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It’s not “Xgl”…it’s “Desktop Effects”

Desktop Effects iconA while ago, my good friend Guy Lunardi, also SLED10 product manager, corrected me about the artist formerly known as Xgl. telling me that in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, the user interfaces all say “Desktop Effects.”

Hmmm…it turns out that the name did indeed change in SLED10. I think it’s a sound decision on the SLED10 team’s part. While many of us in the Linux community have been avidly following Xgl since it’s re-emergence in January of 2006, the term “Xgl” doesn’t provide newcomers any clue as to what it does. It’s not a descriptive name. Certainly “Desktop Effects” is better. It isn’t perfect, but it’s probably good enough.

I have found that many Xgl-knowledgeable people are having trouble setting up Desktop Effects because they try to do the same setup as they used on early SLED10 betas and on SUSE Linux 10.1 (or Ubuntu, or Gentoo, or…) Ironic that people are messing up because they’re too experienced, methinks. They go about it the hard way.

Novell has made setting up Desktop Effects a no-brainer in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. Now you go to the Control Center through the Main Menu, and select the Desktop Effects icon (as shown on this blog post above; notice that it pays tribute to the Xgl underneath the covers).

The Desktop Effects tool before Desktop Effects has been configured.

Once in, the interfaces show you whether your card is supported, and allow you to get driver updates if you need them. My IBM ThinkPad T42p has an ATI card, as you identified here in the screenshot. So the first cool thing the setup facilitates is that it helps you know whether you can use Xgl. Sorry. I mean, Desktop Effects. I’m still adjusting.
A click of a button starts the Software Updater. The updater then shows the package updates you need. Proprietary ATI and Nvidia drivers are provided through our partnership agreements and the previously announced SUSE Linux Driver Update Process [link to NOA episode]. By registering your system with Novell Customer Center, the partners’ repositories will be on line and ready to go. (You can also add the repositories manually if you know the URI for their repository.)

The Software Updater

When the update finishes, you get prompted to “Start SaX2″ to configure the newly-installed adapter. Sax2 is the SUSE Linux graphical utility for configuring your X server, One of the cool things I have found about this step is that SaX2 configures my ATI card completely in the background. SaX2 never shows up. (Come to think of it, we should probably change the “Start SaX2″ label on that button, since the name “SaX2″ has the same cryptic techno-jargon problem as “Xgl.” I’ll file it as a bug in bugzilla.)

The Desktop Effects tool after running the Software Updater.

On my ThinkPad, I clicked the “Start SaX2″ button and waited for a moment. The button changed to say “Enable Desktop Effects.”

The Desktop Effects tool ready to enable Desktop Effects.

A final click prompts you to log out. When you log back in, it’s bells-and-whistles-a-go-go. If you notice the tabs listed, this is also where a user can customize Desktop Effects. (Although many more options are available in the gconf-editor.)
(This whole process is described more directly on the Novell wiki Install Fest section.)

I still feel like the number of clicks could be reduced, and maybe the interface could have a visual indicator to show at which step you are in the process. But overall, the streamlining is much improved. It’s as easy as one would expect on desktop that is supposed to provide a more polished experience than a regular desktop user could.

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11 Responses

  1. “By registering your system with Novell Customer Center, the partners’ repositories will be on line and ready to go. (You can also add the repositories manually if you know the URI for their repository.”

    Are these repositories public to the beta testers of SLED or do you have to pay for them?

    Thanks in advance,
    Patrick

  2. Patrick:
    With the preview release out right now, you can register with Novell at no charge and have the repository configure automatically. I still have to look into how it will work for the final release.
    –T

  3. thats a nice change to desktop effects. maybe they should use xgl desktop effects though :P since there are competing open source softwares out there

    still its a refreshing change. one big difference i noticed when swapping between windows and linux are the names. in windows, everything has more self-explainatry names, i.e. photoshop, yahoo/msn messenger. In linux we have gimp, bash, etc. it doesn’t hint as to their usage.

  4. […] For everyone else, the cool shadowing is simply courtesy of Compiz, the compositing manager that sits atop Xgl or AIGLX and provides all the cool Desktop Effects in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. […]

  5. […] My favorite part of the story about when Nat showed me this is that he had pulled it from internal Novell repositories. I was helping him organize his demo for the LinuxWorld Expo pre-conference keynote he was to deliver that afternoon. When he installed it, I remember thinking to myself, “Well that’s not a very real demo if you’re going to show unreleased code for Desktop Effects.” The following day, Novell released the patch to all subscribers of SUSE Linux Enterprise, and thereby vindicating Nat’s use of it on stage. I love how quickly open source updates happen. […]

  6. […] There are a couple examples of effective renaming in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. In a related blog post, I mentioned that Novell chose to call Xgl/Compiz “Desktop Effects.” For an end user, the change arguably provides a much more memorable and intuitive name (despite perhaps sounding a bit mundane). A similar name was applied to the Beagle interfaces. Instead of using “Beagle” or “Beagle Search,” the product team chose to call it simply “Search” or “Desktop Search” in most interfaces. While the name may not have pizzaz, you get an immediate idea of what it does, and there’s not much to learning the name. […]

  7. […] permalink Ja, ja; Xgl heißt das Ding und ist frei (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xgl); inzwischen gab’s sogar schon eine kleine Live-Distribution (bootet von CD) namens Koroora-Linux mit Xgl. So ziemlich jede Distri hat oder bekommt anscheinend gerade Xgl-Effekte spendiert – SUSE, Fedora, Ubuntu… Das Problem sind höchstens die Grafikkarten-Treiber, wie immer. Koroora hat, glaube ich, Ärger gekriegt, weil sie die einfach mit drauf gepackt haben, ohne dass eine EULA vom Nutzer abgenickt werden muss. Ich selber benutze den SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, wo die GK-Treiber und Xgl praktisch ‘vollautomatisch’ installiert und aktiviert werden; auch ohne legalen Trouble. Inzwischen benutze ich auf dem SLED 10 allerdings eine neuere Xgl-Version, die eigentlich für SUSE 10.1 gedacht ist, aber anstandslos funktioniert (SUSE 10.1 und der SLED haben den gleichen Kernel; was für die eine Version kompiliert ist, läuft auch auf der anderen). Der Effekt aus dem Screenshot stammt auch von diesem neueren Xgl. […]

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