Top Linux Distros: Zenwalk

 Lesson 10 / Take The Quiz

Jean-Philippe Guillemin founded the Zenwalk Linux operating system which was initially based on Slackware. Zenwalk has changed significantly since its creation but still has the binary packages compatibility. The distro is known for being a refreshing mix of multimedia, internet applications, and programming tools. Zenwalk offers both graphical and command line interfaces for operation which covers beginners and advanced users. This operating system operates on an one application per task policy which helps keep the distro light weight. Zenwalk uses the netpkg package management tool which provides the main functionality you'd expect of apt-get style package manager. Multiple versions of Zenwalk are available including regular Zenwalk, aimed at mainstream desktop users. Also available Zenwalk Core, is built with customization in mind allowing for skilled users to build a system fitting their needs. the live CD version is called Zenlive and the Zenserver version is core-derived and specifically designed for servers.

Zenwalk is a general multi-use Linux operating system. It offers both Live CD and Server versions in addition to its original version.

Desktop Screenshot
The most recent Zenwalk desktop features the XFCE desktop environment which is one of th main reasons the distro is so quick. The login pulled up in a little more than 30 seconds and desktop arrived only 2-3 seconds after typing in username and password. The desktop looks good for being so resourceful. Small icons are docked at the bottom giving you isntant access to the web, email, and more. The background of the most recent version was a light blue with white swirl design. This gave the desktop a crisp clean feel along with the panel across the top and useful icons to the left.
Help Resources provides a great place to find how to's about installation, upgrading, dual booting, file systems, peripherals, network services, desktop environments, remote desktops, applications and much more. The wiki also features frequently asked questions, hardware related help, newsletter access, official Zenwalk documentation and guides, community access, games, and a Zenwalk team area. The site is one of the best around ebcause of its organization and bulk of information about the distro it supports, Zenwalk. Unfortunately this is one of the few sites on the net that provide support strictly for the Zenwalk distributions. However, you can get help at places like and other common Linux user hangouts.

Zenwalk users or users that want to run Zenwalk need to make sure they're running a Pentium III or higher for a processor,  128 MB of RAM, and have 2GB of space free on the hard drive of the computer you're installing Zenwalk onto.

My Feeling
I found Zenwalk to be crisp and clean without the loss of too many of my favorite applications. The interface, menu and the rest of the environment looked great and was extremely fuctional even for me, a first time Zenwalk user. Applications I found useful right out of the gate were Iceweasel internet web browser, Icedove was great for email, Pidgin Internet Messenger, Transmission and Skype. A few programs that I missed include Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email. I noticed that Zenwalk comes with tons of codecs and plugins, including DivX, Windows media, Flash and Quick Time support options. I was able to do almost everything that I wanted to out-of-the-box. All-in-all this is a good distribution that operates off of solid principles. You won't find any bloated software on this operating system, just a fine tuned system.


On the Setup screen you'll see multiple options lsited out including Keymap, Partition, AutoInstall, Install, and Exit. Use the up and down arrows to select keymap to select the keyboard that goes with your PC. Select Partition if you need to rewrite your partition table. Select AutoInstall, like I did, if you have a hard drive dedicated to this Zenwalk installation. Select Install if you want to set up target partitions manual or want to install Zenwalk packages. Exit will quite setup.

After your keybopard has been selected choose AutoInstall which is a tool that will automatically partition the hard drive for us. If you choose this convenient method of installing Zenwalk please be careful you will loose any data or previous partition setup from this hard drive.

If you plan on dual booting Windows and Zewalk Linux, Auto install is definitely not the way to go.

After finishing the automatic installation process you must reboot the system for your freshly installed OS to run.