Re: [As-users] Re: AfterStep 2.00.beta5 released

Sasha Vasko (
Wed, 08 Sep 2004 09:43:22 -0500

M.-A. DARCHE wrote:
> Le 2004-09-02 09:01 (jeudi), Sasha Vasko a =E9crit /
> Yes, when I switch to a desktop for the first time there is this
> animated effect that draws the image from both top and bottom toward
> the middle of the screen.
> I will be more precise this time, and provide numbers.
> Problem 1: too long loading
> ---------------------------
> The first animated effect - image loading - takes very long on my
> machine: 16 seconds (desktop background drawing), then 4 seconds (pager
> and wharf background drawing) =3D 20 seconds. This is too long a time.

What version of X and OS is that ?
This part relies havily on transfer of image contents from WM to X and=20
it may be very slow on some configurations and over the wire. For=20
example under Win NT and CYGWIN it is.

> Problem 2: not totally drawn backgrounds
> ----------------------------------------
> This is clear that there is a cache building up. If I stop the process
> of the first time image loading on a desktop, for example by switching
> to another desktop, then when I come back to the previous desktop, the
> image in the background is at the state it was - not totally drawn -
> when I left it.

Yes there is this problem, I'm unsure as to how to resolv this at that ti=

> Problem 3: switching latency due to pager and wharf drawing
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> But I have to correct and precise what I wrote about desktop switching.
> The desktop switching is fast in itself and the background image in the
> destination desktop is already there loaded - fine :-) - *but* during 4
> seconds the machine cpu load goes to top - that makes the window manage=
> useless during this time - while it draws the background of the pager
> and the transparent background of the wharf.

Yes, it does requires a large amount of rendering to be done.

> So there maybe 3 areas of improvement:
>   - First load of all image backgrounds could be made in a background
>     thread no matter if the desktop was visited or not (there could be =
>     limit to only 4 or 5 desktops). It solves problems 1 & 2.

AfterStep's desktop limit is 10000 :). Besides such an approach will=20
make startup very slow, no matter if its in background or in foreground=20
- X gets stalled anyways. The whole animation thig was an attempt to=20
break the operation into bunch of smaller transfers, thus improving=20
latency, and it works, but has a sideeffect of incompletely transferred=20
backgrounds if you switch desktops midrun.

>   - Pager and Wharf background could also be cached if they are
>     described as transparent somewhere in the configuration. It solves
>     problem 3.

It will take an effort to implement.

>   - Provide a theme with no transparency for Pager and Wharf.
>     It solves problem 3.

Thats a good idea, I'll look into it.

Basically The target configuration for AfterStep 2.0 was at least=20
something running at 750 Mhz ( which is what I have in my devel machine=20
), and which is an ancient history at that time. Also it requires you to=20
have a very fast wire between system running X and  and system running=20
WM if you do run it over the wire. If you need something to run on old,=20
low end systems - you better stick to AfterSTep 1.8.11. It had very good=20
optimized approach to resource handling.

Unfortunately all the fancy rendering features in AS 2.0 come at a price=20
- since rendering capabilities in X are still not nearly as close to=20
what is needed - all the rendering has to be done in CPU on the client=20
side, and then transferred to X. There are no other way around it.
Still that yelds very good performance on my 750 Tbird, which is what,=20
about 4 years old.

There are still some tricks left to pull off to optimize on low end=20
machines, but its very hard and make things complicated.

  >>>Those 2 bugs are still hanging around since the first betas of AS 2:
>>> - Commented "AutoTabThroughDesks" has not effect, window switching
>>>   is always performed through all desks.

That should be fixed now.

>>> - The WinList jumps 1O or 20 pixels down after a few window switching=
>>>   and then disturbs window placement.

Still a TODO.

> PS : I should have said that the anti-aliased fonts and the menus look
> and feel great, especially since beta 5, menus seem to work faster.

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