posted by Steve Husted on Wed 19th Jan 2005 04:22 UTC
IconAbout a year and a half ago, I wrote an article for OSNews about my experiences with Slackware 9.1. Today, I am happily using Slackware-current (ISO snapshot from 12-23-04 -current snapshots are out there if you look hard enough) as my server and my normal desktop.

Frst, let me say, AGAIN, that I started out with Slackware back in 1995, tried a bunch of other distros, and always ended up back on Slack. Imagine my horror at Pat's near-death experiences in November! Pat, I'm glad you pulled through. I would've paid your medical bills myself :) Anyway, back to the article... Though I keep trying other distributions just because I'm that kind of geek, I always cuddle up with Slackware at the end of the day. This article will discuss my experiences over the past year, what I'm doing now, and more. As always, these are my opinions.

<pedestal>If you do not like opinion pieces, GO AWAY. If you do not want to read another article about Slackware, GO AWAY. If you are some bored, pasty geek with no life that just likes to post to be a jerk, GO AWAY.</pedestal> There, shall we begin?

Slackware, click for a larger view While I've got your attendion, I would like to clear up a misconception - Slackware has automatic package installations via slapt-get or swaret (swaret toasted my system once and I permanently switched to slapt-get as a result). All those users that brag about Debian and Gentoo's package management, let me tell you that it's just as easy on Slackware: slapt-get --install packagename. You can also stay current: slapt-get --update && slapt-get --upgrade. Linuxpackages.net has darn near every package you will ever need or want, and the ones it does not have you can easily compile from source with the standard ./configure && make && make install routine. I can tell you, from personal experience, that very few packages do not install. Slackware also works with RPM files, too, and comes with rpm2tgz if you don't like that. I would, however, like Jason at jaos.org to hurry up with GSlapt-get (or KSlapt-get?) :)

Use whichever distribution that makes you happy, but don't spread lies about others. We simply cannot quarrel with each other; inter-Linux wars accomplish NOTHING. Slackware is not perfect but neither is any other distribution. Please, no "my distro is better than your distro" flames, okay? You just make us all look bad.

My system has changed three times since my last article - due to various hardware failures, nothing of Slackware's doing. Currently, I have a dual PIII 750 system on an older 440 chipset, running Adaptec SCSI (not hardware RAID) as a software RAID 1. I also have an IDE drive in there that has my SWAP space on it (2 512MB partitions) and some backups. Oh, yeah, the RAID 1 has a hot spare. 384MB PC133 SDRAM. No audio (yet). I am using Quanta+ on this system to write this article.

On a side note, Intel finally fixed their 865G driver, for those that were getting the gdg.ko error. That's a different story but I thought I'd throw that out there (I had an 865G-based system at one point). Intel also released fixed audio drivers. Check out the motherboard download pages on support.intel.com.

Slackware-current, as of 12-23-04, has kernel 2.4.28, and I am running KDE 3.3.2 (too many problems with Dropline, which I think requires 2.6.x now). I am using this system as my webserver and my normal desktop tinkering system. I would like to get another system to tinker with, but I'm really just hosting my personal web site, an ftp server, and a VNC server for myself, so no real loss if I send my system into oblivion. Have a look at Slackware.com's /current directory to see what is coming in Slackware 10.1.

I am booting from my software RAID 1, which was actually pretty easy to do. In my research, I found two ways to do this, but I decided on the easiest; essentially, boot to the CD, use cfdisk to create your partitions as type FD, create your /etc/raidtab file, run mkraid as appropriate, and then start the Slackware install. I picked the adaptec.s kernel, obviously. The Slackware installer is md-aware so it sees your md devices just like regular drives. I would recommend that you more /proc/mdstat and let the build finish before installing or it will take a lot longer to run the install. Do not use the installer to install LILO - do it yourself. You can find Slackware RAID installation HOWTOs all over the internet.

On a side note, Linux only supports booting to a software RAID 1. I made the mistake of putting my 3 SCSI drives into a RAID 5 configuration only to find out, after the install, that this is a no-no - it will tell you after you reboot that you can only boot to software RAID 1. D'oh! Learn from my mistakes.

I mentioned that my system is a dual PIII system - Slackware, unfortunately, does not ship with SMP kernels. You can, however, edit your kernel after installation and get that running. I would recommend making an additional entry in LILO just in case you flubbed it so you are not left with a kernel panic. All is not lost if you are, however, because you can always boot to the Slackware CD, chroot, and fix your mistakes.

Check your SMP with cat /proc/cpuinfo - you should see CPU 0 and 1. Sweet.

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  1. "Slackware, Page 1/2"
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