Through the Looking Glass

So last night, in a fit of ennui, we decided to give Sun’s Looking Glass a spin. If you haven’t heard of it yet, here’s a brief spiel (ha ha)…

What if windows were translucent so that you could see the multiple windows you're working on at the same time? What if you could tack a note to yourself right on the Web page you're viewing? What if your CD or movie database became a 3D jukebox, where titles were joined with images to make finding what you want easier than ever?

… or just take a dekho at the screenshots or video.

I started installing the thing with the provided setup instructions. But half way through, ran into some problems with the Java VM refusing to load. Meanwhile, roomie Aakrosh (the other half of the we) was trying the same on his laptop - an identical IBM thing.

Let me digress a bit here and tell you how much I love this baby! This machine is absolutely the best (and most expensive!) thing I’ve ever bought. It’s perfect! Wait, let me make that almost perfect - the speakers suck. Damn IBM, can’t you put in something better than tin cups in there!

Aakrosh managed to install the whole damn thing quite easily. A surprise since we run an almost identical install of Mandrake 10. Ah well. It’s running and that’s the point. I’ll jump a few details and get to the meat - the Looking Glass. It’s slick - buggy, but slick. The coolest thing (in this beta) is the wallpaper, it moves and breathes, as if it were alive - organic. Drag windows and they actually warp with the motion. Flip them, slide them.

Okay, time to try some applications. So we try to fire up a terminal. No go! I remember some mention of ‘xterm’ somewhere and realize Aakrosh doesn’t have it installed. A quick ‘urpmi xterm’ takes care of that missing element and we launch the desktop again. A click and the terminal literally springs to life! Oh the joy! But that’s when we realize that the keyboard isn’t working - Killjoy.

Impressed (me) and irritated (he), we quit and put Looking Glass to rest - till the next beta release…

So, tell me honestly, wasn’t that the most pointless review you ever read ;-)

If you are still here, has an interview with Hideya Kawahara where he talks about the project’s technology and goals.

Are you Windows users feeling left out and want some 3D eye candy of your own before Longhorn? Try Madotate, a nifty tool which lets you stack up windows on the side ala Looking Glass.