Feeds

The Netbook Newbie's Guide to Linux

'F/X'

Security for virtualized datacentres

Bouncy Windows and other Visual Delights

I'm not a great one for GUI-twiddling, but here's a twist to the Acer Aspire One interface that I've found irresistible. And it's functional as well. Last time, we talked about the usefulness of multiple workspaces, particularly on a small-screen machine, and here's how to do them in style. You can probably get something like this going on the MSI Wind and the Eee PC too, but I haven't explored that yet, and I can't wait to tell you about this.

Lurking unused behind the AAI's Tonka Toy interface is a hugely sophisticated Window Manager called Compiz. It offers most of the functionality of, say, the Mac OS X GUI, but is much more malleable, once you know how how to get to its inner workings. And this isn't obscure command line stuff this time - the relevant levers and buttons are nicely exposed through a GUI interface that's accessible through the Desktop Menu we set up in Episode 3.

Compiz Settings Manager

CompizConfig Settings Manager

Let's start by getting Compiz running. Open a terminal and run the command compiz-manager. The script scrolls a bunch of text down the terminal - read it later to get some picture of what's happening, but for now just minimise the terminal (don't close it) and open the Desktop Menu with a right mouse-click anywhere on the Startup Screen. Pick Settings and then the CompizConfig Settings Manager option and open the General submenu. From there click on the General Options icon and then choose the Desktop Size tab.

Set the Number of Desktops to 1 and the Horizontal Virtual Size to 4. Leave Vertical Virtual Size at its default of 1. The logic of this is that we're going to emulate four separate workspaces by sliding around a virtual screen that is four times wider than our physical screen.

Now back off to the CompizConfig Settings Manager main screen and put a tick against the Desktop Cube icon. Clicking on this icon opens up a feast of options, but for now let's just accept the defaults. A couple of lines below you'll find a 'Rotate Cube' icon. Tick that too. Further down, under Effects, is a Wobbly Windows icon. It may already be ticked by default - if not, give it a tick too. You can come back later and try all or any of the other effects. But remember they're only active if Compiz is running, which is the purpose of the compiz-manager script we ran at the beginning.

Close down the CCSM and open your favorite app. Now hit Ctrl-Alt-LeftCursor (or RightCursor). You should see your original screen become the side of a cube, which rotates in the direction selected by your cursor arrow. Something like this:

Desktop Cube

The screenshot should give you a rough idea, but ignore the Aztec-temple stepping, which is due to the cube rotation being slowed down in order to take the screen grab.

"Cube", of course, is a misnomer, because the screens forming the sides aren't square. And you can make yourself a five-, six- or whatever-sided 'cube' by adjusting the Horizontal Virtual Size of your desktop.

To make the cube appear to retreat down the z-axis as it rotates, adjust the Zoom slider in the Rotate Cube settings.

That Wobbly Windows box we checked gives the cube a seductive bounce when it comes to rest, and also adds a suggestive wriggle to any windows or menus - like the Desktop Menu - you open or move. That won't include menus you open in, say, Firefox, which are the sole responsibility of the owning application.

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.