Thoughts on Beryl

I’ve had a pretty hardcore day of getting a design doc done today. I started at 6:30am and went straight through until about 7pm. All day was spent slaving over my Thinkpad, with it’s shiny new Beryl window manager running. I have to say I am extremely impressed by the experience of using it.

I start off taking advantage of an empty office to duck into one of the conference rooms to make sure that my Thinkpad and Linux would play nicely on a projector. Unsurprisingly it wouldn’t and I couldn’t get the Fn-F7 combo to work. After a bit of googling and a check of the internal forums I found a solution involving aticonfig –force-monitor=crt1,lvds

With that sorted and the projector displaying I fired up a presentation and displayed it. I then had an epiphany and realised that for the first time, virtual desktops make sense to me thanks to Beryl. Previously I’ve found having to click on an icon somewhere or remember a keyboard shortcut a little too tiresome, and ended up piling things on one desktop. However with a simple Ctrl-Alt and the push of the mouse I can watch my virtual desktops swish past in an OS X Quartz Extreme cube effect. It is so powerful to use in presentations. For instance I can have the full screen presentation on one desktop whilst a demo is set up and ready to go on another. No longer do I have to Alt-tab or escape out of the presentation to get to the demo, just swish over to another virtual desktop whilst my audience gaze in wonder at the Beryl eye-candy. I’m now even more impatient for OS X Leopard and it’s Spaces virtual desktop concept to arrive, but it doesn’t look quite so funky.

Talking of OS X, the other invaluable part of Beryl which I found myself making extensive use of during the day was the Expose-like ability to see shrunk versions of every open window, then click on the one you want to work with. The way it can show all windows across virtual desktops or just the ones in the desktop you are in is way cool, and so is the automatic (and much faster than normal) flipping over to the desktop hosting the window.

All in all, on an intense days work I’ve been nothing but impressed by RHEL, the IBM Open Client and Beryl. It is certainly a league above Windows XP for being able to get things done productively, and as much as it hurts to say it, it gives OS X a good run for the money as well. It seemed to run fine on my T42p, 2GB RAM and 128MB ATI Mobility FireGL T2 as well.

One thought on “Thoughts on Beryl

  1. Having just installed Beryl myself, I’m very impressed. However I do still have cooling issues with my machine, and running all the eye candy does nothing to ease that.
    I also notice that the screen gets blurred with Beryl enabled – like anti-aliasing gone too far.

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