Yet another attempt at moving away from the macwindroid world, as I am totally, in principle, pro open-source, gnu libre linux big corps get your greedy finger off my (raspberry) pie.
But, having tried a couple of times to run linux on the PCs in my studio (red hat linux in 2005, ubuntu in 2009) and finding myself booting back into windows after a couple of days/weeks, I eventually regained the hard drive space and removed the linux partitions.
Perhaps re-motivated after seeing Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, speak at Lincoln University in October, I started looking around once more for a linux distribution (distros, as they are called in linux world, are variations on the linux operating system). This time I decided to install it on my main computer, a 2009 macbook pro. I tried ubuntu which I found too bloated, trying too hard to be user friendly, which it is only to a certain extent. I tried kubuntu, puppy, and finally settled on crunchbang (aka #!), a debian variation with a nice-stripped down, no messing around feel, a sort of geeky elegance I liked (screenshot of crunchbang’s default desktop below).
Furthermore, I was at the same time taking my first steps with a raspberry pi running Raspbian, another Debian distribution which I found rather pleasant to use. All went rather well, I first installed rEFIt on my macbook, a small app allowing choice of operating system at startup. Then I installed crunchbang from a downloaded install DVD, a straightforward business.
Almost all is running fine, but I am still not using crunchbang much. The reason is that after spending hours tweaking the parameters on the crunchbang trackpad controller (synclient) I never managed to match the smooth, transparent control offered by the mac version. I feel distanciated and frustrated when I use the machine under crunchbang. The human-machine interface all of a sudden becomes clumsy, making the machine unfriendly. It is a pain to have to use a mouse on a computer fitted with such a good trackpad.
Not giving up yet, I installed Crunchbang on an older macbook, a white plastic one from 2006. This one has a rough clickpad to start with, and it responded very well to the installation. All is working, even the sleep function (which does not work on the macbook pro).
I am going to get two days of training with real pros, the guys at Access Space in Sheffield. They have been running Linux on recycled PCs for more than a decade, training and converting many users to the joys and pains of open source computing. I will take my crunchbanged laptop up to their lab and hopefully get the beam of dark light I still need to make a more committed step into gnu-linux. In return for the training I shall deliver a robotic workshop to Access Space users in the near future. Watch this (access) space…