Bunsenlabs Linux and other adventures not taken

A former pupil, Lars, suggested that I use Bunsenlabs Linux, I took his suggestion seriously, and investigated it. It is an impressive distro, especially for people with older and slower equipment. Its windows manager, Openbox, was developed in Canada. Even the release names, Hydrogen followed by Deuterium, appeal. Yet, I have not used Bunsenlabs, or even installed a test version. This post explains why I will probably never use Bunsenlabs, but also why new Linux users should still consider using it, and other distributions.

VivoMini & Tinker Board
Asus Tinker Board (left) and Asus VivoMini (behind ruler) both with their own versions of Linux.


Relationships between people influence many (if not most) of our decisions. This is particularly so regarding computers. The relationship one has with his or her employer, can have a significant impact on one’s choice of equipment, as can the relationship of students with their schools. For a retired person, like myself, impact is personified in just one individual, code name Fluffy, who counts on me to solve most of her serious computing challenges. I could say to her, “Fluffy, this is your computer – fix it yourself!” If I did so, she might feel less enthusiastic about about feeding me, washing my laundry, etc. So, I lovingly look after her computer problems, and change her winter tires.

Relationships are often symbiotic, although not according to the biological definition of the term. Most often they involve mutualism, a relationship where both parties benefit. If you are involved in a commensal or parasitic relationship that benefits only the other person, please seek competent help!

In my web of relationships, I have one person I consult with on computer problems, code name Uncle Al. Sometimes, he will even ask me questions, so it is not fully a one-way street.  In addition, there are two other denizens of this web who are dedicated Apple users, who have each other and an Apple infrastructure to help them. Because of our relationship, I can ask them questions about Apple products, of which I still have one, and they more or less feel obliged to help.

Because computing problems often require consultation to produce meaningful answers, one needs someone to talk about these problems. If Uncle Al went over to using another distribution, I would definitely have to consider using it.

In addition, I have at least five and a half other people in my web who use me when computing emergencies strike. These are listed as “external” in the table below. Often, they have no one else around who can offer them advice, who does not have a vested interest in having them spend money. I can use up to several hours a year working on their computing problems. I have code named these users: Ann, Axel, Ella, Eve, Henry and Kate. The person needing the most help, code named John, is no longer among the living. However, he was the most fun to help, if only because his insights into computing were so limited that one learned how such people think.

Typically these people have a cell phone, a laptop or desktop computer and possibly some other device. They are connected in some way to the internet, and may have a printer. I do not normally work with phone problems, except for those involving Fluffy or myself.

There is a third category, casuals, who may ask me questions, but who are not in any way dependent on me to solve their computing challenges. Sometimes, I may have even worked on a computing problem requiring several hours of work, but it is normally a one-off situation without ongoing commitments. Sometimes, I take on their challenges just to learn something. Casuals are not discussed further, except to say that I enjoy the

One way in which I try to simplify my work is to standardize the products I work with, but this does not apply to externals. John, if I remember correctly, managed to buy a Swedish language, Windows Vista machine produced from some obscure manufacturer, possibly Dell. At the time of this purchase, everyone else was using Windows XP.

Asus is my primary computer supplier because I can count on each machine behaving in much the same way. I have bought a large number of Western Digital hard drives. There are exceptions. I am still wondering why I purchased two Seagate 4 TB external drives.


During the past six months, I have installed Linux on six different computers, four of them with Linux Mint (two desktops and two laptops), and two Tinker Boards with Tinker Linux. Before each Mint installation, I  seriously considered using Bunsenlabs Linux. Why didn’t I try Bunsenlabs? The main reason has to do with the complex variety of equipment that I have to relate to. I just could not bring myself to work on yet another OS distro.

Here is an overview of what I have to relate to in terms of equipment, with projections for 2018.

Fjellheim  Fjellheim  Fjellheim Externals  Externals  Externals
OS 2016 2017 2018 2016 2017 2018
ADM 1 1 1 0 0 0
Mint 1 3 + 1 ret. 4 0 1 2
Tinker 0 1 1 0 0 0
Windows 7 1 0 0 1 0 0
Windows 8 2 0 0 2 1 0
Windows 10 1 1 0 2 3 3 or 0
MacOS 1 0 0 0 0 0
iOS 1 1 0 0 0 0
Android 1 1 2 0 0 0
Kobo 2 2 2 1 1 1
Arduino 1 1 1 0 0 0
Total machines 12 11 11 6 6 6 or 3
Total OS types 10 8 6 4 4 3 or 2

The number of systems was reduced between 2016 and 2017 by returning two Windows 8 laptops to Nord-Trøndelag county (our previous employer), and by replacing Windows 7 with Mint on an Acer Aspire and then giving it away. Similarly, we gave away a Mac laptop (along with a spare iPhone). In addition, there has been migration to Windows 10 by external users, eliminated Windows 7 machines and reducing the number of Windows 8 machines in use.

One of the Asus laptops running Mint has reached its end of life, late in May 2017. Its replacement is the second Asus laptop. Soon the iPhone will be replaced by an Android phone. Fluffy is even considering “upgrading” her Windows 10 OS to Linux Mint. This will require a migration of our Windows based BookCAT library system to Koha, and a solution to our BankID identification system that doesn’t seem particularly enthusiastic about Linux. In addition, Fluffy is looking philosophically at the NOK 100 she spent buying Microsoft Office 2016, with updates guaranteed for the next 10 years. In the midterm there may be a need for a dual boot (Linux Mint + Windows 10) system.

Without having Windows systems in the house it will be a lot easier for me to offer “externals” a solution to their problems. They can either choose to install Linux Mint, and get some help, or they can keep Windows installed and find someone else to help them, a Windows expert

Ideal systems

There is no ideal systems because the uses made of systems are changing all the time. The needs of users vary, and there is absolutely no reason why anybody should imitate the choices of an old man!

A NAS (Network attached server) is a very different machine from a laptop or desktop machine. It performs a limited number of processes, but these have to be done well. A NAS needs an OS that responds to its server functions. ADM, is regarded as a good COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) OS, but possibly not as good as QNAP and Synology. People without ties to Asus would probably be better off buying a QNAP NAS – TS-451, for example, housing 4 Western Digital 8TB Red hard disks, or even their smaller TS-251 that houses 2 hard disks.

An Asustor 1004T NAS (Network Attached Server) with 4 x 6 TB Western Digital Red hard disks, running the latest version of ADM.

Lars may be quite correct that Bunsenlabs is a better system for laptops and desktops than Mint. However, I will probably be staying with Mint. Andrew Williams at Tech Radar has looked at seven distros in an article titled “The best Linux distros 2017: 7 versions of Linux we recommend” (despite the link’s name) dated 23 May 2017: http://www.techradar.com/news/software/operating-systems/best-linux-distro-five-we-recommend-1090058  These seven are: Elementary OS (Loki), Linux Mint (18), Arch Linux and its alterego Antergo, Ubuntu (17.04 LTS), Tails – claiming to be the best Linux distro for privacy, CentOS (7), and Ubuntu Studio – for home music recording or video production.

One of the main reasons I bought an Asus Tinker Board, was to work on home automation projects. I will be restricting myself to Tinker OS, at least for the moment. Since the Tinker Board is a superclone of a Raspberry Pi, people have the option of using 11 different systems that have originated on the Pi: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/pi-operating-systems/

That more or less wraps up the comments I have about Linux operating systems. Readers will be spared reading my prejudicial comments about Android on smart phones, Kobo on e-readers, and Arduino on Arduino boards.

One Reply to “Bunsenlabs Linux and other adventures not taken”

  1. The number of operating systems continues to decline. While Harley (Quin) the iPhone 5S (and only remaining Apple product in the house) is still being used to Facetime, it has been replaced by Molly, a Huawei P10 lite personal device, for all other purposes.
    The replacement of another ad blocker with Adblock Plus has allowed me to use my computers in high security situations. However, there is still one serious obstacle that prevents Margaret from becoming a Linux machine – sister laptop, Millie, freezes at least once a day. An initial step will be to install Linux Mint on Margaret in a dual OS configuration.
    In August, Parker will probably be replaced by a VivoMini UN65 machine (Emily), and the home theatre moved to a different location.
    Work is also progressing with the Tinker Boards Tink (Tinker Bell) is being used with home-assistant to make a control system for the house, while Peter (Pan) is being used for workshop applications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *