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Zenwalk Linux 1.2 is the next step from Minislack 1.1. It is a desktop and programming environment based on Slackware.
Most notably the distro is small and only provides one application for each task - but with the option to install other packages (almost any Slackware package will work).
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: D/L | Rating: 9
Easy and simple, efficient and powerful desktop distro
It is not a distro for server usage
Review of the Zenwalk distribution release 1.2 by Claus Futtrup
(September 16rd, 2005)
Zenwalk 1.2 has been out since August 12. It is a successor of Minislack 1.1. Same distribution, just a new name. The name change reflects the desire to distance this distribution from Slackware.
What is the focus for Zenwalk?
* Be simple and fast
* Provide one application for one task
* Be a complete development/desktop environment
* Be compact, small 400 Mb ISO
Same philosophy as earlier, no surprises there. Hopefully it'll make you feel good. Besides, the nature of the package is to use Open Source, nothing that requires licences.
Zenwalk is for coding, multimedia and everyday desktop usage. I personally use the browser (Firefox), the graphics applications (GIMP, now also Inkscape, which is currently available for download with netpkg) + the Word processor and Spreadsheet that comes with OpenOffice (added with netpkg). I am working on converted email yet - it is a critical process for me, so I need to do this with care.
Further more, Zenwalk contains applications for chatting (gaim), listening to music and watching videos in various formats (Gxine), programming in C, Perl, Python and Ruby (compilers, full set of libraries, interpreters and the Bluefish editor). Scanning (with Sane, Xsane). Burning CD's and DVD's (with Gnomebaker). You can also connect your digital camera and edit your photographs (all done with GIMP).
When you look at all these options I would say that Zenwalk is a system that can be considered a complete package.
New features are the hardware Discover service (v2.0.7), Gnome System Tools (v1.2) which provide a more user-friendly way to setup network, users, time, and Gnome Cups Manager for easy printer setup. All these new features are about making Zenwalk easier to install and configure.
A large amount of packages have been updated since the last ISO release - more than 100. Anyway, if you download the ISO and install Zenwalk, don't forget to logon to the internet and run "netpkg upgrade-all" as one of your first actions. Then Zenwalk gets updated to the latest (most current) status.
If you're already running Minislack, then running netpkg upgrades will give you the new Zenwalk packages, and your system is litterally converted. Easy and simple. Structural changes (packages removed from the system) will not be removed this way, though, so if you want a fresh start (like I did), there is no other way than to download the ISO.
Further more I have installed KDE now. The KDE packages included with Zenwalk are nice (it is not on the ISO, but available from the repository - just fetch it with netpkg), it contains the basics only (not eg. Koffice), and the maintainer is really doing a great job.
Why am I continuing to use Zenwalk? (former Minislack) - because there is simply nothing else that beats it - for me that is. Small footprint, all the applications I need, easy maintenance and upgrade - with the neat "netpkg" feature you keep Zenwalk up to the Zen level at any given time.
Zen is used in the japanese language as "feel good", I think, and in this perspective, Zenwalk is a walk towards a linux distribution that feels good. It's good because the graphics is nice, the speed is nice and the nice applications are carefully selected.
The Forum is more active than ever, and Minislack is now placed higher on the DistroWatch "Hits Per Day" statistics than just a few months ago. It is easy for me to understand why the popularity is increasing.
Check it out at http://www.zenwalk.org/
Regarding the future, I see a tendency toward more focus on graphics - also for system tools, maintenance and perhaps also (in the future) a graphical installer, and more use of the netpkg tool, because this network interface to the pkgtools is such a great way to keep your system updated, and also the use of netpkg for more options (extra packages) made available on the zenwalk repository, for which there was no room on the ISO.
This concept maintains the distro as a lean one, balancing between minimal and complete (admittetdly a difficult balance) with your personal choices for improvements. I cross my fingers that the increased user base also will increase the amount of people handling packages and building options.
I am still walking "child footsteps" in this area, but I keep my eyes open for other distributions, and I feel confident when saying that at the moment Zenwalk hits the head on the nail - straight on - it is a perfect match for my needs. I can only hope that you will try Zenwalk and see if it matches your requirements too.
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10
With Zenwalk I can achieve everything I want to do at home, including exchanging email with Thunderbird, Web browsing with Mozilla, listening to my MP3s in Audacious, watching video in gxine, and writing my uncle an old-fashioned letter with AbiWord. I can even cling to some Windows stuff, like Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver, which work well thanks to the Crossover Office software installed with Zenwalk.