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E Window Manager Faq
Updated 2,000 Days AgoPublic

About Elightenment

Q: What is E?
A: Enlightenment, or simply "e", is a lean, fast, modular and very extensible window manager for X11 and Linux. It is classified as a "desktop shell" providing the things you need to operate your desktop (or laptop), but is not a whole application suite. This covered launching applications, managing their windows and doing other system tasks like suspending, reboots, managing files etc. More information about E can be found here.

Q: What is EFL (Enlightenment Foundation Libraries)?
A: EFL is a collection of libraries that are independent or may build on top of each-other to provide useful features that complement an OS's existing environment, rather than wrap and abstract it, trying to be their own environment and OS in its entirety. This means that it expects you to use other system libraries and API's in conjunction with EFL libraries, to provide a whole working application or library, simply using EFL as a set of convenient pre-made libraries to accomplish a whole host of complex or painful tasks for you. More information about EFL can be found here.

Supported Platforms and Devices

Q: Which platforms does E support?
A: Enlightenment and EFL support several platforms, though Linux is the primary platform of choice for our developers, some make efforts to make things work on FreeBSD and other BSD's, Solaris, MacOS X, Windows (XP, Vista, 7 etc.), Windows CE and more. Compatibility will vary, but most of core EFL support all Linuxes, BSD's, Solaris and other UNIX-like OS's. Mac support should work mostly thanks to the X11 support in OS X, and Windows support exists for most of the core libraries (XP, Vista, 7, CE). More information about supported platforms can be found here.

Q: Which devices does E support?
A: Enlightenment and EFL use desktop Linux systems as a primary method of development because it is fast and simple to do so, but all of it is written with the express goal in mind of also working on devices from Mobile Phones, to Televisions, Netbooks and more. We have run and tested on x86-32, x86-64, Atom, Power-PC, ARM (ARM9, ARM11, Cortex-A8 and more), MIPS, Sparc, and many other architectures. More information about supported devices can be found here.

Obtaining Elightenment

Q: How can I get a copy of E?
A: The latest releases of Packages can always be found here:

Older releases

Q: Is there a recommended build order?
A: Yes, it's recommended to build them in this order:

  • EFL
  • Evas Generic Loaders
  • Emotion Generic Players
  • Elementary
  • Enlightenment (other apps etc.)

Q: Can I get a copy of E without having to build it?
A: Possibly. Unofficial packages are available for several platforms including:

There are no guarantees if these packages will work as expected. If you experience any problems with E or the EFL using the packages, please first refer to the packagers, not to the Enlightenment team. More information about obtaining E can be found here.

First Steps

Q: OK, I have Enlightenment installed, now what do I do?
A: Log out of your current environment, if applicable. Use your login screen options to choose Enlightenment and log in. You should be taken to your new Enlightenment environment.

Q: How do I launch apps?
A: Enlightenment uses a menu system which can be found either via a left-click on an open area of the desktop or via the Start button in the shelf - the shelf is the panel across the bottom of the screen. Apps are launched via the Applications menu item; Menu > Applications.

The Main Menu
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Applications can also be launched via the Everything module, which can be displayed using the alt+esc keyboard combination. More information about menus and submenus can be found here.

Q: How do I view my files?
A: Enlightenment ships with a built-in file manager that can be launched from the main menu; Menu > Navigation > desired target.

Q: How do I view open windows?
A: Enlightenment keep a list of all open windows, regardless of window state. This list can be viewed using the main menu; Menu > Windows.


Q: How do I configure the environment?
A: Configuring E is done in the Settings menu. Click on any open area of the desktop to display the main menu and choose Settings > Settings Panel. The Settings Panel is laid out in categories. The categories reside in a horizontal strip at the top of the window with sub-items visible in each category.

The Settings Panel, viewing the Look category
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Q: How do I change the desktop wallpaper, theme or font?
A: Aesthetic-related items, such as wallpaper, themes, colors, fonts, borders, etc. can be managed from the Look category in the Settings Panel; Menu > Settings > Settings Panel.

Q: Can I configure certain apps to launch when E launches?
A: Yes. Enlightenment supports startup applications and these can be configured via the Settings Panel; Menu > Settings > Settings Panel. Once in the Settings Panel, browse to the Apps category and click the Startup Applications menu item.


Q: What are shelves?
A: Shelves are similar to panels in the gnome or KDE desktop environments and their primary purpose is to display gadgets. Shelves can be managed in the Shelf Settings window available from the main menu; Menu > Settings > Shelves. More information about Shelves can be found here.

A custom shelf
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Q: What are gadgets?
A: Gadgets are modules that serve a particular purpose, such as taskbar, start menu, etc. The shelf at the bottom of the screen holds a number of gadgets. More information about gadgets can be found here.

Q: How do I rearrange the items in the shelf?
A: Right-click anywhere on the shelf and choose Begin Moving Gadgets from the resulting popup menu. You'll notice an outline around each gadget. Left-click on a gadget to move it to the right or left. When you're satisfied with the layout, right-click on the shelf again and choose Stop Moving Gadgets from the resulting popup menu.

Q: What is the iBar gadget for?
A: The iBar gadget serves as a place to hold shortcuts for your favorite apps. Adding apps to the iBar is a nice way to reduce mouse clicks when working. More information about the iBar gadget can be found here.

Q: What is the iBox gadget for?
A: The iBox gadget serves as a place to display icons for minimized windows. More information about the iBox gadget can be found here.

Q: Does Enlightenment provide a system tray?
A: Yes, but this module needs to be loaded before you can add it to the shelf. To load the systray module, open the main menu and go to Menu > Settings > Modules. Once in the Module Settings window, you'll find the systray item in the Utilities category. Click the systray item so that the blue light to the left illuminates, then click the Load button below the item list. Once the systray module is loaded it can be added to the shelf just like any other gadget. Keep in mind that only one systray gadget can be in use at a time, thus it isn't possible to add a systray gadget to more than one shelf.

Using Enlightenment

Q: What is Everything?
A: The Everything module is a plugin-based module that offers a broad number of tasks to perform, from running applications, directory browsing, managing music playlists, indexed file searching to browsing content from youtube. The default key to launch everything is alt+escape. To configure Everything, run it and type 'ev co', the first item should be 'everything configuration'. More information about Everything can be found here.

Some of the information contained in this document was used, with permission, from the Bodhi Guide to Enlightenment.

Last Author
Last Edited
Feb 26 2014, 12:48 AM