This morning when I stirred my foggy and virus filled head from my pillow to start the day, I went searching on the Distrowatch.com waiting list for what may be an “up and coming new Linux Distro” and what I found was a beacon to one that I had been thinking about for a while. There is never enough hours in the day and with this Head Cold / Bronchitis that has taken me down a notch or two (and causing me to sleep nearly double my usual 6 hours per day) I figured I best get into the day as quickly as possible before I have to take a nap.
#Crunchbang is a Debian Based Distro that uses the OpenBox Window Manager. I have never been a big fan of the OpenBox and maybe that is why I have not taken on this particular distro until now. The Download weighing in at just over 750 MB was a welcome change to some of the monsters that I have found lately and it came down quickly but what I was most impressed with is how quickly and easily the setup was configured. 5 or 6 clicks and done…impressive. As always I am testing this Distro in an Oracle VirtualBox environment with 4GB of RAM and a 20GB HDD.
I was a little surprised by the fact that it took nearly 30 seconds for the first boot but when I was welcomed by a Post Installation Script that automatically updated my software sources and completed a distro upgrade…well that goes pretty far in my book and would explain the delay (I hope). The rest of the script ran through Printer Configuration, Java Installation, LibreOffice installation, and several other customizations that personally could have been done during the installation process but the script was a nice touch to keep the initial download to just a CD.
It took some getting used to, not having any form of menu bar to work with but when I started navigating around the system and poking around the corners of the OS…I started to feel, well…at home in the simplicity and slickness of how OpenBox just works. It does not pretend to be the sexiest Window Manager, it does not say it can handle the latest 3d tricks and advanced tiling or Alpha Transparencies…it just works. Right clicking on the desktop is what opens up the menu.
When I looked to what is actually included with the OS…I was surprised that while the Boot Script asked me to install LibreOffice, apps like AbiWord and Gnumeric were already installed. Running through the usual suspects though:
- Thunar is the File Manager for the OS
- Graphics has theGIMP
- Multimedia has GnomePlayer
- Network includes Iceweasel but has shell script links to install Chromium, Opera and Chrome
Because #Crunchbang is designed to be very light…I decided to see just how hard it would be to access the vast array of software available in the Debian Repositories and was pleasantly surprised to find Synaptic Package Manager waiting for me. Overall…I was very pleased with how simple the process and the OS were to install and quickly pick up how to use. Does it have all the bells and whistles of the big 5 players…no…but there is not only a market but a need to have something that is just plain simple to use. OpenBox is highly configurable and from everything that I have seen (with this Distro at least) it is very much so a contender for a replacement of my Ubuntu Desktop.
As for that pesky long boot when the Post Install script was running…yeah when I ran the second boot…it shaved about 18 seconds of the boot time coming in at around 26 seconds.
Chris J Powell