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Eight Reasons to give E17 a Try

By Jeff Hoogland

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 a while, odds are you are aware of the fact that several other desktop environments exist. 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 is 16MB of RAM and a 200mhz ARM processor for embedded devices. The recommended RAM is 64MB (and a stripped down version of E17 can be happy running on 8MB of RAM). From personal experience, E17 utilizes around 100MB of RAM on a fully loaded desktop install - meaning that if you have at least 128MB 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

One of the reasons many people use Linux in the first place is because it is quicker than some other operating systems. With E17, your Linux desktop will run 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. With 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 it does a fantastic job to this end.

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.

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 other open source applications these days, E17 can be downloaded as an installation package for your favorite distro. In fact, there are a couple of different pre-compiled Linux distros that use E17 as their default Window manager. These include:

Finally, in case you didn't check out any of the links I provided above, one of my past Enlightenment desktops appeared as such:

Pretty, isn't it? If I've 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!


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I am currently a full time student working my way through a math education program on the south side of Chicago. I work in both theatre & computer fields currently. I am a huge believer in Linux and believe we will see Microsoft's dominant market share on the personal computer crumble at some point in the next twenty years. I write a good deal about technology and you can always find my most current thoughts/reviews/ramblings at http://jeffhoogland.blogspot.com/

Copyright © 2011, Jeff Hoogland. Released under the Open Publication License unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 182 of Linux Gazette, January 2011