Would you recommend the product? no | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 6
The standard Zenwalk disk uses Xfce, but there are also Gnome, Openbox, and CLI editions, all 32-bit. There’s an on-line ‘Manual’ which is actually an installation guide, and a pdf ‘Start-up guide’, which is actually a manual! If you want the pdf, get the A4 version: the text is poor but the other version is almost unreadable. The website also offers a wiki, but the link’s broken.
The installer uses cfdisk, so if you need to shrink a Windows partition you have to do that with Windows. The auto-install option re-uses the whole disk and, unlike many distros, creates a home partition. Encryption is not available. Final configuration and user creation are done after the first boot. This does not include setting the time zone. Zenwalk claims to run in 128MB, which it would if you didn’t run any programs! With Firefox and Mousepad, I was using 155MB plus buffers and cache.
The software includes LibreOffice, Firefox, Pidgin, Thunderbird, Gimp, Totem, and Gmusicbrowser. When run from the CLI, warnings were issued for Gimp and Firefox, and several critical warnings for Totem and Gmusicbrowser. Codecs are provided and all formats played. Flash is installed, but it’s the version that doesn’t work with AMD CPUs, despite the developers having been warned about the problem earlier in the year. LibreOffice will not do spell checking: I added the language pack and used the extension manager to install the dictionary, but it won’t work.
Attempting to set up a printer reveals that CUPS is omitted from the list of services started automatically. The keyboard configuration tool does not allow one to set anything other than the language; if you add a layout indicator to the panel, that allows you to set compose and group-shift keys, but not to configure any other special keys. There’s also no tool to select between sound devices.
The netpkg package manager is a bit of a mystery at first: click on the + button, then the ‘reload’ one, then tick the ‘not installed’ box. After that, it’s just like gpk or synaptic.
This version, with its extra bugs, seems a step back from the last. Zenwalk will work (if you don’t want spell-checking in English) but as a Slackware-based distro with Xfce, it invites comparison with Salix and Vector. Since these come with bug-free software and better configuration tools, it’s difficult to recommend Zenwalk.