Throwing off the training wheels

It has been over two months since I posted — hope all of you enjoyed the quiet — and I can only plead guilty to being extremely busy over the last several weeks with various family duties, teaching my Python course for middle/high schoolers and general curveballs that life throws at one when one isn’t paying attention.

But I digress.

While Philip Newborough gets the latest version of CrunchBang up and running — and while the community tests and hacks around this upcoming version, of course — many folks have been taking a look at CrunchBang and liking what they see. Many of them who decide to take the plunge are first-time Linux users, according to their introductions in the aptly named “Introduction” forum.

Normally, I cringe when a new Linux user starts off with CrunchBang. Perhaps the cold sweat that beads on my brow comes from my own experience with trying to compile Gentoo as the third distro I tried sometime in 2006; in the six years of using Linux and FOSS, I’ve never gotten Gentoo to run (Gentoo folks, don’t flame me: Clearly it’s operator error in this case and has nothing to do with your outstanding distro. Honest). I can’t remember the fourth distro I tried, but I would be willing to bet it was a galloping retreat to something very easy to install and run.

Yet several days ago, the CrunchBang community member known to all as pvsage posted something on one introductee’s thread that changed my mind about CrunchBang being only for experienced Linux users. I can’t find pvsage’s post to quote it directly, but I can paraphrase it. It said something to the effect of, “Well, if you came to learn Linux, CrunchBang is the place to be.”

And he is absolutely right. I am taking another look at pointing new users to something more familiar to their Windows/Mac “comfort zone.” It’s very easy to point someone to Ubuntu or Linux Mint or Fedora (yes, Fedora — those who say it’s too “cutting edge” for new users haven’t used it lately) and say, “come back when your ready for CrunchBang.” But I now realize that this is very short-sighted, to say nothing of cheating the inspired new user to learn the wealth of information our Debian-based distro provides.

So I’m changing my tune, so to speak: For those who are interested in learning and growing with a distro, you’re definitely in the right place. The forums are a great place to find answers, both those that have already been answered — use that handy, dandy search field in the upper right — or those that haven’t been given yet and are waiting for the right question to be asked. Also, as an aside, it’s important “how” you ask the question, and I wrote about this a while ago here.

Besides, it’s not like we’re throwing you in to the deep end of the pool and saying to you, “now, swim.” That would be Gentoo (OK, last Gentoo joke, guys and gals. Don’t flame me).

So, again, if you’re a “newb” and you really, really like CrunchBang as your introduction to Linux, and you are inspired enough to learn how Linux works, then by all means, you’re in the right place with CrunchBang. Training wheels are not needed here.

Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.

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5 responses to “Throwing off the training wheels

  1. Glad to see a new post Larry. On both blogs, glad it was being busy that’s kept you occupied. I tried the latest Waldorf image (9-27), Phillip does an incredible job. I’m staying with Statler for day to day as advised by Phillip. I’m still amazed at what he has made with openbox and his enhancements.

  2. I thoroughly agree. I started off on Fedora 9 about 7 years ago, but #! has taught me loads and I nowadays I actually yearn for a forum answer to my question to say “go to this config file and change X to Y” as to me, that’s simple. I had a recent vacation to another distro and spent half a day trying to fix something that the respective forum said “couldn’t be done”. The #! forums are brilliant, and the most friendly I have ever encountered.

  3. Mr. Larry Hi, my name is angel is an Italian boy I am a new user crunchbag I was very impressed by his post I would say that I was a member Mint, now I switched to crunchbag waldof is I can not find much difference, you have to be a little more practical without graphical interfaces of different respective graphical environments, but to a new user that switch to crunchbag should also give you the ability to easily install various graphical environments if possible by placing them in the configuration script as was possible in the various versions of crunchbag for the rest crunchbag for me is fantastic. P.S. I apologize again for my English but I am Italian …….

  4. Just for the sake of saying, I felt your Gentoo-burn when I tried using straight Debian. Lots of little things that are simple, now, when I know about them, but really frustrating when you don’t know…

    Luckily, the crunchbang forums were a bit kinder, and I learned, and I’m still learning. That counts for a lot.

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