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Zenwalk Linux 6 Review

Zenwalk 6 is the latest release of Zenwalk Linux. The changes are major enough that most people will find it worth making the upgrade (note Xfce 4.6). Zenwalk has come a long way with Zenwalk 6, from its beginnings with creator Jean-Philippe Guillemin, also known as Hyperion.
Zenwalk is a fast distribution and has low system requirements so you can use it on older, slower computers with no problem. Zenwalk 6 is no exception to this rule. The new Zenwalk 6 looks a lot like 5.2 so it will feel familiar.


I chose all of the automatic settings and let Zenwalk handle the install which was super easy with no choices to make. Coming from 5.2 I knew what to expect and 6 worked quite the same, but even if you are new to Zenwalk it is not intimidating. While you run the auto install, you will receive information on each package as it is being installed. The whole process was simple and straight forward with n glitches. If you have any computer experience you should be able to handle it no problem.
There are no fancy graphics or impressive screens, just the minimum you need, but what would be the point since you will only install it once. You will find this philosophy throughout Zenwalk 6 too; if you do not need it, it is not there. Keep it simple stupid, and all that. The installation does take a bit of time, but there is no input needed from you, only patience. When it is completed, install the LILO boot loader (the simple way is the best way :P), then reboot.
When the system comes back up you will have to sign licensing agreements for GNU GPL, Adobe Flash and Intel wireless drivers. Then pick your system language. Next on to the all important root password. Once that is set you can set up users and individual passwords (set at least one up for daily usage).

The Desktop

Now you are ready to use Zenwalk. You will find that it looks basically the same as 5.2, but with a bit more color and a new background picture. The icons are also the same as before. Zenwalk 6 runs OpenOffice.org 3.0 and Firefox 3.0.6 (it is called Iceweasel). It also has a few select programs. Unlike another certain overbearing operating system that shall remain nameless, Zenwalk 6 is not loaded down with anything you do not need. In fact you will only discover programs as you need them. But is simple enough to search and find what you need it.
Default Desktop
One thing you will find with Zenwalk 6 is that it is really sparse right out of the box. This can be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view. There are not nearly as many applications installed by default compared to other major Linux distributions. For example, it does not install any game applications be default. Not even a card game. I personally like it this way. It is much easier to install a program if you need it then it is to go around cleaning up and deleting things you never use.

Package Management

If you want games, or just about any other program you can think of, it is a simple matter to right click the desktop and select Applications > System > Netpkg . This allows you to install, upgrade and also remove any of the applications in Zenwalk. It is a clean, easy to use interface that is fast and intuitive, even if you do not have a lot of experience with Linux. In fact, on the whole I would say that Zenwalk 6 is a good choice for your first foray into Linux as long as you are willing to read the manuals to figure out a few of the details that are not spoon fed to you.

Experienced Linux users will also appreciate Zenwalk 6 because it is a very well though out and well executed system. It serves as a great introduction to Slackware as well. An earlier version of Zenwalk was my first introduction to Slackware and I am glad of the introduction. This version makes it much easier to add software quickly to customize the system to your particular needs. You can check at any time through the menus to see what you have and what is available by checking the boxes, "not installed", "installed", Modified", and "Orphans". Once you identify the package you need, you simply hit the install icon. A pop up window then asks you if you want to install the package and or its dependencies. Make sure to choose both! I do not know why you would ever want only one.
If you look for a program that is not installed, say Nexuiz, you will get a message telling you to "select ‘on' and load it. This is much better than Zenwalk 5.2 which made you do all the work. You do need to click on the filter labeled "not installed" to be able to select the programs you want. It is not clear what the logic behind this is, but since I am using the software and not designing it I will hesitate to criticize what I do not understand.


But really, I am not complaining. There are so many little things that are a major improvement over 5.2 that they more than make up for a few glitches. Some, if not most of them are because of the new Xfce 4.6. And the few problems I could find, (actually problems is not fair, annoyances is more like it), will more than likely be fixed with the inevitable 6.2 update. That is one of the nice things about open source - before you can even work up a decent rant about some problem, someone has already worked up a solution. This version is better than the last and you can be sure that the updates will make it even better.

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Author: John Doe