E17 as a Desktop — don’t try this at home!

[ Sunday, 22 July 2007, riklaunim ]

E17 is a still being developed version of a graphical environment called Enlightenment. E17 has been developed for a long time already. Updates have been appearing often, but they used to become obsolete in a few weeks after releases. Has anything changed suddenly? No, nothing really. Stable release of the environment is not planned anytime soon, but this of course isn’t a problem for us to have a glance at what Enlightenment has to offer at the moment.

Author: Piotr Maliński

Installation and working with E17

For many distributions there are available ready-to-use packages containing E17 compiled from the developing source code located in the CVS repositories. You can attempt to compile it yourself, but I really discourage you from doing it, since it is really a development code and you can come across a lot of unexpected difficulties. Let alone E17 applications — compiling them from CVS sources is a big lottery.

e17-1 e17-2
Pic. 1, 2 E17 after start, E17 configuration managers

Pic. 3 Clearlooks theme — almost GNOME. E17 is very flexible and works well also with apps written in other libs (QT, GTK+, etc.)

E17 as a window manager gives you a desktop with icons, a toolbar (either engage or ibar), a main menu (E) and other standard elements as e.g. KDE Kicker. You can set many options, from windows’ appearance to its behavior in the configuration manager. E17 supports animated wallpapers and icons, which combined with some other gadgets like animated flames or snow, gives marvelous effects. It you’re a junior high cheerleader — you’re gonna love this. Of course it is at great CPU’s expense. Despite the fact that the configuration is very complex, it doesn’t work well. For example I couldn’t change the default font (“Vera”) or modify the iBar application list.


E17 offers a lot of apps, but many of them are still being developed and cannot be used in regular work. As these apps are usually pretty simple, I decided to just show you the pictures of them with some very short “reviews”. Yes, these are most important apps in E17 that are supposed to form the “E Desktop”.

Tab.1 E17 apps in action
E17 applications review
eclair — a media player, currently in the reconstruction, without the menu. Files can be opened by dragging & dropping them onto the eclair form.
elation — an another player, I don’t even know how it works. elation
emphasis — the mpd interface, a music player (but how to add files to the playlist? nothing in the docs…)
elicit — a magnifying glass and a color analyzer elicit
enterminus — a terminal, it works
enthropy — an unstable file manager, similar to Dolphin enthropy
entice — a simple image browser
ephoto — a photo album and image browser, unfortunately unstable and unwieldy ephoto
equate — a calculator
exhibit — a great image browser exhibit
express — according to the description it is an Internet communicator, but it doesn’t work at all
extrackt — an AudioCD ripper extrackt
rage — a media player, but how does it work? :)
retina — another simple image browser retina
epdf — a PDF viewer it doesn’t want to compile on my PC, so there is no image here :)

Enlightenment E17 in the net

The main website where you can find the documentation, accessories and some application reviews of E17 is get-e.org. From this site you can download additional themes, wallpapers, etc. Recently there has been opened a new website e17-stuff.org, which will be an accessories download center for this environment in the future, for sure. The obstacle for accessories creators can be the fact that E17 uses its own icon format EDJ with some extra metadata instead of standard graphic formats.


E17 as a desktop is still useless. The only thing that works is the window manager and even this requires a right stable source code from CVS. Impressive visual effects will attract many users (especially the mentioned junior high girls) but it has to be released in a stable version to come true. There is still a lot of work for programmers — they have to finish up the available applications, stabilize the manager and take care of its usability. I hope you can clearly see the potential of this environment but to use it you have to patiently wait until the final and stable version is released.

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fold this thread uber  Monday, 23 July 2007 o godz. 4:26 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  --11

Oh Man! Nice Ass you’ve got there! Where’s the High Res of that peace of meat?

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fold this thread macsmister  Monday, 23 July 2007 o godz. 4:31 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

DR17 is still in Alpha stages but let me tell you, it is stable as can be. And yes it is ready for prime time. You should give Elive 1.0 a try. It just came out a couple of weeks ago and it is a remarkable DR17/Debian based release.
Give http://www.elivecd.org/ the run it deserves :-)

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fold this thread riklaunim  Monday, 23 July 2007 o godz. 4:38 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  --3

for me using e17 is pointless. I don’t want to and don’t need to use “light” window managers and some “light” applications with them. e17 main goal is graphic effects which I totaly don’t need. I need a desktop I can work on. e17 and other “light” WMs have limitted functionality – Kicker in KDE is the best for me, also I don’t need a simple file manager or simple PDF viewer. I need tabber browser + filer manager and good text editor. Running KDE (or GNOME for example) applications under other WMs won’t make it lighter ;)

I’m one of those long Linux users that doesn’t use Xterm and TWM for that “super light and fast”.

fold this thread valczir  Saturday, 11 September 2010 o godz. 1:32 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Best file manager on linux: bash.
Best text editor on linux: emacs (or vim).
Best tabbed browser on linux: iceweasel/opera/rekonq (depends on preference)

e17 works for a lot of people, and not just because it’s lighter than KDE/GNOME. It deals with multiple monitors better (twinview + e17 FTW), defaults to sane window focus (focus under mouse, and none of that dumb click to raise business), has better modules for removable devices (seriously, e17′s ‘places’ module makes everything else look like a dirty hack), and doesn’t require you to have a bar. Oh, and it doesn’t have those awful boxes showing up everywhere from inotify.

If you want your UI to be in your face about every little thing, then sure, KDE is great. If you want your UI to lay silently in the background and only do stuff when you explicitely ask it to, e17 is the equivalent of perfection.

Yes, I’m using amarok in e17. Yes, I know it carries most of the KDE libs with it. No, I don’t care. e17′s interface does exactly what I want it to do and looks good doing it.

Also, if you have trouble compiling from source, it’s likely your (or your distro’s) fault. I run gentoo, which means that I’m compiling everything from source, and I have fewer problems with e17′s svn tree than I do with KDE’s stable packages. e17 almost always compiles without a single error, whereas it seems like KDE gives me all kinds of errors even when I’m just trying to update it.

fold this thread valczir  Saturday, 11 September 2010 o godz. 1:36 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Aaaaaand I just realized how old this post is. Yay for doing stuff while you’re eating.

I suppose, e17 did have a few issues way back then. I started using it regularly right around 2006-2007. From what I remember, my post was still somewhat valid way back then. It’s just way more valid now.

fold this thread uhenninger  Monday, 23 July 2007 o godz. 7:04 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

Basically, it’s obvious that the lead developer behind e17 is someone quite involved in digital media. Sort of reminds me of a mac.
I mean – even their slogan “beauty at your fingertips” should give you a hint. I’ve used Enlightenment in the past. Yes, it was beautiful. No, it was not light. Not at all.
If I want a lightweight window manager – give me fluxbox. If I want a Desktop Environment – give me KDE. e17 appears to me – although I’m quite aware that it’s not finished – to be neither here nor there.

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fold this thread killfire  Monday, 13 August 2007 o godz. 6:52 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

many would say that both here and there are inappropriate. e17 is faster than both ends of the spectrum (check online, there are timings raster did a long time ago, of speed to generate windows, move them, etc.. all the things a WM should do), and it uses a modest amount of resources. to compare it to a mac (which hog up resources at a rate only surpassed by vista) is offensive in that regard. one of their test boxes is a pentium 133. run the latest macos on that thing.

fold this thread rrichmond  Friday, 27 July 2007 o godz. 12:17 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

The point of e17 in my opinion is to eliminate the bloat of packages like KDE and Gnome, so you don’t have to waste space and resources on apps you never use and look good while doing it. And it does look good! I have been using e17 as my work desktop for 2 years and it has been stable the entire time. I have only the apps I want, firefox for tabbed browsing, konsole for a term, kate for an editor etc.

From a performance perspective e17 uses less resources than my lab box running KDE and it saves me disk space at the same time! I think once (if) the project is ever finished it will pull a lot of people away from KDE or Gnome.

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fold this thread Rufus Polson  Friday, 27 July 2007 o godz. 1:07 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

All fine, except I do use the apps.
And, y’know, I don’t always use the same ones. I realize it’s bizarre, but I actually use my general purpose computer for various different things at different times.

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fold this thread Wido  Friday, 27 July 2007 o godz. 1:57 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Men, I think you couldn’t have all the E experience. I’ve been using it for almost a year, and i’m using the cvs version. Yes, sometimes it brokes, but it’s still alpha (but table versions are STABLE). I don’t use it because it use less resources, I use because it’s far more easy to configure than others WM (And I use a lot: gnome, kde, fluxbox, xfce), it’s develop is fast and after you get use to it…..you don’t want to change to other :D

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fold this thread stolennomenclature  Friday, 27 July 2007 o godz. 8:26 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

When people talk about bloat, do they mean on disk or in memory? Most of KDE/GNOME will remain on disk unless you use it, so if you have anough hard disk space then why worry? Use even one KDE app under E17 and the QT and some of the KDE libs will be loaded into memory as they are needed by the KDE app – so E17 used with one or more KDE/GNOME apps is not lightweight anymore. You would need to use only E17 apps or apps that do not use any of the GNOME/KDE libs (QT, GTK+, etc) to remain lightweight.

Many other applications such as Firefix (which use the Mozilla engine) will load large “bloated” libraries into memory, regardless of what window manager you are using. I think people dont really understand exactly what lightweight really means (it is a very generic and misleading term) nor what is to be gained from it.

And in any case, how many people care about bloat with modern PC’s? Some will I guess but certainly not most. Even a bottom of the range PC will have a gig of memory, over a 100Gigs of hard disk and a 1.6 + Ghz CPU (probably dual core). If Enlightenments main aim is to appeal to people with low power PC’s, then I think its missed the boat already. By the times its released we’ll all have quad core cpu’s.

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fold this thread ZeriouS  Thursday, 30 October 2008 o godz. 4:25 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

You are so damn right. e17 is fast, but as soon as you need to use gnome or kde apps… the related libraries for apps, such as Amarok are loaded. Besides of that, the other applications, which can be run inside of e17 and are not native, destroy the flow and visual beauty of the total desktop design!

fold this thread jamie brown  Friday, 27 July 2007 o godz. 11:12 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Definitely the one in the white top with her back to us :-)
Hi res pic plz!

I preferred the old E16 enlightenment to E17, I thought E16
was more innovative but E17 is more mainstream. And I really
hate the graphical appearance of the menus in E17, I find it
intensely irritating. Tried E17 once or twice but not good enough
as a practical tool to make me change over from WindowMaker.

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fold this thread Leandro Santiago da Silva  Saturday, 28 July 2007 o godz. 9:39 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

To add musics in playlist, mpd daemon must be activated…
I also tested the E17, and confess that I impressed myself!

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fold this thread Joel  Monday, 3 September 2007 o godz. 2:19 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Obviously the author of this piece is more mouse oriented than people who prefer light window managers. I went through a period when I used E17 every day and all day for three months. It’s fairly stable; not as stable as KDE, however, to call it unstable is misleading. Calling it “useless” should prompt one to look in the mirror.

Also, if you had trouble changing the icon box settings, then you’re misunderstanding something about how the configuration dialogs work and you should go to the files and manipulate them directly. Light Window managers and desktop environments (such as Fluxbox and Xfce) appeal mainly to people who spend a lot of time in editors or a terminal emulator (i.e., me).

I’m going back to E17 because I realized that Emacs is my command shell and I don’t need everything that’s happening with KDE. It encourages me to use the mouse too much. If I’m living in Emacs, I might as well have a pretty picture while I browse the web at lunchtime, and a nice-looking clock in the corner.

And yes, as the poster above mentioned, all you do to activate the playlist in emphasis is turn on the music player daemon. Without loading up E17, I would be unaware of the music player daemon!

I think new development strategies and new programming paradigms are more important than stability to the Enlightenment developers. I’m not waiting for a stable release: Slacke17 is stable enough for me.


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fold this thread wam  Wednesday, 12 September 2007 o godz. 1:59 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

e17 is definitely a window manager of choice yet unfinished. I’ve been using it for more than one year now and didn’t see much improvement though, compared to the first version that where great already.

We still need a systray, but trayer does a good replacement work. Same for the file browser, I keep using nautilus so far.

Repositories are available for some disto, at least Ubuntu and Debian (in both 32 and 64 bits) whivh makes it easier than it used to be. It can also be interesting to try out elive, even if I don’t really agree with the list of applications installed by default.

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fold this thread Rob  Sunday, 23 September 2007 o godz. 4:13 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I think that e17 when used with xubuntu is the most stable and easy for use. I have tried e17 on several distros such as ubuntu, xubuntu, debian… The statment the author makes about “usless” is uncalled for. My wife has been a windows only user for ever, when I introduced her to e17 on xubuntu she was sold. She uses it for everything and more than that, on an old laptop with only 1.2ghz celleron, 20g hd 756ram. It is very lightweight and operates faster than any other window manager we have tried. If you just follow the directions on the official ubuntu/xubuntu website it will give you a step by step how to and it works great, not perfect but great. Name one perfect window manager or os and I will try it otherwise this is fun and useable.

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fold this thread ZeriouS  Thursday, 30 October 2008 o godz. 4:30 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Maybe I’ll show my girls next time e17 instead of fluxbox =D

fold this thread vr  Tuesday, 25 September 2007 o godz. 4:26 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

I am using e17 for about a year as the only GUI environment on my Arch Linux laptop. I build the it several times from CVS and it is a lottery although it’s getting better. I just made scripts to pull it from CVS and build it in correct order.
There is more to e17 that is not mentioned in this review .
First – modules. They are not apps but they are part of the system and should be considered here. I used extensively Mixer (to adjust the volume) and Battery meter (because it’s laptop). And of course, clock. There are modules that I don’t use as they are more of distraction – e.g. RSS feeds that scrolls over part of the desktop. And there was one that would pops photos in different parts of screen – very neat but I have work to do.
Second – all the GUI can be managed from command line , although I am not an expert on that. Still cannot make enterminus to use bigger fonts and disable shadows.
And one more thing about e17 – it’s the only desktop environment I know that can run without X server, straight in directfb, although I didn’t compile it that way.


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fold this thread widgeteye  Sunday, 14 June 2009 o godz. 10:11 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

2009: It’s extremely fast. OPens apps faster than icewm and I have been using icewm for years. I have switched to E17. It’s a kicker.

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About the Author

Piotr Maliński

Programmer, journalist. Creator of the CMS, Linux and PHP libraries. Arch Linux/Gentoo user. Creator of a GNU/Linux distribution based on Gentoo: Plusiaczek Live CD.

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