Playing to your strengths

In the Larry the Free Software Guy blog on Saturday, I wrote an announcement about firming up my writing schedule and adding a couple of blogs. I don’t think it’s a secret that I actually use more than one distro — in order to keep current on things I use several distros because when consulting with small businesses regarding conversion to Linux and FOSS, I have to give them what they need rather than what I want them to have.

So with me at all times are two laptops — overkill, maybe? — with the Toshiba having Korora 20 KDE and the Dell running CrunchBang; a Fedora (or Red Hat, if you want to go that far back) distro and a Debian distro. The ThinkPad T40 stays in the lab for the most part, and that’s another CrunchBang rig, along with the Dell desktops running Debian Wheezy and Fedora 20, and a Sun Ultra 10 box with Solaris 9 (Sun OS 5.9) because, well, I’m sentimental about Solaris.

There are a lot of differences in the two, and that is good. Here’s why. The reason I chose each distro on my ever-present hardware is that Philip Newborough here at CrunchBang and Chris Smart at Korora both understand the importance of playing to a distro’s strengths, making it that much easier for the user.

The differences between the two are staggering: Because the Toshiba has dual-cores and 4GB of RAM (the first time I’ve had a machine this powerful that I could easily carry), it handles KDE very well. What is sometimes challenging and often tests my programming knowledge and skills (if not my patience sometimes) is that there are layers upon layers here to fathom in getting the Toshiba just the way I want it.

To its significant credit, CrunchBang does not have the baggage that comes with having KDE. The term “baggage” might be negative, but what I mean is that there’s a lot that comes with the KDE territory. And that’s by design. From time to time there are posts in the forum asking, “How do I put $DESKTOP_ENVIRONMENT on CrunchBang?” And the simple answer is, “You don’t.” There’s probably no more wider gulf in user interfaces than the one between KDE on one side and Openbox on the other. For CrunchBang, Openbox is a natural — it makes the clean canvas to which you are making your distro masterpiece come alive.

Strength in its simplicity: It’s one of the many facets of CrunchBang that make it a great distro.

Before I forget: CrunchBang will be at the Southern California Linux Expo SCALE 12X next month. Will you? Let me know.

See you next week.

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

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