Project Looking Glass

Project Looking Glass

Infobox Software
name = Project Looking Glass

caption = Attaching a note to the reverse of a rotated window
developer = LG3D developers
latest release version = 1.0
latest release date = release date|2006|12|19
operating system = Cross-platform
genre = Desktop environment
programming language = Java
license = GNU General Public License
website =

Project Looking Glass is a free software project under the GPL to create an innovative 3D desktop environment for Linux, Solaris, and Windows. It is sponsored by Sun Microsystems.

Looking Glass is programmed in the Java language using the Java 3D system to remain platform independent. Despite the use of graphics acceleration features, the desktop explores the use of 3D windowing capabilities for both existing application programs and ones specifically designed for Looking Glass.

One of its most notable features is the creation of reversible windows. This capability can be used for features like allowing the user to write notes and comments on the windows' backs, or displaying application dialogs without risking them being detached from the application they relate to. All windows start by looking like a normal 2D or 2.5D window, but can be manipulated as thin slate-like 3D objects which can be set at any angle or turned completely around by the user. Other features include provision of a panning virtual desktop, icons that reflect the live status of the window they represent and zooming of a window when it receives focus.

There is a Live CD available from Project Looking Glass. The Looking Glass environment is also included on a Live DVD (FunWorks 2007 edition) from the Granular Linux project.


Looking Glass was first developed by Hideya Kawahara, a Sun programmer who wrote it in his spare time on a small Linux laptop. After demonstrating an early version to Sun executives, he was assigned to it full time with a dedicated team and open-sourced the project. [cite web
url =,1895,1617822,00.asp
title = Sun Opens Its 3-D 'Looking Glass' Linux Desktop
publisher = eWEEK
] It was demonstrated publicly by Jonathan Schwartz at Sun Networks 2003 in San Francisco, and since then has gathered momentum in development. [ [ Main Page - Granular Linux Documentation ] ]

Similar projects

Looking Glass is similar to the "Task Gallery" prototype from Microsoft Research since both seek to exploit three-dimensional objects within some specific interaction constraints. Also, both are meant to work on adapted or enhanced versions of existing desktops rather than re-designing the entire graphical user interface from scratch, an approach taken by many Zooming User Interface projects such as the one created by the late Jef Raskin, or the open source Croquet project based on Squeak.

While many window managers (such as Microsoft's Desktop Window Manager, the X Window System based Compiz, and Mac OS X through Core Animation) can utilize 3D effects, these merely augment a conventional 2D environment.


See also

* Compiz
* Compiz Fusion
* Core Animation by Apple, Inc.

External links

* [ Product home]
* [ Development home]
* [ LG3D Live CD]
* [ Official video]
* [ Xtreme Tech show video]
* [ Interview with Hideya Kawahara]

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