One of the coolest things about Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) are its new “Desktop Effects”. Desktop Effects are really a combination of two opensource components written by Novell’s David Reveman, Compiz and Xgl.

Xgl is a new Xserver architecture layered on top of OpenGL. Xgl can perform intricate graphical operations, such as rendering anti-aliased fonts, noticeably faster than other available Xservers that do not use OpenGL. More important than speed alone, Xgl accelerates complex composite operations, making possible new stunning visual effects through OpenGL-enhanced composition/window managers like Compiz. Compiz combines together a window manager and a composite manager using OpenGL for rendering.

To make it easier to setup and configure XGL and Compiz Novell created a program named “Desktop Effects” in Control Center. If you have registered with Novell Customer center this will automatically install the video driver (if it’s not already installed) and configure your computer to use Xgl and compiz. While you can use the Desktop Effects application to configure your effects, there are some effects that are not configurable through this application.

GConf is a system used by the GNOME desktop environment for storing configuration settings for the desktop and applications. Effects like “Wobbly Windows” or “The Cube” are actually Compiz Plugins. Desktop Effects acts as a front end for configuring the settings for these plugins which are stored in each users ~/.gconf directory. The easiest way to configure GConf keys is with gconf-editor (/opt/gnome/bin/gconf-editor).

To see a list of all of the installed Compiz plugins, start up gconf-editor and navigate to /apps/compiz/plugins. The best way to learn is to play around with the different settings and see what they do.

Here are the locations of common things that people ask me how to configure:

  • Rotate Cube around you: Rather than looking at the cube from the outside, rotate the cube around you as if you were inside it. /apps/compiz/plugins/cube/screen0/options/in
  • Snap to the top of the cube: /apps/compiz/plugins/rotate/screen0/options/snap_top
  • The picuture(s) on the top of the cube: You can place multiple pictures on the top of the cube. If you have snap to top enabled you can move through them like a slide show by using the spacebar and/or the backspace key. UPDATE: It seems that in order for this to work the image has to be in png format. On my machine I modified the dimensions of the picture so that it is 1024 px by 1024 px. /apps/compiz/plugins/cube/screen0/options/images (The easiest way to configure multiple picutres is by double clicking on images)
  • Skydome: Enable this to see a picture in the background when you flip the cube. /apps/compiz/plugins/cube/screen0/options/skydome
  • Skydome Image: This is the picture you see in the background when you flip the cube. By default it is a blueish gradient. UPDATE: It seems that in order for this to work the image has to be in png format. On my machine I modified the dimensions of the picture so that it is 1024 px by 1024 px. /apps/compiz/plugins/cube/screen0/options/skydome_image
  • Skydome Animation: Make the skydome image shift as you rotate the cube. /apps/compiz/plugins/cube/screen0/options/skydome_animated
  • Speed: The speed with which the cube flips. /apps/compiz/plugins/rotate/screen0/options/speed
  • Maximize Effect: This makes windows wobble when you maximize them. /apps/compiz/plugins/wobbly/screen0/options/maximize_effect
  • System Bell: This makes the window wobble when you invoke the system bell (like when you hit the backspace key too many times in gnome-terminal) /apps/compiz/plugins/wobbly/screen0/options/visual_bell

For more information about Compiz and Xgl checkout these websites:

Xgl

Compiz

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