In this feature, we take a look at three desktops that combine both form and function: “Beryl”, “Vista Aero”, and “Bumptop 3D”. [pic via Linux-Tip]

Beryl

Before Vista’s Flip 3D, there was Beryl, “a compositing window manager for the X Window System. It is a fork of Compiz.”

Like Compiz and unlike traditional window managers, Beryl delegates the drawing of window borders to a separate process, called a window decorator. There are currently three of them, all named after varieties of beryl, although only Emerald is currently considered stable

Vista Aero

The Flip 3D feature in Vista is a “graphics technology that displays live thumbnail previews of windows when you Alt-Tab or Windows-Tab between open programs.” Find out if your PC is capable of running this feature here.

This quick (and dirty, sorry) screencast above shows Flip 3D in action, with a Google Video playing to display the whole “live thumbnail preview” bit. Notice the video continues playing in the “deck of cards” and Alt-Tab views

[Source]

BumpTop 3D Desktop

We have seen the future and it’s BumpTop’s 3D Desktop Prototype — “pushing the desktop metaphor with physics, piles and the pen”.