posted by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd May 2008 11:04 UTC
IconThe Equinox Desktop Environment is a small memory footprint desktop environment built on top of the extended FLTK toolkit ('Fast Light Tool Kit'). EDE features a desktop, a Windows-like panel with 'start' menu, taskbar, and system tray, support for theming, and graphical front-ends for software installation, xscreensaver configuration, and much more. Linux.com took a look at EDE version 1.2.

The review starts by explaining that if you use Debian/Ubuntu, you most likely need to build EDE version 1.2 yourself, as the available Debian/Ubuntu packages are outdated (v1.1). Luckily, the EDE team has written a script that will download and compile the eFLTK and EDE sources for you, after which it installs them into /usr/local and adds it to GDM.

Linux.com details the various parts that make up the default desktop environment: an xterm launcher on the desktop and the panel. The panel holds a start menu, taskbar, quick launcher, workspace switcher, CPU monitor, and a system tray. A control panel lets you configure everything from fonts to screensaver through various applets.

I like the clean, simple, and well-integrated way these applets function. For example, the screensaver dialog offers just the basic things you would expect from it: graphics style and activation time. There's also a power management part that lets you explore further options, but it is clearly separated from the rest. Even a front end to basic software installation from the RPM, DEB, and TGZ package formats is included in the control panel.

There are downsides too, the biggest of which is that EDE does not yet adhere to Freedesktop.org standards, hindering interoperability. "For example, it didn't show the icons that were in my Desktop/ folder, preferring its homegrown $HOME/.ede/desktop directory," the author writes, "Interoperable drag and drop seems to be an unknown protocol to the desktop component, too. EDE's menu system doesn't seem to follow the widely accepted menu specification used by package installers, leaving it up to you to manage it."

Still, the author is satisfied with EDE.

In summary, the EDE project is on its way to achieving its core goal of providing a fast and small working environment for users. If you like innovative user interfaces like tiling window managers, you won't be happy with EDE. Its focus is on being a conservative lightweight environment. With minor modifications, such as correcting the drag-and-drop functionality, it would be ready for deployment in a production environment. Unfortunately, development seems to move at a slow pace, so don't count on things being fixed in the near future.

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