PCs

Finally, E17 has come to the masses


For those of you who have been reading my column long enough, you know I am a fan of alternatives. And you know on the desktop, my alternative of choice is enlightenment. I have been using the window manager since it first arrived eleven years ago...and loving it. The creator, Carsten Haitzler (aka Raster) and a team of only four others, have been working hard since 2000 to get a new version stable and ready for the masses.

It's finally arrived. And arrived in force. You know that gOS that helped to sell out all of those PCs at Walmart? E17 had a hand in that. Yes, the gOS is graced by E17. And, if you have put your fingers on gOS you will understand when I say it's smoooooth.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, E17 has arrived. It's not perfect yet but it works well enough for production. I have been using it for a few weeks now and have only found a few issues with the new version (more on that later).

The differences between E16 and E17 are fairly large (on both an aesthetic and configuration level). First and foremost it simply looks flashier. It's smooth and elegant. E17 offers up a little bit more of what most people have grown accustomed to with an interface - with a twist of course.

Shelves

You can now add shelves (think of them as highly configurable panels) to the desktop; and to the shelves you can add many different items (launchers, "gadgets", menus, applets, etc). Shelves can be resized, moved, auto-hidden, you name it.

Menus

No longer do you edit a flat text file to add items to your menu. Now E enjoys an outstanding configuration application. It might take a while to get used to the tool, but once you do - it's a snap to use.

Installation

Installation is simple. If you are using a Fedora-based OS you add the correct entries in your yum repo lists. To do this, download and install dc-fc6-yum-repo-1.0-1.fc6.noarch.rpm for F6 or dc-f7-yum-repo-1.0-1.fc7.noarch.rpm for F7. Once you have them installed, run the command (as root) yum install enlightenment to install the system. You can run both E16 and E17 on the same system (though not at the same time, of course). So don't think you are going to bork your beautiful E16 installation.

Issues

There are only a few.

One big issue is the Screen Saver. It simply doesn't work. I believe it relies on xscreensaver but, even with xscreensaver installed, the screen saver will not start.

Getting familiar with the menu configuration might be a bit of a tripping point for some. The hierarchy of menu entries available to add is not terribly intuitive. It might be better to simply use an alpha-numeric ordering instead of trying to group according to purpose.

One of my favorite things with E16 was the iconification of windows. When you click the iconification button the window spins down to the bottom of the screen. This is no more in E17. I can't see why this feature was removed, but it was. I would like to see it return.

And that's it. Otherwise the system is clean, fast, stable, and just as E! as E16 (if not more so).

If you've never experienced Enlightenment, you should. It will change your mind about how a PC desktop should be.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

21 comments
roaming
roaming

and logs you off. In Ubuntu at least.

Giph
Giph

I also have been using enlightenment for a while as it is the default window manager in elive which is a debian based distribution. enlightenment rocks!!! It makes me dread having to use windows at work! [or maybe thats just windows itself... LOL!!!]

Jaqui
Jaqui

Not even officially has it been released: While DR17 and the EFL are primarily available from CVS there are a few, unofficial, packages for various distros along with snapshot tarballs. If you wish to use CVS please see the contributing section for more information. Snapshot releases are available from download.enlightenment.org. Unoffical packages are availble for several platforms including: Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, ArchLinux, and Gentoo. There is also a port available in the FreeBSD ports collection. There are no guarentees if these packages will work as expected. If you experience any problems with DR17 or the EFL using the packages, please first refer to the packagers, not to the Enlightenment team they just actually released a new version of E16: The latest version of DR16 is 0.16.8.11, released on January 12th, 2008. Packages for the current, and previous, releases of DR16, core themes, epplets, e16menuedit, e16keyedit, and imlib2 can be found on the SourceForge download page While it's nice that e17 is starting to get included in distros again, it's still very much a not yet ready for prime time player. [ sorry, I just couldn't resist. ]

jlwallen
jlwallen

i have been using it, in production, on three machines. all of which are just as stable as E16. on top of which, isn't the fact that they have been added to the repos, by nature, mean it's ready? that is what i have always been told by developers. on top of which - since gOS has been using E17 for a while now, i would think that enough to tell me it's ready. on top of all of that - considering how long E17 has been in development, this being as close as Raster has come to getting it to the masses - i call that ready!

Jaqui
Jaqui

e devs don't think so, they haven't released e17 files outside of tarballs. I was always lead to believe that release of code was the only benchmark for if it's readily available and ready for prime time. The current state with e17 is akin to the rc of a distro, where the final few bugs are squashed and it's rolled out the door. I still have the latest sources downloaded, and will roll out e17 on a pure 64 bit system.

jlwallen
jlwallen

at the rate they are going E17 may NEVER be "ready". ;-) but as far as I have seen, it's as ready (if not more so) as KDE4 was when it was released. at least i was able to get E17 to be useful and, for my needs, production ready. KDE4 was sad in it's initial release.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I'm off to sourceforge. sources you know, none of this wimpy binary package stuff. :p

seanferd
seanferd

I remember liking e15, but I haven't used it in a while as I was using K or Gnome on my old Redhat setup. Now I'll have to wait as I need a new drive for Linux, my old one was disconnected as it was dying. Soooo, any chance at a screenshot gallery? I don't think I'll be able to try out the new e anytime soon. Thanks for the good news.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i'll try to get one up asap.

seanferd
seanferd

Despite the fact that I have been shown the True Path: live CDs. Where was my mind? The gallery may entice others who haven't used Linux or e before, however.

Fiddly Bits
Fiddly Bits

Elive is a live Debian based distro using E17 (and/or E16) Here's some screenshots of it http://www.elivecd.org/Main/Screenshots/ -and an Ubuntu derivative live CD distro OpenGEU http://opengeu.intilinux.com/Home.html -both worked very well, all things considered, on an ancient (AMD K6-2) laptop

seanferd
seanferd

Thanks for the links. Now I don't have to look for my own lazy self. :) I can't say I've ever heard of OpenGEU before. Yet another handy bit of info. edit: OK, now I see why. :p

jlwallen
jlwallen

Raster is now working for OpenMoko. he is working on Enlightenment for mobile phones. here's a shot of E on a nokia.

nwoodson
nwoodson

For some reason there have been posts on a number of sites about E17. I've been using it for about 6 months over Puppy Linux (most recently Puppy 3.01) with great success. It looks good, is quick and responsive and glitzy enough to impress people.....and I have it running on a P-III laptop. I'd recommend it over JWM, Fluxbox, Window Maker or even Ice (which I love) for sheer aesthetics let alone functionality.

Brazen1
Brazen1

Is this round 2 for reporting that gOS uses e17 or what? Here I was all excited that maybe e17 went gold or something.

jlwallen
jlwallen

E17 only recently was placed into the yum repositories. that means that it has, in fact, been released to the wild.

brian.mills
brian.mills

When I get back home to my Linux box I'll have to check to see if it's been placed in the Ubuntu Gutsy apt repositories, so I can play around with it. I'm pretty happy with Gnome right now, but I'd love to be able to slide around to different parts of my desktop. On E16 I always had problems getting things to work right. Maybe I'll have more luck between the new version and my increased Linux knowledge.

jlwallen
jlwallen

to OpenGEU. I have tried this distro. it's not bad. of course being Ubuntu based gives it a solid foundation.

noseda
noseda

There already is a ubuntu with E17 - geUbuntu