Enlightenment (software)

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Original author(s)Carsten Haitzler
Developer(s)Enlightenment development team
Initial release1997; 26 years ago (1997)
Stable release
0.25.4[1] Edit this on Wikidata / 15 September 2022
Written inC (EFL)
Operating systemUnix-like

Enlightenment, also known simply as E, is a compositing window manager for the X Window System. Since version 20, Enlightenment is also a Wayland compositor.[3] Enlightenment developers have referred to it as "the original eye-candy window manager."[4]

Enlightenment includes functions to provide a graphical shell and can be used in conjunction with programs written for GNOME or KDE. When used together with the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL), Enlightenment can refer to an entire desktop environment.[5]


The first version of Enlightenment was released by Rasterman (Carsten Haitzler) in 1997.[6]

Version 0.17, also referred to as E17, was in development for 12 years starting in December 2000[7] until 21 December 2012 when it was officially released as stable.[8] During the development period it was also referred to as DR17 (Development Release 17). It is a complete rewrite on DR16 and was designed to be a full-fledged desktop shell, based on the new Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL).

E16 itself is still in active development that runs independently of E17, reaching the 1.0 milestone in 2009 (1.0.27 as of 2023).[9]

Bodhi Linux was built around the Enlightenment 17 desktop, but forked it to create the Moksha desktop. Elive Linux also used a fork of E17 as its main desktop environment until 2019, when the 3.7 series was released.

The current version is E25.[10]

Version history[edit]


E16 provides features that you don't even see in many "advanced" desktop environments to this day. It allows the user to create a grid of workspaces known as "virtual desktops". Switching between them is achieved by hurling the mouse cursor to the edge of the screen, after which the desktop appears to slide across to reveal the next. All the desktops are connected, meaning that if a window is too big for the screen size you can go to the adjacent desktops to find the rest of it. You can have up to 8 by 8 desktops in a single grid, and up to 32 grids are possible (each can have a different background), making 2048 possible workspaces. Users can enable a sort of "map" of the desktops, called the pager, in case they get lost. It also provided the ability to put windows in groups (so they can be removed, resized, closed, etc all together), "iconification" which is similar to minimizing but are stored in "iconboxes" that can be moved, the ability to change the type of or remove completely the borders and title bars, advanced keybinding settings to allow use of Enlightenment solely with a keyboard (e16keyedit is a GUI program simplifying this process), a scriptable command-line interface that works with most if not all of E's features, and (with newer versions) a compositor with effects such as fading and transparency,

One of the aims of the window manager is to be as configurable as possible, and to this end, it includes customization dialogs for focus settings, window movement, resizing, grouping and placement settings, audio, multiple desktop, desktop background, pager, tooltip and autoraise settings. It also includes a special effects dialog, with two effects, one of which being a desktop 'ripple' effect.[11]


DR17 with former default theme Bling-bling. The theme was superseded by Black and White

E17 is fully themeable with both a menu-based and command-line theme-changing interface. It boasts a built-in file manager, adds icons to the desktop (for example, anything in the user's Desktop folder will show up), and a virtual desktop grid feature similar to that of E16. It also has a modular design, enabling it to load external modules. Examples of available modules are the Pager, the iBar (a sort of taskbar), an iBox holding minimized applications, a dock, a compositor, and more. E17 also adds one or more shelves to manage gadget placement and appearance. Animated and interactive desktop backgrounds, menu items, iBar items, and desktop widgets are also possible, as are window shading, iconification, maximizing, sticky settings, customizable key bindings, internationalization, and a screenshot menu. Finally, E17 conforms to all needed standards (NetWM, ICCCM, XDG, and so on).

E17's data files (such as configurations and themes), unlike E16 (which uses JSON) are in a binary format, making them significantly faster than their JSON counterparts.[12]


  • Greatly improved Wayland support
  • New gadget infrastructure
  • Wizard improvements
  • Video backgrounds[13]


  • Greatly improved Wayland support
  • Improvements to new gadget infrastructure
  • Added a sudo/ssh askpass utility GUI
  • Meson build system
  • Tiling policy improvements
  • Integrated per-window volume controls[14]


  • New padded screenshot option
  • Meson build now is the build system
  • Music Control now supports rage MPRIS dbus protocol
  • Add Bluez5 support with totally new and redone module and gadget
  • Add dpms option to turn it off or on
  • Alt-tab window switcher allows moving of windows while alt-tabbing
  • Many bug fixes, compile warning fixes, etc.
  • Massive improvements to Wayland support[15]


  • New and improved shot module with editor and cropper
  • Reduced number of setuid tools (merged many into single system tool)
  • External monitor backlight and brightness controls via (lib)ddctil
  • Improved resolution of EFM thumbnails to 256×256 by default
  • New and improved crash handling guru meditation
  • Restarts are now seamless with fade in and out and zero glitches
  • Wallpaper import generates multiple resolutions for better efficiency
  • Regularly malloc_trim if available to keep mem down
  • All restarts are now handled by enlightenment_start, not e itself
  • Enforce pointer lock to screen in X to stop pointer out-of-bounds
  • Pager plain is gone - use the regular “miniature preview” pager
  • Music control auto-runs your selected media player if not there
  • Handle exception for steam games to find the right desktop file
  • Polkit auth agent support as new core module - no extra daemons
  • Drop comp fast effects - Should be edje transition factor + theme tags
  • Easier config of specific desktop wallpaper straight from pager
  • Startup should be smoother with IO prefetch thread
  • New special blanking timeout for when locked that can be shorter
  • Bluez4 gone now as Bluez5 is done and working fine
  • Down to zero outstanding coverity issues
  • The usual batches of bug fixes and minor improvements[16]

Release history[edit]

Important releases
Version Code name Release date Notes
pre-alpha Enlightenment Alpha1 October 1996[17]
0.13.2 DR13 18 January 1998[18]
0.14.0 DR14 18 July 1998[19][20][21]
0.15.0 DR15 12 March 1999[22]
0.16 DR16 27 October 1999[23] Still maintained as of 2022. Preferred by many people, especially as a "retro" desktop.[24]
0.17 DR17 21 December 2012[25] Major rewrite version. Was forked to create the Moksha desktop.
0.18 DR18 22 December 2013[26]
0.19 DR19 15 September 2014[27]
0.20 DR20 1 December 2015[28]
0.21 DR21 1 June 2016[29]
0.22 DR22 22 November 2017[30]
0.23 DR 0.23 24 August 2019[31]
0.24 DR 0.24 17 May 2020[32]
0.25 DR 0.25 16 December 2021[33][34] Current release.

Legacy sources


  • Carsten "Rasterman" Haitzler: lead developer
  • Kim "kwo" Woelders: E16 maintainer
  • Hisham "CodeWarrior" Mardam Bey
  • Christopher "devilhorns" Michael
  • Mike "zmike" Blumenkrantz
  • Geoff "Mandrake" Harrison

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Enlightenment 0.25.4 Release". 15 September 2022.
  2. ^ "COPYING - core/enlightenment.git".
  3. ^ "Enlightenment DR 0.20.0 Release". Enlightenment.org. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  4. ^ Keith Packard, Deron Johnson (3 July 2007). "Composite Extension".
  5. ^ "Portal:Enlightenment". en.opensuse.org. 2012-12-21. Archived from the original on 2018-02-12. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
  6. ^ "Enlightenment DR16". Enlightenment.
  7. ^ Geisler, Martin (9 December 2000). "E17 has been committed to CVS". Martin Geisler Online.
  8. ^ Blumenkrantz, Mike. "E17 Release: ZERO". Enlightenment.org. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Enlightenment E16". Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  10. ^ "News". www.enlightenment.org. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  11. ^ "Enlightenment E16". www.enlightenment.org. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  12. ^ "Enlightenment E17 - A Detailed Look". Linux.com. 23 August 2005. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  13. ^ "Enlightenment DR 0.21.0 Release". www.enlightenment.org. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  14. ^ "Enlightenment DR 0.22.0 Release". www.enlightenment.org. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  15. ^ "Enlightenment DR 0.23.0 Release". www.enlightenment.org. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  16. ^ "Enlightenment DR 0.24.0 Release". www.enlightenment.org. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  17. ^ "enlightenment-1.0alpha-1.i386.rpm". CDrom Archive.
  18. ^ "New E Already Released". Slashdot News.
  19. ^ "Enlightenment 0.14 release". Slashdot.
  20. ^ "E news" at the Wayback Machine (archived 1999-04-28)
  21. ^ "Official Word on Enlightenment DR14". Slashdot.
  22. ^ "Enlightenment 0.15". Slashdot.
  23. ^ "E news" at the Wayback Machine (archived 2000-03-04)
  24. ^ "Enlightenment E16". www.enlightenment.org. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  25. ^ "After 12 years of Development, E17 Is Out". Slashdot.
  26. ^ "Enlightenment DR 0.18: Improved Compositing, Wayland Support". slashdot.
  27. ^ "v0.19.0". git release.
  28. ^ "Enlightenment E20 Released With Full Wayland Support". slashdot.
  29. ^ "v0.21.0". git release.
  30. ^ "v0.22.0". git release.
  31. ^ "v0.23.0". git release.
  32. ^ "v0.24.0". git release.
  33. ^ "Enlightenment 0.25.0 Release". 16 December 2021. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  34. ^ "v0.25.0". git release.

External links[edit]