Because FLOSS is handy, isn’t it?

Xfce vs. Enlightenment?

Posted by isilanes on June 18, 2006

I have to say I am very fond of trying different Destop Environments and Window Managers, always looking for the “perfect” one.

So far I have given long trial periods to both KDE and GNOME, with KDE as a clear winner for me. Mind you, my impressions are back from some months (years?) ago, because at some point in time I decided I didn’t want so much bloat all around, and decided to dump KDE for a lighter DE.

After trying Fluxbox, Blackbox, WindowMaker, IceWM, Enlightenment and Xfce, I settled for the latter. It is not my intention to make any fair review of all the lot, mostly because I don’t even remember why I dumped them.

What I can say is why I am so happy with Xfce: it’s light, but looks good, has most of the configuration options I want, configurable shortcuts, good window manager, pretty menus if you want them, and it’s very modular so you can start whatever service or panel or conky widget, or adesklet, or just not do it. And a killer feature, for me: the iconbox. Sounds like a stupid little thing, but it is very handy, and looks quite good.

Now, this same feature is present in Enlightenment, so no wonder why I have given it some tries occasionally, even though I always come back to Xfce. The last such try was today, and I was just this close to switch to it, but I didn’t because of a couple of details. In the end, it’s small details that make the whole difference. First, not being able to properly resize de iconbox is a drawback. You can resize it, but if you use system icons for the minimized windows, they just don’t change size. Second, only the minimized windows appear in Enlightenment’s iconbox. Maybe one can change it, but for the life of me, I have not been able to find out how. With Xfce, it’s a breeze to make all icons, or just the minimized ones, appear in the iconbox. However, I have to admit that Enlightenment’s iconbox looks cooler :^) Third, alt-tabbing (after setting the shortcut, because it wasn’t default) only switches non-minimized windows. How lame is that! I want my good old all-window switching from Xfce!

There are also other details, like the stupid bar on the top side of the screen… the use of which I am still looking for (and how to get rid of it), and the fact that when selecting a theme, it affects both the “desktop” (menus, panels, fonts) and the “window manager” (window decorations, borders). With Xfce you can differentiate both! Sounds like another shallow rant, but actually some themes have better fonts for menus, but rather ugly window decorations, and vice versa, which makes it more difficult to find a good theme, because it has to have everything OK at the same time.

Fair is fair, and I have to admit that Enlightenment has also some nifty things, like the cool effects when minimizing, maximizing and creating windows, the fact that you can make the iconbox 100% transparent, being able to remove/change the window decorations… but they just don’t cut it.

I might come up with more tries and comments in the future. For now, I’ll just keep my beloved Xfce, at least until the incredibly long due Enligtenment 17 comes out, which could level the field.


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