Thursday, March 28, 2013

Enlightenment Desktop on Fedora

I have been a full-time Linux user for just over 2 years now and I have never looked back. In the world of embedded software, web development, database design and electronics design it makes a lot of sense for me to run a free operating system.

Just today I was watching a very entertaining video about a shell named Terminology. This shell is unique in that it allows images to be "catted" to the interface. I did some more research and discovered Enlightenment Desktop.


Introduction
After researching Enlightenment I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately Fedora does not supply the Enlightenment packages in their repositories but there is a project to bring Enlightenment to Fedora by version 20. In the meantime I am using edmann's packages. Ed has gone ahead and done the hard work of preparing Enlightenment Desktop to run properly on Fedora and provides a very convenient repository to install from.

Widget Toolkit and Theme
The elementary toolkit coupled with the default Dark theme is very attractive. It reminds me of the Holo themes that Android has.
Holo (left) vs Elementary Dark (right)
I prefer high contrast (white text on a dark background) themes and find that this theme suits my needs well. In order to get my GTK applications to feel native I have used the MediterraneanNight theme. Simply unpack the archive and move it into ~/.themes/ to make it available as an option from the Application Theme Settings window.

Application Theme Settings Window
This forces my GTK applications such as Pidgin and Totem to match the Dark Theme.

Terminology, Totem and Pidgin in Harmony :]
File Manager
The built-in file manager (Enlightenment File Manager [EFM]) is reminiscent of nautilus. The default configuration leaves something to be desired.

Default File Manager Configuration
You will immediately notice a lack of buttons. Right clicking on an empty space within the file view will expose a context menu. You will find a configuration option where you can enable a toolbar, sidebar and a full path in window title.

Improved File Manager
I have always liked a sidebar on my file manager. The only thing this file manager is missing is tabs.

Flair
This desktop environment has a lot of flair. Everything flashes, blinks and emits light of some sort and I love it. When you click with the mouse it emits a blue flair around the cursor. When you type in the terminal, the cursor emits a wave of light from the top and bottom. I can see the huge amount of thought that has gone into polishing this desktop environment.

Screenshots!
I have noticed a very interesting feature present in Enlightenment. You can take a screenshot of any window by accessing its' context menu.

Screenshot Utility
I found this very interesting. The utility is simple but packed with functionality. The fact that you can save the image as either a jpg or png is very convenient.

Caveats
I have noticed a couple of caveats. The first is that I have not figured out how to use a system tray yet. I usually like Pidgin to stay running in the background. I will need to work on this a little.

The network manager (econnman) is also not supplied as part of these packages. I have not tried this front-end to connman yet but from my cursory readings I gather that there is still work to be done.

Terminology is also incomplete. It works extremely well but there is still work to be done. I can always use gnome-terminal in the meantime.

Customization
There is an unprecedented amount of options available in this desktop environment. I am a big fan of "Aero-snap" from Windows 7. I have made this  a reality on every PC I have used since the feature was released. Unfortunately Enlightenment does not have this feature available by default. I have assigned an edge binding to maximize the current window after 300ms.

Areo-Snap Simulation
I also like to double click on windows to have them maximize. I have altered the behaviour of a signal to make this happen.

Signal Bindings Menu
Coming from Unity land, this is a breath of fresh mountain air.

Conclusion
I am very impressed! I will be using enlightenment as my desktop environment barring any unforeseen bugs or issues.

I also applaud the developers for backing the development of Wayland.

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