Linked by Eugenia Loli on Fri 12th Dec 2003 06:53 UTC
Slackware, Slax "Slackware Linux is not your ordinary Linux distribution. For starters, it rarely figures in news headlines, preferring to keep a low profile instead. Its developers have stubbornly resisted any attempts to make their users' lives easier: the distribution provides no graphical configuration utilities, it's package management does not resolve dependencies and its simple, text-mode installer has undergone very few changes in years. Yet, Slackare Linux remains one of the top 5 Linux distributions in use today. What is the reason for its tight hold on many users?" Read the article at DistroWatch.
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by jmich on Fri 12th Dec 2003 07:47 UTC

After having tried and followed releases on Mandrake and Redhat/Fedora Core, and after I tried SuSE 9.0... I think i made it home to Slackware. Why? There's so much NOTHING to tell ;) . You'd simply love it's simplicity and the back-to-basic feel.

@Eugenia Loli-Queru
by Bas on Fri 12th Dec 2003 08:01 UTC

I so far had no errors with compiling sources on slackware, on RedHat i gave up with compiling sources because of the loads off you said it just works!

I enjoy the articles about Slackware because it finally gets the attetion it needs, its a stable, robust, secure and
clear linux distro wich should be an example for all linuxes out there including Gentoo and Debian.

"The distribution provides no graphical configuration utilities"

besides XF86Setup your right ;)


RE: @Eugenia Loli-Queru
by Eugenia on Fri 12th Dec 2003 08:03 UTC

And why is this directed to me in particular?

by oha on Fri 12th Dec 2003 08:05 UTC

After having read the zillionth so called review of a Linux
distro, I'm starting to get tired of those lengthy NO NEWS articles. Sorry, but I do fail to see the point. Yes, you do format a disk, yes you do configure X. Those reviews are
at least a 99% about configuring hardware which always is
sort of unique and offers zero news to the readers.
Yes I do love Slack ...

RE: @Eugenia Loli-Queru
by Bill on Fri 12th Dec 2003 08:18 UTC

I think this is why:

I so far had no errors with compiling sources on slackware, on RedHat i gave up with compiling sources because of the loads off you said it just works!

Your strongly favorable reviews probably turned a lot of people onto slack... some of us knew all along, though ;o)

by Rll on Fri 12th Dec 2003 08:22 UTC

Slackware 9.1 + Dropline Gnome = The best Desktop Distro I've ever seen. Fast, stable.

by Scalawag on Fri 12th Dec 2003 08:55 UTC

Right. Slackware 9.1 + Dropline Gnome = the best that just WORKS !!

by nomore on Fri 12th Dec 2003 09:19 UTC

just using slackware 9.1 with kde... doesn't matter which DE. I love the simplicity and the 'just works' thing !

by enloop on Fri 12th Dec 2003 10:02 UTC

As much as I like good reviews of Slackware, this one implies that Slack configures X automatically but poorly; suggests the risky option of importing an X config file from another distribution; shows the clearly impossible example of cfdisk running in an xterm prior to installation; fails to mention use of "netconfig" to configure the network; complains about no TrueType fonts but fails to mention that Bitstream Vera fonts are the default; and, incorrectly suggests lilo append lines can only be added after the install, when the option is offered during the install.

The review laments the lack of a dependency-resolving system for Slack. That's a matter of taste, but I'm sure every seriouos Slack user would consider that the kiss of death. The lack of automatic dependendecy resolution is the preice reason I'm using Slackware.

by jsf on Fri 12th Dec 2003 10:02 UTC


RE: enloop (IP:
by t3RRa on Fri 12th Dec 2003 10:43 UTC

fails to mention use of "netconfig" to configure the network;

wasn't 'netconfig' a utility made by Red Hat? I'm just curious on this.

dropline gnome
by tuggy on Fri 12th Dec 2003 10:44 UTC

somebody clear me up on this, is dropline gnome included in the cd as the standard gnome desktop? or you have to download it seperatly?

RE: dropline gnome
by Jago on Fri 12th Dec 2003 10:49 UTC

Dropline Gnome has to be either downloaded separately or purchased on the CD from the folks who package it. Slackware 9.1 comes with "stock" Gnome 2.4

by Bill on Fri 12th Dec 2003 11:16 UTC

the risky option of importing an X config file from another distribution

Just out of curiosity, why is using an old X config file from another distro a bad idea?

re: risky
by enloop on Fri 12th Dec 2003 11:32 UTC

There's no guarantee that another distribution uses a directory structure or naming scheme that is the same as your distribution's. As a result, you may or may not have access to all the fonts installed on your system.

Unless the config file is taken from a machine correctly configured with the same monitor and video card as your machine, there is a risk of damaging your card or monitor by running them beyond their tolerances.

If you configure X manually, which you need to do on Slackware, you must know which video card you're using, how much memory is on the card, and the horizontal and vertical refresh ranges of your monitor. Trying to drive it at rates outside those ranges can literally cause your monitor to go "poof".

lack of package update tools?
by rootrider on Fri 12th Dec 2003 12:35 UTC

from the article: "There is also the issue of updating existing installed packages - Slackware provides no tools to do this."

It seems the reviewer is completely unaware of upgradepkg. ;)

Something I really wish these reviewers would mention is Slackware's tagfiles. I recently made a slackware-current installation cd and used custom tagfiles to automate the install process. The result is an install cd that includes a custom 2.4.23 kernel, a few other custom packages (mplayer, etc.), and the ability to easily accept/deny packages as needed (thanks to the tagfiles). Tagfiles make a system administrator's job much easier!

by Dave2 on Fri 12th Dec 2003 12:55 UTC

Personally, I prefer the GRUB boot manager myself, and I don't know why Slackware doesn't give that option.
Maybe because it's not at 1.0 yet? It's not really like Slackware to put a pre-1.0 utility in there, for something as critical as a bootloader.

upgrading and x monitor probing
by Anonymous on Fri 12th Dec 2003 13:14 UTC

the reviewer has no clue what swaret is. check out the extras directory and you'll see about upgrading the packages. plus there all loads of tools for creating packages that you compile in which you can then issue the command upgradepkg to uninstall the existing and install the new. and as far as configuring x. i dont know when this module came out but it works pretty well on most monitors from what i've seen

Section "Module"
Load "ddc" # ddc probing of monitor
Load "GLcore"
Load "dbe"

ddc does a pretty good job detecting horiz and vert refresh rates as well as what the refresh rate is for each resolution and all the possible resolutions that your monitor supports. sure the xf86config command doesn't put it in for you. but if you want a fully optimized X to begin with your gonna read a man page and not rely on the autoconfig utilities

slack vs gentoo
by now slacking on Fri 12th Dec 2003 14:01 UTC

I used Gentoo off and on for about a year, I just switched to Slackware. Some of the larger apps you compile from source require you to turn off most of your optimizations, if you have several of these apps (like openoffice), then you end up producing plain vanilla 386 obj's - at which point you may as well not being be compiling them. You end up having a system optimized for the lowest common denominators of what the source can handle.

You can use ccache to cache compiled objects, and distcc to do some distributed compiling - in order to speed up your compiles. Of course changing optimizations will generally result in changed objs, and some of the larger apps do not support parallel compilation. You can also use precompiled packages, but then when you try to do a source update it will complain you have binaries installed (and must run fixpackages). When you update binaries, it takes a long time, and downloads quarterly binary patches for the last 5 quarters. Then you can try to update your source again. I never had warm feelings about these binary/source updates.

If you run it on a laptop, you will need to use precompiled binaries, or distcc. A build that takes 12 hours on a desktop machine will take several days on laptop - at which point your laptops HD will have been beaten to DEATH. Some people buy a laptop connector so they can run a normal HD on their laptop, then move the files over when the build is complete.

The most common way to fix problems is to change your CFLAGS compiler options, and rebuild your system. At 8-12 hours a pop, it takes a long time to trouble-shoot. I recently came to the conclusion that my time would be better spent tweaking a pre-compiled distro than rebuilding Gentoo twice a day for weeks on end.

You *will* learn a lot using Gentoo, it *does* run fast, but you *will* spend a lot of time rebuilding your system. FWIW, I'm running Slack 9.1 right now, and it seems about as fast as my Gentoo install was.

The best thing about Gentoo, is the ease of installing software. "emerge xine-ui", "emerge vmware-workstation", and "emerge rtcw" work perfectly. It is easy to use and has excellent dependency resolution.

One aspect of Gentoo not often mentioned, is that it makes a poor remote server. If you want to rent a dedicated system somewhere, they rarely offer Gentoo - becaus of Gentoo's hands-on install. Slackware makes a perfect remote OS option, and most rack renters offer it.

Actually the best thing about Gentoo is prolly its user forums. The people are amazingly friendly and the forums are easy to read and very informative. People will do anything to help you out. Very nice folks over there.

I left Gentoo for now because I need Linux on my laptop, I need it on a remote server, and I don't have any more spare time to watch things compile..

The final straw was an apparent bug in the current Gentoo kernel, the current nvidia OpenGL driver, and my nvidia card. I'm sure they'll get it fixed soon, but I have moved on.

my 2 cents

slackware + swaret
by now slacking on Fri 12th Dec 2003 14:03 UTC

Use swaret to automate slackware updates. Gives slackware the same advantage Gentoo, Debian, and FreeBSD have of easy updates.

by Juzio on Fri 12th Dec 2003 14:16 UTC

wasn't 'netconfig' a utility made by Red Hat? I'm just curious on this.

It's a different netconfig. Slack's netconfig is just a script written (mostly) by Patrick Volkerding. I guess Red Hat's netconfig is a binary application.

Slackware ... the first Linux Distro
by Anonymous on Fri 12th Dec 2003 14:39 UTC

That was about 10 years ago now.

No one has mentioned sound
by Andrew Graham on Fri 12th Dec 2003 15:21 UTC

I'm surprised, as a Slackware user since 1996, that no one has mentioned how much easier the sound installation is since ALSA was adopted.

Back in the Bad Old Days, we had to walk through snow uphill for five miles to find a driver for a sound card. And then run make depend ; make ; make install. And 12 hours later, try it.


RE: Nitpicks
by Brandon Bennett on Fri 12th Dec 2003 16:06 UTC

By default Slackware's X uses the vesa drivers. Should work most of the time. To setup X you can use one of many config utilities such as xf86cfg (which btw is a completly gui utility)

And no it is not impossible to run the install in an xterm window. Early Slackware and Linux books used serial consoles hooked to another machine to take screenshots for use in publications.

Netconfig runs during the install processes. You can use it later to reconfigure the network or manually edit /etc/rc.d/rc.inetd.conf as most Slackers do. This is all in the (Dated) Slackware Essentials Book.

Now as for the "dependency-resolving package manager". The lack there of is half the the reason why us Slaackers use Slack. Lets try not to get into the hell that is RPM dependacies. Also for updating and installing packages you can use swaret which is included in /extra. It will do dependancy checking.

RE: risky
by M J on Fri 12th Dec 2003 16:27 UTC

On some computers all you have to do is hit startx and
you have a GUI

Most Simple
by PeaceMaker on Fri 12th Dec 2003 16:30 UTC

Slackware for me is the simplest, easiest and cleanest to install and work with. I use Debian though, because I somewhat feel guilty using it without buying it.

I am trying slackware as well !
by Dewd on Fri 12th Dec 2003 16:42 UTC

After trying Mepis on my laptop (it worked perfectly well as a livecd), i tried it on my workstation but it didn't get along with my mouse (USB) and keyboard (USB). But it's not Mepis' fault as the only distro that worked ok with them was Knoppix.

As Slackware is all text based during installation I am trying it because messing with "nousb" on the kernel and legacy usb on the bios may be enough to get it installed ! Thanks to Eugenia for the reviews on it and the great commenters.

by Rayiner Hashem on Fri 12th Dec 2003 18:33 UTC

Actually, MCC (AKA. Tom's Root & Boot Disk) was the first distribution. SLS then came a year later, and Slackware was based on that.

dropline gnome and stuff
by anyweb on Fri 12th Dec 2003 18:34 UTC

I've heard a bit about dropline, but i have never tried it, I have not tried slack either, but someday i'm sure i will.

I'm very used to Gnome in RedHat and Fedora, and I like it,

Can someone please tell me what is so cool about 'dropline' gnome and please post some screenshots of it so I can see,

Oh and one last thing, can I install dropline gnome via rpm in Fedora Core Release 1, if someone has done it tell how please :-)

thanks in advance, cheers


I'll say it too
by dekkard on Fri 12th Dec 2003 18:37 UTC

As a linux user for under a year, and having graduated from first mandrake, than redhat and now using Slackware, i have to just say it also. It just plain works. of course i use dropline as well(When im using gnome) As for dependancy checking: the swaret utility does it. As far as compiling programs from source:flawless. As far as manual configuration: effortless. And as far as fun to use:Priceless.

RE: anyweb
by Josh on Fri 12th Dec 2003 18:56 UTC

"Can someone please tell me what is so cool about 'dropline' gnome and please post some screenshots of it so I can see, "

Dropline gnome basically:
1.) Upgrades alot of your packages and adds some ulitiles
2.) Installs a sweet theme
3.) Adds nautilus enhancements

"Oh and one last thing, can I install dropline gnome via rpm in Fedora Core Release 1, if someone has done it tell how please :-) "

Dropline Gnome is only avaliable for Slackware users ;)

X configuration
by Bruce Franklin on Fri 12th Dec 2003 18:59 UTC

I delete the XF86Config file that Slackware installs and roll my own. Just run "XFree86 - configure" and X will generate a mostly working config file for you. Then use your favorite editor to fix the mouse and screen settings. It only takes a couple of minutes.

Dropline Gnome is only avaliable for Slackware users :)
by Anonymous on Fri 12th Dec 2003 19:27 UTC

Why is that? Are there some closed source proprietary portions not distributed? Why can I not just compile it myself?

re: Josh
by anyweb on Fri 12th Dec 2003 19:39 UTC

Josh thanks for both the screenshots and the confirmation,

I must say that the screenshots make it look rather KDE'ish (dropline gnome that is), am I mistaken ?

Is that why it is so popular amongst slackware users? why is it not available to redhat ?

nice screenshots though, thanks !



RE: Brandon Bennet & M J
by enloop on Fri 12th Dec 2003 20:01 UTC


Thanks for the reminder about the vesa drivers. I'm so used to running xf86config at the end of an install that I haven't had any reason to pay attention to that. Ditto for the xterm thing. Of course, xterm won't be there on a clean install on a newly partitioned disk.

Most of the install process is governed by a series of discrete scripts that can be launched post-install, like netconfig. It would be useful if these scripts were identified during the install.

Agree wholeheartedly about packaging schemes that try to resolve dependencies. In my experience, at some point they all fall apart because you need to second guess what the installer thinks is a dependency. Better to know what's on your machine and proceed accordingly.

M J:

Startx is a script that initiates the X system. It won't produce the results you expect unless something or someone has already configured X for your hardware. I always configure X manually because it is easy, prevents mistakes, and gives me the setup I want, not what some program thinks I want.

To Fedora users
by Daniel de Kok on Fri 12th Dec 2003 20:03 UTC

Because it is just gnome + customizations + PAM support (PAM is not in slack by-default). You can compile your own gnome and throw in your customizations...

RE: Dropline on Fedora?
by enloop on Fri 12th Dec 2003 20:13 UTC

As a Slackware/Dropline user who has also spent a lot of time with Fedora, I'll assert that Dropline is a fine piece of work but will add nothing to a Fedora install. It's Gnome 2.4, after all.

Dropline offers Slackware users a nice replacement for the Gnome 2.4 that ships with 9.1. I think it improves on the Gnome 2.4 that Patrick ships, but the differences are not extraordinary.

Dropline source is on Sourceforge, I believe, but compiling it for Fedora is pointless. The compiled code is packaged in Slackware's tgz format, not as rpm's. (Tgz's are just compressed tar files with a bit of metadata.)

by Rll on Fri 12th Dec 2003 21:37 UTC

Slackware 9.1 + swaret + slapt-get + Dropline Gnome + Ximian OpenOffice 1.1 + custom kernel + tweaking = THE BEST DISTRO THERE IS

swaret - upgrades EVERYTHING [and adds extra, kernel slackages { uncommented them in swaret conf file}]

Dropline-installer - Installs i686 optimized slackages + a very nice DE

Ximian OO 1.1 - just office, THNX Eugenia for the link

custom kernel - ...

and tweaking

I've used Redhat, Mandrake, Suse, FreeBSD and I found that Slackware is the Best[if ur not a newbe]

Juzio (IP:
by t3RRa on Fri 12th Dec 2003 22:29 UTC

Thanks for the information ;)
Red Hat's netconfig is sorta tk look. I dunno whether it's really tk app or not 'coz I haven't looked inside of netconfig. (and around the time when I was trying Red Hat I was a *NIX beginner anyway.)

v beginner
by adam on Sat 13th Dec 2003 00:02 UTC
RE: X Configuration
by Slackers on Sat 13th Dec 2003 01:27 UTC

Once You address well all models of your Devices, xf86config would be the best tool to configure X for your Linux Box. And it helps you understand X line by line. Of course, a very linux newbie sometimes will feel hopless as sitting in front of a black console with condense words.
GRUB or LILO, I do not see they are very different in performing a job as bootloader. Except for that you are on dual boot with Windows, Grub can cheat windows:"GRUB differs from bootloaders such as LILO in that "it can lie to MS Windows and make MS Windows believe that it's installed on the first partition even if it's not!!" ."-Kernel-HOWTO"
I ve switched from RH to Slackware totally and now, very happy with new system: Slackware-9.1. Personally I think though System Admin can edit scripts well, sysAdmin tools for slackware used in console such as pkgtool would be prefer. Yet a tool using mouse to click and drop/drag may be not applauded.
Linux Newbies should give slackware a try for speeding up linux knowledge sharply, but a zero computer knowledge user or a normal home user should not.
Linux = Slackware + Dropline + swaret + You :-)

Ports Like System For Slackware
by DarkSpy on Sat 13th Dec 2003 01:34 UTC

Those of you who like to install software from source, there is a port of NetBSD's pkgsrc for Slackware.. just go to the site and see for yourself.

Ports Like System For Slackware
by PeaceMaker on Sat 13th Dec 2003 05:53 UTC

This is truly awesome! It looks like its been around for a while (since 8.1).

by Matt Lacey on Sat 13th Dec 2003 19:15 UTC

I've only looked at the page for about 5 seconds (literally about five before alt-tabbing back!) but am I correct in thinking this is basically allowing you to use BSD ports with Slackware?

If so then I *really* want to know why it's not in the distro by now!

pkgsrc on linux
by NetBSDer on Sat 13th Dec 2003 20:05 UTC

pkgsrc works on any linux.
I used it on debian for 1.5 years.
Works on anything.
It is by far (yes, gentoo) the best package managment system.
E.g. go to /usr/pkgsrc, type "make update" and it updates any installed port and solves all dependencies.
It always wondered me why not more people use it. Available for NetBSD/FreeBSD/OpenBSD/Linux...

NetBSD is just a fine piece of software, the most underated OS out there.
NetBSD - no hype.