The ZenMini of netbook Linuxes.

PCLinuxOS Gnome ZenMini Desktop

OpenSUSE isn’t the only new distro at the Oa compound; I’ve also replaced Easy Peasy on my netbook with PCLinuxOS, running the GNOME ZenMini Desktop.

There is certainly nothing wrong with Easy Peasy… If you didn’t know it’s basically the latest Ubuntu Netbook Edition with restricted codecs pre-installed. I’ve just been looking a more traditional interface for my Eee PC, one with an additional virtual desktop — four would be overkill but two is perfect. And that’s exactly what ZenMini gives me.

As you can probably guess from its name, ZenMini is as much about what’s left out as what’s included. From their Polish site (?):

ZEN-mini (often shortened to ZEN) is a minimal livecd that is bootable and can be installed. It comes with a very basic GNOME desktop without additional applications. It is designed for advanced users or for users who wish to learn how to customize their system with the applications and support files they want to use. Additional software can be installed through the Synaptic Software Manager. Add your own background, window decorations, web browser client, email client, music client and fully trick out your desktop the way you want it.

That said, the live .iso of ZenMini comes with Firefox (plus an official Adobe Flash Player  plug-in) and a network manager with working WiFi — for me, anyway.

For an Ubootnu Ubuntu user the learning curve isn’t steep at all; the biggest difference I can see is that ZenMini uses RPM rather than Debian packages. As such the command-line package manager is apt4rpm rather than apt-get, as I learned from the helpful folks on the PCLinuxOS forums.

There is one thing I’m not too clear about:  ZenMini requires two passwords, one for a regular user and one for root. Yet when I’m logged in as a regular user a root terminal is available from the main menu, with no additional password needed. Hmm.

Everything else about ZenMini makes perfect sense, though — at least so far. And the custom cursor set is especially awesome. If you want to see it in action you’ll just have to download and boot up ZenMini for yourself!


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