Posted by: reformedmusings | September 15, 2008

Test Driving OpenGEU Enlightenment 0.17 Desktop Beta

I took a quick look at the Linux Enlightenment 0.17 window manager in this post. Since then, I’ve deleted the KDE 4.1 virtual machine (VM) as there wasn’t anything more to do with it. I deleted the Ubuntu VM which had Enlightenment window manager installed over it as well. I created a new VM that had Kubuntu 8.04.1 (KDE 3.5.9) and then installed OpenGEU over it. I was hoping that the menu system would somehow miraculously account for all the applications in a way that it did not with KDE 4.1, but no such luck. The bulk of the KDE applications ended up under a Debian submenu again and were very difficult to find and use, plus their icons don’t always show up in menus. I guess that the bottom line is that OpenGEU is best installed over Gnome, then add the KDE apps you want later. That’s disappointing to me because I don’t care for Gnome or most Gnome apps

Since there’s a new beta out, I decided to start from scratch again and downloaded the OpenGEU 8.04.1 Luna Crescente beta iso from Linux-live-cd.org. This provided a clean install with the Gnome base that OpenGEU prefers. The Live CD booted effortlessly and looked great:

OpenGEU Live CD loaded

OpenGEU Live CD loaded

After installing the CD, the new beta has a more attractive login screen, which presents the available options to the user up front rather than stuffing them into a menu:

OpenGEU login screen

OpenGEU login screen

This makes the system more accessible to a new user. It also looks great, although the huge whitespace on the user list side needs some attention.

The OpenGEU desktop’s beauty and artful function continues to delight me. It amazes me how the multitude of effects requires so little processing power. The themes bring out a vibrant spirit. You’ve seen the MurrinaSunshine theme above, noting that the sun “shines” periodically. Here’s the MurrinaMoonshine theme:

MurriaMoon Theme

MurrinaMoon Theme

The Moonshine theme presents a much darker background for those who prefer that. Several of the stars twinkle, by the way. Again, the backgrounds of all OpenGEU themes provide appropriate animation. All the tools and menus also use animation. OpenGEU offers an icon in the bottom tool shelf to quickly change themes and desktop effects. This includes nice fading and transparency:

Transparency and fading in OpenGEU desktop effects

Transparency and fading in OpenGEU desktop effects

The excellent artwork provides an easy-on-the-eyes experience while the animations and desktop effects keep things interesting. This provides OpenGEU desktop’s greatest strength and primary draw, offering a powerful visual experience. And remember, it does all this on ordinary hardware without using compositing.

Keeping in mind that this is a beta version that improves on at least a weekly basis, I have developed further thoughts after using it for a while.

One cosmetic issue involves installing KDE apps. I installed Krusader, my favorite file manager, and KSnapShot into the system. Both worked fine, but Krusader’s icon doesn’t appear in menus or shelves. Here’s a shot of the bottom shelf, with the blank spot next to Firefox’s icon occupied by Krusader:

Toolbar gap where Krusader's icon should be

Toolbar gap where Krusader

Note that KSnapShot’s icon appears normally on the other side of the gap. I’ve run Krusader in Gnome before and its icon shows up fine. Other KDE apps have the same problem in OpenGEU, but not all.

In my opinion, OpenGEU makes some compromises in function in favor of aethetics. The running application selection provides most prominent example. Ubuntu and Kubuntu both have “task bars” where open applications may be quickly selected, particularly handy when performing tasks requiring multiple applications–like blogging. One-click access across desktops saves effort.

OpenGEU, on the other hand, provides two quick ways to switch between applications. Both require at least two clicks and aren’t exactly point-and-click. One comes from a tool on the bottom shelf. Clicking on the tool provides a pop-up list of available running applications:

Pop-up of running applications across desktops

Pop-up of running applications across desktops

Another way uses the default mouse programming. Clicking the middle button/wheel also brings up a list of running programs. Like any desktop system, you need to be over the desktop backgound when you center-click. While these techniques work, I found them more awkward than a simple task bar that always visible and ready. YMMV.

OpenGEU has some significant improvements over basic Gnome. Perhaps the greatest involves its excellent settings center:

OpenGEU configuration center

OpenGEU configuration center

Here you can do almost everything to customize OpenGEU’s appearance and operation. I say almost because they located the theme changes and desktop effects in a separate dialog. I would rather see them all combined in the configuration center. Regardless, OpenGEU has done an excellent job with this feature. Also note the shadow around the window.

In general, OpenGEU differs significantly in operation from both Gnome and KDE. I would say that it’s better than Gnome but not as good as KDE in some areas. I have not found it difficult to learn at all, but I do not find it as efficient as KDE in perfoming every-day tasks. Part of the challenge could be that I don’t use it all the time. But on the other hand it takes more “clicks” to get things done. This includes the menu system, although KDE 4 is going down the road to menu hell as well. Yet on another side, the tool shelves are great, including many of the tools. I love the animated iBox with scrolling application icons, which puts your most-used apps at your fingertips without taking up a lot of room.

I’m not ready to give up the KDE desktop’s efficiency or excellent applications, but I’m get closer with every improvement. The artistry behind OpenGEU grows on you…

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Responses

  1. Hallo, thanks for the reports on the problems with the KDE menu and apps, we’ll see what can we do about it!
    As for the taskbar, I prefer it that way but you can always load the taskbar or itask modules! Please create a new shelf, put it on the top of the screen (maybe) and load into it only the taskbar or the itask module. Plus, have this shelf be autoresized if you prefer. You’ll end up with a common taskbar 🙂
    Please do and then tell me here what d’you think about it! As for the themes manager, you know that you can find it in the main configuration manager too, right?

  2. Hallo DM,

    First, thank you for your outstanding work. I find your artistry and design inspiring.

    I tried your suggestion and will write a new post on some of the things that I learned. I set the iTask tool up to display in the classic manner with icons only, which is exactly what I like. I don’t believe that can be done in the KDE 3.5.x taskbar, but I wish that it could. I also set iTask to autoresize, then put it in the lower left corner as a small shelf. Perfect!

    There is still a problem with some icons not showing either on the iBar, iTask, or the menus. Although I first discovered this with Krusader, I also find it true for Softmaker Office. These programs do not put icons in the /usr/share/icons/ directories, but KDE has no trouble showing them. I’m guessing that they are in the program executable itself. I hope that you can pick them up in OpenGEU as well.

    I still encounter stability issues where OpenGEU locks up tight if I visit the same shelf’s configuration dialog too many times. I don’t know if it’s related to the number of times I configure the same shelf, or something in the shelves themselves. It doesn’t seem to be related to a particular gadget. This is less of an issue in the beta than it was in the alpha, but it’s still an issue.

    Lastly, I’m very in love with the compiz-fusion cube effect when changing desktops. Although I like the animations in OpenGEU, is there a way to implements an option so that the display “flips” when changing desktops rather than “slides” as it is now? This would be a nice simulation of the cube without needing the entire cube itself.

    Thank you for taking the time to visit here and help me with my test setup. iTask is now a permanent feature in that setup. I continue to appreciate the great work that you and your team are doing for the community.

  3. DM – OK, I’ve posted an update along with another suggestion or two. I look forward to your thoughts if you have the time.

  4. Thanks for the compliments and thanks again to you for the great input 🙂
    As for the icons, we’re looking into it. As for stability, sorry, I answered you in the other post, E17 is such a damned beta thing to play with 🙂
    As for the cube, E17 focuses on 2D effects to have people enjoy eye candy on ANY KIND of computer even those with no 3D card.. that’s why you don’t have a rotating cube. But, hey, we care about users and we are working on a cooooool toy… google for Echomorph… 😉

  5. Also, did you ever try pressing ctrl+G? I suggest you to try it after enabling xcompmgr from the OpenGEU themes manager, desktop effects 😉

  6. Hi DM,

    I did just try ctrl-G. It appears to offer up all the gadgets? I had some trouble getting rid of the small calendar at first. The small calendar window remained persistent across all desktops when I exited that display. (I took a screenshot if you want it.) I had to use ctrl-G again and click several times on the date gadget, then exit that display before the small calendar would go away.

    Is there a keyboard shortcut to bring up all the running applications?

  7. […] the Enlightenment 0.17 (also known as e17) in a virtual machine. You can read those posts here, here, and here. The major drawback for me is that the OpenGEU desktop is based on Gnome, and installing […]

  8. […] the Enlightenment library upon which it is based. I’ve previously written about Enlightenment here, here, here and others. I have been favorably impressed with the efforts thus […]

  9. […] explained the shelf at the bottom of the desktop in this post. The difference here is that the earlier bugs are gone and the shelf seems to work as advertised. […]


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