Make Linux look awesome!

Gnome

It's now fair to say that the Linux desktop is at the forefront of visual effects, a cornucopia of eye-candy overflowing on to your desktop. And with a few tweaks, it can look even better.

With both Windows and OS X continually upping the ante in what the average desktop user expects from their desktop experience, it's vitally important that Linux stays ahead of the game - even if that only means turning on a genie effect for minimized applications when your friends come over, or using a more usable version of virtual desktops when you lend your machine to someone.

Adding eye candy should never be about purely cosmetic changes. Instead, it should enhance the usability of the desktop and make the average session more productive and more streamlined. We're going to show you how to do just this, and in the process we'll help you turn your Linux desktop into the envy of your proprietary OS-loving friends.

Compiz and Emerald

When the Compiz project began it marked a real turning point for desktop Linux, but the project has been through many transitions and hardships over the years. Suffering a fork, community alienation and a lack of development, it has re-emerged as the standard graphical enhancement for Gnome and many other Linux desktops, and it's a technology that finally combines maturity with some excellent productivity enhancements. If it's not installed already, most distributions will offer packages that can be installed easily, and you'll need only a moderately powered 3D-accelerated graphics card to get the most out of it.

One of the best additions to Compiz is the Emerald window manager. It replaces the border around your applications, and its big advantage over the default is that is isn't tied to a single GUI such as Gnome, KDE or Xfce. It's also the most easily configurable window manager we've come across, as well as being the best-looking.

Emerald replaces your window borders with a far more configurable and pleasant-looking alternative.

Emerald replaces your window borders with a far more configurable and pleasant-looking alternative.

Running Emerald

If you've already got Compiz installed, Emerald is available as a single additional package. If you're using Gnome with the extra effects enabled, Compiz will already be running, and you can launch the Emerald window manager by entering emerald in a terminal. If you're using KDE, or Compiz isn't running, run decorator first followed by the compiz.real --replace command. You should see the window borders change to the current Emerald theme, and you can edit the current theme by launching the Emerald Theme Manager application, which you should be able to find in your distribution's launch menu.

By default, the theme manager will contain only a single theme, and that's the theme that has changed the window borders on your desktop. To get the most from Emerald, you really need to get hold of some new themes. The best way to do this is to point your browser at www.compiz-themes.org, find some themes you like and download them. They're normally packaged as .tar.gz files, and you'll need to un-archive these into a directory. You can then point the Emerald theme manager at the .emerald file within these directories to import the file. Some themes are plain .emerald files that don't need any messing around with.

Fine-tune your themes

It's worth fine-tuning your theme from the theme manager's editing pages. Click on the Edit Themes page and you'll see the main parameters for each theme split across five further pages. The most influential parameter to change is the rendering engine, and this can be changed from a drop-down list. As with all Emerald parameters, each change updates the display in real time so you can see exactly what kind of effect your changes are having.

Our favourite effect is called 'trueglass', but 'oxygen' and 'vrunner' are good options too. Each engine will have it own set of parameters, and these will mostly change the colours used by the rendering engine on the window border. Use the Frame/Shadows window to adjust the size of the window border and to edit the size of the drop-shadow, and the 'Titlebar' page to adjust the size of the border, where the text is located and the kind of glow or shadow used to render the text. Don't forget to save your theme when you've finished.

How to get Emerald running

The easy way

The easy way: With both Compiz and Emerald installed, open a terminal and type emerald --replace. This will launch the Emerald window manager.

The harder way

The harder way: If you're already running Compiz, you won't need to follow this step. Otherwise, type compiz.real --replace into a different terminal session

And you're done!

You should now see the window decoration change on your desktop. To edit this decoration, launch the Emerald Theme Manager from your distro's menus.

Style up KDE

The development of Windows and OS X continually ramps people's expectations for what a desktop environment should look and feel like, and this point hasn't been missed by the KDE developers. It's the only standard desktop environment that includes gratuitous effects and eye candy that can be turned on with just a few clicks of your mouse.

Common to KDE's philosophy, it's also a desktop that lets you get deep into the theming engine. You can change almost anything about the way various components are drawn - from the types of icons and effects used on them to the window border and the rendering of the scroll bars. You can spend days experimenting with the results. But the best place to start is with the effects.

This looking-glass effect may not be as useful as the real thing, but it's still a great effect.

This looking-glass effect may not be as useful as the real thing, but it's still a great effect.

Effects

KDE 4.3 includes a massive range of effects that can be used to enhance both usability and visibility. For most, you will need a 3D-accelerated graphics card. It doesn't need to be powerful, and any card from Intel, Nividia and ATI/AMD will work as long as you're running recent drivers. All of KDE's effects options are tucked away within the Configure Window Behaviour menu option that appears when you right-click on a window's title bar. From the first window, you can enable compositing effects and choose the main transitions effects for window and desktop switching. It's here that you'll find the perennial desktop cube, but our current favourite desktop-switching effect is called Slide. This emulates the Spaces switching on OS X, smoothly gliding the windows from one virtual desktop into the next. It's not as nice to look at, but it is more logical and, importantly, more useful.

This being KDE, there's a lot more you can change about these effects and a lot more effects to choose from if you switch to the All Effects tab in the Desktop Effects page. Click on the spanner icon to the right of the Desktop Cube, for example, and you can adjust the amount of zoom and opacity, as well as specify a hotkey for starting the effect. Then there's pervasive desktop shadow, which KDE decides to paint blue. This can be tamed by reconfiguring the shadow effect, changing its colour to black and the opacity, fuzziness and size values to around 10.

Other effects worth a look include the Magic Lamp, Minimise Animation and Explosion for added impact when you minimise or close windows, and we also like the Wobbly Window effect if you keep the wobbliness slider set to Less. Enabling Sheet will fold file requesters into and out of the vanishing point, and we also enable the Dim Inactive effect, which subtly changes the colour of inactive windows on your desktop and highlights the currently active application. We set the strength of this effect to 10 and only enabled the Apply Effect To Groups option.

After Effects, the biggest change you can make to the desktop is to switch the icons that are used. KDE uses a pool of the same icons for every application, which means you only have to change them once to see the effects across every compatible application on the desktop. Icons for backwards, forwards, file requesters, web browsers, lists, previews, fonts and applications will all change as long as the new icons you use include replacements.

New icons can be downloaded, installed and activated through the Icons panel, which itself can be found within the Appearance panel of KDE's System Settings application. But we couldn't get the automatic icon install to work. Instead, we browsed the icons library at www.kde-look.org, downloaded those we liked as tar.gz files and used the file requester that appears when you click on Install Theme File to point to the location of the download. This process will depend on the icon package containing a KDE theme configuration file, and if it does, you should see the new icon theme listed in the Icons pane. Just select and click on Apply to make the change.

Three awesome window-switching effects

Cover Switch

Cover Switch: A good replacement for the standard box switching with some additional eye candy.

Present Windows

Present Windows: This is the best solution if you often have a large number of widows open

Flip Switch

Flip Switch: A different take on Cover Switch but laborious if you've got lots of open windows

Desktop theme details

The Desktop Theme Details config panel has been part of KDE since version 4.2, and it's best described as a kind of theme blender. You can enable and disable the various components that make up a certain KDE theme. You can, for instance, enable the launch menu from one theme, the panel background from another and the tooltip style from a third, and save this as your own customised theme.

Various KDE desktop components are listed on the left-hand side of the window, and to their right of each there's a drop-down list of themes that are installed. If you want to change the theme for the launch menu, just select the theme you'd like to use to the right of the 'Kickoff' icon in the list. With a couple of other exceptions, most of the components are self-explanatory. From the same window, you can also download and install other online themes and switch between any presets you might already have installed. If you want to share your own creation, click on the small 'More' button in the bottom-left of the window and you'll be able to name your new theme, add a credit and export the configuration to a file.

The Desktop Theme Details window is a great way to manage KDE themes.

The Desktop Theme Details window is a great way to manage KDE themes.

Colours

Colours play an important role, and it's a bit of a pity that they mostly stay rather static. Most distributions, and desktops, like to play it safe, leaving it up to the user if they want to try something a little more Vivienne Westwood. This may explain why KDE has been stuck with the blue that the developers seem to have been keen on for so many years, and nobody seems to have come up with a better idea. You can see much the same inertia in a certain brown distro we could mention...

Of course, unlike most of the desktop, the palette used to colour things on your screen is going to be as subjective as the colours on your bedroom ceiling, so maybe they've got point, but it's still worth investigating some of the possibilities. The various colour options can be found on the perennial Appearance page, and you need to switch to the Colours tab to get to the list of components that share a specific colour. Getting the correct part of the UI can be a little hit and miss, and setting so many colours at once can feel a little like browsing a catalogue of paints, but it can be worth the effort. When you find a principle tone you want to copy to the other widgets, click on the Add To Custom Colours button, as this will make selecting the colour a point-and-click operation rather than having to redial the same parameters.

The ultimate KDE desktop

The ultimate KDE desktop
  • Dynamic backgrounds With KDE 4.3.1, you can choose between an image representing the weather, a computer virus, a 3D globe and an interactive Mandelbrot fractal renderer.
  • Folder view This Plasmoid isn't just for local directories: you can point it to network drives and remote servers.
  • Desktop effects Right-click on a window's border and click on Configure Window behaviour followed by All Effects. This will list all the KDE effects installed on your system.
  • Image previews KDE can now display a preview of any images contained within a folder. You can enable this feature by selecting Preview from the view menu.
  • Translucency Make the Decorations panel slightly less opaque to get a subtle see-through effect around the borders of all your windows.
  • Resized panel You can resize and recentre the panel to make better use of your display. It also works well stacked vertically on the left- or right-hand edge of the screen.
  • Desktop pager Add the pager Plasmoid to your desktop's background to switch between virtual desktops.

Style up Gnome

Gnome is a fantastic example of minimalist design. Over the last few years, the interface has become increasingly refined and uncomplicated. You only have to take a look at the Visual Effects page of the Appearance Preferences panel to see this. In contrast to KDE, which has an effects page that seems to scroll forever, Gnome has just three options - None, Normal and Extra, and it's here that we'll make most of our changes.

To change the background colour of the panel to a colour that's in sympathy with the background colour, for example, choose an appropriate colour then move the opacity slider so that the colour from the background combines with the colour of the panel. The overall effect is much nicer than the standard grey, and you can do this on any panels on your desktop, including the one that's on the lower border by default - though this doesn't look so great when window titles start appearing, as these don't take on the new theme.

One distribution that does a particularly good job with the Gnome desktop is Linux Mint. This desktop has taken two particularly brave steps: it's removed the top bar from the display, and drastically changed the default colour palette. To learn from this, you can examine exactly what has changed using Gnome's Appearance panel. This rather neatly encapsulates each different configuration option for the Gnome desktop, and packages everything you see into a theme. Those themes are listed when you first open the window, and clicking on another theme can change everything from the type of fonts and icons used on the desktop to the background image and the colour palette.

As with KDE, there are now plenty of different desktop effects to choose from on the Gnome desktop, and where KDE wins on the number of effects on offer, Gnome has the advantage of smoother integration with Compiz. But to get the most out of it, you need to install the ccsm package, which is an abbreviation for Simple Compiz Config Settings Manager. With this installed, you can select extra option in the Visual Effects page - Custom.

Cairo-Dock has probably the most comprehensive configuration panel we've ever seen in an application.

Cairo-Dock has probably the most comprehensive configuration panel we've ever seen in an application.

The shiny made simple

The Simple Compiz Config Settings Manager is much like the All Effects list in KDE. Switch to the Effects tab, for instance, and you can choose between five different kinds of application switcher, including all the options that KDE provides.

Move on to the Desktop tab and you get to the menu where you can choose the desktop cube, although this is set to Desktop Wall by default. With the Cube enabled, further Cube Effect options appear on the Effects page, so you can contort the cube into a cylinder or a sphere from the Deformation drop-list. Press Alt and cursor left or right to see the effect. If you've got two screens, you'll see two. Another clever addition is the Screen Zoom effect, which can be found on the Accessibility tab. With this enabled, hold down the Windows key on your keyboard and scroll your mouse wheel to make the screen smoothly zoom in to your cursor. This is obviously great if you have difficulty with reading on-screen text, but it's also handy when you quickly need to make an image or movie larger.

Before you close the CCSM window, take a look at the last page. It features a configuration panel that can be used to trigger actions when your mouse falls into a specific region of the screen. Just click the area you're interested in and select the action you'd like to trigger from the drop-down list. Expo Edge works well from the top-left corner. This will zoom out from the current desktop and show you an overview of each of your virtual desktops. Right-click on one to zoom back in again. Another good option, perhaps for the top-right corner, is Show Desktop. Similar to Apple's ExposŽ mode, all open windows on the current desktop will slide out of view so that you can access files and folders on your desktop. Window Picker does the opposite, sliding in thumbnails of your open apps so you can preview the app you want to switch to.

Three awesome 3D desktops

Cylinder

Cylinder Slightly more intuitive than the Cube and not as jarring. The cylinder effect is half eye candy and half practical.

Wall

Wall This is the most usable virtual desktop effect, which is probably why it's the default transition in Apple and Gnome.

Sphere

Sphere The ultimate in eye candy, but we can't help thinking the sphere should be a little lower. We'd add a little bounce too.

Dock regeneration

Let's face it, Gnome's desktop panel is losing out to the festival of features that seems to be happening on the lower edge of the KDE desktop. The Gnome equivalent just hasn't changed all that much in the last few years, and the answer, as with so many things to do with Linux, is to replace it with something better. There are a surprising number of viable alternatives, but without a doubt the best panel replacement we've found for the Gnome environment is Cairo-Dock.

There are plenty of reasons why this is deserves your attention, but it's the only dock that it has a 'sobriety' rating for the themes you can download. And amazingly, it needs it! Most distributions, with the exception of Ubuntu, can install Cairo-Dock through the package manager. Ubuntu users will need to add the 'repository.cairo-dock.org' repository manually, update their package list and install Cairo-Dock and cairo-dock-plug-ins. Aim for version 2.1, released on 10 October 2009. Any version older than this won't give you the same features, and will miss the point entirely.

When you first run the application, it will ask whether you want to enable OpenGL. If your machine runs Compiz without difficulty, you should say yes, but otherwise you'll only miss a few scaling effects and transitions. If you have a dual-screen setup, you'll initially see a terrible Christmas-themed dock appear in the middle of both screens. This problem is easily solved by holding Alt and click-dragging the dock to somewhere more suitable.

To change the theme, just right-click on the dock, select the Cairo-Dock menu followed by Manage Themes. The window that appears will list all the themes available on your system, and you can find plenty more as a single package on the www.cairo-dock.org website. There are almost too many to choose from - from the ideas that are obviously thieved from other operating systems to the Gnome-friendly, colourful and subdued - but our favourite is called 'Bret' by Benoit2600. It uses roughly monochrome icons in an arc across the doc, and as your mouse rolls over them, they turn into little spinning cubes. It even embeds the Cairo-Dock equivalent to OS X stacks. As you hold your mouse over a list, they curve out of the original icon. Add this to a selection of well-drawn desktop widgets and a silly fish that splashes its way across the bottom of the theme, and you've got a winning combination.

The ultimate Gnome desktop

The ultimate Gnome desktop
  • Panel removal We've replaced the lower panel with the latest release of Cairo-Dock and left the top-border panel to manage tasks switching and running applets.
  • New icons Open the Appearance page and click in Install New Theme to add a new icon catalogue the icons under the Custom Theme option. This collection is called CON-GFlatSVG.
  • New colours We've used a combination of the Dust window decoration with our own selection of colours.
  • Backgrounds We like trawling through the Astronomy Picture of the Day archive (http://apod.nasa.gov/apod) for fresh images.
  • Widgets A popular choice is gDesklets, which can be easily installed, or Google's Desktop Gadgets.
  • Informative icons Another feature of Cairo-Dock is that it can stamp useful information into the app icons.
  • Cairo-Dock Not all of Cairo-Dock's themes are as far-out as this, but they all share the same functionality.
First published in Linux Format

First published in Linux Format magazine

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Your comments

Compiz Scale?

Present Windows: This is the best solution if you often have a large number of widows (Windows?) open

Is it the Scale effect in Compiz? I am not aware of such a Window switcher.

Graphics cards.

For people with older computers, to get the compositing features of a good graphics card.

( Since I'm looking ) I asked around and the consensus is stick to a video card with a GPU made by NVidia.
Find one with a GPU number > 9000 or > 1000.

Cheap cards with some of these GPUs can be had for as little as 5 pounds ( if I did the exchange rate right ).

Graphics card correction

Oops that should read <1000.

The point as I understand it is that after the 9000 series of GPUs NVidia started to use three digits to number their GPUs.

Manuals

For those of us wanting to "pimp our linux" ( hey not my idiom ), are there any books, manuals or web sites on the level of "XX for Dummies" where XX is KDE >4, Gnome > 2.2 or Compiz. I would like to read up on the various features I can use.

Avant Window manager

I have always used avant window manager as my dock but will definately check out Cairo Dock to see if it's better.

a wee comment or 2

Try Screenlets instead of gDesklets. It is very nicely assembled and has a tremendous number of applets that offer plenty of tweaking possibilities.
To an Dave the Rave: I used to use awn but stopped when it just became too unstable. Later i tried cairo dock, again since i tried it before but was not impressed,and was amazed at the improvement. Now, i just have a top panel for a sys tray , menu, and some launchers, and use gnome do, which should've been included you limey nixers *shakes fist in the general direction of GB*. In my opinion, theDock idea is a bit like jack black, impressive early on, but with more exposure becomes tiresome. Docky handles my open windows and includes a few random, AFAIK, launchers.
One more thing, no mention of Gnome Shell?

best
will

Yeah, it's all great, but...

... but till I get *a good* driver for my Ati graphic card (Radeon HD3200) I can't use most of it.

hah

Nice article. It's a shame I'm so boring. I work better with as little information on the screen as possible, so I eliminate, eliminate, eliminate.

I forgot how prett Emerald and Compiz are, though. Maybe I'll set up a second user account for showing off my fancy new laptop's capabilities!

Compiz is..

Compiz is little more than a collection of resource-wasting crap. I mean, seriously, would you be able to leave your desktop in that "cylinder" mode all the time and still get work done? Those "effects" are about as usefull as a screen door on a submarine, gnome already has ALT+TAB, most everything else in Compiz is nothing more than CPU wasting eye candy that is not at all necessary. Get a grip folks.

FVWM2!

I can change the active window color all by myself!

Jimmy, age 18

The ultimate Gnome desktop

I'm still a Gnome fan despite all the KDE4 "hoopla". Must try Cairo-Dock, looks great!

Quote: "Compiz is little

Quote: "Compiz is little more than a collection of resource-wasting crap. I mean, seriously, would you be able to leave your desktop in that "cylinder" mode all the time and still get work done? Those "effects" are about as usefull as a screen door on a submarine, gnome already has ALT+TAB, most everything else in Compiz is nothing more than CPU wasting eye candy that is not at all necessary. Get a grip folks."

Sounds more like YOU need to get a grip!

thanks

Thanks for this.

nice, impressive, but not useful

The effects are impressive, and I always like to play around them for a while.

But I must agree with some responses here, it is really not useful to get stuff done. At work, I run pure openbox, and have a pop up window underneath the right mouse button for an application window of the applications I need (and that is only a handful). I have no bars and desktlets and clocks at work. But I have a 1 pound ikea clock on my real desk :-)

That said, the eye-candy is absolutely great for a computer at home that is used by multiple users as an entertainment center. There, the eye-candy it really convinces people that Linux is cutting edge.

Nice I suppose, but not for me...

I think using a 10-year old laptop has sucked all the fun out of me. I cringe when I see these visual-heavy interfaces, I crave instant-speed and simplicity in all OS-related programs.

Beauty within is more beautiful :P

When i got evilwm running as i wanted i was completly happy. For me, elegant simple solutions is more beautiful then all the world's eye-candy combined.
Only functional eye-candy can win me over.
Nevertheless eye-candy for Linux is a great way to win over Windows-user's hearts (not minds) to Linux.

When will they fix this?

I have used Compiz/Emerald for a number of years under Ubuntu and yet release after release Emerald will not work right out of the box without tweaking it. The problem is located in the file (usr/bin/) compiz-decorator. For some reason the default setting is " Emerald = no". Tweaking this line to equal yes allows Emerald to work.

This program is excellent. When Microsoft was trying to toot their horn over the eye-candy in vista I laughed because I had it for sometime before they started bragging about what they copied.

Simple does it

Do your job. Do it right. Do it fast. If there is time - plenty of time - left to waste, make it pretty. Whatever "pretty" means.

I wonder why more effort is not put towards writing better drivers for graphics cards instead of wasted on this useless eye-candy. What value, exactly, do Compiz and company add to the overall Linux *usability*?

Speaking from experience, most of the time this kind of "enhancement" just gets in the way of getting work done - either by distracting the user from what is important or by simply slowing down or crashing the machine.

I can already hear the "hey, it is Linux, it is your *choice*" mantra. As though choice was a substitute for quality and common sense!

I love Linux, I work with it and don't use M$ crap unless I absolutely have to. But I simply can't put up with all this resource-hoggin', good-for-nothing shit.

Doesnt this sum it up quite good?

In the battle of how we do things I believe the freedom of linux is a bit lost to some. In my personal view of what linux is and what it's not (even with or without all the dingdongs on the visual effects or CLI) this quote from the above poster sums it up quite nicely!:

"
FVWM2!
Anonymous Penguin (not verified) - December 12, 2009 @ 2:21am

I can change the active window color all by myself!

Jimmy, age 18"

There still is someone that discovers linux and has the freedom of mind to do what THEY like with it.. And IMHO that's what it's all about. :)

BTW, yet another great article to show that linux is about the freedom to choose how pretty it looks!

Just to claify

Just to clarify my views on this particular article, I fully endorse effects as long as they dont obstruct me in my work as a programmer with a fairly new machine under the hood. Most people nowadays can afford high end memory and computation power without paying too high a price performance wise.

The only controversy left for me then is the over-the-top abstrusive effects that only hinders workflow and annoys in the long run (Flaming/paperplanefold-minimize effects, I'm looking at you!)

Oh, and I cant live without the wobbly windows effect!

On a sidenote I have binded the visual flare effects to my own set of hotkeys so whenever I showcase my linux box(es) to a would be convert I show them without ado the full flair of visual paradise. Since I have sufficient weight as the PC guru in the flocks eye I have so far converted 3 of my friends to linux (and my mom, but she seems to love mint for some reason)

@Polly

The people who work on drivers aren't necessarily the same as those who create things like compiz. Division of labor, blah, blah...
Compiz, on my machines, with 2 browsers open and a utility window, consumes about 40MB. Not awful IMHO for what you get, and that is a ton of functionality. Window grouping, tiling, Expose, snapping, preview windows in the panel, etc.
I would've thought by now that people would've stopped using this old argument about the lack of usefulness a long time ago...

Division of labor

Division of labor...
Also, many musicians and writers and painters could be working the land to produce food. And yes, I see the absurd of this proposition, and yes, people working on graphic drivers are not necessarily the same ones workin' on Compiz.

My point, as I am sure you understood, is that Linux still is not good enough at the desktop to concern itself with the "pretty" factor. There is so much to be done to perfect KDE, Gnome and you-name-your-favourite-desktop-environment...! Basic things, like power management, bugs in Nautilus, swarms of bugs in X11 (or Xorg, or X11R6, whatever you want to call it)... and graphics drivers, BTW.

So, back to my original statement: "Do your job. Do it right. Do it fast. If there is time - plenty of time - left to waste, make it pretty. Whatever "pretty" means." (Apologies for quoting myself.)

Right, and everyone has the

Right, and everyone has the required knowledge to write hardware drivers. This is just one of many ways for less experienced and/or non-hardware knowing people to contribute to Linux. If they can't contribute to the "right job", why not add things to make it pretty so the more knowledgable developers don't have to when they have plenty of time left?

@ DaVince

Can you build a house on a bank of quicksand?
Can you build a *pretty* house on a bank of quicksand?
Shouldn't it be better if you built the foundations of the house first?
C'mon, people... Don't pretend you don't understand what I am saying... This is getting silly!

@Polly, again.

<quote>Division of labor...
Also, many musicians and writers and painters could be working the land to produce food. And yes, I see the absurd of this proposition, and yes, people working on graphic drivers are not necessarily the same ones workin' on Compiz.

My point, as I am sure you understood, is that Linux still is not good enough at the desktop to concern itself with the "pretty" factor. There is so much to be done to perfect KDE, Gnome and you-name-your-favourite-desktop-environment...! Basic things, like power management, bugs in Nautilus, swarms of bugs in X11 (or Xorg, or X11R6, whatever you want to call it)... and graphics drivers, BTW.

So, back to my original statement: "Do your job. Do it right. Do it fast. If there is time - plenty of time - left to waste, make it pretty. Whatever "pretty" means." (Apologies for quoting myself.)</quote>

I think I see your point, but as I'm sure you realise, a lot of these projects, especially smaller ones, are not created by professional (paid to do specifically that project) coders so while there may be things they could work on that are more beneficial to the community, they feel particularly strongly about something else. In the case of Compiz, they were inspired(I imagine) by that Novell demo years ago, and set out to create something that ended up giving Linux a kind of attention that, to my knowledge, it had never had before (regarding eye candy).
Compiz was important for that, but, IMO, it is also a dead project. KWin has a number of nice features and mutter is is supposed to support plugins (and as you may/not know it is required for using Gnome Shell so no Compiz on Gnome 3 unless you remove the shell, or remove the mutter dependency).
As for the state of the Desktop, I really don't think it is that bad. I've had very little problems with power management, and while that is obviously only anecdotal, that is pretty much all you hear since I've never seen any sort of study done as to how many users, as a percentage, run into significant problems. While the forums are full of stories, you rarely hear about the times it works. My experience has been with an Desktop(GA P45) and the AAO(netbook). Both have been fine as far as PM is concerned, but I would like to see more vigorous power killing by default on the lappy as far as usb, speakers, mic, and the others are concerned.

Nautilus has only one issue I've come across and that is slow population of large directories, but that has been the case on every file manager I've tried(Gnome Commander, Konqueror/Dolphin, Thunar, Rox etc) except for PCMan. I've no idea how that walks the directories but it is absolutely blazing fast. I'd make it my default, but I've some nice Nautilus scripts, and Nautilus has great integration with Gstreamer. Frankly, I'm not sure of the bugs you are speaking of...

X is a whole different story. First, it is wildly complex. Again, this is like, very like, the driver issue you mentioned before. It requires very specialized knowledge and tends to be handled by professionals (for good reason). Having said that, it is much better now, and is getting better faster. With Peter at the helm (and apparently enforcing his 6 months cycle), and Kristian with DRI2, and Gallium (somewhat separate, but related to the movement I am describing) things look pretty darn good to me (this is ignoring Wayland, of course, which has the great advantage, besides being rootless and LIGHT, that it can still run apps that require X, but this has a long way to go and may end up feeding back into X besides).

Ok, to summarize, I don't disagree with you at all. Functional before pretty everytime, but that is not always the choice and there is a difference between functional for me and functional for all (also called practical perfection, or Apple... j/k :) ) Linux is functional for most people, IMHO, and coming REALLY soon, Gnome will be getting a Color Management framework (finally!) that will, along with the great changes to GIMP 2.8, Inkscape (been really nice for awhile now, but really needs good acceleration), Scribus (excellent publishing tool for small/medium tree murderers with unparalleled pdf adherence, so my gf tells me) make Linux a really nice platform for open minded graphic artists (I emphasize open minded b/c there is a near fetish with a number of them for the Mac, which, at this point with the Intel switch, makes no sense to me).

Well, that was alot.

Best/Liam

damnnit, should've previewed first...doesn't support quote tags.

nt

@ Liam (Anonymous Penguin)

I didn't really wanted to write another comment on this topic (see my reply to 'DaVince').

However, since you had the patience and took the time to write such a thorough "comment on my comments", I think it is just fit that I say "thank you". You presented a clear reasoning and, in a sense, we are on the same page. Maybe we just weigh differently the parts of the Linux experience.

In general, things seem to be going in the right direction. Development in Linux is, as I read somewhere, "organic": all sorts of things just appear, then natural selection lets the "unfit" ones die. Nothing wrong with that, eh?

But, anyway, thanks again.

Cheers.

organic is fair, I'd say. thanks

nt

Where is Emerald for opensuse 11.2?

Can't find emerald anywhere- not in openSUSE 11.2. repositories.

Bret theme

The Bret theme is a typo I believe and should be Brit.

Other than that Fantastic guide.

Does anyone know how to get Emerald working on my machine? None of the above work and I've got compiz installed

Segmentation fault

After reading this article, I thought I'd try out some tweaks to my Gnome desktop. It went like this:

$sudo apt-get install emerald

...

$emerald --replace
Segmentation fault

$sudo apt-get remove emerald

And then restarted my computer to get my damn windows to function again. Nice.

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