The Enlightenment desktop environment is as elegant as it is unknown. The development, which seemed dormant for a long time, is picking up speed again.
Enlightenment, too German enlightenment, is a window manager for GNU/Linux and BSDs, developed by Carsten Haitzler since 1997. Enlightenment works with the X Window System, but since version 0.20 also with Wayland. In combination with the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL), Enlightenment mutates into a complete desktop environment.
EFL 1.24.1 as the foundation
Thus Enlightenment 0.24 is running, EFL 1.24.1 is mandatory. Released a week before Enlightenment, this version of EFL has few specific improvements, such as the restriction that font sizes cannot be set smaller than 1. In the current Linux distributions or the BSDs Enlightenment 0.24 (usually spelled E24) is of course not yet included, there versions from 0.20 to 0.22 or 0.23 (Ubuntu 20.04) can be installed directly. For E24, therefore, EFL 1.24.1 and then E24 must be translated directly from the sources. On the source code download page, the developers show how the build environment and the actual compilation work.
The developers specify either GCC or Clang/LLVM and a long list of other libraries as dependencies . This also includes systemd, but this shouldn’t worry Devuan and BSD users (yet), because even older versions of Enlightenment only use the controversial service if it was available, i.e. optional. It remains to be seen whether this also applies to E24.
Step forward, but hardly visible
E24 and the previous versions do point many changes, but this is only partially apparent to the user. For example, on E24, the preview icons are now 256×256 dots, and restarts are accompanied by smooth fades in and out. There is improved crash handling, which is definitely desirable, because as a VirtualBox VM, the older E22 regularly hangs up under FreeBSD, for example.
The pager is based on the usual “miniature preview” Pagers are gone and the Bluetooth stack Bluez4 has been replaced by Bluez5. The screenshot tool has been heavily revised and now offers editing functions. Brightness and contrast of monitors and other display devices have been controlled via (lib)ddctil since E24. In addition, according to the developer, there is a long list of “usual” Bug fixes and minor improvements.
Unfortunately no platform to try out
There used to be a kind of simple enlightenment distribution as a live system, um Just trying out the modern desktop is no longer the case. Allegedly, Tizen:Unified for smartphones and IoT devices runs with E24. Some time ago, the fancy GNU/Linux distribution Bodhi switched to the parallel Enlightenment fork Moksha. Elive, based on Debian GNU/Linux, is still part of E23, as is slackware-based slackENLIGHTENMENT. In other words, the best way to get a working E24 desktop is probably Ubuntu 20.04 and an Enlightenment PPA.