Enlightenment—the Next Generation of Linux Desktops

The soon-to-be-released version of Enlightenment, E17, offers a lightweight, yet stunning, alternative to KDE and GNOME.

E17 is under heavy development and probably not useful for business purposes. However, it's ready for personal use, especially for those with older PCs that could stand to be revived. System requirements for E are extremely low, with dazzling 2-D effects rivaling the best of Compiz Fusion without the need for an up-to-date graphics card. Completely rewritten using EFL, E is not like any other window manager or desktop in existence. It's intended to be the next generation of desktops—a desktop shell that sits somewhere between window manager and full-fledged desktop. E is not for everyone, but for most users, E should be a pleasant experience. And, it's lightning fast to boot. I hope that Linux users, old and new alike, will come to recognize that there's more to Linux than just KDE and GNOME.

Jay Kruizenga resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A small-business owner, Linux advocate and freelance writer, Jay spends most of his free time reading, writing or creating projects.



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Anonymous's picture

I've been trying to create a linux tutorial to present at my university but I never had any thing to base it on. This might be a good outline for it.


Misafir's picture

Good UI is the art of making a usable / intuitive system.

Abiword or Emacs anyone?

grabur's picture

I was introduced to Linux as a way to recycle and sustain old hardware. I was excited at the thought of a Linux Desktop. FVWM and TWM won me for the speed. KDE and Gnome were slow and unstable by comparison.

All I want is a stable, snappy platform. I don't even care for icons. In OSX th e control panel is two clicks through the menu (one if you place it on the dock). Sub menus in my book are a no no. With Gnome, I have to click around menus while waiting for some naff effect. Hate it.

Drop shadows. How crude.

If you are using old hardware, and I think that means 450 MHZ < 128 MB Ram, you won't get on that well (believe me) with Linux distros (bar Damn Small and Puppy), I've tried. Opera is the lightest full blown browser. Firefox is huge, Openoffice is Massive.

What have fast cpus and massive GFX cards given us? All that computational power for not alot in my opinion(though you can rebuild a system fast.)

How about a fast terminal based environment to work in instead? Could we not build Ncurses apps and style them, like you dress a webpage with CSS?

We don't want eye candy at the expense of usability. I only have Compiz on in Gnome for the inverse screen feature and zoom. Most websites I invert the colours because the white blinds me. And in Opera, I just turn it all off, and go for high contrast, it's much nicer.

The great thing about the early window managers, is that they offered the chance for something different, something innovative. Gates talked about a 3d Desktop as a concept early on. Games, Phones and PDAs offer decent, different, intuitive desktops - or should I say launchers?

OSX gets it right with it's subtlety. I want to be able to launch an app and switch between programs with speed. I want to be able to rotate and add and remove displays quickly. I can't help thinking the mouse is useless compared with typed text and keyboard shortcuts (Many new GUI based programs forget to even add them.)

Don't get me wrong E17 sounds good, but why is it faster, could Gnome or KDE learn some of these tricks? How fast is the CPU in an iphone, how fast does it render? What is so different between Gnome and FVWM? Is the bloat and lag hidden in Multi Processing, SVG graphics, XML Parsing, Unicode and i18n?

2D effects sound like a CPU killer, isn't it better to use GFX cards for transparency and scaling if they are there?

It annoys me that the Linux desktop appears to play catch up in some areas, while Windows just appears to edge itself towards a cliff. For example you can't even cut and paste, drag and drop consistently between apps in Linux (though it's got better). Win98 you could do all that, and there was also the web based (active) desktop. Yes you laugh, but watch as Google re-imagines that.

Good UI is the art of making a usable / intuitive system. A Sprinkle of eye candy on top is fine. Gnome is great, as it's stable and no frills, though they could steal a few ideas from Apple. If the admin programs in Windows were all grouped together into a panel (like Win 3.1) and I could get to notepad quickly, I might use it.

I know you can tailor XYZ desktop and distro to do what you like. Those of us without much time, who hop between, and maintain computers, would probably rather a great Desktop that just worked out the box. I guess that needs to suit everyman: the power user, the noob and the ones who like shiny things.

Xfce any one

Beloved's picture

Well if you working with older hard ware and KDE and GNOME arnet cutting it for your old machine, have you looked into Xfce. Its built to run on older hardware alot easier. If your an Ubuntu kind of person check out Xubuntu. Its got it built in already and should work really well. If your not much a fan i would look into Damn Small Linux. It also is built for older machines so you wont want to chunk your pc out of the Empire State building window everytime it crashes becuase it shouldnt. Ive heard good things about these things so why not check it out?


grabur's picture

Yes tried Xfce.

A few years back I worked on a project recycling old hardware into internet kiosks, for a community centre.

In the end after trying out various distros, (300mhz machines), I ended up not using a window manager, and hacked an install of Firefox and Suse. Suse because it was great at recognising hardware.

The landscape moves so fast. You could now do the above using SLAX, XFCE, Firefox and probably a Firefox Plugin, I had to hack firefox quite a bit to make it work.

I have also worked for an environmental organisation, and have endeavoured to recycle as much old hardware as possible, and cut costs. So I've looked at many, many distros.

I tried Zenwalk on an older laptop and a workstation; I'd recommend it.

But going back to the post. Is E dramatically different, or is it all in the aesthetics? Wouldn't these rob the CPU of precious cycles on old hardware?

Enlightenment Sucks

Max's picture

Any Mouse based window GUI that doesnt have a simple way to change the mouse button from right handed to left hander use, is not very enlightened, (oh yea? go ahead take your mousepad and try your left hand with it - takes about 5 minutes before I shift-alt-backspace back to ubuntu) oh BTW their forums stink too, not very open to give feedback, so it smells of elitist coding. Which means, they really do not want feedback from new users, and they think that their way is the only way to develop the desktop. the left handed mouse button thing is the perfect example, you have to rewrite a config file to change it.

Um if you just go to the

Anonymous's picture

Um if you just go to the conf panel you can select left or right handed mouse.