back to article Brit Linux distro CrunchBang calls it quits

The British developer behind the CrunchBang Linux distribution has called it quits. Philip Newborough, aka @corenominal, posted his decision to stop work on the distro last Friday. “I’m leaving it behind because I honestly believe that it no longer holds any value, and whilst I could hold on to it for sentimental reasons, I …

  1. thames

    Still Around Till Now?

    It's surprising that he kept it going as long as he did. It was a pretty specialized distro, and once true netbooks were dead there wasn't a lot of point to it anymore. Originally it was meant to provide an out of the box solution for running on very limited resources. Even the cheapest laptop today though has more than enough RAM and disk space for a mainstream distro.

    The original netbooks had very small solid state drives, and very small screens. The default applications had to be picked to fit in that space, and the various menus and configuration screens had to be sized so they would fit small screens without running off the bottom. That's why netbook distros were different from regular desktop/laptop versions.

    What were later called "netbooks" had little resemblance to the originals. The former were just small, cheap, laptops. Windows wouldn't fit on the original netbooks. However, Microsoft panicked and offered deep discounts for manufacturers who would sell something that was enough bigger than a real netbook so that it could run Windows XP. The manufacturers at that point had given up on the netbook market, but were happy to be able to sell cheaper laptops.

    What actually killed true netbooks was the manufacturers misread the market. They weren't supposed to be laptops. They were supposed to be media consumption appliances. The Apple fanboys were moaning that Apple wouldn't put out a netbook to compete in the market. However, Apple said that netbooks weren't what people really wanted, and hinted that they were working else. They eventually came out with the iPad, which in fact turned out to be what the market really did want. The Linux OS market for tablets of course was then filled by Android.

    The reason the original netbook manufacturers failed was because they just wanted to whack an off the shelf bit of software onto some hardware that they manufactured and then push it into the sales channel and forget it. That works fine when selling into an existing commodity market. It doesn't work when trying to develop new markets.

    This is the key to Apple's success. They develop the software and hardware together, and so don't face a chicken and egg problem. There's nobody else out there doing the same thing. Samsung are trying to learn how to do this, but they've still got a lot of things they need to learn in the software field. Microsoft has been trying to learn how to do complete product design, but quite frankly they're still just "me too" efforts years after everyone else has established the market.

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: What actually killed true netbooks was ...

      Microsoft and Intel. But a few years on they weren't secure enough in a changing market to shut out Android. Having said that, I needed a tablet in a hurry the other day, and the best deal I could find had Intel inside.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What actually killed true netbooks was ...

        "the best [tablet] deal I could find had Intel inside."

        Intel are giving their chips away (look up "contra revenue"). They can probably do that for a while. They can't do it forever, nor can they do it with the variety of product their competition can offer.

  2. Gray

    Allow me to disagree!

    I've used #! (Crunch Bang) Linux for a couple of years now. No, I don't own a netbook. Couldn't type on one of the damn things if I had one. Keyboards on 'em are a sick joke. Where #! excels has been the older hardware, the castoff orphans from Windows XP. This so-called "minimal" distro allows older boxes, laptops and desktops, to run blistering fast compared to their former Windows sludge. As for the other "popular" Linux distros, there are some excellent ones to be had, but there is also an abundance of bloated distros with spinning, wobbling, clothesline windows and big-bang window switchers. None of which do anything to get the job done, but prove that even a quintuple-core, 6 Ghz machine with a 20-gig RAM bank can be brought to its knees with gratuitous eye-candy.

    #! limited? Not at all. Access to the entire Debian repository made #! equal to the other Debian spin-offs.

    Obscure? Again, not true. #! was consistently in the upper quarter of the DistroWatch listings.

    Phillip (Corenominal) will be sorely missed, as will #!. However, it will continue to serve on my older hardware until the day the Debian repo no longer supports it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Allow me to disagree!

      There are far too many distros around, and most of them are unnecessary. Allowing the use of older hardware was a good reason for this one's existence, though.

      Personally I've always found that Slackware does the job. Runs with a full GUI (xfce4) on my laptop and without on my Raspberry Pis. Those don't exactly have fancy hardware.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Allow me to disagree!

      I've been running #! on my 8 year old laptop for several years and it works beautifully. Corenominal and the moderators made the #! forums a plearsure to be on and those forums contain a plethora of excellent information that I've read on that forum will remain available.

      Thanks #! for the excellent experience.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        I agree to your disagree

        The #! forums were and are a goldmine of information, tips tricks and setup tweaks. None of the ubunut/mint tension you see too often in Ubuntu/mint forums, no one slagging off other desktops, and generally a friendlier place than the Arch forums can sometimes be.

        There were lots of users using alternate WMs with #!, one user tried 30 in 30 days and posted his thoughts to the forum. I see in this discussion there are still people who beleive what you get as standard is what you have to use, pff, amateurs.

        I really do hope both the distro and the forums are adopted by someone, but it'll never be #! again as the name is to be retired.

  3. Spiracle


    #! was the distro keeping my 12 year old ThinkPad T41 going. Non-PAE and slow it may be but it's got the best keyboard I've ever used and a case like a trilobite. I'll have to give it viking funeral.

    1. earl grey Silver badge

      Re: Aww...

      I'll give you an upvote for your trilobite. Love those things.

    2. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Aww...

      If its anything like the old thinkpads I've had it might just survive a Viking funeral!

    3. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: Aww...

      Same here, T40 is still going strong. With few tweaks here and there.

      Can't stand newer keyboards with small Ctrl and Alt keys.

    4. Merlin54

      Re: Aww...

      Man, T41 is too young and healthy for any funeral. T-41 can have up to 2 GB PC 2100 memory ! Compare that to my Sony PCG-FX215 I bought back in 2001 with only 64MB RAM and 800MGHz processor.

      In last several years I was running Slackware without any graphics on it, pure command line, with classic financial ledger application (cli of course), and 'sc' spreadsheets, cli mplayer, lynx, pine.

      The difficulties arised when my bank switched to heavy use of java script, so I couldn't pay bills with cli lynx browser any more

      I upgraded my Syny to 512 MB RAM, the maximum it can have. Installed 'antiX' distro for old computers, installed SIag office suite, ledger is still CLI, Midori web browser. It's not as fast and capable as many newer old laptops with 2GB RAM, but it works well.

      T-41 old and ready for funeral ? NO ! Give it to me man, I know what to do with it. At least donate it to your local school computer lab. But DO NOT throw it away. Your T-41 is *very* capable machine even for today standards. There is software for it.

  4. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    There's still AntiX and MX-14

    For those wanting a Debian based distro for old hardware, AntiX and (for slightly newer machines) MX-14 fit the bill nicely:

  5. batfastad


    The few times I tried #! over the years I liked it but just couldn't use it medium-term. Unfortunately openbox just didn't fit for the way I prefer to work... not being able to use the desktop annoys me and unfortunately seems to be trendy and like so hot right now. Also Debian always has Iceweasel instead of Firefox, which I realise is basically the same thing, but it's just something else I had to faff with on a re-install. For some reason my Lenovo ThinkPad (with a nasty AMD Neo X2 CPU/chipset) was pretty unstable... wifi sporadically not working, random freezes and failing to boot etc. I know I know, ask for a refund, fix it yourself etc.

    I switched to Mint+XFCE a few years ago (now running Xubuntu for a couple of small reasons (Mint totally munging my Firefox profile with gubbins)) and XFCE does the job perfectly. No flair, no needless tinkering every 6 months by some UI committee, massively customisable, and the desktop and UI just stay out of your way... exactly how a desktop environment should be.

    Overall it is a shame but there's no reason why the project couldn't live on as an openbox theme or something on Debian. I have massive respect for anyone willing to put so much free time into a project like that and so completely understand when they need to pay some bills or generally get on with life.

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