Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Enlightenment

I don't remember the date, but it was just a day before my Humanities end semester examination, which was sometime in the last week of April '08 that I installed Enlightenment which technically is, I just found out, a window manager (Unlike KDE or GNOME, which are complete Desktop Environments ). I should have been preparing for my Indian Economic Development exam but I was totally blown away by the sights and sounds of ( efficiency is a totally different issue altogether) the window managers and desktop environments that the Linux world had to offer.

I don't remember why I started installing different managers in the first place; but once i started to explore the variety .... I just decided not to bother about the exam anymore. I immediately made an entry in my diary. I was finding it difficult to keep all the words in a straight line. The joy of discovery. The 'newness'. Like, as they say, a 'breath of fresh air'.

Enlightenment is ".....Radically Different and takes a bit of getting used to....". Radically Different is the key. KDE and GNOME tend to mimic Windows. An unwritten rule in the Linux world is that user-friendliness is getting closer and closer to the MS-Windows model. So what really grabbed me when I started E (as Enlightenment is generally called) was it's departure from the beaten track. Beryl ( now called Compiz-Beryl Fusion or something like that) was the only thing on Ubuntu that 'grabbed' me. But with E, that is the rule. It is a real tragedy that people in the insti miss out on the opportunity to install and see these WMs at work.

The other WM that greatly impressed me was Fluxbox. Fluxbox is cool ( supposed to be light-weight too ). It is simple and most importantly, it is different from the other WMs we have. That's the best part about Linux- so much of variety and the freedom to choose. And it is free. Ah! Utopia!! But it's kinda surprising that people at IITM rarely experiment with stuff. Not that they have to, but its kinda weird when folks don't when the institute hosts India's only (as of now) Debian mirror. They're just too happy to have a working Linux system! That itself is one hell of an achievement for most, I guess :PThat was a bit wicked on my part :D.

Talking about wickedness, Ratpoison and dwm take wickedness to whole new level. Ratpoison does away with the need for a mouse (hence the name). Whereas, dwm is unabashedly elitist -
"Because dwm is customized through editing its source code, it's pointless to make binary packages of it. This keeps its userbase small and elitist. No novices asking stupid questions."

Talk about being wicked! I kinda liked Ratpoison, but it's anti-mouse stance limits the way I use the system. It is convenient to have a mouse. In short, Ratpoison wasn't for me. But dwm certainly rocked!! I asked Sree Sree about what it might have in it to have a non-programmer to use it. "Sheer Simplicity," he said. All in all, I am really happy with the way dwm works. Its super fast, and comparing it with KDE or GNOME will only evoke n00b!! LOL!! from people. (You have been warned! ). And the whole thing was written in under 2000 LOC ( Lines Of Code, that is). That's what suck less is all about.
And here is a link that'll help you get started with dwm.

I tried a few others too. Xfce was too ordinary. Nothing that 'grabs' you. Ion was kinda strange and requires a bit of an effort to go along. It has got a very good man page. A very good man page :-| . I said 'No Thanks!'

And, in case you still remember, I scored a lowly 'B' in that course.

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