I’m a little slow again on happenings in tech-land, but about a month ago, the open source project Compiz saw an amicably intentioned fork to the project. The new project is named Beryl. Quinn Storm had been working on and managing a set of patches to Compiz for a while which seemed to become the Ubuntu forums community standard for managing compositing eye candy. Quinn stated reasons for the fork on September 15, 2006. On the 18th, Quinn and others formally annnounced Beryl. Everything that I’ve read seems fairly friendly from Beryl toward Compiz. I’m not even going to comment on whether this is a well-founded split or not. I really don’t know. Solerman Kaplon brought up an interesting question as a follow-up to Quinn’s reasons for the fork. Solerman asked if it was not the case that the main Compiz branch was indeed attempting to prepare the code base to easily and properly allow for Quinn’s (and other community members’) changes.
Like I said, I don’t know if this was a “founded” fork or not (whatever that means - all one really needs to have a founded reason to fork an open source project is desire and ability). I do know that I personally hate seeing forks like this. The Compiz folks have apparently put a lot of effort into the project to bring it up to where it is. If Beryl becomes the community choice, I hate to see the Compiz folks’ future work and talent not utilized. If the community chooses Compiz, I’d hate to see Quinn’s excellent additions discarded.
Regardless of the current “winner” of the compositing market, these projects demonstrate the intense community interest in getting eye-candy on the Linux desktop which has an amazing wow-factor. If you haven’t seen a demonstration of Compiz/Beryl, just take a peek at this video. Personally, I find this more appealing than anything I’ve seen on Vista or Mac. Yes, this is an opinion. Yes, you may think differently. No, I won’t argue with you.
So, what does the future hold for eye-candy on the Linux desktop? The momentum behind Compiz/Beryl and Xgl/aiglx are putting Linux on par with visual effects on any other platform. I think we can only expect more. Mac has clearly been driving aesthetic appeal and visual effects on the desktop for a while. Linux can now at least contend. And with the talent that has been emerging in this area in the open source realm, Linux may even begin taking a lead role in what is expected on the desktop (in general) regarding appearance. Microsoft and Apple can ignore the visual effects of the Linux desktop for a while, but it won’t be long before the aesthetic appeal of desktop Linux begins to turn the heads of the average end user. I’m interested to see how they answer.
And then there’s the issue of the usability of the Linux desktop. And that’s a matter for another day.