By hansmbakker at 2006-01-20 07:36
XGL - next generation X server
Until now, x.org and other X-servers could not universally handle hardware-accelerated transparency and transformation as with Mac OS. There exist some extensions for x.org (Composite and Damage), which can create these effects, but, unless you have a graphics driver installed which is able to render these effects, they will be rendered using the CPU. Only the proprietary NVidia drivers could do these extensions. That meant that ATI users would have extremely slow desktops, or no eyecandy.
Things that were possible then, were:
Last year, in 2005, David Reveman and Jon Smirl began a project to create a new X-server which uses OpenGL to move all effects-creation to the graphics card, independent of whether your driver supports Composite and Damage or not. After a few months Smirl quit (http://lists.freedesktop.org/pipermail/xorg/2005-August/009168.html) the project, but Reveman worked on and he was eventually hired by Novell. This was seen as 'pulling it away from the community' and it was in doubt whether there would ever come an OpenGL-accelerated X-server for the open Source community.
Transparency and other effects will be used in KDE 4 (see http://appeal.kde.org, http://plasma.kde.org for that), to make the desktop intuitive and beautiful.
But now there's some good news! On January 2nd 2006, David Reveman showed his source and submitted it to the x.org CVS. Some nice screenshots from him are below. Since that release, people are working again on Xgl. Reveman announced that he will release an Xgl composite manager, called compiz, during the X Developers Conference in February. A composite manager handles all effects events and passes them to the X-server.
Unfortunately, Xgl is not yet a fully featured X-server: it can only run on top of another X-server. Therefore it will be replaced by Xegl, which can run standalone.
So, we will wait and see what February bring us, and then we'll see if it is ready to be used and discover when the distro-makers plan to supply it in their distributions.
A few examples of Xgl being used are here: