

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The intended platform for the window manager (2)

ashpool7 (18172) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567159)

Everyone in this thread seemingly ignores the fact that the window manager's intended platform is not a 2D computer screen, but a 3D CAVE, such as the 3D-CUBE mentioned on the homepage. Of course this idea seems stupid to all "flatland" users because you don't use X in a room where you are immersed in a 3D environment. Being able to run on Linux or any other unix is simply a by-product of using the X development environment.

This is a very interesting development for the CAVE environment, as it allows users to interact with X windows without leaving the room and going to a terminal. A CAVE user can start from 3Dwm in the CAVE and switch to other simulations while still in the environment. There is a CAVE at Virginia Tech where I go to school that might be interested in such an application....

What uses would this have? (1)

Mumble01 (5809) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567160)

I'll all for trying new interfaces to make computing more intuitive. And I have to admit that the ability to view ordinary desktops and applications in three dimensions *is* pretty cool.

But how can a third dimension make using a computer easier or more useful? The only thing I can think of right now is a different way to list inactive applications. Instead of listing them on a taskbar or a dock, it might be easier for people to remember the "location" of the app in virtual 3D space and go to it by "walking" there, the same way we do in real life.

I suspect that the fundamental way we view applications will have to change before a 3D interface starts to make sense.

Let's do it the Cyberspace way... (1)

[CommercialMan] (109663) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567161)

It looks like ppl are trying to get the desktop work the way as Gibson has described the Cyberspace. I doubt this will be useful until we are able to get away from 2D screens. Which, of course, will take at least a few more weeks. =)= Nifty but useless as long as "true" 3D is flattened by viewing devices.

3D (3)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567182)

I think 3D can be usefull for some things. Lot's of research goes into human interfaces and factors. One thing 3D could do, for instance, is to "push back" or "fold away", applications which were being used less. Say you have 5 windows open, but only are using 2 of time most of the time...the other 3 slowly move backwards on the z-axis so they cause less clutter. Instead of having "desktops" you could simply have "areas", regions of 3D space housing applications.

full screen antialiasing... (2)

jmatthew3 (100802) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567183)

i think one of the things really holding back some of these 3d window managers is really good, fast, full screen antialiasing. People have spent a long time developing nice smooth fonts and pretty slick little icons to make window managers look nice.

When you translate that into a 3d window manager, you get all the aliasing effects associated. Now, once 3d cards get to the point where they can do high-res with fs-aa, we might be able to see 3d window managers be a reality.

I'd love to see my windows in 3D with full screen antialiasing at 1280x1024 (my monitor only goes that high)

3dfx's next part supposedly out in february-march, code named "napalm" will most likely have the fill-rate and full screen antialiasing capabilities to do some pretty good 3d window-managing.

also, with their t-buffer's depth of field and motion blur, you could get some pretty cool windowing effects... windows out of focus could literally be "out of focus" and windows could blur as you move them. neat!

i can't wait.

I can think of applications (2)

Ratface (21117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567184)

I have actually seen the Chalmers 3D cube at an open day. I have to say that compared to some other VR type projects I have seen before, it wasn't so impressive. However, the idea of building a window manager for such a space is quite interesting.

It's certainly not somewhere one would want to work normally - it's no desktop computer replacement. However, imagine working on a project with a group of people - let's say an architectural project.

Now can you see the use of being able to work in a 3D space which it feels as though you are immersed in? Sure, this is not something which would be possible with the current implementation, it would need some specific applications for working in such an environment, plus some sort of control mechanism for people to affect the environment.

Other possible uses could include product mock-ups, collaborative work on molecular modelling, educational presentations and more.

While the cube wasn't so interesting as a plain VR app, it is REALLY interesting as a new possibility for immersive computing.

Re:maybe not so pointless (3)

jilles (20976) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567185)

I can see the point of having a 3d windowmanager. I find that 2d windowmanagers get really messy when you open more than say 4 or 5 windows. Basically you have to resort to tricks like virtual desktops or minimizing the windows since the average screen is too small to put more than a few windows next to each other.

A 3d desktop together with some other features could solve this problem. It would for instance also be nice if you would never have to start an application explicitly. Many palm top computers already have this feature and I think it is time to introduce it to the desktop also.

Of course just a enormous plane with flat windows sticking out of it is not very usefull. People are bad at keeping track of more than say 7 or 8 things at the same time. That's why menus are tree like structures (i.e. you don't put your zillion options in one big menu but you use multiple menus and submenus to organize your menuoptions). The same should apply to windowmanagers. I want to be able to organize my windows in a hierarchy. I also want to be able to have one window in multiple places in that hierarchy. A 3d structure could help to organize this.

The screenshots are really cool, though I don't see the point of working in the gimp window while looking at it at an angle of 45 degrees. It is great for finding the window, though.

A 3d windowmanager would also allow for 3d widgets, I didn't see any of those in the screenshots. Now coming up with usefull 3d widgets would really be a smart thing. Implementing them is probably not so difficult.

Re:GGI cube... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567186)

This screenshot seems like something much more useful in todays world of 2d applications. It's cool yet it could be quite functional too....just rotate the cube to a new "desktop" and keep moving. -Venom

3D volumetric displays are a reality... (1)

Wohali (57372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567187)

Y'all need to check out Actuality Systems [] . These guys have some stellar technology which is just on the verge of being available. I actually went to college with the founder of the company, and this summary in the online-WSJ [] (no subscription required) of Gregg Favalora's technology is an incredible read. Among other things, he's won the BFGoodrich Collegiate Inventors Competition and the MIT $50,000 Entrepreneurship Competition. Watch this guy...and get in on his IPO. :)

Object modeling (1)

Fats (14870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567188)

I think designing my objects models for complex projects would benefit from 3D desktops. Not just 3D desktops though, a real 3D monitor would be quite useful.
A full object model nearly always goes behond the boundaries of my desktop/paper which implies different abstraction levels on each page. This not so bad, but a full 3D model representation would be really nice.

SGI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567189)

They're behind the times...SGI had 4Dwm a long time ago... ...of course, it was 2-dimensional, not 3-dimensional, and it sucked, but who cares anyway?

Re:Nothing Extraordinary (1)

j a w a d (66763) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567190)

Sure beats a talking paper clip eh? TAKE THAT, MICROSOFT!

Re:Cart before the horse? (2)

Suydam (881) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567191)

It goes beyond that even. The entire use of the computer in its current state practially screams 2 dimensions. We've replaced paper, pencil, paintbrush, canvas, books, and letters written to loved ones with virtual counterparts on a computer screen....but all of those things are 2 dimensional. Even the computer display is 2-D. I don't see a 3-D window manager being useful for that precise reason. ... we don't even envision ourselves using computers for 3-D stuff really....sure there are fancy VRML mockups of virtual libraires and museums that look 3-D....but that's about it.

Sure is cool to look at though :) Maybe they'll turn it into a screensaver. Windows has that annoying "flying windows" screensaver. It would be cool to have it do that but with the actual windows that were open on your desktop...and in 3-D...


Utterly pointless (1)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567203)

Yet utterly cool.

Re:woohoo!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567204)

You're an idiot Mick!


Hrmmm (2)

GaspodeTheWonderDog (40464) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567209)

Having a standard bs'ing session with some of my old college buddies we talked about this sort of thing. However, I am of the firm belief that a 3 dimensional window manager is just a crutch to getting to the 4 dimensional window manager. Then the 4 dimensional window manager is a crutch to a 5 dimensional...

What we really need to do is determine what an 'n' dimensional window manager is, what it would be and how it would work. I just can't see a 3d wm doing anything for me that I couldn't do with a 2d wm. Ah well, just my two cents worth.

Re:woohoo!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567210)

thanks man, but maybe we should post comments about the topic.

Re:Hrmmm (2)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567214)

I've already got a 4-D window manager. I had great fun coding it; I spent most of next week on it.

Re:woohoo!! (1)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567215)


3D window managers are useless

nuff said

Oh no, not useless... (3)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567218)

This is not useless! It's just way ahead of its time!

And if they complete it (which I hope they'll do... Hope these images are not just GIMPed up!), it means that the moment the holographic display monitor hits the market, Linux will run it first!

Quick, someone begin coding the drivers! :)

"Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

The window manager for DOOM sysadmins ;) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567219)

Finally now you don't have to start up a copy of Doom to go hunt down a misbehaving process. Well ok kill -9 would work too, but that has no style. ;)

Re:Let's do it the Cyberspace way... (2)

PigleT (28894) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567220)

Me, I hope if goes further than the desktop idea altogether. Roll on the Metaverse from SnowCrash [] ! :)

Actually, I was wondering if CORBA was an appropriate vehicle to start implementing such a thing. A proper 3D environment (read: window manager level) might also be useful. Now for some networking and graphical *speed*!

Re:Nothing Extraordinary (2)

Bwerf (106435) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567221)

I guess the point was to have window manager, ok a talking head would be cool, but that's not what a window manager is all about. I think it would be much cooler to know what benefits you could draw from a 3dwm. ie the windows that aren't in focus are moved 3 dm back so they aren't as large instead of using that little thingie with the different desktops and windows on it(I lost my mind and can't for the world figure out what it is called).

If you have any other ideas about the benefits, please post least they can't be patented by any evil company then. ;)


D-I-Y 3D Window Managers, in Three Easy Steps (2)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567222)

  1. Download Mesa or OpenGL
  2. Examine GL-MAME, to see how it handles projections of non-GL bitmaps.
  3. Implement the window manager in such a way as it projects onto a surface, rather than dumping basic bitmaps into a rectangle.

    AFAICT, that is -all- these people have done, in essence. Produced an OpenGL Window Manager, with some basic support for projections. That's it. So much for the "amazing new technology". But, there again, it's genuinely innovative. Yes, it's been done before with MAME, but not (AFAIK) with a window manager before.

    If the Linux folks want to beat this to being the first working, open 3D environment, just add OpenGL support to Gnome and/or KDE, and you're there. It's nothing fancy, after all.

    BTW, that's VIC they have in that third window, not RAT. VIC's the video tool, RAT's audio. Honestly! I'm not sure how far I trust people who can't tell the difference between a picture and a sound. (Well, other than for those folk who have cross-wired senses, and hear images, but that's different, and even then, they could tell the difference between RAT and VIC.)

Re:actually someone HAS done it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567223)

Syanpse []

Re:The intended platform for the window manager (1)

FigWig (10981) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567224)

But mapping the 2-D image onto a plane is a trivial solution to the problem. Pretty much useless if you ask me. (which nobody did)

an other 3D window manager (Objective reality) (3)

nanick (36401) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567225)

Check out the screenshots :

to download the demo check out the following :


3D Already? (1)

FigWig (10981) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567226)

Aren't we all using 3D window managers already? I can send windows to the bottom of a stack and view several at once. Sure seems like 3D to me.

Wrong Metaphor (1)

splinter (94036) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567227)

to move into a 3d WM we must first lose the windows metaphor for aplications. the 2 just arent compatable.

Oh... God (1)

JavaFox (98763) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567228)

A 3-D window manager is probably as useful as that hacked up DOOM that lets you kill processes with a a shotgun!

Re:Cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567249)

Ya know? your response, and everyone elses response to this article remindedme of the article in here yesterday about how peer review has stifled innovation.
I say that instaead of flapping YOUR jaws and discouraging people from trying new and interesting things, you should just say "I'm not interested in this.".

Or better yet, SHUT THE HELL UP!!!

I personaly can see where the authors are trying to go with this. And I most definitly can see a parallel to when people were saying "GUI would never make it." and "who wants to push a mouse around?". But did THOSE people stop and listen to thier peer review? nope! and i'm DAMN glad they didn't!

To the 3d cube and 3dwm guys. KEEP GOING! It's a kick ass idea that MS is even doing internaly after they heard about the popularity of a 3d world.
Just my .02 cents.
:/rant mode off:

Re:Cool... (1)

bmetzler (12546) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567250)

I wish people that has talent could spend it on something useful.

Whoa! Who are you to deny people their rights to waste time as they please :)

I thought the idea was to make Linux more useless then Windows. World Domination, or something.


Re:Hmm (2)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567251)

It has to do more than that. It actually has to change the way each window displays itself on the screen. The Window Manager is not in charge of displaying a window on the screen, just managing it -- so this WM would either have to include it's own X server or somehow hook into an existing server. Otherwise it couldn't perform the angular transforms on the contents of windows.


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Nop, black and white is better for coding. (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567252)

A True black and white, no greys monitor running a high resolution is the best thing for coding. Nothing else even comes close, easy on the eyes, no extra distracting colors that add nothing to the expirence.

Right now I only have one program on my screen that uses anything but black and white, and it is a calander app my boss wants me to use. (Fortunatly it doesn't take that much screen spave, and the colors are not bright)

The only reason black and white isn't more common is most games need color. (Some non-lynx users would point out web sites, and a few sickos would admit they need porn, but we all know that coding is all there is in life, games are just to keep the kiddies busy while we use the old 386+linux+old monitor for real coding.)

Imagine the possibilities (1)

eyeball (17206) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567253)

Imagine what it will look when people do to the 3d window managers what Enlightenment and others did to the 2d window managers...

Re:3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567254)

Hehehe... That's all I need to worry about: my windows running away from me on my desktop. ;-)

Actually, all seriousness aside, it'd be kinda nice if it had a little physics built into it so that I can hit things in my "virtual office" just like in my real one... Windows can go skittering off into the distance at a swipe of my virtual hand.

Actually, for that matter, windows and apps should feel pain.

Now we're talkin'...

Re:Cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567255)

If my memory is correct from history class, wasn't the same thing said of the aeroplane, amongst countless other innovations we label as "revolutionary" in hindsight?

Re:Oh no, not useless... (1)

Enahs (1606) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567256)

lest we forget that SGI is using Linux and has dumped Irix...

Still need some work... (1)

Dunkahn (110152) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567257)

This 3DWM will be cool when you'll be able to make a window look like a paper-ball and then throw it in a trashcan as to kill the app. Ho yeah, it would be cool if we get a 3d-neko or 3d-Penguin's eyes too... We at least need that !

Re:Cart before the horse? (2)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567258)

The other issue is that people visualize 2d space very easily. The degree to which people can internally represent 3 dimensions depends on the individual, of course, but typically it's a lot lower. 4d's even worse. :)

Re:maybe not so pointless (2)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567276)

Basically you have to resort to tricks like virtual desktops
I don't consider virtual desktops to be a 'trick'. I did as a windows user, but with linux (perhaps simply because I've gotten used to them), I find them indispensible and ridiculously easy to use.

I want to be able to organize my windows in a hierarchy
Hrm. I'm currently using four different desktops for four discrete tasks; there are multiple windows on some of these but most of them have only a single window. Any heiararchy I imposed on these would be entirely arbitrary, mostly unhelpful and probably a waste of time. Granted, your use may be different, but I don't see any advantage to 3d desktops. Of course, when one with a proper 3d interface (one that ignores all prevailing 2d paradigms) comes along, I may well change my mind.

3D is a red herring (1)

Steeldrivin (32368) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567277)

One of the advantages of computers is that they allow you to transcend the limitations of the body.

One of those limitations is the 3D coordinate system which our bodies must operate in. This 3D environment increases the effort we have to expend to get anything done.

3D interfaces just recreate that limitation in a digital form, again increasing the effort required to get work done.

What's faster, looking for a file by slowly walking through a maze of chambers, or using 'find'?

In cyberspace there are more useful dimensions than X,Y,Z.

Eye Candy.. (2)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567278)

Wow, someone has actually out-eyecandied Enlightenment. ;-P

I wonder if there would be any plans in the future for this to also support some of the rudimentary 3D glasses that are out there, and some sort of 'glove' interface. I would simply LOVE to be able to just 'grab' a netscape window and move it somewhere in VR space, grab another window, make it full screen, etc..etc..

Life Imitates (Bad) Art (1)

Industrial Disease (16177) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567279)

So now we can build a user interface much like the one we all made fun of in Jurassic Park. Yay. With stuff like this, skinnable windowing systems, web-based interfaces and the like, we can finaly produce user interfaces just as silly as the ones Hollywood has been cranking out for years. Makes me want to enter "WHY?" on a keyboard and crash the entire network.

Re:Nop, black and white is better for coding. (1)

Steeldrivin (32368) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567280)

Grays are nice too, especially if it's a grayscale monitor and not a color-monitor-running-in-grayscale.

My old NeXT monitors (black, white, 2 grays) are still a favorite. Wish affordable grayscale monitors were still easily available.

Re:Oh no, not useless... (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567281)

Not even remotely. Irix is still alive and well right now, and Linux certainly doesn't fully support the SGI hardware. Yes, SGI has made inroads into really getting use out of Linux, but it's a far cry from replacement.

Regardless, the point still remains: This 3DWM isn't running on Linux yet.


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Ideal use: nested X displays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567282)

I read once about a 3d interface where each item
within the 3d "universe" could be an X server.
This seems like the ideal way to use a 3d


Re:How's this for an idea... ? (1)

CvD (94050) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567283)

This would be really cool and I would imagine, not too hard to implement. It could be the implementation of the display without the 'holographic display' needed. Kinda reminds me of an episode of Beyond 2000 from long ago. They had split up the screen in 2 parts, and if you crossed your eyes just right, you saw everything in 3D. They had a camera for each eye. It worked fantastically well, and required absolutely no extra hardware to implement it, just careful alignment of the camera's.

Now all we need is an intuitive way to display everything. Which brings me back to the Kill-A-Process-Using-Doom interface. Wouldn't it be neat if you wrote a Total Conversion for Doom or Quake, used the split screen (or two monitors) and you'd have a true 3D interface.

What they've done here with 3Dwm looks pretty cool, but what's the point of viewing a Netscape window from different angles? It's still a 2D plane... I don't see the point, frankly. Having a larger desktop space (to deposit your various windows on) is easier to conceptualize (and work with) than having various 2D planes (containing windows) left, right, on top and behind you.


Re:This has to be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567284)

moron yourself, this is to be used in a real 3D environment.

Re:The intended platform for the window manager (1)

Enahs (1606) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567285)

That kind of thinking is the same reason you don't have a Xerox computer on your desktop (what's the point, this is useless, just forget it, show the nice Apple people your toy so they can make a billion damn dollars with your idea.)

I think the point may be (and I'm just guessing) is to, at first, have apps to run in a 3D environment. We're going to need that crutch, after all...

Re:Oh no, not useless... (1)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567287)

ONLY on the x86 platform.. ;-P

Re:3D and HOLOGRAPHY (1)

sien (35268) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567289)

Real 3D displays are a real problem. Where I work we are desperate to get a really good simple working one ( ) . Unfortunately the only solution we have found is a CRT refreshing at 120 Hz and a pair of crystal eyes.
We have tried various lenticular lense type things, and they were all crap.
The only 2 promising ones we have seen are a british group (forgotten the URL) using holograms and a group at NYU ( the nearest URL I can get is ).

Re:Still need some work... (1)

Dunkahn (110152) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567290)

Ho yeah, I was wondering when they will implement themes. Imagine Laetitia Casta's theme in 3D ! wow

Re:Eye Candy.. (1)

MartyC (85307) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567306)

Well from reading the 3Dwm site it seems that that is exactly what they are trying to do with the whole thing. The window manager is designed for use in there 3dCube virtual reality environment.

Missing the point... (1)

EverCode (60025) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567307)

Their demo is just that, a demo. It is just an evolutionary step towards a 3D GUI.

I personally believe that 3DGUI has no future for normal computing, but might have some vertical applications.

More useful in interfacing would be to have advanced voice recognition, so you can tell your computer to run processes in the background while you are working, and it can tell you status updates, give reports, read news, e-mail, etc. all while you are still typing a doc, or coding or whatever.

Whatever happened to the dream of voice recognition people used to have?


Re:3D is a red herring (1)

Enahs (1606) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567308)

Combined with a vocal interface, and some intelligent "window management", this could be a really efficient interface.

Imagine being in a totally immersive environment (which the developers are) and feeling like you're standing in a room. On the wall, strangely enough, Netscape.

With confidence, you state loudly and clearly, "Go to Slashdot." Just as you expected, you get your fave news site. You remember that you needed to do some changes to your system. "Give me a terminal." Suddenly, a terminal screen (probably a 3D-managed xterm) and a keyboard pop up in front of you.

Farfetched, but it would be hella cool.

Re:Let's do it the Cyberspace way... (2)

bgarrett (6193) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567309)

As long as you're restricting CORBA to the relatively high-level stuff ("draw a button") rather than putting it in front of the equivalent of XLib ("draw a pixel here, paint it red"). The project to watch for this approach is probably Berlin; they already support the notion of CORBA communication between client and server, where the "toolkit" code is effectively on the server. It's a small step from there to writing a server that creates 3d objects, with no application rewriting necessary (unless your app wanted to manipulate things in 3d itself).

Re:3D is a red herring (1)

Steeldrivin (32368) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567310)

What does 3D add to this? The voice-recognition is possible in current environments.

I see no benefit to having Netscape in a window that looks like a wall. For one thing, it's more work to change apps. I'd rather click on another app's icon than have to dance around and crane my neck every which way.

This has to be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567311)

...the most moronic, useless thing that I've seen in quite a while. Projections of 2d windows onto 3d space, which is then reprojected back onto a 2d window (monitor)?!? The only reason having a 3d window manager would make sense is if there was actually 3d hardware to display it. Until then, it's an enormous waste of time.

Engineering in 3D (1)

afniv (10789) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567313)

I do engineering in 3D using analysis tools based on CAD programs. Whether your WM is 3D or not does not make a difference to me. As someone mentioned before, it's always 3D information on a 2D surface (monitor screen). So a 3D WM or a 3D tool (like I-Deas) are in the same boat as far as I'm concerned.

What I would find revoluntionary is an actual 3D world where you could literally "walk" around a particular part of system to see how it fits. Then I could alert the designer to potential problems before hardware is made. In my business, you don't get to build many (if any) variations of the hardware. This is were 3D pays off.

As someone else put it succinctly: "Use goggles and gloves".

"Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"

Re:maybe not so pointless (2)

jilles (20976) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567314)

"I find them indispensible and ridiculously easy to use"

Sure its much better than without windowmanager. But nevertheless it's a solution to the problem that you can't keep track of 20 or so windows in one screen. Basically the solution consists of hiding the windows you don't need at the moment. I know one guy who routinely has 30 to 40 xterms spread all over his 16 or so virtual screens. Putting that in one 2d screen would be rediculous. Spreading them over 16 desktops only works if you can remember where to look for each window.

Most computer users also open and close applications. Suppose you wouldn't have to do that. A good linux pc doesn't need rebooting so the only reason to close an application is to save on memory resources. Suppose you could automate this. I.e. if memory is needed, apps that are not in use are swapped to your HD. When you need them again they are swapped in (of course this would be nonsense for commandline apps). If you take into account that one app may have several windows, the number of windows in a system increases quite a bit so you need a good way to organize them.

Of course you can argue that you don't want to see them all at the same time. But you still have the problem that from time to time you are looking for a particular window. 3d workspaces may help in finding your window faster.

we've been doin this for a OpenGL (1)

lemmingEffect (165) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567316)

We've been actually doing the same thing for a year and a half now. though we took the opengl approach.

we're also working on a powerglove interface (aka the old nintendo powerglove).

it's part of an IPRO (inter professional project) at my university [] . you can check out us out: dimension []

our webpage isn't quite as cool...and we're in the middle of a rewrite/restructure so we don't have all the features down yet, but its coming along. =)

Think about it.... (1)

afniv (10789) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567318)

vi in 3D. How would 3D improve my life?

So I'm being facetious.

"Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"

Nothing Extraordinary (1)

dianos (94336) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567326)

Most of the screen shots just showed a 2d-plane floting in 3d-space. They could at least make some talking head or something to make it look more interesting.

Cart before the horse? (2)

Slamtilt (17405) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567327)

It looks very cool, but before it moves from being cool to actually being useful, I think the whole GUI metaphor would need to change to something that makes intelligent use of 3 dimensions. Then we could produce apps which used that metaphor and the 3D window manager would be more than just eye-candy.

Sounds like something I've seen before. (2)

blazer1024 (72405) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567328)

Sounds too much like the movie "Hackers". So, when we're bored, we can pull up a file manager, and spend 15 minutes trying to find X configuration files? Sounds... interesting.

Well, I suppose it would be fun to have. As long as I can make my X session look like something else. Like an old castle, with each room being an icon. Yeah yeah.

3-D window manager for 2-D apps? (2)

generic-man (33649) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567329)

I remember reading about Synapse [] on Slashdot before, and it looks somewhat better. I haven't used either of these, though. Still, on the 3Dwm page, it looked like all of the screenshots were just 2-D screenshots horribly distorted to be viewed at an angle. These weren't 3-D applications. Personally, 3-D window managers won't be ready for prime time until there are plenty of decent 3-D applications that people can use.

what would run better in a 3dwm? (1)

jonmay (67464) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567331)

While the idea of a 3d window manager is neat, there isn't much use for it so long as we don't have any 3d software to run off of it.
As the screen shots imply, a 3d wm basically is a really awkward way of organizing your windows. Make the manager 3d and you really shouldn't be storing windows anymore. (Maybe figurines?)

Or to put it another way, in the real world we keep our important documents on a desk top, not in a milk crate.
Good idea guys, but a little too far ahead of its time at this point.

Anyone remember "Out of this World" (2)

Masem (1171) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567333)

I remember this game on the Amiga, later ported to other systems, but not with the same quality. In any case, the initial sequence of the movie showed a guy using a '3D desktop', which was done using a holographic cube.

This looks very cool. But I do agree, the current computer paradime is very hard to put into a '3d mode' for nearly all applications.

Hmm (3)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567335)

Hey, how does this work out? I was under the impression that the WM just handles the border, resizing, etc. of Windows in X. If that's the case, then how does 3DWM show a window from a different angle? Wouldn't it be more like a replacement for the X server?


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

GGI cube... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567337)

Hah! I'd been wondering why no one had done this yet... Well, its good that this has been taken care of, now I don't have to make myself do it. ;-) Check out this screentshot, of Xggi running with 6 screens, each screen mmapped to the texture of a 3D cube which can be rotated : g


evguenii (97910) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567339)

Any ideas about holography devices real soon :) ?

Re:Hrmmm (1)

Yeshua (93307) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567341)

Does this mean we'll have to know matrix methods just to use our new X^n window managers?.....where did I put that file???.....have you checked the orthogonal plane?

3D is worthwhile, the question is for what. (2)

sien (35268) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567346)

OK. First, to declare my bias, I work for a company called ReachIn [] and all we do is this sort of stuff.
3D is definitely worthwhile for modelling, visualisation and simulation. How worthwhile is a good question. But even these CAVES, at about ~$1 M have been bought by the oil and automotive industries and paid for in a few weeks.
3D window managers are interesting, but how usefull they are remains to be seen. Without computers, for most things people actually work in 2D. Books and paper are 2D. Whether this is because the technology is deficient or because this is the most efficient way is a really tough question.
I'm not yet convinced that you can get a whole lot more from a 3D UI, but, this is probably like some UNIX hacker in 1975 saying, what Windows? Nice gimmick, but what do you NEED them for, I can switch TTYs fast.
But you should try shaping something in 3D, it's really a new experience, anyone who has ever tried to use 3D Studio Max or Rhino or whatever will appreciate that there is some manipulation of 3D stuff that is painfull in 2D 'cause it's SOOOO counterintuitive. What we do is have a PHANTOM from SenSable [] and co-locate it so you can see what you can touch. It is really quite neat. We can then do medical training and shaping like you wouldn't believe. If you can, get to SIGGRAPH 2K in New Orleans and have a look around, they'll be stuff from us and hopefully some others that will show that 3D is really capable of being worked in.

Re:This has to be... (1)

Mark__ (87839) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567347)

and the only reason that 3d hardware will be made cheaper and better is if the software is going to be there ..... don't you just hate these situations ?? ;)

Re:Missing the point... (1)

Mark__ (87839) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567348)

you can tell your computer to run processes in the background while you are working --- but wouldn't it be funky to have these processes quite literally in the background ?? (probbly get a crooked neck tho :P )

Re:Need better input and output devices. (1)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567349)

Well... how good do you play quake with a mouse? Quake is a 3d environment... what makes you think you couldn't have a window manager that emulated that type of environment? You wander around, find what you're looking for. Combine that with right clicking to pull up a shotgun and shoot zombied processes and you got yourself the most geeky wm to date. =)

The gloves-as-a-input-device has been tried. Ever use a touch-screen? If you have then you'll know that if you use it for more than a few minutes you get guerilla-arms - you get tired quickly. What good is a 3d environment if you can't use it for more than 10 minutes at a time? Goggles would be cool... especially if you combined it with a kind of augmented reality. You could literally virtually redesign your bedroom to /be/ your window manager.

However, this technology is *far* from pointless. And the stuff about a mouse being a less than ideal input device... yes... I consider /every/ input device categorically to be less than ideal. Until they can wire my brain directly to my computer input... there won't be an optimal solution. That doesn't mean we should stop using computers just because we don't have "the best" possible solution available. Use what you have... that's the engineering motto.


I for one want to help develop this! (1)

pngwen (72492) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567350)

This could become a real virtual office type deal. Notes on the walls, netscape on the desk in front of you etc. In it's advanced form it WILL be cool. This could work really well with one of my current projects and that is an LCD based VR goggle for linux. Imagine if you could immerse yourself in your virtual coding enviornment with that virtual flatland computer in front of you.

WE COULD ALL BE SITTING IN OUR CUSTOM CASTLES WITH THE ABILITY TO SUMMON WHATEVER WE WANT. we would be like class 9 mages in AD&D while coding... uber cool.

Because this coincides with one of my pipe dreams/projects and would make a real 3d viewer usable, when they release the code to this I will be pouring hours of work into this one! Anyone care to join me?

Re:maybe not so pointless (1)

cxreg (44671) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567351)

Well actually, if you think about it, you *are* using a 3d desktop already. Just consider the Virtual Desktop Dimension. This is just making that a visual dimension instead of a virtual one. I can see how some people would prefer that to the model you are currently using.

Re:Oh... God (1)

Mark__ (87839) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567352)

A 3d wm might actually let you kill processes with a shot gun :), isn't this also a step forward for 3d VR??

Re:The intended platform for the window manager (1)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567354)

Um, hate to shatter your perception of reality but Microsoft made more by stealing the idea from Apple than Apple made LICENSING the idea from Xerox. But from what I understand, this interface would only be worthwhile with 3d peripherals/displays. 3d Sound needs to come with it also.

Re:Cart before the horse? (1)

Haven (34895) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567357)

2d "space" is a plane with no thickness. So it's not space.


Visualizing a 4th dimension by a 3 dimensional creature is impossible. Its like take the cartesian coordinate plane. That's 2d. Then make a line perpendicular to those 2 lines. Thats Z and 3d. Then make a line perpendicualar to X, Y, and Z. You can't. You would have to visualize the 4th dimension do to that. And us 3ders can't. Go out and get a book called Hyperspace.

Re:Wrong Metaphor (1)

Mark__ (87839) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567358)

to make a 3d wm worthwhile, you'd have to actually be using 3d apps, 2d apps in a 3d environment is just a gimmick methinks... 3d web pages ne1 ??

Re:Hmm (2)

PigleT (28894) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567366)

If it does the sizing, it is doing positioning. It's also responsible for choosing how to draw borders around windows, so doing angled lines shouldn't be that hard.

But what next? Instead of "autoraise" timing, will there be a "flyby" setting so that you point at it and it goes flying past your head?

If people start using that thing that blows holes in windows in X apps, it'd be at least one step closer to my dream of having a quake-like interface as a WM.
Imagine that set up like an office - whiteboards for knotes, and when the manager walks in... ;)

Re:Anyone remember "Out of this World" (1)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567367)

Unfortunatly, the raised holocube was still showing flat images. (The same system the CAVE based 3Dwm uses) Myself, I always thought it looked a little like a cube of jello. (In the Amiga version)

Something to notice... (1)

odysseus_complex (79966) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567368)

Also notice that the main point of 3dwm is to run in a 3d immersive environment, or CAVE system. On the user level I can see this hearkening to that goggles-and-interactive-glove thing in Johnny Mnemonic. From a user interaction standpoint, this is really cool! I can't wait until I can have my computer project holograms that I can manipulate in 3d space.

The only question is, would the underlying X-protocols have to change for a truly 3d world?

Is this the future of desktops? (1)

Trevize (107455) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567369)

This looks like a cool development.

I mean, I'm just thinkng of 3d displays and stuff like that. Don't you think this is the way to go?
That's what you'll be calling "full immersion".

Re:Oh no, not useless... (1)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567370)

We really don't need a holographic display system. There are plently of existing, low cost systems that just play tricks with your eyes. (Shutter goggles, binary TV glasses, red/blue shifted images, etc)

Re:Oh no, not useless... (2)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567371)

Why would Linux run it first? It doesn't even sound like these guys have a Linux port of this system. Yes, the speculated that it would run on a 3D accelerated PC running Linux, but the machines they were testing on were SGI's: An Onyx and an O2.

So I guess when those holographic display monitors pop up, Irix will run it first :)


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Need better input and output devices. (4)

Dast (10275) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567372)

None of this is going to be too useful until we get some good input and output devices to use with it. Think about it, how well does a mouse that moves around in 2d work in a 3d environment? Same with your monitor, it is very limiting in a 3d environment.

What we need are gloves and goggles. Then this will become somewhat usefull. Think of all the desk space you could have. All you have to do is turn your head to a blank area. Don't like where an application is? Grab it with the glove and move it. With even more input devices, the implications for pr0n are unthinkable. ;)

3DWM useless without 3D display and 3D mouse (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567373)

I've been kicking around this idea for a while and though it's cool, it'll only really come into its own with 3D displays and 3D input devices. You could probably cobble something together with some of the optical displays popular in wearables these days and perhaps a web-cam set up to track hand motion. It'd be kind of neat to reach "into" the display and manipulate a program. It'd also be kind of neat to map 2D programs like Netscape onto objects like cubes or polyhedrons which you could then rotate to find the program you're looking for.

It's a cool idea though, gotta admit :-)

Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567374)

...or are the folks saying, "How dumb and useless without loads of 3d apps to run in it." missing a huge freaking point? Point being that how the hell are you supposed to _create_ 3d apps in the first place without a 3d environment to do it in? It seems the folks working on this project are trying to provide that base to work from. Sheesh.

How's this for an idea... ? (2)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567375)

Could X be hacked in such a way that it was double-headed, but displayed nearly the same thing on each monitor?
Next all you would have to do is take apart 2 pair of crummy LCD glasses (where each eyepiece is the same screen) and reassemble them so each eyepiece goes into a different video card.
Therefore, IIRC, you could have a truly 3D Linux system, and change the depth by altering the relative positions of windows on each monitor.

What do you think sirs?

The pager should be 3D (1)

Leon (28666) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567396)

I think a 3D pager would be cool, but I need my desktop to be in 2D to get some actual work done. A 3D pager would probably not be as efficient as a 2D pager, but at least it should look good.

3D GUI and CAVE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1567397)

To use this on a desktop will look silly. You must have a CAVE installation.

I don't know how many of you who have actually tried a CAVE. You wear shutter glasses and walk around in a room. Images are projected on four or six walls. You then experience an illusion of actually beeing INSIDE the image.

Imagine walking into Netscape using your hand to manipulate the links...

Catch-22 and Thoughts (2)

schporto (20516) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567398)

OK this really is kinda stuck as so many people are saying. I mean all of its apps are 2D, when it really is 3D. And what good is a 3D window manager if you don't have any apps for it. But how can you develop 3D apps if you don't have a window manager to run them in. Ohhh circle logic.

But slightly different if you want to start getting into theoretical ideas about it let's see. Imagine you are an engineer and designing something (or even to make Hemos like the idea a nano-something :). Well now you can have a real walk around kind of idea. And maybe there are chalkboards around that you can write notes on that are saved. Or even a calculator floating by you whenever you need it. But the 3D app really is the modeler of whatever. This would be great for graphic artists (imagine being in the world you are designing), engineers (seeing what you are building), doctors doing virtual surgery, etc.

The ideas are there you really just have to stop thinking in terms of flat info. Which I'll admit is difficult as everything today is 2D. Newspapers, books, computers, tv, just about everything is 2D. Except the real world.

The biggest thing this 3Dwm needs is actually a good way of displaying it. You really do need a virtual environment to use it effectively. Which they have in the Cave(?) but not every home user will have, well untill they come out with holographic monitors.


Exactly (1)

nano-second (54714) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567399)

I have to agree with you. When I saw the distorted screen shot with GIMP in it, it occured to me that while a 3D space was a cool concept, it would be a burden for many of the apps we run now. Imagine trying to use the GIMP at that angle... ridiculous, you wouldn't have any idea what you were doing.

This makes me think of the virtual computer worlds of cyberpunk novels. That would be cool. I have nothing against 3D wm's, I just don't think they'd be useable yet. I know I'd spend most of my time with it twisted so that it looked just the same as my normal 2D wm. I think it's going to be just a fun toy for awhile, but I'm sure its time will come.

The whole window idea (2)

Otto (17870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567400)

The whole window idea just doesn't seem to work for a 3d environment. I don't see any good way of porting it either.

Probably, the only way anyone is ever going to get a true 3d gui to be accepted is to write a ton of new "3d" apps for it. The 3d object idea is a good one.

Another problem is controllers. The mouse is a pretty poor 3d manipulation tool.

Another problem is the screen. The screen is a 2d window into your 3d gui? No, until some form of holographic display, you'll still have a hard time getting this accepted.

Here's what it all boils down to: Everything you currently have in terms of hardware and software is linked to that 2d window metaphor. None of it fits a 3d metaphor. Trying to link them together is trying to use the 3d metaphor with hardware that doesn't fit and with software not made for it. Just doesn't work.


Improved Desk Top Model? (1)

thales (32660) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567401)

Way Cool, It could help create a new desktop model, Make it easier to organize. We've been stuck on the same basic desktop since the Mac came out in 1984. Unfortunally it will probelly lead to far more Bloatware than useful aps. "Upgrade to our NEW IMPROVED 3D version 7.0 !!!"

Unconvincing (1)

Stephen (20676) | more than 14 years ago | (#1567402)

I must say, I find their web site thoroughly unconvincing. I mean, all their screenshots are only of flat windows from awkward angles. Even their descriptions don't explain why they're doing it, what advantages a 3D window manager has over a 2D one.

Maybe this is the way of the future. But they haven't convinced me of that yet.
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