Since I stepped up to a slightly more modern computer, I have shifted the majority of my distro-hopping expeditions to virtual machines. Having two cores means I can usually still meddle in other matters while watching an ISO boot in Qemu. And it saves a few steps in burning a CD, rebooting, tinkering with the live environment, then returning to an installed system.
But let’s face it: Emulated systems just aren’t anywhere near as fun as the real thing. Distro-hopping in a virtual machine is like drinking sugar-free cola … where’s the fun in that? And it tastes strange too.
These are both prereleases — Archbang is the 2.00 RC, and Crunchbang is the Statler alpha — but I’ve modified the default desktops a little bit. Must show something new, right?
The ‘bangs are popular these days and have been for a while. Crunchbang has a reputation for scooping Ubuntu users who find the default arrangement a little heavy, while Archbang is a relatively recent offshoot to do the same thing, just with Arch Linux. As you can see they’re not precise duplicates, but rather different approaches to doing the same thing.
This Crunchbang release will be the first built from Debian, if I understand correctly. It incorporates a healthy shake of Gnome, but it seems quick and speedy, even off the CD. Of course, using Gnome doesn’t mean it has be sluggish and bloated, it only means that some renditions will be sluggish and bloated.
I could recommend any number of substitutes to things like gedit or Thunar, but the fact remains that if those are the applications the Crunchbang community wants, that’s what they’ll get. Don’t want Iceweasel? Put something else on there, I say. As it stands the theme is coherent, it runs fast, I had no hardware issues and short of installing it, everything worked fine while it floated in RAM.
Archbang is interesting as well, but I don’t want it to sound like a footnote. The software selection is markedly different — Chromium is in place, for example, and Exaile is the media player on hand, and so forth — so I am not sure if the idea is to mirror the Crunchbang desktop with Arch as the foundation, or just to provide an analog between the two root distros.
Either way, I suspect that building a system to duplicate Crunchbang or Archbang in either Arch or Debian would only take an hour or two, so you could say the time saved is small. But both systems would be good starting points for building your own Openbox desktop, adding or subtracting the software you like and using their configurations as frameworks.
So the real question becomes: Which do you prefer, Arch or Debian?