Thursday, December 22, 2005

'Clearlooks Cairo and Company'

I'm not the blogging type (if only because a blog forces me to see how boring my life is, lol) but recently I was asked to blog about my experiances with Linux and eye candy. Since I play with this every week (and will have tons of time this month to play with my box) I decided this was a good time to start.

I'm doing this blog in the doc site for a reason- I want people to leave their own experiences as well. Not comments on some blog specific site where you have to sign in (to a site you will never go to again) to post. I want you to add to the end of my entries your own experiences please.

Ok, so what have I been up to lately? Lots actually.

First of all I built a new computer. The power usage of my old Intel Pentium 4 made me feel bad, and I have been waiting for dual cores for years (perfect for a multitasker like me). At first I was just going to run 32 bit Ubuntu- in fact my old install “just worked” with my new machine without any tweaking! But I had some stability problems, wanted a clean install and thought “why not go to 64 bitness?”

Well....I was shocked by the result. 64 bit Ubuntu IS faster (for me). It boots faster (by a few secs), Gnome starts faster, apps are more responsive (especially Firefox- in 64 bit Ubuntu Firefox 1.07 felt like the 1.5 I had in my 32 bit version!) I don't think it was the placebo effect- it feels too much of a difference. So I will stick with 64 bit Ubuntu. I would be REALLY happy if I could get a 32 bit chroot of Hoary to work (my favorite PSOne emulator won't work in Breezy), but thats what free time is for.

64 bit Xcompmgr from the repo worked out of the box for me once I got the Nvidia drivers installed. It seemed like the fading was even smoother than before! (but that is hard to judge) For an introduction on Xcompmgr and how to use it look at my guide:

I will talk about Xcompmgr a lot because its my favorite compositor. Honestly the program is probably worth about $500+ to me (because without it I would have recently bought a Powermac instead of a homebuilt system and the price difference would be at least that). Its what makes Linux fun for me. So expect to hear a lot about it!

I have not compiled a 64 bit version of the newest Xcompmgr yet- I will do that and maybe even try to make a deb for it. But the version thats in the repos has not crashed on me, but I have not tried to duplicate bugs I have found in the past.

First thing I did with my new system is try out the newest Clearlooks Cairo. Cairo is very interesting to me because it shows true innovation on the Linux desktop- nothing else is quite like it! Also I love eye candy and if Gnome is ever going to have some by default it will be because of Cairo.

I once tried an older 32 bit version of Cairo when Breezy first released, but to call it slow and buggy would be nice. Yet this time the Clearlooks package I installed, found here:

32 bit version here:

Worked like a charm! The only problem I had was that it did not handle Gnome Panel's fake transparency well, but thats understandable seeing as how its all beta stuff. Well.....and I had one hard lock, but I think that was because (from what I read) Nvidia's renderaccel and this theme don't see eye to eye yet. At the bottom of my blog I talk about this problem.

The checkmark animations are clever! I was disappointed to find out that the coolest animations -tab animation and slider animation- for Clearlooks Cairo have been axed:

This of course will force me to compile a version of Clearlooks with this built in! But I can understand why its left out. Clearlooks is the premier Gnome theme, and since Gnome 2.x is unofficially THE corporate desktop some of the fun stuff will find the cutting floor to please the pointy headed bosses of the world. To quote:

“We should keep clearlooks clean and dont overload it.”

Even without the animation Clearlooks Cairo has displaced a combination of the Brace 2 Metacity Theme and the Industrial GTK Theme I thought I would never replace. What did it for me is the new Metacity Cairo theme-

There is the square version I use (thats a little hard to install but I hate pixelated corners). If someone needs help installing it leave a note at the end of this entry and I will try to help.

Best. Metacity. Theme. Ever. And since the best part about Metacity is the themes, well....its all good. I can declare that Clearlooks Cairo is the best part of the near future Gnome desktop.

Of course, Gnome is not the home of all (or even most) of Linux eye candy so today I started a new project- to partially switch to KDE. I want to honestly evaluate what Kwin (KDE's window manager) DOES with its great built in compositor so for the next few weeks I will be examining KDE and its Kandy. On the first day I can tell you that it will be a fun ride! I have had a bias against KDE in the past (mostly because I dislike almost every KDE theme out there especially the “big” ones), but I will put that aside for the sake of eye candy. KDE will be the DE with the first fully composited desktop, so I want to see how far it has to go in 3.5.

Tonight I will go through the process of trying Nvidia's newest drivers- I hear they are most stable with composite so I want to find out for sure. I like the repo ones the most (because they are SOOOO easy to install) but they are getting a little out of date. Plus I hope the newest drivers will stop my new favorite Clearlooks theme from fighting renderaccel. I will soon evaluate if its worth it to advise others to change their drivers on my Compositor Guide. If it makes drop shadows stable enough for use with Xcompgr it will all be worth it (once you use shadows its hard to go back).

Later this week I will for the first time hand compile the newest Xorg. I want to see how well it actually works and if composite is more stable. I don't trust Dapper's Xorg to give me the best evaluation of this (as it is the playground of the great Mr. Stone- for better of worse). Plus the Xorg CVS gives a good guide. If its easy to do, I might make an Ubuntu specific guide for when Xorg 7 is released.

When Xorg 7 is released my hobby will pick up steam! I plan to buy an ATI 9250 to REALLY hammer on EXA. The great Rasterman (hero of every eye candier and maker of the Enightenment) says that composite has RAM problems so I might get a 256 mb one:

I would have gotten one already but I read it has problems with DVI and the open drivers- that is a fatal flaw for me! But maybe Xorg 7 will fix that- or at least I can apply this patch to fix it:

Also when it is released I plan to try to compile Luminocity again (the guide on the wiki is mine) to see if its more stable. If it is just a little, my crazy self will try to live in it for a week full screen.

Last but not least, I want to try E17 on 64 bit Ubuntu. I assume debs exist nowhere so its a compile for me. Currently I am waiting for a theme I like to appear on the E17 site before I go through that pain (I LOVED the Slate theme but it no longer works). When I get around to doing this, I will also update my Enlightened Gnome guide to Breezy ( I should have done that a month ago but I have been busy).

Well....thanks for reading if you did. I will try to keep this page updated with my exploits in eye-candyland and will try to show where I read important things about the future of the Linux Desktop.

Till next time!


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