Archbang Linux is an old dream of mankind come true: working Archlinux out of the box. Because that’s what you get after installing Archbang to your harddrive: plain vanilla Arch - the same package system, the same repositories, and the same bleeding edge rolling release. This also means, Archbang might not be for everyone, it’s actually more like a shortcut if you COULD install Arch (i.e. have done it before) but want to save an afternoon.
The 32 Bit ISO weighs less than 500MB and contains the essential OS with a simple Crunchbang- style Openbox desktop. All my hardware (eeePC 1215N) worked out of the box, except having to install Bumblebee Nvidia drivers. For your package managing needs Archbang includes packer, a pacman wrapper with included AUR access, giving you access to the latest stable version of about any piece of Linux software that is available on the internet (if that’s still not bleeding edge enough for you, there often is a Dev / Beta version in the AUR, too).
The (text based) installation process is rather smooth, but it might make sense to partition your HD before (e.g. with PartedMagic), or at least check the partition table with
fdisk -l, so you don’t accidentally overwrite your data or Windows partition … Before upgrading (
packer -Syyu) read the latest news on archlinux.org, right now there are 2 entries (filesystem upgrade, pacman verify) to considered before you can successfully upgrade Archbang 2012.05 to the latest packages.
Archbang also makes a great base to install another desktop environment, e.g. for XFCE you only have to run ‘
pacman -S xfce4‘ and then replace the openbox startup line at the end of .xinitrc with ‘
exec startxfce4‘. Arch repos of course already include XFCE 4.10, which is certainly the most mature desktop environment I have seen so far, and one of the snappiest. Sticking to the classic taskpanel / menu concept, XFCE it is easy to use, very customizable and easy on the eyes:
This is my XFCE desktop, using Elementary GTK theme, Minimal XFWM theme and Faenza Dark icons (the dock on top is wbar, the wallpaper is available here). This setup is very efficient in terms of screen estate, I havent’t found any other combination of OS / desktop environment, yet, that uses so little space for window decorations and scrollbars, while still being fully functional. Combined with the Classic Compact Firefox theme this gives you an almost fullscreen browsing experience, and makes Chrome look bloated in comparison (especially in combination with the dated and cheesy Windows Aero UI).
PS: most of this was written in June for my old blog, reposting for archiving purposes