Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Kwort is a linux distribution based on Slackware Linux and has recently been added to the Distrowatch waiting list. It comes with kernel 22.214.171.124, Xorg 6.9.0, gcc 3.3.6 and xfce 126.96.36.199. Their site states, "Kwort's desktop and applications are completely based on the gtk2 toolkit." Tuxmachines took Kwort for a spin around the block, and this is what we discovered.
My usual practice when evaluating a new distribution is to download, install and/or boot it. Although I get bit sometimes, I prefer for my first impressions to be unclouded by previous information or screenshots. With older established distros this is impossible, but a rare treat with kwort. I had seen Kwort's lovely site in order to find the downloadable iso, but I avoided any information or screenshots.
Not long after booting the install cd I became aware that Kwort is based on Slackware. They use a slightly simplified Slackware installer. Basically, only the target partition is asked before the install begins and then it installs a base system. Afterwhich it asks about your dialup modem, network configuration, and lilo choices. Upon boot it walks the user through configuration of alsa, root password, and an user account before it asks for the install cd again.
I put the cd in the same device used for install, but not the first device in the chain. The installer output that it could not find the cd and exited to login. I rebooted in hopes it would continue, but it didn't. I can only assume the installer was going to continue installing software packages and possibly a few other configurations. Instead I mounted the install cd and changed directory to the extras folder. From there I installed every package included using the retained Slackware installpkg. I checked for the existence of an xorg.conf file and upon finding one, edited it for my purposes and started xfce4.
The xfce desktop is customized slightly for Kwort. It features a cute wallpaper with what I can assume to be their mascot. I can't tell what kind of creature he's supposed to be, but he's fairly cute as he dangles and hangs on for dear life with a pleasantly surprized look on his face. Apparently I've lead a sheltered life and wikipedia is no help here. There is no information on the site about their interesting mascot either.
In the menus we find a few applications for various tasks. The whole of OpenOffice.org 2.0 is installed as well as Firefox 1.5, gaim, xchat, Slypheed, the gimp, xpdf and xfmedia player among others. The xfmedia player did surprisingly well with mpegs and avis. Mplayer was installable through their kpkg and was able to play bins as well.
Speaking of kpkg, this is the application that makes Kwort unique. Up until the discovery of this application I was thinking Kwort is a nice little system, but what's the hook? How can I interest my readers in another Slack variant? Unfortunately kpkg isn't included in the Kwort 2.0 currently available on their mirrors. One must download and install it separately. At that point, it becomes a remote package installation application. For now the mirrors have limited access as well as limited applications, but the program has great potential. As is at this early stage, it works wonderfully once a connection can be established. Can we dare predict this will be included in future releases?
The kpkg application as well as the whole of Kwort fits extremely well into the philosophy of Slackware as I interpret it. Greatness thru simplicity. Kwort is light-weight and high-performing. It's extremely stable. The only problem encountered during my test run was the xfce4 panel "disappeared" from view. It was easily restarted at the commandline and exhibited no further adverse behaviors.
Hardware detection was fairly good at this time. There are wireless packages and pcmcia detection as well as the usual sound, video, and drives. Although usb and my tv card were detected, there are no scanner packages, backend drivers, nor any tv or radio applications available. There were no browser plugins installed or available. There kernel source was installable through kpkg from the Kwort repository and the nvidia drivers built with no problem.
Information is sparce on the Kwort site. There is a list of developers, containing introductory information on the developers. They are primarily from Argentina and the eldest is all of 23 years old. One is a KDE maintainer, but I wasn't able to locate any KDE packages at this time. There is a forum in place for information and support.
In conclusion, I found Kwort to be an interesting project. Although in their infancy, the system is fast, stable, and contains a basic choice of applications. There could be more package selection, but perhaps we will see more in the future. If you are a fan of slackware, like to test new distributions, or just want a nice light-weight system, you may want to consider testing Kwort for yourself.