Review: ArchBang 2010.09 "apeiro"

Main Screen
You may be asking, "Why are you reviewing this? You just did a review 2 days ago!" Actually, I wrote the preview on Sunday and scheduled it to automatically publish on Wednesday. On Thursday, the official stable version of ArchBang 2010.09 "apeiro" was released. As I have touched upon most of the things relating to this distribution in the last article about ArchBang, this will be a slightly shorter review. Or will it? Follow the jump to find out.

Boot Menu
The biggest news (I think) is that ArchBang is dumping LXDE for Openbox and a customized set of tools. What this also means is that ArchBang looks a lot more like #!; also, ArchBang (among other changes) replaces PCManFM with Thunar.
The boot and startup are very fast. However, I reserved only 192 MB of RAM for ArchBang in VirtualBox, and strangely, this seems to not be enough, as the system choked when Openbox started up. I shut down the guest OS and increased the RAM allocation to 256 MB. That seemed to do the trick, but I'm still disappointed that ArchBang couldn't run on only 192 MB of RAM (though the testing version of ArchBang could).
Mozilla Firefox + Desktop Post-Customization
Gnumeric (AbiWord in Background)
The tint2 panel is squared off and is narrow enough to fit my smaller VirtualBox screen; I also like the new wallpaper a lot more than the previous orange mess. The new GTK+ theme is one of the best I have ever seen in Openbox, and certainly looks worlds better than the theme in the previous (LXDE-based) version.
Mozilla Firefox (still called by its 3.6 codename "Namoroka") and AbiWord are still present, while Gnumeric and the GIMP have been added, which are nice touches. However, Mozilla Firefox seems to not play nicely with the system, as starting this application causes the tint2 panel to disappear and then causes Openbox to choke up, requiring me to log out and log back in. This happens even quicker when a multimedia-heavy site like YouTube is loaded, which means that I couldn't test whether or not proprietary codecs are included.
AbiWord and GIMP
Overall, I think ArchBang has regressed a bit from its testing version, from not loading properly under 192 MB of RAM where the previous version could to not being able to handle Mozilla Firefox at all. It has a lot of potential, but I'm intentionally damning it with faint praise, as it definitely could use more polish and more testing. While #! has never failed me in this regard, #!'s website and documentation always includes the warning, "CrunchBang Linux is not recommended for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. CrunchBang Linux could possibly make your computer go CRUNCH! BANG!" While I think it's funny that #! phrases its disclaimer in this way and is upfront about any possible stability problem, I find it odd that #! has this warning at all given its stability; I think ArchBang needs a similar warning, though what does "ARCH! BANG!" mean?


  1. Why are the pics not thumbnails so I can view larger?

  2. @Anonymous: Thanks for bringing that up. In the past, pictures have been clickable and viewable in larger sizes, but I'm not sure why that functionality isn't present anymore. I don't have a fix at the moment, but I'll try to change it soon.

  3. I didn't test the latest version, but with the version I installed in April I have after some minor install problems no essential problems at all and it runs smooth as hell.
    But Arch is all about configuring yourself, so don't get there if you expect to find an automatic OS that does all configuring for you.

    If you have set up to your liking the system itself gets almost boring, as it just does what it is supposed to do and no worries about half year system updates.

  4. Why not have a link to download ArchBang? Now I have to wander around & do a search for it.

    Also, your reviews seem to be mostly about what the desktop looks like. Why not re-title your review, "ArchBang desktop & theme review"?

  5. @pablo: True, but this comes with a prepackaged "desktop environment" (it's really just a window manager with a bunch of assorted tools), so I think it's reasonable to expect a little less manual configuration than straight-up Arch.
    @L.P. McCracken: I keep reminding myself to include download links, yet I keep forgetting. Hopefully with the next review (whenever that happens) I'll remember. Also, I haven't had the time recently to do more in-depth reviews, so these are basically brief overviews of the look and feel (and included applications) of the desktop. Again, when I have more time, my reviews will be a little more deep; that said, this is also from the perspective of a relatively new user to the system, and first impressions do matter a lot when a user is considering whether or not to use a particular distribution.
    Thanks for the comments!

  6. You wrote "Overall, I think ArchBang has regressed a bit from its testing version, from not loading properly under 192 MB of RAM".
    64 bit OS have a higher memory footprint
    Try Apeiro 64 bit ( http://db.tt/ZdFxcr ) and check the initial memory footprint of 273MB compared to 17x-18xMB in AB 64 bit - Reloaded. I think it improved!

  7. @Anonymous: Thanks for pointing that out. I did use the 64-bit version this time (but the 32-bit version last time).

  8. Go test the new 32 bit version it takes 6x-7x MB of RAM at initial boot once installed

  9. @Anonymous: I hope to do that soon. Thanks for the comment!