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Sun Microsystems GUI Linux Business Software

Sun Wants to Make Linux 3D 545 545

gruenz writes "Linux Planet writes in this article about a project inside Sun developing "an experimental 3D successor to Java Desktop that they believe will change the way we interact with computers." A demo is available from Sun. 'In the demonstration, Jonathan Schwartz, vice president of Sun's software group, increases the transparency of a window so that you can see through it, turns a window on its side so that it sits at the edge of a screen like a book on a book shelf, turns a window completely around and leaves a note on the back, and takes a database of CDs presented as physical CDs, that you flip through, reading the labels, just as you would with real CDs, until you locate the one you want.'" It's called Looking Glass, in case you've heard that name before.
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Sun Wants to Make Linux 3D

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  • by dupper (470576) * <adamlouis@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:47AM (#8644015) Journal
    This is Unix! [monash.edu.au]


    • As Alan Partridge might say... 'Jurassic Park!'
    • by Nooface (526234) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:05AM (#8644777) Homepage
      Here are some other 3D file system visualizers:

      - FSV [sourceforge.net] is modelled after FSN, but runs on Linux. FSV lays out files and directories in 3D, geometrically representing the file system hierarchy to allow visual overview and analysis.
      [Screenshot [sourceforge.net]] | [Download [tucows.com]] (Linux)

      - Xcruiser [nooface.com] lets you fly through a filesystem in 3D as if it were interplanetary space. Directories are represented as galaxies, files are represented as planets (whose mass is determined by the file size), and symbolic links are represented as wormholes.
      [Screenshot [sourceforge.net]] | [Download [sourceforge.net]] (Linux)

      - TDFSB [hgb-leipzig.de] is a 3D filesystem browser for Linux. Take a walk through your filesystem!
      [Screenshot [hgb-leipzig.de]] | [Download [hgb-leipzig.de]] (Linux)

      - 3Dtop [nooface.com] is an extension for Windows that represents desktop icons in 3D, letting you to fly around your desktop. You can create coloured spotlights, background and floor textures, "paintings" (bitmaps), clocks, and "flags" that represent shortcuts.
      [Screenshot [3dtop.com]] | [Download [3dtop.com]] (Windows)

      - ROOMS [nooface.com] turns a Windows desktop into a 3D world. You can see the world either through a first person perspective or with a map view, and you can populate the world with sounds, animated images, and 3D icons.
      [Screenshot [rooms3d.com]] | [Download [rooms3d.com]] (Windows)

      - CubicEye [2ce.com] organizes windows into a navigable cube. Cubes can be arranged by thematic or functional subject matter, and can be explored either individually or collectively as part of a more comprehensive structure of multiple cubes representing various areas of interest.
      [Screenshot [2ce.com]] | [Download [2ce.com]] (Windows)
  • .... they might start by posting the video in non-proprietary format!
    • Sun's Java desktop comes with Realplayer installed. So its not a problem for customers of Java Destkop, who are most likley to use it. For everyone else there is Mplayer [mplayerhq.hu], the universial media player!
      • For everyone else there is Mplayer, the universial media player!

        I was under the impression that video apps like Mplayer (and xine, and ...) are universal loaders-of-open-and-proprietary-DLLs-and-.so's, in conjunction with a universally bloated skin managers.

        I think the grandparent post is right: there are Open formats and there are Closed formats, and Sun's not going to win over idea-sharers by providing media that's encumbered by idea-hoarding technologies.

    • they might start by posting the video in non-proprietary format!

      That was my first thought, but then I realized they more or less have to assume a number of important site visitors aren't running Windows. Do QT and RP come with MPEG decoders on other platforms? I know about mplayer, but I don't think you can assume everyone can view an MPEG or XVID video stream. Is there a codec that's save to assume any web viewer on any platform can view?

      (I hate both the QT and RP programs. Stay outta my task bar and do
  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:48AM (#8644024) Journal
    If you look at the XDirectFB [directfb.org] screenshots you can see what it looks like using the DirectFB X-server :-) The server has the ability to make windows transparent/opaque by degree as focus is lost/gained or hidden/shown. Very nice :-)

    If this gets the go-ahead (and if it's open source), it'll be even nicer. The DirectFB X-server is still a standard 2-D environment, with all that entails. I can't see much use for attaching sticky notes to the "backs" of windows, but I'm sure someone will come up with one :-)

    • I can't see much use for attaching sticky notes to the "backs" of windows
      Password lists, more secure than on a post-it under the keyboard or in the desk drawer.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:12AM (#8644223)
      The server has the ability to make windows transparent/opaque by degree as focus is lost/gained or hidden/shown

      There's a utility called "Glass 2k" for Windows that does the same thing. It works with Windows 2000 and Windows XP - and it's completely hardware accelerated. It was mentioned in November 2001. On Slashdot [slashdot.org].

    • by Dan Ost (415913)
      I constantly make notes on paper about what I'm doing in each window
      so that I can quickly pick up where I left off should I get interupted
      by a meeting or phone call. Being able to attach a virtual "Post-id" note
      to a window seems like an awesome idea to me.

      Might not be a useful feature to everyone, but for people like me, it
      would definately be nice to have.
    • by G4from128k (686170) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:37AM (#8644436)
      Although cool 3d interfaces are nice and do create a more intuitive user interface, the reasons that ease-of-use is so low (even on the Mac) is the problems of system configuration and the mismatch between command-oriented input systems (both GUI and CLI) versus goal-oriented users.

      Better help systems (not wizards) and more explanatory error messages would go a long way to improving ease-of-use. If computers could explain WHY they can't perform some operation (rather than THAT they can't perform some operation), it would make them les frustrating to use.

      It may not be glamorous, but translating all the system setups, command sets, and controls into something goal-oriented rather than technology oriented would be a major step toward ease-of-use (the average usuer should never need to know an acronym to configure their computer). This would mean contextual help that explains what to do in terms that reflect the goals of the user, not the minutae of the underlying technologies.

      More eye-candy will not make the machines easier to use. Better user-centric documentation, configuration, and diagnostic messages will.
      • Although cool 3d interfaces are nice and do create a more intuitive user interface

        Maybe to you, but I've always found such designs awkward. They're stuck trying to mimic 'real-world' objects, with the inherent limitations that go with them.
      • by mwood (25379) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:21AM (#8644948)
        Time to hear from the VMS fanboy again. If you want to see what error messages *should* be, find a way to make a VMS application fail. Paraphrased, a typical VMS error stack might look like this:

        "I couldn't open that window you asked for"

        "because I couldn't initialize SOME-SUBSYSTEM"

        "because I couldn't read SOME-SPECIFIC-FILE"

        "because you are denied access to it"

        Sure beats the stuffing out of "OUT OF MEMORY" or "invalid parameter". You could think of it as various layers of the program catching the error and re-throwing it with annotations. Each layer contributes its "understanding" of the failure and, if it is well done, the user gets the complete story of what went wrong and usually has enough information to understand and correct the problem without diving into the books.
      • Exactly! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by beldraen (94534) <chad...montplaisir@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:44AM (#8645179)
        I've been writing software for sometime now and I have gotten a lot of complements on the software I write. I follow three predominant rules when designing an interface. First, simplicity. People are used to a single data representation, like a sheet of paper. Place all related information on a single page. If editing needs to occur, allow the page to be edited. Do NOT have separate pages display and edit or multiple representations of the same information in different locations. While logically minded people can accept multiple views of the same data, most users do not have the spatial orientation abilities to be comfortable in navigating such a system. Users generally put up with it because they have no choice. Second, if a fault condition can be prevented before a user can commit the error, set the interface so that the fault cannot be committed in the first place. It is very annoying to hit a connect button only to be told that there are no connection settings. Either prevent the button from being used or pop up the method to connect. Either way, do not waste user time with things that don't work. Present the user things that do work or prevent the user from doing things that do not work. This places the burden on programmers to take responsibility of policing bad behavior; however, programmers loathe to do the work because being experts in the system they naturally avoid faults and it means more work for them that they do not perceive as a benefit. Users are not experts and should not need to be experts. They just want to get work done and rightfully expect the system to make intelligent guiding decisions since they've paid for the system to make them more productive. Finally, if a fault condition requires a modal intervention (which is very rare if you follow the previous rules), then all other fault conditions that can be possibly checked are also evaluated and tacked on to the error list. There is nothing worse than submitting something, getting an error, fixing it, submitting again, getting another error, fixing that, submitting again, getting another error...

        These three rules have served me well.
      • "Although cool 3d interfaces are nice and do create a more intuitive user interface, the reasons that ease-of-use is so low (even on the Mac) is the problems of system configuration and the mismatch between command-oriented input systems (both GUI and CLI) versus goal-oriented users."

        Does the mac get around this using their netinfo tool? Maybe I am off base, but about everything you can do from the config screens can also be done through netinfo on the command line, and it's all funneling through 1 config
    • I sit down at my office mate's Mac. I see the transparency, the shadows, I minimize and maximize to trigger the special effects. I mouse-over some icons to make them inflate. I switch between users a few times for no particular reason to watch the desktop spin around on a cube. I say "cool, maybe they could play a 'whooshing' noise when it does that."

      Then I go back to my unobtrusive, perfectly tailored fvwm2 desktop to get back to business.

  • Sounds interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by plazman30 (531348) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:48AM (#8644025) Homepage
    This would be very nice to see. But I wonder if this is something that may leave the average home user confused.

    I believe the ultimate goal of Linux desktops should be to make the computer as easy to use as a Mac.

    • by MoonFog (586818)
      Would a 3D desktop be more difficult to use ?

      There are more to it than just the desktop, but it sure is a start, and if you've tried Sun Java Desktop system .. it's VERY easy to use as well.
      • "Would a 3D desktop be more difficult to use ?"

        I don't believe the word diffucult describes it best but complicated. Linux should try to make it as uncomplicated to use as a mac. Put my little old mom on a 3D desktop and she would be lost.
        • Re:Complicated (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MoonFog (586818)
          Have you even seen the video ? Does it look confusing at all ?
          It's basically a regular desktop with 3D features. I seriously don't see why you would lable it complex. The coding behind it is complex yes, but that doesn't mean the desktop is complex or difficult to use.
          • Re:Complicated (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Durandal64 (658649) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:29AM (#8644352)
            Current desktops are confusing for quite a few users. Now consider that this new interface doesn't really change the way things are done (there are still windows, menus, et cetera), just adds stuff. Granted, it's really damn cool stuff (stuff that I can see Apple using Quartz Extreme to do sometime down the road), but it will confuse the shit out of computer novices.
    • by Jugalator (259273) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:58AM (#8644103) Journal
      I believe the ultimate goal of Linux desktops should be to make the computer as easy to use as a Mac.

      Why not easier? :-)
    • by WTFmonkey (652603) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:06AM (#8644178)
      Yeah, it seems like it'd have a very high Coolness Factor, which usually bears an inverse relationship to the Usefulness Factor.

      The first example that comes to mind is the CD thing mentioned in the blurb. Why the hell would I want to flip through CDs? That's the EXACT REASON I ripped them to my computer to start with, was so I could see a nice, flat list rather than hundreds of individual CDs.

      Flipping a window around to put a note on the back seems like the kind of dumbass thing I'd do with my homework, and then I'd forget I wrote the note and totally ignore it anyways. Come on, on the back??

      Like I said, sounds very cool, if not all that useful. I'd rather put that extra 3D rendering power into some badass games, personally. Offtopic, but I was playing through Freespace again last night (for about the fourth time). What a great game! I love the "spaceships fly like airplanes" genre and there just haven't been enough recently. That's what we need... not "easy as a Mac," but "as fun as a PC."

    • The ultimate goal of Linux desktops should be the ability to set it up to work exactly the way you want it to, not to imitate the Mac.

      I don't give a shit about the average home user. I like focus-follows mouse, magic desktop borders and transparent thingies. I don't think the goal of Linux desktops should be to take away all the things I like about them. If this new-fangled interface is good, people will use it, the average home user can use a stripped-down KDE set to emulate Windows or Mac if he/she wants
      • by 0x0d0a (568518)
        I like focus-follows mouse, magic desktop borders and transparent thingies.

        I like most fvwm-ish things (and zero resistance edge flipping!), but focus-follows-mouse always confused me.

        It seems like this focusing system always tends to result in your mouse cursor winding up covering up what you're trying to work with. Usually, I'd prefer to have my mouse cursor elsewhere.
        • It's a matter of getting used to, I guess. You can always use sloppy focus and move the mouse to the root window once your target window is activated, or have the mouse cursor disabled on text input (I think KDE has this).

          With click-to-focus you always have to be careful not to click on a button or if you click on an editor, it automatically moves your cursor from where it should be.
      • by anonicon (215837) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:29AM (#8645025)
        The ultimate goal of Linux desktops should be the ability to set it up to work exactly the way you want it to, not to imitate the Mac.

        I don't give a shit about the average home user.

        Call me silly, but you just contradicted yourself. If the average home user wants to it to imitate a Mac or W2K or Fisher-Price Speak and Spell, I agree that Linux shoud let them.

        I don't think the goal of Linux desktops should be to take away all the things I like about them.

        Problem is, ask 1,000 people what they like about the Linux desktop and you'll get little agreement. Besides, an experienced hacker will have a lot fewer problems re-configuring their desktop from a basic setup than the average user will trying to configure their desktop from a hacker setup.

        the average home user can use a stripped-down KDE set to emulate Windows or Mac if he/she wants to.

        This is a really good idea. I'd *love* to see a vanilla Linux standard that all programmers could program to without worrying about which of 97 flavors of Linux were installed on the PC. The CLI Commandos and UberL33ts could keep their CLIs and RTFM MAN pages while the general public benefited from having an inexpensive, realistic escape path from MS.
    • by vrai (521708)

      I believe the ultimate goal of Linux desktops should be to make the computer as easy to use as a Mac.

      Why? There's already a computer that is as easy to use as a Mac - it's called the Mac. Why should Linux attempt to solve a problem that already has a pretty optimal solution? I always thought the goal of Linux was to provide a free, open source Unix-like operating system. Which is does very well indeed.

      OSX is an operating system aimed at the home and education markets. Linux is an operating system writ

      • OSX is an operating system aimed at the home and education markets. Linux is an operating system written by hackers for their own use. Two very different goals - hence the two very different approaches that have been taken.

        This is both true and false. Although Linux was originally developed as a open-source UNIX-like OS primarily for computer professionals, some people have since decided to turn into something suitable for mass consumption. Other people like having a free hard core OS for gurus. The beaut
      • by nathanh (1214)

        I always thought the goal of Linux was to provide a free, open source Unix-like operating system.

        Nope. That's the goal of the GNU project.

        Linux was started because Linus wanted to learn more about 386 protected mode. You could say that the original goal of Linux was to give Linus something fun to do.

        Some people soon realised they could finish GNU by integrating it with Linux. At that time you might say that there were some people with the goal of using Linux to make a free UNIX.

        Afterwards, when

    • How about making Linux easier to use than Mac?

      I want to be able to tell my grandma "if it's in the way, just turn it sideways and shove it off to one side".

      As another commentator said, this is an elegant way of minimizing a window, closely related to the normal Linux "roll it up like a blind", but with the advantage of it being easier to tell what it is, despite taking minimium screen space.

      --dave (biased, you understand) c-b

    • Not quite right ... how about being a little more adventurous ...

      I believe the ultimate goal of Linux desktops should be to make the computer even easier to use as a Mac.
    • I'm assisting my "slightly older" relatives learn to use computers (retired nurses who are used to working with medical equipment). For them, the newest Windows applications are too difficult to use. They were happy when Windows 98 came out, because then everything had a standard uniform interface (Wasn't that Microsoft's marketing strategy?).

      But now that every single application nearly always comes it own set of skins, this has completely thrown them off. And trying to make an application use the standard
  • by Trigun (685027) <<evil> <at> <evilempire.ath.cx>> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:49AM (#8644033)
    Is make a processor that will run it!

    Where's my 3GHz Sparc?
  • Tux, (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dupper (470576) *
    meet Bob. Bob, Tux.

    Seriously, isn't this what MS tried to do (the literal objects representing files and environment, not the 3D part)? They're probably trying to beat Apple to the punch (this is a plausible, and, by many, expected course for their 'ease-of-use' direction; maybe a new WM for iMacs, only?), but how quickly we forget Microsoft's little "innovation", ten years earlier.

  • Remember... (Score:4, Funny)

    by MarkMcLeod (759072) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:51AM (#8644045) Homepage
    When Zero Cool and his 'leet group of hackers infiltrated the Gibson. That's what this reminds me of, infinite ammounts of stupid. Except better. Sort of.
  • Great, now we're going to get UI innovations from Sun? That's the last thing Linux needs: Sun has no history of doing _anything_ at all interesting in terms of UI work.

    And secondly who wants to flip through CDs like in real life looking for the one you want? Aargh. Hey, let's emulate a frustration of the real world ("Where's my All Saints' CD?") on the desktop. Hey, let's ignore any metadata we might have about the CD (artist, title, genre, ...). Hey, let's not do a search engine, let's do a linear s
    • by squaretorus (459130) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:57AM (#8644099) Homepage Journal
      Linux does not need some fancy graphics on the desktop to make an impact.

      It does need them to make some very specific 'impacts' however. Take your average user - give them something that works, is pretty, and is genuinely useful and they will jump for joy.

      Even simple things like plugging a digital camera into my laptop (XP) and having it come up with the 'would you like to save these?' option - Yes - Then pick a slideshow from Explorer - it all worked so smoothly and quickly that my better half almoost pooped her pants with 'computers are getting good' excitement.

      XP looks shit - but its easy to understand shit with landscape wallpaper and nice fonts. Linux looks shit and its kinda scary shit with penguins or nekkid chicks for wallpaper and white fonts on black... scary!
    • by DrWhizBang (5333) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:07AM (#8644186) Homepage Journal
      Sun has no history of doing _anything_ at all interesting in terms of UI work.

      Actually, Sun invested heavily in usability studies that have been used by the Gnomers in developing their HIG and Sun usablility testing directly influence the Gnome 2 release.

      Not that disagree with the usability concerns of trying to mirror the real world in computer space, but hopefully we have seen enough bad examples (MS Bob, IBM apps from late nineties) that we can use this kind of technology properly.
    • NeWS to you (Score:3, Informative)

      by Epeeist (2682)
      > Sun has no history of doing _anything_ at all interesting in terms of UI work.

      Many years ago, when X11 was in its infancy Sun came out with a windowing system called NeWS. Like X11 it was network transparent, but it used a variant of Display Postscript.

      So yes, Sun do have a history in UI and have done some interesting work there.
    • by Gr8Apes (679165) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:24AM (#8644312)
      Linux does not need some fancy graphics on the desktop to make an impact.

      I would disagree. Fancy graphics, eye candy, etc, appeals to the masses. The masses spend massive amounts of money on additional software. Massive amounts of money tends to attract the kind of attention Linux needs to make a lasting impact. (Note: it's already made a real impact:)

      So, even if this is utter crap for you and me and we might never use it, having it as an option would be good for Linux. After all, look at the functionally crappy but pretty Windows UI, and how many people "like" it. Then listen to new Mac panther users. They LOVE their new OS - "everything's so easy" is what I hear from the converted. Matter of fact, I'd say that OSX has done more to promote Unix to the common person's desktop than anyone.

  • by InterruptDescriptorT (531083) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:53AM (#8644059) Homepage
    I think this is a very cool development. Don't get me wrong. But this is not what Linux needs right now.

    There is a huge push to make Linux a true desktop OS that non-tech-savvy people can use. I take the example of the typical Slashdot mom--she can probably open Outlook or IE and perform all of her e-mailing and Web surfing tasks just fine. Present her with KDE or Gnome, though, and it's scary and unfamiliar. And all of this fails to break Microsoft's strangehold on the desktop which is as much a product of Linux's unwillingness to adopt a unified GUI standard as it is Microsoft's anticompetitive practices.

    How about developers concentrate on two things--firstly, agreeing on a cohesive Linux desktop experience and forget about the Gnome/KDE fragmentation/flamewars that plague the Linux community, and secondly, writing the next generation of desktop apps for Linux, getting those perfected and at a level of usability and stability to rival Microsoft's offerings.

    It's not a 3D desktop that going to get Linux on desktops. It's going to be a solid, stable, easy-to-use standarized GUI experience with mature, full-featured apps that surpass the functionality that Microsoft's and other vendor's Win32 apps bring to the table.
    • Have you tried Mandrake 10? It has just what you want!
    • by Noryungi (70322) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:11AM (#8644214) Homepage Journal
      Present her with KDE or Gnome, though, and it's scary and unfamiliar.

      Short answer: No.

      Long answer: Modern versions of KDE and Gnome are now so advanced that they are just as easy to use for a normal Mom to use.

      Example: A few months ago, I showed KDE 3.1.x, running on my Slackware laptop, to my wife (who is also a mom, by the way). She is not a power user, but she is smart and she knows Windows and Microsoft Office pretty well.

      Within 5 minutes, with only minimal explanations from me, she had opened KWrite, KMail and Konqueror and was happily checking her email and writing a small document, all the while surfing on the web.

      She even went as far as saying: "What's so special about Linux? It's almost the same as Windows!"... *sigh*

      So, please, let us stop this nonsense about Linux not being ready for the desktop, and not having quality apps. It's simply untrue. And more and more people, corporations and governments are realizing this and switching to Linux.

      This being said, I agree that a lot of average users would be very challenged by a Linux installation and configuration... But that's how people like me make money after all!

      It's not a 3D desktop that going to get Linux on desktops.

      Now, that , I can agree on. 3D desktop is a waste of time.
      • by dave420 (699308) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:01AM (#8644727)
        And when your wifey comes to update her software, or something breaks? That's where the real difference is. Getting an OS to be usable is one thing, but to get is user-resistant is another, which Linux hasn't addressed quite nearly enough. RPM anyone?
      • Yep, I know exactly what you mean, but I would call this by a different name - abstraction! People are quite abstract in the way they think and the reason "slashdot mums" can use windows is because it's a good abstraction for the hardware. They don't care about kernel and stuff. They think about "sending an email" as a single, abstract object, not a system of protocols and programmes and layers etc etc. Windows-based systems, for all their clumsiness and inefficiency, are good at allowing users to do th
      • Anecdotal evidence is not not necessarily proof. Here's a counter-anecdote: My wife's been using Linux for the past few weeks. KDE still does not have a nice way of copying to/from a CD. You either have to open two Konqueror windows or open one Konq window to root, and drag and drop from /home/username to /mnt/cdrom. And once she does get the files off of her cdrom, they're all read-only. Try explaining to a former Windows user why she has to highlight a bunch of files, right-click, go to permissions,
    • But this is not what Linux needs right now.

      Huh? Are the hordes of programmers going to drop everything and go 3-D? I don't think so.

      You're talking about a group of programmers who weren't doing anything for linux, who are now. That can only improve Linux. At worst case, they produce nothing and we maintain the status quo.

      Linux is about choice, not about being the best damn desktop possible (though, thanks to the wonders of choice and "apt-get install best-damn-desktop" it could still be possible).
    • by Rinikusu (28164) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:22AM (#8644300)
      The problem is, right now Linux on the Desktop is facing a monumental task in trying to take market/mindshare away from Windows. For the past how many years has Linux struggled to keep pace or achieve parity with 6 year old MS (or even Apple) offerings? LoTD is possible, but maybe its time for someone to look at the entire paradigm of computing and come up with something NEW. You know, innovation, that very thing most people accuse Linux of lacking. Here is an opportunity to Sun to create something that may (or may not) fail miserably, but at the same time, they are in a position to control it: To enforce interface guidelines, to achieve application compliance, etc, something also a problem between the GNOME/KDE/other WM camps. Linux will never succeed on the home desktop until someone does something to deal with the disparity and inherent "unfriendliness" of the various desktop environments. Maybe it's time to do a "BeOS", so to speak, and throw out the desktop as we know it and create something new.

      Then again, it might just crash and burn and burn and burn.
    • by DrWhizBang (5333) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:30AM (#8644365) Homepage Journal
      Although this may not be what linux needs right now, it certainly will be.

      All of the desktop stuff that you refer to is being worked on. I currently have a linux desktop at home, and my wife and kids use it with no problem. The linux desktop will soon be as good as the Windows or Mac desktop. ... then what do we do?

      Someone has to be working on The Next Big Thing (TM). Maybe it's not this, but we won't know unless someone works on proof of concept designs.

      Microsoft has said repeatedly that they believe that open source is not capable of innovation - only cloning. Well, that is certainly inaccurate, given apache, X, and the whole bloody internet. But it does set a bar higher, to make sure that linux can be more advanced than Windows, and to do that requires experimentation, and if a company like Sun is will ing to pay people to work on that, then so be it - even if their stuff is not open source, at least it is not Microsoft.
  • Video Drivers? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WARM3CH (662028) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:53AM (#8644060)
    3D graphics on the accelerated cards without video drivers? Anyone? I mean, at least for the most interesting news would be to hear about opensource, fully functional video drivers for major cards. By itselt, 3D desktops are not original ideas, lots of people have good ideas about them but only if Sun or anyone else could push nVidia or ATI to provide what we really need (and miss) in Linux, then I'd be impressed.
  • Confusing (Score:2, Funny)

    by NewNole2001 (717720)
    Just think how confusing it would be when the machine locks up and all the windows start spinning like a ballet company on crack.
  • This again!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dnoyeb (547705) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:54AM (#8644070) Homepage Journal
    I can't believe this. Sun has resorted to this old pipe dream!?!

    If Sun wants to know about 3d user interfaces, look in 3d games. They have 3d engines readily available but they still use 2d interfaces? KISS

    Put the resources towards someting that can actually do the company some good. I don't know what that is, but it couldn't be this.

    I wonder what Sun's shareholders are thinking right about now.
  • Here we go again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martingunnarsson (590268) * <martin&snarl-up,com> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:54AM (#8644071) Homepage
    I really think this interface looks great and runs smoothly, but I've heard the phrase "[...] change the way we interact with computers" way too many times by now. Apple's OS X is the most "modern" user interface I've used, and it's still just a bunch of windows and a pointer. How much can you change in the GUI without confusing Joe Sixpack too much?
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:56AM (#8644085) Journal
    As long as you can navigate faster and easier with it (after some adjustment period of course), I'm all for it!

    However, 3D desktops usually fall because of usability problems. Not really surprising, as most people (I know there are peculiar non-standard devices that deviate) are still using a 2D device (mouse) to visualize information on a 2D surface (monitor) to navigate in a 3D environment. Guess where the obstacle / incompatiblity with the I/O devices usually lies... :-P
  • by Adolph_Hitler (713286) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:57AM (#8644094)

    This is the kind of thing which has to be done, yet no one wanted to do it because it wasnt profitable.

    Linux needs a facelift if its to be successful on the Desktop. Let's thank Sun for wasting their money becase now Linux can take on and beat Longhorn.

    This is less of a waste of money than mono
  • by haggar (72771) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:57AM (#8644095) Homepage Journal
    I saw a demo of Looking Glass. It rocked. And yes, I do see potential uses for this technology, not least for some serious storage management. Or complex document management. Or large EDA tool integration. The possibilities are fascinating, and don't tell me you "don't see them".

    But, this demo was so long ago, by now I thought every nerd on earth knew about it. I am surprised Slashdot psoted it as news.
  • WindowBlinds (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pcraven (191172) <paul.cravenfamily@com> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:57AM (#8644096) Homepage
    StarDock's [stardock.com] WindowBlinds and its related FX software can 'shrink' a window to the desktop. You are supposed to soon be able to hold a shift key and shrink the window while keeping the content interactive.

    Unfortunately I can't find a link describing that part of the software right now. It hasn't been put out as a full release yet.

    I find that more useful than turning a window on its side. But not useful enough I actually use it.
  • by shamir_k (222154) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:57AM (#8644097) Homepage
    The Java desktop system is really nothing but a branding strategy by Sun. Its basically a linux box with Java and Staroffice. The "Java" tag is an attempt to benefit from the hype around Java.

    But if Sun is going to use this as a platform to innovate, it could help Linux a lot. Sun has the marketing dollars to push the adoption of this platform, especially in emerging markets where Windows isn't entrenched already. We could see a whole new generation of users who are more familiar with Linux via JDS, than with Windows.

    • by OmniVector (569062) <see my homepage> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:41AM (#8644486) Homepage
      I actually talked with some of the Sun reps at LinuxWorld this year, and they said the reason the named it Java DS is because they did a market survey, and more people had heard of Java than Sun. Pretty sad huh?

      What i find remarkable is that in light of the fact that the desktop system has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with java, and the fact that the people in their customer base who would actually hear of such a product and really care all think naming a desktop system after a language is completely retarded, they go and name it Java DS anyways. They need to rethink their market.
  • dupe? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by manWorkSucks (745760) <don.c.smith@gmail . c om> on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:58AM (#8644109) Homepage
    why do i seem to remember reading this same story and watching that same video a few months ago?
  • I will not be impressed until I can see the Code. I could imagine some real innovation behind that if it where to be released into the wild. Until I see the code it is about as interesting to me as the next Microsoft product release.
  • by selderrr (523988) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:59AM (#8644113) Journal
    And additionally, there are a few windoze crappies of that kind : google [google.com]

    The example of flippin CD cases is the exact proof why this tech sucks : I'm moving away from pgysical cases towards a hierarchical, multi-layered view of my mp3s with iTunes.

    Sun, read my lips : I don't want to handle physical objects on a computer screen
    here's [google.com] another google for ya.

    • Well, we can stop working on GNOME and KDE and Aqua because you are "moving away from physical cases towards a hierarchical, multi-layered view of my mp3s with iTunes."

      Has it occurred to you that, perhaps, the vast majority of ordinary, mostly-computer-illiterate people do want to handle real objects on thier computer screen? Do you look up from your IDE or commandline long enough to notice that most people don't use or want to use the computer the same way you do?

      Try reading this article [java.net] about programmi
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @09:59AM (#8644117) Homepage
    Please stop watching Minority Report. That was fiction. Fic-shun.
  • Web Book and Web Forager [acm.org] were tools created by Xerox Parc which allowed you to organize webpages into books, which could be placed onto a bookshelf or table.

    You could interact with the pages, and move them around the desktop. You could flip through the pages like a real book. This paper was done in 96.
  • by Mxyzptlk (138505) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:02AM (#8644144) Homepage
    Sun seems to send out two different messages at the same time...

    On one hand: it is a conceptual software that is not intended for market ("experimental proof of concept", and the quote from Tom Murphy "I think in and of itself, it has a big wow effect. It's cute to see these things like 3D animations of stuff moving around and think of collaborative space, but how does it make my business more productive?")

    On the other hand: it seems that Sun is quite serious about Looking Glass ("rapidly working to formalize the implementation", "Sun has made it clear they want Looking Glass to be a part of the open source community and to get open source community buy-in on the project").

    I think that Sun has not made up their own minds yet - it will be quite interesting to see what Sun is going to do next, how the open source community will respond, and most importantly what does Sun really want out of Looking Glass? In the long run, more market shares, yes, but how?
  • Well I say good on Sun for trying something which hasn't been done successfully before. So it's an old idea; video phone is an old idea that's only just about coming into everyday use and even then only by a few, however I have no doubt that it will be widespread sometime in the future. Other things humans didn't get right straight away: flight, television, radio, lightbulb. So to the nay sayers I say wait and see and to Sun I say good on you. At least this company is spending money on innovation and not l
  • Lame idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by macpell (726325) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:06AM (#8644176)
    The reason I keep all of my music on my computer is because it's NOT like flipping through my CD collection.
  • by mccalli (323026) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:10AM (#8644206) Homepage
    Rubbish, the lot of it. Point by point:

    • increases the transparency of a window so that you can see through it
      Marvellous. Just as users of current operating systems have ben doing for years anyway.
    • turns a window on its side so that it sits at the edge of a screen like a book on a book shelf
      Hmm. Potentially interesting as a way to pick between open windows, but doesn't Expose perform this task in a better manner?
    • turns a window completely around and leaves a note on the back
      Ah, how terribly useful. Hidden, non-obvious information in a GUI. Superb.
    • and takes a database of CDs presented as physical CDs, that you flip through, reading the labels, just as you would with real CDs, until you locate the one you want.
      Except that in the real world I can never find the bloody CDs, because I can't remember where I've put them. I can navigate a media player interface far faster than I can hunt for CDs, and I can use more search criteria too (album, artist etc.)
    Nope - stunningly unimpressed. A computer GUI is an abstraction of the real world, not the real world itself. Applying the same clutter you find in the real world would make the interface worse, not better.


  • It was a novelty I turned off fairly quickly - text on windows underneath makes things hard to read. The best analogy is to try and read a collection of transparencies on your desk. If they are stacked on top of each other, they quickly become unreadable. Your pencil and paper desk isn't really 3D either. The same thing with voice recognition. Speaking text to your computer wears pretty thin too after a while, and imagine trying to do this in a crowded office!

    Anything that involves waving your arms about to manipulate things in 3D won't work either. You will get great exercise, but try doing this for 8-10 hours a day.

    But let the research continue - maybe somebody will eventually hit upon a way of interacting with your computer in a way that improves upon what we have. My bets are with a set of glasses with a "heads up" eye movement tracking display, projected in front of you. We just have to figure how to do this without giving users splitting headaches from improper/inadequate motion compensation.
  • by CrazyTalk (662055) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:13AM (#8644230)
    "I know this! This is Unix!"

    Once again, life imitates art - or, movies about dinosaurs coming back to life.

  • If you're interested in experimenting with new desktop concepts and want something that works now you might like to checkout FreeMind http://freemind.sourceforge.net/

    While at heart it's a [really nice] open source mind map tool, you can get it to launch apps, mailers, URLs etc.

    When I'm managing a lot of complex related tasks and information, I've found it indespensible and it's accreting great features fast.
  • by foobsr (693224) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @10:23AM (#8644303) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I have heard the name quite a while ago [computerbits.com] (Open Linux)!

    Now, what light does this shade on the quality of innovation (and marketing) ?

  • by LonelyKindGuy (639679) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @11:52AM (#8645259)
    I saw the demo for Looking Glass at Borcon and yes, its way cool!

    The San Jose Mercury ran an article a month or so ago about how it was conceived of at Sun. It turns out a Sun programmer just worked on this in his spare time at home (much to the distress of his girlfriend). Then one day he takes it to work and shows his manager, who is blown away. His boss shows the higher-ups in Sun who are also blown away.

    They make it a full scale project, take it away from the original author, and now take full credit as "visionaries". The truth is, this whole concept was the midnight creation of a hacker.
    So much for industry R & D.
  • by Jeff Archambeault (41488) on Tuesday March 23, 2004 @12:42PM (#8645853) Homepage
    Sure, the eye candy helps, but it can't be just about that.

    It has to be more than a windows manager or a file manager, it must also do programming. Imagine 'frames/windows/whatevers' with sides, as well as backs. Want the translation of a foreign website? Just put that on a different side, as well as the stickynotes 'side', and sides for covering "pipes" and environment variables. Every object has it's own 'control panel' site, where the # of sides are defined. It's probably where 'relative faces' would be defined, where an axis of a web browser's object can be defined to return each search result on a 'face' of the given axis. No need to resort to cubism when free-form objects can be defined.

    Select a group of objects, and rotate the selected group to see their "pipes". "Pass-thru" programs that don't need any visual rendering space could just show up as a line, if viewed from one side, but have another side akin to a shell script. Directional flow lines between objects used for STDIO only show up in programming view.

    Any 'frame/window/view' should be able to become the 'primary/foreground', and each view can contain any number of other objects or views, allowing for far more than "3d". With enough memory, you could store the whole stack as it changed through time.

    Well, that's what such a beast would mean to me. It's more about walking through my filespace in a graphical MU*-like environment, it's more like picking up a strange shiney object in a room of such an environment...think of that Escher print of him drawing his reflection in the mirror/glass/metal(?)sphere...but if zoomed in on, will reveal that you're looking at is a view of the opposite of what you were looking at - MU* environment in a 'window' surrounded by desktop.

    I'll put the pipe down now ;)

    (These ideas are copyleft by the implementor)

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