There is a little-known benefit to reading UK-based geek magazines while in the USA – since they get here about a month late, anything they report as cutting-edge has been hammered out by helpful folks and posted on their blogs for me to search out.
Case in point: I recently picked up the latest-I-can-get issue of Linux Format, and rebuilt my Linux box (which has been dead for a while now) with the included SuSE 10.1 DVD.
Being SuSE, the install went very smoothly. I chose a 32-bit install this time, since there are a couple of apps I like that have yet to build AMD64 versions. (Yeah, Macromedia, I’m talking about YOU!) While I would like to have that extra little bit of efficiency, it isn’t really critical with my current build.
The bonus part I mentioned before is that there were already a couple of step-by-step HOWTOs for installing the mutlimedia functions SuSE always leaves out due to copyright nastiness. It took me about 20 minutes to get MP3, DVD and other video formats working. Nice. Another 15 minutes to install the nVidia drivers, and then I dug into the serious geekery: Xgl and Compiz. (Go here for cool videos. I have no effing clue why they are in a MS format when MS can’t use this. The webmaster needs smackage.)
Linux has had the concept of ‘multiple desktops’ for some time now. Sure, windows are nice, but if you’re like me, when I’m working on a big project I often have at least 4 windows open at once, and I can get lost trying to find certain windows. Multiple desktops allows me to have a number of things open still, but now they are scattered over 4 or 5 desktops so I don’t have to keep minimizing / maximizing things. Xgl and compiz allow you to go one better, by turning those extra desktops into the face of a cube, and then when you shift desktops you get this really cool effect of a rotating cube.
On top of that is a sheer geeky “wow-factor” effect: windows stretch out of shape when you move them, and get all wobbly. (The effect is in fact called “wobbly windows”). New windows launched will kind of spring out of the background, and menu pop-ups bounce around a little too. This serves no purpose other than eye-candy, but it is damn cool!
So, why would you put all this together? Imagine the following conversation:
MSFAN: Man, Vista is going to be so cool. MS has really got the security down tight for this one.
TUXGEEK: Huh. ‘Bout time. Linux has been a lot more secure for some time now. All Windows had to do was use a REAL admin / user seperation.
MSFAN: Well, the new sidebar and widgets will keep your most-used information right there on the desktop!
TUXGEEK: Check it – SuperKaramba widgets and Beagle search, right there. The SuperK widgets can monitor my system health like fan speeds and temps – Windows widgets can’t do that. Beagle indexes everything from notepad notes to emails, like that new xml-based filesystem will…oh wait, they nixed that last month, didn’t they?
MSFAN: Well, Vista is going to look better! Aero glass roxxors!
TUXGEEK: Dude, check this shit out *wiggle wiggle streeeetch flippity-flippity*
MSFAN: Dude, you suck.
TUXGEEK: Did I mention how this all takes a lot less resources than Vista will? Like 512MB of RAM, where Vista will barely boot on that?
MSFAN: Just STFU already.