May 20, 2024


Hello World!

Zenwalk Linux: Full Review & Installation Guide

zenwalk linux

Hi folks, today we’re going to talk about an ancient distro, for those who have a while in this world, surely hear about it: Zenwalk Linux.

These week was released a new version of Zenwalk Linux, and bring to us many interesting news that I’ll talk about in this article. Briefly, some of the new stuff included in this release:

  • Kernel LTS.
  • Brand new XFCE 4.14
  • 100% binary-compatible with Slackware.
  • Flatpak support.
  • Systemd-free.

A little bit of Zenwalk Linux history.

Zenwalk Linux it’s a Slackware based distro that begins as a project in 2004. From the beginning until 2005 it was called Minislack, and then changed her name to Zenwalk Linux. Zenwalk focus was to make a lightweight desktop-oriented distribution for advanced and beginners users too.

Until today, is the oldest Slackware based distribution still in active development. Slackware is not so popular between beginner users as other distributions like Ubuntu, but it has many followers, and there’re other projects that use it’s base, like Salix or Slackel.

Zenwalk Linux Installation

We’re not going deeply into the install process, but I’ll try to describe briefly in 5 steps:

  1. Boot the system, select keyboard layout (for non US users) and then login as root user (it has no password).
  2. Create partitions with cfdisk or fdisk.
  3. Execute System Installer with setup command.
  4. Follow and complete installer options (target partitions, format partitions created previosly, source media, software selection, etc).
  5. Once installation process is finished, install the bootloader and follow the installer until the end. You will be asked for system services, create users and root password)
Zenwalk Linux Installer

Note: in software selection, I suggest make the default install (full) to avoid libraries or dependencies issues.

Those who are familiar with Slackware will not have any problems, because is the same installer and installation process.

New release: a lot of new stuff.

We have briefly commented the Zenwalk’s new features,  and now we’re going a little bit deeply on this.

At the first login, we’ll see an extremely polished XFCE in his last version, with a nice theming, with a careful software selection, which makes the system ready to work since the very first moment. Some of these applications are: Chromium, Gimp, Geany, Glade, mpv Media Player, Gparted, and many others. Also it has applications of its own, like Zenmap, a GUI for Nmap. There’s no office suite preinstalled, but you can install it if needed.

zenwalk linux
Zenwalk Linux default XFCE Desktop Environment

A big surprise to me is the out of the box Flatpak support. This means that we’ll be able to install all the software available on Flathub. You can use Flatpak Hub for search and download packages from GUI, and then install them with a one-clic option in Thunar. One of the advantages of Flatpak packages, is that users can install them without administration rights.

zenwalk linux
Flathub App
Flatpak Install from Thunar

Zenwalk’s package management tool, Netpkg, was completely rewritten. Netpkg is a CLI package manager, which we’ll use to keep updated our system and to install new software from Slackware community. Netpkg can update the packages one per line, if you need to only update certaing packages, or make a complete system update, which is more suitable for the most users. 

I’ve mention this at the beginning of this article: Zenwalk Linux central idea is to bring a lightweight distribution, and they do a great work with this brand new release. In the following image, idle memory consumption is just over 300mb. I’ve used a Virtualbox VM with only 1GB of memory, Zenwalk Linux it’s an excellent option to install in low resources hardware.


SysV as init software it’s a big deal and an interesting option for those who are looking for a systemd-free distribution.


Zenwalk Linux, formerly known as Minislack, is a Slackware-based distribution designed to be fast, lightweight, and optimized for multimedia capabilities. When you encounter issues with Zenwalk, following general troubleshooting principles and utilizing Zenwalk-specific resources can help you resolve them. Here’s a basic guide to troubleshooting Zenwalk Linux:

1. Package Management Issues with netpkg:

  • Update Your System: Before trying to solve any issue, make sure your system is updated:
  sudo netpkg update
  sudo netpkg upgrade
  • Search for Packages: If unsure about the name of a package, use:
  netpkg search [search-term]
  • Dependencies: Ensure that when installing a new package, all dependencies are satisfied. netpkg should handle this for you, but it’s always good to double-check.

2. Boot Issues:

  • If Zenwalk doesn’t boot, check the bootloader settings. You might need a live USB of Zenwalk or another Linux distro to repair it.
  • Ensure the kernel and initramfs entries in the bootloader configuration are correct.

3. Networking:

  • Use ip a or ifconfig to check your network interfaces.
  • Restart network services if needed. Zenwalk uses traditional rc.d scripts, so you can usually restart networking with:
  sudo /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 restart

4. Desktop Environment Issues:

  • If your desktop environment doesn’t start properly, check for error messages in the ~/.xsession-errors file or try starting it manually using the command associated with that environment.

5. Logging and Monitoring:

  1. Use dmesg to view kernel messages.

6. Dependencies and Libraries:

  • If a specific application doesn’t run, check for missing libraries:
  ldd /path/to/application

7. Hardware Recognition:

  • To see if your hardware is recognized, use:

8. Zenwalk Resources:

  • Official Forums: The Zenwalk forums are an excellent place to ask questions and find solutions.
  • Official Documentation: Zenwalk’s official documentation might contain the answers to your queries.

Final thoughts.

Zenwalk Linux surprise me from the very first moment with this new release. They have done a really great work at all levels: a pretty, nice, polished, and well worked XFCE desktop that works in low resources hardware, and preinstalled localization for support non US languages. As I said previously, it’s a good move to include Flatpak support since installation,  because all users can access to a lot of software easily. By the way, I need to mention that Zenwalk uses Lilo and eLilo (for MBR and UEFI systems, respectively) instead of grub2. This is not a bad thing, but it’s not a standard on these days. Both Lilo and eLilo do their work perfectly, so there’s no problem with that.

You can download Zenwalk Linux from here.

See you next time!

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