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Exploring the Future of Computing
Zenwalk Live 4.8: More Zen Power! E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 07 December 2007



As a standard practice since Zenwalk Linux 2.6 (with the exception of 4.0), a live CD for Zenwalk Linux will be released, usually 4 to 6 weeks after the release of the standard Zenwalk Linux edition (the installation CD). With a Zenwalk Linux live CD aka Zenwalk Live or just ZenLive,  you  can also enjoy the goodness of the standard Zenwalk Linux edition without installing it to your hard disk. Like its standard Zenwalk Linux edition, the live CD also comes with a broad spectrum of applications but without the bloat. It's one application for one task! Right now, I will review the latest offering from, the Zenwalk Live 4.8. 



Zenwalk Live 4.8  was made  available to the public on the 16th of November 2007, exactly 5 weeks after the release of the standard installation CD edition of Zenwalk Linux 4.8. With its great aesthetics, speed, responsiveness, rationalness, and intelligent selection of the latest softwares, it is not surprising at all that Zenwalk Linux is still the highest ranking XFCE-based Linux distribution on DistroWatch, competing with the more complex KDE and GNOME-based distributions.  Kudos to the team manager, Jean-Philippe Guillemin and the crew for bringing this new live CD with new features plus improved localization. The Zenwalk Live 4.8 user guide which comes in many more languages is also very well written and very handy indeed! In case you need Zenwalk Live 4.8 to boot from a pendrive, the guide will also help you with its easy nine-steps how-to.  Unfortunately, I was informed by its developers that they are still fixing some minor bugs preventing booting from a pendrive.



Like the standard installation CD of Zenwalk Linux 4.8,  Zenwalk Live 4.8 is also based on Linux kernel, gcc 4.1.2 and  glibc 2.5. Its desktop is also  powered  by XFCE 4.4.1 and X.Org 7.2.  In case you don't know Zenwalk  Live 4.8, like many other live CDs,  has been created by using a modified Linux-Live scripts, taking advantage of the aufs and  Squashfs filesystem.






For this review, I used 3 PCs:-

-Dell PC with Pentium III CPU (600MHz)  with  only  128MB of SDRAM

-Compaq Presario notebook with Turion 64x2 CPU (1.6GHz) with 1Gb of SDRAM,

-PC with Pentium IV CPU with 500MB of SDRAM.



Seconds after loading my Zenwalk Live 4.8 CD, the select language screen appeared. This was followed by the boot option screen. I found that the boot option screen was still similar to the boot option screen of the previous Zenwalk Live. Like other live CDs, Zenwalk Live 4.8 also has numerous cheatcodes. I tried the popular copy2ram cheatcode. This cheatcode worked on my Compaq Presario notebook with 1Gb of SDRAM but not on PC with only 500MB of SDRAM. The process took about 2 minutes to copy to the RAM of my Compaq Presario notebook with Turion 64x2 processor(1.6GHz). Other cheatcodes can be found on the handy Zenwalk Live 4.8 user guide.    



Select the language screen. 






The second screen is the boot options screen.






Then, the new boot splash ensued. 





Bypassing the login screen, you will see the new XFCE splash.
The artwork is awesome and full of Zen!





After a record booting time of 3 minutes 8 seconds on my old Pentium III Dell PC with SDRAM of only 128MB, you'll finally see the  nice XFCE desktop of Zenwalk Live 4.8. This great aesthetic along with its inherent simplicity and stability have enchanted a lot of Linux users. Out of curiosity, I did try Zenwalk Live 4.6  and Zenwalk Live 4.4.1 on the 128MB environment and Zenwalk Live 4.6 took 3 minutes 40 seconds to boot  and with Zenwalk Live 4.4.1,  I  had to be satisfied with 4 minutes 3 seconds.  In case a record time of 3 minutes 8 seconds still sound slow on Pentium III with 128MB SDRAM, Zenwalk Live 4.8 took just 1 minute 35 seconds to boot (from boot screen till XFCE is fully loaded) on the Compaq Presario notebook with Turion 64x2 CPU.


The XFCE 4.4.1 desktop of Zenwalk Live 4.8 sports a great panorama of simplicity and elegance. It's really a joy to use such a desktop. It's still responsive even though the Pentium III box has only 128MB SDRAM. By and large, screen resolution detection is  good  and wide screen monitors are configured the nearest native resolution of that monitors. Open source graphic card driver is used in Zenwalk Live 4.8. Since my old Dell Pentium III desktop was autoconfigured to connect to the Internet, I could surf the net with IceWeasel right away! In the standard edition of Zenwalk Linux 4.8, I had to use the Xnetconf tool from Zenpanel to configure the installed system to connect to the Internet. 


The XFCE 4.4.1 desktop.





By logging out, you can see the login screen that is

used by the installation CD of Zenwalk 4.8.






Already a great live CD with excellent multimedia, office and Internet applications that it inherits from the standard Zenwalk Linux 4.8,  this new version of Zenwalk Live 4.8 also comes with the ability  to mount NTFS partition in read and write mode, making it even more valuable as a recovery tool. Unlike the standard Zenwalk Linux edition, Zenwalk Live is equipped with GParted and various recovery tools. The latest Zenwalk Live 4.8 has added another two new GUI-based tools in the Zenpanel in addition to the new fun games. Root password is needed for launching Zenpanel and many other tools.  The password for the root user is not root!  It is still ZenLive and it is case sensitive!


The fun games.






Zenwalk Live 4.8 is built to be a full-featured Live CD but it has no browser plugins to play Flash contents and also Java applets. Whenever I visit a website with Flash content,  the Plugin Finder Service will offer Gnash 0.8.0, but failed at installing it! Whenever I try to run a Java applet using the IceWeasel, the Plugin Finder Service  of IceWeasel couldn't find any Java plugin. Luckily the Adobe Flash plugin and the Sun's jre packages are available in its official repositories, only in certain Zenwalk Live 4.8's official repositories. In order to get these 2 plugins for the IceWeasel, you can add the repositories shown below, which are listed in the netpkg tool.  One of the aspects that impressed me the most about Zenwalk Live 4.8, was how well the Logmein Java applets  worked.
(for flash_plugin-
(for jre-6u2-i586-1.tgz)

While Zenwalk Linux has been light on hardware resources, it is not light on R & D. In this release of Zenwalk Live 4.8, you will find two new tools not available on the standard installation CD of Zenwalk 4.8. These two new tools, LiveClone tool and LiloFix tool can be found  on the Zenpanel. The LiveClone gui utility will help you create your own Zenlive iso image, customized to your needs and taste. On the other hand, LiloFix gui tool will help you create a new Lilo bootloader when the need arises.



This is the Zenpanel.





The new LiveClone tool.





The new LiloFix tool.







In conclusion, Zenwalk Live 4.8 is definitely better than its previous versions. It definitely boots faster and has a wider range of softwares. I did not experience any hardware problems with this live CD. However, there is still no out-of-the-box WiFi support for Zenwalk Live 4.8. Users have to be contented with the very intuitive gui-based ndiswrapper utility called  Ndiswrapper Wireless Drivers which is located at the System directory of the Zenwalk main menu. A quite recent ndiswrapper 1.48 is used as backend. Well, the LiveClone tool is very relevant here. You can create your own iso image with WiFi support. Software-wise, the IceWeasel is not as swift as it should be. Firefox in the previous version of Zenwalk Live was definitely swifter.




Pleased with its performance on the Dell desktop with Pentium III CPU and a RAM of 128MB (Optiplex GX110), I decided to download the installation CD of Zenwalk 4.8. It took only 19 minutes to install to the hard disk. Booting it, only took 40 seconds. IceWeasel took 15 seconds to load while Abiword needed 5 seconds. It would be nice if the future Live CD version of Zenwalk Linux comes with an installer.      





Thank you for reading my review.


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By Michael Shee Choon Beng.


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