Monday, April 11, 2011

Linux Mint Xfce Update

After downloading the new Debian-based Linux Mint Xfce and installing it on my laptop, I found out that this distro suffers from my laptop wireless bug. My 64-bit laptop has a Realtek wireless chip that refuses to work out of the box for any non-Ubuntu-based Linux distro. After much tinkering and searching online, I found that I can't fix this bug even with ndiswrapper. Because of this handicap, I didn't get a chance to test Linux Mint Xfce under real-world, constant-web-surfing conditions.

I will note that this version of mint comes with some unusual pre-installed software. For example, it ships with LibreOffice instead of the usual light-weight office choice of AbiWord + Gnumeric. I may have to download the 32-bit version for my desktop to see how choices like this affect performance.

DistroWatch Weekly's Crunchbang Review

The feature story in the latest DistroWatch Weely is a review of Crunchbang 10 by Jesse Smith (no relation). All in all, it wasn't a bad review, considering that the author only did surface-level research on the distro.

The most glaring error in the review is the Smith's puzzlement at the download page's declaration that "CrunchBang Linux could possibly make your computer go CRUNCH! BANG!" He correctly notes that it seems odd for a distro based on Debian stable to say such a thing about itself. Of course, it makes more sense if you know that previous editions were based on the less rock-solid Ubuntu. It's true that it's negligent to have that copy up on the download page, but Crunchbang is a one-man project, so a few slip-ups are understandable. To be fair, you can't expect a reviewer just coming to a product to know things like this off the bat, but would it have killed Smith to check the Crunchbang Wikipedia entry?

Smith does go on to list some of Crunchbang's best features, including the welcome script that gives new users the option to install several common software packages. He also (though possibly inadvertently) makes the point that the switch to a Debian stable base may confuse people about the distro's target audience. It appears to have been conceived as a distro for hardcore geeks who weren't afraid to risk wiping out all their data. Now it's just as usable to an average user who wants a stable, fast OS.

I like the fact that Smith tried to figure out what audience would like Crunchbang, rather than treating his own preferences as the gold standard. However, a little research in places like Wikipedia and the Crunchbang forums would have yielded a lot of useful information on that topic.