09 March 2007

Beryl Tricks

About a week ago, the Feisty guys (and likely gals) started merging in Xorg 7.2, and things broke. Well, if you use Metacity, everything was dandy. If you use Beryl, it broke. It broke so bad you didn't have a desktop. That was fun (not really). It works again, though. Yay! So, I've been playing with Beryl and picking up a few tricks that I never noticed in it before. Here they are:

  • Benchmark Beryl has a benchmarker for your frame rate. It monitors as you run and reports it on a little spectrum (and numerically) in the upper left corner of your screen. Check your settings (it's in "extras") to see your shortcut key. Mine is super (Windows) + F12. I found that with Beryl my framerate is normall about 160 fps, but if I have water effects going, it plummets to 32 fps. If I yank it down with water then spin the cube like a madwoman, I can get it below 30 fps (the "minimum smooth framerate" according to Shane, the so-far silent assistant on this blog).
  • Water I never could get water to work before, but I might just be really stupid about keyboard shortcuts. I'm not sure. Anyway, I got the "window wave" effects to work and set them so that when I move a window and set it back down, they go, or I can induce it by clicking on the window while holding down the Super button. Also, if I'm in the terminal and I tab to auto-complete, I get a window-wave then too. Ctrl+Super makes little ripples come out of my mouse so I don't lose it (hey sometimes it's hard to find the cursor), and I can draw ripples like when you move a stick over water.
  • Negative There's an option in "accessibility" for negative. At first, I didn't see much use for this. Then, one night, after staring at the screen for a long time with the rest of the room dark (roommates asleep) my eyes were hurting. I've compared staring at a computer screen with "staring at a lightbulb" before, and it led to my use of very dark themes. The Ubuntuforums have a white background though. I tried changing settings in Firefox so every site would display with black background and white text, but it didn't work. So, instead, I tried the negative thing. I really like using Firefox in this mode. Yeah, the colors are WEIRD for pictures, but its much easier on the eyes. I've never fully understood white backgrounds. I'm sure you've noticed the dark theme on this site.
  • Animated Skydome While I was at RAV TUX's apartment, I saw his skydome. He has a great effect set. He has a swirly, multi-shade pattern for the background on his desktop. He also has that image set as his animated skydome. It's a really neat effect! The trick to getting a skydome image is to make sure the image's dimensions are powers of 2. It can be 2x2 or 1024x1024 or 1024x2048 or 4096x64, just as long as the height and width are both powers of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096...).
  • Custom Commands Under "General Options" there is a "Commands" tab. In there, you can set different commands you want to map to shortcut keys. The shortcuts go in General Options > Shortcuts > General Options > Commands. I used to put launchers all over my panel to avoid having to dig into the Gnome Menus unnecessarily. Now, I mapped my most-used apps (firefox, gnome-terminal, xchat-gnome, gaim, banshee) to shortcut keys. To make it easy, Firefox is Super+f, gnome-terminal is Super+t (for terminal), xchat-gnome is Super+x, Gaim is Super+g, and Banshee is Super+b. I think I'll have to map Super+z to Gnomad2 which I use to sync my Zen mp3 player (g's already taken by Gaim). Something I should point out right now: I hate using mice. If I can do it from the keyboard, I'd prefer that. Even though I'm using a laptop and I barely have to move to use the mouse, I still can't stand having to use the mouse for anything, and if I do have to use the mouse, I better not have to move far (which is why I'm not a fan of the NeXTSTEP-style UI found on a Mac). Being able to add up to a dozen more keyboard shortcuts is GREAT! Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't find anywhere to map that many new commands. System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts lets you do some, but only lets you define them for a limited set of commands.
  • Hot Corners & Screen Edges Yes, this is ripped-off of Macs. It's still awesome. I mean, sometimes I accidentally hit it when I go to click the X on a maximized window, but that's okay. I have it set to window-picker for the current workspace in the top right, all workspaces top left, and make everything fly off the screen at the bottom edge.
  • Window Picker Another Mac rip-off. Again, useful. Found under the category Window Management > Scale, the Shortcuts tab should tell you what the settings currently are on your computer. For me, F8 shows everything from every workspace, Expose-style (same thing I mapped to top left corner). Pause does just this workspace. Knowing the keyboard ones can be a good idea, because Firefox (when maximized) likes to nullify your hot corners, and this style of window-switching is really useful.
  • Fade to Desktop If you need to jump back to your desktop and grab files scattered over it rather often, this is for you. Mine is set to Super+F6 (and I don't recall setting that, so yours probably is too), and it makes all windows on all workspaces fade out, granting access to your desktop. Super+F6 again, and they all come back.
  • Input Enabled Zoom Ever found yourself staring at a website where the text is in an 8px font? What about a really small picture that you'd like to see closer? Under Accessibility > Input Enabled Zoom, you'll find the settings for a tool that lets you zoom into your screen til things are pretty big. I believe I'm using default on this as well, so it's Super + Mouse-scroll-wheel. After zooming in and having everything be huge and likely bigger than your screen, you can scroll around the window just by moving your mouse. Move your mouse toward whatever part of the screen you'd like to see, and it will slide over so you can see whatever you want. Warning: zoom back out before flipping to another workspace, especially if you have it set to zoom the workspace out when the cube spins to flip workspaces. I just flipped it while zoomed in, and my head spun.
  • Annotate Under Extras, there is an option for annotate. If you've ever wanted to point something out to somebody, you'll like this. You can circle (or draw arrows pointing to, or whatever) things on your screen to draw attention to them. It's just like watching the weatherman doodle on the map on TV.

Okay, that's all the cool/nifty stuff I found in Beryl and have been having plenty of fun playing around with. What are your favorite Beryl effects?


Anonymous said...

I Love Hot Corners! Some interesting tricks. Switch to Kubuntu, all the features work with no problem (including water) hehe.

Nemie said...

I wonder what linux do you use?

I run Beryl on Arch so I just wondered if you know if the menus are alike? Cause some of the things you wrote about, I can't find them.

Mackenzie said...

I'm using Ubuntu. Sabayon and Fedora have the same menu layouts as the one I have. It's Beryl version 0.2. Perhaps you have 0.1.9999, which I think is the last one that had the categories on the left instead of top.

Nemie said...

Hmm okay, maybe I just looked at the wrong place then ^^

Rick said...

Everything works great in Ubuntu Studio Feisty Fawn as well!

Omid mohajerani said...

so so nice blog. goodluck