Novell Hopes To Add Sizzle To Linux Desktops

Hoping to add a little more sizzle to Linux desktops, Novell on Tuesday released several enhancements to its Xgl graphics subsystem that should allow developers and VARs to build flashier-looking Linux-based applications that will better resemble those offered on Windows and Apple's Mac OS X.

Xgl, which stands for X over OpenGL, is rendering software for Linux that more fully exploits 3D-rendering hardware. The new enhancements will make Linux applications more usable and therefore enable users to be more productive, Novell officials contend. For instance, developers can create applications that display features such as transparent objects and 3D images.

"We think these improvements will help open-source developers to better apply their creativity in building new special effects and user-interface paradigms as plug-ins to Xgl/Compiz," says Nat Friedman, Novell vice president of Linux desktop engineering. "I don't think any other platform gives you this capability."

The accompanying release of Compiz is intended to help developers create graphical effects plug-ins that deliver richer visual effects, including transparency and advanced animation, to Linux desktop systems that can be supported on a wide variety of desktop hardware, accordng to company officials.

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One top-tier vendor that believes the new technology will better position Linux on the desktop is Hewlett-Packard.

"We are pretty confident that the usability and visual enhancements to the Linux desktop will fuel more growth in this market," says Christine Martino, HP's vice president of Open Source and Linux Organization. "We think this should give customers more choice and confidence to begin integrating open solutions."

The new enhancements to the Xgl graphics subsystem and Compiz framework are part of the existing openSUSE project, which is sponsored by Novell.