Wednesday, June 22, 2016

two community projects

MEPIS and CrunchBang were two great Linux distros. Each was, for the most part, a "one-man distro," and when their respective primary developers ultimately quit the projects, development effectively ceased.

However, each distro had a devoted (and, talented) group of community members who stepped up to the plate, resulting in MX Linux and BunsenLabs Linux, which are both mainly based on Debian Stable, as were their respective predecessors.

Here's how MX is described at the MX Linux page:

MX Linux (antiX MX) is a special version of antiX developed in full collaboration with the MEPIS Community, using the best tools and talents from each distro and including work and ideas originally created by Warren Woodford for his MEPIS project... Relying on the excellent upstream work by Linux, we deploy Xfce4 as Desktop Environment on top of a Debian Stable base...

And, from

BunsenLabs Linux is a distribution offering a light-weight and easily customizable Openbox desktop. The current release is Hydrogen, built on top of Debian Jessie. The project is a community continuation of CrunchBang Linux.

I have MX-15  "Fusion" (MX-15_x64.iso, about 985 MB) and BunsenLabs "Hydrogen" (bl-Hydrogen-amd64.iso, about 836 MB) installed in a dual-boot set-up on my "test" machine, an old Compaq Presario CQ57 notebook. I'll take a short look at both distros here.

MEPIS shipped only with KDE, but the MX folks went with Xfce. Here's a look at the default MX-15 desktop, from the live session:

I explored the MX-15 live session and posted about it back in January, in "a gem of a distro"; no need to repeat all that here.

Here are a few MX-15 screenshots taken after I installed the release (and tweaked a few things to my own tastes) last month:

BunsenLabs "Hydrogen" may not come quite as loaded with tools and goodies as MX-15, but the MX folks have been at it longer, and at this stage MX is the more polished distro, seems to me. That's completely understandable, and it's no knock on BunsenLabs, which actually seems to be put together quite well, from what I'm seeing so far. As was the case with CrunchBang, BunsenLabs ships with a pre-configured Openbox set-up. Here's a shot of the default BunsenLabs "Hydrogen" desktop:

Actually, with the first run there's a post-installation script that opens up in Terminator:

I decided to skip the post-installation script because I didn't think I needed it, but it can be run later with the following command:

$ bl-welcome

As pointed out above, BunsenLabs "Hydrogen" is basically Jessie with Openbox. Here's what's in /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb jessie main non-free contrib
deb jessie/updates main contrib non-free
deb jessie-updates main contrib non-free

And there's this line in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/bunsen.list:

deb bunsen-hydrogen main

BunsenLabs uses sudo by default, which, as I recall, was how things were done with CrunchBang.

A short list of some the default apps I'm seeing:

- Iceweasel
- Geany text editor
- Thunar
- Terminator
- LibreOffice Writer (but not the rest of LibreOffice)
- Gnumeric
- Galculator
- Mirage
- xfce4-screenshooter and scrot
- VLC media player
- Conky
- tint2 panel
- Nitrogen (for handling wallpapers)
- obmenu for editing the Openbox menu
- Openbox Configuration Manager
- lxappearance
- GParted

The menu includes links to Debian documentation, the Debian Wiki, the Debian Handbook, etc., and also one for the Arch Wiki (!).

So far, I have made very few changes to the "Hydrogen" installation, as I'm quite comfortable with the defaults, for the most part. Firefox-ESR was added, and I set that as the default web browser instead of Iceweasel. I changed the cursor theme from DMZ-White to DMZ-Black, and increased the number of workspaces from two to three. By default, the screen locks when the screensaver comes on, forcing the user to enter the password to get back to the desktop, so after a bit of fumbling around I managed to stop the screen from locking by creating ~/.config/autostart and copying /etc/xdg/autostart/light-locker.desktop into it, then (in the new file) changing the Exec=light-locker line to Exec=light-locker --lock-after-screensaver=0. I had to reboot the system for that to take effect.

Otherwise, I've mostly stayed with the default set-up for now. Here's a look at the desktop, with a few apps running on Workspace 1 and the menu opened up on Workspace 2:

For more info, readers may want to check out Dedoimedo's review of MX-15 and DistroWatch's review of BunsenLabs "Hydrogen."