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Novell Linux Desktop 10

Novell has provided the world with some previews of the upcoming version of its Linux-distribution for the desktop. Especially the visible interface of this operating system has undergone some major improvements. First, the new product incoropates the OpenGL-based Xserver Xgl, developed by Dave Reveman. Xgl makes it possible to let the gpu on the videocard do most of the visual rendering. Apart from a performance improvement it enables also slick 3D-effects known from Mac OS X. C|Net has an article about it and Novell’s Miguel deIcaza has some video’s on his weblog demonstrating the capabilities of Xgl. Jakub Steiner created a logo for Xgl and some wallpapers.

For most visual effects enabled by Xgl the operating system depends on a plugin-based windowmanager called Compiz. The source code for this project isn’t available yet, but should be released during the X Conference this month. Compiz can be extended using plugins. The idea behind this is that people with new ideas for the advanced graphical possibilities can add these easily to the desktop. According to Novell this is an advantage to Mac OS X 3D-features and the upcoming Windows Vista with DirectX-accelerated graphics. Novell Linux Desktop 10 also uses Cairo for the rendering of widgets, which is also accelerated by Xgl. Some components of the desktop are radically changed. In the video’s on Miguel’s weblog it is visible that there is a new way of launching applications. This new component, which is very similar to the Start-menu used in Microsoft Windows, seems to be inspired by mockups which appeared on Flickr. Also the new layout of the libnotify seems to be inspired by these mockups. Because the Novell developers didn’t discuss their new Gnome components on their mailinglist, there was some negative remarks from other developers. They think that Novell should have discussed the new plans for the Gnome desktop. They also asked if Novell is planning to add the changes to the desktop upstream. Novell developer Dan Winship replied to this saying that discussing the planned changes didn’t made it any better. Novell was already planning to incorporate the new desktop components to their distribution. The post is arguing that design by community doesn’t automatically leads to a better design. I think he’s right, because everyone has a different opinion about this, so a consensus is very difficult to achieve. We experience this very often on the forum of, where every change which is discussed in the fora leads to endless discussions without a good result. However, Novell should not automatically expect that their changes will becoma a part of the default Gnome package. But I think they do not worry about this. According to Dan the way the changes are now introduced in Novell Linux Desktop 10 gives the Gnome community a chance to test the changes without the risk of losing dissappointed users which was the case with the spatialness of the filemanager Nautilus. has also an article about Xgl.

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