Thursday, 18 August 2011

Zenwalk 7.0 Live - Teaching tool and installable live system

This is a repost of the article on OStatic. What really annoyed me was that the editor cut off the top panel in the screenshot and did not even respond to email requests to rectify this. Perhaps he confused it with a Virtualbox window, no idea, but this just shows a high degree of incompetence. Everybody knows Xfce comes with a top panel by default, right?
This goes to show you got to be careful where you publish, and nobody can guarantee it looks the way you want like yourself. There are good sites out there of course, and I'm going to continue writing for them. Slightly updated to reflect the time gone by.

On 8th May the Zenwalk project released its Live CD of Zenwalk Linux 7.0. Currently Zenwalk offers the main Xfce edition, a Core edition which foregoes the X windowing system and is intended to be a starting point to building a custom desktop or server system, an edition with Openbox as window manager, an older Gnome version that is still at version 6.4, and the Live CD version of the edition based on the Xfce desktop environment.

Zenwalk is based on Slackware but is only available and optimized for the i686 architecture, so no 64-bit version yet, but it will also work on older machines with i486 processors. As the new release is geared toward lower resource usage and older hardware, you only need a modest 256 MB memory and a Pentium 3 class processor, although 512 MB of memory will guarantee a better response.
The Zenwalk "Live" edition is a complete and installable Live CD that can be used as a rescue tool or just to get a first taste of what running Zenwalk is like. It's a 688 MB download and comes with a slightly older 2.6.37-3 kernel. Users get the same set of applications included in the Xfce edition. That means they can immediately be productive programming in C, Perl, Python or Ruby, watching videos, connecting digital cameras and more.
The Xfce desktop is at 4.8. The Zenwalk team has always had the latest Xfce in its releases, which will appeal to users wishing the latest Xfce version had made it into Slackware 13.37. Apart from development libraries, system recovery and partitioning tools and the usual accessories in a standard Xfce desktop, many graphical desktop applications are included. Zenwalk subscribes to the one-app-per-task philosophy, but there is plenty of extra software included.
For example, the LibreOffice suite, in version 3.3.1, is present, and the Orage Calendar and Globaltime world clock are too. They can take care of basic scheduling needs and tracking different time zones. Gmusicbrowser, which replaced Exaile a long time ago, is included to play music collections or just the odd mp3 file. Icecat is the browser, and is basically a rebranded Mozilla Firefox with small changes made to enhance privacy and security. Icedove (Thunderbird) comes complete with Lightning pre-installed which means you have a mostly complete PIM (personal information manager).
Geany is included for your coding needs, but not Bluefish or any other HTML editor. ISO master will be useful should you be planning to remaster, and the LSHW hardware lister as well as Grsync should come in handy too.

Zenwalk 7.0 Live

Just like VectorLinux, which I recently wrote about here, the system resembles the project's main Xfce edition closely, although Vector Live replicates their respective Xfce edition even more faithfully, up to the wallpaper background. Perhaps I should write a comparison, but reading these two articles will give a good idea.
In addition to the above applications the Live CD also has three utilities of its own. These are LiloFix, which allows you to fix a corrupted Lilo boot loader, the ZenInstaller, which allows you to install from the live environment, and LiveClone to create a custom live ISO from your currently running system.
Root login has been disabled at this time to improve security, but a password can be set at boot time with tabbing into cheat code mode. The old root password for ZenLive is still available if booting in text mode.
The project is quite well documented, and the left side of the Zenwalk website has several links to manuals,a wiki and a forum section, which are well done. There is even a direct link to a Live CD manual which is available in several languages. If you are new to Live CDs, definitely look into this.
This 7.0 version of Zenwalk also has full support for Japanese characters, with Anthy and international language support loading on a separate small panel in the lower right hand corner of your display. Internationalization was obviously an important point for this release, with the user being able to choose from 12 languages at boot prompt.
However, the best aspect of this release in my book is the inclusion of a PDF file on the desktop that is a step-by-step guide on how to create your own Slackware-based installable live system including boot screen customization.
Overall, this release is a winner, although it may appeal mostly to more advanced users. Read the release announcement for much more on Zenwalk Linux 7.0, here.

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