Well, Enlightenment 0.17 is the latest version, and 0.16 is the most loved version yet. Of what? A window manager for Linux desktops. If you are a new Linux user, you probably don’t know about desktop environments or window managers other than KDE and GNOME. While these projects have been around for some time, they are less scalable and are feature packed than old ones and light ones like TWM, FVWM2, WindowMaker (which I will cover in a future post) and also the new and popular lightweight desktop environment, XFCE.
A screenshot of E-0.16. Pager on the left-bottom, and iconbox on the right-bottom.
Note transparency on the terminal program E-term.
Each mouse button is assigned a menu when clicked on desktop.
While all these other window managers are more about functionality than style, Enlightnment (simply and affectionately called E ) is in a different league. And it is not my favourite window manager, but it is what I would like my favourite window manager (WindowMaker) to look like. Simply put, E exudes class. It is the Mercedes Benz – no, make that the Bugatti, of window managers in Linux. It has some great graphical eye candy in all its themes, especially Ganymede, which will make other window managers look positively sedentary. Enlightenment was developed from code used on FVWM2. This window manager was highly customizable, and these characteristics continued into E. There are plenty of image maps and all are put to good use on the title bars and the decorations and window borders. Transparency used in locations which you would not have imagined. There is a set of applets called Enlightenment Epplets, or simply Epplets, which run on your desktop, everything from music players and sound mixers and desktop lock and screensaver controllers, a command line, a drive mounter, CPU and memory and network traffic shown as “flames” of different intensities, all right there, on the desktop. These applets, called Enlightenment Epplets, are themed by each theme which comes with E, and so everything on that graphical real estate in front of your eyes is a visual treat.
The menus don’t come on a task bar. There is no concept of one. All menus are accessible on a click on the desktop. And there are multiple desktops, virtual desktops and pagers. You can customize wallpapers for them, you can scroll down to the desktop above or below. Move your mouse to the edge of the screen and voila, you have moved to the next desktop. Navigating in a multi tasking environment could not be easier.
Then there are the task management facilities – there is an iconbox, which catches any window you may be minimizing, and stores it as a small image icon of the same. The kind of feature which Windows and some of these other Linux based window managers would have to kill to have. The titlebars and endlessly customizable. There are also the special effects – FX Ripples and FX Waves which create ripples and waves on your desktop. The menus are customizable, and there is the popular E-conf tool, which is also known as the Enlightenment Configurator – E-Conf, for short.
Enlightenment has been subject to criticism – for being a resource hog especially on lower end machines. It has crashes with some themes, but things can be set right by editing E’s configuration files in a text editor and restarting the window manager. Which is another superb feature – you can simply restart Enlightnment from a menu command and not affect the other processes you have open. This is really useful if you want to install a new theme or test a theme you have created.
E-themes are highly customizable!
Note E-epplets on left cluster and right, also a special menubar on the extreme right! There’s plenty to play around with in Linux, and Enlightenment window manager is a good place to start. It is a clean desktop environment and is really very slick in terms of visual quality and the “gnarly” factor. If you want functionality with style, albeit without the heavy customizations and conventional styles of the other window managers like KDE and GNOME, try Enlightenment. It won’t let you down.