*Linux Guide

A month with CrunchBang 10

Versione in italiano

This is my first issue that i wrote in english language as first choice, so forgive me if you find some mistakes.
Unlike my previous reviews/guides, this time i'll not write a Linux distro review, nor a guide, as you can already see them here.
Let me show you what i've made with CrunchBang, and what i think about this GNU/Linux operating system.

1. Learning to use it

CrunchBang (CB in short) isn't a suitable operating system for newbie. I think that there are other user-friendly distros, like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Mageia, and so on. Even for a medium/advanced user, CB can be a little bit "rude".
As CB use OpenBox as Window Manager, using it could be dramatically different compared with systems named before. There is not a "start" menu, there is not a panel like gnome-panel. There is not a launcher like in Ubuntu, for instance. You have to learn to use keyboard to run applications or system tools.
First of all keep in mind all useful keybindings like following:
  • Alt+F2 to open a dialog window to run a command
  • Alt+F3 to open the alternative menu
  • Super+Space to open main menu
  • Super+Tab to open tasks menu
  • Super+t to run a Terminal
  • Super+f to open the File Manager
  • Super+e to run a text editor
  • Super+m to run the Media Player
  • Super+w to open the Web Browser
  • Super+l to lock screen
  • Super+v to open volume control
  • Super+x to logout
  • PrtSc to take a screenshot
Once trained, you can find keyboard use much more effective than the mouse use.

Tint panel isn't like other panel, you can't customize it right-clicking on it. To do so you have to edit a text file you can reach through the main menu:

Super+Space → Settings → tint2 → Edit config file

You have to read carefully all content. It is recommendable to make a backup of the config file, so you can recover it if you done some errors.
When you edited the file, you have to reboot the panel:

Super+Space → Settings → tint2 → Reboot tint2

I have found Tint2 a very effective and lightweight panel, suitable for all user with old computer.

2. Daily use

My computer use is very simple. I daily use an xhtml editor to make document like that you read in this very moment, a music player to listen my preferred music, a web browser to surf internet, a multimedia player to watch movies, and occasionally a graphic editor (GIMP), a music tracks editor (Audacity), an FTP client (gFTP), a text editor, and a word processor (LibreOffice Writer). I never play games.
It is useful to me automatically run some of the previous apps, so i edited the Autostart file. Follow this path:

Super+Space → Settings → Openbox → Edit autostart

In it you can add whatever apps you want, but following a specific syntax code, like following:

## bluefish - web editor
bluefish &

## xrandr
xrandr --output VGA-1 --mode 1366x768 &

## goggles music manager /home/borgio3/nightingale/nightingale-bin &

You can insert the command of the specific app followed by an ampersand (&). As you can see, i inserted the path to the command for the media player Nightingale, a Songbird fork.
It is recommended to backup the autostart file, before editing it.

Although the bundled software present in CB, i installed other software to satisfy my needs. I always used Synaptic Package Manager that not only was used by me to install packages, but also to update them. I installed the following packages:
  • LibreOffice Writer
  • Opera browser
  • Bluefish xhtml editor
  • Tidy html validator
  • gFTP client

3. Pros

CB is an effective, powerful, lightweight, rock-solid, and reliable operating system. I never experienced a crash system, nor system freeze. If you are finding a productive desktop Linux system, CB is for you. As it's based on Debian Stable, CB 10 is a strong rolling release for all tasks that you need for all purposes.
I think that CB 10 is a suitable Linux operating system for all office, all enterprise, all school on the planet.
Furthermore, if you have a low-powered or old computer, you could find in CB the solution to resuscitate them to a new life. Don't waste your money for a new computer, use CrunchBang instead!

4. Things to improve

In my experience i had troubles with an external USB Samsung CD/DVD burner. It don't want working in any case, while with other Linux operating system it work smoothly, without any external drivers that i had installed. So i think that it's necessary an improved hardware support.
I also think that it could be better if there is an off-line documentation about the system, so the user can use CB as soon as possible.

5. Conclusions

CrunchBang Linux is a Linux operating system for medium/advanced user that is accustomed to edit configuration text files, in order to improve it. I don't recommend this Linux distro to a newbie, because the jump from system like Windows® to CB could hurt it.
CB, like Arch Linux, is a goal to reach after a training period with other much more friendly Linux distro.
I want to thanks the CB developers that gave a fantastic distro to the free open source software world.

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