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.

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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