While the debates carry on over what can be done to make Linux more feasible in the desktop market (in other words desirable enough that average users say “I want that!”) the one argument that seems to rise to the top is eye candy. Does it affect how an OS works? No. Does it change the way programs behave? Maybe superficially. Does it change the way users interact with the OS and the programs? You bet!
I had a chance to play with Kororaa, a Gentoo-based live CD with AIGL/Xgl and a great install-to-disk tool. And while Xgl is not quite ready for prime-time (I encountered a couple crashes where xdm would completely exit and restart) it is getting close. And the eye candy features (adjustable transparency on windows, the rotating cube desktop, the “liquid-ish” movement of the windows) add a certain amount of “ooh factor.” But the biggest thing I found myself using were three very handy tools: [Ctrl+Shift+Alt+ left or right arrow] to rotate the desktop cube with the active window following, the hot-corner to display all the open windows as tiles, and the [Ctrl+Alt+PgDown] to “flatten” the cube, allowing you to see all the sides at once and use the arrow keys to select one of the desktops to switch to. While many will consider this to still be nothing more than eye-candy, I found it so utile that I am (a little too) eagerly awaiting the next Xgl implementation.
So who, besides me, thinks that these are as useful as they are eye candy-ish? Well, Apple, for one. They already have the hot-corner to display all the open windows, the ability to show all the open windows of one application, and (with Parallels at least – and rumor has it in the next OSX version) the cube concept of the multiple desktops.