BunsenLabs Linux : A Minimalistic Debian Based Linux Distribution

If you are looking for a minimalistic Debian distro that’s lightweight and doesn’t require a lot of configuration changes to work properly, BunsenLabs Linux is a good choice.

It is basically a continuation of CrunchBang Linux and comes with Openbox as the default window manager making it extremely light on resources. It has most of the common packages and utilities built-in, Tint2 panel and Conky system monitor.

Download and install it from here. The current release is Helium which is based on Debian 9 (Stretch). The system requirements are very low (256 MB RAM minimum with recommended as 1GB and 10 GB disk space).

You can use the live environment to get a feel of the environment before installing it.

BunsenLabs boot menu

If you have used Debian, the installation of the base system is the same.

choosing language and locale settings during BunsenLabs installation

choosing a hostname for BunsenLabs installation

Configure keyboard layout, time zone, set user/system name and partition the disk drives just like in Debian.

BunsenLabs installation complete

Once installed, this is where BunsenLabs becomes so easy to use out of the box. Login and you will see no start menu.

first run of BunsenLabs

This is because Openbox window manager is minimalistic. Right click to access all the settings and programs. Also, there will be a list of keyboard shortcuts for commonly used tasks along with the system info in background.

BunsenLabs makes it easy to setup and install applications through the first run installation script.

using the auto installation script in BunsenLabs

Follow the on-screen instructions and install what is needed.

installing bunsen extras through the auto installation script

At any later point of time, you can re-run this script from Terminal by using the command :


It also provides a simple and easy out of box experience when you want to access and install new applications. Simply right click and choose the relevant category under which the application falls and choose Install.

installing programs from Openbox menus

Compare it with the whole first run Debian configuration where you would have to first change the apt settings to allow for proprietary packages to be allowed to install. BunsenLabs combines best of both the worlds – Debian stability and easy minimalistic interface using Openbox.

openbox menu
Openbox itself can be configured as per liking by editing two files – menu.xml and rc.xml. Both of which can be edited from the Openbox menu.

configuring openbox settings in BunsenLabs

editing openbox config files in BunsenLabs
You can also install additional proprietary packages and goodies from the installation script along with other system tweaks.

installing proprietary software in BunsenLabs through auto installation script

If you’d want to experience Debian with Openbox, do try out BunsenLabs. It is sleek and easy especially for regular tasks like web surfing, checking emails and so on.

BunsenLabs in action


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