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Feature: Geubuntu

When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

By Mayank Sharma on January 04, 2008 (4:00:00 PM)

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Many Linux distributions try to be visually appealing. Some use Beryl-Compiz for cool 3-D effects on resource-laden boxes, while others turn to desktops like Enligtenment for a little bit of gloss at the expense of functionality. Geubuntu is a new distro that combines the best of those two worlds, equipping Enlightenment with bits from GNOME and Xfce on top of Ubuntu.

Geubuntu 7.10 "Luna Nuova" is only the second release of the distro, which seems to trace Ubuntu's release cycle. As the version number suggests, Geubuntu 7.10 is based on Ubuntu 7.10, from which it borrows the kernel and user conveniences like the restricted-drivers management utility.

Geubuntu is an installable live CD, but it can also be installed on top of an existing Ubuntu distro by installing specific packages from the Geubuntu mirror. Currently there's only a 32-bit ISO available. To run Geubuntu on 64-bit hardware you'll have to take the longer route of first installing a 64-bit version of Ubuntu and then getting Geubuntu packages that are compiled for 64-bit platforms.

Installing from the live CD requires about 1.5GB of disk space. The distro booted smoothly on all the computers I tried it on, including a 1.3GHz Celeron and two dual-core desktops, with a 2.0GHz E4400 and a 1.8GHz E6300. Geubuntu isn't short on applications; some of the most used apps it includes are the Firefox Web browser, Pidgin instant messenger, Eclair and VLC media players, and the GIMP image editor. To keep its requirements low, Geubuntu bundles AbiWord word processor, Gnumeric spreadsheet, Orage Calendar, and the Thunar file manager instead of more resource-intensive office suites. If you want to install more apps you can use the Synaptic package manager.

Very usable desktop

The first thing you'll notice about Geubuntu is its speed. Despite being based on Ubuntu 7.10, it runs well on older hardware like my Pentium Celeron 1.3GHz laptop. This is because Enlightenment isn't as resource-hungry as Ubuntu's default desktop environment GNOME, which Geubuntu doesn't bundle.

Geubuntu boots into the visually stunning Sunshine theme created by its artist developer. The desktop sports panels at the top and bottom of the screen. To maximize the desktop real estate, the top panel folds over the top when not in use. The bottom panel, though minimal, is fully loaded with menu and application launchers, virtual desktop switcher, and applets like clock. I like its animated marquee-style auto-scrolling list of application launchers, which prevents the panel from taking too much space.

In addition to being visually stunning, Geubuntu's Sunshine and Moonlight themes both have animated bits. Depending on the theme, a sun beam shines down from the sun or an Enlightenment logo appears on a large Moon and reflects in rippling water after regular intervals. Users can easily (and almost instantaneously) switch between the two themes at a click.

Of course this bling would be useless if it came at the price of usability. But that's what I like about Geubuntu. It's a stunning distro that's also very usable, thanks to an assortment of components. Of note are two Xfce components, the Xfce panel and the Thunar file manager. These are complemented by bits and pieces from GNOME, such as the GNOME bar and applets like the network manager and the search applet.

Watch out for bugs!

The components that make this distro usable also introduce a few noticeable bugs, since they were not designed to interact with each other. And Enlightenment is still under heavy development and has several bugs of its own. Despite bundling Thunar file manager, Geubuntu relies on Enlightenment's file manager, fm, for displaying desktop icons. However, you can't mount or unmount removable devices or browse their files using their desktop icons; for that you need to use Thunar.

Also, when running Geubuntu from the live CD, the distro doesn't log out without complaining that some task is taking too long to complete, giving you the option to either wait or continue with the logout. According to a post on the forums, it's the Xfce panel that seems to be causing this and the developers are working on a solution. Strangely, once you've installed Geubuntu to the hard drive, it logs out without complaining.

This isn't the only discrepancy between the live and installed versions of the distro. When I first installed it, the desktop didn't display the top panel. I tried logging out, restarting the computer, killing and restarting the panels, but nothing worked. But reinstalling the distro brought back the panel.

Secondly, my PCMCIA wireless card, which worked from the live CD, didn't work from the installed version. On the dual-core desktop, the distro picked up the wide-screen monitor and correctly booted into its 1440x900-pixel resolution. It failed however, to activate the wireless card, even after i installed the correct drivers via NDISwrapper. Also the splash screen that comes up while the distro boots is only visible when the distro boots from the disk. Live CD users get to stare at a blank screen during boot, which can be a little confusing for new users.

Some of the components under the Moonlight theme retain traces of the Sunshine theme, such as the semitransparent terminal window. If you run into any other errors, refer to the online documentation to check for a solution, if it's a known bug.

Conclusion

Despite being a young distro with just two releases under its belt, Geubuntu delivers a visually stunning desktop without compromising functionality. As a double benefit, the components it uses to blend functionality with bling have modest hardware requirements. This makes the distro perfectly suitable for older computers.

Built atop Ubuntu, the distro has a solid, well-tested base. Its unique mix of components from desktop environments Xfce and GNOME on top of the under-development Enlightenment environment introduces several bugs, but the developers are working to iron these out, and have already tackled several between the first two releases. I'd recommend this distro to desktop users with aging hardware, and to users who haven't tried Enlightenment before.

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.77.208.233] on January 04, 2008 10:24 PM
"Despite being a young distro with just two releases under its belt, Geubuntu delivers a visually stunning desktop without compromising functionality"
It doesn't take much to make Ubuntu look stunning since the stock look of Ubuntu has always looked like something that you expect to see coming out of a backed up toilet.

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Re: When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Ambrose on January 08, 2008 02:19 AM
dude this is juss like elbuntu its the same thing only with a few apps, and some apps u dont even use, sorry its not original to me every 1 knows enlightment is a lighter desktop manager so why not download enlightment if u already have ubuntu? and why kall it geubuntu? idk its kinda silly but ur heading in a good direction bring more to the table so people can be more attracted to it.
[Modified by: Ambrose on January 08, 2008 02:24 AM]

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 172.203.245.134] on January 05, 2008 10:27 AM
I think most of your comments are very accurate, thunar really should be used as default there are other issues concerning this distro as well on my setup using the drop down panel at the top or the screen results in 100% cpu usage and the only way to resolve this is to reboot. this all puts e17 down, I've been using my own e17 for 12 months on ubuntu and set up correctly it is the best window manager out there nothing comes close its fast stable uses very low amounts of ram under 70mb on Gutsy if set up properly and very fast boot times.

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Need to add swap

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.172.3.79] on January 05, 2008 03:07 PM
From the screenshot's 'top' output in the Terminal, it looks like you're running with no swap. In my experience, after you exhaust physical RAM (easily done with Firefox), the system will start to crawl.

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Re: Need to add swap

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.105.101.95] on January 05, 2008 04:40 PM
I agree with the no swap problem.

For some reason, my Ubuntu 7.10 setup does not turn on the swap partition by default. I have to manually turn it on.

Whenever I forgot to so 'swapon', my system basically came close to freezing while Firefox with multiple tabs running among handful of other apps open. It was basically unusable, forcing me to do a Ctrl-Alt-Backspace or hard reset.

I never experience system crawling or freezing whenever swap partition is on.

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 96.235.241.207] on January 05, 2008 08:21 PM
I used to use Enlightenment, but found it too hard to configure and use for a power user like myself. Like the article said about Gnome being bloaty, Enlightenment is, no pun intended, lighting fast as a desktop, but it's too buggy for my tastes. Another thing that I don't like is the fact that many of the configuration files are not text based, so it's very difficult to customize the way I'm used to. Although, it is very sharp looking, and it is nice to see a project expanding with Enlightenment. Perhaps it will be able to mature a little more with some support from a distribution bundling it. I wish them luck in the future.

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.234.192.212] on January 06, 2008 12:13 AM
Fluxbuntu is better.
Fluxbox is light, elegant, fast...
Running top in fluxbuntu vs. kubuntu or ubuntu, you'll see there are half as many processes running.
I tried e17, and it has some neat features, but, parts of it just don't make sense...maybe I'm too old
and set in my ways...

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 59.95.13.46] on January 06, 2008 02:58 AM
Good distro, but I just couldn't find a network configuration tool to connect to the internet.

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 59.100.64.27] on January 06, 2008 08:57 AM
"Many Linux distributions try to be visually appealing. Some use Beryl-Compiz for cool 3-D effects on resource-laden boxes,"

Actually, compiz run very nicely on my wife's 2 year old stock standard laptop (onboard Intel graphics). Has anyone actually measured the resource consumption of compiz vrs. metacity on common platforms.

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Ikipou on January 06, 2008 07:20 PM
Let's hope this distro will give to Enlightenment the visiblitiy needed to get more developpers.

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.169.118.192] on January 07, 2008 05:51 PM
I have never touched Ubuntu. I hate the name, I despise the look and the sheer (in my opinion) undeserved attention it has garnered is a real turn-off. However...I am test-driving Geubuntu as we speak and I am quite impressed considering the checkered reputation of e17 for being nearly unusable due to bugs. I find Geubuntu to be quite stable, feature-filled w/o being bloated and oh-so pretty to look at. However, I am endlessly frustrated with attempts to tailor my visual interface to suit my needs. Not only do you have the e17 configuration dialogs, you have the Gnome Appearance dialogs as well...and they don't appear to play together very well. The window borders, as far as I can tell, can only be set as one of the available e17 borders and the colors cannot be customized. (If I'm wrong, I would love for someone to instruct me!). Frankly, the e17 customization options appear to be endless....if you can figure out how to use them. I consider myself a fairly computer-savvy person and yet I'm lost when trying to tinker with my look. These problems are ironic since those who would be attracted to a distro such as Geubuntu obviously are into eye candy and easy and endless customization options are a must. So why is it so difficult to do? I would suggest a serious attempt on the developer's parts to integrate all the options into a cohesive set of dialogs. In my book, this would make Geubuntu close to perfect.

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If you've never tried it, how do you know it's undeserved?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 63.251.108.100] on January 07, 2008 08:24 PM
I'm not much of a fan of the Ubuntu theme myself (and as a former GNOME user, I also run Kubuntu rather than Ubuntu), but I have to challenge your statement - even with the IMO modifier - that the attention Ubuntu has been getting is undeserved. I've been using Linux for 10 years, having started on Red Hat 4.something, then to TurboLinux, then back to Red Hat, then to Debian, with overlapping periods of Mandrake, Gentoo, and a few others. Debian is a terrific distro, as the large number of Debian derivatives attests, however, after I tried Ubuntu + KDE packages in 2003 on my test system, I found myself moving in that direction more and more until in 2004 Kubuntu replaced Sid on my main workstation.

The fact of the matter is that the Ubuntu family is a terrific group of Linux OSes. It's not only a better alternative than Debian for most users, IMO it is also better for most users than any RH-based or Gentoo-based distro as well. As for the amount of attention it is getting, Ubuntu and its derivatives make up a rising tide that floats not only Debian, but Linux in general. Over the past three years, Linux has gotten more mainstream attention than ever before, and the two greatest reasons for that are the success of Ubuntu and relative the flop of Windows Vista. SCO's spectacular public meltdown hasn't hurt, either. With all due respect for whatever your own background and experience may be, if you haven't even used Ubuntu, you are simply and completely unqualified to say whether the large amount of attention it has received is deserved or not.

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.35.133.95] on January 08, 2008 05:35 AM
Ubuntu is a great distribution and with this distribution Geubuntu, it becomes even better. I have been using Ubuntu for almost a year now and Geubuntu since last year and I think its great. Yes, it still has some bugs to work out but what it adds to the desktop I feel is worth it.

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 83.226.191.201] on January 08, 2008 10:20 PM
I can't for the life of me understand how Enlightenment can be called a more stylish alternative to Gnome, KDE, fluxbox, or a lot of other desktop environments. I do however understand how you can call it "visually stunning" - It's so ugly it would make babies cry. Granted, Fluxbox isn't exactly stylish in its default look, but it can be customized to look extremely professional and clean. Every screenshot I have seen of Enlightenment reminds me of how programmers should never be in charge of designing the GUI. Just go to www.customize.org/browse and choose gtk, then look at the top three themes. What do they all have in common? They're very clean, professional and generally stylish. Enlightenment looks like a creation from gimptalk.org.

Do not take me for a Windows fanboy who's just jealous/plain stupid. I've been using several Linux distributions for a number of years now. I think it's great that we all can choose what desktop environment we want to use. But to call Enlightenment one of the best looking DEs out there is simply an insult to everyone who knows the first thing about design.
Both me and my wife are fairly successful graphical designers working with both digital interfaces and illustrations/artwork. I'm afraid I will remain anonymous to avoid getting my email flooded with hate mail.
I respect that some people may want to use Enlightenment, and it may be a good DE for different reasons, but the design is not one of them.

And yes, I have tried it.

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 217.27.181.23] on January 29, 2008 12:32 PM
Too bad you said that it is that very ugly. I happened to like it. But since you are a "I know graphical designing" kind of guy - I just have to realize that I am wrong. Or, the alternative is to think that taste is just just taste.

I will try to figure it out while continuing enjoying it!

The only con I found so far is that some applications are far down in the menu, but that can probably be adjusted so that I get what I want on a right-clik. Some are also representated under several menus - making the menus unnecessarily long.

I also downloaded Enlightenment via Synaptic on my stationary comp. And that is something totally different. Brushed steel and futuristic look. I like them both. And I like Gnome, Xfce and KDE. Strange guy, EH? I now alternate between Gnome, KDE, Xfce and Enlightenment while working, and enjoy them all. Basic system was a Ubuntu-composition made by Exton.Linux and I then just add desctopenviroments. This is one of the good things with Linux-systems!

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 83.226.191.139] on February 11, 2008 08:07 PM
Hey, me again. Post number 1178192, the guy who doesn't like the look of enlightenment.
In response to the above comment, I would just like to say that (like I said in the previous post) I don't discourage the use of Enlightenment. From what I've heard, it's very fast and light. Hell, I'm sure some people even like the way it looks. What I disagree with is that it's marketed as the best of what Linux has to offer when it comes to looks. It just makes Linux as a whole look bad. Instead, why not market it as what it really is; a very fast desktop environment?

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When Enlightenment met Ubuntu

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.28.19.90] on February 13, 2008 09:06 PM
I have been trying to use OpenGEU (as Geubuntu was renamed to) off and on for the last month since seeing this post. It is definitely buggy, especially with Java software, which I do development in. Windows get stuck open, the new fbpanel app doesn't always paint right and is difficult to use, hot keys don't work correctly in Eclipse, it is difficult to add menu items to anything except the defaults, fingerprint reader doesn't function, etc. The one time I tried Entrance, it locked up my system.

However, visually OpenGEU is quite nice and has tons of options. As much as I want to use it, I keep going back to Gnome because it just works.

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