Compiz for Solaris

Erwann has posted Compiz 0.5.0 packages for Solaris Nevada/Express on x86 today - this is the latest step of several months of work to make this happen.

We've been working on this for several reasons. Our accessibility architect became very enthused after seeing Beryl's screen magnification support and talking to the Beryl developers at last fall's Ubuntu Developer's Summit. Our (now-former) director of Solaris Open Source (including OpenSolaris and the Solaris Desktop & X teams) became a fan after seeing the demos at the X.Org Developer's Conference Sun hosted in February. Even the Solaris CTO has jumped on the bandwagon for making the Solaris Express Developer's Edition look more modern.

We were dreading the tough choice of having to pick Beryl or Compiz - at first glance, compiz looked more stable, but beryl had more plugins/effects and the accessibility support we were interested in. Fortunately, the compiz and beryl communities solved this problem by re-uniting their efforts.

There's still work to do before this is seamless though. Compiz requires newer versions of various X components than we've had in Solaris - even February's Solaris Express Developer Edition is too old for this. We already upgraded from the X11R6.9 Xorg server to Xorg server 1.2 (from X11R7.2) in Nevada build 58 (the February SXDE was based on Nevada build 55b). I posted last week to desktop-discuss a list of where we are on the X library updates and additions needed for compiz.

Will we integrate this directly into Solaris in the future? We don't know yet, but it's definitely an option being considered. Until then, if you have nvidia graphics on Solaris x86, try it out! (Intel graphics will be an option as well soon, once the Solaris DRI team brings the Intel DRI drivers up to the level required by the X11R7.2 Xorg. We may even be able to get it running on SPARC in the not-to-distant future, once the current project to port XVR-2500 support to Xorg gets to the OpenGL stage - right now, it's mainly got the 2D portions of the driver running.)

Comments:

One of the things Windows always has going for it is DirectX. While a discussion of techical merit of DirectX is out of scope, what DirectX does bring is an abstraction of graphics, audio and input hardware. It is my understanding that DirectX's counterpart in the UNIX and UNIX-like world is SDL, the Simple Directmedia Layer. I'm referring to SDL because it seems to implement the same concept of hardware abstraction that DirectX does. Also from what I understand, OpenGL only abstracts graphics - it does not abstract audio, network, or input devices, such as joysticks, steering wheels... And finally, my question: can't something like DirectX (perhaps SDL?) be implemented in the UNIX / X.org world? While I'm no expert, it seems to me, that support for stuff like Compiz is directly dependent on every single driver being directly "aware" of features in the above "layers" of abstraction. I would think that makes for a tremendous amount of painful work every time new graphics / audio / input hardware must be supported...

Posted by UX-admin on April 23, 2007 at 08:00 PM PDT #

DirectX actually suffers from the same problem as opengl in this situation. Compiz isn't hardcoded to specific graphics drivers, the graphics drivers and the hardware must support the features required by compiz. DirectX has the same issue, if you don't get the latest driver for your card, or possibly buy newer hardware, you won't be able to run directx applications that require the newer features of directx. This issue is more transparent in the case of directx, because vendors make sure their hardware works with it.

Posted by diabolix on May 03, 2007 at 02:00 AM PDT #

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