Linux out-“OS X�’s Apple’s Mac OS X GUI with Xgl - Macenstein

Linux out-“OS X�’s Apple’s Mac OS X GUI with Xgl

Posted by iGor

Okay, so there is no debating that Apple’s OS X GUI is much cooler than Windows Vista (at least not on THIS blog), however, after seeing the video below, I am less confident that Mac OS X still has the ultimate GUI bragging rights.

The video apparently shows a new distribution of Linux running Xgl and Compiz on what may be a Gnome desktop. Xgl is the openGL accelerated X server layer that apparently can be used to create some pretty cool (if useless and dizzying) effects on Linux. No word on the specs of the machine running this demo, but reports are it isn’t too outrageous, in keeping with Linux’s M.O..

The point is, someone out there has made a GUI that is cooler than OS X. Even if they have gone a bit overboard, this Xgl desktop seems to playback smoother doing its crazy crap with 6 transparent video windows on a spinning desktop than OS X can minimize a web page into the dock.

So, I am making a call to all Apple programmers to stop sitting on their hands, and make sure that every last processors cycle is being used, even if all I am doing is opening Mail!
Dazzle us, Apple!

Thanks to faithful Macenstein reader Wolfman Mac for the link!

26 Responses to “Linux out-“OS Xâ€?’s Apple’s Mac OS X GUI with Xgl”
  1. Wolfman Mac says:

    You’re welcome.
    Hey, did you notice Jennifer Connelly there? NICE!

  2. e:leaf says:

    Admittedly, the manua-via-mouse-drag desktop switching (where you can see the windows on both desktop spaces) is very cool. However, when moving moving windows, the transparency coupled with te Physics simulation is downright nauseating.

    The rest we have. We have Expose. We have application and Window switching.

    Nothing too special except for the desktop switching effects.

  3. wildfire says:

    All that time and money and effort and they couldn’t come-up with a single original idea or useful improvement.

  4. Cory Kilger says:

    I set it up on my Ubuntu box. It’s some pretty nice eye candy but still has some bugs. Mac OS X is a little more practical in some ways though. Wobbling menus can get pretty annoying after a while.

  5. montex says:

    I see the Mac OS X dock and exposé have been shamelessly copied. How exactly is this legal? I can’t imagine that Apple will allow theft of their intellectual property to go on for very long.

  6. steve says:

    It doesn’t seem to have the “smoothness” of OSX however. It looks “kludgy” to me, like every version of Windows,Linux, or Vista. I think OSX still wins. But, for the Linux fans good for them its pretty rad stuff!!!

  7. And yet, somehow, they completely utterly fail to comprehend Fitt’s Law and put the menubar at the top of the screen rather than at the top of individual windows. Seriously, why are Linux distros copying Windows in this regard?

    Oh, and by the way, eye-candy for the sake of eye-candy is not what OS X is about. The animations in OS X are quick and get out of your away, and are even useful. The genie effect lets you know where your window went when you minimized it, for example. What practical purpose does the wiggling windows do? None at all. Furthermore, about that drag-to-switch-between-users feature — another annoying aspect; why force the user to drag at all? I mean, does a user want to be in some sort of corner limbo between two user spaces? No!

    *sigh* I’m sorry, but this is not out-OS-X-ing anything.

  8. pork'n'beans says:

    There is a fine line between practicality and annoyance. These guys crossed it. By like, miles.

  9. Ken says:

    INteresting – and maybe useful if you have a new computer with the horsepower to drive it. that is going to be the problem with Vista also: neat ideas that can only be used on a small percentage of the potential customers.

    The nice part about OS X is the percentage of Macs is use today that can continue to upgrade to each major release while missing out on very few features.

  10. IsItMe says:

    Linux cost is $0. The improvements come from a group of non-paid lovers of code. ALL of this can be manipulated through preferences to perform the way you want (not the same on OS X).

    Short version: Linux will (soon?) be able to do most of the eye-candy of OS X. That being said, it does not have the integration of OS X. Do not dismiss Open Source programmers, they are doing really good stuff here. Give credit where credit is due.

  11. glad cow says:

    I think the app/window switching function here is superior to the one in OS X. But I really don’t think I would ever like the windows flopping around like a pair of 80 year old droopy boobs every time I reposition them. That’s just me though.

  12. Freiheit says:

    Hmm, it looks like Linux with OSX style technology and BeOS flair trying very hard to look like Windows. It’s pretty, though.

  13. bmw says:

    As an FYI, we have Novell’s SLED 10 desktop running on a Dell GX620 at work, with only the integrated Intel graphics chip and it manages all these effects without breaking a sweat. I feel that most of these effects are more of a slap in Vista’s face (with its high graphics requirements) rather than an attack on OS X.

  14. mh says:

    A tad excessive, yes, but some of those effects, especially the virtual desktopc cube, are pretty neat.

  15. Macius says:

    So what? It’s still just linux – windows, icons, menus – they look nasty, as always. This shaking window effect is completely useless – it’s not even funny. No competition to OSX whatsoever – just a toy for teenage hacker wannabe 😉

  16. Mr Skills says:

    However pretty it is, the eye-candy on OSX always serves a purpose, making the UI easier to understand in some way (e.g. minimising windows, Expose, the ‘wobble’ that shows novice users where their widget appeared) or serving some other purpose (e.g. the magnifying effect, allowing the dock to fit into a smaller space).

    It is not just there to show off what the programmers can do, like on this video.

  17. NunyaBiznes says:

    Last March, I attended the Novell Brainshare session that unveiled Xgl and Compiz and was really impressed. Linux has always had an archaic desktop and the GUI redesign is simply a drive to improve it.

    What you may have failed to realize is that Xgl and Compiz are completely customizable. I am currently using SUSE 10.1, with only the effects I want (I also think the wooble effect is really annoying), on a three-year-old Athlon XP 2500 with 1GB of RAM and a 128MB Nvidia FX5200 card. If you work in a Linux environment, Xgl and Compiz are a godsend.

    Not to point fingers or anything, but Apple copies GUI design just like everybody else (Some of the “new” GUI features in Leopard have been in Linux for years).

  18. JP says:

    Okay, I’ve been around a long time and got to give credit where due.

    Some very cool programming that is SURE ot be scooped up by the majors (if not the code, the concepts). All of you can take it to the bank.

    These visual effect seems to have little relationship to daily desktop computing but open your mind to a desktop becomes the streaming cable-TV interface, home entertainment library browser (where you favorites flicks are always previewing in background and selected previews from your content provided is queued and ready for your viewing), music library online and at your finger tips.

    This interface has the potential to manage vast quantities of data (entertainment and content) in a promising new way. Watch out for a set-box with this front-end. This could be the future. Jim

  19. Krizoitz says:

    Thank goodness some people above understand that eye-candy for the sake of eye-candy is pointless. Expose vs. Windows Flip 3D for application switching for example. Flip 3D (a 3D stack of your windows) is fancy and flashy but offers little to no value. Expose isn’t as flashy, just resizing some windows, but its hugely useful.

    What so few fail to understand is that its not Apple’s flair for design that makes them succesful. Its how they USE that design to make their products more useful to the user. The iPod isn’t a success because it looks pretty (although it helps) or because its crammed with features (its nto) its succesful because it does something, and does it REALLY WELL, play music, and now media. But unlike the Zune which lets you clutter up your interface with a background picture, the iPod keeps it clean. Visit just about any mySpace page and you’ll get lots of “eye candy”, and you won’t be able to read a thing (not that there is ever much worth reading).

    KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid.

  20. TNCEKM says:

    OS X does have a pretty cool GUI, but it also has major flaws, honestly. For example (as I write this from an OS X Machine) when you minimize windows to the dock you have to look all over for them sometimes. Not to mention the annoying part about trying ot maximize a window that only ends up utilizing 80% of the screen. Animated icons are pointless in general. Very pointless…but, I still love them.

    The cube-desktop is a great way to switch between workspaces. You’re out of your mind if you can’t see that. IF you have a multiple workspace desktop running and you have to take your mouse all the way to the bottom corner of the screen and click which workspace you want every time, it sucks after a while. But if you just drag teh desktop, its very easy adn very practical.

    In addition, I believe its been looked over to frequently that this is all 100% customizable. The features you want are the ones you install and use, the features you dn’t want are not installed.

    Oh, and BTW, Linux is simply a kernel!!! That wasn’t linux, that was a distribution of linux using an (unkown to me) GUI. And, if you didn’t know, darwin (os x’s kernel) is linux based!

    Linux distributions are moving leaps and bounds toward more and more user friendly environments. Hardware support is becoming GREAT (much better than os x). Heck, I booted off a ubuntu CD (didn’t isntall it) and had a fully functional desktop computer in 2 minutes with all of my hardware fully supported, including a wireless router. 2 minutes, no install necessary, fully functional GUI, and easy to use with free office software that is fully compatible to MS Office AND Gimp, which is inferior to Photoshop, but fully functional. I didn’t have to install anything!!!!! And it took two minutes!!! Some of these linux distributions are plain amazing, and this is icing on the cake. Linux has unmatched speed, its becoming more and more user friendly, it has eye-candy, and the system requirements are such that you can install most distributions on machines that weigh 60lbs!

    I run OS X, XP, and have played with Vista (and all previous versions of windows). I love the functionality and GUI of OS X the most with respect to all windows versions, however, the GUI is being challenged (various linux desktops + Compiz + XGL), it runs like a dog (slooooow) compared to windows and especially linux distros (yes, its a myth that macs are fast), drivers (and t herefore hardware) support is CRAP, and multimedia support is almost as bad.

    Its a great OS, but it definitely has its drawbacks. The bashing of XGL and Compiz is ridiculous and can be likened to “getting behidn the team” IMHO.

  21. Jeff D. says:

    Honestly, I can’t really see this as a challenge to OS X. It seems more like programmers just seeing what they *could* do, rather than doing what makes sense. I don’t see the point of the wiggle windows or the desktop switching. Above all, it’s not very clean. The icons in the windows look (in this video at least) overly complex and not well differentiated. The clean, usable, simple feeling is a large part of what I like about OS X, and I don’t see that here.

    It’s interesting that they chose to feature the Dock magnification rollover thing, because that’s the only element I immediately turn off in OS X. Makes me dizzy.

  22. Alex says:


    If you think Apple came up with the idea of the “dock”, then you must not be very old. 🙂

    @Jeff D

    I don’t see it as a challenge to OS X either. However, there is a point of the desktop switching. Apple must think it’s useful–it is including the feature (named “Spaces”) in its next OS release. I’ve been using desktop switching for a long time and now I am sad when I use a computer without that feature. If you can come up with a convention for what windows “live” in what space, it can be pretty handy. For current versions of OS X, you can download the open source version of Spaces, which I speculate is what Apple based theirs on.

    I do find a few of the Xgl features handy, especially with certain key bindings. I turn the rest of them off via the preferences tool that comes with the window decorator software. All the little features are pretty configurable.

  23. VR says:


    Darwin (OSX) is not based on linux. It is baed on BSD (Berkely Software Distribution) -Unix derivative distributed by the University of California, Berkeley, starting in the 1970s.

    Linux is not Unix, but rather is a Unix-like OS created by Linus Torvalds in 1991.

  24. Bruno Santos says:

    XGL and compiz already exists for almost a year.
    Compiz has daily updates to their features. Actually, a few days ago, Compiz forked into a new project, Beryl Project.

    Those updates are one of the advantages on Compiz/Beryl. Linux users won’t have to wait months before having new nice and cute effects on their desktop.
    Probably most of them are useless for sure, but hey!, believe me when I tell you that some users make bizarre requests for new features to beryl’s development.

    About the hardware requirements to use that, I can say I have a Geforce Mx 440 and most of the effects run really smoothly.

    Please remember *nix based distro’s users aren’t forced to follow any path in what concerns the gui of their desktops. It’s almost 100% customizable.

  25. golgi body says:

    I read an article in The Onion with the headline: “FCC declares all TVs must be ADHDTV ready by 2008.” I think Xgl is just jumping the gun for when computers must be too 😉

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