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"CrunchBang 10 'Statler' has been in development since early last year. The first alpha release came out in March 2010 and several development builds have followed whilst Debian 'Squeeze' remained in testing. Now that 'Squeeze' has migrated from testing to stable, CrunchBang 'Statler' will also adopt the stable moniker. The new CrunchBang 10 'Statler' R20110207 images were built on Monday, 7th February 2011 using the stable Debian 'Squeeze' and CrunchBang 'Statler' repositories. Changes from the previous builds have been kept to a minimum. The changes that have been made include: Chromium browser (version 9) replaces Google Chrome stable; Debian Installer (GUI & text) replaces the previous Live Installer; other minor changes and bug fixes."
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 9
fast, small, lightweight, stable, customizable
requires knowledgeable user, needs customization
I decided to try crunchbang on a new laptop I just got because it looked fast and sleek, with no wasted screen or packages. I have to say I am pleased with how the distribution runs, looks, and is supported by the community.
Since it doesn't use any of the mainstream graphical environments, it might be a little unfamiliar to inexperienced users. Working with Openbox and the other tools packaged with crunchbang (like conky, tint2, dmenu, and gmrun) feels very much like Linux about 8 years ago. There are some graphical configuration utilities, but usually, it's simpler, easier, and preferred to just edit the config files manually. This definitely requires a more experienced and knowledgeable user, but that is the audience crunchbang is intended for. There is even a disclaimer on the distro's website explaining the the distro isn't intended for people looking for a simple, easy to use *buntu type distro, so a user shouldn't be surprised by this.
Crunchbang is built on Debian stable and is available in both 32 and 64 bit versions, preloaded either with Openbox or XFCE; I opted for Openbox since it was an environment I didn't have any exposure to. Installation followed the standard Debian graphical or text based installation. My only issue arose from the fact that the kernel packaged with Debian stable is getting a little long in the tooth and didn't recognize either my wired or wireless network card on my new Sandy Bridge laptop. I was able to skip over the network setup step during installation, though, and the rest caused me no issues. After installation, I had to download a newer kernel image from the Debian testing repository on a different machine and then manually install it in order to get networking working so I could properly install an up to date kernel.
Although the installation doesn't offer any chance to customize package installation during the install process, the "cb-welcome" script that runs automatically on the first log in offers you the option to add packages and customize the installation.
From this point, you're pretty much on your own. The biggest point to make is this: crunchbang requires work to get it set up and customized the way you like it. In fact, you'll probably never be through customizing and modifying the system. I particularly like the inclusion of the "conky" system monitor, which allows you to display a wide range of system health and status parameters. It's a great addition and is set up with a simple baseline configuration that you can use easily to expand to further display information important to you.
My biggest personal complaint is that the distro is built on Debian stable. This is great for people using older hardware, or running important production systems, but crunchbang even says that it's not intended for that, so building the distro on Debian testing would seem to make more sense. For the target audience of experienced Linux users and hobbyists looking to tinker with a system, rolling Testing would seem to make sense. The solution to this problem is quite simple, however, just adding a few lines to the /etc/apt/preferences file adds the testing repo. Just do a sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get dist-upgrade and the system will update itself to the full Debian Testing rolling release model. I think this should be available as an option in the cb-welcome script, which would be on par with crunchbang's philosophy of allowing the user the maximum amount of customizability from a well built baseline.
Overall, for an experienced user looking for a well designed, sleek, fast, and light distribution, crunchbang is a perfect option. The community, both on the forums and IRC channel is helpful and available to assist with configuration. Also, since it leverages the Debian base, much of the information that pertains to the big name Debian distros applies to crunchbang as well.
Would you recommend the product? no | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 7
Stable software, easy installation
Needs a lot of effort to make a usable system
The previous reviewer was using the OpenBox version, but my review is of the Xfce one.
If you visit the CrunchBang website, the first thing you notice is that itís very black: white type on a black screen. Even the forum is the same, and so is the distro. Of course appearences can be changed, but it can be a challenge: when faced with tiny white type on a transparent background in the terminal, I found there was no menu button to configure it. Eventually I discovered that you had to right-click on the terminal.
The first thing that happens when you reboot after installation is that a script runs to install the essential things that were not on the CD, like printer support: CUPS, ghostscript, foomatic! Thereís a lot of downloading to be done. Even then, you are still lacking an email client. The repository does not inspire confidence. When I tested it by installing units, it insisted on installing things like gsfonts and odbcinst as supposed dependencies.
On the other hand, the software is sound: it all ran from the CLI without leaving any awful warnings, unlike some distros. This, of course, results from the use of Debian Stable, and will be appreciated by those who are not hobbists. Flash and the media codecs were installed, and even the most buggy of videos played perfectly.
Installation was easy and completed in 15 minutes. This distro has a lot of satisfied users, as evidenced by its forum, but Iím not sure why.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10
Fast (running it on 630MHz eee PC701), Conky is awesome :) it's black :)
Web browsing is slow, flash is awful - but this is likely more to do with my CPU speed
I'm using the OpenBox version so take a bit of getting used to although I love the right click menu - very handy.
Conky system resource monitor is fantastic.
The selection of tools is actually fairly good except it comes with Gnumeric and Abiword instead of LibreOffice.
I quickly uninstalled Gnumeric and Abiword and installed LibreOffice - which works well.
I had problems with the Graphical installer and so used the text based installer instead which worked perfectly (this is the same as I have had to do with Debian before so I guess it's an inherited issue).
There is some font corruption occasionally which I'm trying to figure out an fix.
Although, my setup is probably a bit odd in that I have an eee PC 701 with an external 26" monitor running at 1280x1024 with the eee PC screen configured to sit next to it!!!
Having said all of the above, I love it - for the most part it runs like a dream and I did consider trying other distros but couldn't bare to leave Crunchbang as it feels so nice to use.