Monthly Archives: August 2011

Installing #! Crunchbang Linux

As you might have read, mr Thorvalds complained a few days ago about Gnome 3, and he himself had switched to Xfce if I remember correctly.

Well, his opposition to Gnome 3 is kind of well founded, in a way. Ubuntu and Fedora is more and more targeting normal people, hoping to make it onto netbooks and tablets. Nothing wrong with that. Ubuntu is massively being critisised for Unity (I dont find it that bad), and now Thorvalds critisises Fedora for going with Gnome 3 (which I have not tried).

The main distributions used to try to be for everyone, and Gnome 2 and KDE much resembles (or mimic or copy if you want) Windows and Mac OS. They tried to combine reasonably ease of use with power.

Now (with Gnome 3 and Unity) ease of use for beginners is being prioritized over power and flexibility. And considering the success of iOS this is not so strange or bad.

However, the power users or traditional Linux users, who want many windows open, and mostly terminal windows, they wont like Gnome 3 and Unity that much. Thus, I believe there might be a future for simple, powerful distributions that also “just works”, for programmers and system administrators. And for me, I would not mind if they were based of something much lighter than Gnome and KDE, and something that does not resemble Windows or Mac OS at all. That said, I dont know if Openbox, E17 or Xfce is the way to go.

A few years ago, I tried #! Crunchbang Linux. It was a mostly nice experience, but for me it didnt last that long. At that time Crunchbang was based on Ubuntu, and I actually ended up installing Ubuntu with Openbox myself, rather than using Crunchbang… I dont remember exactly why.

Now, I found that Crunchbang is based on Debian rather than Ubuntu. Cool – maybe they head even more for simplicity and stability, but still adds multimedia and codecs and stuff to Debian, I thought.

So, today I downloaded the latest Crunchbang iso, double checked the md5 checksum, burnt the CD and installed it on my x64-amd-pc (overwriting Ubuntu 11.04).

Broken CD
To my supprise and disappointment, the Live CD mode didnt work properly (that is, after booting and loading, the display turned black – maybe a graphics problem since my display is DVI only?). I tried failsafe Live CD – same problem. Weird. Maybe I should have suspected something already, but decided to not give up, but just install the system instead. So, I launched the (graphical) installer, and now the graphics at least worked properly. After partitioning and formatting installation actually failed. It copied (all or most?) files to the hard drive, but refused to accept that installation was successful, and I could not proceed to the configure package mananager step. So, I did the only reasonable thing, and rebooted into the very old and reliable text-based install system that I have used many times before. Same problem there: the Install system step failed. Is the Crunchbang CD, that is 6 months old, so bad that it fails to install on my very standard AMD64 hardware?

Well, I am not going to start removing hard drives, changing BIOS settings… well one thing I can test, on the actual machine I get a command shell and run:

# md5sum /dev/sr0
 d643868d4503e5d3cc1689ddff4fcd04 /dev/sr0

I did verify the CD after burning it at low speed… but ahhh… the optical reader seems to have trouble reading the disk. To my surprise, after long time of weird noises from the optical reader, the CORRECT checksum shows up!?!

At this point, I make a new CD, and verify that one too. I try to install… and it works! So, the same computer running the same installer both fails to install from the CD and successfully produces the correct checksum for the CD. Wouldn’t thing that was possible.

More problems
At this point, I boot into my new Crunchbang system… and just as with the Live CD mode before, the display turns black. I am a bit confused, becuase normally Ctrl-Alt-F1 would give me a console… but not today. I try to ssh into the computer (guessing IP from my DHCP-server), but I am not sure it even got online, and I try a few IPs but they dont listen to ssh.

I reset the computer, boot into Recovery Mode, same problem. Ctrl-Alt-F1 does not give me a console. At least GRUB was properly installed so I can still boot into Windows 7.

I gave Debian 6 a try – exactly the same problem. I tried to disable gdm, but that did not help – still just a black screen, and no working virtual consoles. I can SSH into Debian though, but I don’t really feel like fixing it with xrandr or whatever.

My hardware, in case anybody cares, is an ASUS barebone system with onboard Nvidia GeForce 8200 and an AMD II X2 250 cpu.

(Last comment: I now happily installed Xubuntu 11.10, Alpha 2, with Xfce 4.8)

EyeTV vs Terratec Home Cinema

A while ago I bought an EyeTV hybrid for my MacMini. Quite nice device, and especially I liked the (mac) software included. Very nice, particularly the recording, cutting and exporting video features.

Now, the MacMini is all dead since a few weeks ago and I try to replace it with a Windows 7 PC. It works quite well, but Terratec Home Cinema (included with the Hybrid, for Windows userse) is so inferior compared to EyeTV. Especially the Cut! program is unstable, unpolished, and does not support exporting to any other formats than the original MPEG2. Luckily Handbrake does that job very well.

In this case, quality of software makes the difference between a fantastic product for the Mac, and a quite average product for the PC.