A graphical interface to the power of Linux: Enlightenment

X is an extremely powerful graphical server which runs primarily off Unix machines. It can be used to server a GUI to a single machine, or hundreds. The front end, however, must be managed by something - the window manager. Enlightenment hands over the power of X, Linux and the PC to its user. Here's how to get started.

Most distributions will install X for you. Configuration is carried out via the "xf86config" program, which describes at great length the setup process. Any uncertainties can be resolved by the XFree-86-Howto, which can be found in the /usr/doc/faq/howto directory. Once this is set up, Enlightenment can follow.

Enlightenment makes extensive use of graphical linked libraries. All these libraries can be downloaded from the Enlightenment ftp site: ftp://ftp.enlightenment.com/e/enlightenment/libs. Alternatively, you can download the packages which relate to your particular distribution. Follow the links on the page at www.enlightenment.org/download.html. All libraries should be compiled and installed as you would normally. Refer to the individual README and INSTALL files for details and help.

Once all libraries are installed, you should install Enlightenment itself, which can also be downloaded at the above-mentioned ftp address. Compiling and installing is standard, but you must update one system file to make it work: .xsession, in your home directory. It should read as follows: exec /usr/local/enlightenment/bin/enlightenmentThis file then needs to be made executable: "chmod 700 .xsession" will do the trick. (If chmod is not familiar to you, try "man chmod"). You should then run "xdm" as root.

This will present you with a graphical login box. Login as the same user in whose home directory you placed the .xsession file. This should execute Enlightenment.

Leave your mouse idle for a few seconds and you'll see a rendered cloud; it describes what you can access by default using your mouse. By following a few of the examples, you will see that useful applications, help, configuration, background settings and more are at your finger tips. Try clicking the left mouse button: go to "user application list" and then "Xterm". This is a shell terminal for X. From here you can access all the programs which you use from your text-based virtual terminals.

By pressing the middle mouse button (or both buttons at once if you have a two-button mouse), you can get to a help screen. This will lead you through some of the features of Enlightenment, but if you are in a hurry, try moving the mouse pointer to the very right of the screen. Notice how an entirely new screen opens. Also, go down to the bottom left-hand corner, where you will see a very useful little window; this window represents, in miniature, all the virtual desktops Enlightenment is running. It can run up to 32 desktops at once! (Try right-clicking and going to "Multiple Desktop Settings".) By clicking on this window, you can bring up another desktop, or move an application's window from one desktop to another.

You can also change backgrounds for each desktop. There are a few default ones which you can play with by right-clicking and selecting "Desktop Background Settings". If you want to add your own, put them in a directory where Enlightenment will read them, off your home directory: ‘.Enlightenment/backgrounds'. It is necessary to restart Enlightenment so that it reads these backgrounds. This is accomplished by pressing --. (Notice how it doesn't reset, it just reconfigures itself.)A sign of the extent to which Enlightenment can be configured is its ability to use themes. That is, one can install entire interfaces or styles of interfaces under Enlightenment. Try pressing the middle mouse button, and then select "themes to see". A different theme changes the entire feel of your desktop. Many themes can be downloaded from the Internet. The themes.org Web site has a definitive archive of them: http://e.themes.org. In no time you'll have a unique theme of your own. Enjoy!

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