Today, we interviewed Quinn Storm, the initiator of the Beryl project.
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What does Beryl do? For those of you who are only recently entering our marvelous free software world, Beryl is a window manager -- it's a program in charge of drawing window borders on your computer screen. Now, you'll probably be saying to yourself
Window borders? Isn't that idiotic or a job for the operating system?. In Linux-land, it isn't, because everything is modular.
As it turns out, being a window manager means Beryl is in the perfect position to exploit the latest technology, namely ubiquitous accelerated 3D rendering. Aside from drawing window borders (helped by its trusty companions Emerald, Heliodor and Aquamarine), Beryl also commands how windows are drawn on the screen. This lets Beryl implement fantastic animation effects.
If you don't believe me, we've got proof: we shot a couple of videos for earlier articles, and we've got them right here:
- Beryl, window miniatures, transparent video vs. old PC,
- Beryl 0.2.0 on a low-end computer,
- Beryl magic: watching TV while installing software, and
- The coolness factor of Linux
But don't click them just yet, because we've got something better. We have an exclusive interview with Quinn Storm, the lead developer of the Beryl project.
What did Quinn Storm tell us? Keep reading to find out!
Quinn Storm discusses Beryl and her life with us
We did an exclusive e-mail interview with Quinn Storm. What follows are her answers to the interview, and personal details of her life.
Tell us a bit about yourself. We'd like to know, rather than the tech, who's behind it. What do you do for a living. How old are you. Married? Children? Happy?*
Nope, I just missed it. I'm 24 years old, transgendered, lesbian, and single.
Not terribly interested in having kids, seriously looking for a nice smart big curvy gal to spend my life with, as for happy...I'll be happier once I "get my life started" that is, move out, get a seriously full-time job, etc.
How did you get involved with Beryl?
This one is pretty simple, I rather fell into the situation, as it all started
with some lightly modified packages of compiz I posted on the ubuntuforums
with the temporary name
compiz-quinn, not intending this of course to be
anything permanent (honestly, despite what some say, I really do not have
that sort of opinion of myself :-P).
Anyhow, people used them, and kept suggesting new things to get added in, and the c-q branch was born. Not long after, the branch had diverged to the point where a majority of the developers felt that forking was the right idea. Looking back on it, forking has caused a lot of animosity, so its hard to tell wether this is really true or not. At the moment, we are attempting to re-merge, though the process is a bit bumpy.
Has your relationship to the Beryl project had an impact in your everyday life?
Very much so. Before I got involved with c-q/Beryl, I was still trying to piece my life together. I'm 24 and living with my parents due to depression (among other things) that I have mostly under control now. Unfortunately I don't yet have employment in the field, but I am still searching, though without a college/university degree it is harder than it should be. Thanks to the project though, I've gotten a chance to get out in the FLOSS community, going to events like UDS and XDC, where I discovered a great community of people I barely knew existed.
Within your project, what are your current responsibilities? Is there something particular you did that you feel especially proud about?
Well, my current responsibilities are in a bit of a flux right now with the merge. I fully expect to step down as a leader of any sort, and in general am just trying to do what little I can to smooth out the politics. With some members of the compiz community, I am a bit of a polarizing figure, so I've mostly lurked in the shadows, as I do truly want what's best for the users of this software.
How does Beryl work? Our readers would like to know, in your own words, what, in essence, makes Beryl tick.
Beryl (and thus compiz) are based on some relatively new technologies added
recently to the X.org X server, namely
GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap, and the XComposite extension. With both of these, it becomes almost trivial to use OpenGL and 3d acceleration to draw your desktop, and thus perform all of the various effects from the simplest to the most trivial.
To tell you the truth, my personal fave features are the Scale, Thumbnail and Cube plugins, but the transparency effects have had a notorious productivity improvement effect (say, I can watch TV while typing an e-mail now, thanks guys!) since I have a 14" monitor. Anything else juicy I can look forward to?
This one is a bit harder to answer, as at the moment the merge is the biggest thing we are working on, though I hope we do come out with some new features for everyone. We're likely to release a bugfix release of Beryl 0.2.x in the near future, as the merge is taking far longer than expected.
How do you feel about the fact that Beryl is now either being considered or frankly included and a staple of several Linux distros?
I am very happy about this, and wish to encourage it, though should we succeed in the merge, I would want to help these distros migrate to the new project, whatever it will eventually be named.
Do you have a blog? Any other way me and our readership could follow your life?
I do have a blog, but I very rarely actually post to it, unfortunately. Consider it a character flaw. At the moment it is at http://dev.beryl-project.org/~quinn though that may change with the merge.
Thanks a lot, Quinn!
What the future holds for Beryl...
...is, as she implied, yet to be discovered. One feature I'm looking forward to is the Wall effect. If you're anything like me, you'll love it too!
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