Hey wow! Looking Glass 3D

Out of curiosity, I downloaded and installed Looking Glass 3D 1.0. This stuff is pretty sweet. It reminds me a lot of the early days of Compiz, in that there’s an enormous sense of potential, waiting to be tapped. It’s a lot of fun to play with, even if it still feels very rough around the edges.

I took some screenshots, because … well, so I can gloat. And because I wouldn’t read this blog if it didn’t have screenshots. Fair enough. Feast thine eyes.

First of all, before I go any further, there are some resolution issues that need to be mentioned. I’m using a 1280×1024 monitor, and LG3D is resizing that to something like 1024×768 — and to compound that, the backgrounds are a widescreen image that looks like it’s being further stretched. So if things look fuzzy, there are a bunch of reasons for that.

I should start at the beginning: Technical requirements are pretty low: 1.4Ghz, 512Mb and a video card with 32Mb and OpenGL 1.3. If I’m running it on my lowly 64Mb Geforce4 440 MX, I’m guessing you’ll do fine.

Installation was a breeze. There are Debian packages available directly from the site (Ubuntu is mentioned by name ;) ) and it’s a simple matter to sudo dpkg -i *.deb once they’re downloaded. Startup is via a terminal command, and you have the option to run inside a window or fullscreen; I had some mouse issues with the windowed version, but fullscreen ran like a champ.

I’m not real fond of the color scheme, or for that matter the default backgrounds, but I have a feeling a talented Java guru will tackle that soon enough. As you can see, the windows and panels are transparent, much like Beryl, although the sensation of depth is much more effective. The taskbar and system menu are both done in three dimensions, and without becoming a hindrance.

There are some nice touches here and there, too. Moving the mouse around the screen causes a slight shift in the background image, and that, as well as the twisting windows effect, is pretty neat.

This is going to sound funny, but as I see it, depending on the wallpaper, you can bounce from left to right over your desktop, much like switching workspaces. That probably doesn’t make much sense, but you’ll see what I mean if you try it. It’s cool when you get the hang of it.

There are some fun little packages installed as well, and you have access to anything you might run via terminal command as well, via xterm. I had no problem starting up my usual Xfe file manager, and as you can see, it works fine. As does Firefox and a couple other things.

And yes, you can take notes on the back of a windowpane, although to be honest, I can’t imagine what I would use that for.

In all it’s a fun little trick. The fact that it runs over top of an X session is clever, and the fact that it’s platform independent is a definite plus, too. If this gets the same kind of attention that Compiz did, and perhaps a community following, it could possibly gain the same kind of fan base as Beryl. Beryl it is not, but like Beryl it could be. :D

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7 Responses to “Hey wow! Looking Glass 3D”


  1. 1 Youtux 2006/12/30 at 4:13 AM

    Great! Very soon Linux will beat Windows in 3D effects, beauty, etc, etc……

  2. 2 aussiebear 2006/12/30 at 6:26 AM

    Quick question, is it nice and smooth?
    (I am curious, as this project is written in Java code)

  3. 3 QUASAR 2006/12/30 at 7:29 AM

    I tested it in an ubuntu 6.10, athlon xp 2.0 1Gb ram nvidia 6600 and is pretty slow compared to beryl compiz or the standard desktop, but it has potencial, i dont think in the common desktop with the common input, but in consoles or embeded dispositives with a touch screen it will be nice.

  4. 4 kmandla 2006/12/30 at 9:56 AM

    Hi aussiebear. I’d have to agree with QUASAR on that point; it is a little sluggish. In part I blame that on my video card. Something newer and more powerful would no doubt give it a better run.

    On the other hand, it seems to work remarkably well considering it’s a layer on a layer on a layer, if I may say that. The idea of a Java app running a 3D desktop atop X atop … you get the picture. When I consider all the intermingled layers that are required to get this done, it surprises me that it works this well at all.

    And honestly, I expect this will become a lot more smooth if a community forms around it, and gets a chance to work on the source. If you remember Compiz from a year ago, that was slick, but nowhere near as smooth or polished as Beryl is. The two are night-and-day now. Given the chance, LG3D on New Year’s Eve in 2007 is going to be a far cry from this.

    And if I could reinforce one point, it’s the idea that even I, as a rank Java newbie, can there’s a lot of potential in this. If I knew the least amount of Java code I would be itching to tear this apart and play with the guts. And so I can’t wait to show this to my friend the web coder geek, because I know he’s going to drool all over himself when he sees it.

  5. 5 Roy Schestowitz 2006/12/30 at 10:33 AM

    Closed source, but beatiful. How long before Solaris and Looking Glass are opened like Java?

  6. 6 kmandla 2006/12/30 at 12:00 PM

    I believe Looking Glass already is.

    https://lg3d.dev.java.net/lg3d-faq.html#open_source

    Their home pages lists it as GPL, too. Source code is downloadable as well. Have fun!

  7. 7 tra 2007/01/02 at 2:17 PM

    Yes. Project Looking is fully open-source under a GPL license and all the source is available at lg3d.dev.java.net


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