Solus Team Plans to Exit GTK and Adopt Enlightenment Desktop (EFL)

2 min

The unique Solus Linux project plans not to invest time and effort to GNOME desktop, instead looking ahead with Enlightenment Desktop.

In a recent blog post from Joshua Strobl (Solus Experience Lead) announced this decision. On the post he outlined a number of issues and concerns related to GNOME development philosophy, GTK development plans which forced the Solus team to move away from GTK and adopt an alternative.

Solus Exits GTK – Reasons

As per Joshua, GTK4 which was released a while back complicates the development when working with widgets which prohibits direct inheritance. He also stated concerns about the removal of X server polling functionality in GNOME, This forces developers to write their own interfaces to access X11 directly for Wayland.

Also, widely adoption of Adwaita in GNOME as desktop theme created additional overhead (time and effort) to maintain and write code for existing applications to integrate with Adwaita. One of the concerns as he pointed out that all suggestions to the GNOME team in social media related to look and feel of GTK based apps are rejected, and it is somewhat a rude response from the GNOME team to the community.

Another graving concern is many known GNOME bugs which is there for years and not being attended while the team’s direction to work on workspaces, overview revamp (GNOME 3.38 > GNOME 40x) among other things. Examples are a scrolling bug in GtkListView and a window switcher bug when drop-down list open in GtkPopover.

And GTK5 road map is also about to bring strict enforcement for customizations in UX for third party applications. Which eventually requires more time and effort to be spent for existing GTK applications to adopt these new directions.

Looking Ahead

Currently, Solus provides – KDE Plasma, GNOME, Budgie, MATE flavors. And these are all either Qt or GTK based. The team had only three viable options, as below.

The iced GUI library which is written in Rust is very early stage. It has certain problems such as lack of layers support which requires more coding for new widgets.

Then comes Qt. The Qt library is great, in fact. The problem with Qt is it is based on C++ and its commercial license fiasco. It is somewhat confusing (remember KDE and Qt license?) and may create further legal issues in the future.

That leaves the user with EFL and the team has decided to move ahead with it. This brings certain problems as well, but they are solvable.

Enlightenment desktop
Enlightenment desktop

In a nutshell – team is looking at following roadmap:

  • It is easier to adopt the skeleton of a desktop environment, but the problem is with native apps.
  • Decide on which apps can be easily ported to EFL based desktop which are not developed by GNOME
  • Decide on which apps don’t have alternatives and whether they require rewritten from scratch for new desktop variant for Solus.

However, the team decided on EFL, planning to move ahead. Timeline wise, it is very early at the moment – so, no information on when you can get a test build of Solus Enlightenment desktop edition. So, stay tuned.

Closing Notes

I think it is a great step from Solus team. I always feel that Solus is one of the stand-out distro among hundreds. It has certain objectives, direction and roadmap. Looking at the GNOME 40+ situations everywhere, community feedback – it is a wise decision to find out an alternative at this stage. At this moment, only Bodhi Linux provides a modified version of Enlightenment desktop called Moksha – out-of-the box. So, the Linux desktop user community to get another flavor based on EFL which is another advantage.

What do you think about this decision? Let me know in the comment box below.

Via Joshua’s blog


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