Getting Bunsenlabs Linux And Making Preparations…
My last blog about Bunsenlab Linux dealt with the overall impression, quality, and overall user experience of the Bunsenlab Linux. This Linux installation is fairly easy and straightforward.
Bunsenlab Linux is a fairly light and fast distribution. It includes a very rich set of applications for both regular users and developers. Bunsenlab Linux is based on Debian Linux. Debian and Ubuntu users will have little trouble transitioning to this lightning-fast distribution.
We will choose a GUIDED disk setup which will allow us to configure and customize the hard disk and a way that is suitable for most home users.
Why Do A Text Install…
Not everyone reading this blog will have a computer powerful enough to handle a GUI graphical install of Bunsenlabs.
If your computer runs on sufficiently modern computer hardware, the GUI install is the way to go, but not everyone has that luxury.
I wanted my blog to be able to help EVERYONE and anyone reading it, which makes the text installation the best choice that works with almost every computer — possibly including someone installing it on an old Pentium III with limited RAM.
General system requirements to run Bunsenlabs Linux (for 32 or 64 bit):
- 256 RAM minimum but 1GB recommended (more is ok)
- 10G of hard disk space (minimum)
The 32-bit systems will be supported for as long as Debian supports 32-bit. Recently, there has been some news about major distributions officially stating their decision to drop 32-bit support completely.
The Future of 32-bit CPU Support Looks Bleak…
Support for 32-bit will be dropped eventually – sooner than later, unfortunately. There is uncertainty about how long Bunsenlab can continue to support the creation of 32-bit ISO images for Linux to run on older computers with 32-bit CPUs.
Let’s Get that Bunselab Linux ISO
For 32-bit Linux Systems:
Go to Bunsenlab and download the DVD ISO “bl-Helium_i386+build2.iso” (at the time of this writing).
A CD version of the ISO (smaller) will install most of the basic options and you can download the rest of the software once your computer has a network connection to the Internet.
The DVD ISO will have more software that it can access and install by default, but the difference is negligible.
For 64-bit Linux Systems:
Go to Bunsenlab and download the DVD ISO “bl-Helium_AMD64+build2.iso” (at the time of this writing).
Download the DVD ISO (is the only image available for the 64-bit systems), and use that ISO to do the installation. The CD ISO is not available for 64-bit systems.
Partitioning of the hard drive, booting method preference, and other things that are done during the installation are somewhat subjective. I highly recommend that you do your installation as presented here on your first try, however.
Some users may not agree with what I’m doing here, but these suggestions work well for beginners and home/personal users because it is both uncomplicated and simple to maintain – and safe.
Before installing Bunsenlab Linux onto the target system:
- first, try running Bunselab Linux using the “Live” option to see if it can load properly all the way to the Live GUI environment. If you get problems when booting the live system, take it as a sign that Bunsenlabs may not be compatible with your system and abort installation completely.
- when installing on a real computer system (a computer system that you are currently using), backup and save any data and configuration files from the existing system before proceeding with the installation. The installer WILL erase and wipe any data on the target hard drive.
Some Reasons To Consider a Non-Grub Linux Install
I suggest NOT to make a dual boot installation. Make your computer a dedicated Linux machine, if possible. By default, the Bunsenlab install will detect that you have Windows, and it will make changes to the GRUB bootloader to let you dual boot between Bunsenlabs Linux and your existing Windows installation.
Dual boot will work well on most systems, but sometimes there may be complications – system recovery becomes more complicated.
The Modern BIOS Is Safer Than A Grub Dual-Boot Linux/Windows…
A number of modern systems today have a BIOS with a built-in boot menu that can be accessed by pressing a hotkey to select a device to boot from. I find this approach to be MUCH safer for home users than letting the installation create a dual boot menu using GRUB.
When The Grub Bootloader Malfunctions
Bootloaders like GRUB may go corrupt or missing. When this happens, it will render your system unable to boot EITHER operating system. You will need to boot with a rescue Linux disk of some kind and repair GRUB in order to boot again into either operating system — something that can become very complicated very quickly. In some instances, the fix is successful and you can boot with GRUB again.
When fixing GRUB becomes unsuccessful, you will find yourself with an unusable system and you might have to reinstall either or both O.S sometimes.
Using your BIOS to boot is much safer, simply because the BIOS is not as easily corrupted, modified or changed like it is possible with GRUB.
Suggestion For Starters…
I highly recommend using the BIOS as the O.S booting method for regular home users. You don’t have to do it this way, but you have been warned. If your BIOS cannot or does not have the booting feature that I speak of, then you are welcome to use GRUB as your bootloader – GRUB being the only alternative left.
Preventing The Grub boot-loader From Including Windows As a Boot Option
Before the installation occurs, make sure to disconnect the power plug from each of the hard drives, except for the hard drive you are going to use to use for the installation.
You may leave the power plug on for the DVD drive. Bunsenlab Linux WILL NOT be able to detect the presence of any Windows O.S currently installed in your system and it won’t try to include your Windows installation with GRUB as a boot option.
Keeping Your MBR Intact Is Preferred…
Use your boot menu from the BIOS to select the device to boot from when you turn your machine on or during a reboot.
Installing the Linux OS in this manner will not in ANY way modify your Windows bootloader or the MBR boot record of your main hard drive; it will still give you a clean and uncomplicated way to select the O.S you want to boot from.
All you have to do is press the hotkey that loads the BIOS boot menu and just select the hard drive to boot from.
The Linux Install Steps Were Done In VirtualBox…
The following steps below will show you how to install Bunsenlab Linux. My installation is done from within a virtual environment setup running from VirtualBox.
The steps are going to exactly the same for you when you run your installation on a real computer system. If there are any differences seen during the virtual environment setup that might be worth mentioning, I will make sure to point them out as I go through the installation.
General Drive Requirements
- Hard drive size should be no less than 64GB in size. I recommend starting with a 128GB hard drive. If you can afford it, do the install and run it on an SSD drive.
- These particular brands and sizes I recommend tend to go on sale quite often. I have used all three of these brands have had no problem. Below are some suggestions for SSD drives.
Solid State Drives Recommendations For Linux
The drives listed below are drives I have used with much success on my own computer systems at home.
A Bit On Crucial Drives
- For Crucial drives, you may have to do some firmware updates, but very rarely. There were some earlier versions of the Crucial drives that worked better after a firmware update – something very dependant on the computer system in which they were installed.
- Unless you experience any problems, I do not foresee the need for updating the firmware on the Crucial drives.
Crucial Bx300 240GB or 120BG SSD
These are pretty fast and good in performance.
SanDisk SSD PLUS 120GB and 240GB SSD
These are a bit slower than the Crucial BUT they are slightly better priced.
Kingston A400 120GB and 240 GB SSD
These are the cheapest but they are also the ones with the slower ones in performance. These are quality drives – they are just not as fast as the other two. Kingston offers an excellent warranty.
Beginning The Installation…
Connection To the Internet
- Depending on the WIFI chip or card you have, the installer MAY or MAY NOT be able to detect your WIFI properly and will cause some problems during the installation. The installer seems to also download some files from the Internet in addition to using the files from the installation CD.
- Make sure that the computer is connected to a working Internet connection (wired).
The Bunsenlab ISO boots to this graphical menu from the very beginning. You can select from the following options:
Go For Test Drive With The “Live” Option
- Live – (amd64 run Bunselab Linux without installing. This is a good option to test Bunsenlab and see if this distro is to your liking.
- Live ( amd64 failsafe) – if you are having difficulty boot up your system such as freezing, kernel panic, display errors, then your best bet is to select this option. It uses less aggressive and less intrusive parameters when loading the O.S to ensure that your computer will boot up and run the O.S as properly and smoothly as possible.
Install Once And Run It Permanently
- Install – this one is obvious: pick this option to install the O.S to your computer ( this is the text version of the install which I will use for this tutorial)
- Graphical Install – this option installs the Bunselanb Linux O.S within a fully graphical GUI. Using this option to install is highly recommended unless your computer is unable to handle GUI adequately during the install – mostly unnecessary for relatively new computer systems.
- Memory Diagnostics Tool – this option will let you run a RAM testing tool to verify the overall health of your system memory
The selection that I have made, as shown in the screenshot above, will start the text console installation.
At this screen, select the language of your preference.
Select the country of your choice. I selected Canada for my install.
Select your keyboard. My keyboard is a standard US keyboard and my selection is American English.
As soon as we select the keyboard and press Enter, the installation will load a series of messages about the different drivers it is loading to prepare for the next stage: the network setup.
Configuring The Network…
The screenshot shows the beginning of the network setup. Change the name “debian” to some other name that of your choice. The name should not be too long and it can have a dash or a hyphen like “sound-server” or a single word name like “sambaserver“. If you don’t like the name, you can always change it later in the HOSTNAME file under /etc/ (more on the detail of the Linux file system structure for later). When you are satisfied with the name, press TAB to move the focus to the “<Continue>” label on the lower right-hand corner and press Enter.
The next part is the domain name. If you are setting up a home computer without any need for DNS resolution name requirements, then you can just put something like “local”. This domain name can also be modified later on from /etc/ resolv.conf. If you are not sure, just type “local” for now to continue with the installation. When finished entering your domain name, press “<Continue>” located at the lower right-hand corner to continue the installation.
Creating a New Administrative User for the System
The next screenshot below is the part that asks you to create a new user account authorized to log in to the system once it is completely installed. Please note that THIS particular screen is asking to create a new user that will be the main administrative account and is waiting for us pick one and join. This account has root access and can be used to change system settings and install new software.
Securing the Administrative Account With A Good Password
At this point, enter a unique username and a password. Make sure that the password for this user account is a strong password. You do not want any intruders easily guessing the password for this account and gain system access. Press TAB to move your focus to the “<Continue>” label and then press ENTER.
This screen prompts for the creation of the password for the previous account. Remember it is creating an administrative account and the password has to be strong enough that it cannot be easily guessed. After you enter the password, press ENTER once. It will prompt again to retype the password to confirm the password once more before it is committed to the system permanently.
Choosing the Time Zone (Regional Settings)
Enter the password one more time and press ENTER.
The next screen (below) gives the option to set the TIMEZONE for your setup. In my case, I selected “Eastern” for my timezone setting. When the proper timezone is selected press ENTER.
Options: Guided Install or Manual Install?
The next screen is very crucial. It loads up the disk partition utility to let you configure the disk setup to install Bunsenlab Linux. The two options that are most useful to beginners and home users are:
- Guided – use the entire disk for OS install
- Manual – use partitions and drives you select for OS install
I will start by going through the Guided Install because this is the best method to install Linux for beginners or newcomers to Linux. The next section will be dedicated to the Manual Install of Bunsenlab Linux.
Choosing The Best Install for Beginners: Go “Guided”
The “Guided ” option is exactly what it says: allow Bunsenlab Linux to walk you through each step to install the OS. With the “Guided” option, the installer takes over almost completely. It will ask questions each step of the way and presents different options on how to proceed. For this option, it is best to have a whole hard drive dedicated for the installation. This is also a good option for someone new to Bunsenlab Linux or Linux in general. It will make suggestions on how to best partition and set up your drive to use Linux more effectively. This install method is a bit slow because it makes no assumptions about how the installation is going to go. It will ask for relevant info along the way until it gets enough info to make a safe and complete install based on your response.
Once you select “Guided – use entire disk” as your option press ENTER. That will take you to the next screen.
A Pause and a Slight Detour…
At this point, I must ask that you take note of which hard drive you are going to use. Hard drives in Linux use a special device designation that looks like /dev/sdX, where the X can be any letter of the alphabet from a to z (eg. /dev/sda). Depending on how or which SATA port your hard drive is connected, the letter for the device may change. For a hard drive to be listed as /dev/sda, this means that this is the likely a hard drive connected to the first SATA port recognized by your computer system BIOS. If you use IDE hard drives (a possibility I’m considering but likely not), your hard drives will show as /dev/hdX instead of /dev/sdX where X is a letter from a to z.
Hard Drive Enumeration Format in Linux
/dev/hdX – where the X can be ANY letter from a to z (for IDE drives)
/dev/sdX – where the X can be ANY letter from a to z (for SATA drives)
In addition, if the hard drive already has Linux partitions, it might list each partition on the hard drive
Hard drive partition enumeration format in Linux
/dev/sda# – where the # can be a number starting from 1 (eg. the first partition of the first drive is listed as /dev/sda1)
If you are interested in knowing more about Linux filesystem in general and how Linux deals with hard drives, here are a few easy books to read to get you familiarized with the topic.
Sams Teach Yourself Linux in 24 Hours, Third Edition (3rd Edition)
Running Linux, 5th Edition
Linux Cookbook: Tips and Techniques for Everyday Use
LPI Linux Certification in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference
These two books are targeted to Debian distros (Bunsenlab being a Debian distro)
Debian GNU Linux Bible
Debian System: Concepts and Techniques
Let’s Continue with the installation…Guided Install
Selecting the Target Hard Drive
Select the drive that you want to use to install as shown below.
Selecting a Partition Method
In my case, I only have on single drive installed in your system. I select the one and only drive then press ENTER.
If you choose the first option, Bunsenlab Linux will create all one large partition that uses the whole drive. This IS THE EASIEST option because you don’t have to anything else and the program will make some assumptions and started the installation. However, this type of installation will make it more troublesome when you wish to reinstall or do an upgrade in the future. Your user/personal settings and data will be sharing the same space as your OS install. If you decide to reinstall or upgrade to a new version of Bunsenlabs, you will have to backup your user/personal data before a reinstall or an upgrade so that the installer does not delete or wipe out your personal/user data along with the old OS install.
Installing Bunselab Linux All In One Partition: Not The Best Option
IF YOU SELECT “All files in One Partition” and press ENTER, your drive will be partitioned like it is shown below. It will be one SEPARATE partition for SWAP (this is a partition used by the system) and everything else including your personal/user data and the OS together in another partition – DON’T SELECT THIS OPTION.
Installing Bunsenlab Linux With Two Separate Partitions: The Better Option
Instead, choose the option that says “Separate /home partition” like the way it is shown below. With this option, you tell the install to create and allocate SEPARATE partition JUST for your user/personal files that will reside under /home and the rest of the OS will be installed in ITS OWN partition away and separate from your user/personal data. With this setup, you can choose to reinstall or upgrade as many times as you want without affecting the user data because all that information is not on the same portion of the drive where the OS installation resides. You should still back up your user data before an upgrade or a reinstall, but this is a MUCH SAFER way to ensure your user data will be unaffected by any changes that are done to the OS.
Particulars Of The Installer’s Partition Calculation Process…
When the option above is selected, the installer should display the following results:(my target hard drive is 20GB total in size)
- should have created a PRIMARY partition that is about 20% to 25% of the overall size of the whole drive (5.6GB in my case)
- should have created a LOGICAL partition that is called SWAP of about 2 to 3 times the size of my system RAM (712MB in my case – system has 256MB of RAM)
- should have created a LOGICAL partition that is about 75% of the overall size of the whole drive (15.1GB in my case)
Saving And Making The Two New Partition Setup Permanent
At this point, you should accept all the default system suggested partitions and press ENTER to allow the installer to finalize the partition process and save this setup to make PERMANENT. If you are experienced and DO NOT want the partitions the way the system suggests or want something customized to your need, you will have to do a MANUAL install and you will be allowed to create and change your partition sizes as well as choose different ways to mount your partitions. If you are the type of user who is willing and able to use the MANUAL install, then you probably have enough knowledge that you don’t need to go through a step by step install guide like this blog – wouldn’t that make sense??
The next screen shows once more the partitions that will be saved and made permanent. Use the LEFT arrow key to move the focus to <Yes> and press ENTER.
The installation should begin. The partitions will be saved and formatted with ext4 for the / root partition and the /home partition. The SWAP partition will be formatted as SWAP.
Here is a screenshot of the installer copying the files to the different partitions.
Now Grub Bootloader Will Be Installed
This screen is the final step for the installation. Once the GRUB bootloader is installed, Bunsenlabs is ready for use and will boot from your system after a reboot.
Select the drive that the installer should use to install the GRUB bootloader. Press ENTER to accept the GRUB bootloader install.
Choosing Where The Grub Loader Should Install: Point It To the Drive Where Linux Was Installed
In this case, I select the ONLY drive I that I can select to install GRUB: /dev/sda. For your installation, this could be a different drive. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHICH DRIVE YOU SELECTED FROM BEFORE if your system has more than 1 drive. Install the bootloader to the drive that the installer used to install Bunselanbs Linux. Press ENTER to continue.
The installation should be complete at this point. Your drive is now set up to run Bunsenlabs Linux after a reboot. Press ENTER to continue.
The Installation Is Now DONE…And Reboot
The main installation is done. The most difficult part of this whole ordeal is over! Time to get ready to use the system!
When you reboot, your system should come back with this screen at the start.
Running The Newly Installed Bunsenlab Linux
Press ENTER when you see this screen. The default is to boot to Bunsenlabs Linux. The second option that is NOT highlighted should be used in case you need to test the system RAM or need to do a system rescue or a GRUB bootloader modification. Either wait until the timeout is 0 for it to boot automatically into Bunsenlabs Linux or press ENTER to make it boot sooner.
The Bunsenlabs Linux Login Prompt
At the prompt, type the account name that you were prompted to create during the installation. I hope you wrote it down, right? If not, then you are looking at reinstalling the OS all over again. There may be a way to reset the password for that account, but it is beyond the scope of this DIY Linux install. Once you login in, you will be greeted with this screen.
The Final Screen You Don’t Want to Skip: Getting The Bunsenlab Linux Goodies
Do you see that the big terminal with the “HELLO” word? Be sure NOT to close this screen and follow the instructions to see what other packages to install. This prompt gets displayed for new accounts the very first time you log in. My suggestion here is to NOT close this terminal prompt and go through the questions and install the additional packages offered by Bunsenlabs. This prompt will offer many very useful packages and backported applications that will make your user experience with Bunsenlabs even better.
There is also a prompt that can set up a LAMP stack for web developers as well as a Java compiler, in addition to other interesting and useful end-user applications. If you happen to close this terminal window by accident, just go to the upper left corner of the screen and click on the 2nd icon from the right ( the one that looks like a terminal or a dark window).
Once the terminal is open, type “bl-welcome” then press ENTER. The “HELLO” screen will appear again and you can run through the installation wizard that will install all the additional software. Do make sure that the computer is connected to a working Internet connection. It will be downloading a fairly large collection of software and add extra software repository info into the repository source list of the distribution.
And… here it is again…
End of Installation (finally!!!!)
I hope this installation guide help you in some way or another. Spread the word. Invite friends, family, and loved ones to download and enjoy the use of this very efficient and application-rich OS that is Bunsenlab Linux.
If you are looking for a good video card to use with Linux, the Nvidia 1050 series is a video card worth buying. It is currently very well priced on the market and is the best video card for the money. I will be doing a review of this card very soon. It is not an extremely high-end card, but it is a great video card for the rest of us casual gamers and mainstream end-users of Linux. Nvidia has a really good reputation when it comes to Linux support for their video cards. This video car, based on the NVIDIA 1050 chipset, will perform very well in most games and it does not break the bank. I use the Zotac card suggested below and my sister has the EVGA card installed on her system. Both perform admirably. I have a personal bias towards the Zotac cards, but EVGA is just as good.
EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC GAMING, 4GB GDDR5
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Mini, 4GB GDDR5
If you have any questions about this article, suggestions, or comments, feel free to do so in the comment box below.