The future of Compiz-Fusion

Compiz-Fusion, as you surely know is responsible for eye candy on GNU/Linux distros such as windows that turn into paper airplanes when the user minimizes it to turning the desktop into a spinning cube.  There’s something about the wobbly windows that provides some a sense of inertia that just makes things feel a little more dynamic on the desktop.  I can’t explain it, but some of the effects make the GUI slightly more useful.  However, Compiz-Fusion isn’t perfect.

When I’m using Compiz-Fusion in Gnome, my system try notifications from Rhythmbox don’t work.  Also, when I’m in KDE, Compiz-Fusion royally screws things up.  (At least it does on my Fedora 8 desktop – your mileage may vary)  It ignores my themes, messes up text on some of the windows and generally makes KDE crash even more than usual.

On top of these bugs, KDE 4 now has its own built-in composite manager capable of doing the spinning cubes and Expose-like desktop bling.  So with KDE, Compiz-Fusion is now redundant instead of required for making the desktop look nice.  At any rate, it was a bit kludgey with KDE to begin with.  There are a few, though not many, distros that use KDE as the main (or, in some instances, only) desktop so those will presumably get rid of Compiz-Fusion once KDE 4.1 comes out this July.

On top of this, I’ve read that work is going into Metacity, Gnome’s default Window Manager, to add more compositing features.  I’ve seen some screenshots of transparency working already.  They’ll be working on spinning cubes, etc soon, I’m sure.

I think that both KDE and Gnome were going to get around to true compositing (including true transparency) eventually, but they were waiting for the X.org composite features to mature a bit more.  Some programmers got impatient and thus created Compiz and Beryl which then merged into Compiz-Fusion.  (And some smaller window managers like Fluxbox had already started work on this before the big boys)  In fact, even XFCE now has some small compositing enabled.  (Not too much since it’s supposed to be a light-weight desktop environment)

I know that Linux programmers don’t always work together in the best way, but I think that eventually Compiz-Fusion will be made irrelevant by the main Window Managers/Destktop Environments including compositing.  Then, if the Linux programmers work together well, I see Compiz evolving into a set of plugins for Metacity and KWin.  So Metacity and KWin will have the basic eye candy built into it such as transparency and Expose.  If the user wants crazy stuff like Windows burning up when they’re minimized, they can then use these plugins.  Only time will tell if I’m right….

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Author: Eric Mesa

To find out a little more about me, see About Me

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