posted by Marc A. Mironescu on Mon 31st Mar 2003 17:18 UTC

"Usage, Conclusion"
Usage

After rebooting, the system Lilo gave me only one option to boot: Linux (yeah, I'm also on dual boot like many others). I easily fixed this by adding my NTFS partition to /etc/lilo.conf. Later I've found out that this is not a bug, Patrick Volkerding has removed the NTFS autodetection from the installation program because it always got confused and wasn't unsure if it is NTFS or HPFS.

One more thing needed to be done: XFree86 configuration. This is done with "xfree86setup" which detects and configures the graphics accelerator. It detected perfectly my ATI Radeon 9000 Pro and configured my mouse and keyboard, with 2 little problems:      

 1) It didn't set any resolution for any color depth (I've selected 24 bit as default). I've added the like < Modes "1280x1024" > to /etc/X11/XF86Config.         

 2) I have a wheel mouse, but the wheel didn't work. There is a workaround also for this:

I've added the following line in the Mouse Input Device area in /etc/X11/XF86Config:                            

Option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"

Then I created an user and fired up KDE. Everything worked fine,: graphics, sound (I have a Creative Audigy 2, even Mandrake 9.1 didn't work with it!), mouse, keyboard...except for 3D hardware acceleration. This is due the agpgart module. I have a VIA KM266 chipset and agpgart doesn't know how to handle it.  So I've added the following line to /etc/modules.conf: "options agpgart agp_try_unsupported=1" and rebooted. After trying glxinfo again, I had some acceleration. Lets hope the DRI team will write better drivers for the Radeon.

The reason why I'm not saying much about Slackware's hardware support is that Slackware supports all hardware that the Linux kernel does, and usually the kernel is not bloated with unnecessary stuff. Supporting my Audigy 2 was nice enough:) Slackware 9.0 comes with USB utilities and PCMCIA utilities. It is also configured out of the box to mount the USB filesystem on /proc/bus/usb. I mention this because I also have an USB printer/scanner. I've installed CUPS and configured my printer via the browser interface it provides. For those who don't know it is: http://[hostname]:631. I was done very fast, and my USB printer works great. The only thing that I couldn't get to work is the scanner, and I probably won't for a while. But I don't use the scanner much.

Java suport was easier to install than in Mandrake. I downloaded Blackdown Java 1.4.1 RE, compiled with gcc 3.2 and installed it. I just had to link the java plugin to the Mozzila and Netscape plugin directories in /usr/lib. I also added the path to /etc/profile.

In the /extra directory there is more useful stuff, like checkinstall, which can be used to build packages or to install software from source (so that the user is able also to uninstall), cups, emu-tools for creative sound cards, debug version of glibc, aumix, libsafe and much more. By the way, libsafe is a great tool. It is mostly usable on a server to prevent attacks that make use of the "stack overflow vulnerability." It just needs to be installed and it takes care of the stack at no performance cost.

Many of you will say that Slackware is old, or that this distribution doesn't follow the trends. Many will say that package management is weak or that the distribution is compiled for i386 and that's why it is not as fast as other distributions that are optimized for i586 and i686.

First of all, let me say that it comes with the latest packages like:
                                  Kernel 2.4.20,                                   Gcc 3.2.2,                                   GLibc 2.3.1,                                   XFree86 4.3.0,                                   KDE 3.1,                                   Gnome 2.2,                                   Cups 1.1.18,                                   Mozilla 1.3 ,                                   Netscape 7.03,                                  and many more....

Package management doesn't check dependencies and it has not the functionality of rpm or deb packages, but tgz files are smaller and they can be very easily build up. Slackware has package management tools like: pkgtool, installpkg, removepkg, rpm2tgz and so on...

Almost the whole distribution is compiled with the CFLAGS set to:
             "-O2 -march=i386 -mcpu=i686"
which means that it is i686 optimized and i386 compatible.

Conclusion

Slackware 9.0 is overall a very up to date release, rock solid and damn stable. Out of the box it comes pretty "Vanilla" configured, and the package management system and install system could be improved. I recommend it to the intermediate Linux users who want to learn Linux to the bone. For more control than available with Slackware you should probably consider a source distribution such as  LFS (Linux From Scratch) or Gentoo. I also recommend it to the advanced users who want to have a good development environment with the latest development tools. It is also very suitable for servers, especially due the fact that Slackware 9.0 performs  pretty well on older hardware. Configuration files and init scripts are simple to reconfigure because there are explanations inside these files. All in one this is another great release from Slackware and it follows the same development path as it always did. Remember people, "Simplicity is Divine."

About the Author:
Marc A. Mironescu has been using Linux since 1997. Back then, when he was 16, he started with Red Hat Linux 4.2 which he found bundled with a Computer Magazine.  Now 21 with a degree as Computer Analyst Programmer Assistant which he earned after 4 years of high-school,  Marc has studied Pascal, C/C++, Delphi, programming algorithms, Windows, DOS, Linux, Word processing, Excel and Fox Pro. He also did 2 years of college with the Specialization in Industrial Design and 1 year in Computer Programming, both simultaneously before I've moved to the US. Mark has worked with computers since he was 10 years old and his first development environment was Amiga Basic on an old Amiga 500 running... Amiga OS. His current occupation is preparing for the Act test and looking for a job in IT. Slackware is his favorite distribution.

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