CrunchBang: A Lightweight OS Perfect For Old And New Computers Alike

Justin Pot 18-04-2013

crunchbang osBloated operating systems bogging your system down? Is waiting for software to load on an older computer ruining your entire freaking life? Try something lightweight. Crunchbang is a minimalist OS built on Debian Linux, but don’t worry if you don’t know what any of those words mean – it’s also easy to use and runs well even on older computers.


The Crunchbang OS has been around for a long time, and it’s always stuck to its mission: offering a lightweight operating system based on Openbox. If you’re a fan of widgets, docks and shiny things you might want to look elsewhere – by default this OS is more striaght-forward than that. If you want an operating system that thinks you know what you’re doing, and doesn’t waste resources, I recommend Crunchbang (sometimes written as “#!”).

Previously based on Ubuntu, these days the Crunchbang OS is based on Debian (which Ubuntu itself is also based on). Again, don’t worry if that confuses you: the system itself is straight-forward to use and fun to explore.

Simplicity and Speed

crunchbang os

Start up CrunchBang and you’ll basically see a blank canvas. There’s no start menu – we’ll get to that. There’s a taskbar at the top of the screen, complete with clock and icons. And there’s also a list of keyboard shortcuts, courtesy of Conky.

crunchbang lightweight


(The Super key, if you didn’t know, is Linux-speak for the Windows key on most keyboards).

Use these shortcuts to quickly load a web browser, media player or the Terminal. Or, if you’d rather start exploring, right-click anywhere on the desktop (or press Super + Space) to bring up the main menu:

crunchbang lightweight

You’ll find a variety of programs here for getting work done – more on that later. You’ll also find quick links for installing software not included with CrunchBang, like Chrome and LibreOffice. Again, more on that later.


The browser included is called IceWeasel, but don’t panic: it’s basically Firefox. Debian doesn’t included Firefox by default, because Firefox itself includes some things (mostly the name and the logo) that are not technically open source. It’s a long story.

crunchbang lightweight

So you’ll be able to browse the web as you like.

Don’t like the way the menu is arranged, or how the various keyboard shortcuts work? For me, this is where things get fun. Linux distros used to reward exploration, and part of the fun was exploring and seeing what was possible. Go through the settings and you’ll find tools for changing all of these things, and if you don’t you can always explore the Crunchbang Forums.


List of Software Included With CrunchBang OS

Explore the menu and you’ll find programs for everything from word processing to microblogging – all of which are lightweight and run well on older computers. Here are the highlights in one list:

These are only the default apps: you’ll find links for installing software like Google Chrome, Libre Office or Dropbox in the menus, and you can also browse or search the entire Debian repositories thanks to Synaptic. Or, if you prefer the command line, you can install anything you like using apt-get:

crunchbang os

Download Crunchbang

Ready to get started with Crunchbang? You can head to and download an ISO file, which you can burn to a CD or boot from a USB disk using software like LiveUSB Live USB Install Puts Linux On Your Thumb Drive With Ease Boot one of over a hundred Linux distros from a USB disk. With Live USB, software you can run on both Windows and Linux computers, it only takes a couple of clicks to make your... Read More or uNetBootin How To Install Linux With Ease Using UNetbootin We've already talked about Linux and why you should try it, but probably the hardest part of getting used to Linux is getting it in the first place. For Windows users, the simplest way is... Read More . There are two versions offered: a year-old stable version, and an unstable version based on the current version of Debian. Both worked quite well for me in testing – which makes sense because, as of this writing, Debian’s unstable branch is quite far along.


Of course, Crunchbang isn’t the only Lightweight linux distribution 14 Lightweight Linux Distributions to Give Your Old PC New Life Need a lightweight operating system? These special Linux distros can run on older PCs, some with as little as 100MB of RAM. Read More out there: there are many. But if you’re looking for some polish, but also very lightweight, it’s one of the best.

But I want to know what you think: is CrunchBang a good lightweight distro for your personal use? If not, what will you be using? Let me know below, okay?

Related topics: Debian, Linux Distro, Ubuntu.

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  1. Mithat
    September 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    can we use for work .i mean develop java , web applications ...etc

  2. Amos
    May 19, 2013 at 7:42 am

    How does it compare to Zorin?

  3. Ben Klaas
    April 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    I use #! in a VM at work, where I'm consigned to (sigh) windows as my native OS. I'd previously tried both Ubuntu and Mint in VMs there, but both were too heavyweight, at least in their default configurations. Rather then spend a bunch of time reconfiguring those distros to use lighter weight window and desktop managers, I gave #! a try and have not looked back. #! is crazy quick and provides everything I need with a quick right-click on the desktop, or through one of the pre-packaged keyboard shortcuts (complete with desktop cheat sheet). I also love the dark minimalist theme. No muss no fuss.

    I think if I was using #! as my primary distro at home I'd miss some of the handy configuration GUIs that e.g. Gnome or even LXDE provides, but for the work VM nothing has come close to the ease and speed of #!. It's an impressive distro, meticulously put together by its caretaker (who I think is the lone developer on the project).

    • Justin Pot
      April 19, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      Great comment. While not for every purpose, #! has its place.

  4. null
    April 19, 2013 at 6:10 am

    Can crunchbag run window's games?

    • dragonmouth
      April 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      "Can crunchbag run window’s games?"
      Not natively. #! is a Linux distribution. You will need Wine or some other emulator to run Windows games.

      • Justin Pot
        April 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm

        But Wine and other emulation is far from perfect, and not really easy to use.

        • dragonmouth
          April 19, 2013 at 10:40 pm

          Then, I guess, the answer to null's question is a definite NO.

          I don't use Wine or any other emulator. Once I switched from Windows to Linux I never looked back. There is nothing that Windows can provide for me that Linux can't.

  5. Taha Ben Ali
    April 18, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    thanks very much at this article,yes it do at all pc

  6. poxto
    April 18, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    There have been a lot of new OS's coming out lately, just recently on HackerNews there was a mention of an OS called Haiku
    I don't even know if either are that good...

    • Justin Pot
      April 18, 2013 at 10:47 pm

      Neither are particularly new, actually. CrunchBang has been around for years, and Haiku's been in development even longer...

      • dragonmouth
        April 19, 2013 at 12:09 am

        Haiku was inspired by, and is a descendant of BeOS.

    • Mario TUX
      May 29, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      YESS ...with Haiku comes a good Distro, but #!Crunchbang is another Liga ....I know anything about this two OS any ZevenOS .....i have tested more than 30 Distributions and now every time drives on a sytem CB arount the time .....runs ,,,,and runs ....with all perfect multimedia options ....Isn`t say nothing more about ....

      Greets mTUX