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Zenwalk 6.2 Review

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Zenwalk Zenwalk 6.2 is the latest version of Zenwalk, a Slackware-based, desktop-oriented Linux operating system. The last review of Zenwalk on this site was of Zenwalk 6. That was just six months ago. What changed between Zenwalk 6 and Zenwalk 6.2? Where the changes of a cosmetic or bug-fix variety, or where they much more substantial?

Let’s find out.

Note: According to Zenwalk 6.2 release note, “Zenwalk 6.2 is mostly new code (nearly all packages have been updated) …”

Does that code-rewrite translate into a better user experience? Let’s start with the first aspect of Zenwalk that you’ll first experience – the installer, or the installation process.

Installation: The installer’s interface feels slightly much more polished than prior versions. No doubt there are backend improvements that you wont notice right away, but other than that, it’s still a menu-based installer, with the same installation options. The one change you’ll notice, if you look, is the default journaling file system assigned to the partitions the Auto Installer creates. On older versions of Zenwalk, the default journaling file system for all partitions was xfs. However, in this version, the installer assigns the ext4 file system to the partition for / (root), and the ext3 file system to the partition for /home. For the record, virtually all recent releases of Linux distros now use ext4 exclusively for all partitions (except for the /boot partition, for those distros that create a separate partition for /boot).

By default, the Auto Installer creates these three partitions:

  • one for /
  • another for /home
  • and the last for swap

Lilo, the LInux LOader, is the only boot loader option available. LVM, RAID, and disk encryption are still not supported by the installer.

Desktop: The default desktop environment used by Zenwalk is Xfce. It’s a much leaner and faster desktop environment than KDE and Gnome. The default wall paper has changed. Other than that, you still get the lower panel with the same icons, and two virtual desktops (workspaces) instead of the traditional four on the top panel. With two workspaces, Zenwalk fares better than Mint, which has just one. You may add more workspaces – If you need to – by using the Workspaces tool from the Xfce 4 Settings Manager.

Zenwalk desktop

You may customize various aspects of the desktop via the Xfce 4 Settings Manager, accessible from Zenwalk menu > Settings > Xfce 4 Settings Manager.

Xfce 4 Settings Manager

Compiz, a 3D compositing window manager, is not installed. It is, however, in the Current repos. If you have a 3D-capable hardware, you may install it and enjoy all the goodies and eye candy that a 3D desktop offers.

Default Installed Applications: Did not notice any difference in the default installed apps between Zenwalk 6 and Zenwalk 6.2. OpenOffice.org is still the default office suite. Also installed are:

  • Totem, the media player
  • Brasero Disc Burner
  • Exaile Music Player
  • The GIMP
  • Transmission BitTorrent Client
  • Pidgin Internet Messenger

As on earlier versions, there are no games installed. With the CD iso image at 493 MB, I think there’s enough space to throw in a few oft-played games.

Although Zenwalk 6.2 features the Xfce desktop environment, the Current repos have KDE 4.2.4 applications and base packages. So you could install KDE applications if you like them better than their Xfce equivalents.

Software Management: At version 4.6, the graphical frontend to Zenwalk’s package manager is noticeably faster, with dependency checking and package black-listing. It’s still not as elegant as Synaptic, but for what it’s designed to do, it works. At this stage in it’s evolution, I was expecting that we should be able to load more than one repo at the same time. As it is currently, if you want to install an application from a Restricted repo, you will have to load it first, then search for and install the app. Want to install from a Current repo? Select and load it, then search and install. It works, just not the way we are used to with other package managers.

Zenwalk repositories

One tool I consider a must-have, but not installed on Zenwalk, is a system and application update notifier. I drew attention to this in my last review, and was hoping to see an app update notifier installed by default in this release. Zenwalk has the Zenwalk Update Tool (ZUT) in the repos, and like other applications, it is easy to install from the command line or via the graphical package manager. Once installed, however, you find it to be very unstable: Click on it after it has found the apps with available updates, and it will quit unexpectedly. Crash is not a good word, but that’s what happens – ZUT crashes every time.

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14 Comments

  1. Jim says:

    hey! pls help me, just istalled the latest zenwalk available…

    there were about 3 or 4 things in the installation that failed to install..

    but, it was still able to run.

    now i changed from xp to zenwalk..

    the problem is that i cant use the gnome session option and i cant click the menu in the xfce.

    pls help me..

    • finid says:

      If some files failed to install, in order words, if the installer spewed some error messages, then it is likely that the iso image was corrupted, or the CD was not burned properly. Your option(s): Reinstall, but check the integrity of the CD before installation. That should fix the problem. If you are migrating from XP to Linux, welcome, but Zenwalk is not the distro I’ll recommend.

      Better alternatives are Mandriva Free, Mandriva One, Linux Mint 8, Ubuntu 9.10, and Pardus 2009. Mandriva Free is highly recommended. It is not perfect, but it’s more noob-friendly than others.

      While we are at this, read this, this (Pardus’ review). Those should gie you an idea of what to look for in a distro.

      • Jim says:

        thanks for the response, my apologies for my late reply…

        uhm, can you recommend other linux distros?
        not that what you recommended earlier was not of my preference but because..

        my laptop is already kinda slow, it olny have 256 [246] mb ram. the hd is 40gg.

        its just a notebook, and with windows, its already kind of slow..

        im kind of used in using windows and i usually install lots [and i mean lots] of softwares that i think would be helpful and kinda cool.

  2. dvilla says:

    “DVD playback are not installed, and are not in the repos – Current or Restricted.”

    Correction. It is available in restricted:
    http://wiki.zenwalk.org/index.php?title=Watching_a_DVD

  3. finid says:

    I’ve got to be honest. This review was a rush-job, probably the worst I’ve ever written. I should have double-checked the grammar and some of the facts before hitting “Publish.” But stuff happens, and life goes on.

    If you write as many reviews as I do, eventually, you’ll write one that demonstrates “Primary-school English along with poor knowledge.” But I think Jon is mad because his fave distro got a bad review.

    For the record, the reviews on this site are designed to help my readers decide whether a distro is worth downloading or not. Distro-hopping can be fun, but at some point you just want a distro that works. If the reviews on this site helps you find that distro that just-work, I think that counts for something.

  4. Joe says:

    What tipped me off to stop reading the review was the claim that Linux Mint doesn’t have multiple workspaces… ugh…

  5. Matt says:

    “feels slightly much more polished” – this doesn’t make much sense, and really lowers the expectations for the rest of the review. Double & triple check everything before publishing.

  6. Jon says:

    An atrociously-written review. No way I’m clicking thru to the second page. Primary-school English along with poor knowledge.

    • finid says:

      “Primary-school English …” I think you’re being generous. It’s probably lower. Sarah Palin’s level, or George Bush’s.
      But “poor knowledge.” About what? You could help us all by pointing out where I missed the mark.

    • johnix says:

      Sorry to tell you Jon, but you have at least two typos and one grammar mistake in your reply. Furthermore, there are many readers who don’t have English as their first language, whom would appreciate understandable English. The review is more than adequate to know what Zenwalk is all about and what to experience after installing it, saving a lot of people a lot of homework. Thanks to the editor.

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