Zenwalk is a GNU/Linux operating system designed to be modern, fast, rational, complete and evolutionary. I installed the latest version (4.2) on my laptop this weekend. Compared to recent Ubuntu and SuSE installs, it was a little intimidating as it was completely text based and asked hard questions that you may not know the answer to – such as which mouse driver you want to use for X.
Once installed the XFCE based desktop is fast and easy to use, but configuring the underlying system was a bit strange to me. Zenwalk is based on Slackware and doesn’t seem to have it’s standard configuration files where I expected them within /etc. I couldn’t get the wireless lan working, the Zenwalk tool wifi-radar didn’t like my setup. Eventually I created a wpa_supplicant.conf file manually and finally got connected. Since then I’ve written a small script that runs iwconfig, wpa_supplicant and dhcpcd that connects my laptop up to the local network. Post a comment or use the contact form if you’d like a copy of my config files.
Zenwalk is really up to date for a linux system. The version I am running was released on January 6, 2007 and has the latest version of all it’s small number of packages. The kernel, for instance, is version 184.108.40.206, which was released by the linux kernel maintainers on 16 December, 2006. VIsit Zenwalk’s page on Distrowatch to see full version info.
If you’ve never tried linux before I’d still recommend you stick with Ubuntu but if you have slightly older hardware that could use a speed boost or you want to give a more marginal distribution a spin and don’t mind fiddling with a few config files yourself, Zenwalk could be worth a look.