Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The beauty of Suse with XGL

From the day I got my first company computer, I've always wanted the ability to put whatever OS I choose onto it. Naturally, certain elements within the IT department made it their goal in life to thwart such efforts in favor of uniformity. So when I started work at my current company, I was surprised to find out that I could install any OS I wanted though my PC came pre-installed with Windows XP.

Being a big fan of Suse, I immediately installed 10.1 in a dual-boot configuration but that was the extent of my efforts. By the end of my second day, I was already assigned a large task with a quickly approaching deadline and I simply didn't have the time to set up Suse the way I wanted. And so it languished like that for a few months until recently when it became imperative that I switch to a non-Windows OS.

The trepidation I had felt at having to setup my Linux environment dissapated as I rediscovered just how enjoyable it was to be using an industrial-strength OS again. Additionally, I became more productive thanks to quicker build times and a programmer-friendly interface. But not settling for just the basic setup, I went further and begin installing what could only be deemed as frivolous, though not unnecessary in my opinion.

MPlayer was one of the first optional components to get setup, quickly followed by Plugger and a few other goodies so that I could listen to Sirius. To complement my listening selection, I also downloaded Amarok thus enabling me to enjoy my personal music collection. So that I could make the most of my video card, I compiled the ATI drivers and setup a wicked screen saver. I even installed Google Earth so I could take full advantage of my newly enabled 3D effects.

Desktops can be switched between with easeBut by far the coolest thing I installed was XGL. I had made a half-hearted attempt about a week ago at installing it but it wasn't until I walked in this morning and saw my co-worker Grant running it that I finally decided to 'git er done'. Knowing that he was running Gentoo, I figured it had to be much easier in Suse and indeed it was. After about 30 minutes of downloading packages and reading various docs, I finally had it up and running although it took another hour of configuration before I was truly pleased with the results.

Note the transparency on the chat windowHaving used XGL for only about half a day, I can honestly say that it is quite possibly one of the coolest desktop experiences ever. Even my co-workers using Aqua on their Macs were impressed and made a point to stop by and check out what a true 3D desktop looked like. Back here at home, being on a standard '2D' desktop, I feel a bit constrained. So I think I'll sign off on this entry and go install XGL.

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