Tuesday Sep 11, 2007

Magic of Fading Windows and Shadows on Solaris

Solaris Express has had updated Xorg server for some time. It now comes with a compositing extension. This extension needs to be enabled in /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Make sure that xorg.conf has these lines:
Section "Extensions" 
  Option  "Composite"  "Enable"
  Option  "RENDER"     "Enable"
EndSection
It can be used to create special effects in the X11 windowing system. Compiz is one window manager that utilizes the extension to create multitude of eye catching effects. However it needs a good graphics card to run. If you just need smooth shadows and dissolving (fading) effects when windows appear or get closed, xcompmgr is good enough.

I run it with the following options: xcompmgr -cf -D 5 -r 5 -t -6 -l -6. It creates shadows behind windows. Menus, tooltips and windows appear and dissolve like magic. Though overall effects are subtle and unnoticeable at first sight, it makes the Solaris user interface more polished. Also X11 applications which use transperancy appear as they were intended to be (see the clocks in the screenshot).

Note that the xcompmgr isn't very stable, it crashes often.
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