Plasma Active on OpenGL ES

The past weeks, I’ve been working on getting Kwin, the window manager and compositor in Plasma Active (and Plasma Desktop ;) to work on top of OpenGL ES instead of OpenGL. After some updating of packages lower in the stack, especially Mesa and parts of Xorg, we now have working OpenGL ES support on our hardware. Today, I’ve finished packaging it as an option on top of our Plasma Active packages. These packages in the :Devel subsection of the KDE:Active repository in the OBS run on top of Balsam Professional and openSUSE 11.4. We will give this some more testing and improve a few things, in order to move to GLES by default. OpenGL ES is very interesting as this is an API often used on mobile devices, so I’m glad that I can state that we’re ready for this. This of course needs proper support in the drivers, something we can not always solve by ourselves. I have been running this successfully on two Intel Atom-based tablets.

Contour showing the Froscon activity

All the props of course to to our Akademy-award winning window management and compositing hero, the one and only Martin Grässlin. He’s been working on OpenGL ES support (and a lot of other features to make kwin “ready for the future”) for quite some time already. OpenGL ES support in kwin has been introduced in the recent Plasma Desktop 4.7 release, a few weeks ago.

So, is it much different? Nope, it’s very much a thing of underlying technology. There’s no noticable performance improvement, but it runs stable and well. Given that OpenGL ES support has only very recently been introduced in kwin, it’s already surprisingly good. There is probably still a lot of room for improvement, which is something we can investigate now and easily test much better.


In the screenshot of the Contour shell of Plasma Active, you can see that I’m all set up to go to FrOSCon tomorrow, where I’ll be presenting the ideas and demoing the prototypes, hoping to get some feedback on concepts, and give some understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face in this exciting endeavour. And of course show some serious bling. :) If you’re in the area around Bonn, drop by.

8 thoughts on “Plasma Active on OpenGL ES

  1. Looks very nice, not sure if this is the right place, but I seen some small things in this screenshot and the previous one:
    1- I don’t think it’s neccesary to put Active before each application, web browser should be just enough.
    2- The bookmarks previews should not have the rating unless they’re big enough
    3- The wrench and close icons seem to appear for some widgets only, is that a bug or a feature?
    In the previous screenshot
    4- The calendar widget seems to get a little bit out on the left

    Should I report this little stuff in kde bug tracer? I don’t have a tablet to test this myself.

    1. @damiipereira

      Thanks for your thoughts on the user interface, let me shed some liight on it point by point.

      1 – You’re right, it’s part of weeding out the applications list, and setting up good defaults. We’ve already started there, but we still have quite some unnecessary clutter in the ui, that does indeed need more cleanup
      2 – Good point, thanks for this idea to unclutter the UI
      3 – The wrench and close icons are only visible on desktop widgets, the other “widgets” on the shell are dynamically created lists of resources available in this activity, a bit more consistency would not hurt there.
      4 – That’s a resizing and positioning bug we have in some plasmoids, needs investigation

      I think it would be useful to report those issues and suggestions in, please do so, as it helps us keeping track of these kinds of papercuts.

    1. For MeeGo is already does, the Balsam stack does not support multitouch as of now. That’s something I want to see fixed there. I hope we can get this ready before the first release, which we currently plan for 9-10-11.

      1. so are there or will there be any Active Apps which are designed for multitouch?

        1. In principle, all of them. We haven’t made multitouch a hard UI requirement yet, though, since we’re still struggling in getting this supported on the openSUSE-based stack. That’s work in progress, but most apps already do support multitouch gestures.

    1. Definitely. As most of the code is shared, and work done in Plasma Active is also available in Plasma Desktop, though it might lag a bit behind before getting certain features integrated in the user experience. We’re more conservative with UX changes for Plasma Desktop, Active allows us to try out new concepts, some of which will also be very interesting on Plasma Desktop and Netbook.

      Work on the underlying framework or libraries is of course another benefit.

      Finally, we also hope to make Plasma Desktop more attractive with this initiative, since Active complements Desktop and Netbook nicely on all kinds consumer electronics. think of seamless computing. We’re not there, yet, but the general direction is pretty clear.

Comments are closed.