Aaron Brethorst

Round peg in a square hole, rabid generalist.

Beryl: Oh, the Hypocrisy!

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<BeforeYouFlameMe>Yes, I understand that one person does not represent the full Slashdot groupthink</BeforeYouFlameMe>

A common battlecry of Slashdotters is ‘you’re wasting my CPU cycles/GPU cycles/RAM/whatever; turn off the eye candy and give me a product that actually works.’ I think this is a bit silly; I’m a far happier user when I use an attractive-looking piece of software, but to each their own. Vive la difference and all that. However, I get insanely frustrated when I read things like the following:

Don’t conflate Beryl with the silly effects like wobbly windows and raindrops making your desktop splash and windows catching fire when you minimise them and so forth. Those are neat for a few minutes and then quickly turned off. But Beryl can bring things to the table that are of real value, and it’s unwise to dismiss the whole think just because the parts that get exposure on YouTube are silly.

For example, when I hover my mouse over an entry in my panel’s window list, a live preview of that window pops up, so I can instantly tell (for example) whether a long compile process has finished without actually having to switch away from whatever I’m doing. Similarly, when I alt-tab to switch windows, what appears isn’t just the icon for each application, it also includes an actual scaled-down representation of each window, so I can tell which picture each graphics editor window is editing far more easily than just going by filenames. The ability to zoom in smoothly on a window is very handy when trying to debug graphics output, and conversely if I want the big picture I can zoom out and see all my desktops at once. (Forget the cube, I’m talking straightforward tiling - but it’s just as dependent on Beryl.)

What rubs me the wrong way, here, is that you can substitute Windows Vista in for every instance of the word Beryl above, and little will have changed. Live previews? Check. Alt-Tab? Check. The features present in this piece of software (which currently stands at version 0.2, let me point out) are shameless copies of Vista. This, of course, flies in the face of the countless posts I’ve seen mercilessly flaming Vista over the past couple years about its ‘scads and scads of useless, GPU-sucking eye candy.’ Sigh. I just don’t understand the hypocrisy of this crowd at times. I’ll admit that Vista lacks the desktop-switching features built in to Beryl (which sounds neat, by the way).

Also, take a minute and look at the most popular themes available for Beryl today. I was shocked and amazed by what I found:

    <li><a href="http://themes.beryl-project.org/theme_details.php?id=65">Community</a> - looks fuzzier than Vista, but it's the same damned thing</li>
    <li><a href="http://themes.beryl-project.org/theme_details.php?id=101">Melone</a> - Umm, it's Vista, but orange.</li>
    <li><a href="http://themes.beryl-project.org/theme_details.php?id=71">Nack XP</a> - Hmm, it's supposed to be XP. That's just creepy.</li>