Enlightenment E17 - Eauty At Your Fingertips

5/26/2013 11:07:01 AM

The original eye-candy window manager finally gets a stable release. If you stick to the big-name distros, you could be forgiven for not knowing that Enlightenment exists, let alone that version E17 has just been released. None of the top ten on DistroWatch have an Enlightenment version (although most have it in the repositories if you wish to install it yourself). In fact, at the time of writing, you had to go down to number 15 before coming across an Enlightenment distro: Bodhi.

Enlightenment E17

Enlightenment E17

This shouldn’t be taken as a sign that Enlightenment is somehow not ready or not suitable for the big time – although the Enlightenment team’s obsession with alpha and beta versions may have put some people off. This particular version was in development for 12 years before finally being released as stable. Of course, the developer versions have been used widely for years with few problems.

To get a feel for the system, we tried both with Bodhi, and on top of an Ubuntu 12.04 install. The former gave a better introduction to the window manager for curios users because it has a number of different preset layouts for you to try.

Enlightenment E17 ubuntu 12.04

Enlightenment E17 ubuntu 12.04

The first thing you’ll notice on starting E17 is that it looks gorgeous. This isn’t something new in this release, but a long-running feature of Enlightenment. The graphical effects, such as menus fading in and out, feel as if they’ve got a bit more care than in other window managers. What’s more, they seem to run well on older hardware that has other desktop environments coking on their widgets. Speaking of widgets, Enlightenment has a range of them known as gadgets that can be added to the desktop. As you would expect of Enlightenment, they’re well drawn and integrate well with the rest of the environment.

Waste of time

The default menu configuration is a bit unintuitive. The most common thing this reviewer uses menus for is opening applications. This shouldn’t be hidden in a submenu. An extra few seconds every time you want to launch an app builds up. If it takes two extra seconds every time you open an application, and you open applications a hundred times a day, that’s 20 hours a year spent fiddling about with menus that you could spend… well, not fiddling about with menus.

The style mismatch with GTK means Enlightenment loses its slick feel as soon as programs are started

The style mismatch with GTK means Enlightenment loses its slick feel as soon as programs are started

The raison d’etre for Enlightenment is that it looks good. Really, really good. However, unlike Gnome, KDE and others, Enlightenment is just a window manager rather than a desktop environment. This means that it doesn’t have its own applications. You can use applications for any of the other desktop environments, and they work fine, but none of them looks quite right, and herein lies Enlightenment’s fatal flaw. It looks great when there’s nothing on the desktop, but as soon as you open windows and start doing things, you end up with a mismatched mess. It’s a shame, because it looks very good as long as you don’t try to do anything with it. Because of this, we feel we can recommend it only to people who want eye-candy on their desktop, but don’t have the processing grunt to get it from other sources.


·         Developer: Enlightenment Dev Team

·         Web:

·         Price: Free under BSD-like license

·         Ratings: 7/10


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