April 15, 2007

The Way to Enlightenment [Part III]

Posted in Linux at 12:37 pm by pmatos

As you may remember, more than a month ago I changed from KDE to E16 and posted two parts of this tutorial series. Now, it’s time to end it. Not only because it’s on my stack for too long but also because Catarina, my girlfriend, asked me for them.

In this part I’ll guide you through the configuration of E16 itself and some side-apps that’ll improve your user experience.

E16 Config

Basically, once you start E16 you indeed, have a very basic setting. Let’s get it working. I’ll go through all the options in the configuration windows in E16. Set everything up to your taste.

By clicking on the background with your right mouse button you’ll get which is the basic menu with all the settings. The first option “Enlightenment Settings” is just a window that opens all the others without too much clutter. Anyhow, in this tutorial is simpler for me to go through all the option windows, one by one. Moreover, this first option is quite recent so you may not have it in your E16 version.
Now, I’ll go through the most important options. E16 has a huge number of options. Most of which are better explained if tried. So my opinion is that no matter what I say here, try them yourself.

Focus Settings

The first three options determine how your windows get the focus as you move the mouse pointer along. If you’re a windows user, you’re used to the third one. Windows get focus only when you click them. The other options are very nice and easy to get used to. The first option “Focus follows pointer” means that the focus will change as you move the mouse, i.e. the current focus is on the window where the pointer is. If the pointer is on the desktop background, no window has focus. The following option is like the first except that the focus will not get lost if you move the pointer to the desktop background, basically is the pointer is on the desktop background, the focus is on the last window with focus.The tick box “Clicking in a window always raises it”, when on, means the obvious. What you might ask is: “Why is this option interesting?” Well, simple, guess you have window A over window B and you click on B. Do you want B to come on top of A just because you clicked it? Your choice regarding this option depends on your answer. The next set of tick boxes might seem confusing but the main idea is when to you want windows to raise, i.e., windows to get on top of others. If you just don’t know… leave them as is and you can then come back if you don’t like the current settings. On to the next settings, the focus list is shown with Alt+Tab if you want it to be displayed, it’s really just a list, nothing fancy. On to some concepts, sticky windows are windows that are on all virtual desktops. You can make a window sticky by clicking with your right mouse button on the window bar and click “Stick/Unstick”. A shaded windows is a window which is not visible except the bar. To shade a window click on its bar with the middle mouse button or click again on the window bar with right mouse button and then “Shade/Unshade”. The next set of options has to do with, how do you want E16 to select the icon which shows up on the focus list, if any. Quite straightforward.

Move & Resize Settings

This sets how do you want windows to be handled while moving or resizing them. The first left set of radio buttons defines how do you want to see the windows while moving them: a snapshot of the window as when you started moving, a technical description of the move (useful for debugging), just the box encircling the window, as a shaded rectangle, as a semi solid rectangle, or translucent? On the resize methods you have mostly the same options. Regarding the geometry info position, usually it’s uninteresting for the user, so you can just select “Don’t show” or you can ask it to be in the screen corner or window center. Now, as two final options you can choose the window to be updated while moving it and you can ask to synch the move/resize with the application (both, I think, CPU intensive, in the sense that more CPU will be used if they are selected).

Window Placement Settings

This dialog is mostly about some eye candy (Slide options) and pratical issues of window placement which I think are self explanatory through the window labels.

Desktop Background Settings

The desktop background settings allow you to setup the background. However, you can only setup a given background if the background file is found in ~/.e16/backgrounds. So, move your background files there and then use this dialog to set it up.

Session SettingsNow, you surely want to start some programs when you enter E16. The best way is to enable the session script here and add the respective session script to its correct folder. The Init scripts which should be put in ~/.e16/Init are ran when E16 initiates (i.e., when it starts up, but not from a restart). The Start scripts which go to ~/.e16/Start are ran when E16 starts up from a restart or not (you can restart E16 by Middle Mouse Button -> Restart Enlightenment). The Stop scripts are to be ran when you stop/exit E16. So, for example, my scripts found in ~/e16/Init/start-apps.sh (and made executable):

$ cat .e16/Init/start-apps.sh
#! /bin/bash
# Program Startup

# Starting GKrellm2
gkrellm2 &

# Starting adesklets
nice -n 15 adesklets &

# Starting Xscreensaver
xscreensaver &

# Starting GAIM
gaim &

This bash script starts gkrellm2, adesklets (with low priority), xscreensaver and gaim!

This some of the most important options, you can also configure the iconbox (place where minimized apps go to) and the pager (place where you can see your set of virtual desktops).

System Tray

systray.pngTo add a system tray (this is a FAQ) just do Middle Mouse Button (on desktop) -> Desktop -> Create systray. And that’s it. You can also configure it.
aDesklets and Yab

We already installed adesklets and yab and have registered yab so it must be on your desktop by now, and if you followed the above session settings instructions you’ll have it started with E16 also. Now, how can you configure it? Not that easy but you’ll get used to it. With the right mouse button you can select configure and you’ll get into an editor (probably nano in Gentoo) and directly configure the file. There are some option description there which you should read. By using PageDown you’ll reach the options:

'caption_above': True

Use this if you want the bar to be on the bottom, so that the caption shows up above. The value False, makes the caption appear on the bottom of the menu.

'icon_max_height': 128,
'icon_max_width': 128,
'icon_maximize_threshold': 0.90000000000000002,
'icon_min_height': 48,
'icon_min_width': 48,
'icon_spacing': 5,

I don’t advise you to play with maximize_threshold. I don’t this it’ll be very good. Leave it as is. The max/min width and height should be the same as most icons are usually square. Moreover, the max should not be bigger than 128 if you wish quality icons since there aren’t many SVG icons nowadays (most are bitmaps which look terrible when stretched. Usually you have 24, 48, 64, 96 and 128 icons so use those numbers.

To configure the buttons in the bar use:
'icons': [('skype.png', 'Skype', 'skype'),
('amarok.png', 'AmaroK', 'amarok'),
('rosegarden.png', 'Rosegarden', 'rosegarden'),
('gimp.png', 'Gimp', 'gimp')]}

Just add lines like (‘x’, ‘y’, ‘z’) where x is icon filename, y is caption, and z is the program to start when you click it.
If you use simple file names they are relative to the icons/ subfolder of yab. You can however use absolute paths as noted in the config file:

You may specify here, for each yab instance you use,
what icons should be loaded (stored under `icons/’ by default,
but absolute path names are also valid), what commands they should trigger,
what the captions should be, what font to use, how generating effects,

Exit the file by doing Ctrl-X (if you’re in nano) and then confirm the save by answering the questions.



  1. sylvainulg said,

    neat. I hadn’t noticed the system tray add-on until Lucid Lynx.
    Did you observe anything weird when setting “move method” to “translucent” ?

  2. G C Young said,

    If you put “exec xfce4-panel &” with transparent background into Init then some useful program running icons can be put onscreen. I have run e16 like this with a mongrel list of programs for some time.

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