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Zenwalk 6 Review

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Media and Hardware Detection: Automatic media and hardware detection works just fine on Zenwalk 6. Insert an audio CD and it is automounted and opened in Goobox, the default music player. Ditto for a video DVD, which is opened in Totem, the default video player. However, Totem will not play encrypted DVD videos. To play commercial DVD videos, Totem requires that libdvdcss or a GStreamer plugin package be installed. Totem installed on Zenwalk 6 uses a GStreamer backend, but because gst-plugins-ugly, the GStreamer plugin package required for commercial DVD playback, is not installed (and not in the repo), you will not be able to play your favorite DVD videos on a default installation of Zenwalk 6.

External devices, for example, CD/DVD drives and USB sticks are automounted and the contents opened in Thunar, the file manager. In general, automatic hardware detecion is very good. The only hadware that was not detected is my Web cam.

Browsers and browser plugins: The only Web browser installed on Zenwalk 6 is Ice Weasel, a re-branded Mozilla Firefox Web browser. Out of the box, it packs the plugins needed to render flash and a few other multimedia files embedded on Web pages. You wont have any problems viewing your favorite Youtube videos, but you will not be able to view quicktime and Real media files. Ice Weasel on Zenwalk 6 does not have the plugins to handle those. Because a Java Runtime Environement is not installed, it also could not render Java applets. Note that there is no jre package in the default Current repo, but if you load one of the alternate Current repos, you can install the jre package.

Security Tools and Network Manager: The Linux kernel has an enterprise-grade firewall built in. However, not all Linux distros install a graphical firewall client to manage and configure it, and Zenwalk 6 falls in that category. However, there are two graphical firewall clients in the default repo that you may install: Firestarter and fwbuilder.

The network manager client on Zenwalk is Wicd, good for setting up and managing both wirelesss and wired network connections. Unlike the network manager applet used on distros like Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora and Mandriva, Wicd lacks VPN connections features. SSH (Secure SHell) server is installed.

Wicd Network Manager

What’s Special About Zenwalk?: Zenwalk has always been known for speed, and Zenwalk 6 keeps that tradition going. Very few distros boot and load applications faster than Zenwalk, and this is a distro that you can use on very old computers and still be happy with the performance.

What Needs to Improve?: Zenwalk 6 features lots of changes, and the latest Xfce is a major improvement to previous versions. But there’s still a lot that needs to improve. Here’s a short list of improvements that we think Zenwalk devs need to work on:

  • The installer: Every modern (desktop) operating system should have a graphical installer. Zenwalk definitely needs one, something similar to what Mandriva, Fedora, and Debian have.
  • The installer should have options to enable LVM and RAID installations.
  • The ability to set up disk encryption should also be supported.
  • Firewall: Every modern operating system should have a graphical firewall client installed and configured out of the box. This should not be an option, especially when we are trying to promote Linux to new users. The graphical firewall client should be fully integrated into the system, and those on Fedora and Mandriva are good ones to emulate.
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12 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    I guess it depends on each disc and the encryption it has. Some of the new encryptions aren’t supported by anything in Linux ATM I think. Totem works here with all DVDs that I’ve tried (most are several years old though) if libdvdcss is installed. VLC is of course included in the repos, try any current non-restricted repo and you’ll find it.

  2. Joe says:

    For encrypted DVD playback, you just need the libdvdcss package from a restricted repo. Switch your netpkg to one and you’ll find it, or get it directly from here: http://packages.zenwalk.org/?p=libdvdcss-1.2.10-i486-54.1.tgz&zversion=current

    • finid says:

      From this review:

      “Totem requires that libdvdcss or a GStreamer plugin package be installed. Totem installed on Zenwalk 6 uses a GStreamer backend, but because gst-plugins-ugly, the GStreamer plugin package required for commercial DVD playback, is not installed (and not in the repo), you will not be able to play your favorite DVD videos on a default installation of Zenwalk 6.”

      Even with libdvdcss installed, Totem still could not play encrypted DVD videos (at least during my review , it did not). If you have vlc installed, then you have a better chance of playing encrypted DVD videos with libdvdcss. However, vlc is not even in any of the repos (unless it’s in one that I missed).

  3. Joe says:

    @Phill,

    you’re probably mistaking iceweasel in Zenwalk with iceweasel in some other distribution. Iceweasel in Zenwalk is just firefox, compiled from official mozilla firefox sources. Nothing changes but the name. The change in the name is because the mozilla folk like to have complete control of the “firefox” brand and any customization of a potential “firefox” package (such as a different default homepage) should be subject to approval by mozilla. This could be a lengthy process that Zenwalk developers don’t want to go through. And so they named their browser “iceweasel”. You can wipe Zenwalk off your hard drive or use the CD as a coaster, but please stop spreading FUD when you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

  4. Phill says:

    I don’t know about other people, but I have had no to problems with the web browser icepig errrr iceweasel. It’s clear they did way too much lobotomizing of firefox which has resulted in a truly piece of junk software. I understand the whole religious free software thing, but the fanatics should not be allowed to foist nonworking alternatives onto the unwilling. I understand that I could get the source code blah blah blah compile yourself blah blah blah but I’m not going to dink around with nor promote broken software. Zenwalk gets wiped of my hard drive, not that it’s a totally bad distro, but that the fanatics are in control and not smart enough to stick with stuff that works until they get their own pathetic code up to snuff.

  5. werner says:

    You could test SYS, what has the most easy installation, full-automatical, in 10-15 min. a huge 18 GB system easy for the beginner, complete for specialists, optimal for all. Rescue system starts in 15 seconds, partitions/usb-keys mounted, have tools like mc, testdisk etc etc for recovery/reparation/file-saving. DVD SYS_Linux.iso updated 17/3 , installation needs 20 GB not-partioned disk space

    http://ftp.tu-chemnitz.de/pub/linux/SYS/

  6. joe says:

    Thorough, well written review! I will give Zenwalk-installed 6 a look. Open Office makes it usable for real-world office purposes.

    First thing I will add is firestarter!

    Bejay, the last Zenwalk-Live release was special. Zenwalk 5.2 standard version was capable and competitive, but the live version was hot. It had lots of nice features that worked easy enough for a non-technical person. It could be used as a daily system even though not installed to a hard drive.

    Hopefully the Zenwalk people will continue with another live release with the same configuration features as the Live 5.2.

  7. Bejay says:

    I recently installed zenwalk 6 after having a few issues on Linux Mint (Pulse Audio) and am extremely happy with it.

    It feels a whole lot faster than Linux Mint. The frame buffer usage gives a much cleaner boot up impression.

    Here are some possible improvements for the next version:
    – The installer needs to have an option to verify the disk.
    – The live CD seems to be different from the standard image which is used to install. This could be combined.
    – The ext4 file system does not seem to be an option even though the kernel version supports it.
    – VPN configuration needs to be added

  8. Urubu says:

    “The one apparent shortcoming of xnetpkg is that you can’t add additional repositories from its interface.”

    You should take more time to test :)

    If you enter a mirror url in the url-bar at the top, and then load it : DONE, its saved in the mirrors list :)

    • finid says:

      Think that should be obvious, right? If I missed that, do you think a complete noob will know how to use xnetpkg? But thanks for pointing it out. Strike one against me, but how about a menu bar on xnetpkg, or do I have to right-click to show a menu bar?

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