For those that follow Zenwalk linux, you know the Zenwalk team members decided to go in different directions a few months back. The result is a new distribution named Salix OS, available in 32 and 64 bit torrent and iso files. Added 12/30/09: This review is of Salix64 13.0.2a
I chose Salix OS 64 bit XFCE torrent to download and install. I had trouble with Transmission on my Mac which gave me a ‘password’ error for the torrent file, so I opted for an iso file from SourceForge which downloaded quickly.
I set up my hard drive partitions using System Rescue CD with a /root, /home and /swap partition before installing Salix OS 64 iso. I may have cheated, or bypassed a possible install problem, but I doubt it. Installing any Linux distribution is not a complicated process, and almost anyone who has installed any OS should have an easy time with the Salix OS install.
Salix OS install is interesting because the opening screen give you three choices for install. The first choice is a ‘Full’ install which loads everything that is included in the iso. The second choice is a ‘Basic’ install, installs only the XFCE desktop, Firefox web browser, and Gslapt package manager. Third choice is the ‘Core’ which installs only the essentials for a console system to start.
I chose the ‘Full’ install which installs a complete operating system using one program for each application. The install was fast. The Salix OS home page states it takes “less than five minutes” for the full install on any modern pc. Installing Salix OS on my laptop was a fast install, but honestly I did not feel a urge to time it.
The only ‘issue’ I had was choosing to have ‘Numlock’ to be activated during bootup. Not a good choice for a laptop keyboard. It took logging in couple of times and getting kicked out before I realized what I did.
One dislike I have of Salix OS is using Lilo for the boot loader. Grub is in transition to Grub 2, so Lilo is the best boot manager choice at the moment. Grub 2 is available in the repositories if you wish to use it.
One treat I found was during the Salix OS install is I was given the option of creating a usb stick boot loader which when used at boot up brings you to the login screen bypassing the normal Lilo boot screen.
Salix OS uses XFCE desktop which I am partial to. XFCE is simple to navigate, allowing one click access to the menu system. XFCE desktop for Salix OS is more complete and polished than Debian’s XFCE desktop. Whether this is important or not is for you to decide. Kde desktop is also available.
Multimedia functions I mainly use are flash, mp3 rip and playback, and youtube videos. While I completed updating to the most recent packages, I installed Lame so I am able to convert .wav files into .mp3 files.
Gslapt package manager is different, but that does not mean it is bad. Salix OS is a child of Slackware – which I have not tried. Salix OS claims there are as many or more tested and immediately usable packages in the Salix OS and Slackware repositories than are available for Slackware itself. As far as total number of packages available, there should be enough choices for most users.
If you are a newer Linux user the installed apps should meet most if not all of your your needs. Repositories available via Gslapt have more than enough programs to generally meet your needs. If you still are not satisfied, you probably can roll your own programs directly from the source.
Salix OS appears to be every bit as solid, dependable, and fresh as one would generally want in a Linux distribution. Salix OS is backwards compatible with Slackware but more user friendly with some tuning already done for the user. The repository contains all programs which I need or want, though your requirements may be different.
I am really undecided about Salix OS. Due to it’s lineage, it is a well put together distribution. Salix OS competes on its own with Debian and uses newer package versions. Differences between Salix OS and Zenwalk are not obvious to me, although it is what is under the hood that is different and not necessarily what I see as a user.
In wrapping up, Salix OS is not a flashy distribution like some, at least in my opinion. Salix OS is solid. Each installed applications does the job it was picked for very well. If you want more bling, you will have to install it yourself. If you are looking to move away from Ubuntu or Ubuntu’s children, or another ‘beginner type’ distribution you will find Salix OS a system that is rock solid and dependable.
I have Debian as my primary Linux, but I find myself booting into Salix OS and playing around because exploring and changing settings in Salix OS is a simple matter. If you decide to give Salix OS a try, I do not think you will be overwhelmed, frustrated, or disappointed. I think you will decide you have made a good choice.