Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Saturday, June 22, 2019 at 14:43

 (Enso OS desktop with Panther start menu opened on bottom and global menu showing on top and running Firefox browser)

Enso OS is a relatively new GNU/Linux distro based on Ubuntu with XFCE desktop coupled with Gala Window Manager. Looking at Enso is like looking at a mix between Xubuntu and elementary OS. It features a Super key start menu called Panther and a global menu on its top panel, making the interface very interesting to try. This overview briefly highlights the user interface for you. Enjoy!

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1. About Enso OS

Enso PS is a new GNU/Linux distro based on Ubuntu with XFCE and Pantheon combined as its user interface. Thus, made the combination between Xubuntu and elementary OS desktops. The window manager is Gala while the file manager is Thunar. The latest version is 0.3.1, released in 6 June 2019, available in 64-bit architecture only, the ISO size is 1.9GB and serving as LiveCD + installer (just like Ubuntu ISOs). This version codename is Dancing Daisy (perhaps as a play phrase to Disco Dingo). Enso is developed by one man from UK, Nick Wilkins.


  • Believe in greener computing
  • An OS for aging computers

Important links:

2. Desktop

Enso features a desktop ala elementary OS with a typical top panel and a bottom dock. This desktop is mainly built from XFCE, not Pantheon, with Plank and Gala as exceptions. The top panel for instance, is XFCE4 Panel, not Wingpanel.

(Enso OS first login with a Welcome to Enso! program; providing such welcome is now a trend among Manjaro, Mint, Ubuntu MATE, and other desktop-oriented distros)

(Pressing the Getting Started button opens the five welcoming buttons to help first time users)

3. Start menu

This is Panther, a modification to elementary's Slingshot, the start menu. This start menu features search, list view, and session buttons.

(Left: search function; center: list view; right: Shutdown and Restart buttons)

4. Global menu

Thanks to XFCE panel and the AppMenu applet, Enso features global menu which many elementary OS users looking for. This way, you can work with design graphic application for instance, with its menubar located always at top panel no matter where the current window position is, just like we saw on Unity desktop or macOS.

(Global menu works displaying Thunar menubar; and it also displays the program name "Thunar File Manager" on the top left)

5. Taskbar

It uses Plank Dock as taskbar. The theme used in this is Enso a custom Plank theme developed by Enso team. elementary OS users would feel familiar with this already.

(Bottom taskbar with transparent theme)

6. Workspace switcher

Pressing Super+A enables workspace switcher just like elementary OS. This one is the point where Pantheon works very well with XFCE within Enso.

(The beautiful switcher ala elementary OS)

7. From inside...

Using Task Manager, you can clearly see Gala running on background as Enso's window manager. This window manager is the one responsible drawing every window border we see and the workspace switcher with all animations above.  It runs over Xorg and not Wayland. And everything else appearing on desktop is handled by XFCE (xfce4-panel, xfce4-session).

(Task manager shows the top processes)

Some words from me and where to download

Enso OS is clearly a experimental OS right now considering one person acts as the developer. We can see more people contributing in its Gitter chatroom, but it needs a long journey to be a serious GNU/Linux distro like Ubuntu or openSUSE. However, I write this overview to present to everybody the new concept of mixing between XFCE and Pantheon user interface. Honestly, that's the most interesting thing I see on Enso. I hope everybody could appreciate this mixed desktop and help developing it. Last but not least, I encourage elementary OS Juno users who want global menu to try Enso soon. Try it out by downloading here and enjoy!

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.