Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.
Next, the screenshots. This is Openbox 3.3.1, running on Ubuntu 6.10 with true transparency at native 1600×1200 resolution, with no performance loss.
The hardware is a 1Ghz Dell Inspiron 8000, with a 64Mb Nvidia Geforce4 440 Go and 512Mb of PC133. (As a side note: This equipment is all five years old at best, and the entire rig costs less than $350 to assemble for a mint-condition box. A desktop rig with the same stats is easily under $200 new.)
The transparency for each individual window is adjustable from completely translucent to fully opaque. I’m working on tying it to the key bindings, and I’ll jot them down here when I do. For now I use two menu commands that set transparency to 0.8 (which is what you see in the photos) and opaque with the transset command.
Menus and submenus are all shaded, and windows and menus fade in and out. There probably aren’t as many tweaks and twists as the Beryl project, and there’s no cube to spin, but I’m thrilled with this much.
I hadn’t heard of xcompmgr, probably because of the Beryl hubbub. Naturally I assumed, probably like so many folks, that the nifty eye candy was reserved for full desktop suites that could manage all the heavyweight window managers and their maddening interdependencies.
So you can imagine the thrill of doing (what seems like) a lot, without offending my passion for a minimalistic approach.
A few notes worth mentioning. I can’t seem to get conky to run alongside the transparency effects. The shading and transparencies are corrupted at the same intervals as the conky refresh rate.
That’s why you see the two dockapps running at the bottom of the screen — that’s wmforkplop and wmhdplop, which show processor strain and drive access — the most important stats for me. (Note the shadows on the dock, too.) I’ll get by without conky; I already don’t miss it.
Second, there’s obviously a hardware requirement with this. I don’t think I’ll be trying this on my little 300Mhz Pentium II with the Neomagic 256AV in it. (Edit: I was wrong.) I think it’s safe to say that if you can’t get some OpenGL screensavers to run on your rig, it’s probably not worth playing with this. (Edit: Also wrong.)
Third, I’m 99 percent sure you can’t do this without the native driver for your card. (Edit: Kind of wrong, but forgivable.) So all you FLOSS purists with your gNewSense 1.0.x installations … I’m with you in spirit, but not until this eye candy has released me.
ATI users, I can’t do much to help you except offer words of encouragement. The only machine I have with an ATI card in it is out on loan to my parents. Take a look in the Gentoo wiki for some ideas, though.
Altogether, this is an extremely cool trick for Openbox (and other *box users, no doubt). You’ll be seeing this stuff in plenty of screenshots to come.
One last tip of the hat to page 7 of the Arch Forum screenshot thread, for bringing it to my attention. And yes, you may criticize me as — yet again — late to the party.