Friday, 31 October 2008


I am back with Enlightenment. Though I have philosophical orientations, this is not philosophical (i.e. not in a direct way; you may find indirect hints and undertones though).

Let me start with installing Enlightenment desktop shell in openSUSE. Installing details on other platforms are available at their website. I used YaST to simplify the process (at least thats what I thought in the beginning). I began by adding Dmitry Serpokryl's repositories. You can find specific repositories for your version of openSUSE here. He also offers openSUSE live CD with Enlightenment desktop shell here.

As most YaST users might expect, installation should have been a simple 2 step process:
1. check the required packages; and
2. accept the changes and solve any dependency problems.

It was pretty much the same. I shall describe how I got over the dependency problems on my system (openSUSE 10.3 x86_64) and hope it helps you as well. I suggest you add Dmitry's metapackage repository along with his other Enlightenment repositories. He also provides a one click install option but it didn't work for me. So I decided to try to install individual packages myself and see if it works.

I found install details on the Enlightenment site for Ubuntu which suggested the following sequence of installation of packages:
1. Eina
2. Eet
3. Evas
4. Ecore
5. Efreet
6. Embryo
7. Edje
8. E_DBus
However, when I searched for Eina I did not find it. Here I decided to be bold and trust YaST. I skipped Eina and installed the rest. I am happy it worked for me and I have Enlightenement now. you can actually go for installation from source as well. I was just trying YaST. Let's see the initial looks of Enlightenment.
This is the default Bling theme. When you start the Enlightenment desktop shell the first thing that you notice different is the behaviour of mouse clicks. I shall not describe that as I want it to be an interesting experience of yours as it was for me.

Below you can see windows of different shapes placed as per my use and ease. Enlightenment remembers the size of windows. You can suit your needs with various sizes: the goal being productivity.I have read many criticisms about Enlightenment being all about eye candy. However, I think the concept of desktop shell introduced by Enlightenment can be used to provide ease of use. Another interesting feature was the drag bar. At the beginning its purpose might appear to be just eye candy or fancy desktop item. However, I have found out that it can a great tool in simplifying usage and boosting productivity. If you know any use of dragging windows from one desktop to another, then this drag bar will be of much help to you.

After getting the initial feel of Enlightenment desktop shell, I switched to the famous 23Oz theme. Its cool. Have a look.Below is a shelf with the drag bar. You can add more shelves and widgets to suit your needs.I shall speak about two other interesting featuresof Enlightenment aimed at improved productivity. One is moving to a neighbouring desktop when the mouse pointer tries to cross the edge of the screen. The other is the desktop menu behaviour. In KDE, GNOME and other traditional window managers, when there isn't ample space for a submenu on the right, the submenu opens up to the left. However, in Enlightenment the menu shifts left to make space for the submenu. You can see that below.To conclude let me tell about the concept of desktop shel. DR17 is not just an application framework like KDE or GNOME. It integrates GUI elements to manage both files and windows. I suggest you go for first-hand experience by trying Enlightenment.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008


Recently, I was on a spree of trying desktop environments. My primary desktop has been KDE so far. I had used GNOME from Ubuntu live cds and on my roomie's laptop. So the two giants are out of the question and I went for other desktop environments.

I had heard that Xfce had recently shown improvements. I tried it for the following two basic reasons:
(i) speed
(ii) less resource consuming.

To quote Olivier Fourdan, the creatorof Xfce, it is a free software desktop environment based on the GIMP Toolkit (GTK+ 2.x) and aims to be fast and lightweight, while still being visually appealing and easy to use. "Designed for productivity, it loads and executes applications fast, while conserving system resources." (Olivier Fourdan, creator)Xfce is a free software desktop environment based on the GIMP Toolkit (GTK+ 2.x) and aims to be fast and lightweight, while still being visually appealing and easy to use. "Designed for productivity, it loads and executes applications fast, while conserving system resources."

Getting Xfce was easy with YaST. I just had to check the Xfce pattern and accept the selections. The rest was taken care of by YaST and SUSE. openSUSE can be considered really productive in this regard.

Xfce is said to be a CDE clone and therefore is obviously lightweight and performance oriented. I liked the availability of a button for shade mode for all windows as you can see above. There is also a Mac style dock at the bottom. By default it provided me double click environment unlike KDE's single click one. It supports XMMS as its media player. However I got Amarok playing on it as I am kind of obsessed with Amarok now. You can find the Amarok in the systray in the top right corver above.

Thunar the default file manager for Xfce, is seen above. It resembles Nautilus and is designed for speed and a low memory footprint. It is highly customizable through plugins.

My next post will be about the next trial - Enlightenment.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Compacting folders in Mozilla Thunderbird

For those who use e-mail clients but do not understand "compacting folders", let me tell you that it is essential. The reason you might never have heard of compacting is that most e-mail clients default to automatically compacting the folder whenever a certain amount of space is wasted, while we have to enable this in Thunderbird. Tom Koch speaks about it with Outlook Express background referring to it as The Other E-Mail Threat: File Corruption in Outlook Express.

When we delete or move a message, most e-mail clients simply flag the message and postpone the actual task of deletion. So a large number of flagged messages accumulate over time until the folders are compacted. Even emptying the Trash does not physically delete them. this is done by e-mail clients to improve performance by not requiring to rewrite the entire folder every time we delete a single message. In Thunderbird, the reason is even stronger as the inbox is not a folder but a single huge file. So are trash and other folders. this makes manual compaction in Thunderbird a bit complicated and unwieldy for many users.

To do it in Thunderbird, follow these simple steps:
click on Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> Network & Disk Space -> Disk Space. Then check the box for "Compact folder when it will save over 100 kB" and click OK. If you have a high message rate like me, then you may change the default 100 kb limit to 300 kb.

Sunday, 12 October 2008


In this blog, I am writing about some Firefox tweaks and add-ons that help me improve my online experience. AdBlockPlus heads the list. It is an add-on by Wladimir Palant that blocks unwanted ads. As I hate to see fancy useless flash ads on my screen, this is always the first add-on I get from Mozilla. Also, it has remained at the top of recommended add-ons for quite some time. The ABP icon usually resides right of the search bar as you can see below.

Next comes Video DownloadHelper.
At times videos are more insightful than plain text. That's why sites like youtube are so popular. I like to keep videos for offline use. So Video DownloadHelper is an essential for me. Its icon resides to the left of address bar as seen below.

It is usually deactivated; but activates when there are links that can be downloaded. There are lots of add-ons available that allow numerous customizations from splash screens to 3D cube effect.

Now let's see how easy it is to manage cookies in Firefox. Simply click on Tools->Options->Privacy. A window appears as follows.

You can manage your private data, cookies and history to suit yourself.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

With Peter Norvig as the Director of Research, Google Brain is no surprise.