Forgive me, folks: Blame the holidays for the delay. What normally would have been a simple and easy week leading up to Christmas — the end of the week leading up to Sunday, actually — became somewhat complicated, as only the end of the week leading up to Christmas can. And we’ll leave it at that, except with an apology to anyone who was at the edge of their seat waiting for this next installment (thanks, Mom), which should have immediately followed Day 4 on, well, the actual Day 5.
During those opportunities over the last few days when I wasn’t doubling and tripling up on my work shift thanks to vacations and when I was not taking care of holiday business at home — you know, I move that next year no one buy any gifts until after New Year’s Day — I remained transfixed behind the monitor connected to the ZaReason Limbo 5440 while putting it through its paces. Before I outline what I used, I should mention that I worked on my SCALE 10X presentation as well as the SCALE 10X UpSCALE talk that I will be doing with darling daughter Mimi (hint: It involves music and lab coats — and that’s all I’m going to say about that). So the primarly lineup involved GIMP, LibreOffice Impress and Audacity.
[As an aside on the latter, author Carla Schroder and I conspired to give Mimi a great Christmas gift: a signed copy of "The Book of Audacity." Thank you, Carla!]
In short (which will become “in long” in later pargraphs), all three programs ran flawlessly and quickly on the desktop box that, had I enough money, would stay in the household. There’s nothing yet that I’ve thrown at this hardware that it hasn’t handled without breaking a sweat, and to be honest, after a few days I’ve truly given up on trying to trip it up.
Meanwhile, LibreOffice’s suite of software ran with aplomb — with as much aplomb as an inanimate object can run, for the nit-pickers out there — on this hardware. Switching back and forth from the LibreOffice Draw to LibreOffice Impress to LibreOffice Writer was a breeze, and the benefit of having a larger monitor to move windows around was a treat (how I made all those presentations on a laptop is a mystery).
Audacity? I’m the quintessential newb at it, though the far more Audacity-adept (does that make her Audacious?) Mimi zoomed her way around it quickly and can show the old man a thing or two. Audacity 1.3.13 beta ran and sounded perfect, though I think there could be a lot less bass in this presentation — an easy fix.
Finally, processing photos on GIMP was also a snap. Before I start, let me stike a Tebow-like pose and pray to all diety that will listen to my begging for the the single-window GIMP (2.7, I think) to come soon. Amen. With the multiple windows, using GIMP 2.6 was also a breeze and with the larger screen on the desktop monitor, multitasking was a lot easier than the same exercise — performed by yours truly for years on this old ThinkPad T30 — has been.
Note to self: Do more stuff on the desktops you have.
Before we go off to the next installment which wraps up this series, I should say that for the entire week, I have never had a negative “aha!” moment, nor have I uttered a brow-furrowing “hmmm” over the ZaReason Limbo 5440’s performance. Some software hiccups which were clearly the result of PEBCAK errors ocurred, but these were few and far between (of course) and were not a reflection on the machine’s abilities or performance. But we’ll leave the rest of that for the next installment, coming to you tomorrow.
Tomorrow wraps up the series with A Week in Limbo, Epilogue: The final review
“A Week in Limbo Series” (for those of you keeping track)
A Week in Limbo, Day 0
A Week in Limbo, Day 1: Under the hood
A Week in Limbo, Day 2: Fedora 16
A Week in Limbo, Day 3: Fedora 16 KDE
A Week in Limbo, Day 4: On second thought . . .
A Week in Limbo, Days 5 and 6: Get with the program
(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started testing and developing software in his new home office, which is the development side of Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, United States.)
Originally I had planned to write about Philip Newborough of Lincoln, England, who some know as corenominal and who even others know as the lead developer of CrunchBang GNU/Linux. The tale I had originally conceived to put on pixels here was how Philip not only talks the FOSS talk, but he also walks the FOSS walk: He has decided to leave gainful employment recently in order to concentrate on developing CrunchBang.
That’s no small feat, for starters, and it takes an enormous amount of courage to make that proverbial leap, especially when one has a family, as Philip does. Additionally, this leap of faith multiplies by a factor of several due to the enormous amount of confidence in the project one must have to press forward with this life-altering change.
Fortunately for Philip, his Debian-based distro CrunchBang does not let him down.
And while I had planned to write about Philip and how he took the plunge, I thought it would be a better blog to talk about the improvements he has made to what can clearly be described as the best distro you’ve never heard of.
With the cacophony of writers singing the praises of Linux Mint on the release of Linux Mint 12 Lisa, it might be a good idea to listen to the more dulcet tones of a Crash and a Bang and take a look the new release of CrunchBang Statler as well.
Over the weekend, Philip made available some updated CrunchBang Statler images. The changes were somewhat profound and, as Philip points out in his blog, “the new images are not really about additional features, but more about what has been removed and/or cleaned up (although there are a few new features to look forward to).”
CrunchBang is going the window manager route with Openbox, so that means Xfce version of CrunchBang is retired. the main thing to have been removed/retired is the Xfce version. “Besides,” Philip writes, “there are plenty of brilliant Xfce based distributions available, and if you know what you are doing, installing Xfce under Debian is really not too difficult.”
GDM? Gone, and it’s replaced by SLiM.
Plymouth? Gone, and the decision to remove it was really a personal preference. “I apologise to any bling lovers, but personally, I believe that graphical boot loaders take away more than they give,” Philip writers. “Also, CrunchBang is not really an exercise in branding and so removing a flashing logo is not a problem at all.”
So what’s new and/or added to CrunchBang Statler?
Openbox 3.5 — The latest and greatest version of the window manager.
Iceweasel/Firefox 8 replaces Chromium 9 — CrunchBang seems to switch back-and-forth between default browsers, according to Philip, probably like a lot of users
do. “I do not think this is problem, but merely reflects the state of browser development and availability at the time.” Agreed.
Geany replaces gedit — Geany is highly configurable, has lots of great plugins and is desktop environment independent. So it serves as an adequate replacement.
Gigolo and Thunar for managing connections to remote file systems — CrunchBang Statler includes Gigolo, configuring it to work out-of-the-box with Thunar. It is now simple to connect to remote file systems via SSH and Samba, among others.
LibreOffice replaces OpenOffice.org — Writes Philip: “Actually, CrunchBang ships with AbiWord and Gnumeric, but many people choose to install a more feature rich office suite via the CrunchBang post installation script. The script has been changed to suggest LibreOffice.”
I’ve been using CrunchBang since July on a second laptop that usually accompanies me wherever I go (long story there, but part of it can be found in an old blog here). I have always liked the speed CrunchBang afforded this old laptop, and if it runs this well on older hardware, it must fly on newer machines.
You can easily consider me a convert to the ranks of the CrunchBangers, and as such I put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Philip and CrunchBang are raising funds to get things off the ground, and I’d invite you to join me in donating to help CrunchBang along.
So thanks to Philip and the CrunchBang team for making an excellent distro.
(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)
Yes, I know LinuxCon has come and gone, and I think they’ve got the publicity thing covered, especially with the 20-year thing, the gala party, and with Linus being there and all. The buzz is still going, and that’s good. But if you’re going to a Linux show, make it the Ohio LinuxFest in September. Bradley Kuhn and Cathy Malmrose are keynoting — along with Jon “maddog” Hall — so you’ll not want to miss that (especially Cathy — Go ZaReason!).
With the upcoming deadline for the Linux Journal Readers’ Choice 2011 Awards upon us — it closes this Saturday — other bloggers have been been taking to beating the drum and holding the phone for their favorites.
Not to be outdone, of course, there are a few candidates on the LJ ballot that deserve special mention. If I were campaigning for them, I’d definitely cast votes for items in the following categories (note, however, the list of categories and software on the ballot is long, and they’re not all here):
Best Linux Distribution: No question, hands down. Fedora. Judging which is the best distro is akin to picking the best ice cream flavor — each of us has our own favorites, and hopefully you’ll vote for yours. Mine comes in blue, is based on Red Hat, has the best desktop background release after release (the Design Team at Fedora is the best in the FOSS realm, period), it’s always rock solid, and even if I can’t use the default GNOME 3 desktop, Fedora runs great under KDE or Xfce. Fedora is reaching a point now where the myth that it’s “only for experience users” is falling by the wayside, and if a lack of confidence in your skills has kept you from using Fedora, you should give it a try.
Best Desktop Environment: Oh, look! A minefield! Let’s skip through it! You all know how I feel about GNOME 3; the aspect that I can’t use it due to older equipment moreso than anything else (if I could vote for GNOME 2.32, that would be great). KDE? I like KDE though — truth in advertising — I’m a post-KDE 4.x user and not familiar with the way things used to be (and not familiar with why there’s such a hubbub about it). I don’t know why Openbox and Fluxbox, both windows managers, are in this category, and why isn’t there a separate WM category? How did I vote? I’m cast a vote this year for Xfce, because I’m using it on Fedora 15 and will be using it again on Fedora 16, and while it’s reputation is a lightweight environment, I’m finding there’s a significant degree of tweakability to it. Also, if you really like WMs, I’d vote for OpenBox.
Best Web Browser: Konqueror. Just kidding. While there are some advantages to Konqueror that do not involve Web browsing, for getting on the information superhighway I usually go with Firefox, though on the Windows box at the newspaper I use Chrome. It’s a toss up between those two.
Best E-mail Client: Another minefield and another tough call. What I use most is Thunderbird, because everybody knows the ‘Bird is the word, and it’s always worked well for me. What has always worked well for me in the past, too, and something I’ve always thought was one of KDE’s stars is Kmail, which deserves a vote if you’re so inclined. Claws is something I’m looking to try and haven’t yet, so maybe if it wows me, it can be a leading candidate for 2012.
Best IRC client: Simple — it’s irssi. It’s what the cool kids use, once they graduate past Xchat. Konversation gets high marks, too, and readily available on KDE. But I voted for irssi.
Best Office Suite: OK, here’s where we get to make history. Vote for LibreOffice — it’s OpenOffice as it should be. It would be outrageously cool if LibreOffice took home the prize in this category, for starters because it deserves it, and it would be a good nose-thumbing to Oracle as well.
Best Graphic Design Tool: All of them. I’m serious. If there’s ever been a category where each of the candidates deserves to win, it’s this one. GIMP finally gets a single window, I’m told, thank $DIETY, but I ended up voting for . . . Inkscape. I’m not the artist in the family; that title goes to my daughter Mimi, but having drawn a little, I do like Inkscape a lot.
Best Audio Tool: Audacity. If Carla Schroder uses it and writes a book about it, then I’m there.
Best Kid Friendly Application: Another easy one — Tux Paint. I should be ashamed to admit this, but I’m not: Ever since Mimi was younger and we used Tux Paint together when she was learning her way around a computer, I have always loved this program and I still fiddle with it from time to time when I’m not doing anything else. Also, I count Tux Paint as one of the main influences in cultivating the artistic talent Mimi has shown.
Best Game: As bad as I am at it, I still think Super Tux gets the nod here, as it’s a very creative game. Truth be told, I’ve never played any of the games on the list, except for Tux Racer, and I know my good friend Ken Starks over at the HeliOS Project is a fan of World of Goo.
Best Database: Our first heart-versus-head conundrum. If MySQL were the best, I may not vote for it on principle, but fortunately other databases have knocked MySQL from its perch at the top. I’ve only used two other databases and have liked them both: PostgreSQL and MariaDB. I really want to see MariaDB do well, but PostgreSQL is clearly the best of the bunch.
Best Programming Language: Again, the ice cream comparison comes into play and in my limited programming experience, I vote for what I know best. That would be Python.
Best scripting language: bash — accept no substitutes (OK, ksh if you need to).
Best IDE: Emacs in the hands of someone who really knows what they’re doing (and sadly, that’s not me) is simply an amazing tool. But I’m voting for vim. I can get more done using it, and I’m never backed into a corner, as I am sometimes with Emacs. Sorry, RMS.
Best Package Management Application: If it sounds like it tastes good, you have to go with it: yum. Honorable mention goes to Synaptic.
Best Content Management System: I’ve used Mambo and Joomla! in the past, and those happen to be my CMS roots. However, having used Drupal over the last few months, I have to say that I’ve made the switch. Drupal gets my vote this year.
Best Linux Laptop Vendor/Best Linux Desktop Workstation Vendor/Best Linux Server Vendor: I’m lumping these three categories together because the vote is the same in each category — ZaReason. The Berkeley, Calif., outfit makes outstanding, dependable hardware that’s Linux based (or if you’d prefer, no operating system) and the service is top notch. You’ll have to write in ZaReason in the Best Linux Desktop Workstation Vendor category, but you can mark the ballot in the other two.
Best Linux Book: A real page-turner, especially if you’re into audio — “The Book of Audacity,” by Carla Schroder. Buy it now.
Again, there’s a plethora of other categories that I haven’t touched on. Polls are open until Saturday. Vote early.
This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.