Postbanging: vanilla Debian like CrunchBang

Sadly the creator of Crunchbang Linux has decided to end the project, with the view that vanilla Debian can be used the same way. Probably he is right; it’s probably not necessary to maintain a separate distribution and repositories, when what makes Crunchbang so special to me is its configuration and UI. CrunchBang has been a wonderful distro for me, and for a while my only wish has been to set something similar up on a Raspberry Pi or non-Debian distro. It’s just such a nice low-end UI, I like it so much better than LXDE or XFCE.

So postbanging will be some impetus to learn how to configure a Linux desktop environment from scratch. Crunchbang is a Debian-based distro built on the Openbox window manager, Conky, and tint2. An essential guide is adding CrunchBang features to other distros and the list of CrunchBang applications. Here is a very useful thread from the CrunchBang forums. Read some more: Getting started with OpenBox, OpenBox default configuration, xinitrc, configuring tint2. There is plenty to read about configuring conky ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ).

These are just the most basic stuff. Nothing on actual apps later, and I have little interest in a graphical login—I prefer typing startx. I’m starting with a fresh virtual machine running a jessie RC1 netinstall ISO.

apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
apt-get install xorg, xinit
apt-get install openbox
apt-get install tint2, conky, obmenu, ttf-liberation
cd ~
mkdir -p ~/.config/openbox
cp -R /etc/xdg/openbox/* ~/.config/openbox

# Edit .xinitrc to start OpenBox
echo "exec openbox-session" >> .xinitrc

# Edit .config/openbox/autostart to start tint2 and conky
echo "(sleep 1s && tint2) &" >> ~/.config/openbox/autostart
echo "(sleep 2s && conky) &" >> ~/.config/openbox/autostart

After running startx, command-click on the screen to bring up the menu, then open the Terminal editor. Next, edit the tint2 configuration files with nano ~/.config/tint2/tint2rc .

panel_size = 0 30 # to get full monitor width
panel_position = top center horizontal # puts the panel at top

Finally, configure your ~/.conkyrc file. Here’s one based on the CrunchBang version, configured to display only default OpenBox keybindings:

##############################################
# Settings
##############################################
background yes
use_xft yes
xftfont Liberation Sans:size=9
xftalpha 1
update_interval 1.0
total_run_times 0
own_window yes
own_window_transparent yes
own_window_type desktop
#own_window_argb_visual yes
own_window_hints undecorated,below,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager
double_buffer yes
minimum_size 200 200
maximum_width 240
draw_shades no
draw_outline no
draw_borders no
draw_graph_borders no
default_color 656667
default_shade_color 000000
default_outline_color 828282
alignment top_right
gap_x 12
gap_y 56
no_buffers yes
uppercase no
cpu_avg_samples 2
override_utf8_locale no
##############################################
#  Output
##############################################
TEXT
S Y S T E M    I N F O
${hr}
Host:$alignr$nodename
Uptime:$alignr$uptime
RAM:$alignr$mem/$memmax
Swap usage:$alignr$swap/$swapmax
Disk usage:$alignr${fs_used /}/${fs_size /}
CPU usage:$alignr${cpu cpu0}%


S H O R T C U T    K E Y S
${hr}
Alt+F4$alignr Close Window
Alt+Tab$alignr Cycle Windows
Alt+Space$alignr Show Menu
Alt+Escape$alignr Activate Last Window

EDIT 2015-02-22
The CrunchBang community is continuing with a project named Bunsen Labs Linux, which will be mostly install and configuration scripts for a vanilla Debian netinstall. They have some useful information on getting an install going There’s another individual-directed offshoot at crunchbangplusplus.org.

I dunno, tiling window managers and NixOS are looking pretty interesting as well.

EDIT 2015-02-24
StumpWM is like all Lisp tools set up like emacs :( but xmonad: Awesome.