Shiny things

I've been following the development of Beryl for nearly it's entire life, but never got around to installing it on any of my workstations. This was primarily due to the fact that they were stable under Fedora Core 5, and I had no real reason to upgrade, until now. Beryl is an open-source X11 window manager that is truly breathtaking in scope and execution, especially for such a young project. Beryl was forked fr

I've been following the development of Beryl for nearly it's entire life, but never got around to installing it on any of my workstations. This was primarily due to the fact that they were stable under Fedora Core 5, and I had no real reason to upgrade, until now.

Beryl is an open-source X11 window manager that is truly breathtaking in scope and execution, especially for such a young project. Beryl was forked from Novell's Compiz project originally as Quinnstorm, but only really became it's own project in October of 2006, when it was officially separated from its roots. That was version 0.1.1, and in the three months since, it has been subject to a massive development effort, with the 0.2.0 release coming very soon. To say that the project has advanced substantially since October would be a massive understatement.

I first saw Beryl and compiz as a nice idea, but thought they were going to follow the same path as Enlightenment, with extreme window decorations and visual effects, but relatively unstable and a massive resource hog. Not so, at least with the 0.1.99 release I'm running now. It was a little struggle to originally implement, requiring a few relatively minor but hard-to-find changes to xorg.conf, but for a total package of around 5MB, it's astonishing in performance and integration. Basically, I'm having lots and lots of fun with it on my main workstation. Aside from a few little bugs generally relating to intelligent window placement underneath panels and such, it has been very stable and responsive. I've had extremely good luck with nVidia cards, specifically the Quadro line, but it also runs well on my Dell Latitude D800 with a GeForce 5600.

I'm definitely not easy on my workstations, with generally 300 processes running at any one time, and at least a hundred windows open -- gnome-terminals, Firefox, VMware Workstation, xmms, OpenOffice.org, GAIM, etc, etc. I've had an occasional slowdown with effects rendering on a virtual desktop with a massive window load, but generally there's no sluggishness or delay with Beryl 0.1.99. I had v0.1.4 build of Beryl crash on me once awhile back, but it faithfully fell back to Metacity (the default Gnome window manager) and all I lost was the Beryl effects -- not any work.

InfoWorld Senior Contributing Editor Oliver Rist was here this weekend, and asked me three or four times "What video card do you have in that thing again?", in between all the "Holy crap that's cool" comments. I think he's going to be installing FC6 on a box next week. This will be a watershed event -- in the last month, I've somehow managed to get him to buy a MacBook Pro and install Linux on a workstation simply by showing him how I work. There's a lesson there.

Beryl 0.1.99 is now in Fedora Core 6 extras, so a yum install beryl-gnome should install everything necessary, and modifying the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file should be performed according to these instructions. If you just want to see what the fuss is about, check out the video.

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