Dec

29

Review of Project Looking Glass on Ubuntu

Posted by : Arun | On : December 29, 2006

I finally got some time to write about Sun’s Project Looking Glass. You might have read my earlier article about installing Project Looking Glass on Ubuntu. Once installed, it creates an option in the login window as a session. Click on the image below.

Once you select looking glass as your session and logs in, you’ll get the desktop with the taskbar at the bottom. It has Main Menu and icons for terminal, Firefox, your CD collections (currently in demo mode only), help and launcher (which you can use to create a custom application launcher).

There are 2 types of file managers available now. One is LgScope 3D file manager. It’s more like setting My Documents, My Pictures to display as menu in the taskbar properties in Windows. It lists all the directories and files as shown below, which may not be easy to navigate.

There is another file manager available called fm3D file manager, which is more like Nautilus, but more transparent and 3 dimensional as shown below. This one is much more easier to navigate.

If you click on the help icon, you’ll see a screen shown below. There is nothing much in the help section except for some mouse tricks which you can use to move, rotate etc.

If you move the mouse to the java logo on the right side top corner and drag around, it’ll rotate the application in the direction you drag your mouse over the logo. See the screenshot below:

All the open and minimized applications are shown above the taskbar as icons placed sideways. The screenshot below shows the open terminal and the minimized help applications as 2 thumbnails facing sideways above the taskbar.

If you want to change the desktop background, you’ll have to click the icon in the taskbar that sits before the logout icon on the right. If you click on the icon, it shows the available wallpapers as shown below. you can scroll through the wallpaper and select whichever you want.

If you right click on the desktop background, it’ll park all the open applications sideways as shown below:

The main menu has Office, Internet, Media, Utilities, Games, Developers and Demo. There aren’t many programs available under those menus. It’s mostly proof of concept or demo kind. There are few applications like the file managers, Firefox, Terminal, some utilities and games.

If you want to logout, you have to click the skeleton (pirate) at the right end of the taskbar. It’ll ask you if you really want to exit looking glass. Once you select yes, it’ll log you out.

Conclusion: The idea/concept is pretty good. The problem is, since it’s based on Java, it’s awfully slow. Unless you have a state of art system, it’s going to be a pain using it. I have a core duo laptop with 2 GB memory and 256 MB video memory. The OS (if we can call it) was really slow even though it’s usable. Unless Sun really does something to make it fast, it’s not going to catch users heart. The keyboard worked fine most of the time and didn’t work sometimes. Ofcourse it’s not a final release, so we have to wait and see how it shapes up in the future.

Comments (18)

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  9. Orgen said on 07-01-2007

    “Expose on the Mac and itís Linux clone make searching them easier”

    @Matt
    Expose is the Mac’s clone of Linux’s virtual desktops and Compiz cube.

    • Mark said on 21-07-2010

      “Expose is the Mac‚Äôs clone of Linux‚Äôs virtual desktops and Compiz cube.”
      Are freetards really this out of touch with reality?
      Yes, they are.
      OS X doesn’t have a cube. Why? Because it’s useless and stupid. Linux copies Apple (dock, Expose) because Apple creates things that are actually useful. Apple doesn’t copy Linux, because Linux has proved itself incapable of innovating.

      And virtual desktops were invented for the Amiga, not Linux.

  10. roger said on 30-12-2006

    check one more sun looking glass installation guide for ubuntu users
    http://www.ubuntugeek.com/install-sun-looking-glass-desktop-environment-in-ubuntu.html

  11. Matt said on 30-12-2006

    @Juergen :
    It’s about getting more on the screen in a fashion that’s still interpretable. I have 4 desktops, I’ve had up to 8, but keeping track of what’s on each desktop can be painful, and sometimes you want stuff that is spread across multiple desktops. Switching back and forth can be a drag.

    If rather than having things on a separate desktop, you can have the space it takes up on the screen reduced, but still be somewhat readable, then it reduces the need to flip desktops so much.

    I’m down to 4 desktops these days largely because I’ve had a serious increase in screen size (23inch wide), but I still find myself switching about too much.

    I also think that something like this is also going to require a second input device similar to a mouse, that can allow you to search through open windows quickly to bring one to the front, Expose on the Mac and it’s Linux clone make searching them easier, but you’ve still got to shift the mouse over large amounts of screen to get to the window you want and bring focus to it, and then possibly to switch back again.

    Bring on the eye tracking systems so I can just look at the window I want and bring it into focus.

  12. Arun Subramanian said on 30-12-2006

    Roy,

    I think the same. Beryl is light on resources and slowly getting easy to install and use. I think it’ll surely win over Looking Glass.

    Juergen,

    As of now, yes, it’s more like a game or time pass. The prices of the desktops and laptops are going down, so everyone is moving towards 3D OSes and applications including Vista. I’m sure there are still lots of useful applications being developed. 3D stuffs are getting more coverage because it’s something new and more eye catching. Once it’s part of the OSes, it’ll make the computing experience more interesting.

  13. Juergen said on 30-12-2006

    The only thing I don’t know: what is it good for? A type of video game for the desktop??? So far I haven’t seen any reason to install some desktop theme which costs resources only to start applications in a different way. Reading a letter in OOo from the side isn’t ergonomic either….To me all these efforts (Looking glass, Beryl, Compiz, XGL) are a waste of time and something useful could be developed instead.
    If I want to “unclutter” my desktop I switch to one of the 4 I have set up.

  14. Kirk Badger said on 30-12-2006

    Rather amazing and very impressive.

  15. Roy Schestowitz said on 30-12-2006

    That’s a very interesting review. I suspected that Java would be defeated by other eye candy (Beryl/Compiz/XGL/AIGLX) in terms of performance. Different options for different hardware specs, I suppose.

  16. Arun Subramanian said on 29-12-2006

    I think they have to rewrite from scratch if they are going to make java work faster. It would be good if open source community can come up with a solution.

  17. Daniel Aleksandersen said on 29-12-2006

    Maybe this is way Sun is releasing Java under a GPL license? To try and tempt the open source community into making Java run a whole lot faster? It might be the reason…

    With a improved Java they will still be the number one software maker who writes in Java. StarOffice (and it’s open source mate OpenOffice), Project Looking Glass, and I could not come up with more examples, but Sun might just be trying to become huge on selling software. As you stated “since itís based on Java, itís awfully slow.” With an improved Java Sun would actually just be able to start writing software they could sell and make some hard money on!

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