Zenix GNU/Linux - Fun, Fast, Different

by Susan Linton - Jun. 08, 2011Comments (3)

zenixBack when I used to write full-length distribution reviews for a living, I always kept my eyes open for unique offerings. Unique distros were few and far between, but when those jewels were found - fun followed. Well, one of those gems of the Linux world appeared on my radar this evening. Zenix GNU/Linux is a Debian-based distribution that uses Openbox and Awesome WM to create something that's just a little different.

According to the Website, Zenix is designed to be lightweight, yet not light in features or applications. Not that it comes with lots of software, but its developers' choices aren't necessarily those little known or commandline versions. To quote the Website, "The goal of Zenix is to provide a light weight "base" without sacrificing functionality expected of a Desktop."

For example, the Zenix live CD ships with Audacious, VLC, ImageMagick, Icecat, Gedit, Wireshark, PCManFM, and several security utilities. The desktop features a compact yet readable Conky display, Cairo Composite effects, and the Tint2 panel. The default appearance is just a solid black background and a dark window theme with orange text highlights. But it also includes several Xfce tools, such as the theme manager which includes the usual long list of Xfce themes. Nitrogen background manager helps you set one of the many wallpapers. A mouse theme selector and screensaver settings tool are also included. There didn't seem to be a graphical software manager, but being based on Debian provides APT with Debian repositories already set up. If memory serves, Synaptic is available in Debian repos. Zenix is said to be completely compatible with Debian.


A screenshot from the Zenix Website using the Openbox window manager


It's probably obvious these days, but hardware support was good for my system. It doesn't come with the proprietary graphic drivers, but the resolution was acceptable and adjustable in the Display Settings. Other partitions and removable media are automounted in the file manager. The install process doesn't appear to be available from the live environment, but the Debian text and graphical installers are in the boot options. Instructions are available on the Website for USB memory stick installations.

Actually the Website has lots of helpful information for users such as several howtos, a user forum, and Buddhist links. I'm not kidding on that last one. Visit the Website to understand.

Zenix is currently on Distrowatch.com's waiting list, but as long as the developers keep up the good work, it'll be added to the official database before too long. It's a wonderful little system and I had fun playing in it this evening. I'm going to install it onto my hard drive tomorrow and see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Mark Hinkle uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


Nice! Thanks for the quick-look review.

0 Votes

"Zenix is said to be completely compatible with Debian."

in fact, zenix *is* customized debian and it seems to me, debian stable. you know what - i run core debian, on top of which i slapped x and awesome wm - good grief, does that mean i am a developer of a distro, albeit fully compatible with debian? XD

that said, i liked the way zenix was customized a lot. it's great for people who don't know or don't care to do their own minimal netinstall and take it from there. guys that put it together said somewhere if i'm not mistaken that they looked up to crunchbang, but thought they brought more "polish". and i agree, openbox here looks and behaves really nice. in fact i've only tried it off of live cd, i think i'll install it on my testing notebook.

one thing that would make this customization really great would be if they used testing really give folk something they can't get from crunchbang. but i guess that would have been too much work.

0 Votes

Have to agree with istok: After installing Debian 6.0 stable I installed OpenBox, Nitrogen, Tint2, obmenu, obconfig and set up my autostart.sh and added my most-used applications to the menu.

In about 15 minutes I had my favorite WM setup and happily running my computer with everything a real Debian install offers. I don't see how this is a "distro" really.

0 Votes
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