Discovering Enlightenment

I have written about some of the different desktops available in Linux, and today I’m fiddling with a new one called Enlightenment.

Actually, Enlightenment isn’t a desktop environment at all, but only a window manager. And it’s not really new, in fact it’s older than Xfce and Gnome; and only slightly newer than KDE! Either it’s a little buggy in PCLinuxOS or I don’t know what I’m doing yet, which is much more likely. 😀

Instead of a panel, we have a “shelf.” It can include an “Ibar” which acts like a dock for your favorite applications. But I like a “mostly clean” desktop, so I don’t use the Ibar gadget on a shelf. Mine has a weather gadget (in KDE it might be called a “widget,” in Xfce and Gnome it might be called an “applet”) and clock, and couple of menus. Yet I can reach a menu by clicking on any unused spot on the desktop, too!

Enlightenment offers several different themes which are gorgeous and can apply to all the gadgets and menus and windows as well as the wallpaper, or you can over-ride any one of them and use your own wallpaper and such. Mix and match!

Enlightenment seems to hover on the line between a window manager and a full desktop environment! It is far less resource-hungry than a full desktop environment though, yet it offers all sorts of “eye candy” like you might expect from KDE or Gnome with Compiz and compositing enabled and all that jazz.

Here’s a screen shot of my early customizations of Enlightenment:

Note the question mark over the weather gadget. That lil gadget was working until I rebooted to see if my settings would be saved. They were – all except for that gadget. And it wouldn’t let me input my location, so the question mark just hangs there until I figure out how to do it.

But dontchya just love that warm wood-grain shelf and the old-style antique wallpaper? I’ve got the clock up there on the desktop as well as the shelf just to demonstrate that the little gadgets which usually or “traditionally” go on a shelf (or panel) can be placed anywhere, independently of the shelf, unlike the applets in Xfce which must go in a panel. I might just throw the weather gadget up on the desktop and delete the shelf entirely, since I can instantly access all the menus with a click of the desktop anyway, and minimized windows appear in a simple middle-click anywhere on the desktop!

I was actually going to test-drive Bodhi Linux to try Enlightenment, but the LiveCD I burned refused to boot (prob’ly a bad burn, it happens). Too lazy to burn another one and worn out from moving furniture yesterday, I just opened good ol’ Synaptic in my trusty, awesome PCLinuxOS and added the task-enlightenment package along with several enlightenment themes and gadgets I found in the repository. I’m really impressed with the sheer size of that repository and the vast variety of software available there.

I have yet to try the Mate and Cinnamon desktop environments, and I’ve never messed around with the bare-bones window managers like Fluxbox and Ratpoison. But I did experiment with Openbox for a bit and that was when I learned just how powerful a “mere” window manager can be. Who needs a full desktop environment anyway when a “mere” window manager can do all the cool things that Enlightenment does? But I suppose it’s arguable that Enlightenment is kinda-sorta-maybe more like a full desktop environment than “just” a window manager. If it eventually get redefined as a “true” desktop environment, it will certainly be the most lightweight of all the choices available at the time of this writing!

I am thoroughly enjoying this new discovery and delighted to find it so fast and light on this old hardware.