Episode 51 Show Notes

Moss: Distrohopping: The idea that Linux is fun, and the myriad ways people put distros together should be reviewed often. My name is Moss. I live in eastern Tennessee.

Dale: I’m Dale, I live in northeast Ohio.

Eric: And I’m Eric, I live in southwestern Florida.

Moss: Welcome to Distrohoppers’ Digest. We love checking distros out — new distros, new versions of older distros, and even some we may have overlooked.

Dale: We each have our preferences, in complexity or desktop or package management. Perhaps we can help you find a new distro, or better understand one which has piqued your curiosity.

Eric: The idea of this podcast is that we will each install a new distro to our chosen hardware for 3-4 weeks and use it as much as possible, perhaps even as our daily driver. We record all our trials, tribulations, fixes, and what we like and what we don’t.

Dale: I tend to take on the more advanced distros and give them a go.

Moss: While I tend to prefer looking at distros that would be kind to a new user, especially one who is hoping to move over from another operating system, such as Windoze or MachOS.

Eric: We intend to give as much information as possible on each distro, and will also mention what hardware we are using and might comment how we think the hardware may have affected the rating.


Hosts: Dale Miracle, Eric Adams

Reviews: BunsenLabs Linux Boron and KDE neon User Edition featuring the recently released KDE Plasma 6

Dale:Welcome to Distrohopper’s Digest, Episode 051 recorded on the 30th of March 2024. For this show, we will be reviewing BunsenLabs Linux Boron and KDE neon User Edition featuring the recently released KDE Plasma 6. Moss will not be joining us this episode.


…wherein we discuss what we did this month…


I had an unplanned extra 11 days off due to my employers truck being repaired. So I was quite busy around home. This is also one of the reasons the podcast is a bit late. Since I wanted to work an extra week to make up for the lost work.

My friend Pat has a VPS (Virtual Private Server) where he hosts websites. He created an account for me to host the website I’ve been wanting to create. It’s only been a few years since I registered the domain. It is a WordPress site except he is using a different template system called Oxygen Builder. It is much nicer than the one in WordPress but it did have a learning curve. I had dived into it a couple years ago and forgot most of it. Since I had a lot more free time. I was able to watch the tutorial videos and read their great documentation again. I am hoping to have it ready during the week I am home. Though mostly likely it will continue to be a work in progress. Once I learn new to me features and other tweaks. I will need to export what I have on Itsmoss and import it into my new site.

I did some more work on my main server. I replaced Debian with TrueNAS Scale, which is based on Debian. Despite how I prefer using the command line to do administrative tasks, I do like the Web GUI they have. My friend Josh helped with installing and configuring the containers for Plex and Tail Scale. I later installed Nextcloud on my own after watching a YouTube tutorial on it. It still needs configured but at least it is installed and running.

I forgot to sign out of my Plex server before wiping the ssd to install Scale. The long story short. There are instructions on how to remove it from my account. I among others had trouble getting them to work. Oddly I also had trouble adding my new server. Plex claims you can have multiple servers on one account. So I just created a new account and everything is working.

I mentioned last episode that I wanted to put my movies, tvshows, and other personal videos on a ssd striped array. The performance difference is mind blowing. With the combination of a 12 core 24 thread Ryzen 9 3900x and the 2 ssd’s in a stripe. It took less than 2 minutes to import 350 movies and a dozen or so tv show series seasons. I think it is around 1.2 TB of media. I wasn’t timing it, so it could be closer to 90 seconds. I had initially thought it failed because it stopped so soon. The playback on my Roku was much quicker compared to the previous spinning drives. Seeking forward and back only takes a second or two. I have a couple friends added to my account for remote access. I haven’t heard any complaints from them. I will need to add two more ssd’s to mirror the others. A stripe is dangerous if you don’t have a backup. If one drive fails, the array fails.

I mentioned I had a Tail Scale container on Scale. This was a suggestion from my friend Josh. He has been using it for quite a while. So I decided to try it. I haven’t had remote access to my network in probably 10 years. I couldn’t believe how easy the initial installation was. Adding a computer to account is very simple. The only issues I am having is with the DNS settings. They provide their own DNS to resolve the host names they create. That works fine and I am able to connect with no problem. I wanted to use an exit node, which requires external DNS. It allows you to access the Internet as if you connected locally to the network. I wanted to use my Pi-Hole. It seems fine for hosts outside my network but not so much for my local hosts. I just haven’t had the time to dig into that yet. I am sure it is a Tail Scale setting or local computer setting. Overall, I am pretty impressed with it. I was able to connect and update my servers while I am on my down time at work.

My friend Pat was wanting a better way of accessing his local network. I told him about it over the phone and he installed it while I was talking to him. He now can use VNC after connecting via Tail Scale without needing to open ports on his firewall.

I’ve been wanting to try PfSense for a while. The computer I want to use is a Protectli Vault FW4B. It is a 4 port computer similar in size to my Lenovo ThinkCentre Tiny’s. Though the Protectli is designed for use as a router or virtualization server. I’ve been holding off on it due to the price. Brand new it is $250 without memory or ssd. I decided for now that I would use my previous Plex Server. It is a Xeon E3-1231 V3, which is overkill for a router. It has been fine and replaced my Unifi Security Gateway that I was using. The Xeon will eventually be the server for backups. The Scale server will backup to it. So I will have copies of the data on two computers, along with an external hard drive, and my online backup. It is still overkill for a backup server but it doesn’t cost me anything except for the electric.

Speaking of electric, I switched providers. My rate will now be about 5 or 6 cents per KW hour. That is half of what I was paying. I didn’t read the fine print when I moved here. That the provider I was using, was using a variable KW per hour rate.

The last two things I will mention is my network redesign. I bought a smaller network rack so that I could put my servers on the bottom of my entertainment stand. There is much more room on the bottom for them. My previous rack was too tall to fit on the upper level. I did a lot of cable organizing. Now when I need to move the entertainment stand from the wall. The cables are attached to the back and not hanging loose. So there is no chance of them getting pinched or pulled.

Lastly, Pat wanted to improve his WiFi. He replaced his cable tv boxes with streaming sticks from Spectrum called Xumo. His Spectrum provided WiFi and his WiFi extender he bought wasn’t able to support all 4 tvs. I told him about my Ubiquiti Unifi networking products that I have been using since 2017. He trusts my opinion on computer/networking stuff. He bought the same 8 port POE switch I use and a U6+ access point. It is the new Unifi WiFi 6 access point. One of the features that sold him was the POE (Power over Ethernet) and the Web based GUI. Overall he is pretty happy with it. I adjusted the power of the U6+ so it doesn’t interfere with the Spectrum Provided WiFi 6 access point. One is on the top floor and the other is one the bottom floor. All 4 tv’s stream without an issue, in addition to the laptops, phones, and tablets.

This wasn’t even everything that I did but I feel that I have talked for long enough. If I remember any of this in a months time, I will mention it next episode.


I haven’t done very much this month due to having surgery on March 4th. It has kept me laid up and away from my desk almost completely since then. This means that there hasn’t been much opportunity to do much with technology.

I had an issue with my WiFi network a few weeks ago that was a fairly frustrating. I have what I assume is a fairly common network topology, consisting of a fiber connection in my garage which uses a MoCA connection via coaxial cable to a router in the office on the other side of my house. That router is owned by my ISP and, while I do have access to the control panel to administer the configuration, it is a single acccess point in a large house and unfortunately provides inadequate coverage. My solution to this is using a Synology mesh WiFi setup with the main router being in the office as well and three addition access points spread throughout the house. These are using a single SSID to provide 2.5 and 5 GHz depending on the device and strength of the connection. I have also opted to leave the ISP’s access point enabled which allows me to troubleshoot the Synology network by bypassing it completely if needed. The only other facet of the network worth mentioning is a Raspberry Pi 2 running a PiHole server. It was the primary DNS used by DHCP clients on my local network so that we can all benefit from PiHole’s ability to block unwanted content.

A few weeks ago, my wife mentioned that she wasn’t able to access the internet while connected to the Synology network. Of my mix of devices, one was also unable to connect while the others could. I went through a quick troubleshooting process but wasn’t able to find something obvious. I asked her to reboot the main router, hoping it would fix the issue but it did not. Nor did rebooting the ISP’s router or the fiber endpoint in the garage. This wasn’t necessarily just stabbing in the dark as this approach has worked in the past when having issues. I then suggested that she connect to the ISP’s router in the meantime. It stayed this way for about a week due to me recovering from surgery and not being able to check the equipment myself.

Once I picked the troubleshooting effort back up I tried changing the DNS server on one of the clients and this resolved this issue. That pointed me to the PiHole server which seemed to have stopped functioning properly. I wasn’t able to quickly resolve the PiHole issue so I decided to change the DNS server settings of the DHCP server instead which then corrected the issue for all the other devices. I still need to deal with PiHole but I haven’t had the energy yet to do so.

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


Void Linux, my favorite rolling distro that is reliable, updated their ISO. They also have Raspberry Pi 5 support. Raspberry Pi images can now be installed on non-SD card storage without manual configuration on models that support booting from USB or NVMe. They also now default to a /boot partition of 256MiB instead of 64MiB.

XeroLinux is no longer being supported as a distro and the ISO’s have been removed. Instead DarkXero is going to have a script with options to configure a vanilla Arch installation. He has instructions on how continue using current installations.


Lubuntu and Ubuntu Budgie have updated to Ubuntu 22.04.4 which will continue to be supported until April of 2025. Updates specific to Lubuntu are LXQt 0.17.0, Qt 5.15.3, Discover Software Center 5.24.7. They mentioned Wayland support is planned for 24.10 with updates to Qt6. Budgie specific updates are in the Budgie Welcome translations. There are new applets called budgie-media-applet and budgie-carbon-tray-applet. A new colloid based GTK and icon theme. Along with an easy way to install the Mozilla repo version of Firefox.



Most of the Linux Mint monthly news blog post was dedicated to Hexchat being discontinued. Hexchat is an IRC client and was the default one included with Mint for many years. The post talks about IRC and modern alternatives like Discord, with each providing value to a different portion of their userbase. The Mint team has decided to create their own IRC client named ‘Jargonaut’. I suppose that a new IRC client app being created in 2024 speaks to the resiliency of the IRC protocol.

BEAUTIFUL FAILURES – What we tried, and failed, to install or run this month


I was going to review Xebian, which is a Debian Sid distro using Xfce. Sid is the top level development branch of Debian that is usable as a distro with Testing being the the next level down. The Xebian maintainers wanted to make a competitor to Xubuntu which uses Ubuntu.

The live session looked good. I noticed the installation option was only available during the Grub boot selection. It uses the Debian Installer. The first attempt failed because it didn’t mention requiring an Internet connection. The installer was modified. It was during the user creation step. There wasn’t an option to enable root, the regular user was automatically given sudo access. The other modification was for the Grub installation.

The second attempt failed because it didn’t like using the EFI partition that Windows 11 created. This is the ssd I used to update my Lenovo ThinkCentre Tiny’s Super IO Controller and my Focusrite Solo Audio Interface. It required Windows 11. So I rebooted and used Gparted to remove the partitions. During the third attempt, Xebian failed on the Grub installation. This part of the installation is done in a terminal window that opens automatically. I rebooted a fourth time and it failed again installing Grub. At that point I gave up. I don’t know why they modified the installation process. They have their reasons for not using the unmodified Debian Installer. I am still interested in trying Xebian. I will look again this week and see if the problem persists.

I downloaded the ISO and noticed they have an icon in the live ISO to install it. They are now using Calamares. I had high hopes that it would install successfully. Unfortunately it did not. There was still no mention of needing to connect to the Internet. So I had to attempt to reinstall it a second time. It had errors at the same point. It was running script called bootloader-config. That entailed installing grub-efi. Then it needed Apt to install some dependencies. Apt reported that it could not find the http://deb.debian.org repository, 404 not found showing the ip address. Which is the main Debian repo. I opened a terminal window and pinged the address. It resolved to the same ip address and responded with no packet loss. I then type sudo apt update. It updated package cache with no errors. Then type sudo apt upgrade. After a few minutes and answering some question posed by Apt. The Live ISO was updated. So I don’t know why their script couldn’t do the same using the same Internet connection.

Here is a suggestion for other distro maintainers. When you are using a tried, tested, and reliable installation framework. Don’t fix what is not broken.


I had been running Fedora 39 Workstation on my Dell Latitude tablet until I wiped it to try KDE neon. That was just about five months. I didn’t have any issues with compatibility per se although there is usually a bit more setup required than something like Linux Mint. I have mentioned it before but I am not particularly interested in distros that require much effort beyond moving my files and installing apps to get running. As much as I loved it when I started with desktop Linux I just don’t have the interest I once did. Anyway, I had it configured just fine and at first it ran just fine. I noticed over time however that it started to get very slow. Simple tasks were taking much longer than usual, things like browsing the internet, installing software, and moving files. Battery life was also much worse. I thought perhaps that there was an issue with the hardware or maybe something running in the background diverting resources. The software aspect was easy enough to test and I didn’t see anything with high usage running in the background nor were there any signs of increased load such as extra heat or fans running. Testing the hardware consisted of installing a different distro to see how it performed. Yes, KDE neon is not apples to apples with GNOME on Fedora but I usually don’t notice a major difference, certainly not like this at least. KDE neon is running much faster so I’m calling using Fedora on this system a failure, at least a failure on my part to manage it properly.




KDE neon User Edition (neon-user-20240321-0715.iso)


KDE Plasma 6 was recently released and I was curious to try it. That was the main criteria for this review so the candidates were limited to those distros that were already using it. Any of the rolling options were an option but that would mean using something like Arch or openSUSE which I wasn’t interested in doing. Fedora 40 will use it but it hasn’t been released yet. All of this made KDE neon the most logical and straightforward choice. It was also the only one of the bunch that automatically scaled to a reasonable resolution, in my case 150%. That’s might be a little large for younger eyes but it certainly was appreciated by my aging set.

I did not get the chance to use KDE neon for a full month. It was really more like just over a week. Of course, I would have liked to have spent more time with it but I feel like I had enough time to form a solid opinion. Also, I have been using Linux Mint as my main distro for quite a while now so my comparisons are to that base as well as the Cinnamon desktop.


Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 tablet PC, 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8350U Processor (15W TDP Quad Core), 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz, M.2 512GB PCIe NVMe, 12.3″ Touch 3:2 WUXGA+ (1920 x 1280)


The installer is a very straightforward implementation of Calamares, which is to say that it was easy and straightforward. I chose to use the “replace” option, replacing the Fedora 39 Workstation partition. It picked up the Windows installation which was listed in the GRUB menu when I rebooted.


After installing and rebooting, I was greeted with an eye watering 100% screen brightness level for some reason. I adjusted it and it hasn’t done that since. On a more positive note, it remembered the WiFi password from the live install session. I really appreciate little things like that.

I like the new wallpaper and appreciate that it includes a light and dark variant. KDE Plasma historically has had some very interesting wallpapers, not all of which I have enjoyed. Outside of the wallpaper, there is a new floating option for the bottom panel which is clever and adds a touch of refinement but nothing else that is readily apparent. I had hoped that perhaps there would have been more changes between major releases.

I noticed pretty quickly that the performance seemed to be much better than I had been experiencing with GNOME on Fedora. I can’t say for sure which was to blame for to long delays in interacting with the desktop and apps but it got worse over time and eventually was frustrating to deal with. This seems much snappier in general, although again, is it because of the distro base or Plasma? I suppose I will figure that out eventually as I try other versions but for now, I’m just pleased to say that this is a better experience in that regard.

There were some rough edges and not all of them are easily attributable specifically to neon or Plasma. The usual set of home folders wasn’t created (i.e. Documents, Downloads) so I had to create them myself. I first noticed when trying to download a file in Firefox. It appeared to do nothing when clicking on the download link, however it had automatically created the Download folder when it found it missing. There is no /etc/skel directory so perhaps that’s why? Or maybe neon doesn’t use that for some reason. I checked in the control panel under the Locations option and it does list the directories and their associated paths. I did some searching and wasn’t able to find anyone else having the issue so I’m not sure what the deal is.

I had some other oddities like the Firefox shortcut in the panel being removed every time I rebooted for some reason and Firefox prompting me to install the Plasma addon which was already installed. Happily, none of these things were major issues that caused crashes, lost data, and so on. I would expect minor things like this for a first major release anyway so it’s not surprising.

They rearranged a number of things in the control panel which, while it does simplify a few things, it does make it trickier to find things if you are used to where they were previously. For example, the Location option I mentioned previously is now under a section entitled Session all the way at the bottom of the panel menu. I ended up needing to search for it. Lucky for me there’s a search. I suppose the cost of progress can be changing the things you are familiar with.

As usual with my Dell PCs, I had to enable deep sleep in the GRUB configuration file. Prior to this, the system was still running when I closed the keyboard cover so the battery was dead when I next tried to use it.

KDE neon comes preconfigured with Flatpak and Snap and, combined with the underlying distro repository, you have access to a large catalog of software to choose from. Unfortunately, Discover is still not a particularly great software manager which seems sort of impossible all these years later but I opted to use a combination of ‘pkcon’ and flatpak from the terminal. I can’t comment on snap support because I don’t generally use them.

It’s a shame that Discover hasn’t improved much because KDE neon comes pretty much devoid of software, beyond the very basics. There is no office suite or audio player for instance. A good portion of KDE’s own apps aren’t present either. I know that there are plenty of people who who appreciate not having what they would consider bloat but I appreciate having a basic set of working apps that cover normal day to day use rather than needing to install things myself, unless I choose to of course.

Because I was using a tablet PC, I was able to test touchscreen support. I removed the magnetic keyboard cover and was able to rotate the device and have the screen change orientation without any issues. I was not presented with a virtual or on screen keyboard when tapping a text entry field. After checking the Keyboard settings, I saw that, while the Maliit keyboard was available, it was not enabled. I enabled it and then was able to enter text as expected. I may have missed it but I couldn’t find any way to adjust the size of the keyboard or any other settings for that matter. I was provided with auto-completion suggestions sometimes but not others. It automatically toggled in most cases but not for some apps like Discord. I was able to manually toggle it in those instances however, the way the tray icon works is confusing and made it clunky to use. The new floating panel doesn’t react to the virtual keyboard opening and consequently is a bit in the way. I’ll say that, while there is touch support, it’s not something I’d want to use day to day. There is a Plasma Mobile project so maybe that would be a better option for a tablet. Because KDE Plasma performs so well on this device, I may spend more time getting it to work better as a tablet desktop.


Besides the lack of software and home folders, there wasn’t anything that hindered using the system as expected. Hardware support seemed fine with the newer 6.5 kernel. The system I’m using is pretty simple and old enough that everything just works.


I ran the ‘while true; do free -hm; sleep 10; done’ command after booting to allow the system to settle and show me memory usage over time. It started and stayed at 1.4 GB so not a lightweight.

I used ‘df -h /’ to show that a base installation used 11 GB of disk space. Also not the smallest installation size especially considering that the software included by default is sparse.


KDE neon provides support via the KDE Discourse forum, Telegram, and Matrix. I didn’t need to reach out to anyone so I can’t say how responsive or helpful those options are.


The installation found and added my Windows install to the boot menu so yes, it does play nice with others.


I didn’t have any crashes or performance issues so stability was not an issue.


There really aren’t many options in terms of distros offering KDE Plasma 6 at this point but that won’t be true for long. I’m sure Kubuntu will have it available soon in their backports PPA and I expect any distro that has a KDE release will incorporate Plasma 6 into their near-future releases. Fedora 40’s KDE spin will have it. Also, rolling release distros are generally already offering it.


Ease of Installation new user 8/10 (clean install)

experienced user 10/10 (custom install)

Hardware Support 10/10

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

Ease of Use 8/10

Plays Nice With Others 10/10

Stability 10/10

Overall Rating 8/10


This review covered KDE neon as well as KDE Plasma 6 but my interest was more on the latter. I was hoping that a new version of Plasma might renew my interest as I used to use KDE Plasma almost exclusively, especially when the other options were nowhere near as capable or refined from my perspective. GNOME had just released version 3, which was incomplete and difficult to use. I wasn’t a fan of most of the other desktops nor was I much of a tiling window manager user. Plasma essentially won by default. However, as the other desktops evolved, I found myself wanting to use them more than Plasma for a variety of reasons. I have not used Plasma much since then in favor of mostly GNOME and Cinnamon. A large part of that I believe is because I don’t seem to like Qt-based software as much as I do GTK. And maybe it’s a side effect of this preference but there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much Qt software as there is GTK. It’s a bit trivial but I just prefer the look and feel of GTK software overall. That said, I have to acknowledge that Plasma does a far superior job of integrating GTK apps in terms of look and feel than most GTK-based desktops do with Qt apps. This provides a more seamless experience overall with much less effort.

While there have certainly been many improvements and advancements in Plasma 6, it feels more like technical debt where they needed to migrate to Qt 6 in order to lay the foundation for future development. I hope that with this release out if the way we will see some more transformative and innovative things in future releases. I will probably continue using Plasma 6 on this tablet PC but I don’t think I’ll keep KDE neon. It’s stable and does what the developers say it will in providing an up to date KDE system but it lacks a bit of the polish I prefer to have in a distro.

My thanks to the KDE neon and KDE Plasma teams for all their efforts in producing solid releases for me to try.

Let’s hear now from Dale


DISTRO NAME: BunsenLabs Linux Boron


BunsenLabs is a continuation of CrunchBang Linux. I don’t have a firm start date for CrunchBang. The 3rd release was in November of 2008 using Ubuntu 8.10. During the spring of 2010 they began to re-base on Debian 6 Squeeze. The first non-development release called Statler was in February of 2011 using the stable version of Debian 6. They named the releases using Muppet Show characters. It was a sketch comedy show using puppets that looked like animals/monsters in the mid 1970s. CrunchBang continued until February of 2015, when it was decided to stop development. Two distros spun off of that release called CrunchBang++ and BunsenLabs. The CrunchBang website started redirecting to the BunsenLabs website once it was created in September of 2015. The first release of BunsenLabs was in July of 2016 called Hydrogen. The names are all chemical elements.

Instead of using a desktop environment, they are using a modified Openbox Window Manager. It uses Stacking/Floating window management.


I used my Lenovo ThinkPad T460. It has an Intel Dual Core i5-6200U 2.8 GHz CPU, a 14″ display using Intel HD Graphics 520, 16 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB Crucial BX500 SSD.


The installation is the Debian Graphical Installer but with the BunsenLabs theme. They automatically make your user have sudo access for root functions. Other than that, it is a normal Debian installation.


The Grub menu had the default options with the additional options of TTY login and High Contrast Text options.

Upon first login, everything was working as expected. There wasn’t a graphical way to disable the touch pad. If that annoys you like it does me. In the command line I typed xinput to find the id number of the touch pad. It was 12. Then I typed

xinput set-prop 12 “Device Enabled” 0

then it was disabled. Zero is disable and one is enabled. There are settings in ~/.config/bunsen/autostart under the touch pad section. I could never get the setting for palm detection to work. So I just disable the touchpad since I don’t use it. If you choose to use xinput to disable the touchpad. You will need to put that command in the autostart file I mentioned above. Once you reboot, the touch pad is re-enabled. If you want to adjust other settings for the mouse. Install xfce4-settings by way of

sudo apt install xfce4-settings

after it is installed, it can be found under All Applications / Settings / Settings Manager.

Linux kernel 6.1.0-18 is being used. I noticed that the swap file was created equal to the amount of memory installed.

In the System Settings Menu, there is a item called Install Favorite Packages. It is a pipe menu that expands to other entries. Those entries allow you to easily install Web Browsers, Terminal Emulators, Utilities, in addition to many many others.

Flatpak and Snaps are not configured nor installed by default.

Here are a few of the pre-installed apps.

  • Thunar File Manager from Xfce
  • Catfish File Search
  • Nitrogen for setting the wallpaper
  • Quick Screenshot
  • Geany an IDE
  • Rissetto Image Viewer
  • VLC video player
  • HexChat IRC client
  • Firefox ESR 115.8
  • LibreOffice Calc and Writer 7.4
  • Terminals such as the LX Terminal, the Xfce Terminal, and the X Terminal Emulator

There is a Conky on the upper right corner of the screen. It shows RAM and CPU usage. Along with the keyboard shortcuts. Some common ones are Super T for the terminal, Super F for the File Manager, Super L for the Lock Screen, and PRT SCR button for screen shots. Among many others.

The Tint2 panel is vertical on the left side with the system tray at the bottom. By default there are two virtual desktops/work spaces. More can be created.

Menu access is available from the Super Key or right clicking the mouse. The menu appears floating wherever you right clicked the mouse. It has docked items at the top for the Terminal, Web Browser, File Manager, Text Editor, and Media Player. The remaining is menus for applications, utilities, and to lock or exit the desktop.

You are able to adjust your screen resolution, manage the Conky, change the default applications, Openbox configuration, in addition to other common ones.

I go into more detail about the settings and utilities when I review distros using Window Managers. Mostly because a fair percentage of people are not familiar with them or have preconceived notions that everything needs to be done at the terminal. That is true in some cases though there are some nice GUI options that can be installed or are installed by default.

For those of you that like a wallpaper selection. The default is a blue green background with geometric shapes and the BusenLabs Logo at the bottom. There quite a few others with some dark textures and the BusenLabs Logo.


As I have mentioned in previous reviews. I was a fan of Openbox in the 2000s. I am surprised how much interest there still is for it. The functionality has changed since then for the better. I liked the ability of pressing the Super key to open the menu in Busenlabs. That is my favorite part of my current work flow. I just find searching through menus a bit tedious. However, I do find them helpful when I don’t know the name of what I am searching for. That is one of the functionality changes since then. Which is the use of meta data, where you type editor and all of the editor applications are shown.

One of the differences using Openbox compared to Desktop Environments is the workspace separation of applications. When I used Alt Tab to cycle through the open applications. It would only show ones open on that workspace. In order to Alt Tab the others, I needed to move to that workspace. Though, I am able to see the icons on the verticle panel on the left. Clicking on the workspace will also display it, so there are mouse and keyboard options to do that. When I clicked on the icon of an application, it would switch to that workspace and show the application. Clicking on the icon again would minimize the application from view. Clicking it again would restore it.

To have an overview list of workspaces and applications I pressed Super Tab. From there I could use the up and down arrow keys select the open applications from all the workspaces. Additionally, I could add and remove another workspace, though they are labeled as desktops.

Some of these functions are available as settings in some Desktop Environments.

As per usual, I used Apt in the terminal for my package management. There is the Synaptic Package Manager installed and is a very nice GUI application. It doesn’t have any plug in ability to support Flatpak or Snaps. I enabled Flatpak using the Debian instructions from Flathub.org.

When I installed Telegram, I went into the advanced options and enabled use system window frame. Doing that allows it to match the other applications. I also enabled show taskbar icon and disabled the tray icon. The tray icon functionality in Openbox is a bit limited. The only options were to open and exit. It seemed redundant to me since I could do that without it. The only side effect of not having it running is when you close Telegram, it will exit. I always open it on another workspace and leave it open. Then I will change to that workspace to use it.

The lock screen and LightDM display manager were themed, which is a nice touch that some distros don’t do.

Other than use of the right click menu to find uncommonly used applications. I got along very well with BunsenLabs.


6.6 GB of space used on the SSD du -h /

824 – 840 MB of memory used was reported by free –hm.


I did search their forums to see what others did for disabling the touchpad. I also browsed around to see the other posts. The forum seemed fairly active with a few post from that day and the past few days.


I didn’t dual boot it with others due to the fact that it is Debian using Ext4. If you using other similar Debian or Ubuntu distros. Then you shouldn’t have a problem. It is only when other less common file systems are used or non standard Grub configurations or Systemd Boot.


I didn’t have any issues.

GAMING EASE (Optional):

I didn’t try any games.


Crunchbang++ (Debian)

Sparky Linux Openbox (Debian)

ArchCraft (Arch, reviewed in episode 43)


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 9/10

Plays Nice With Others 10/10

Stability 10/10

Overall Rating 9/10


I was pretty happy with my experience with BunsenLabs. Despite being biased towards Openbox and Debian. I think it is a nicely assembled distro. Changing the installer to Calamares would help with the new user installation. People that are that used to using a menu system to find and open applications will adjust well. It would take some getting used to the menu not being in a static place. I know from past experience using that work flow. It was convenient to open the menu where every the mouse happened to be. There was no need to move over to where the static menu is placed. For those of us that like to use the Super key to open applications. That functionality is available. Using work spaces tends to be more of an advanced user feature. Though I think it would be an easy way of organizing open applications for the average or new user. Especially if they are using a smaller screen. I feel that Window Managers are good to use on smaller screens. I find that one full screen application or two that are half the screen works pretty well per work space.

I was a bit surprised by the memory usage. It was a bit high for Openbox. I still think it would be ok for computers with 4 or less GB or memory. BunsenLabs is also very light on disk usage.


Moss mentions in Dale’s review of Zorin OS 17 last episode, we failed to mention that it automatically checks the checksum before installation, which is a cool feature only a few distros have. Further, I checked about the upgrade path, and it might work but you have to pay for Zorin 17 either way. If you have a valid invoice number for Zorin 16, you get a 20% discount. No free lunch here.

I also found something interesting installing Debodhi 7.0 64-bit on my T540p, which is that the ISO does not include the wifi driver for ThinkPads. You will need to connect the laptop to Ethernet, then do your system updates, and then open a terminal and type sudo apt install firmware-iwlwifi and then reboot, at which point you should have working wifi.


Dale: For chatting with us further, you may choose to join our Telegram group, Discord channel, or Email the show at [email protected]. Our website is https://distrohoppersdigest.org.

Dale: I’m @Dale_CDL on Telegram and Discord. My email is [email protected]

And for Moss, you can hear him every week on Full Circle Weekly News. His email is [email protected], and he is on Mastodon as @[email protected].


Eric: You can hear more of me on other podcasts and streams like mintCast, Linux OTC, Linux Saloon, and LinuxLUGCast. I also have a YouTube channel @ericadamsyt. I can be reached on most social media and chat platforms under my full name, Eric Adams. You can also reach me by email at [email protected].


Moss: We would like to thank all those who make this project possible,

Dale: Archive.org for storing and helping to distribute this program;

Eric: Audacity, which we use for recording and editing the show

Moss: Bill Houser, for managing the website and Eric Adams for audio editing services;

Dale: Joshua Lowe for work on our logo;

Eric: All those who work on the teams which are creating, adapting, and maintaining the Linux distros we have reviewed this episode;

Moss: Mid-Air Machine, creators of the song, “Streets of Sant’ivo”, used as our music under Creative Commons license;

Dale: Thanks to Linus Torvalds for the Kernel, Richard Stallman for the GNU Toolkits, and all those who have worked behind the scenes on Free and Open Source/Libre Software;

Eric: We will be back next month. Thank all of you for listening.

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