Slackware and Zenwalk

I’ve been distro shopping lately.  I had become complacent while working with PCLinuxOS because everything just works when using it.  With nothing broken, I had nothing to fix 🙁  This is a good thing, unless you want things to break every once in a while so you can learn to fix them.  I know, I’m a glutton for punishment.

After some initial toolings in Arch and Gentoo, I settled on Slackware…which was my first distribution I tried ever in 1995.  It felt good to be coming back to Slackware…there is a simple elegance about it.  It’s ultimately fast on just about every system I’ve put it on.  I really like the unix like rc files Slackware has; to me, it’s simple to get things working.  This could be because I cut my teeth on Solaris…but then again, I think it’s much easier to manage system services by making an rc file executable (chmod).  Sure Red Hat style is ok with ‘service name start|restart|stop’ but I really like going into a directory, listing it out, and seeing all my services that execute on startup in green.  Maybe it’s my nostalgia getting the best of me.  I’m sure that’s it.

Regardless, I stuck with Slackware only a short while because I was interested in XFCE (not that Slack doesn’t have XFCE…just that I wanted to see a distro that prides itself on XFCE) and decided to give Zenwalk 6 a try (I’ve tried Wolvix already…it just didn’t click with me).  I’d heard nothing but good things about this distro and it is Slackware based, which makes all the nostalgic parts of me tingle.

I installed and all I can say is WOW!  It’s a fantastic implementation of XFCE regardless of distribution.  The Slackware speed and rc system are there, greeting me on each startup/login.  XFCE is done brilliantly there and really feels like a superb implementation.  Updating is a snap with netpkg, something I haven’t had any experience with…it does the job nicely though.  Overall, I’m quite satisfied with Zenwalk and will be sticking with it for a while.  I’ll post back from time to time with any tips or tricks I might find as I’m stretching my legs so to speak in my new environment.

Zenwalk 6, slightly altered

Author: devnet

devnet has been a project manager for a Fortune 500 company, a Unix and Linux administrator, a Technical Writer, a System Analyst, and a Systems Engineer during his 20+ years working with Technology.

17 thoughts on “Slackware and Zenwalk”

  1. Regardless, I stuck with Slackware only a short while because I was interested in XFCE…

    I didn’t get it probably – Slackware does have XFCE as well.

    1. I didn’t get it probably – Slackware does have XFCE as well.

      I tried XFCE on Slackware many times over the years and just before I tried the Zenwalk implementation. Zenwalk and Wolvix are both two distros that take a lot of time in making sure XFCE has a little extra ‘umph’ added to them. This isn’t to say that Slackware is lacking in any shape or form…just to say that I had not tried Zenwalk’s XFCE…and since it’s even closer to Slackware compatibility than other Slack distros like well..Slax…I figured it’d be fun to give it a whirl.

      Sorry it wasn’t more clear 😀

  2. It’s not that Slackware doesn’t have it, its that Slackware ships it default and you have to work to get it that way. Pat treats every package like this. Nothing against XFCE.

    1. I was using Zenwalk some time ago (about two years), so I don’t remember it so much. What are the differences between Zenwalk and default/Slackware?

      1. For a while, it was that Zenwalk shipped with XFCE as the default and used the 2.6.x kernel…that’s not really a difference anymore. I would say that netpkg is a major boon to Zenwalk…though I’m sure you can install and use it in Slackware.

        I know localization is better in Zenwalk…mainly due to some nifty tools they include though I don’t have much experience with them since I only speak English…I have just read about them in blogs.

        To me, Zenwalk ‘feels’ lighter than Slackware. I’m not sure why. I also like that it has office apps that I’m familiar with installed right away (

        Zenwalk uses Wicd to get wireless up right away. Slackware also has wicd, but you have to take the extra step to install it…which may not seem like much, but if you’re a new linux user, it’s a huge thing.

        Slack has also gone with a 64 bit release and Zenwalk hasn’t yet…but that’s not to say they won’t. I think ext4 is in Slackware repos too…and I’m not sure if it’s in Zenwalks repos…but most Slack packages can be installed in Zenwalk so no worries 😀

        That’s about all I can think of off the top of my head. I’m sure others will know a bit more than me.

  3. Zenwalk is just awesome. I have been running it since version 4.0 and it is getting better and better. I have tried Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint, Sabayon, Mepis, OpenSolaris… and nothing compare to Zenwalk. Well, only Slackware…

  4. I like Zenwalk because it’s fast and user friendly at the same time. Right now I don’t need it on any of my computers, but it would be one of my first choices for something lightweight.

  5. Hi devnet, interesting blog, and interesting posts here. Particularly of interest is that I also ran my first Linux distro in the Fall of 1995 and it was Slackware. Because of this, even today I come back to Slackware on occasion.

    I do have to agree with you that for whipping something together quickly that has many of those positive attributes of Slackware, Zenwalk does it real well. Of course, when you get in the mood to get really basic, you still want that Slackware feel! I’ve used both and like both. However, first and foremost, I am a Debian fan. sidux, antiX, and SimplyMEPIS for cutting edge, fast and lean, and simple desktop systems are my three standard systems. I always keep PCLinuxOS around as a good RPM based system, and I am looking forward to testing some of the former PCLinuxOS derivatives as they re-emerge under the Unity Linux umbrella.

  6. Zenwalk is easy to mantain and has all the nice characteristics from Slackware. Netpkg handles dependencies very well in a simle way((remember that you also have installpkg,removepkg…src2pkg,rpm2tgz..gslapt! so many)). I really like it a lot. I think Zenwalk is the perfect OS for hacking.


  7. 2501, no arguments there. Both Slackware and Zenwalk are great for hacking. One advantage to Zenwalk is that it gives lazy people like me a bit fewer things to set up. Clearly you can do the same things with either Zenwalk or Slackware, simply by pointing to the same package binaries or sources and add in whatever features you want. I have a release of Zenwalk that I bought on both CD and USB from a company who donates a percentage of the sale to the vendor, in this case, Zenwalk. I’ve purchased real Slackware CDs before, too, but that was many years ago.

  8. Right now I am testing Arch and I like it a lot. But for some reason I think that I can do more things with Zenwalk. Maybe it is too early to tell…

  9. Glad to hear the nice comments on Zenwalk. I’ve been using it for the last three years on my primary computer at work, and on one of my home boxes. It’s great, even on not-so-new equipment.

    As good as their implementation of Xfce is, though, I have to admit I’ve mainly used LXDE and IceWM most of the time recently. One of the great things about ZW is that they have almost any DE or WM you want on the mirrors, so it’s easy to play around. All in all, I much prefer it to Debian. As you say, the Slackware way is simpler and easier to understand, and ZW has an excellent wiki and good forum support.

  10. What I really like about Zenwalk is that it is very easy to maintain and its stability. They you add the speed factor and the fact that you can manipulate other package formats like deb,rpm,source…it is unique.

    I can not wait for the next release. …and it can also be a rolling distro so you don’t have to wait for the next release to get new features.

    Arch is close but Slackware/Zenwalk(younger brother) are in the top of the chain.


  11. A Very neat simple blog you have here… Thanks buddy, Just wondering You ever tried Disqus for blog commenting is it good?

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