The 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use Debian/Ubuntu, you most likely need to build EDE version 1.2 yourself, as the available Debian/Ubuntu packages are outdated (v1.1).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.
If not drag&drop issue, i’d like to test it on my PII
I tried it out once, in STX Linux, made for older hardware. it seemed like a “liter” version of XFCE. it was nice, but i do perfer XFCE to Equinox
I think this DE shows great promise, especially to Windows refugees. The entire desktop seems reminiscent to Windows (of various vintages) and that’s not a bad thing. This would be great for users who want a familiar environment or those using older hardware. Overall another great alternative to the “Big 3”: Gnome, KDE, XFCE…
EDE 1.2 is packaged for Mandriva, with some customizations to fit in better and use more appropriate applications in its (hardcoded!) ‘Start’ menu, and a task-ede package which installs EDE plus all the applications listed on the Start menu. Any Mandriva users wanting to try it out, just make sure your repos are configured and install ‘task-ede’.
It was at version 1.1x with 2.0 being in beta, supposedly coming around the corner. That was in mid 2002 when I took a look at it.
Guess v2.0 is still around the corner.
It is good to see that the GUI from Window 95 is making a come back. It is kind of nostalgic to see it in action on Linux. 😉
Being a longtime Windows user myself from Win95 all the way up until XP just a couple years ago, EDE had me interested from the start. I recall using it in STX, and while nice, it needed polish–which I expected it to get eventually. I later compiled it from source in my distro of choice, Zenwalk, and after fiddling around with it, I got it to start.
Now, I’ve compiled the latest version and installed it… and I’m stuck in the exact same place: actually getting it to start. Simply “add startede to .xinitrc” as the directions say doesn’t work (I’ve tried adding to both the beginning and the end); Xfce still starts. Doing too many changes to the file leads to X not starting at all. Hopefully I get it soon, or I’ll give up. I’m not finding much help searching Google. It doesn’t add itself as an option to xwmconfig, either.
I think this is EDE’s biggest problem… it aims to be an easy, familiar, Windows-like interface… but virtually no distros support it, meaning compile-and-screw-around-trying-to-get-it-to-work if you really want to try it. STX showed potential, but the project completely lost sight of its goals and went to hell… from being a lean and unique Slackware/EDE-based distro, to just another Slack with Xfce (why? There are already plenty…), to (even worse…) PCLinuxOS with Xfce (now known as SaxenOS, btw).
Edited 2008-05-25 11:49 UTC