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Over the past few years, 3-D rendering in window managers has become a new trend in the desktop environment. OS X was the first to make fancy visual effects prominent in the way users interact with the windows in their desktop. Windows Vista has also jumped on the bandwagon with its Aero interface, though it has some performance issues to work out. Linux users do not have to feel left out if they too want their desktop to be a little prettier. Beryl (formerly Compiz) gives many customizable features for users that want 3-D rendering in Gnome, KDE, or other window managers.

Beryl has many animations, window effects, and just plain useful features to allow Linux users to show off. However, it's not without its shortcomings. First, installation is not necessarily smooth. If a user has an Intel or Nvidia graphics chipset, a few simple edits to the X-windows configuration files and the installation of the Beryl software usually does the trick. These chipsets are capable of using Xorg's default 3-D manager, AIGLX. However, ATI users have a much larger task at hand. ATI's proprietary FGLRX drivers do not support AIGLX. ATI users either have to use the much weaker open-source drivers or install a specially modified Xorg using GLX.

Unfortunately, GLX is not very well-supported at this time. It's quite unstable and KDE's login manager simply doesn't work well under GLX. Save your work often.

Under AIGLX, Beryl is more stable. Fatal crashes to console are infrequent, and the majority of failures result in a simple replacement of the Beryl window manager with the default KDE or Gnome window manager (with no loss of data). Such crashes are handled very gracefully by the Beryl Manager, Beryl's configuration utility.

Once running, Beryl is very customizable. There are a plethora of options allowing users to tailor their visual effects to their liking. However, Beryl has more than just fancy effects—it has features useful to helping make some tasks easier. Users can set hot corners like in OS X, allowing for quick minimizing to desktop, an OS X-style display of all windows currently open, or many other options. All of these can also be given global shortcut keys for those who don't want to use a mouse.

Window transparency is another useful feature. If the mouse pointer is moved away from the top window, it fades to allow the window or windows beneath it to be visible simultaneously. This is especially handy when copying information from one window into another, as the top window remains focused.

Beryl is perfect for users wanting their desktops to have a little flair. Especially given Beryl's ability to perform well on hardware that Vista's Aero doesn't even pretend to support, it's worth looking into for any user with a little time on his or her hands.

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Last Post by Mix
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I'm a little skeptic...
They should be able to take care of basic things...like say...properly rendering a webpage...

Oh my bad....i just noticed that's actually a visual style...clever...

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Let's catch you up on the last 6 months or so.... Beryl no longer exists. They were originally a fork of the compiz project but have since merged back with the compiz project. The new project is called Compiz Fusion. The "Fusion" is Beryl. So don't have people get Beryl if they want the latest and greatest (a lot more eye candy and functionality then OS X or Vista by the way, I love it) compositing 3-D wizardry.... Just thought you should know. As far as the ATI issue.... If you use Ubuntu or a derivitive like Mint Linux they have one click install of the proprietary drivers for Nvidia and ATI cards. No fuss, no muss. The only time there are issues is if you want to stay proprietary free on principal, then it is difficult.

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let me just correct something bjb1959 said...

whilst compiz and beryl have finally merged into one community, compiz fusion is the current situation _regardless_ of the past......

the fusion doesn't represent beryl

compiz is the window manager itself
compiz-fusion is everything else, which atm consists of plugins, a settings system, a settings manager and other random things

a new site and forum for all this is currently under construction and there is no official release of compiz-fusion yet...
(also, there is temporary forums at opencompositing.org and the forums at compiz.org (both which will be replaced by the new site and forums when completed))

though compiz-fusion is intended to have the least amount of regressions from beryl as possible and is pretty close to that :D

also, @scru, the window manager (by definition pretty much) doesn't have control over what happens inside the windows themselves....

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I stand corrected delfick. Without getting too wordy I just wanted people that may be linux newbies to know that beryl will no longer be a seperate 3-d desktop composite manager from compiz as it used to be. And though compiz-fusion is technically not official yet it is very easy to install on ubuntu in particular and is very impressive for those that wish to try it. My Ubuntu system update notifier has me install compiz-fusion updates every few days so it is definately a continued work in progress but has been very stable on my system.

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@bjb1959, agreed. compiz fusion is very usable atm, not too many really annoying bugs left :D

and soon we'll have input redirection (which will mean we can do stuff with transformed windows, i.e. use the mouse on scaled windows)

and the new animation interface thingo which will mean the move plugin will get a lot better and not be so jumpy (don't know the specifics of that, and could be using wrong terminology here...)

:D

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I played with Beryl live on a friend's laptop. It was much cooler than Vista's Aero and much less resource extensive.

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