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Hanging with the outlaws

March 20, 2013 7 comments

Sitting at my desk at the newspaper a week ago, I got a tweet from CrunchBang’s lead developer Philip Newborough: They’re talking about you on #LO.

Hmmm. It’s not the first time I’ve been talked about, and thanks to the heads-up from Philip, I got to sit in on a taping of Linux Outlaws No. 302, which is now out in the wider world here. The quote that gave me worldwide renown, at least on Linux Outlaws, was from a recent blog about Ubuntu: “The gravity with which Canonical pulls Ubuntu further from its original FOSS orbit is nothing short of tragic.”

Linux Outlaws, according to their page, talks about anything that runs on Linux, about open source software on other platforms and many other things. Dan Lynch and Fabian Scherschel are the hosts of Linux Outlaws, and the pair go into great detail on the news and other happenings in the Linux/FOSS world. As described on the site, listening to the show is very much like listening to two friends sitting in a pub, having fun and talking about things they find interesting — and thanks to the modern miracle of podcasts, it’s like you’re there with them, pint in hand.

There is gratuitous swearing and neither Dan nor Fabian pull any punches when describing shortcomings or stupidity, intentional or not, and calling people out for it. Ranting seems to be par for the course — again, in a good way, and Dan tends to be low-key and methodical in his analysis while Fabian positions himself on opposite side of that spectrum, sometimes redlining the needle on the rant tachometer. It’s all thought-provoking and informative, punctuated with humor and hilarity.

Of course, while Linux Outlaws is not for the faint of heart, it’s still clearly worth a listen.

I haven’t had a chance to listen to the edited podcast yet, and as I write this, they’re doing the live taping of Episode 303 — and I find myself having to explain to my colleagues what I’m laughing at (long story). However, the live broadcast for 302 was incredibly entertaining, and they have earned a regular fan here.

Keep up the great work, guys!

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang 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.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software in his individual consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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What’s that sound?

November 27, 2011 6 comments

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.)

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Eliminate DRM!

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