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.
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.