Zenix 2.0 Review

Posted: November 13, 2011 in Random pontifications
Tags: , , , ,

What’s a seven letter word for the cycle of death and rebirth? Awesome! No seriously, it’s Samsara. However awesome is the word that I have in mind when I’m referring to Zenix OS 2.0. I actually read about this project on Silver Fox’s blog. Turns out it is designed to be a Debian respin for Buddhist users. Now I’m not Buddhist , despite the nature of my gravitar, so I’m sure there are a lot of hidden ‘goodies’ in this OS for those who appreciate the finer points of the Buddhist culture and religion. From my point of view what I see is a very light-weight , very pretty, but not feature deprived Linux distribution. I love this respin I really do. Great job to Bodhi.Zazen, Silverfox and anyone else who may be involved in this project because its coming along VERY nicely.

What I Love About Zenix

In my opinion, it’s gorgeous. If you are a huge fan of graphically rich environments like Gnome Shell, KDE or Unity, this distro might not be for you. However, if you like simplicity, with a little extra frill and a nice looking tiling window manager then you’re in the right place. One of my favorite aspects of it is the large collection of custom wallpapers that come with the distro, they are VERY cool, if you like eastern culture styled themes these are sure to impress.

Outside of the “pretty factor”, this OS is extremely light-weight and fast. This is to be expected from any Debian respin, however when combined with the attractiveness of the environment it balances out quite well. It runs in less than 100 MB of ram on a VM, this is also stated on Zenix’s website, however I coffirmed that it was sitting right at 92 MB using Oracle’s Virtual Box. It comes by default with XFCE 4 while it’s not as pretty (by some standards) as KDE or Gnome, I love it , it does the minimalist concept behind the Operating System a lot of justice while still keeping it attractive.

In addition to the overall layout and look of this spinoff it is jam packed full of little extras, which I assume tie in to the Buddhist aspect of the operating system. As I said I’m not Buddhist so I can’t fully appreciate them however it was a pleasure exploring some of the nifty mixins (read I spent a lot of time googling what words meant). One example that I thought was really creative and interesting was the terminal spinoff of “cowsay”, which in this case would be Dhammapada say (Buddhist Spirtual text, the title translates roughly to path of eternal truth). An example of what my terminal greets me with is here.

If it ought to be done; then do it; apply yourself to it strenuously. A lax man of religion spreads even more dust.

You don’t have to be Buddhist to appreciate the quote, and that’s not to say that any religion or culture should be reduced to terminal novelties, but it was definitely a welcome change of pace from nix sysop quotes that don’t really maintain their relevance. Other cool Buddhist tie ins that I found were in the 2 default desktop names, Samsara and Nirvana, as well as the Conky theme.

What I Like About Zenix

Zenix is not feature leen in the slightest, it comes bundled with IceCat (like Firefox) and Midori for browsers. I’m not a huge fan of Midori but I know it does have a loyal following. One of the things I like about Zenix that makes my little sec-dork heart feel super warm and fuzzy is the fact that IceCat comes with NoScript and Ad Block (as well as a few others) pre-installed in this distro. Also bundled are VLC, Xchat and a host of other useful applications to get you up and running out of the gate.

Security Includes

Another interesting feature in Zenix is the security menu, I’m not sure how I feel about some of this but there are some decent features in here. Some of the more useful are CryptKeeper for encrypting folders and files as well as GUFW for configuring your firewall. A feature in this menu I’m not a huge fan of to the point of disliking is the Keepassx password safe, if you don’t know me you might not know but I think password vaults are stupid, though if your only alternative is a sticky note I suppose it serves its purpose.

The next set of “features” I truly do not understand. If someone could explain to me what Zenmap or Wireshark have to do with Buddhism, or eastern culture I would love to hear it. I’m not against Wireshark or nmap except in the fact that many people in the Linux community believe that Wireshark is in fact the solution to every problem that may occur on a network.

Suffice it to say these two applications are under the security tab. You’ll also find a sub tab labeled “Intrusion Detection” in this we have the ability to disable and enable the PSAD daemons (there are 3 total). You will also discover that FWSnort is installed by default and configured with PSAD. This gives us the ability to create a powerful firewall. I was excited about the idea that these might be implemented in such a light-weight distro, unfortunately my expectations weren’t quite met when I discovered that by default PSAD/FWSnort isn’t enforcing anything in particular worth mentioning. Perhaps in future versions including an updated set of Emerging Threat’s latest snort rules would be good. It’s not a terrible idea to include an IDS (assuming Buddhists are extremely security conscious desktop users), however it would be greatly improved if the IDS did something other than block basic nmap scans.

Documentation

I was actually fairly surprised to find that the online Documentation and Forum available were surprisingly complete. This is always a bonus, and while I didn’t particularly find anything that I needed (I didn’t need anything) the pre-made Virtual Box xorg.conf came in rather handy.

Things I Didn’t Like So Much

Honestly, there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this. The biggest thing I disliked is that the installer is a royal pain. It gives some really nice customization options, and I’m not sure if the intended target audience is Linux savvy or not so I won’t comment on the fact that it is not your standard Ubiquity installer. The ordering of the installation process just felt awkward even in a VM. Not unworkable as obviously I installed it, it just could have felt smoother.

Sudo/su is a little bit flaky. During install time I chose to go with using su over sudo (I’m not a fan of sudo). Ironically I ended up getting both, and when it came time to install Virtual Box guest additions, neither one quite worked right. So this is something that may need to be tweaked in future versions.

Overall, I still think its a great distro and hope they keep improving on it. If you’re interested in getting a copy of this distro you can do so from their official website.

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Comments
  1. Tushar Kumar says:

    really amazing review

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