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Call for Questions: Rasterman, Founder of the Enlightenment Project 124

Since before all other interfaces, Enlightenment has been making computers look and feel like they're from the future. On December 21, the decade long effort to rewrite Enlightenment will see the first officially stable release. With e17 a few days away, project founder and master of X11 graphics hacking Carsten Haitzler (the Rasterman) has agreed to answer your questions. Ask as many questions as you like, but only one per post please.
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Call for Questions: Rasterman, Founder of the Enlightenment Project

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    What keeps you motivated? You had a long release cycle, a few dubious quality releases, all the while an abysmally small fraction of linux machines actually run your software.

  • Who cares? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Enlightenment is always "about" to achieve something great but it never quite manages to actually do it. Why should I care about a point release of a WM that will probably be obsolete by the time its finished?

    • by tgd ( 2822 )

      I thought it was pretty damn cool ... back in 1998.

      Its interesting there's still cycles being spent on it. Good for them.

      • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Informative)

        by SourceFrog ( 627014 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @02:54PM (#42316157)
        Enlightenment was way ahead of almost anything else for quite a long time ... back in the 90's it was exceptional ... many of the desktops based on it were beautiful, works of art, better than most desktops of today from any OS. That was a time when Apple was something everyone called "dead" and the best from MS was that kludgy Win95 thing ... Enlightenment seemed to me like something that should have made a much bigger impact than it did, I'm not sure if it's because it seemed to permanently stay in alpha or something.
        • Given that E's niche was on the bleeding edge anyway, it's a mystery to me why they felt the need to wait until everything was ready to do a release, and then pushing everything out in one fell swoop. You wait that long, the technical ground beneath your feet keeps changing, that you're constantly rewriting code just to keep up (a bit like painting the Golden Gate Bridge -- by the time they're done painting the bridge, it's time to start again from the beginning).

        • by smash ( 1351 )
          Problem is, "pretty" doesn't make a usable desktop for getting work done.
          • by deek ( 22697 )

            The good news is that E17 is not only pretty, it is very configurable. Which means, it can be very usable, or extremely tough, to use. It all depends on how its configured. Every keystroke, every mouse click (and mouse/key combos), even the behaviour when you move the mouse to the edge of the screen, it can all be tweaked to behave in a large variety of ways. I maintain that E17 is one of the nicest WM systems to use, especially if you prefer to use the keyboard for most actions. That makes it better f

          • Neither does "ugly". It's a bit silly to presume aesthetics and functionality are mutually exclusive.
      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        At work I'm still using the same e16 theme I was using in 1998 (Ganymede).
    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      Enlightenment / EFL is the window manager widget set for Tizen. Its likely to end up in a 100m+ devices.

    • I used .15 and .16 for quite a long time. Both were very stable and beautiful and worked very well.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Are you really a Rasterferian or a covert Vectoritron?

  • Can we get a 10 FOOT UI? After setting up my first HTPC last week I'm really surprised no one has a 10 FOOT UI desktop. Yah KDE has the Notebook Plasma but its just not good.

  • Design philosophy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Camaro ( 13996 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @02:48PM (#42316081)

    As a longtime Enlightenment user (since 0.9 I think!) I have seen a lot of changes to it's look and feel over the years. Has your design philosphy changed over time or is it more a matter of changes in technology?

  • by Loco3KGT ( 141999 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @02:48PM (#42316085)

    but my calendar doesn't say the April 1 yet, what gives?

    In all seriousness, you've been working on e17 since you were what? 25? How did you go from "I want to make a window manager" to "Everyone is doing this horribly wrong and I'm tired of being everyone" at that age?

    • but my calendar doesn't say the April 1 yet, what gives?

      No, look at the press-release carefully; it says that E will be released Dec 21st, 2012

      They're just hoping the world ends before users are disappointed. That way they can go out on a high note.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What can you say about e17 File Manager, one of the most undervalued assets of having a GUI?

  • The Future (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @02:54PM (#42316163)

    When KDE made their big transition from 3->4, most of the followup releases were on stability and minor improvements on the paradigm.

    With E17, it seems that the amount of time taken was to ensure that the 'final' release of E17 would be bug free.

    Assuming that E17 release is stable and solid, where do you see the enlightenment project going from here?

  • Tizen and EFL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @02:55PM (#42316169)

    Your work at Samsung involves making EFL a great library for designing touch-based interfaces for use in a future Linux-based smartphone platform, presumably Tizen. But every time I've heard about Tizen in the press Samsung has made a big deal about HTML5 being the development platform. How do these two development platforms play together? Also can you provide any information about when we can expect to see the first Tizen phones hitting the US?

  • Usability vs beauty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @02:57PM (#42316193)

    Your thoughts on usability vs beauty... Must they always be opposed?

  • by polyp2000 ( 444682 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @02:58PM (#42316201) Homepage Journal

    Back when i first heard about enlightenment - late 90's early 00's it was totally the best looking Window Manager / UI around.
    I've just checked out some screenshots from e17 and I can help but think it looks really dated. Enlightenment used to stand out from the crowd
    but now it seems to lag behind in this department.

    What will you be doing to ensure that the new Enlightenment will once again showcase how slick and awesome a Desktop UI can look?


    • Enlightenment was always best when used with a user-developed theme -- E was the ultimate theme-able WM before themes were really a "thing". The "default" themes were best considered examples of what you could do.

      So assuming E17 didn't ditch the #1 best part of E, then the answer is -- as soon as someone makes a theme for it that matches your aesthetic sensibilities.

      • Agreed completely. I had a half dozen themes I really loved in DR15/16 back when existed that made my desktop look incredible.

        Also, Eterm.

  • Wayland? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @02:59PM (#42316219)

    As one of the few non-minimal DE projects out there, what do you guys think of Wayland? From a leader's standpoint, is it relevant? From a designer standpoint, are you looking forward to working with a newer API? From a user standpoint, do you think it will be better enough than X to be justified?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How does Enlightenment relate to the Wayland replacement for x11?

    • It doesn't?

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      Wayland window manager are built in. Most of the Enlightenment code couldn't be used. On the other hand the EFL probably could be ported.

  • KDE (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Seeteufel ( 1736784 )
    Do you like KDE?
  • by LinuxGeek ( 6139 ) * <djand DOT nc AT gmail DOT com> on Monday December 17, 2012 @03:03PM (#42316261)

    How difficult has it been to keep working on the Enlightenment environment all this time and has the opensource community been supportive?

  • Does the enlightenment project have any plans for moving away from X11 and towards Wayland in the future? While X11 will certainly stick around for quite a while, the popularity of portable touchscreen devices and the development of KMS makes it look X11 is on its way out.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    no question but a compliment. You always made very fast and useable libraries, thanks.

  • by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @03:14PM (#42316367)

    I thought that the conventional wisdom in Open Source, was to engage users and coders by releasing early, and releasing often.

    Given that software never really is ever "done"; please enlighten us (cough) about the thinking behind waiting so long to do a stable release. Was this a calculated risk, given the risk for erstwhile E fans to simply lose interest?

    • by Xtifr ( 1323 )

      I think I can field this one. E17 was developed openly. Some people have been using it for years. The stable release is simply that--it's now considered feature-complete and solid enough to be a 1.0 release instead of a 0.x release.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First off, congratulations on getting Enlightenment (nearly) out ! In this dark times of Gnome, KDE and Unity horrors, E17 and the EFL look like divine intervention :D

    What I was wondering is, to what extent has Samsung involvement changed the project if at all ?

    What can EFL offer me as a cross platform GUI-centric developer ? Is Android supported ? What about iOS \ iPhone ? I remember seeing some early attempts at getting the GUI tool kit - Elementary was it ? - to play nice under Windows. Was the w32 path

  • Meh? (Score:1, Funny)

    by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 )

    After looking at the screenshots [], I don't understand what the fuss is all about. If that's supposed to represent the future I need to remind you that we're in 2012.

    From the screenshots, I'd say it looks a bit better than Windows 98, but not any better than current GUIs from all three major operating systems.

  • by undeadbill ( 2490070 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @03:28PM (#42316477)

    I've noted that while Enlightenment is BSD licensed, but some of the foundational libraries are licensed under *various* versions of the GPL. What gives? This would be confusing to most people who are looking to repackage E for use on various devices. Is there going to be a resolution for the licensing mess, or will development continue with multiple licenses that have to be negotiated by vendors and others interested in using this with their products? The issue isn't free beer vs free speech, the issue is how does one decide which license takes greatest precedence. Is the project going to go forward as GPLv3, v2, v1, or 2 clause BSD, or what?

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      When GPL code is intermixed with BSD the rule is either:

      a) Treat it all like GPL
      b) Be very careful and don't be confused about what is being used where.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There is no license mess.
      The older libraries started by Rasterman and e17 are BSD 2-Clause licensed, newer libs started by other people (often working at Profusion) are LGPL-2.1 licensed.
      This is very specific, it is NO GPL, only LGPL, and only one specific LGPL version.

      So for any user of the libraries it has no impact on their code, for anyone contributing to the E libraries, you'll have to take a quick glance at the license file or documentation to determine if you're contributing under BSD-2 or LGPL-2.1.

      • My apologies, you are correct in regard to the licensing versions. I went through and downloaded all of the available packages, opened them, and found that was the case.

        My initial search was for the string "license" through Enlightenment's wiki's search tool, which brought up pretty much every GPL license version imaginable- however I did not vette my own results correctly, because items not part of their project were displaying results for GPLv3, etc.

        That still leaves open the question of whether having p

  • Share the strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by glebovitz ( 202712 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @03:37PM (#42316547) Journal

    I would like to know how you managed to convince Intel and Samsung to build yet another mobile framework on a technology that has been really difficult to use, and has a very small share of the UI framework "market?" Is it that Enlightenment is providing UIs of the future, or is everything better encumbered by their ownership or stakeholders?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I really like the way E does many things (I've been using e17 for almost 10yrs now), but was wondering if in hind-sight there are things you would rather change. E.g. perhaps sandboxing modules to prevent module issues affecting the WM generally; restarting pulseaudio will crash sound mixer module will cause E to have to restart.

  • Desktop trends (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WayToGoPhil ( 1341289 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:21PM (#42317041)
    Whats your view on the current trend of desktops to be more like their tablet/phone cousins? Do you see any features that can be brought over from either side without sacrificing usability? Also how do you feel about black turtleneck shirts?
  • by WhiteDragon ( 4556 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @04:26PM (#42317111) Homepage Journal

    When Enlightenment came out, it also included ESD, the Enlightened Sound Daemon. Window events could cause sounds, which was nice, but ESD was also a sound multiplexing and remote sound protocol that was way ahead of its time. Now, there are PulseAudio, Jack, Yiff, Phonon, etc. and many people say the whole thing's a big mess. What's your opinion on the current state of sound / mixing on Linux desktops.

  • Could you add some really creative mouse themes and fix zoom so you can use superkey scroll to zoom like on Compiz?
  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @06:28PM (#42318891) Homepage

    You've done a lot of X programming, so as a user of that API, you must have strong opinions about it. What are the worst design decisions in X11? (The toughest things to get around/fix) What are the best? (Timesavers)

  • Do you think there is any substantially new feature to be added to desktop environments? In particular, do you think the desktop environment in 20 years will be different than those of today?

  • Last year it was great seeing your presentation and getting a chance to bounce some ideas off you at FOSDEM. The 2013 schedule is still open - are you planning to go again this year and / or give a talk?
  • In the small-ish world of open-source & embedded graphics, toolkits, and SW / HW rendering implementors, there are few who have been at it as long and have such a breadth / depth of experience in so many areas as yourself.

    As someone who has done a fair bit of searching for resources on the theory and practical design of such systems, I must say, that there are few books out there that concisely describe the "how" and "why" in a design-patterns kind of way tie in with immediately relevant topics (e.g. fb

  • Is E17 giong to become a Wayland compositor at some point?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How does E17 relate to the KDE KWin Suspended Compositing? The benchmarks at indicate it's very beneficial for games. Thanks!

  • Why are you guys still using SVN, why not switch to Git?

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"