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Metisse - New Looking Glass Alternative 299

Interested in a 3D desktop? zoso submitted news about about a project called Metisse, writing "There is working and freely available alternative to the (soon to be released under GPL) Sun Looking Glass 3D desktop ( Slashdot story here) If you have spare CPU/GPU cycles just go download and compile the first publicly available version of this X Desktop. Everything looks nice (screenshots here), has OpenGL support, transparency and all other whistles...."
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Metisse - New Looking Glass Alternative

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  • Metisse (Score:5, Informative)

    by Draoi ( 99421 ) * <draiocht@[ ].com ['mac' in gap]> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:16PM (#9565979)
    Metisse (or métisse) means 'mixture' in French.

    It's also the name of a cool Irish-French musical duo []

  • What I don't get (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sarojin ( 446404 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:18PM (#9565993)
    is how this is going to make me more productive. I can barely read the text when the windows are put into those weird angles.
    • Re:What I don't get (Score:5, Informative)

      by ShadeARG ( 306487 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:30PM (#9566092)
      It's more about giving you a visual queue as to what the window contains as opposed to being able to read the contents comfortably. Think about the progression:
      Text -> Icon -> Pager -> Angled Window
      Each one gives more insight as to what's a particular window does than the previous incarnation. Make sense now?
    • Take it easy. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Douglas Simmons ( 628988 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:32PM (#9566103) Homepage
      is how this is going to make me more productive

      It's not supposed to make you more productive. The meaning of life, for some of us at least, is not to become more and more productive until we die. There is something about mankind, something inside of us, that wants to be entertained and amused, and this includes being in an asthetically pleasing environment (like a well decorated home, or in this case, a futuristic desktop that no one else on their block has).

      • Re:Take it easy. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @08:47PM (#9566610) Homepage
        You are both cretins ;-) It is not about being productive or aestethic. It is about finding the right balance for you, like it is for everything else in life: Finding the right balance. Also, I tend to favor the aesthetic part of things when I am at home, and the productivity when I am at work.

        aesthetic is good, but it has to leave room to some productivity as well. I wouldn't live in an extremely beautiful and pleasant home if it didn't have any shelf to store my books for example.

        Extremes are bad. It's all about balance. And the point of balance is different for everyone of us.
    • Re:What I don't get (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:32PM (#9566113) Journal
      I'm not big on the whole 3D spatial desktop idea, but the 'peel' function looks very innovative and actually useful - I know I'd prefer it to minimise alot of the time if it were integrated into XFCE :-)
      • by Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:40PM (#9566175)
        No, leave XFCE alone. I'm already concerned about the bloat in XFCE.
        • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:52PM (#9566255) Journal
          Firstly, I only said XFCE since it's my Linux WM of choice - feel free to substitute whatever you feel like.

          Secondly, while I know that one man's feature is another man's bloat, I'd say this could actually be a useful addition. What I want out of a Windowing system is quick, clean and innovative methods to view and organise the data on my monitor - anything that makes that data visualisation easier (such as the ability to peel one window away to view the one behind, and then have it snap back when I've seen whatever I needed) is IMO a useful feature even in a 'light' window manager - if you classify anything new as bloat then you end up killing innovation and driving people away to products that truly are bloated. Bloat is 200MB of screensavers or animations that make my windows take more than half a second to do what I want them to.
          • Re:What I don't get (Score:5, Interesting)

            by fireboy1919 ( 257783 ) <rustyp@fre[ ] ['esh' in gap]> on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @05:39AM (#9569169) Homepage Journal
            To me, the perfect Window manager has functions for tiling vertically and horizontally, for minimizing all windows (like Meta-M in Windows), and for minimizing and saving the minimization and then unminimizing (like Meta-D in Windows), and must have a titlebar theme that looks good though has a pixelwidth of five or less (like MicroGUI/ NanoGUI) Oh, and it has a shortcut for opening an rxvt terminal mapped to "alt-X."

            To date, the only Window managers I could get all of these things to happen in are Sawfish and TVWM.

            Knowing that one man's feature is another man's bloat, Window managers should put everything into modules and make it easy to add/remove features.

            The best way to go is to make the core contain an event manager, a titlebar manager, and an API.
            Everything else should be components that add in later, since anything could be bloat, though it should be capable of adding anything else.

            The only Window manager that I know that is that tiny but also extensible is TVWM, though extension is a real pain.

            If the window managers are extremely difficult to extend, then bloat goes in and stays in. Much better to live without it and "stifle innovation" by making it a separate program or part of an extensible manager.
    • Re:What I don't get (Score:5, Informative)

      by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:34PM (#9566126) Homepage Journal
      +5 'not getting it'.
      from the site:
      "Auto scale mode. The window with the focus has its normal size, the others "normal" windows are scaled (here 70%). This is done automatically. This reduce windows overlapping as the content of the scaled windows are still viewable.
      Shot-3 Surface mode. Windows are automatically rotated to simulate a non flat screen (here a 1/4 of sphere). Optionally, the window with the focus is not rotated. Note the zoomed mplayer.
      Shot-4 Peeling (or folding) window operation. "Clicking on a corner of a window of a window peels it back, revealing the window underneath it. The window springs back to its original position when the mouse button is released." (From M. Beaudoin-Lafon paper "Novel interaction techniques for overlapping windows")."

      basically, you can fit more into the same desktop space and find the windows easier(like on macs now..)
    • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:35PM (#9566142) Journal
      Think you could you be less productive?

      I like it because it's new and shiny.

      Now get back to work.
      • Isn't anyone who is trying to, asymptotically, reach peak productivness, really just calling for an end to slash dot? I mean... that'd increase productivity quite a lot.

        This WM actually doesn't look too bad. Whenever I hear 3D desktop I assume garish arrangment of spinning browsers on cubes. This looks more akin to a *box with some neat ways of organising files on screen (the shrinking inactive files). Personally, I prefer my fluxbox tabbing, but I like the sensable 3D approach (not just some glitzy graph
    • I don't see why you would read the text while windows are at odd angles. Personally, I'd use the rotation as a sort of minimization+icon view.

      Basically, a way to be able to see changes on a window without the window taking up as much space as it normally does.
      • Exactly, minimization + icon view would give you exactly the same thing without wasting valuable screen real estate faking the illusion of 3D. Oh, and the text would be easier to read too if it was simply smaller instead of smaller and distorted to fake 3D. For those of us that can read 2D icon view is far more practical. The pretty picture crowd is probably very impressed with this, however.

        Oh wait, 2D icon views have been done before and are about as innovative as getting sand in your shorts at the b

        • Re:What I don't get (Score:4, Interesting)

          by fucksl4shd0t ( 630000 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @05:00AM (#9569078) Homepage Journal

          I don't know about you, but I see some serious usability innovations in 3d space for audio work. I have a bash script that starts up Hydrogen, Qsynth, and RoseGarden and that's *just* to do midi work. I need a terminal for ecasound if I'm using my guitar or doing vocals, and then I need Audacity for postproduction. I've run out of space on my screen.

          There's a reason many audio guys have 2-3 monitors when they're working, but I can see a good 3d desktop making the monitor I have stretch so that I won't *have* to install two more monitors.

          Come to think of it, I can see it helping me all over the place. I'm trying to build the thing right now, I hope it works well. ;) I love KDE, but I'll drop KDE in a heartbeat for a good 3d WM.

    • by uberfruk ( 745030 )
      I think the point is to looks pretty. Some people would rather use a pretty desktop w/3D doohickeys that is great for showing off to non-techinical friends, than a super utilitarian, not soo pleasing to the eye window manager. If you really want to be productive, I recommend using the command line
    • If improved a little it could make me more productive, apart from pleasent looking desktop. The thing that I'd look unto is sphere windowmamanger [].

      I would put on a background star map (like in skyglobe) and I would be able to look at whole celestial sky, and with zooming! (currently with xplanet I have on my desktop only current view of the sky).

      Oh, and I downloaded their videos. []
    • I don't get it either. It's like vrml - everyone thought it was cool, but the problem was... vmrl is a crummy game engine - there's nothing to shoot at ;)

      Imagine getting 3D popups on your 3D desktop!

      Imagine being able to view your spam email in transparent windows that are tilted at 45` towards the horizon!

      Imagine all of the additional mouse work you'll be doing so that you can rotate your windows in 3d!

      Imagine the new computer that you're going to need to buy so you can use your 3d desktop!

  • can someone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:20PM (#9566002) Homepage Journal
    tell me why I would want to look at my document while it's twisted sideways?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:23PM (#9566032)
      It is in case your monitor is not actually lined up with your chair, now you can just twist the picture.
    • Re:can someone (Score:5, Interesting)

      by furball ( 2853 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:28PM (#9566071) Journal
      Have you seen the demo for OS X Tiger? It has a few concepts from Looking Glass. Things like angled panels with reflection (new iChat u+3 interface) and configuration/preference panels on the "back" of windows (Widgets).

      Concepts that seems useless from Looking Glass are making their way to real products with very innovative approaches.
      • Re:can someone (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <brian@w y l f i n g . net> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @08:38PM (#9566550) Homepage Journal
        OS X Tiger...has a few concepts from Looking Glass.

        This should be +5 Insightful. The 3D desktop isn't a massive shift in thinking, it's about maximizing the WIMP metaphor. Tabbed browsing isn't a exactly a new paradigm in information retrieval, but it sure as hell is a nice evolutionary improvement to web browsing. When bits of 3D desktop experiments prove useful, they find their ways into "real" products like OS X.

    • Re:can someone (Score:5, Informative)

      by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:30PM (#9566085) Homepage Journal
      tell me why I would want to look at my document while it's twisted sideways?

      If you only have 1 window open at a time, it would be useless. If you have multiple windows, shrinking or moving at an angle keeps them in view. Being able to zoom out and still keep it visible gives more desktop space.

      Wonder what multiple videos would look like, if any movement the window could be enlarged. You could do all kinds of interesting new things with this type of desktop, if its not staticly rendered.

    • by daeley ( 126313 ) * on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:32PM (#9566106) Homepage
      1) If you are standing to one side of your monitor, it would appear perfectly straight.

      2) Writing code in a microgravity environment, you would need your windows to match your attitude relative the monitor.

      3) Twisted? At least it's not doing the hokey-pokey.

      4) Or *is* it?

      5) If your document were Medusa, you would not want to look directly at it.

      6) If you combine two sideways documents and a Clippy, you can make an airplane and fly it around your desktop.

      7) 2D is teh L4M3.

      8) You get more points per kill because it's harder to shoot them.

      9) Extreme coding challengers are bored and want new horizons.

      10) Anybody can type in a straight line.
    • Re:can someone (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @08:34PM (#9566531)
      Despite the excessive dissing on the general idea, there's more than just eye candy to this. Yes, the eye candy is nice and cool, but a big part of this is making more efficient use of space in the desktop and taking advantage of our natural visual ability to process 3D information.

      Several people pointed out with the Looking Glass screenshots the other day that keeping a bunch of foreshortened (i.e. nearly perpendicular to the screen) windows open lets you actually see whats in them and visually manage multiple tasks better than you can with current overlapping 2D windows. Yes, you can do the same with a bunch of miniaturized 2D windows on the side of the screen, but it's still a good concept. The "peeling" feature demoed here with Metisse is also nice - I like the idea of bending a window aside to see what's behind it. The sphere-embedded windows uses a trick similar to the Looking Glass window foreshortening to create more available desktop space for multiple tasks by keeping a bunch of non-primary windows angled around the primary task window which faces the user directly, like a normal window, for optimal visibility.

      Obviously, you generally want the primary focus of your attention to be as easily visible as possible. This is all about making multitasking more intuitive and easier to manage. I don't think anybody is going to run out and install any of this stuff on their mother's desktop at this point, but it's great that some of this stuff will at least be ready for experimentation soon. I know that the window soup that is usually my desktop would be nice to improve on, and I've never really found any of the existing funky alternative window management technologies (like the entirely keyboard driven X WMs with no overlapping - forget what this is called) to be very satisfactory for me.

      Oh, and eye candy, combined with even very modest usability enhancements, sells stuff. Though those Matisse screenshots are about as ugly as sin thanks to the terrible window borders, color schemes and applications they chose to mix. The Looking Glass screenshots, on the other hand, were quite hot and sexy looking.

  • I have to admit (Score:2, Interesting)

    I was very skeptical when I saw the Looking Glass' screenshots, but this definitely looks like it could be usable in Real Life. Maybe 3D window managers actually are something for me, will have to try out.
    • Re:I have to admit (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Compholio ( 770966 )
      While 3D desktops "look cool" I still don't see how that makes them practical. I've found the ability to use multiple desktops much more useful. I make key shortcuts for all my desktops (CTRL+ALT+ where is between 1 and 6) and setup the useless windows key to press CTRL+ALT simultaneously so that I can switch between desktops with +. I find that to be much easier and more practical than organizing windows in three dimensions.
      • Re:I have to admit (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Compholio ( 770966 )
        I really should use the preview button...

        While 3D desktops "look cool" I still don't see how that makes them practical. I've found the ability to use multiple desktops much more useful. I make key shortcuts for all my desktops (CTRL+ALT+"desktop number" where "desktop number" is between 1 and 6) and I setup the useless windows key to press CTRL+ALT simultaneously so that I can switch between desktops with "windows key"+"desktop number". I find that to be much easier and more practical than organizing wind
  • Xwnc is a mix of Xvnc and XDarwin. It draws nothing on your screen, every things is drawn into pixmaps.

    Does this mean its not-updated in realtime, just static pictures?

    The whole thing about 3d desktops, the windows need to be still functioning, so you the monitor windows are still functioning. Most seem to only use pictures, just snapshots, a very cheap and completly useless.

  • by chickenwing ( 28429 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:24PM (#9566040) Homepage
    ask yourself, "What problem does this solve?"
  • 3D! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mdvlspwn99 ( 172473 )
    I can just imagine using this 3D desktop with a Sharp 3D display. []

    Would mouse pointer movement include depth perception with this setup?

    • Seeing as this WM has no stereo separation, it is not "true" 3D and thus would look flat on the Sharp display. To work right you would need a method to display stereoscopic 3D using one of the standard methods like field sequential or scan line alternating (where the left eye image is on alternating video fields or scanlines). Then you would need a system for 3D input. THEN you could use the Sharp display.

      PS: You cant use interpolation to generate 3D from the 2D as there is no movement to base it off of.

    • Yeah, one thing I noticed is that apps such as Mozilla, with it's pre-shaded, pseudo-3d theme looks sort of out of place in this manager.

      It would be interesting instead to have windows that were almost flat, but have some relief (like a bas-relief), and were shaded correctly. (which would require a lighting system of some sort)

      Hmm, maybe time to bust out POV-Ray...
  • by Swe3tDave ( 246955 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:26PM (#9566050)
    Where are the 3D Apps? Why 3D desktop always have to be like 2D desktop, except for some 3D change..

    Its not a evolution..

    I'll stick with the command line.. ;)
  • Screenshots mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by paulproteus ( 112149 ) <> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:27PM (#9566064) Homepage
    Because I know that's the first thing I clicked on, and it was slow then. Here's the mirror [].
    • Before I clicked on the link in the article I could swear I could smell something burning, sort of a "tele-psychic smell the server burning" smell.
  • You know... (Score:3, Funny)

    by mrbarkeeper ( 560018 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:27PM (#9566065)
    If you have spare CPU/GPU cycles...

    Right now these folks would prefer a spare webserver and some bandwidth. :-)

  • by Sean80 ( 567340 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:29PM (#9566075)
    I guess this is pretty technically cool, but as a user of a desktop system (aren't we all?) I'm not actually sure of how this would benefit me. Would I, for example, be more efficient in my job using this?

    I think there are other assumptions that need to be challenged prior to this sort of thing being built. Namely, that "applications" are the best way to segment functionality within an OS. This sort of system really seems to address the problem of moving between windows to access and work with different information from different applications. I think the problem of having to move between applications ought to be addressed first.

    Finally, is anybody aware of any studies of this type of interface that prove me dead wrong? That prove that people are fantastically more efficient using a mechanism like this?

    • Because it's new. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plaa ( 29967 )
      I guess this is pretty technically cool, but as a user of a desktop system (aren't we all?) I'm not actually sure of how this would benefit me. Would I, for example, be more efficient in my job using this?

      Have you checked out the video demo of using Looking Glass []? It looks pretty slick, and while it's hard to say whether in its present form it would make a better desktop, it certainly shows that a 3D desktop could potentially be in many ways better than the modern 2D desktops.

      The current projects like L
  • by HorsePunchKid ( 306850 ) <> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:29PM (#9566077) Homepage
    has OpenGL support, transparency and all other whistles

    I'm all for whistles, don't get me wrong [], but without the bells, I'm just not convinced.

  • Input Device (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Morgahastu ( 522162 ) <bshel@@@WEEZERro ... my fave bands n> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:30PM (#9566090) Journal
    3D computing environments won't be quite useful until we get a 3d input. A mouse is meant to move around a 2d desktop, not a 3d environment.

    We need a 3d input device, perhaps like the ones used in Minority report? That's how I see 3d displays becoming useful.
    • Re:Input Device (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:40PM (#9566173)
      Had them for years. I still have an old SpaceBall 2002 sitting around in a box. Just do a google search for "6DOF input" or "3D mouse" and you'll find all sorts of neat stuff from back when VR was going to change the world.
    • I hear that KDE 5 is going to be navigated fps-style, ie with a mouse and WASD key combo.


    • What we need is a 3D output device. Until everyone can have a CAVE, or stereoscopic goggles with 6 degrees motion tracking this stuff will never be all that useful. But, it's not going to happen all at once, so we might as well take care of this step now.

      Ideally you would have gloves (or just some sort of hand tracking) and goggles with reality overlay, so you can put on your computer (or its interface, anyway) and walk around manipulating objects. You can keep traditional 2D windows at your desk and have

    • We need a 3d input device, perhaps like the ones used in Minority report?

      Will this [] do?
    • And 3d input devices aren't useful without some sort of 3d user environment. Now is Looking Glass the chicken or the egg?
    • Have you seen air joystick or a dataglove? Maybe not perfect but some of the tech is there. Without a 3D environment to test it in, guess how much development on a 3D UI there will be.

  • this is slown enough (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Stevyn ( 691306 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:35PM (#9566144)
    I'm running kde 3.2.2 on a p4 1.8 ghz with 512 mb of ram and it's sluggish compared to windows xp. I don't think time should be spent trying to make cool looking 3d wm's but trying to improve xfree (alright, now xorg) or kde.

    I mean I think what they're doing is cool in terms of "hey let's try this" but I don't see this as where window managers are headed. People still want fast and colorful icons and a nice file browser that's well integrated with apps. If you're unsure what I meant, compare the "save as" dialogs in mozilla and kedit.

    Sorry for the rant, I was just a little annoyed I had to reboot after having an uptime of only 8 days.
    • by gUmbi ( 95629 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:42PM (#9566184)
      I'm running kde 3.2.2 on a p4 1.8 ghz with 512 mb of ram and it's sluggish compared to windows xp. I don't think time should be spent trying to make cool looking 3d wm's but trying to improve xfree (alright, now xorg) or kde.

      Excellent idea. When can you start?
    • by Pengo ( 28814 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @08:10PM (#9566374) Journal

      I love it how ignorant people think that the same group of people are working on everything gui related, from browsers to video drivers.

      Geezus man, this guy probably has NOTHING to do with KDE or the XFree86 project. If he wants to sit and watch pr0n all day or write a 3D window manager, it's his damn business.

      It always amazes me how people can have such a gimmee mentality.
    • That's peculiar. I run KDE 3.2.3 with full eyecandy (transparency, antialiasing, etc) on my xeon 2,6 512 mb laptop and its much faster and responsive than windows xp (I dual boot so I compare the two desktop environments very often).

      I don't know if you're on a 2.6 kernel but if you are I suggest messing around with 1) prelink 2) /proc/sys/vm/swappiness (mine is set to "30" and 3) with your /etc/hosts file (usually the real culprit).

      KDE on my box is a real dream, really faster than Windows XP.
  • My thesis work (Score:3, Interesting)

    by paronomasia5 ( 567302 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:38PM (#9566160)
    this 3d stuff is all lame without some video-integration and image registration to make is seemless check out some of my thesis screencaps
  • by cjsnell ( 5825 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:39PM (#9566163) Journal
    Famous last words:

    "Screenshots here."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:39PM (#9566166)
    1. scaled windows - it's one thing to resize your windows and tile them. That's very old news. Scaled windows are another beast. Scale your firefox window everything shrinks, you don't get a bunch of "A..." "B..." tabs. Instead you get "Apples" "Boxes" etc.. in what amounts to a smaller font. Not always better or worse than resizing, but a nice new tool.

    2. Skewed windows - Yeap, I can't read em' either. What is the point? It _may_ be easier to browse multiple windows and forefront the one you want using skewed/rotated effects (instead of an alt-tab ring or taskbar).

    3. Window peeling - this is kinda nifty. Instead of minimizing, resizing or moving your current window to see what is underneath you 'peel back' part of the parent.

    Earthshattering breakthrough in UI? Nope. A reliable and consistant cut-n-paste would be of more immediate value. But as an experiment into improving the GUI it is fun stuff.
  • by grmoc ( 57943 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:53PM (#9566261)
    Keep in mind that 3d desktops have the ability to increase system performance because of rendering into pixmaps instead of rendering into the framebuffer...

    Why does rendering into pixmaps possibly increase performance?

    If you're rendering into a pixmap, having something occlude it onscreen (i.e. in the framebuffer) will -not- be a destructive operation, and you won't have to repaint..

    In otherwords, sliding windows across the screen, animating some huge mouse cursor (larger than HW mouse accel would allow, for some strange and uncouth reason), or otherwise putting stuff up in front of windows would not cause them to redraw because their pixels would not be damaged by the operation.

    This is good.

    There is a negative-- You use more memory on your graphics card/AGP memory, but even this can be alleviated by switching what windows/buffers you render into offscreen pixmaps.

    One could, for instance, render all but one window into the framebuffer, save the colorbuffer and depth buffer, then render things in the 'active' window into an offscreen pixmap, and render that into the scene. This would require less memory than a full-off every-window-gets-its-own-pixmap approach, and would still likely perform better than our window managers today (only one repaint of windows is needed when you switch contexts, as opposed to one every frame with the current method)
    • In otherwords, sliding windows across the screen, animating some huge mouse cursor (larger than HW mouse accel would allow, for some strange and uncouth reason), or otherwise putting stuff up in front of windows would not cause them to redraw because their pixels would not be damaged by the operation.

      For a good example of this effect in action, grab any sufficiently large browser window while running Windows XP, and drag it around on the screen very quickly in a circular motion. You need to have the "sho
  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @07:54PM (#9566266)
    I'm really not trying to flame or anything, but it always seems to me that while open source geeks have great technical skill, they completely lack any sense of art.

    This window system is cool. It's cool in the same way that Aero Glass will be cool and how the Java3D desktop is cool. But what really turns me off about those screen shots is that horrible window manager. It's like whoever designed it has absolutely no sense of aesthetics.

    Here's the thing... if you want a minimalist system, then fvwm2 is great. It's not a really attractive look, but it's small and fast. But if you're going to require a lot of horsepower so that you can rotate windows in 3-space and all the other cool stuff, then it's not asking much to want a window manager with some textures and lighting and curves and some other stuff that looks halfway attractive.


  • by McCall ( 212035 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @08:00PM (#9566311) Homepage
    "I know this, this is UNIX!"
  • That tilted window...

    Seriously, they should learn more about human nature or cognitive science when designing UI.
  • by mjrauhal ( 144713 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @08:18PM (#9566437) Homepage

    Well, some parts of this are nice. I have reservations about the actual 3D parts, but window scaling would come in handy.

    Having another X server to mediate this stuff isn't very clean though; I understand that they went that way for early development, since there isn't really anything finished that would be better, and they apparently wanted to get to the effects stuff. On the long run, however, it seems that this stuff should be done by a Compositing Manager. Of course, this also requires that the X Composite Extension [] be implemented in mainstream X servers (read: []).

  • by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <brian@w y l f i n g . net> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @08:41PM (#9566570) Homepage Journal
    This kind of thing only facilitates using more than one window at a time, the only purpose of which is unauthorized copying. Let's shut down this piracy tool before our economy is destroyed.

  • by mikec ( 7785 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @08:44PM (#9566594)
    Back in the early 80's, color CRT's started to become available. People's reaction was remarkably similar to current reaction to 3-D desktops. Some people thought is was pretty, and that was enough. Lots of people wondered what good it was, and whether expending more than one bit per pixel was really a good use of memory. Would X become bloated? Would bit-blit still work? Some programmers who liked black and white better because they found it easier to read.

    • One important difference - displays are inherently 2D. People have been trying to cram 3D functionality onto a 2D display for a long time now; it just doesn't work all that well.
    • I think your analogy is a bit strained for a few reasons. In the 80's while monochrome monitors might have had slightly higher native resolutions in some cases, the addition of color vastly improved the ability of good app designers to direct attention quickly to where it was needed with color clues.

      Going 3D in most cases for text actually reduces readability, as most 2D fonts are carefully crafted to look good on the discrete pixels that make up a raster image. Anti-aliasing helps, but is not a panacea. I find that I do my own zooming operation manually with my head (moving it closer and farther away) as I look around my monitor at work. The idea of automatically shrinking non-focus windows 70% is kind of interesting (if the fonts still looked good at 70%), but doesn't require 3D.

      I have a large projection screen monitor at home (8 foot wide) and can drive it a Quad-XGA (2048x1536), I find it great for 3D games and Movies, but not so good for most other applications. I was puzzled by this, but I think it is because you can't change your perspective quickly by leaning in and out or moving your head.

      I suspect that 3D will one day be the norm, but only once we have monitors blasting out more pixels than we can easily differentiate across a field of view of more than 90 degrees. I'm not going to do the math, but I suspect that would be something like 6000x30000 or 18 mega pixels. Once we cross that boundary, then 3D starts to make a lot of sense, as the scaling and rotation do not unduly degrade text information even on small fonts, and starts to add information and ease organization. This assumes that moving the apps and text around is intuitive and easier, similar in ease to the way I move my head around when staring at my monitor at work today.

  • by Mr. Cancelled ( 572486 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @09:19PM (#9566815)
    Why throw a ton of people into quickly improving an emerging new technology when we can split all those people up into smaller teams to try & develop the same thing from several different angles.

    Thus rather than continually improving upon potential "killer apps" (not that I'm saying Looking Glass is such an app), we can all slowly develop slightly different versions of the same thing, all the while ensuring that cross-compatability doesn't exist.

    Oh! And don't forget the reunion party in 2 years when we all get drunk and lament the fact that products from the likes of Microsoft stole the fire that should have been ours. Even though our solution was technically superior to Microsofts.

    Ok... Maybe I do sound a bit jaded, but it sure does seem that as soon as a killer new technology or application comes on the market, we suddenly have a ton of applications being produced trying to replicate the performance of that technology, rather than either building upon the strengths of it, or developing a totally different, non-copycat alternative. Wassup with that?

    ...End Rant...
  • by lcnxw ( 743741 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @09:23PM (#9566852) Homepage
    as far as I'm concerned, what practical use does a 3D desktop environment give me? If anything, i'll get the windows so twisted that I won't be able to use them anymore.

    first let me get a program that operates in complete 3D (like a 3D website that needs a browser that can display in 3D) then once windows appear as 3D boxes instead of planes, i'll use a 3D window manager.
  • by koa ( 95614 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @09:32PM (#9566904)
    How about compatibility with other wms like KDE and Gnome? Of course this thing is a nice piece of eye-candy but I'm sure there are many people set in their ways and comfortable with their familiar manager.

    I would like to have some of these features, however I can't say I'm ready to just start using another wm cuz of some novelty.

    Why not take some of the existing technology from this wm and incorporate it into other wms?

    Just a thaught....
  • too much perspective (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @09:51PM (#9567027) Homepage Journal
    Dancing poodles are interesting, not because they dance well, but because they dance at all. These 3D desktops are interesting, but only as a sideshow. The desktop/document/filecabinet paradigm is tired not because it is inadequately modelled on out computers, but because no one wants to work that way anymore.

    X, Aqua, Windows: they're all sufficiently 3D, with stacked windows. If anything, they could use less dimensionality, and simplify the inherent complexity: window groups, accessible process data/logic/presentation tiering with pluggable dataflow, pattern copy/paste, OS-level replication and triggers, omnimedia messaging by reference, flowchart programming.

    Making a 3D "desktop" is worse than just bogging down in a 20th Century soulkilling paradigm. It's distracting us from using the 3D parallel processors to separate presentation from logic and data, to obtain all those other features which reflect the way modern people intercommunicate at work, play and everything in between. Hopefully the open source of these new arrivals will allow the best functions to be salvaged and dragged into a new paradigm created by a visionary person or group. Then these machines might start becoming less of their own problems to solve, and begin to disappear in the magic of a real solution.
  • by Ferzelic ( 571317 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @10:20PM (#9567162) Homepage
    I can't believe 100+ comments and nobody mentions this.

    I think we all agree that VR interaction as presented in the early 90s was a complete crock. It is not more efficient to have to "walk" into a "room" to find stuff on your computer. And the necessary hardware at that stage was rudimentary, slow and bulky.

    Forget all that other crap. Put on your VR goggles and run a system like Metisse. Run all your existing applications in windows as normal, only now you can put them anywhere in 3D space around your workstation. Have dozens of windows open at once, all easily accessible, without desktop switching.

    Long webpages could be opened to full height, sticking up through the ceiling and down through the floor. Instead of scrolling, move the whole window so the area of interest is closest. Pick out interesting sections (images or whatever) in the distance before you've "scrolled" there.

    I can think of endless ways a 3D window manager could be used in conjunction with VR technology, even without any specialised applications. If I could seriously set one up now, I would. I'd probably still use my CRT as a second display device (after all, I might need to show something to other people).

    Realistically speaking, this isn't practical without true see-through displays. (I want to be able to see the rest of my environment behind the windows -- such as the keyboard -- and the current displays of this type, to my knowledge, use camera passthroughs which are probably a bit laggy and nauseating to use.) But I want one, as soon as the tech catches up -- assuming it hasn't already...

  • I just tried it (Score:3, Informative)

    by chochos ( 700687 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @10:26PM (#9567189) Homepage Journal
    And it's cool. A little slow (OK, so I ran it on top of KDE) but I think it has some cool features, the setup I really liked was: - surface like a sphere or cylinder - window auto scaling to 40% - auto flat (the window you focus on becomes flat instead of staying all distorted). That window-peeling stuff is very nice, although I don't know how useful it can be, unless it gives you enough time to bring the window in the back to the front before becoming flat again. This stuff can be really useful for having many windows on the same desktop (could be a little better than having several virtual desktops). I think this could at least be used as the foundation for an Exposé-like feature in other window managers. Of course someone is bound to say that OSS should innovate and not just imitate, but hey, Exposé is really cool, someone could add a similar feature (though not exactly the same) to KDE, GNOME or both...
  • by Knight2K ( 102749 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:10PM (#9567510) Homepage
    Some of the features in Looking Glass seem kinda pointless, like that 3d cd jukebox idea. The organization of windows by tilting them out of the way looks like a good way to waste screen space.

    Metisse seems to take a slightly different approach. The features outlined in the screenshots actually look like they make an effort to help users manage windows. I do agree somewhat with Steve Jobs' position that users shouldn't have to be janitors; a system that makes some useful decisions for the user seems worthwhile.

    It looks like Metisee preserves window locations when using the 'shaped' screen and scales contents down, allowing users to utilize spatial relationships and visual cues to find data.

    I also like the idea of folding over window corners to see the lower windows. Seems more useful then Alt-Tabbing. This feature is implemented from a research paper. I've seen several posts here that lament open source's propensity to copy rather than innovate. Here is a concrete counter-example of an open source project trying something new and leveraging academic research. Even if the project is a complete failure, it should be applauded for taking a risk and implementing something different.

    As an aside, I remember some comments on the original Looking Glass article that critized flipping widgets over to change settings and view properties. The new Tiger Dashboard in Mac OS X is now doing the same thing. The reviews seem positive on that score. I can't really decide what I make of that. Property sheets sometimes obscure their apps, so I guess flipping is a wash, but I think I would prefer to see the application and its properties.
  • by Anonymous Writer ( 746272 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:50PM (#9567773)

    The second screen shot [] about the "Auto Scale mode" looks like a feature that works better than Expose on OS X. The thing I don't like about Expose is having to work with function keys or desktop hot corners in order to activate it. The Auto Scale mode looks like a version of Expose that runs while you are working, without having to resort to function keys or hot spots.

    It looks like a feature in which the shrunken windows are visible around the normal size active window, without any overlapping. I presume switching between windows requires you to simply click on a shrunken window, which would resize it to normal and shrink the previously acitve one, kind of similar to Expose.

    This also eliminates the need for a Task Bar, and would also have the advantage of actively showing the windows contents, rather than just representing a window with a Task Bar button. OS X can display a minimised window's contents in the dock, but this Auto Scale mode can display minimised window contents in a larger fashion, depending upon the space available on the screen.

    I also presumed that Expose was OS X's answer to the Task Bar, because their dock didn't allow you to switch windows as efficiently as the Task Bar. This Auto Scale feature looks like something that is a combination of Expose and the Task Bar, but works better than both. I think this is a really innovative concept for window managers.

  • Object lesson (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cryptoluddite ( 658517 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @02:26AM (#9568544)

    The screenshots for Metisse suck and you can only use FVWM - what gives? It is a great demonstration of how productive Java is though.

    Looking Glass: Looks awesome
    Metisse: Looks like crap

    Looking Glass: one guy in his spare time
    Metisse: "a lot, see the source" (really one dude hacking other sources though)

    Looking Glass: from scratch because of Java APIs
    Metisse: hacked X server, hacked FVWM, hacked vnc.

    Looking Glass: very secure
    Metisse: insecure (it's in C and it's hacked up code)

    Looking Glass: easy to write plug-ins, dynamically load
    Metisse: hack fvwm in C, recompile

    There was an article a while back saying that the language doesn't matter for security because it is bad programming that is responsible. Even without looking at the source I can guarentee there's no buffer overflows, double-free's, format string exploits, etc in Looking Glass. And I would bet my life savings there's at least several in Metisse.

    There was an article recently about Java performance where most posters insisted it's still slow and jerky, but the movie of Looking Glass [] sure looks good to me. It's sad that people still use C/C++ to create lame hacks like this Metisse when there are such better alternatives. Can you imagine if the whole OS was written in a modern language? []

  • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2004 @05:41AM (#9569175)
    Just because X is rendered with the help of OpenGL, it does not mean that the Linux GUI environment is up to MacOS standard. It is the what's inside windows that count, not how things are rendered on the screen.

    OpenGL or not, the Linux GUI still looks like a hack...and the screenshots showing Emacs don't help.

    The vastly different look and feel, from one app to the other, is one of the main problems, but it is never gonna go away...

The best defense against logic is ignorance.