by Jean-Philippe Guillemin
I started building Zenwalk (originally "Minislack") to learn the inner workings of GNU/Linux. Building an operating system is a great way to gain understanding because you're often on your own in solving problems when things do not work as expected.
Another reason for building Zenwalk was that I found myself performing the same modifications on systems after a new installation. Such repeated modifications included recompiling a more optimized and up to date kernel, removing loads of unused software and libraries, customizing the desktop, tuning the X window system, improving startup scripts, adding my preferred text editor, adding a movie player and codecs, and so on.
This project presented an opportunity to share this customization with friends, as well as being able to reinstall my system in exactly in the same state at any given time.
Then came the users and contributors, and the beginnings of the changes that molded Zenwalk into what it is today. We started replacing the original distribution with alternatives (gtk libs), adding new libs (Gnome libs), adding lots of administration tools, and a new way to manage packages remotely (netpkg). Users have improved Zenwalk by features requests posted and discussed on the support forum. The result is that Zenwalk, though still based on Slackware, is, in many ways very different : it is a daily development work, done by several Linux lovers to build the ideal Linux OS.
Zenwalk aims to be a GNU/Linux operating system rather than a distribution; it's not a collection of packages, it's a finished, coherent and rational product.
In the future, Zenwalk will not change its philosophy, it will only become more mature as a multipurpose Operating System: