CrunchBang 11 (Waldorf)

[If you don’t know who or what these (*) are, check the Glossary page.]

At The Robotic Frog, we like newbies! But…CrunchBang is NOT a distributions for newbies. If you’re brand new to Linux, we recommend Xubuntu 12.04. Does that mean that a newbie can’t get CrunchBang to work? Not at all. It’ll just takes some patience and hard work. If you’re a newbie and you think you really want to give CrunchBang a try…and you need help…drop us a comment and we’ll do the best we can to help.

I’ve spent roughly three days with CrunchBang 11…and I think TheFrog got it right. I have never used a Linux distribution that grew on me so fast.

When RoboFrog first loaded CrunchBang, the only thing going through my head was “Wow. That’s just butt-ugly!” Call me shallow, but I like a Linux distribution that at least makes an attempt at looking attractive. Xubuntu is difficult to beat for initial impressions. It is stunningly attractive. The impression is that the Xubuntu team put a lot of work into getting everything right. As I said last time, CrunchBang comes up with a face that only a mother could love. Thankfully, it only takes a few minutes to make it much better.

CrunchBang has a minimalist user interface and we like that. Actually, I don’t think it’s as minimalist as it looks; rather, it’s efficient and elegant. In the three days I’ve been using CrunchBang 11, I’m completely in love with it. Now I understand the look in RoboFrog’s eyes. I’m still waiting, holding my breath, hoping a big disappointment doesn’t show up. So far, it hasn’t; CrunchBang just keeps getting better and better.

Their web site says that CrunchBang is infinitely hackable. Being slightly mathematically inclined, I’m not altogether comfortable with the word infinitely in this context, but let me say emphatically: We haven’t found anything that we want to change that we can’t…easily. Let’s see  how to make CrunchBang more presentable.

The unreadable text on the right side of the screen is Conky. Conky solved a couple of problems we’ve had for a long time. We’ll tell you about that another time. First, lets change the Conky display so that we can read it.

Settings!

You get the System Menu by right-clicking anywhere on the screen. No more chasing after a panel-button in a corner of the screen or on a shortcut panel. You simply right-click wherever your mouse is. There’s one exception. If the screen is covered with an application, you’ll have to move your mouse to the panel (default: top of screen) and right-click there to get the System Menu. In practice, we don’t find that we have to do that much.

[Update: Just found this. If you have a Super key (Windows key on PC keyboard, Command key on Apple keyboard) Conky comes to the rescue. Super+space brings up the system menu even with the screen covered by an application.]

Right-click to bring up the System Menu. Search downward until you find Settings. You’ll want to spend a lot of time in the Settings menu. You can change almost everything about how your system looks or operates from this menu.

Choose: Settings->Conky->Edit .conkyrc

This brings up the configuration file for Conky. Once you get used to editing these configuration files, you can turn your system into almost anything you want.

.conkyrc comes up in a text editor. We made three changes to the Conky configuration: 1) We changed the xtfont to Droid Sans, 2) We changed size=12, and 3) changed default_color to ffffff’. We weren’t sure Conky would accept color codes in hex, but it appears to work. The lines we changed look like this:

xtfont Droid Sans:size=12

default_color ffffff

Save your changes, and finally, you can read the Conky display. We think it’s pretty cool…and useful.

Note: We like the Droid fonts. I can’t remember whether the system comes with them loaded or RoboFrog loaded them. If they aren’t loaded on your system: $ sudo aptitude install droid-fonts.

Okay, so how about the background? Even easier. Bring up the Settings menu; go to Choose Wallpaper…and you’ll find a few really ugly wallpapers. Maybe it wasn’t as easy as I implied. Not a big problem, though. Find some wallpapers that you like, maybe you already have some favorites or download some from the Internet. Here’s the important part: AS ROOT (sudo cp …), copy them to /home/<username>/images/wallpapers/shared. Once they’re copied to this folder, you can go back to Settings->Choose Wallpaper, select the one you want, apply, close, and you have a new background. Now things are getting much better. Most of the ugly is gone.

I don’t get all the grayed-out text. We simply can’t read it, especially on a gray background. Here’s the last change we made for our initial setup. Let’s make the clock and workspace numbers so we can read them.

Settings->tint2->edit config file

In this configuration file, we made the following changes:

taskbar_name_font = Droid Sans 12

taskbar_name_active_font_color = #ffffff 100

time1_format = %H:%M

time1_font = Droid Sans Mono 12

clock_font_color = #ffffff 100

Then:

Settings->tint2->Restart tint2

That’s it! Now, you have an attractive, efficient, elegant user interface, a large selection of up-to-date applications, and a very stable system. Very cool!

Appeal to Reason

Let me make a plea for Linux developers everywhere. These folk put a lot of time, blood, sweat, and tears into creating amazing, free (as in freedom…and beer) OS’s and software that enrich our lives. At The Robotic Frog, we’ve looked for the “right” Linux for a long time. We like Xubuntu, but we LOVE CrunchBang 11. We’re so convinced that CrunchBang is what we’ve been looking for, that yesterday, we sent them a donation. It won’t be the last. Some developers are paid for the work they share with us. Most aren’t. They do it and make their work available to us for the joy of doing it. That doesn’t pay for the servers, the rent, or feed their families, though. Time is ultimately the only currency we have. Let’s help these folk keep doing what they love so they can keep providing us with stuff WE love. If you have a Linux distribution…if you have embraced a distribution that you intend to use for more than a few days…consider sending them a donation…even if it’s just $1 (US or equivalent). We tried more Linux distributions in the past 9 months than in the entire time we’ve used Linux. If we had sent $1 (US) to every distribution we tried, it would be less than $30 (US). As I sit here thinking about it…that’s not much. I could…and will in the future…gladly pay $1 (US) just for the privilege of being able to try a new Linux distribution. Please consider donating to your favorite Linux distribution. You know what the alternative is if there were no Linux.

2 responses to “CrunchBang 11 (Waldorf)

  1. ZACHARiAS, you’re our new hero here at The Robotic Frog. We want a Linux that’s lightweight, has relatively up-to-date apps, and will install and run on all of our machines. We have three Linux killers: Defiant has firmware issues, BigDog has both firmware and video issues, and Whitestar has optical drive issues. There are few Linux distributions that will simply load and run on all three machines without special incantations. Debian has trouble with all three of them; Ubuntu with two (actually, of our 6 machines, Ubuntu won’t run on 4 of them.). It’s a testament to the CrunchBang team that CrunchBang loads, updates, and runs almost flawlessly on every machine we have (We haven’t tried it on OldBlue yet, but that’s comming.). We experienced only one problem with starting and stopping NFS. We have a very simple workaround, so it’s not and issue. Thanks so much for the recommendation.

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