04 September, 2006


Vista rocks, AIGLX/Compiz is so, so

Nothing like the above to get a bit of an audience, I guess... ;-)

I tried the freely available (i.e. no Passport account or other crap required) pre-RC1 build of Windows Vista sometime last week. Whilst I didn't delve all that deeply into new stuff that's under the bonnet, I played around with the new Aero GUI a bit. And I must say that I'm somewhat impressed. I thought the Luna style of XP was totally, utterly and completely ridiculous when I first saw it. Compared to that, Aero is quite neat and subtle. I rather like the frosted glass effect of the window title bar, the way windows are stacked at an angle for easy selection, the glowing window buttons and a few other bits and pieces.

I've since wiped that disk and installed Fedora Core 6 Test 2 to have a look at AIGLX/Compiz. I thought I use Fedora since this is where AIGLX originates. I'm not at all excited about XGL because it appears to pretty much require proprietary drivers - not good. (I've actually got a Radeon 9600 which has experimental but AFAICS working 3D acceleration in Xorg from version 7.0). So far, so good. I got the cube thing working, wobbly windows, window and menu shadows, minimise/restore window effects, the 'film' desktop chooser, transparency on move and likely more that I can't recall right now. It's all working and not crashing. The only issue is that it doesn't feel "natural" (for lack of a better word). Maybe it's because there is a bit of a lag when doing something for the first time or after a while, i.e. moving a new and large window or spinning the desktop cube. I certainly think that my Radeon 9600 card should be up to it - after all it spins the cube at break-neck speeds. When doing similar things on OSX or even Vista it feels like this is just what you do; with AIGLX/Compiz it more feels like "Look what I can do!" without that certain matter-of-course-ness. Or, to reveal my age ;-), it feels a bit like early eighties pop music that had just discovered the possibilities of digital synthesizers. (Also, and this can probably be considered a real bug, scrolling in Firefox is dead slow with AIGLX/Compiz.)

Having said all that, I'm surely and truly excited about the possibilities of a vectorised desktop and think it's got oodles of potential. And I'm equally surely and truly appreciating the work people have put into this. I've merely come to realise that the blurred videos on youtube may not necessarily convey the current state of affairs with total accuracy.

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