Trinity16 Index Trinity Desktop Environment on Enlightenment 16


Trinity16 is a combination of the DR16 Enlightenment window manager (E16)[2] and the Trinity Desktop Environment on Debian. Trinity is an effort to preserve the KDE 3.5 way of doing things with an emphasis on speed. E16, is a window manager first released in 1997 that has incredible efficiency, speed and graphics capability. I've been using E16 for more than a decade and quickly learned that it worked well with KDE 3.5. The combination of KDE 3.5 and E16 is a fast, light desktop that provides the most basic user functions, task switching, place keeping, notifications, and email with integrated personal information management. I've rounded out the environment with the Kicker and Window Maker utilities for system monitoring and quick launching. My workflow evolved and greatly expanded with these tools because simple spatial place keeping and system stability make it easy to resume tasks. It's an excellent combination for low resource computers and it flies on more powerful machines. Trinity16 is my effort to preserve my favorite environment and tools without surrendering modern versions of software and hardware. I've chosen Debian because that's what I'm used to and because of all the other excellent packages in Debian.

My plan is to:

I think that is the low effort way to keep things the way I like them. The E16 community is doing a nice job of maintaining things and so is the Trinity community.

A parallel effort is to learn more about Window Maker. The Window Maker tools and objective C are supposed to be very easy to work with, but I consider the layout limiting. A GPL'd window manager that acts like E16 is very attractive but I know it will take lots of effort.

It might be easier to work with E17, E18, or E19, but these have a critical misstep for my work flow. They have already created kicker substitutes and the Environment is also very light. The problem is that they lost the clear distinction between virtual screen and virtual desktop that I consider so essential. E17 has only one pager. That could work, I've even considered OLVWM with a similar pager, but it sacrifices visual clues and flexibility. E17 has also been CPU intensive and less stable for me.

It looks like I made a good choice. Jeff Hoogland reports changes in 18 and 19 that were frustrating enough for him to fork 17. He rejected E16 as too old, but he has a different work flow and more energy than I do. Kim "kwo" Woelders fixed bugs so that my first compile would work on Wheezy in 2014 and updated the SourceForge page a few times through 2015, so I can report the stable version of Enlightenment is alive and well.


Debian dropped E16 and has not picked up Trinity. Lenny was the last version of Debian to have KDE 3.5. That was sensibly late and the Squeeze KDE 4 was relatively calm if not as feature complete as KDE 3 was. The first release of Trinity happened a few months before Squeeze was frozen in 2010. I decided to follow Debian and see if KDE 4 would work for me. Squeeze was the last Debian to have E16. I used that package on Wheezy and Jessie but this was a solution that could not last forever.

2009, the trouble begins as Squeeze nukes kicker. What I really like about E16.

Loosing KDE 3.5 was a productivity hit that took years to notice. I've tried to replace Kicker and friends with other tools but nothing worked quite as well for me. Access to my long term PIM records and KDE 3.x is something I've had through old computers and virtual machines but it's better to have it live in a low resource form. Losing all my email to Kmail2 was the final kick in the pants. In the few months I've had TDE working, I've realized just how important the calender, contact manager and Palm sync were to me. Long term scheduling and private contact management are crucial for anyone who wants to accomplish things. In the three years I used KDE 4, I fell back to paper calenders, lost electronic reminders and had unreliable contact management. It only took me a few weeks of TDE to realize how big a hit I'd taken.

The KDE community is making progress. Shortly after I migrated to Trinity Desktop, a prominent KDE developer recommended wiping all personal settings to make KDE 4 PIM behave. Maybe it works. KDE 4 looks fantastic and is very fast on my current desktop.

Kmail2 is what really drove me to Trinity Desktop. KDE 4 PIM has some great new features but it never got as fast or as stable as the older KDE. I put up with that and the loss some very important features to stay with a Debian only install. Kmail2 came with Jesse, which I had started installing to get KDE's MTP kio to see and copy files off Android devices. It was a disaster in almost every way.



My first install of Trinity Desktop Environment on a test laptop. Over the next few days, 12/16, 12/17, 12/18, 12/19, I got it working. Trinity16 comes to work with me on the Gluglug X60. Contacts, email and other settings transfered with a little less work than a move to KDE 4 takes.


Thumbnail 01-kmail.png TDE Kpilot works
Email encryption working. TDE Kpiolot working, makes the Visor (Palm) more practical.
TDE with E16 pagers. Stable is wonderful.
20 day uptime celebration and the drama free nature of Trinity 16. Celebrating the benefits of a stable desktop and good PIM.
KDEnlive performing well on Trinity16. Something bad happened to the Gluglug X60, so I moved the drive to my X61s. Holidays in Korganizer.
make a list Save all the email
Distribution lists work. Save all email attachments in two clicks.

This is solid progress, but it's rough and sometimes tricky to also have KDE 4 PIM installed. Trinity stuff keeps to itself but I have to be careful not to start up new versions of Kaddressbook or Kmail because these start the Akondi database framework. An easy solution is to point Trinity PIM and email at a separate version of everything.

Thumbnail e16_new_about2.png
Compiling a new version of E16 in Jessie.


I tried the new TDE branded release and it did not go so well, so I reverted to TDE 3.5. The new version of TDE had a lot going for it but lost Palm sync and notification reminders, which left me without reliable reminders. TDE 3.5 continued to work well for me.

I installed the complete E16 and TDE 3.5 environment to Debian Wheezy in three hours or so while doing annual point dose checks at work. I manually installed the build depends for E16, so I no longer need the Squeeze package for install. The source I downloaded is independent of Squeeze. The E16 compile takes about two minutes.

Thumbnail e16_new_about2.png
Move to TDE R14 and first compiling attempts don't go so well. Installed Trinity 16 from Scratch

XFCE is different. An install on a Thinkpad 600 taught me how to make E16 show up in Debian Wheezy's Light Display Manager, a lesson that is useful and worth remembering.

To show up in KDM, window managers need a "desktop" file in /usr/share/xsessions, /var/lib/menu-xdg/xsessions, and /usr/share/apps/kdm/sessions. One of them was missing and E16 showed up in KDM after I copied the desktop file from one directory to the other.

I think this also applies to Jessie, but a Gnome Stretch install has only has one dot Desktop file, in /usr/share/xsessions. At the time I tried Stretch, Wheezy seemed to need only "/var/lib/menu-xdg/xsessions/X-Debian-Window-Managers-e16.desktop", which I captured. I did not see this in notes for my 2013 installs.

XFCE Wheezy install on the Thinkpad 600


A May 15, 2016 install on my Libiquity X200 was smooth, with most time spent downloading Trinity binaries. The X200 is excellent hardware but it came with stability issues that I have yet to solve, which are probably due to declining hardware build quality in Thinkpads. The X200 I leave with my daughter works perfectly with TDE 3.x and Debian Wheezy. The X200 I take with me to work crashes up regularly. This problem lead me though TDE 14, GNewSense and Trisquel, and the same kinds of experimentation I did when KDE 3.5 went away.

From scratch install for Wheezy on the Libiquity X200 Making it beautiful [2, 3].

An attempt to compile E16 for Debian Stretch on the same day did not go as well. There seems to be some changes to Python that have broken the build scripts. I'll have to look into this some more. There's also a new version of E16 from September of 2015.

In April, I had fun with E16's menu system which has been so easy to modify that I wish that I'd looked it up years ago. I first modified Elizabeth's computer to have a menu item to start TDE and other useful utilities. Later, I made two menu items execute Arandr scripts that make docking and undocking my laptop with an external monitor as easy as pushing a button.

Learning the E16 menu systemStill enjoying the menu change

Here's my first working E16 on Debian Stretch.

E16 on Stretch from Wheezy i386 binary package.

Systemd issues have me looking at Trisquel and GNewSense as a base for future installs. I'm putting Trisquel 7 on my kids laptops. I was impressed by Trisquel as it came with my Libreboot computers, an X60, and a X200. Both Trisquel 7 and Trisquel 7 Mini have worked well, but I prefer the way Debian Wheezy works for my computers. GNewSense is now Debian based and I'm looking into it.


After some trials and a successful deployment on a new Media PC, I moved my work laptop to GNewSense and TDE 14. Debian moving back to Firefox was the last straw. TDE 14 has fixed the notification bug that drove me away before. Kpilot is still broken. Despite some serious software losses, mostly KDE 4, I'm happy with the move but may end up on Trisquel. Trinity 16 works better on GNewSense than it does on Debian.

Trisquel continues to impress me with more modern applications like the GNU Icecat browser.

Trinity 16 on GNewSense for a media PCTrinity 16 on GNewSense for my Libiquity X200
Fixing the panel, movie full screen problem the E16 way.

I managed to compile E16, version 1.0.17 on Wheezy and installed it on Trisquel, but there were several problems and Trisquel itself came to the rescue, E16 compile works on Trisquel 7. As noted in 2016, my old package no longer compiles on Debian Wheezy. This time, I noticed on my GNewSense X200. The compile mostly worked, then failed with an audio error. I tried again on my X200's old Wheezy install, which failed the same way. A 32 bit Wheezy install that I'd made for a X60 last year finally worked. The difference in libraries between those installs should show me how to fix the problem on both Debian and GNewSense. Until then, I'm stuck with older E16 binaries.

E16 on Trisquel, X60New E16 version, 1.0.17

Trisquel has excellent power and network management that are established before the E16 session starts. The laptop goes to sleep when the lid is closed. Wifi networking is already established, with or without the network manager applet running. It seems quite stable on the X60 and has run for more than 60 days now.

After a couple of months of happy running on the X60, I installed Trisquel and TDE 16 on my X200. In less than ten days, I had compiled an AMD 64 Trisquel/Ubuntu binary E16.

E16 on Trisquel, X200 Trying out Gnome Panel

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