Episode 15 Show Notes


…wherein we discuss what did and didn’t work for us this month…

Moss Lots of things both worked and didn’t work for me this month. I’m saving some of them for later in the show. One thing that didn’t work is that we didn’t get the huge influx of reviewable distros that was expected, except for Mint 20. openSUSE finally arrived, but not in time to be evaluated this episode, and Slackware still has not released their next version. A lot of things I tried were just not ready — or simply not intended — to be used full-time. And we are getting more divergence in the way distros boot: first Solus came up with a new bootloader which does not play nicely with GRUB, and now openSUSE wants to use Secure Boot, which does not even report to GRUB. Work-wise, there are not any jobs opening up for which I am capable or eligible, and the lion’s share of my unemployment money is running out this week. I’ve been staying home except for shopping and trips to the two credit unions with which I do business. Thanks to our listeners, I am upgrading a bit more equipment, including new SSDs, one of which has already arrived, and a new microphone, which should arrive later today. Anything new for you, Tony?

Tony So as you all know the last few months I have started to restore old matchbox model cars, some of these come with decals or stickers to provide details to the model such as the advertising banners found on small delivery vans and trucks. I have been using Inkscape to make modern crisp images that I can use to recreate these. Well I found out that although Inkscape 0.92 seems to have the feature that will allow you to flow text to a path, it was not working when I tried it. I installed the updated 1.0 as a Flatpak in my Mint 19.3 install and this now works and proves one of the advantages of Flatpak and Snaps in that the developer can roll out an updated package, put it into a Snap or Flatpak package and it can be installed on any version of Linux that is able to run Snaps and Flatpaks without the need to provide a version for each Linux. The user gets the latest and greatest software without having to update their OS or resort to PPA’s or compiling their own install via the terminal, which many ordinary Linux users like myself are still not comfortable with. 

UPDATES (Where we discuss what we have learned about distros we’ve already reviewed)

Moss I don’t have anything new on distros I’ve reviewed. Tony?

Tony Mint 20 has now had the distribution release and on Friday 10th July the inline update was made available to those not wishing to do a clean install of their system. Endeavour OS which I reviewed after it was released last year is now 1 year old and have just released the July 2020 ISO.

DISTRO NAME:    Bunsenlabs Linux – Helium (Debian 9 base)


Bunsenlabs Linux came out of the #! (Crunch Bang) Linux distro that Philip Newborough, aka @corenominal, created in around 2008/9 to scratch an itch as they say in the Linux world. Originally based on Ubuntu, Philip changed to a Debian base in 2010 until he laid down the project in 2015 as he realised the work he was putting into it, and the hassle he was getting from some elements in the community, were not worth it for what he was using Linux for at that time. The community decided they still wanted a #! Linux and several projects rose from the ashes of it, Bunsenlabs being one of these, and still going strong. For a more thorough history this is the link to where I got my info. 

The current release, Helium, is based on Debian 9; the Lithium Release, which is Debian 10 base, is currently in release candidate 3 stage and should be available sometime soon.

The recommended resources to run Bunsenlabs are:

RAM 1Gb (minimum) 2G (recommended) Hard Drive 20G (recommended)

The base install according to the installation page takes up just over 2Gb of drive space, so this is an ideal system for low resource hardware. They also still produce an x86 build as they are based on Debian and this is still possible.


So this distro was run on my current test laptop, a Dell E7440 the specs are as follows:

CPU – Intel Core i7 (4th Gen) 4600U / 2.1 GHz

RAM – 16Gb DDR3 at 1600Mhz

SSD – 2.5” 128Gb

Compared to the recommended resources this is a beast for this distro.

I also Installed the Lithium RC3 to an old Lenovo X200 tablet laptop I have with:

Intel Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz L9400 processor

4Gb Ram

128Gb SSD 

So the install was a fairly easy issue although it would not install from a Ventoy stick I had to put the ISO on a self contained USB drive, they use the Debian graphical installer and this takes you through the usual process to set up your language, country, keyboard, network, user and user password, it then gives options for partitioning including the option to encrypt the disc. After choosing the option you wish to use you are shown what will happen to the disc and warned that all data will be lost. Towards the end of the install it asks where you wish to install the Grub bootloader and warns if you do not do this you will have an un bootable system. After all this you get prompted to restart the PC. 

On first boot after installing, a terminal Welcome screen opens to perform several post installation tasks including upgrade of the system. As the base Debian is several years old you will definitely have a few but they did not take too long to install. You also get the option to add the Debian and Bunsenlabs back port repositories, Javascript, the flash plug in for the browser, some server and developer packages and dropbox. You can do this or not as is your preference. If you do not do this at the time but wish to later you can run bl-welcome in the run menu and this will bring this script back up in a terminal.  


On both the laptop’s all the hardware was working so there were no issues to report in that department.


The Desktop environment, which is the Openbox window manager is very sparse, there is a task bar at the top of the screen with shortcuts to Firefox, the file manager, a text editor and the terminal. next are 2 virtual desktop bars which if you click the scroll wheel of the mouse anywhere on the Desktop brings up a menu for you to add or remove virtual desktops. To the right of the taskbar are the volume control, power icon (if on a laptop), network connection manager, time and power off icon which gives a bar with icons for shutdown, logout etc. Below this on the right hand side of the desktop is a conky menu giving current system information and some of the basic shortcut keys for starting the software applications that the developers asume will be the most used. Many of these start with the superkey, so superkey +w brings up the default web browser. Right clicking the mouse brings up a menu where you can also find the software that is preinstalled, although this is daily minimal as the devs allow you to choose the software that is your preference, so while LibreOffice writer is installed the rest of that suit is not, but if you go into office in the menu you get the option to install the other components you may wish to have access to. This is the same in the Graphics and Audio menus where all the usual suspects such as Audacity, Gimp, Openshot etc are the click of a mouse away. Clicking one of these will open a terminal window with a prompt to install or not. 

**Just an interesting note that on the Lithium RC3 the taskbar has moved to the bottom of the desktop and the few shortcuts that were on the taskbar have been removed and replaced with a menu icon. Also there are a few more packages installed by default. One example is the LibreOffice spreadsheet package is there alongside the word processor. As I only installed this at the last minute on the Lenovo I have not had much time to delve too deeply so there will be other differences that I have not notest yet, but these are tweeks rather than major changes to the OS and are probably a result of feedback from the community as to how they would like it to be set up after install.

Once I got used to the way Bunsenlabs with the Openbox window manager I found it fairly easy to use and found myself getting used to using the keyboard to open software, or just right clicking on the desktop to open the menu if I was looking for something. Synaptic package manager is installed by default so you can use that or the terminal for installing software. If you are familiar with the terminal in a DEB based system then you won’t have any issues installing any of the software available in the package manager. Snapd is also available in the repositories and once installed Snaps are a snap install away. While I would say for a user familiar with DEB based systems they would within a short while find their way around Bunsenlabs, I do not think this is in any way a beginners distribution as the paradigm is just too different from a full desktop experience.


All the software I run on my laptops on a regular basis were available to install and use so I had no issues with any of these, I installed Zoom from their download page and this worked just fine. However to give it a desktop replacement tryal I installed Virtualbox 6.1 from their website and after installation tried an install of the Bunsenlabs ISO in VB, I got an error message saying that EFI was not configured correctly and despite going into the VB setup and selecting this option in the settings it would not boot the virtual disc, I checked to see it was not an ISO issue but I was able to install it fine in Mint 19.3 using the same Virtualbox 6.1 install, it may be due to it being Debian 9 based, although I installed the Debian 9 package, but I may have been better installing the older version of Virtualbox from the repository.   


On the first Boot of the laptop memory use is a paltry 310Mb and after a month’s use and adding all the software I use including Virtual Box it is still only using 7.7Gb of hard disc space. 

In a VM on my desktop PC setup with a virtual 2 cores, 4Gb Ram, and a 15Gb HDD the system after running the setup tasks and adding some of the recommended software at first boot it reports:

190Mb Ram usage and 4.2Gb of disc usage.

On the Lenovo at first boot after install it was reporting using 404Mb Ram and 3.25Gb of the SSD space and after performing updates and adding the additional software via the welcome script this went up to 3.99Gb, so while not as light RAM wise as the previous release still quite frugal, although on all platforms the HDD/SSD space used at first boot is a good 50%+ more than they say it will be on the web site for Helium.     


Bunsenlabs has their own active forum and also because of the Debian base you should not have any issues getting support with Bunsenlabs.


Not tested


Another Debian based system passes the ROCK SOLID pass mark. I had absolutely no stability issues in the 5-6 weeks of running the system.


Ease of Installationnew user friendly install scores      7/10

experienced Linux users               9/10

Hardware Issues                                                              10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)                         10/10

Ease of Use                                                                      9/10

Plays Nice With Others                                                    Not tested

Stability                                                                            10/10

Overall Rating                                                                   9/10


Crunchbang Plus Plus         LXDM

GALPon MiniNo –                OpenBox

Slax –                                   FluxBox

PrimTux – (french)               FluxBox 


While I am not a fan of tiling window managers if I could only have a window manager and not a full desktop environment OpenBox would probably be the one I would go with long term, and the Bunsenlabs distro has used it well, particularly with the tweeks they have made in Lithium. Once you get used to the new workflow to start programs and do tasks on the PC it is a fairly simple OS to use, with the benefit that it will work very smoothly on older hardware with less resources than most recent Desktop and Laptop PC’s will come with, as unless you are buying ultra cheap most come with 8Gb of RAM as standard these days as that is the optimal RAM for Windows 10 (although it will run with 4Gb) but any Dual core or better with 4Gb Ram and an SSD will fly with Bunsenlabs OS and be more than usable for all but the most resource intensive tasks. If you have the latest and greatest hardware but prefer a minimal desktop environment, but are not fond of tiling window managers then this could also be the solution for you. You will have access to all the software you want from the Debian and Bunsenlabs repositories, and for more up-to-date software Snaps are also available after the install of Snapd. 

The one area I would NOT recommend this OS for is new Linux users. The workflow is just too different to what they will be familiar with, one of the Ubuntu flavors or my preferred choice of Linux Mint Mate are far more suitable for that situation.   

DISTRO NAME: Slackel 7.3 64-bit Mate Edition


Hello, I am Dale Miracle.  I will be reviewing Slackel 7.3 64-bit Mate Edition, though a 32-bit version is available.  Moss mentioned Slackel to me on Telegram.  I was curious about it because my first Linux distro was Slackware in the fall of 1995.

Slackel is based on Slackware and Salix (which is also based on Slackware, but hasn’t been updated in over 4 years).  Slackel uses the development branch of Slackware; packages are from Slackware current, Salix and Slackel repositories.  It uses the 5.4 kernel and version 1.22.1 of the Mate Desktop.  To name a few popular applications, Slackel uses Firefox version 78.0.2., LibreOffice 6.4 and Thunderbird 68.10.0.  It also includes video and graphics applications among others.

Even though Slackel was designed to install to a USB drive, I installed it on the SSD on my spare laptop.


My laptop is a Lenovo ThinkPad T430.  It has an Intel i5-3320M and 4GB of ram with a 240GB SSD.


I put the Slackel Live image on my USB stick using dd.  Upon boot up, I was presented with a screen asking for my language.  Then I had the choice of using the Live environment or the persistent Live environment, where any changes you make will be saved for future reboots. I chose the live environment since I was going to install it to the SSD.

Once at the desktop, I opened the Slackel Live Installation Application. The icon for it was placed on the desktop.  I was asked for a password; not knowing this piece of information, I guessed a couple common passwords, then I went to their website.  On the far right of their menu was the Slackel Startup Guide; in that guide they mentioned that the password is “one”.  That is the username that is used in the live environment and, oddly, I didn’t try that as the password.  I entered the password and the installer opened.

The installer is old style: an experienced Linux user would not have any trouble using it.  For someone new, the startup guide is a must.  Without using the startup guide, in my opinion, it would be very unlikely that a new user would be able to install it successfully.  There are many check boxes and drop down menus.

While it was installing, I looked through the guide.  It is very nice.  They have instructions for computers with either a BIOS or the newer UEFI boots, and there are screenshots and detailed instructions.

The install completed in a few minutes.  I clicked the small window that appeared informing me the install has finished.  I closed the installer and rebooted the computer.  I experienced no installation issues.


Upon boot up, I was presented with a login screen asking for my user name.  Then it asked for my password.  Succeeding at this, I was then taken to the Mate Desktop.  The screen was at the correct resolution.  My trackpoint and buttons worked as they should. (I had previously disabled the touchpad in the Thinkpad setup because I can’t stand them. I have never been able to use them ever since they were created in the 1990’s, so I can’t speak on how it works.)    I clicked on the network icon; My wireless card was detected, and, after a brief scan, I was shown the available networks.  This is where I had some issues.  Instead of using standard names such as WPA PSK to enter my WiFi passphrase, they used very vague technical names.  It took me two tries to find the one that I needed.  That is not good: when a person with 25+ years of network and computer experience has to guess which one he needs, they should do better.  Since I got it configured, it has connected on every bootup.

I configured my HP LaserJet Color 100 MFP M175nw.  It is connected to my network via wired Ethernet.  Connecting a printer in Slackel is not automatic as it is in other distros.  To connect it.  I chose the Administration Menu from the Mate top panel.  From there I selected Printer Settings.  Once in the printer settings.  I clicked on add.  In the next screen I selected Network Printer.  That opens a drop down menu.  I chose Find Network Printer.  To the right there is an input box where you type in the IP address for the printer.  After you enter the IP address, click find.  Once complete it will show you the available connection types at the bottom of that window.  The only connection type of my HP is JetDirect.  Now click Forward.  Now you will select the driver.  I scrolled down the list until I found HP.  Click on HP and now click Forward.  I was presented with a list of models.  I scrolled down and found one close to my model.  I selected the Color LaserJet Pro MFP M176n using the CUPS driver.  The CUPS driver was already highlighted and was denoted as recommended.  I clicked forward.  The next screen is where you can change the name that has been pre-populated.  If everything looks good, click Apply.  The next popup window will ask if you want to do a test print.  Click OK or  Cancel.  If you chose to do a test print.  Another popup window will confirm that your test print was sent to the printer.  From there you can click OK.  The Printer Settings Window now shows my listed and set as the default.  To view the setting.  Double click on the printer icon.  


I have been using Slackel since July 16th until the recording date of July 18th. It has been very enjoyable overall. I used the Gslapt package manager to update the system, since then I have been notified of new packages. I provide my password and follow the prompts, and they download and update with no issue.

The only issue I have had was when I tried installing VLC, which is a video program.  Gslapt warned me of some dependency issues and warned me not to install it, so I opened a terminal window and read the Man page on slapt-get (man slapt-get) to learn the commands for it.  I installed VLC this way with no errors reported.  I closed the terminal and opened Gslapt again.  I searched for VLC and it shows it as not installed.  So again I opened a terminal.  I found the command switch for slapt-get to show me the installed files.  VLC was among those listed as installed.  I then closed the terminal window.

I wanted to test the networking and video playback.  So from the Places menu in Mate I chose Connect to a Server.  From there I chose Windows Share and filled out the details for my Samba Server.  It opened Caja (the file manager used in Mate) and displayed the folders and files in that share.  A link was also created on my desktop as well.

I randomly clicked on a MKV of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and it opened SMPlayer by default.  I also tried VLC and both applications played the movie with no problem.


After installation and first boot it was using 384MB of ram.  I noticed under normal usage it was around 1.5 to 2GB. The install size on the SSD was about 8.6GB.


The only help I needed was to find the password required during the installation.  I found the Startup Guide from their home page.  It opened up a forum posting with the option of viewing it as a PDF, Epub or HTML.


I did not try to dual boot this with another distro.


I haven’t had any stability issues in the days I’ve been using Slackel.  I have left the laptop on with the Matrix screensaver active, picking it up and using it throughout the day.






Ease of Installation        new user                             7/10

experienced user      10/10

Hardware Issues                                                     10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)                10/10

Ease of Use                                                              7/10

Plays Nice With Others                                             NA

Stability                                                                    10/10

Overall Rating                                                           9/10


Despite the few issues I had with the Mate edition, I really enjoyed using Slackel; this was also my second look at Mate.  I will definitely keep an eye on Slackel’s progress.  Even though I am a huge Plasma fan, I didn’t mind using Mate at all. The slapt-get commands, once you know them, are not any different than using any other terminal-based package manager.  If a new or experienced user wants to try something that is not a Debian or Ubuntu based distro, Slackel Mate would be a good choice.  Since I am a fan of KDE.  I tried their KDE Edition.  It uses KDE 4.14.21 and Kernel 4.4.23.  It was last updated in 2016.  I attempted to update it after installation and was given many errors.  I did not go any further than that.

This concludes my review of Slackel 7.3 64bit Mate Edition.


I’m doing something a bit different this month, and I’ll start by telling you why.

You may recall that last month I mentioned that a lot of new distros were due out at any time. None of them came out in time to do a full month’s review, even with us postponing the show for a week. And the distros I tried, including openSUSE 15.2 Leap, BionicPup64, Nitrux, and a few others, were not ready for use, gave me fits installing, and/or did not appear to be intended for full-time use.

Which left me two options: Review the elephant in the room (Linux Mint 20), or do something else.  Maybe we’ll do Mint next month, so it’s something else.

I did a full installation of openSUSE Leap 15.2, with help from listener Joshua Hawk. I wanted it on sda3 on my laptop; it wanted to be on sda5. I finally got it to accede to residing on sda3, but it refused to see the EFI sector and would not write boot information. It continued to install, and completed the installation, only to repeat that I did not have an acceptable EFI boot partition. So I now had a complete installation of an OS with no way to boot to it. I might have tried my SuperGrub2 disk, but I went out seeking other choices. I did spend some time in the openSUSE forum and the openSUSE section of LinuxQuestions.org, but got more questions rather than any answers. So, on the 12th, I did a complete reinstallation. This time, I let it use sda5 as it wished, which also meant I had to do a new installation of Bodhi 5.1 onto sda3 as it was now displaced. The installation completed, it found EFI just fine… but it did not boot my GRUB menu, nor did it show my other installations.

It turns out the openSUSE uses Secure Boot, which the other distros do not. I can still boot to it, but I have to use my F7 key (System76’s key to get into BIOS boot) at boot time. If I don’t hit F7, I can boot my other 3 distros, and if I do, I can not boot openSUSE.

A listener mentioned that I could have turned off Secure Boot in the installation process. I would point out that I had already tried to do things the installer preferred to not do, and suffered as a result, so I’m loathe to go back and reinstall again in the hopes I could achieve something else.

So I was going to do BionicPup64. This is a fun distro, and it boots from a live USB stick and runs entirely from RAM. It has a completely different window manager, JWM, and a different package system with a limited number of packages (and not very current versions for most of these), and is clearly intended to be run on a stick, not installed. An installer is included, but there are a number of hoops to jump through to get it to work right. It is also intended to run as Root, making it somewhat less secure than your everyday Linux distro.

I also tried to check out Slackel 7.3, a Slackware-based distro that is intended to be used only as a live disk. I burned it to a USB stick, and my computer could not see the stick upon reboot so I have to see what I did wrong there. I burned it to a DVD and it ran, but did not do many things requested. I also got help from Dale on the DHD Telegram group to burn a stick direct from terminal using dd, and that also produced a bootable USB stick. It did not, however, produce a system running well enough to recommend. Cryptodan suggested I should not judge it prior to installing it on a drive, but I do not currently have a partition available for that and had said so to the group before trying dd.  All this discussion resulted in the review by Dale which you just heard.

Yesterday, I got the brand-spanking-new version of Gecko and tried it out. Using Calamares installer, this is a much easier way to get openSUSE on your system, but I’m not prepared to do much of a report on this right now.

I was reminded that Dale Miracle had suggested we talk about what we have learned from distrohopping (and, I presume, multibooting). I think I’ve answered that somewhat in the above, which is, you learn flexibility, and you learn which distros are good for which uses. You also develop your own opinions on these things, which may not coincide with the opinions of others on the same things.

So what else have I learned? And, Tony, please chime in with your own opinions as I go along.

Moss – I’ve learned that I was mostly correct in the first place: there are only a few distros you would want to pass to a person who has only ever used Windows or Mac if you want them to love – and continue to use – Linux. Opinions vary as to which among the few.

Tony – Moss I fully agree as I said earlier my main recommendations for new users would be an Ubuntu flavor or one of the Mint Spins, generally these are easy to use and there is a lot of support in the community to fall back on if needed, some of the more niche distros only have small communities surrounding them and SOME – not all – are not the friendliest of places for a Noob to get help.

Moss – I’ve learned that we are actually increasing fragmentation. It’s great that you want to get purer and purer into what you think Linux should be, but if you leave everyone behind you, it’s a net negative. Everyone has moved to EFI without Secure Boot — be there with them. Nearly everyone has decided that Ubiquity and Calamares are the premier installers, so you should either use those or fork them. I’m not going to dictate package management, but if it isn’t .rpm, .deb, or an Arch package, you’d better have a flatpak, AppImage, or snap for it or your software won’t get used. If you change your package management, expect a blowback from your users.

Tony – while I agree there is more fragmentation this is not always a bad thing as some of the tools that these distroes create to scratch their own itch, if they are good often make their way into mainstream distros such as Debian, Ubuntu and Mint, benefiting the whole Linux community. The development of Warpinator for Mint is one example, I’ve heard from a very reliable source that the Ubuntu community are in the process of packaging this as a Snap so other distro’s will be able to install and use it. 

Moss – Everyone wants the desktop environment they want, or you need to show them the choices and stick to the main ones. I don’t know the numbers, but a distro needs to come in at least 3 flavors, with the leading contenders being Gnome, Plasma, and XFCE or forks from those projects (such as Cinnamon or MATE). As much as I love Enlightenment and its forks, almost nobody is using them, which makes them great for your home project but not for a distro intended for newer users. My preference is MATE, then Moksha, and then Plasma; others may want to only use XFCE, or even Gnome. There are lots of good desktops you rarely see, such as Budgie or LXQt or Deepin. Then there are window managers, none of which are of much use to newer users as they try to isolate the user from the mouse.

Tony – 100% agree with this point Moss, the best Desktop environment is the one you feel most comfortable using, and suits the tasks you are using it for. 

Moss – I’ve learned that the people you are least likely to please are not the newer users, but the Old Guard. They probably know more than you or I do about a lot of things, but they have the most set opinions and you’re never going to make them happy. Listen to their criticism, see if you can learn something from it, but keep it away from your sensitive spots.

Tony – As I said before Moss, there are parts of the community that I would fear to tread and that no Noob would be comfortable in. If there were one thing in the Linux community I would love to change is the ‘rtfm’ brigade’s attitude that their particular part of the Linux world is only for those that can be self reliant, and you should not be asking silly questions. Lest we forget, even Linus was a Noob once, as we all were. If you don’t have time to help at that particular moment the new user question is asked, you should probably not be in that Forum. And if it is something you don’t know yourself, just say so and hope that another community member does and can provide the support needed.    

Moss Well that’s about all I can think of for this topic right now. Feel free to let us know if we missed anything, or let us know your opinions on what we covered.  For now, let’s move on to New Releases.


from June 18 to July 22

Omarine 7.0

GeckoLinux 152

Debian 9.13.0

KaOS 2020.07

Volumio 2.799

Robolinux 11.05

Bluestar 5.7.8

Linuxfx 10.4

KDE neon 20200716

Archman 2020-07

EasyOS 2.3.3

EndeavourOS 2020.07.15

Univention 4.4-5

Smoothwall 3.1-SP

Obarun 2020.07.01

Slackel 7.3

Robolinux 11.04

ArcoLinux 20.7.5

Neptune 6.5

Exe 20200707

SparkyLinux 5.12

NomadBSD 1.3.2

Clonezilla Live 2.6.7-28

SolydXK 10.4

GParted Live 1.1.0-3

Zenwalk 15.0-200703a

openSUSE 15.2

Tails 4.8

Linux Mint 20 (all flavors)

Grml 2020.06

Calculate Linux 20.6

Oracle Linux 8.2

Robolinux 11.02

Rescuezilla 1.0.6


We’ve had lots of discussion in our Telegram group, some of which has already been mentioned. No email, other than spam, has been received.

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