I know, I told everybody it was going to be Amarok 2.0, but since I just got my computer, I barely have music. The final version isn't far away, so I'll wait until then.

And since what you care about is eye candy... :P

Kwin (with Composite)

KDE 3.5.x had an option for enabling composite called kcompmgr (which was a modified version of xcompmgr), it had basic functionality like transparency and fading, but nothing else, and it wasn't exactly fast.

Then Compiz came, originally designed by Novell along with XGL, but, even if it can be used with KDE, it obviously was designed with GNOME in mind.

The KDE developers wanted eye-candy composite for they KDE 4 series, so they had 3 options, writing a whole new window manager, use compiz or improving kwin, they took the last one.

That way KDE didn't lose any advance window management feature and won 3D window management full of eye candy and some useful features :)

Present Windows

Lets star by one of the useful plugins, originally designed by apple, it has 3 pesent modes:

Natural, it tries to preserve the size relationship between the different windows:

Regular Grid:

Flexible grid:

Desktop Grid

For presenting all the workspaces in a grid in order to make arrangement of windows easier:

The Legendary Cube

Compiz became famous with this, I don't think it's exactly useful per se, but it makes easier for newbies to understand the concept of virtual desktops (tough it don't truly work that way XD), the point is that it looks good, and mixed with the desktop grid can be useful:

Switchs (Alt + Tab)

Kwin has 4 different options for switching between windows, that said, you can assign key strokes for each one, so if you desire it, you can use all of them

Box switch, the most common way of rolling trough windows:

Flip switch, like in Windows Vista whit Aero enabled:

Cover switch, similar to coverflow, but with windows:

And, my favorite, present windows, like exposé, but using alt-tab:

The Legendary Wobbly Windows

Completely useless, but most people seem to love the effect, I personally dislike it:

Taskbar Thumbnails

On hover shows a miniature of the window:


I found shadows to be one of the most useful effects, and it looks good too, as you will see in the following screenshot, the focus window has a different shadow, a pretty nice looking blue shadow:

Dialog Parent

This plugin dims the window which has an open dialog, quite nice looking, and it can be useful:

Dim Inactive

Dim Screen for Administrator mode


Obviously is for zooming into your desktop, quite good for people with vision problems:


Zoom with a magnifier, it's less intrusive than zoom, because you can still look at your full desktop, as zoom, it's designed for people with vision problems:

Track mouse

Can't you find the pointer? No problem, press ctrl + meta (windows key), I'm sure you'll find those XD

Fall apart

When you close a window it explodes, personally I find this effect to be ugly, and annoying too, but for those who may like it here the mandatory screenshot:


There are several animation which I can't show in screenshots, since my graphic card won't resist recording such a thing XD, so I'll just mention them:
  • Slide: Animate the change between desktops.
  • Minimize animation: Animate the minimizing of windows.
  • Scale in: Animate the appearing windows
  • Login: Smoothly fade to the desktop when logging in
  • Logout: Desaturate the desktop when displaying the logout dialog
  • Plasma transparency (dialogs, panels, dashboard, plasmoids) when Kwin 3D effects are on

Configuration Dialogs

As you will see, it's quite simple and straight forward, however, if you pay attention to one of the screenshots (which in fact isn't a kwin configuration dialog) you'll see what I forgot to show in the Plasma article.

Coming up Next: Krunner
Stay Tuned


Chris Thomas said...

great, so instead of reusing/improving all the code from compiz and making everyone lives better, they decide to rewrite everything and gain absolutely nothing over what was already possible.

I guess it's nice to catch up, but they could have been pushing the envelope, now they are just 2nd place losers.

congrats to KDE!

Edward said...

The most useful part of Compiz for real work is transparency of windows - so you can see the full contents of the windows below. Is this implemented or will this be implemented in KWin?

xian said...

@chris thomas It's not like that. Compiz might be a reasonable pretty window manager, it is kind of a hack. The code is rough at best and it's plugins are hard coded to itself (not really plugins as much as reduplication of itself)

Point being it is not easy to turn it into a good window manager, and not easy to port or reuse its graphical coolness in anything else.

So given that kwin was already a rock solid window manager with many advanced features and a couple of kde hooks to work better with the desktop, it was determined that it would be easier to add the little bit of graphical eye candy to kwin that to make compiz any good at managing windows. This has the added benefit of working as a non compositing window manager as well. Furthermore, it is not just kde that made this determination as the gnome folks are also adding cube effects and whatnot into metacity as well. Basically it looks like it will end up with compiz used as a crazy testbed and actual users using metacity and gnome or kwin and kde.

Luis Augusto said...

Chris Thomas: When you don't know about an issue it's better to ask, otherwise you just look ignorant (which I'm sure you aren't, it's just one subject).

Like xian told you:

1) They didn't rewrite anything.
2) They had a far better windows management implementation. Adding to compiz what is lacking from kwin was harder than adding composite to kwin.

Edward: Yes, it does have transparency :)

Rafael G said...

mmm a mi no me gusta mucho kde, soy mas de gnome y xfce.... pero de todos modos saludos de mexico df.... acaso estudias o estudiaste en alguna prepa o cch? (por la foto)

Luis Augusto said...

Sí, en la prepa 2 :)

Rafael G said...

jajaja no ma, neta?
yo igual estoy estudiando en prepa 2... mmm todavia estas en la prepa o ya saliste?

Luis Augusto said...

Sí, ya salí, pero a veces me doy una vuelta jaja.