by December 1, 2004 0 comments

In our past issues we’ve talked about a couple of 3D desktops for Linux (see the articles 3D Desktop for PCQLinux, page 90, July 2004, PCQuest and 3D Desktops with Metisse, page 104, August 2004, PCQuest). Here is yet another. Project Looking Glass, by Sun Microsystems, is an open-source 3D desktop. It is a prototype project that is believed to be incorporated in the future versions of Sun Java Desktop System. In this article we explore Looking Glass to know what it is all about. See for yourself as we jump start with setting it up on PCQLinux 2004.

Download and install
Login as root. A couple of packages are needed for running Looking Glass on PCQLinux. First is JDK 1.5, which you can find on the PCQ Xtreme CD, November 2004. Copy the file jdk-1_5_0-nb-4_0-beta2-bin-linux.bin to /opt directory. Open a terminal window in X, change to /opt directory and execute the file as:


Direct Hit!
Applies to: Linux enthusiasts
USP: Configure 3D GUI for your Linux desktop
PCQ Xtreme CD:

Follow the installation instructions of the graphical wizard. (We assume that you have installed JDK in the /opt directory.) Open the file named profile found in /etc directory and append the following lines to it.

export PATH=$PATH:/opt/jdk1.5.0/bin
export JAVA_HOME=/opt/jdk1.5.0

Note that PCQLinux 2004 ships with JDK 1.4.2. You may have similar lines for JDK 1.4.2 in the profile file. In this case, comment those lines by prefixing a #. Next, issue the following in a Linux console or command line to execute the above lines.

. /etc/profile

In fact, it is recommended to restart the machine instead of executing the above command. Next download the following packages from the URLs mentioned below.

Java 3D: .jar
Java Advanced Imaging: products/java-media/jai/downloads/download-1_ 1_2.html (Download the Linux JRE Install version)

Looking Glass package: tar.gz 

Place the downloaded files in the /root directory. The filename for the latest version of theJAI (Java Advanced Imaging) API was jai-1_1_2_01-lib-linux-i586-jdk.bin.

You will be greeted by a desktop having depth

To install the Java 3D package, change to the directory /opt/jdk1.5.0/jre and issue the following

jar -xvf /root/java3d-1_3_2-build8-linux-i586.jar

To install JAI, change to /opt/jdk1.5.0 and issue the following.


Type in ‘Yes’ to agree to the license agreement shown. Subsequently JAI will be installed in the /opt/jdk1.5.0 directory. Next, change to /root directory and extract the Looking Glass archive as:

tar -zxvf lg3d-rel-0-5-1.tar.gz

This will produce a directory called lg3d in /root.

Configuration changes
You are now almost set to launch the Looking Glass desktop. But before that open the file named XF86Config, found in /etc/X11 directory, in a text editor. You may like to back up the file before making the changes. Find the following line:

Driver “keyboard”

and replace it with:

Driver “kbd”

Look at Looking Glass
Kill the currently running X server by issuing the following command.

init 4

Change to /root/lg3d/bin directory and issue the following:


Launch programs and then see them floating around in 3D

You will be greeted by an eye-catching desktop having depth. You can play around with this desktop by clicking on various icons. Launch the terminal window by clicking on the computer icon. Type in the executable name of X Window applications (gedit, mozilla,
gaim etc.) and see them floating in 3D. However, do not complain about all being slow. Did we forget
to mention that this heavy desktop requires hardware OpenGL graphics acceleration, oodles of RAM (not less than 512 MB) and a fast(er) processor?

Or, you can see a glimpse of Looking Glass even from within your already running X Window (Gnome or KDE). For this open a terminal window in X, change to the /root/lg3d/bin directory and issue:


But if you launch any application, it will not open within the 3D desktop. The X Window applications that show up at least with a decent display (leaving aside the functionality) are not more than the above mentioned.

Bottom line: Expect beauty from this infant project, not performance or stability.

Shekhar Govindarajan

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