Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Eight Reasons to give E17 a Try

If you are new to Linux you may never have tried any desktop environments beyond Gnome and KDE. If you have been in the Linux world for awhile odds are you are aware of the fact that several other desktop environments exists. During the three and a half years I have spent using Linux I have tried every different type of desktop under the sun and of them all Enlightenment's E17 is my personal favorite. The following are a few reasons why it may be worth breaking out of your Gnome/KDE comfort zone to give E17 a try:

1.) - Low Resource Consumption

The suggested minimum for running E17 on is 16megs of RAM and a 200mhz ARM processor for embedded devices. The recommend RAM is 64megs (and a stripped down version of E17 can be happy running on 8 megs of RAM). From personal experience E17 utilizes around 100megs of RAM on a fully loaded desktop install. Meaning if you have at least 128megs of system memory in your computer E17 will function fantastically. Because of this E17 makes for a great choice on older computers.

2.) - It is Fast

This is one of the reasons many use Linux in the first place, because it is quicker than some other operating system. With E17 your Linux desktop will be running faster than ever. E17's low system requirements leave more power for the rest of your applications to utilize.

3.) - Desktop Effects on All Systems

Don't ask me how it is done, but E17 provides elegant window effects and desktop transitions regardless of your hardware and driver setup. Intel, nVidia, or ATI chipset - closed source or open source driver, they will all give you a sleek looking desktop with E17. Through the itask-ng module E17 can also provide a dock launcher that has a sleek look without a need for a compositing window manager to be enabled.

4.) - It is Elegant

If configured properly E17 can be so much more than just a desktop environment. In fact many consider it to be a work of art. E17 is designed to be pretty and to this end it does a fantastic job.

5.) - It is 100% Modular

Not using some of the features E17 has and don't want them taking up unnecessary resources? Not a problem! E17 allows you to easily load and unload each and every part (module) of the desktop through the configuration menu. This way, only the parts of the system you are using are loaded at start-up.

6.) - It is 100% Configurable

Should you want to, you can easily spend days tinkering with your E17 configuration. You can adjust anything and everything. Most notably appearance wise, E17 allows you to easily theme each individual module with a different theme (should you want to).

7.) - Core ELF are now Beta

For many years now, people have been saying that they will not use Enlightenment because it is "unstable". At the start of this month, October 3rd, the Enlightenment foundation finally released a "beta" version of their libraries. To quote the Enlightenment homepage:

"There may be some minor bugs, but most if not all are gone."

I have been using the beta packages for nearly three weeks now and I can attest that the above statement is true.

8.) - You Don't have to Compile It Anymore

Just like many pieces of open source applications these days, there are a couple different pre-compiled Linux distros that use E17 as their default Window manager. These include:
  • Elive - Full Desktop built on Debian Stable
  • Unite17 - Desktop Distro
  • MacPup - Minimal CD built on Puppy Linux
  • Bodhi - Minimalistic Ubuntu 10.04 based
Finally, in case you didn't check out any of the links I provided above, my current E17 desktop appears as such:

Pretty isn't it? If I persuaded you to give E17 a try, let me know what you think about it. Also, if you are looking to chat in real time about Enlightenment - drop by #e over on Freenode

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. what exactly does the screenshot show/add to the article? nice wallpaper, but I don't see how it shows anything outstanding about e17...

  2. Shows one of the many ways an E17 desktop can look.

  3. I agree w/ Anon. E17 doesn't look like anything I would want on my desktop and honestly looks like some bad version of gnome with docky and a bunch of worthless other docks and widgets in use. XFCE looks way better and hardly requires any configuration. I understand they're providing an alternative but it's getting old seeing many of these window managers trying to reinvent the wheel when instead they're work would be best served advancing existing window managers.

    1. XFCE looks wayyyyy uglier than Enlightenment, it does have its strengths but aesthetics is not one of them; that you would even compare XFCE to enlightenment in terms of quality of appearance only demonstrates your complete lack of taste.

  4. I used E17 a few years ago for about a week and dropped it. I remember it being hard to navigate through the DE. It wasn't intuitive(at least to me). I used it when I was pretty new to linux which might have been the issue. I think i'll give it another shot though since it can look so pretty and it's more stable now. Thanks

  5. XFCE is hardly as light as E17 and has nowhere near the elegant desktop effects enlightenment provides.

  6. Well there is also the unity linux based HUMANity isos http://distro.ibiblio.org/pub/linux/distributions/unity/isos/HUMANity/
    Sceenshots of beta themes here:

  7. If anything Enlightenment is not copying from anything. It may *look* similar to GNOME or XFCE, but it's completely different. You gotta try it before you can judge it. Last time I used it, it might have been a couple or more years ago, and I was really impressed. I cannot but assume that it's gotten just better. It seems the Enlightenment team knows what it's doing.

  8. Well Enlightenment was the coolest thing around back in the late 90:s. It lead the graphical revolution for Linux by showing how cool a desktop could be. But even back then it was a demo desktop, it was what everybody showed friends when they wanted linux to look cool, but nobody really used it. The problem now, is that everything application done in the last 10 years was done using the GTK or QT toolkits (making them look alien on E17).
    So, I would have been excited 10 years ago...

  9. I run a number of GTK/QT applications under E17 and they all work and look just fine...

  10. How about a tutorial for installing it on ubuntu. That would be nice!

  11. E17 is not beta, only the EFL are in beta, they are very different things.

    E17 isn't even in alpha yet.

  12. Tutorial for installing on Ubuntu - http://jeffhoogland.blogspot.com/2010/05/howto-install-e17-from-svnsource-on.html

    Was posted some time ago and is on the first google page when searching "Ubuntu e17" - Always search before asking :)

  13. Why nothing about running E on Fedora or CentOS?

  14. Give me links to pre-compiled E17 discs that run on Fedora or CentOS and I'll add them to my list at the end.

  15. Another correction:
    "composting" in "Through the itask-ng module E17 can also provide a dock launcher that has a sleek look without a need for a composting window manager to be enabled." should be "compositing".

    Anyway, as I said above, it is misleading to call E17 in beta, only the core EFL are in such a state at the moment, E17 is in pre-alpha stages at the moment. ( drop by #e on Freenode if you really want to make sure )

  16. Here's a screenie of my last testing of E17 ealier this year => http://bit.ly/cxWn1U Note that I have been experimenting with Enlightenment for a number of years and have always really liked the looks, but often experienced issues associated with stability.

  17. I love E17. I had it on both my desktop and netbook for well over a year. Recently I started using KDE4 on my desktop when I broke my self-compiled E17. E17 is the most intuitive desktop imo, and the speed is incredible. My old 901 netbook runs very well on E17 but is sluggish with Gnome or KDE (Windows XP is unusable on it).

  18. PCLinuxOS has also (had) an E17 version. I always found E17 appealing but when I strated to use it I found it rather shaky. Maybe the stability issues are ironed out a bit now. I should try PCLinuxOS e17 ...

  19. Dang, I didn't know Austrumi used E17!!!

    Pity it is so cut-down...

  20. Wow, it DID manage to beat Duke Nukem Forever to the market! It was going to be a squeeker....

  21. Hi,
    I'm one of the devs for EFL/E17. Great article! Two things to note though:
    1) The beta release earlier this month was for EFL only, NOT E17. The tbz2 of E17 was just a snapshot.
    2) I suggest you add a link to #e on FreeNode since that's where we do most of our tech support.


  22. Fixed both the typos noted in the comments, thanks guys and added mention of #e in freenode. Thanks guys :)

  23. Wow. Thanks Jeff for the article. i settled on e17 after going the ubuntu-gnome,kubuntu,xubuntu, and even lubuntu route. now i just do a minimal install and download the easy_e17 script from omicron.net. AFAIK it's the only desktop manager that will crash and restart while your applications are still running!!. i now run it on debian unstable on my latpop and on ubuntu 10.04 minimal on some other boxes. i install packages as needed. Talk of install-as-you-go linux!! My soul has found rest indeed.

  24. Hey Jeff: e17 and e16 are both very decent wm's. Both are highly configurable as you say. I found e17 was giving me problems with stability on one machine, but removing and letting it recreate ~/.e fixed that. Hand editing the .order files is likely how I created my problem. :-) But in terms of e17, it would just bring up a dialog saying it had crashed, would I like to restart it. Pretty darn good considering I was to blame for the issue.

    I am wondering if you know how to configure two items. How can one assign keyboard shortcuts? I'd like one like F12 opens the main menu. Secondly can one configure the middle button of the three upper right-hand window frame buttons so that it offers vertical maximize with a middle-click of the mouse? (I see one can get that option with right-click on the titlebar, but . . . And thirdly, can I have e17's fm not show /usr, /boot, /var etc, but still get HAL to pop up an icon when I insert a usb storage device? (Ok, counting is still a bit tough for me.) If I stop it from showing HAL mounted devices, I lose the fm showing the newly mounted stick. Minor thing though.

    I dabled with kde4 for some time recently, it is very good, but went back to e17 for the speed, after finally figuring out how to get e17's fm to show the path and navigation modules.

    My findings are that fluxbox (ran fb for a couple of years and wmaker for many years before that) is faster still and at least as stable. I'm not sure I've ever seen fluxbox crash. XFCE is on 20+ machines at work is a nice wm for users more familiar with windoze. Gnome is one I stay away from after too many weird issues. I miss wmaker, and see it is going again with new devs, but only have one machine running it still (v0.92).


  25. Thanks for this post. I've been using Linux for almost 12 years and was always under the assumption that e17 was heavy on the resources. I'm running Fedora 13 Xfce spin on an 11 year old Thinkpad T41 with one and a half gigs of RAM. Looks like e17 would run just fine on this machine. I may give it a try.

  26. Hi Jeff,

    Have you looked at these:



    There reviews could be interesting.

    Good luck.

  27. unite17:


  28. Well Mr Hooghland, I was with KDE 3, but when they switched to K4, I had to dump it, my machines can't run KDE 4. I am living happily with E 17 since then, I would dare to say, it's a poor man's KDE 4. Not because it's poorly done, but for the ones who can't afford the hardware specs of KDE 4, it's a gift! Best regards from Brazil!

  29. Jeff,

    thanks for the article! I have E17 installed on my PCLinuxOS box. I'm going to boot into it and really give it a look. I've played with it in the past, but your article really inspires me to USE it.

    Mark Szorady

  30. Jeff a friend posted the link, good article.

    I use e17 every day at work, I installed it on top of PCLinuxOS 2010 and if it is Alpha I haven't noticed ;-)

    Is really fast in my old laptop.


  31. I have a Thinkpad x23 800mhz 376mb ram running with E17 (elivecd) and It runs quicker than Puppy linux ever did... EliveCD is very beautiful and the desktop effects on login are impressive, maybe the wallpaper effect are a little slow on my old thinkpad but hey, it can play youtube videos!....on 800mhz...!!! I have tried the PClinuxos E17 version but didnt like it as much..

  32. Hi Jeff, I see someone beat me to mentioning the Unity-linux remaster, that has enlightenment e17 called Humanity, it also has ecomorph, there is a 64bit version and a 32bit version, both have the recent e17 betas. They can be found on the Unity-linux mirrors. If you have time maybe you could take a look, and if you like it mention on here.
    Thanks, and keep up the good work, informing people of e17.

  33. Hello Mr.Anonymous,

    I also mentioned another nice Unity-Linux E17 remastered distro named "Unite17" that can be found at:



    Unite17 is the continuity/fork of the real PCe17OS/PClinuxOS-e17 project.

    Another thing to avoid confusion please, unity-linux.hu serves as news/download portal for other unity linux projects also, including HUMANity!


  34. By the way,

    PCLinuxOS Enlightenment-beta desktop genuinely deserves a review!


  35. Hi Jeff,

    Sorry for my multiple comments when you had already mentioned Unite17 in your article.
    You may clear my comments except the PCLinuxOS-E17 review request.


  36. I have been using e17 continuously since 2007, on Puppy linux, sidux, Mint (briefly) and now Debian Testing for the last eight months. I have very rarely had any stability issues and have found the system just flies, along with simple, powerful visual effects and the incredible configurability mentioned in the article. The versions this year also include the "Everything" app starter (a lot like krunner), which I find very useful too. Ecomorph rounds it off if you want even more effects. FOr those who use Debian and Debian derivatives, incidentally, there is a pretty up to date E17 package in sid (that is, the unstable repositories), which you can just install without compiling. I have switched to GNOME, KDE4, XFCE, etc. in between and always come back to E17, for its combination of speed, elegance, light weight and configurability, which I have so far found unmatched.

  37. OT
    The wallpaper in the last picture looks pretty good.
    I'm just wandering where I would be able to find it. Thx in advance.

  38. Hi,

    is there any tutorial how to move the .iso to a usb stick.

    At the present I have access to a Ubuntu box only

    thank you in advance


  39. Been using Enlightenment since Kde3 died. I have never had any stability issues in all that time. Ive used It the majority of that time with Elive. Recently I switched to Pclinux's Enlightenment version which is solid but needs a lot of visual configuring to look presentable.
    One thing that is true about Enlightenment is that it takes a little getting used to the configuration menus. Enlightenment does things differently than other DEs, but once you become accustomed you realize the Enlightenment way is actually superior.

  40. hi! i have been having serious problems configuring e17 plus connecting via wireless. could you suggest some good guides to have a look at.

  41. I must say I'm really delighted to see E17 finally work and in a real fit-all choices (software bundles).

    Congratulations, not only a perfect timing but also the perfect choices for the real problem (a wide variation of CPU power and RAM).

    May I suggest to find a way one may create a auxiliary set of CD's with the packages bundles?

    My suggestion is to configure download methods (synaptic, browsers) to get a list of packages from CD... and to download them and as a set so it may be placed on a directory, USB flash disk or CD.

    This is Not a priority but would make a diference, after the priorities with Bodhi base distro are filled.

    Damned, I even like the name!
    It is really a good job, not forgetting the E17 team, who deserves a bigger applause getting it so efficient.

    BTW: My favorite has been XFCE, and I wish a blend of Enlightment libraries with it, in replacement of most GTK routines. But would be hard to see, though probably feasable.

    The best for this distro!

  42. I would give it a try ,but Elive is (near) dead and 32bit-only, MacPup and Bodhi are 32bit too and unity17 rpm? never again!

  43. I have tried Enlightenment on a number of distributions over the last couple of years. I really like the responsiveness of E17 and the eye candy, but there are some things about it that drive me crazy.
    The film strip style configuration menu is just plain annoying. I'm a left-handed computer user. On many distros, the control to switch mouse buttons is there, but it doesn't work. To be fair, many non-E17 distros out there have issues with this. Also, has anyone tried using E17 on a laptop with a projector display at the same time? It makes presentations a pain. Many E17 configurations use a "wood" theme often with tiny black text on tiny menu bars with high screen resolutions that is impossible to work with. There doesn't seem to be a quick way to resize with resolution.
    What I am saying is that I think E17 is fantastic, efficient, beautiful, and even sexy, but most of the implementations I have seen have made it more effort than it is worth. I have hope, and I keep checking for an E17 that will appeal to me.

  44. I guess I got here because I searched for composting instead of compositing.
    But anyway, E17 rocks now.
    I installed Bodhi linux for the first time a few weeks ago. At my job I kind of need to use a Mac as my main workstation, but now I am going to find a way to do everything from a Bodhi linux workstation.

    @Glen - if you don't like the wood theme, it takes 4 clicks of the mouse to change to a different theme. And you don't need to use the "film strip" menu. You can also use the GTK theme or LXAppearance theme panel to change all the font and menu bar details that you are complaining about.

  45. I just love E17. Have used it since 2007, on and off
    Bodhi Linux is by far the best implementation so far, having left Elive now.
    It's the "slickness" that gives it the edge over Gnome and KDE and its just different to Windows. Confuses the hell out of Windows users.
    The only thing that concerns me a little about the whole Linux movement is the recent meteoric rise of iphone and ipad and there glassy glossy DMs as against the somewhat cartoon like Desktops that Linux Distros end up with. After all its always the eye candy that interests the uninitiated and they do love those glossy looking apps.
    Enlightenment may be worth a revisit for those who dismissed its earlier incarnations

  46. I have just installed Bodhi Linux 1.1 and find E17 fast and elegant. However, E17 is crashing now and then on my workstation, a vintage IBM with 1.2GHz processor and 500MB ram. The only conclusion I can draw is E17 is almost ready for prime time, but there's still some way to go.

  47. Bodhi is awesome. Slick, simple, at first start you get only basic apps, a clear menu showing you the choice of themes and how much effects you want. Then all you have to do is adding the apps you need and putting them inside the favorite menu so you can directly access them by right click. Then play.

  48. @Barista Uno
    take another look now with your old hardware I think it should works really well with the latest Bodhi 1.2
    I'm testing e17 recompiled with Debian Testing on an Acer Aspire One with CPU fixed at 800 Mhz and 512MB on live system...it fly at all.
    800Mhz and 512MB of RAM today is more and less the same power I have on my first release Samsung Galaxy with Android 2.2 reflashed...e17 works far faster...
    Game is over today...finally what we waited from e16 is gone to fire everything now...GNOME was the past at the time of e16..now it's a relics

  49. been using enlightenment 1999, and i still go the archive of web page i've created for enlightenment back then, here is the web:

    i tried bodhi linux few weeks ago, and i adore it now!
    before then, i was on debian and enlightenment which is pulled out directly from enlightenment cvs.
    big tx to bodhi linux team for the great works!!!

  50. As long as it is fully Modular and Customizible. I will give it the old one two fighting chance.

  51. I love it. My first expierence with Enlightenment was installing MacPorts on my PowerBook in 2004 one morning and then installing E16. That was qutie the expierence. and I loved it.

    E17 is still amazing, though I just wish it would have more window frame options. Being a mac user, I prefer my close/minimise/maximise buttons to be the left side, but I guess I can just try to modify themes for that ...

    1. There are several E themes with buttons on the wrong side ;)

  52. well you have almost convinced me... esp seeing that bodhi uses the ubuntu 10.04 distribution (which is the version I first used and was thinking of reverting to) ... my only reservation is the lack of documentation on installing from a usb stick (no external CD drive)... can one install using the start up disk creator in ubuntu to create a usb stick installtion or must I now learn how to use synaptic packages?

    and just an observation the link above to Bodhi gives a 404... perhaps http://bodhilinux.com/index.html should instead be http://www.bodhilinux.com/index.php.. I suspect you know better than I on that

    addendum.. your capture photo's aren't overly readable.. I suspect they don't just stop robots but us over 40's too! took me five refreshes to get a picture I could read

  53. Hi there. Simply, E17 is my favorite and only one DE i have ever used. Using it around 10 years /E16 in far past/.

    But i have a question, could somebody help me and show any resources where i could found information about programming or run E17 on ARM /tablet/ processors ? I want linux on my Table, and need help with it ...

    1. You can compile E17 on an ARM device just like anything else.

      If you are looking for pre-compiled things Bodhi has ARMHF support.