A couple of weeks back I was talking with my Dad about what to do with his nearly-antiquated laptop (meaning from 2002.) Having had recent experience with lightweight linux distros and window managers, I decided to shop around a bit and see what else was out there. As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Linux Mint, but I’m willing to look around. For sheer speed, I’m a fan of Fluxbox, especially since I can get so much help around here.. For end-user applications, I’d been impressed with LXDE’s potential, but underwhelmed from a configuration and management side.
What I was really looking for was an Ubuntu-based distro that had a good LXDE implementation, just for comparison purposes. It helps to see the experts in action, you know? Along the way, I discovered MoonOS, which DistroWatch reports as using both LXDE and Enlightenment. As it turns out, the developers are currently focusing on the Enlightenment side, and the LXDE implementation is not currently available. Nevertheless, I gave it a try.
Wow. Take a look at the sample screenshot from Distrowatch:
More importantly, it was fast. It wasn’t up to Fluxbox’s level of performance, but it was enough to make me seriously rethink whether I wanted to stick with LXDE. I’m not going to go into a full-bore review of MoonOS here. Suffice to say, that little foray gave me some incentive to revisit my window management strategy. I broke out one of the old laptops and proceeded to install Linux Mint Fluxbox Community Edition. With that as my starting point, it was time to install Enlightenment.
The current “live” release of Enlightenment is Enlightenment DR16 (or E16), which, frankly, isn’t all that. Enlightenment DR17 is still considered pre-release, but is also a vast improvement over DR16. However, since it’s pre-release, it’s not in the normal repositories. For awhile I was worried I’d have to compile from source or some such. There are several Ubuntu repositories out there, but they are buggy and many of the sites most referred-to are wrong or don’t exist. For my first time through, I ended up downloading with SVN and compiling from source using a script. Then I discovered another very recent (and somehow undocumented) means of installing DR17 with very, very little fuss.
I’m not going to steal the original author’s thunder here, as the instructions are straight-forward, but the gist of it is that you simply have to update your list of APT repositories, then use apt-get to download and install E17. And guess what, it works fine! Once you’ve installed E17, all you have to do is logout and log back in, switching your session from startmintfluxbox to enlightenment. Right at the beginning I was prompted for a series of setup questions (language, layout, any apps I wanted available right from the get-go, that sort of thing.) The hardest question involved populating the “applications” menu. I strongly recommend going with the default selection, otherwise you end up with some verrry strange choices (I really don’t want a list of screen saver options populating my applications menu.)
I have to say, the default theme is a pretty ugly grey. My initial reaction (on the laptop) was, “I went through all that for THIS?” Luckily, I quickly found e17-stuff.org, which has several user-created themes, fonts and other similar items. And suddenly… the appearance of progress! Fine, I’m superficial. Sue me.