A 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).
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.)
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.)
On my ThinkPad, I clicked the “Start SaX2″ button and waited for a moment. The button changed to say “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.