Enlightenment aka e17

Ah yes, I’m running enlightenment again. I used e16 few years ago and I did like it, but it had some issues (crashing IIRC). Now I have a different computer and I never installed e16 into this.

So this computer has Ubuntu 12.04 and I was ‘satisfied’ with unity, although I did do some heavy compiz customizations. I tried KDE for awhile and I liked that better than unity, but for some reason (I can’t remember) I went back to unity.

so e17 is new. Been in development for 12 years and now it’s finally released. Yay! e17 is graphically pleasing, moderately lightweight desktop environment with a lot of customization options for those who’ll need them. Personally customization is a must for me, I use this computer daily and the little key-bindings streamline my productivity.

The good

e17 screenshot

The picture doesn’t tell much as it’s already tuned to my preferences, but at the top-left corner, there’s a shelf containing: time, CPU-usage and minimized programs.

The screenshot also shows the bindings window: any key (or combination of) can have a function, so you can launch programs with the keys you choose.

There’s also a hidden shelf (bottom-center) containing: Volume controls and launch icons for programs.

During the customization I had few segfaults, but e17 recovered from these under one second and no work was lost, even the music kept playing. Usually when things segfault I have to reboot or atleast restart the program.

Low resource usage, memory ~33M, the CPU is around 1-12% and it’s stable enough for daily use.

There’s no compiz-cube to play with, but virtual desktops can have custom backgrounds and e17 even supports animated backgrounds! You can set hotspots on edges or corners (I couldn’t get the corners to work) that’ll then perform a task. I set it so that when the mouse-cursor is on the edge, the virtual desktop changes into what is next to that edge. This is great, I had similar feature in my litestep-setup when I was still using XP. Oh, and you can even set the cursor offset!

The bad

Nothing is perfect and such is the case with e17. As I told before I’m used to unity and with it I’m used to the fonts and theme it has. The font e17 uses is not nearly as pleasing to look. Also since I have GTK and KDE programs that I run, the desktop has no common look in it. Sometimes it’s e17, sometimes GNOME or KDE. It’s a mess. It would be nice if it would load a common style from a file and applied that to everything. It’s a minor issue, functionality is much more important.

There’s also some expected features missing: PrintScreen-key doesn’t do anything by default, I expected the screenshot dialog, but that can be fixed with custom key bindings. The problem is that the average user may not know how to start programs from the terminal as it’s a requirement for the bind. And there’s the possibility that something goes wrong, Like the screenshot utility that GNOME uses (gnome-screenshot) doesn’t start under e17, but states:

** (gnome-screenshot:19006): WARNING **: Unable to use GNOME Shell's builtin screenshot interface, resorting to fallback X11. Error: GDBus.Error:org.freedesktop.DBus.Error.ServiceUnknown: The name org.gnome.Shell was not provided by any .service files

Yeah. My approach in these scenarios is to search for an alternative. And since I did have KDE installed, I use ksnapshot instead.

These are minor issues with me since I can find a solution, but may annoy newcomers more.

Wine doesn’t perform as it does under unity! This is terrible as I can’t start Alpha Centauri anymore!

WARNING: gnome-keyring:: couldn't connect to: /tmp/keyring-vIYRcC/pkcs11: No such file or directory
fixme:win:EnumDisplayDevicesW ((null),0,0x33f250,0x00000000), stub!
fixme:x11drv:X11DRV_desktop_SetCurrentMode Cannot change screen BPP from 32 to 8

Why! :(

There’s also a bug: When I mute sound with the mixer-widget, it does what it should mutes sound, but when I un-check that box (I want the sounds back) some of the sub-devices remains muted. Namely microphone (no line out in this machine). So I had to open the mixer and check/un-check those sub-devices until sound was re-enabled.

 Conclusion

It’s not as beginner friendly as KDE, XFCE or unity. It’s pretty and fast and highly customizable so if those are things you like then give enlightenment a spin. You’ll need to use your favourite programs and they’ll look ugly. The default file manager is at it’s infancy. There aren’t many themes, but huge potential.

Even with all it’s faults, I like it. Probably because of the high customization options. I want that the computer does what I command; I do not want to behave how some designer wants me to.