posted by Marc A. Mironescu on Mon 31st Mar 2003 17:18 UTC
IconSlackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution out there. For those who believe that Slackware was the first Linux distribution I have news, because SLS was before Slackware, but that is another story. It is the most *NIX like distribution and has borrowed many of the things we can find in BSD *NIX. Here is a mini-review of their latest release, 9.0.

Editorial Notice: All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of osnews.com

Test hardware: eManchines T2200 with:

                         AMD AthlonXP 2200+ CPU 
                         512 DDRAM @ 266 (2x133) 
                         WD 100Gb Hard Disk 
                         ATI Radeon 9000 Pro accelerator 
                         Creative SoundBlaster  Audigy 2 
                         Realtek RTL8139 NIC 
                         Samsug DVD Rom 16x 
                         Sony CD-RW 48-16-40 
                         USB Keyboard 
                         PS/2 Wheel Mouse 
                         Cable Modem (connected to NIC) 
                         Samsung SyncMaster 171v  LCD Monitor 
                         HP PSC 2110 Printer&Scanner (USB) 
Installation Process

I would like to say for the first that I didn't only download *just* the official ISO released by Slackware; I also downloaded all of the other stuff from the /slackware-9 directory including zip-slack (which by the way I've never tried). I also did not upgrade from 8.1 to 9.0 for two reasons:

               1) I don't like to upgrade distributions, unless it is absolutely necessary that I do so.

               2) This release is compiled with gcc 3.2.2 so everything needs to be replaced anyway.

The installation process we all know from 8.1 and earlier releases hasn't changed much.  In fact, it is almost the same with some improvements. After the CD booted, I was asked to select a kernel and press . The installer shows me a list of pre-compiled kernels for specific hardware and filesystem needs. I've used ReiserFS with the previous release, and I don't use SCSI or RAID, so I'll select bare.i.  I would like to mention that Slackware 9.0 supports all 4 journaling file systems: ReiserFS, ext3, XFS and JFS. After loading the bare.i kernel, I was surprised that my USB keyboard worked perfectly. With 8.1 I had to load USB.i and with other distributions, I had to use "Linux noapic".

*Notice for newbies and those who don't know: every Linux distribution loads a kernel before the install process starts, but Slackware just asks before so that it can load one with specific drivers for specific hardware.

I selected my keyboard mapping and logged in as root without introducing any password. This may seem a little strange to people who are used to distributions like Mandrake or Red Hat, but it is normal. I've typed cfdisk (utility for partitioning a hard disk, pretty intuitive IMHO), and made a Linux partition and a swap partition. This is not a server, only a desktop, so I won't make any extra partitions like for /usr or /home. After this I simply typed "setup" and I've entered in the installation program. The program looks a little like the install from Free BSD, but it is very intuitive, although text based. Many users get scared when they see text based installers and very often they don't take a Linux distribution into consideration only because of  this particular reason. So, after the installer formated and mounted my swap partition, it did the same thing to my Linux partition. Before formatting, it gave me 3 choices: ext2, ext3 or ReiserFS. Only these three filesystems are supported by the default bare.i pre-compiled kernel. I formated my Linux partition as ReiserFS (quickformat).

I will not get into depth with the package installation, but I do want to mention this to those who are new to Linux or Slackware: Slackware's package management system doesn't check for dependencies, so when you install just make sure you install the bases system and all the libraries if you are unsure what to install, but I'm sure that everybody will get along here because the install process is intuitive as I said before. Actually, Slackware is mainly focused on simplicity.

After installing what I needed, the installer asked me if I have a modem, and I said no, and then it asked which kernel to use. But I already installed the kernel-ide package, so I didn't need any kernel from the CD. After that it asked me about how to install Lilo (the boot manager). You can configure Lilo manually at install or let the software install it for you. I choose "Simple Install" and I was done with Lilo. Next step was the network configuration. I think this is much easier than in some other distributions. It asks for hostname, domainname, IP configuration, static or DHCP, and then it autodetects the NIC and installs the driver for it (well, actually it is a kernel module, like all other drivers :) ). After this, console fonts, mouse type, and time zone configurations followed. Finally it asked me for a root password and I was done.

Table of contents
  1. "Intro, Installation"
  2. "Usage, Conclusion"
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