The DistRogue

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Review: Zenwalk 3

Wow. All I can say about Zenwalk for now is "wow". I'll come back in a few minutes when I can describe it.
Okay, picture this: You boot up into a text-mode install that takes about a minute to set up, and then it automatically installs a complete, XFCE-based system in only a gigabyte or so- unpacked. The whole CD takes up about 400MB. The forums and wiki are friendly, and the distro has its own site for gamers at Also very friendly. And plus, it's based on the oldest OS ever (Slackware), which means oodles of tech support from knowledgeable veterans. Not to mention that even though the OS takes up such little space, it has most of the familiar apps that users have come to know and love, although it's limited to one app per purpose. If you're still with me and picturing this, you're picturing Zenwalk, formerly known as Minislack. True zen.
The install, like I said, was quick. After about 4 minutes of post-install configuration, which is quite friendly, I was launched into a working XFCE system that I could browse the Web with out of the box. Even though it asked me if I wanted to install an NVidia-capable X core, I was dsappointed to notice that OpenGL acceleration didn't work. However, after a quick Google on the topic, I found a Wiki page about it, followed the instructions, and any OpenGL app that I opened immediately crashed. But that might just be my computer. After running videoconfig, it worked fine, and I was able to play SuperTux at a solid 90 FPS on a GeForce 5200FX. GLXGears reported 1100 FPS, and after installing ThinkTanks (another OpenGL-heavy game), I got good enough framerates to play a few online games withoout shouting "LAAAG!". This happens to be a first for me. Once that was done, I launched FireFox in about 4 seconds, which isn't all that shabby either. GKSudo (that box that asks you for the admin password when using an adminning app) launched in half a second, as did Thunar, the boxed file manager. By the way, when installing the NVidia driver, it won't prompt you for anything, just install quietly after uncompressing the archive. It's supposed to do this, but it will install.
Zenwalk uses Slackware's package-management system, which means downloading a .tgz file (aka .tar.gz), extracting it, and executing a script to install it as root. Fortunately, this system's come a long way since it was made, and Slackware comes with a script to do all this for you. So does Zenwalk- it's called "netpkg". You can also use "pkgtool", but netpkg's easier. To use it, go to XFCE Menu > System > netpkg, and you get a GUI front-end to it, complete with GKSudo to run it as root. It gives you a list of packages you can install directly from the Web, including GNOME (in only a few modules, which Zenwalk has been widely praised for) and KDE (see GNOME). You can read more about netpkg here. By the way, if the install's still too big for you, I recommend uninstalling Python and GlibC first if you don't need them- they take up the most space.
Overall, Zenwalk is impressive. I recommend it for any user who wants good performance and customizability in a minimalist system- perfect for gamers. This dolphin that can jump through a few hoops, and is flexible enough to break-dance. As usual, if this review isn't enough info, you can always check out Zenwalk's Wikipedia article, where there's a lot more information. I also recommend Zenwalk for French Linux users- if you can read this review, try Zenwalk's official French site, since Zenwalk is actually based in France and translated into English. They can explain it better than I can, but I'll give it a try anyways: Je recommende Zenwalk pour les users Francais, parce-qu'il est un distro Francais, avec translacion Anglais. Perdonne mon Francais, il est tres mauvais. And as for Kate OS, I'll get to it eventually, don't worry! It lives up to its hype as far as multitasking.

From Zenwalk 3.0,
the DistRogue aka DJ Gentoo.


Post a Comment

<< Home