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3D Window Systems? What will window systems look like in the future? Nobody can tell for sure, but here are some thoughs on where it could go. Linus has always said that Linux should be FUN, imagine how much fun a 3D desktop could be.

Consider some points along the evolution of computer-human interfaces: front-panel switches, printer-terminals, card punches, dumb and smart video terminals. Then came graphical video devices, window systems, and virtual desktops. The next major step in computer interfaces could very well be a 3D desktop.

Each new evolution of the computer interface made the computer easier to use and increased productivity. Imagine working on a large software project with a single screen or a slow printer-terminal. Been there, done that, don't want to go back. With a good design, a 3D interface could add even more efficiency to the user-interface.

Gnome and KDE have taken the 2D desktop a long way from the days of early Macintoshes, SunView, and X10, but there's only so far you can extend the basic concept of 2D. Imagine your computer's screen looking more like a 3D video game than a flat pile of pages. There could be numerous cubes on the screen, each one with different terminal sessions on the sides. Mousing over the cubes could cause them to rotate and expose other windows. You could then fly into the side of the cube to run the application. Standard desktop apps like clocks and mailboxes could be spiffed up by turning them into 3d floating gadgets. Flying around in the space of the screen could bring you to various regions with applications that live there. Extending the idea of the virtual desktop, the whole screen could also be one side on a cube with other work areas on the other sides, i.e. different spaces. Iconified windows could turn into unique trinkets on the screen. Screen themes could be such things as outer space, the ocean, a city street, or a particular landscape. The possibilities are vast and in the realm of sci-fi.

Today's computing and video hardware is already capable of performing the necessary processing to do 3D rendering in real-time. The 3D window system could be run on true 3D screens, but that would require special hardware which is currently rare and expensive. A true 3D mouse could be advantageous in some circumstances, but such devices cause tired arms and user-fatigue. A standard game joystick might be a better controller for zooming and steering around the screen. A standard mouse could be the best movement interface since it is so common.

The software would, of course, take time to design and perfect, but none of the concepts are really that difficult or new. Such a project would be very FUN and might attract a lot of talent. LWN looks forward to the days of a 3DWM, GNOME-3D or a K3DE.


Mozilla M17 released. The 17th Mozilla milestone release is out; details can be found in the release notes. This is apparently the last Mozilla release that will include new features - from now on, they will focus on stability and performance issues only. New stuff includes tooltips, plugin capability for Linux, helper apps, "improved cookie management," and more. Your LWN Development editor has been playing with M17 and it seems to be fairly robust so far.

Netscape 6 preview release 2 available. Netscape has announced the availability of the second preview release of Netscape 6.


The Organization for Free Software in Education and Teaching (OFSET) has announced the launch of the Freeduc Workshop, a hierarchical database of free education software. They are, of course, looking for submissions to help fill out the database. The Freeduc FAQ is a good starting point for those wanting to work with this system.

Embedded Systems

How will you learn to develop with Linux? (Linux Devices). Linux Devices is taking a poll on how developers learn to develop with Linux. "The new poll will assist Embedded Linux product, service, and training providers in understanding the needs of developers who use Linux in their embedded system projects."

Nano-X and Microwindows 0.88 released (LinuxDevices.com). LinuxDevices.com has put up an article describing the 0.88 release of the Nano-X and Microwindows system, which provide a graphical windowing environment on smaller (i.e. embedded) systems.

Lineo announces GPL real-time networking for Linux: RTnet (Linux Devices). Lineo has announced a GPL based modification to the Linux networking code for real-time networking applications. "RTnet is a modification of the existing Linux networking subsystem to provide real-time performance for sending and receiving packets over standard IP networks. The IP, ICMP, and UDP protocols are supported."


Wine 20000801 released. A new Wine snapshot has been released as of August 1, 2000.

Network Management

OpenNMS Update V1.20. The OpenNMS Update for August 8, 2000 has been released. A new Correlation Engine Spec is being looked at, and there is a JSDT update among other things.

Office Applications

New Nautilus screenshots available. The folks at Eazel have put up a new set of Nautilus screenshots showing the sorts of things this new file manager can do.

Dia 0.86 diagram drawing program released. Version 0.86 of Dia, a diagram drawing program has been released. Dia may be used for drawing flow diagrams, entity relationship diagrams, circuits, and more. Dia is modeled after the commercial program Visio. Dia is distributed under the GPL license.

On the Desktop

New KDE 2.0 screenshots. The KDE 2.0 screenshots page has been updated with a number of new images. Check it out for a view of what's coming.

See also: this review of the KDE 2.0 beta in LinuxPlanet. "Last week the KDE developers imposed a feature freeze for the 2.0 release, so for the first time we have a solid idea of what the new KDE will comprise. It will be great (it already is), so the complaints I raise here and there (or, more likely, here, and here, and here) are minor whines and quibbles, which isn't to say that the KDE developers are not cordially invited to follow my sage advice."

Qt 2.2.0 beta released. Trolltech has released the first beta of Qt 2.2.0. It has a number of new features, including the "QtDesigner" visual GUI design tool.

New GNOME Translation Project Website. The GNOME translation project now has a new web site. See this announcement for the details.

First GNOME Doc. Project status report. A GNOME Documentation Project status report has been posted; it's intended to be the first of a biweekly series. Among many other things, it covers the new GNOME FAQ by Telsa Gwynne.

Helix setup tools announced. Helix Code has released a set of "Setup Tools" which is, essentially, another graphical system administration tool. The three tools available now are all oriented toward networking administration, and are in a beta form.


Problem solving with Common Optimization INterface (IBM). IBM has announced an open-source project called COIN for working on optimization solutions. "Need to develop an online auction for combinations of goods? Devise a production schedule that minimizes overtime hours? Figure the shortest delivery route that serves all your customers? Or build a portfolio from your savings that maximizes the expected return? Then think operations research. Operations research is the field of mathematical optimization devoted to finding an optimal allocation of limited resources by choosing an alternative that maximizes payoff, or minimizes cost, from among those that satisfy the given constraints. " Thanks to Shailendra.

Web-site Development

Apache 2.0alpha5 released. The latest Apache 2.0 alpha has been released. " It is intended for developers and experienced Apache HTTPD administrators to play around with and work on. It is not a production release."

Zope Weekly News for Aug 2, 2000. The August 2 edition of the Zope Weekly News is out. News includes preparation for Zope 2.2.1, and a preview of a new Zope book.

Section Editor: Forrest Cook

August 10, 2000

Project Links
High Availability

More Information



Development tools


POSIX threads explained (IBM). Daniel Robbins has written an article on using Posix threads. " If you've ever had to make massive modifications to one of your programs so that it supports IPC, you'll really appreciate the simple memory-sharing approach that threads provide. POSIX threads don't need to make expensive and complicated long-distance calls because all our threads happen to live in the same house."

Software Carpentry second round results. The second round results from the Software Carpentry Design Competition have been announced. There are winners in three categories who will now be funded to proceed with the implementation of their designs. See the announcement for details.


New versions of JDK available. Blackdown.org has announced several new stable and beta versions of JDK for the i386 and power pc platforms.

What are Enterprise JavaBeans components? (IBM). Ken Nordby from IBM has written part 3 of an article on deploying Enterprise JavaBeans components.


Cultured Perl: Writing Perl programs that speak English (IBM). Teodor Zlatanov has written an article on using Perl's Parse::RecDescent to make text based user interface code.

Perl conference papers available. The Perl presentation materials from the recent O'Reilly Open Source Software Convention have been made availble online.

New Perl mailing lists (Perl News). Perl News has announced that several new Perl 6 mailing lists have recently been created.


Python 1.6 beta 1 is out. Python.org has announced the availability of Python 1.6 beta 1. New features include full Unicode support and a new regular expression engine. Also see the announcement from Guido Van Rossum which discusses the new CNRI license that Python is released under.

Python-dev summary, July 16-31. The second Python-dev summary is out, covering the period from July 16-31. Check it out for the latest on the Python license situation, some proposed Python extensions, and more.

Python-URL for August 7. Dr. Dobb's Python-URL for August 7 has been posted; check it out for the latest in Python development activity.

Charming Python: My first Web-based filtering proxy (IBM). David Mertz has written an article describing Txt2Html, a public-domain Python based web filtering proxy. The article describes using Python for programming web server cgi-bin scripts.


Tcl-URL for August 6. Here is Dr. Dobb's Tcl-URL for August 6, with the latest from the Tcl/Tk development world.

Section Editor: Forrest Cook

Language Links
IBM Java Zone
Perl News
Daily Python-URL
Tcl Developer Xchange

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