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April 28, 2008

Compiz: The Ultimate in Useless Eyecandy?

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That's right, it's time for a technologically controversial post. :)

Compiz is the ultimate in eyecandy. Seriously. With wobbly windows; various window-switching mechanisms such as shift-switcher, ring-swither, and regular tab-switcher; a multi-desktop cube; Mac Expose-style effects; some wicked screensavers; and a whole array of window opening, closing, minimizing, focus/unfocus, etc animations, it clearly outshines Vista and OS X combined. It's also pretty darn efficient - as I type this, Compiz is using no more than 12MB of memory, and I rarely reboot my machine. :D

However, as cool as it is, I find myself using very, very few of the available plugins in my daily workflow. With my current setup, I have all three window switchers; a four-desktop cube; wobbly windows; open/close "glide", minimize/unminimize "genie", and focus/unfocus "fade" animations; current-desktop and all-desktop Expose effect; show desktop; and the spinning cube screensaver enabled. Of all these functions, though, I only use the cube regularly. I have it setup so that Alt+Ctrl+Left/Right arrow spins the cube, and I use that for switching between desktops. For switching between windows? I use Avant Window Navigator. With an icon for each window, I just click on the one I need to go to. And, of course, the animations, screensaver, and wobbly windows are ever-present and fairly unobtrusive. I just find that the majority of the available effects aren't useful in my everyday workflow. I mean, fish inside my cube? Drawing on my screen with fire? Not only not useful, but a nonproductive use of resources. :)

I suppose the purpose of having so many effects, other than sheer amount of eyecandy, is choice. However, choice or not, a lot of the effects are just plain useless, such as the aforementioned Aquarium plugin.

What plugins do you use on a daily basis, if any? And which plugins do you have enabled that merely gather dust? :)


gijsterbeek said...

See http://digg.com/linux_unix/Compiz_The_Ultimate_in_Useless_Eyecandy

for my comment. (gijsterbeek). I think a lot of plugins could be merged, because they address the same function through different interfaces.

There is not much difference between Expo, Wall, Plane and Cube. They all offer a spatial representation of multiple desktops. So why not merge them into a 'Multiple Desktop' plugin?

Same goes for the three (!) switchers. Just make it one plugin: Switcher...

EterniCode said...

gijsterbeek, I like the idea of merging plugins. Especially for the switcher plugin, it's just kinda ridiculous to have three different versions when we could merge the functionality into sets of options for a single plugin.

Unfortunately, this would involve getting the developers to agree to merge their "babies" together and...well...that might not go over too well :)

SmSpillaz said...

That, and merging plugins becomes a pain in the arse when it comes to expandability. Currently we have 4 switchers. That number could possible expand to 10. Merging the plugins together proposes two fundamental problems:
- New 'modes' added to a plugin would have to be approved by the main developer of that plugin, and that would be a pain
- The plugins get ridiculously large. Have a look at the animation plugin for example, there are like 25 different animations using all sorts of different backends in the animation plugin.

The real solution here is to continue the work done on so-called library plugins (cube & scale) and have other plugins build upon those, so you have one switcher plugin, but shift and ring build upon it's functionality, kind of like plugin-plugins.

It won't really be possible until Compiz Object Framework gets merged in, which will not be soon.