posted by Steve Husted on Wed 19th Jan 2005 04:22 UTC

"Slackware, Page 2/2"

About a billion people have "how to install Slackware" HOWTOs out there, so I won't go into the normal stuff. The Slackware installer is so easy that my brother-in-law, who knows nearly nothing about computers, managed to go through with all defaults and his old Intel 815 system was up and running in no time.

Post-install, however, I make a few tweaks. I change my IP address to a static address and forward all necessary ports from my router. I am using DynDNS with a registered domain name. DynDNS is free, and they offer their own domain names for free, but I splurged on the custom domain name (you can do it all from their site). Then I go to /etc/rc.d/ and do chmod -x on anything services/daemons that I do not need or do not want. Some services, like sendmail, I simply removepkg sendmail and be done with it. I know that sendmail has had most of its flaws worked out but I prefer the modularized postfix over sendmail.

Since I use this system as my webserver AND my desktop (I have a Windows XP system for gaming), I set up X. Slackware-current is using xorg instead of XFree86, and I could not be happier with that decision. I have a cheap PCI GeForce4MX card (this is not a gaming system!), so I need to set up X with Nvidia, which is very simple. Just links www.nvidia.com/linux and get the Linux driver, chmod +x on the driver package, and then ./NVIDIA-installer-blah.sh. Accept defaults and let it do its thing, then exit. Personally, I despise vi, so I use pico. Use pico to edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and make two changes - delete any "dri" references, change the "driver" entry to "nvidia" (the installer probably picked up "nv" or just used "vesa"), and get the scroll wheel working on my mouse: change the Option "Protocol" "IMPS/2" and then add Option "Buttons" "5" and Option "ZAxisMapping "4 5" to the file, set your default color depth (comment out the others), enter 1280x1024 as my default resolution, save and exit. Make sure you are using the right window manager with xwmconfig and then simply startx. I have found that the xcompmgr shadows and transparency are too buggy still...use them if you'd like but be warned.

With Apache, I edit /etc/apache/httpd.conf to my personal preferences, turning on PHP and SSL, since I've been getting into PHP more and more (even on my Windows laptop at work :). A quick apachectl restart and I'm good to go. Well, not quite. For some reason, I have to kill an odd httpd process and then start Apache, but only the first time. Maybe something is broken, maybe it's me; either way, it has to be done that first time.

Some miscellaneous stuff that I like to install: slapt-get, webmin, firefox, thunderbird, openoffice.org, webalizer, and the gimp. Yeah, I still wish Pat would most of these apps instead, but I understand his desire to stick with defaults (Koffice is okay but not quite good enough). I use slapt-get on the -current packages and I add a link to the Linuxpackages.net repository; slapt-get, like apt-get or Portage, is only as good as its repositories.

I set up my /etc/fstab to work with my USB pendrive and then make a /mnt/pendrive directory. I also have a USB card reader for my CompactFlash card, so I set that up similarly. If you care enough, you can make some desktop icons to mount/unmount your devices but I don't mind using the command prompt for my USB devices. Just use dmesg on your system after inserting a USB device to see where it is - my pendrive is /dev/sdd1 because I have three SCSI drives. If you don't have any SCSI drives, you can bet on your pendrive being /dev/sda1.

I have been recently learning more about Samba so I can connect to my Windows shares, even do remote backups, so I built a share on my Windows machine, ran smbtree to see the shares, then ran smbmount /share /mnt/network -o username=steve password=password and I could browse my network shares from within Konquerer. I used to use LinNeighborhood about 2 or 3 years ago on Red Hat 9, but I haven't touched it since - if you want a more graphical experience, like most things in Linux, it's out there, you just have to look hard enough (or make one yourself - Gambas recently hit version 1.0 and is very easy to use, especially if you've done a lot of VB work like me).

I also experimented for a while with a DLink 802.11b USB drive that I picked up at Fry's for $24. It uses a Prism 3 chipset and I got it working with Linux-wlan-ng with very few problems - though it would sometimes kick offline and wouldn't come back without a reboot. I was just messing with that to learn about setting up wireless on Linux, so that's gone now. This is a FAR CRY from a year or so ago when I tried to get a Linksys USB wireless device working...I never got WEP working on that system, and it was flaky besides. Linux wireless has made significant progress in the past year or two.

Slackware is still easy and only getting easier. I am proud to say that I am still a Slacker, and more a Slacker every day. My system is fast, responsive, and after tweaking it to my liking, it just works. Really. Okay, I have to learn something every now and then, and I've been known to goof my system into oblivion, but, as my experience grows, my knowledge grows, and my appreciation for Slackware grows.

I tell people that Linux is not necessarily for everybody - you MUST be willing to learn about your system. I built a Slackware system for my brother, for example, and he wiped it and installed XP because he is not interested in learning about his computer. Okay, whatever, I tried :) Anyway, Linux is not for everybody, and, as you can see here, it can take quite a bit on post-install to get it working just the way you want it; but that's the beauty I find in Linux - it's MY computer again, and I can do with it what I choose, how I choose; I can run what I want to run, how I want to run it. Slackware happens to be my mode of transport on the long, winding Linux road ahead, but the way I see it, as long as you're on the road, happy Linux trails.

About the author:
Steve Husted is doing anything but the tech support he was hired to do in Sacramento, CA. Steve is a long-time computer geek with a not-so-secret love of Slackware Linux. Steve is a web developer, tech support guru, Linux evangelizer, usability expert, and all-around jack of all computer trades. Welcome to the world of today's IT worker.


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  1. "Slackware, Page 1/2"
  2. "Slackware, Page 2/2"
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