|Main Openbox Screen|
Regarding the “20101205″ thing, this release and any future Statler releases will now feature a date based revision identifier. There will not be any more “alpha” images and you should not expect to see any “beta”, “RC” or “final” images either. From this point on, if anyone needs to make a judgment as to the stability of Statler, they should check the date based identifier against the progress of Debian Squeeze.Given that Debian 6 "Squeeze" is probably going to come out soon, I think it's safe to assume that this is a stable release. I grabbed the newest version (r20110105) of the Openbox release (there is also an Xfce release available which I did not test) and went on my way.
In terms of testing, I tested the live session through a live USB (made through MultiSystem) on my computer. I mentioned in my previous post that VirtualBox on my Linux Mint system is broken; given that, I installed VirtualBox within the #! live session and used the already-downloaded ISO file to install #! onto a new virtual hard disk of size 10 GB (with 1024 MB of RAM allocated to the guest OS) — more on that later. Follow the jump to see how #! compares and to see if it has improved any since Alpha 2.
After restarting my computer and modifying the boot order in the BIOS, I was greeted by an almost cartoonishly colorful boot menu thanks to MultiSystem. The menu also seems to have things like Grub4Dos, Parted Magic, and other useful portable tools, which is nice; these have nothing to do with #!, so I digress. Following the boot menu is a verbose boot splash, which leads into the default #! Openbox desktop.
|Thunar, Terminator, and Viewnior|
In terms of specs, #! uses a svelte 110 MB of RAM at idle, and CPU usage is similarly light, even in the somewhat slower live USB session.
|Chromium with Volume Control and Gedit in background|
The default file manager is Thunar from Xfce, which is fine in terms of being lightweight, but I have one big issue with it: [the lack of] tabbed browsing. What is this, 2001? Even PCManFM, another lightweight file manager, has tabbed browsing. I guess I can deal with Thunar, but I really, really wish there was tabbed browsing; it would certainly add to the perception of being lightweight, as there would be no reason to open multiple instances of Thunar.
The default text editor is Gedit, which puzzles me as that's a somewhat more heavyweight text editor. If I remember right, the previous release of #! used Leafpad as the default, which is a much lighter but still GUI-based text editor. I have no problem with Gedit per se, but I thought Leafpad would have been preferred as a lighter-weight alternative.
|Themed #! + XCompMgr (Transparency)|
Unfortunately, there is no instant messaging program present (aside from XChat IRC). While it's just a quick trip to Synaptic Package Manager (or the terminal) to install something like Pidgin or Empathy, it would be nice to see one included out-of-the-box. It shouldn't take up that much more room in the ISO file, which is already relatively small (just over 600 MB).
|#! Installer in VirtualBox|
I wanted to see if my laptop webcam would be recognized, so I went to Synaptic Package Manager and installed Cheese Webcam Booth. After that finished, I didn't want to pointlessly add another entry to the menu for it, so I just fired up the terminal. Before typing the command for starting Cheese ("$ cheese"), I noticed that the terminal was displaying the desktop background. Out of curiosity, I moved the terminal window a bit, and lo and behold, the #! logo in the background moved in the opposite direction by the same amount. Compositing wasn't turned on (confirmed by the fact that when moved above the Conky part of the desktop, the terminal didn't show that section of Conky), so it turns out that when compositing isn't turned on, the terminal displays all, part, or none of the #! logo in its background depending on its size and position on the screen. That's a neat trick (though it seemed to lag a little)! (On a related note, compositing also worked perfectly (and without lag), and when compositing was turned on, that terminal trick was turned off as all terminal windows were set to a default level of transparency (I think 10 or 15% transparent).)
|Plymouth in #! in VirtualBox|
I also wanted to install Skype, because when showing a college friend Linux Mint "Debian" and installing Skype in the live session, Skype recognized this friend's laptop's integrated webcam but the image was upside-down; also, Skype didn't recognize input into the integrated mic. Thankfully, none of these issues were present, even though, now as then, I had to install a static DEB from the Skype website built for the older Debian 5 "Lenny". My webcam and mic were recognized just fine out-of-the-box.
At this point, I closed my laptop lid and opened it to find myself shut out of the live system. I didn't know what the password was for the live session, so I forced a cold shutdown and restart. Unfortunately, all my screenshots were lost (as I had them stored only in the live session and not on my hard drive), meaning I've had to retake those since then. That was annoying.
After that, I installed VirtualBox (version 3.2) in Synaptic, created a new virtual hard drive on my real hard drive (as the live session has too little space), and started a virtual live session of #! 10 "Statler" within a live USB session of #! 10 "Statler". I thought that was pretty cool. Anyway, I started the installer, which turns out to be a rebranded version of the Linux Mint "Debian" live installer — that's a huge step up from the old ncurses interface in Alpha 2. Other than branding, everything else is the same. The process was quick (I took one trip to the restroom and it was already done installing packages and was onto configuring GRUB), and after that, I rebooted the virtual machine.
|CB-Welcome in #! in VirtualBox|
Well, that ended my time with #!. Other than things like Thunar (instead of PCManFM), the lack of an instant messaging program, and the issue I had with XScreensaver when closing the laptop lid, I am extraordinarily pleased with #! — I would even say more so than with version 9.04.01. I'd be inclined to go ahead and install this along side Linux Mint 9 and Microsoft Windows 7 if I had more room on my hard drive, but oh well, I guess that won't happen just yet. If you want a lightweight system that doesn't cut corners, give #! a spin. You won't be disappointed.
On a side note, I'll now be incorporating many of the changes to #! in my UberBang respin; some things like CB-Welcome and the Openbox-logout program are unique to #! and available in the #! repository, so I'll be including that as well.