Ecomorph + E17 = Coolest Desktop Ever!

Jack Wallen
Feb 20, 2009
Updated • Feb 21, 2014

If you've been reading me long enough you know I am a fan of Enlightenment. I've always loved the melding of a clean desktop and all of the eye candy you could want. But recently I came across something quite special. The developers of Elive have pushed the boundaries of the desktop beyond anything I have seen before and created a special version of Compiz called Ecomorph. This union of desktops, currently dubbed Elive Compiz, offers the best of both worlds: The desktop elements of Enlightenment with the eye-popping eye candy of Compiz.

There are many reasons why you should give this distribution a try. One of the reasons is that even when using the Live CD you can get the full benefit of what this distribution is all about. Even using a three year old machine I didn't feel like I was using a Live CD. It's that well put together.

How Did They Do It?

It's been known for a while that Compiz and Enlightenment wouldn't work together. The developers have been asked over and over to roll Compiz support into Enlightenment. It wasn't until Elive developer Thanatermesis put in the necessary time to develop a special version of Ecomorph which consists of a special version of Compiz and a special version of E17 that are able to work together. As of now the developers claim this is nothing more than a "hack" and in pre-alpha stages. What I have seen, however, is pretty stable. That doesn't mean you should be putting this version of Elive on your production machines. This version should be going on a machine that can be wiped clean whenever you choose. But you should definitely put it on's that cool.

What It Contains

Upon first glance of this distribution you would think you using E17 with maybe a few extra applets on the desktop. That is not the case. The minute you hit Ctrl-Alt with a left mouse click you will see that famous 3D cube brought to the desktop care of Compiz. A little more digging and you will find some rather interesting (and very alpha released) video applications as well as some spiffy configuration tools.

There was one effect with this desktop that really caught me by surprise. When you close a window the window folds into a paper airplane and flys away. Useful? Not really. Impressive? Very.

Graphic Requirements

Obviously this is one of the first questions you will have to ask. On the site they highly recommend an NVidia card. I ran the LiveCD on an NVidia 6800 GT and it was smooth as silk.

Have a Look

There is a great video on Youtube that shows off the Elive Compize release. Take a look here. In this video you will notice Elive Compiz running on an Eee PC. You can use the fantastic UNetBootin tool to install Elive Compiz onto a USB drive and get it working on an Eee PC.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a Debian-based distribution that takes the PC desktop to heights you have never experienced, Elive Compize is the Live CD for you. Just remember, while this is in such early stages, to not run this on a production machine.


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  1. JOKER said on November 2, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    elive has a modified version of both ecomorph and e17
    its not just ecomorph default in a distro

  2. filasopher said on January 9, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I agree with the “Dark Master!” Best to give credit where credit is due! While I have the Elive distro and its implementation of the ecomorph test build, it is important that people not get confused by this article and wrongly attribute the success of ecomorph to Elive.
    The build is nice and works well. However, the credit still belongs to the person who spent the time to write the code.
    I would suggest that both Thanatermesis, who (please don’t get me wrong) has done great work, and this webpage, respectfully credit the true author for the work that has been done. I would hate to see the few pioneering programmers we have in this world demoralized by plagiarized code, any more than they already are.

  3. TheDarkMaster said on April 6, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Hallo everyone, I’m writing here this comment because there is a lot of confusion about this, and what’s reported is wrong. You write:

    It wasn’t until Elive developer Thanatermesis put in the necessary time to develop a special version of Ecomorph which consists of a special version of Compiz and a special version of E17 that are able to work together.

    You must be joking. ELive has nothing to do with Ecomorph, they did nothing about it. Ecomorph is a software by Hannes Janetzek and yes, it is an hack of Compiz, able of running compiz on Enlightenment. No user or developer from Elive took part in the development process. DaveMDS has made most of the config dialogs for E17.

    Both Hannes and Dave are in the OpenGEU Team. Nothing related with Elive at all. While Ecomorph was still in development, the ELive team used the code to create Elive Compiz (and tha’s all OK, echo and compiz are opensource of course, so anyone can implement ecomorph in his distro), the OpenGEU Team, instead, waited for a release of the distro to be sure that Ecomorph had reached an appropriate development level and stability (and testing period) to be officially presented to the public, as a technological preview of course, Ecomorph is still in development.

    That’s the real story. The fact that Elive included Ecomorph into the distro for first doesn’t mean that Ecomorph belongs to Elive at all! Please correct this information because OpenSOurce doesn’t mean that anyone can claim he is the author of the software, it just means that he can use and redistribute that software.

    Beside that, I can suggest anyone complaining about the fact that Elive is Debian and not Ubuntu, that OpenGEU is out there for that exact reason. It is a good solution if you wish to have the beauty of Enlightenment and the power and flexibility of Ubuntu and its repos. Plus, OpenGEU is not only pure Enlightenment. In its standard configuration, OpenGEU is a very usable system, completing E17 with pieces of gnome. If you wish, though, thanks to our new default configurations tool, you can choose whether you prefer a Vanilla E or OpenGEU’s default custom config.

    Of course, like kubuntu-desktop or xubuntu-desktop, opengeu-desktop can be added to any *Buntu derivate or version. You just need to add our repos. Of course, Ecomorph has been included in OpenGEU and you can use it and test it yourself without having to change your distro. OpenGEU will add an Enlightenment and an e17 Ecomorph session to your sessions list in GDM or KDM.

    That said, the name Elive Compiz itself is not so nice IMHO… because Ecomorph is not mentioned in the name. It was very hard for Hannes to develop it. Please give credit to the real authors.

  4. iv said on February 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks for this one… works like a charm. It’s not bulletproof stable but I’m running it for a couple of days and had but one segfault.

    Btw, it’s gliding smoothly on nvidia 5200 LE. Just had to kill the burn effect, was a bit of a overkill :)

  5. jack said on February 23, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    kpaso: not sure what you mean. this is a free operating system so there is no trial offer. you can download it for free and just use it. if by trial you mean use it before you install it, you can do that. it’s a live cd so you just run the operating system from the disk. if you like it then you can click the installer button on the panel to install it.

  6. kpaso said on February 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Interesting OS. Too bad you there is no trial offer for it. It is a new OS and sounds promising but I’d rather dwnload it with a trial offer tx

  7. Peter said on February 21, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Thanks for showing the startscreen of the EVE-ONLINE client!

    CCP 4tw! :)

  8. Paul(us) said on February 21, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Why is the girl, in the movie lifting her breast?
    I am very impressed it looks beter than main Suse Linux. When the stability is the same as Suze linux, i switch over.

  9. jack said on February 20, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    gokudomatic: this is a debian-based system so you can have apt-get still. and yes, you can have E17 on nearly any distro, but not this version of E17.

  10. gokudomatic said on February 20, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    why? ubuntu is not just gnome. We’re talking here about graphical interface only. I won’t lose my apt-get and all my admin tools just for an eye-candy screen. Furthermore, E17 can run on Ubuntu, Fedora or whatever.

    Not point to dump a distribution just for a matter of desktop manager.

  11. Gyshall said on February 20, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I’ll officially be dumping Ubuntu if this gets stable enough… E17 is awesome.

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