Linked by Eugenia Loli on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 10:44 UTC
Slackware, Slax This is a review of Slackware 11.0 where the author explains what is in store for the Linux users who choose to use this Linux distribution. The article writes: "When you hear the name Slackware, you are at once transported to a world where Linux users feel more at home in setting the configurations by editing ordinary text files. In fact the credo of Slackware is to keep it as simple as possible. In popular speak, it is known by the acronym KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)."
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Nice
by Budd on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 11:34 UTC
Budd
Member since:
2005-07-08

Good to see that basically there are the same things to do when setting up the machine. I will wait a while until linuxpackages will have enough packages for 11.0 , then I will upgrade my machine (which is running for 95 days now without stop). Maker(s) of Slackware Linux, I thank you. 5 years of usage and I didn't use any other distro. Thank you again.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Nice
by miscz on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 11:45 UTC in reply to "Nice"
miscz Member since:
2005-07-17

Maybe if you are using the same distro for 5 years it's time to check out the others, they progressed too and there are many newcomers ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Nice
by dimosd on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 07:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Nice"
dimosd Member since:
2006-02-10

Maybe if you are using the same distro for 5 years it's time to check out the others, they progressed too and there are many newcomers ;)

I hope they won't mod you down for this comment... I am using Arch right now and I am generally pleased (more than I had been in a long time using Debian and later Ubuntu). Not that these are bad distros, on the contrary, they are among the finest. But they wont bent that easy to your will!

However Arch changes all the time and there (a few) bugs. Slackware on the contrary is rock solid.

I installed Slackware last night but I was a bit turned off: Linux 2.4 by default, LILO? C'mon. I am all for KISS philosophy, but some of the infrastructure could use some cleaning up and updating.

Having said that, after I installed it it took me about 30 minutes to set it up for its intended use (gateway). Easy and straightforward.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Nice
by Soulbender on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 12:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Nice"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Using != trying.
For example, I've used OpenBSD almost exclusively for 6 years but that doesnt mean I havent tried and evaluated various Linux distros during that time.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Nice
by Budd on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 15:11 UTC in reply to "RE: Nice"
Budd Member since:
2005-07-08

Actually I have installed many other distros (FC,Ubuntu,Vector - just to name a few) but I realised soon that I will only need Slackware. After installing and setting up (which is extremely easy because I keep my config files) , I just leave the machine alone. I do absolutely nothing. 80% of its role is LAMP, 10% ftp , 10% backup on a usb HDD. If I would find a distro lighter than this one (note that I use only CD-1 + 2.6 kernel from the CD-2) and so easy to set up (OK,I admit,that's subjective) I will switch in a second. But given the fact that I am used with Slackware ... I will stick with it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Nice
by miscz on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 16:06 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Nice"
miscz Member since:
2005-07-17

I won't argue about Slackware being extremly light. My friend set up a music jukebox on ancient computer using Slack. Most lightweight distros would choke on MP3 playback (even using MPD) but Slackware has no problems with that. It's great that Slackware exists and is still being developed.

Reply Score: 1

KISS?
by djst on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 11:54 UTC
djst
Member since:
2005-08-07

How on earth is configuring your system by editing text files keeping it "as simple as possible"?

Reply Score: 5

RE: KISS?
by noip on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 11:57 UTC in reply to "KISS?"
noip Member since:
2006-08-16

"Configuring your system by editing text files?"

Bliss!

n

Reply Score: 5

RE: KISS?
by dimosd on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 12:12 UTC in reply to "KISS?"
dimosd Member since:
2006-02-10

How on earth is configuring your system by editing text files keeping it "as simple as possible"?

You know what's going on. Compare the configuration of Windows 2003 (editing group policies, maybe tweaking the registry) to editing text files. I think text files are more straightforward and flexible.

I wouldn't mind a GUI wizard handling the most common cases, though.

Reply Score: 5

RE: KISS?
by antenna on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 12:29 UTC in reply to "KISS?"
antenna Member since:
2006-10-22

Because it avoids any additional layers of unnecessary abstraction.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: KISS?
by Nyte on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 13:35 UTC in reply to "RE: KISS?"
Nyte Member since:
2006-03-11

Not to mention that binary-based centralized registry can be extremely difficult to clean up. Take MS Windows' registry hive for example: after installing and uninstalling one or two dozens of applications, the registry almost always becomes a major mayhem of entangled useless garbage, which in turn may compromise system performance.

On the other hand, text-based, decentralized file-based configuration might seems to difficult to maintain and major cause of headache and nausea for newbies (ever tried to count number of files in /etc?? ;) ), but it's in fact very easy to maintain (just fire up your-favorite-editor-here and edit & save & exit), and also quite helpful to maintain system integrity, since every app has its own separate configuration files, there's almost zero chance of unused configuration might cause system performance drop...ah, of course to many conf files might slow down fsck'ing time anyway. :-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: KISS?
by Bending Unit on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 20:18 UTC in reply to "RE: KISS?"
Bending Unit Member since:
2005-07-06

That "unnecessary abstraction" is what we call usability - designing software to be suitable to humans.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: KISS?
by h times nue equals e on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 21:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: KISS?"
h times nue equals e Member since:
2006-01-21

There are several levels of sophistication abstractions can have. Take for example an apache web server and it's configuration file (/etc/httpd.conf or similar).

It is written in plain (English) language(*), it is possible to edit it with a simple text editor (compared to an hex editor or something similar) and documentation / explaination of the various options is usually provided in-place. For me, this is sufficiant abstraction, and - this is a very important point for me - this abstraction is very consistent along all hardware platforms, and at least in theory available on all supported software platforms (e.g. the old "learn Linux/Apache/X/enter-software, not the Distribution" mantra)

Learning / remembering how to enter configuration values for, let's say virtual apache servers or directory permissions using the different abstraction layers (meta config files, wizards, ... ) in different distributions is - at least for me - no gain in usability, esp. because most distributions abstraciton layers restrict me from making changes to the config files directly (aka "DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE DIRECTLY").

The majority of users may not feel the restrictions abstraction layers can impose on them. But please consider, that people with priorities like maximising the reusability of knowledge and behavioural patterns across hardware platforms and operating systems, total control of their sytem, etc. (**) , may define "intiutiveness" or "useability" differently.

IMHO, it boils down to the question what level of "hand-holding" one accepts and expects from his/hers operating system. And for some (judging from the popularity of Slackware: not few) users, Slackware provides the right amount of nursing.

Regards


(*)I admit, that not knowing the used language sufficiently is a hurdle to use this minimum abstraction layer, so there are situations where additional documentations / howtos / translations may be needed to access the config files.

(**)People, like sysadmins, that have to deal with many different distributions/operating systems, control freaks, people eager to learn the basics, ...

Reply Score: 1

RE: KISS?
by twenex on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 13:38 UTC in reply to "KISS?"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

Using as basic a text editor as you can tolerate to edit well-set out and commented text-files eliminates problems caused by (for example) bugs in GUI configuration programs, or trying to type in or puzzle out massive hex codes. As I've said many times, it's a piece of cake for a computer to convert text to binary, but how many people do you know who can convert hex files to text (without using a hex editor!)?

Reply Score: 1

RE: KISS?
by MacTO on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 13:53 UTC in reply to "KISS?"
MacTO Member since:
2006-09-21

How on earth is configuring your system by editing text files keeping it "as simple as possible"?

Because there are different ways of looking at the world. Seriously, some of us are more effective at mentally parsing a text-based configuration file than finding our way around a GUI. For those of us who are, something like Slackware is a godsend.

It is also worth noting that most of these configuration files are fairly straightforward to read. It is not as though you have to parse the XML based configuration files of Mac OS X. Typically it is more like a command per line (a bit like the old Windows INI files). I also find that developers make text configuration files look more intimidating than they really are, by adding loads of documentation to the file in the form of comments. Perhaps people would feel less intimidated if the documentation and the configuration file were kept separate.

Reply Score: 1

RE: KISS?
by CharAznable on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 15:12 UTC in reply to "KISS?"
CharAznable Member since:
2005-07-06

Simple != Easy.

I actually think that the easier to use a system is, the more complex it is, given a constant level of flexibility.

Mac OS X is a huge, complex system. A lot of this complexity is there to make the system easy to use while keeping it flexible.

Mac OS 9 is simple and easy to use, but it's not flexible.

Slackware is hard to use and simple, and very flexible.

Simplicy, Ease of Use and Flexibility. Choose 2.

Reply Score: 5

RE: KISS?
by rhyder on Tue 24th Oct 2006 20:44 UTC in reply to "KISS?"
rhyder Member since:
2005-09-28

Spot on.

Unfortunately, sometimes making a small change via a GUI would be equivalent to alterations to made on large number of config files.

In the case of a Unix style OS, the user has to do some research as to what changes to make and to which text files. Unfortunately, as sub systems are upgraded and superseded, some of this knowledge is not even reusable.

I don't think that there's anything 'wrong' with clicking on "this machine uses a fixed IP address" and then inputting the IP address of the machine for example.

This might depend on the class of user but even then, many a sys admin depends on a GUI or web based config. Sometimes one just has to get the job done with tools that one is not familiar with and in cases like this, a GUI can be an invaluable time saver.

Having said that, in most cases, I'd rather have flat text files or, GUI tools that alter flat text files than GUIs which alter binary files!

Reply Score: 1

BSD style init scripts
by djangoxl on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 13:46 UTC
djangoxl
Member since:
2006-03-10

"One note worthy fact about Slackware is its adoption of the BSD style init scripts over the System V init scripts more commonly embraced by the rest of the Linux distributions"

This would be THE reason to look at this distro...

But that's not strange because of the fact that I'm a huge BSD fan.

Reply Score: 1

RE: BSD style init scripts
by CharAznable on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 15:13 UTC in reply to "BSD style init scripts"
CharAznable Member since:
2005-07-06

I was hard core Slack until I moved over to Ubuntu/Debian. I really miss the BSD init scripts more than anything.

Reply Score: 1

pkgsrc
by happycamper on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 13:49 UTC
happycamper
Member since:
2006-01-01

Another site which caters to the Slackware crowd is linuxpackages.net which is a repository of Slackware packages.



Or bootstrap NetBSD's pkgsrc to Slackware and have access to over 6000 ports.

Reply Score: 3

Pointless
by Xaero_Vincent on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 17:06 UTC
Xaero_Vincent
Member since:
2006-08-18

You dont need an article to explain the difference between releases.

Just say something like:

"Welcome to Slackware 11.0 (i486) Kernel 2.4.33 (tty X)"

instead of:

"Welcome to Slackware 10.2 (i486) Kernel 2.4.31 (tty X)"

or maybe:

"Welcome to Slackware 2.2.0 (i386) Kernel 1.2.1 (tty X)"

Reply Score: 2

RE: Pointless
by CodeMonkey on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 19:26 UTC in reply to "Pointless"
CodeMonkey Member since:
2005-09-22

I completely agree. It's not like there were major architectural changes really. A simple:

Packages updated to latest (more or less) versions, still using 2.4, with 2.6 optional.

Not much else has really changed. And seriously, what's the point of Slackware screen shots? Oooh look, it's a screen shot of kde starting, and then a bunch of kde doing the same stuff it does on every operating system. KDE will look the same and work the same on Linux, BSD, Solaris, even HPUX if you so desire.

Now, if said screenshots were showcasing some of the flashy os/distro specific features or configuration utilities, then that'd be a different story.

Reply Score: 1

It wasn't much of a "review"...
by Tuishimi on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 17:52 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

...so much as a features list or lack thereof. Still, I am a Slackware user of old. Good distro. I wonder how Slack performs with the standard configuration against more "modern" distros (ie. using 2.6.* kernel, etc.)

Reply Score: 1

Slackware is great
by jbalmer on Mon 23rd Oct 2006 17:53 UTC
jbalmer
Member since:
2005-12-18

I have always wanted to try out slackware but I had put it off because of one or another reason. Reading this article has motivated me to download and install it on my machine.

A well written review by the way.

Reply Score: 1

Jack Matier
Member since:
2005-07-17

When I first entered into the distribution world on Linux about 3 years ago I was really nervous of Linux because of people's impressions of it being a really hard system to learn (horror stories of command line etc). So I tried the "easiest" and most popular from distrowatch being Mandrake (now Mandiva), Xandros and the like and ended up sticking with Xandros for a while. I even installed it on my girls computer at the time that was messed up with 3 partitions of NT.

Shortly after that I thought it was time to dig deeper, but I wasn't quite ready for Gentoo or Slackware and found this Canadian distribution named Vector. For those that don't know Vector Linux is based off of Slackware Linux and made easier with GUI tools. The community boards are also really helpful and I stuck with Vector for a while slowly learning things as I went along when I had the chance. This was my first actual production machine, and I was blown away and fell in love with Kate and LAMP..

I did continue to play around with other distributions on another partition but when Slackware 11 came out I downloaded it, burned it to DVD and installed it immediately... a week later it somehow managed to take over the rest of my HD.

There is something to be said about Slackware 11 which is how much you learn in such a short time, and in such a friendly manner. Most things are right there in the FAQ, and the only problems I encountered were with my Canon Pixma IP1500 and the typical Flash+Firefox+KDE!=sound (Which is fixed either by putting aoss or using Flash 9).

Most things can be found on linuxpackages now, though when something isn't there it's easy enough to compile it. Which is never a problem because Slackware comes with more tools for compiling things than other distro's.

Probably the best thing about Slackware is the fact that when you're using something like KDE it's like you're using KDE the way KDE intended it. So it feels at home in that way. It feels like what a Linux distribution actually is.

...

Edited 2006-10-23 22:18

Reply Score: 2

Dudesdad Member since:
2005-07-10

BTW to make sound work with KDE-Flash-Firefox you usually just have to be a member of the "sound" group.
It worked for me. You can also start Firefox with "aoss firefox" for sound to work with flash.

Keep on Slackin'.

Reply Score: 1

Using it...
by Jedd on Tue 24th Oct 2006 00:25 UTC
Jedd
Member since:
2005-07-06

Using it now, it's better than previous versions, but of course that's the SlackWare way. ;)

Slackware for ever,

Jedd

Reply Score: 1