BunsenLabs Linux

Hello readers,

As a Crunchbang enthusiast I was understandably reluctant to try any of these would be #! “successors.” As a regular admin/user who has to date used nearly every version of Linux, BSD, etc I rightly assumed that this would be more of a challenge than simply patching my existing Crunchbang installation.

Verdict (See revision below – just above comments after the conclusion of this article.)

As usual Debian can’t allow an installation that doesn’t freeze in search of a working server mirror… (Eventually the NY server worked.) but this isn’t the developers fault at BunsenLabs.

The fact that their own repository doesn’t seem to work is however perhaps another story. Regardless of these setbacks after switching repository addresses due to perpetually hanging updates etc and discovering that none of the installation scripts actually install the programs they are supposed to… (and the BL-Welcome which replaces CB-Welcome startup script is equally useless…) this is in all fairness almost exactly the same as installing Crunchbang and patching it manually.

The good stuff: 

  • Conky switcher
  • Updated iceweasel
  • Smooth openbox transitions
  • Great hardware recognition
  • Support Team Rocks

The conky switcher is cute and actually made my day, I wish it had some additional configurations that reflect more stylized themes.

Iceweasel… off brand firefox… Debian… meh

Openbox has never looked more wonderful than it does on this OS, the tint2 configs look great as do the rest of the desktop elements that are already in place.

Wifi works out of the box like it did in Crunchbang! (Unlike the newer Debian standard releases.)

Prior to June 6th this review remained unchanged in spite of a helpful member of BunsenLabs visiting the site but after 2 members of the team stopped by and mentioned that usb installs have been doing this and to try with  the DVD or CD I must quote the messages so you can see for yourself:

Hey Brian!

I’m the Live-ISO builder for BunsenLabs. Thanks for mentioning us on your site!

If you and/or your readers have any support issues or feedback, I’d encourage you to join our forums and open a thread there. We have one of the friendliest and helpful Linux communities online, I’m proud to say.


If you open a thread, include which ISO you tried to install and how you transferred that image to your USB, DVD or CD.


Thanks again, I like your site! :^D

(I replied in comments below etc.)

Hello Brian!

I am also one of the BL developers and I would just like to point out that BunsenLabs supply isohybrid ISO images, ie, the image can be used on either USB sticks or CD/DVDs with no further modification.

This type of ISO image will fail in strange ways if transferred using unetbootin [1] or the other programs that you mention.

The Installation page on the BunsenLabs site [2] has links to the correct methods for transferring the ISO image to a USB stick or CD/DVD.

Hope this helps 🙂

Love your site!

The bad stuff:

  • Bad repository setup
  • Useless installation scripts
  • Lousy graphics hardware support out of the box for nvidia

The broken “BunsenLabs Repository” prevents any of the installation scripts available on the right click menu from doing anything, as does seemingly the debian security repo… (Comment them out of sources with #) Nvidia can be installed but is supposedly accounted for with the default kernel, (try the cinnamon desktop to see why this simply isn’t true enough.)

This all sounds negative but it isn’t. As a Debian Linux this distro is actually way better than average at basically everything because frankly Debian is a massive suckfest compared to Linux Mint, Ubuntu, heck even some of the red hat stuff is better than Debian.

(We mostly only ever use Debian to remember how good we have it on working distros.)

Crunchbang was an exception because it was exceptional, and in that way BunsenLabs is close to the mark. The interface is identical to what we expect from Crunchbang, the ease of use is there, the only major issue is the additional “Debian suckage” that makes us have to add everything Ubuntu-esque to make it useful. (codecs, non-free  browsers, etc) Many will take a Richard Stallman approach saying “that defeats the purpose!” but if you want to (just as an example) listen to an mp3 file you need to install that codec etc.

Debian is always sliding back and forth between accommodating users and alienating them. Their community is rife with semi purists who claim that there are great reasons for the apparent lacks of functionality, much like the fedora users who probably will never read this because their browsers may not support internet browsing that day. So I’ll simply conclude by saying I enjoyed this OS plenty once I tweaked it (violently) into functional submission.

It’s no Linux Mint, though it’s on par with that horrible Debian version of it.

Because it’s similar enough to Crunchbang I’ll give it 3.5 stars out of 5, provided we all really understand that 5 stars is Linux Mint 17.3 with correctly installed drivers and likewise the real Crunchbang received 5 stars in it’s heyday. The lack of Ubuntu-esque software centers, etc costs this variant a lot but doesn’t prevent me from considering it a spiritual successor.

*Revision I’ll retest with the dvd in the near future but raise this rating to 4.0 for the helpful staff and their suggestions.


REVISED – 4.8 after testing via DVD Install as many of the above mentioned issues were sorted!

It’s still on my laptop dual booting with Linux Mint 18 – that’s the highest praise we give.


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