Install Enlightenment on FreeBSD

In this tutorial I'll explain how to install the Enlightenment window manager on FreeBSD.

Enlightenment (usually referred to as e for short), is a free desktop environment for X and Wayland, which was brought to life in 1997 by Carsten Haitzler. The first version was a hack of the well-known window manager fvwm and was called fvwm-xpm (rastermans fvwm). Over the course of time, the number of components and the range of functions has grown so much that there is no longer a mere window manager, but a full-fledged desktop environment.


However, enlightenment was subsequently developed as an independent system and enjoyed great popularity for a long time due to its high configurability compared to the systems commonly used at the time, such as twm or fvwm. With version 0.16 (also known as e16 or dr16) published in October 1999, it achieved its greatest stability and distribution (among other things as a substructure for gnome 1). In the course of the following years the development seemed to fall asleep and only bugfixes were released. While Haitzler concentrated on a new development, in 2003 Kim “Kwo” Woelders took over the maintenance of the dr16 branch with the release of dr16.6.

Haitzler's design goal with version 0.17 (also e17 or dr17) is to make enlightenment as configurable as possible in terms of appearance and operation. In addition to window management, enlightenment also has a built-in file manager and several function libraries grouped under the name enlightenment foundation libraries (efl).

For a long time the successor e17, which was under development, was only released for free download in an alpha version in the cvs. In november 2009 it became known that the electronics group samsung wants to support the development of enlightenment so that the program can be used in its own products. In november 2010, electrolux (frigidaire) presented a refrigerator for the first time in cooperation with profusion, the embedded system of which is operated with the efl libraries.

The first e17 release (zero) appeared on december 21, 2012.

It is available in the official arch linux, debian, fedora, gentoo, opensuse, pclinuxos, sabayon linux, ubuntu, and void linux package sources. It was the standard desktop in bodhi linux, which now uses moksha, a fork of e17.

With the e20 version, support for Wayland and FreeBSD has been expanded. Many internal widgets have also been replaced with elementary. The desktop got a new mixer infrastructure and a revised audio gadget. Another change is the new screen management infrastructure.


We can install Enlightenment with the following command.

root: pkg install enlightenment


After starting enlightenment for the first time, a configuration manager opens, which asks for a basic setting of the language, keyboard, size of the font and widgets used, as well as the activation / deactivation of the composite. These settings and the fine-tuning of all modules used can be changed at any time. Enlightenment is highly configurable and leaves nothing to be desired.


If we work without a login manager and start x with startx from the console, we have to create a .xinitrc in the home directory and enter the following there:

nano .xinitrc =>

exec enlightenment_start
jwm screen