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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Tue, 13 Nov 2012

Linux distributions I plan to test -- Crunchbang 11 (Testing) and Bodhi 2.1.0 -- and why

I don't download nearly as many Linux and BSD ISO images as I used to. Recently I purged my "collection" of ISOs on CD and DVD. I probably dumped 200 discs going all the way back to when I started with free operating systems in 2007.

And these days I don't distro-hop. I pretty much just run Debian, either Stable or Testing, and currently the latter.

I keep my hand in. My recent tests have included a trio of Red Hat Enterprise Linux clones: Scientific Linux, CentOS and CentOS spin Stella.

Two distributions I keep an eye on are Crunchbang and Bodhi. I recently grabbed torrents of both systems -- in Crunchbang's case the Testing image (based on Debian Testing, currently Wheezy) and Bodhi 2.1.0, based on Ubuntu 12.04.

Chances of me installing one of these distributions on my main laptop aren't great but aren't nil either.

What I'd like to do is get a few USB flash drives and install to those instead of burning optical discs. It is the 2010s after all. Once I get some time in the live environments, I very well might go a different direction and install something new.

Other systems that interest me include Fedora (GNOME, Xfce and LXDE) and Ubuntu (the stock Unity, plus GNOME, Xfce and LXDE). I do have a Lubuntu (Ubuntu with LXDE) installation running on another laptop, and it's running quite well.

Key is how I feel about GNOME 3 vs. other desktop environments. If I weren't having touchpad tap-to-click issues in Debian Wheezy with Xfce that disappear in GNOME 3 that I can't seem to clear up in Xfce, I'd be a happy Wheezy Xfce user. I have everything else in Xfce pretty much the way I want it. Except for this touchpad issue. Most of it is lousy hardware. Lenovo really f'd up on this one, I can tell you that.

But if GNOME 3 can take care of it, certainly Xfce can, too. Or another distribution entirely.

So I will be looking around, but there's always GNOME 3. Or turning off tap-to-click.

At this point, taming the touchpad in Debian Wheezy with Xfce is more about not letting the software and hardware get the best of me than anything else. It's also "insurance" against future Linux systems not configuring this touchpad as well as Debian Wheezy with GNOME 3.

Note: The touchpad is an absolute nightmare in Windows 7. About the only thing you can do is turn it completely off. Tap-to-click is the default, and it's a text-deleting nightmare. So in this case Linux is winning big time. But it can always do better. If only Lenovo and Alps didn't release such crappy hardware.