I had this as well, the way I got round it was to change directory
fopen: john.ini: No such file or directory
and then carry on using john. I remember from BT4 that when using john it would auto change directory for you to carry on using ./john
As for crunch, it's very good and easy to use. Won't explain all the commands here because I don't need too TAPE has already done it here..
are you sure that your putting your card into monitor mode before using airodump?
sure RFMON is enabled: run 'airmon-ng start wlan1 <#>'