Remain blissfully ignorant, or experience nirvana today with this powerful, lightweight, and highly customizable release from PCLinuxOS. Zen Mini provides a useful LiveCD and a minimal list of applications making this an ideal distribution for people looking to manufacture their own environment.
Zen Mini Details
As a user with some previous Zen Mini experience I found this slim distribution to be an excellent choice for older hardware or a small hard drive.
What The Future Brings
Unfortunately rumors suggest that one of the primary contributors for this release, Siamer, may be ending his time with PCLinuxOS due to shortage of time. He will be missed, but I have high hopes that Zen Mini will carry on in the future.
The installation process went smoothly as usual, and it was effectively swift. The boot menu also embodies the elegant Zen Mini theme, and provides the option to boot from the LiveCD or to Install PCLinuxOS Zen Mini.
If you choose to start the installation process, you will first be asked to select your keyboard settings. Next you can configure your hard drives for installation or configure several advanced boot options. You are then asked to restart to proceed with the next steps.
Finalizing The Installation
After the restart you can select your time settings and login information and you will immediately arrive at the login screen. The whole process only took a few minutes, I was actually very impressed.
I thoroughly enjoyed the sleek and elegant desktop environment, everything is neatly arranged and easy to find. Even the login screen is very stylish and obviously highly customized.
The desktop provides a few icons to setup some useful applications, a network manager icon, and a couple of Nautilus Launchers.There is only a single panel along the bottom of the screen, but the Gnome interface is highly customizable as most people already know.
More Coming Soon
The introduction of Drak3d with Compiz fusion certainly adds a whole new layer of functionality and, of course, personality to your desktop. I intend to cover all of the details of Drak3d, as well as the PCLinuxOS Control Center in future posts for those seeking further details.
The Zen Mini menu structure was excellently organized, and very easy to navigate. The menu can be found by clicking on the Zen icon at the far left of the main panel. Many of the popular installed applications can be found neatly arranged into categories inside the main menu.
You will also find a sub-menu for places which will open your file browser, and another for system administration and preferences options.
Other Menu Items
Also conveniently located at the bottom of the main menu you can find a lock screen option, a logout user option, and a system shutdown option. Launchers for most newly installed applications will automatically appear in the application categories of the main menu as well.
Zen Mini did add some style to the Gnome panel making it easier on the eyes. As always properties and settings can be found by right clicking on an empty spot inside the panel.
The pop-up menu also offers the ability to add new panels to the desktop, or click add to panel to see the available applets. The usual list of Gnome applets are available, some of them include weather notifications, a system monitor, disk mounter, and sticky notes.
By default the main panel already holds a menu icon, a few launchers, a show desktop button, and the system notification area where you can keep an eye on the status of your computer and some applications.
The Synaptic package manager is available if you are interested in installing additional software. You can find a launcher for Synaptic on the left side of the bottom panel. With Synaptic you can also check for package updates to keep your system stable and secure.
More About Synaptic
The ability to manage your repositories via a GUI is also quite convenient. The Synaptic package manager interface is easy to navigate, the shortcut bar across the top of the window will help you with most of the basic functions.
From the shortcut bar you can search for available packages, search for upgrades, mark all upgrades, or apply all changes. Simply mark the packages you wish to install and press apply.
The default file manager is Nautilus which you can launch at any time simply by double clicking on the computer or home folder icons which sit on the desktop. Other important locations on your computer can also be found inside the places tab of the main menu.
When the Nautilus window opens you will have a number of important locations on your system listed on the left hand panel, there is also a useful toolbar along the top of the screen.
More About Nautilus
Nautilus is highly stable and offers top level reliability for connecting to servers and devices. Nautilus is famed for its simplicity and reliability. The interface is well designed and highly customizable, and it looks good with the default window theme.
Zen Mini offers a number of exceptionally stylish window themes that will offer your desktop a new look whenever you wish. As usual you can reach your desktop settings by right clicking on the desktop and clicking on the change desktop background option from the popup menu.
The default theme appears to be a custom theme created for Zen Mini and it goes perfectly with the wallpaper and many applications in my opinion.
Pressing customize at the bottom of the themes window gives you the ability to create and save your own themes exactly as you prefer, mouse pointers, icons, and all the rest.
As mentioned above you can change your desktop background at any time by right clicking on an empty spot on the desktop, and clicking on the change desktop background option.
Get More Backgrounds
Unfortunately only the default theme is available, but there are still many options for you to spice up your desktop if the Zen look is not your thing, I love it however! After opening the appearance preferences window just click get more backgrounds online to search through a variety of unique wallpapers.
After making your selection you have the ability to zoom, scale, center, style and stretch your images to fit your needs, this allows you to experience a lot of different looks.
Zen Mini Homepage
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Tags: Gnome, PCLinuxOS, Review, Zen Mini