Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 3rd May 2008 05:47 UTC, submitted by ZacharyM
Slackware, Slax One of the oldest Linux distributions, Slackware, has pushed out another release. "Well folks, it's that time to announce a new stable Slackware release again. So, without further ado, announcing Slackware version 12.1! Since we've moved to supporting the 2.6 kernel series exclusively (and fine-tuned the system to get the most out of it), we feel that Slackware 12.1 has many improvements over our last release (Slackware 12.0) and is a must-have upgrade for any Slackware user."
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RE[3]: Packages, packages...
by sbergman27 on Sun 4th May 2008 17:12 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Packages, packages..."
Member since:

I would agree that for very simple systems with well defined requirements, Slackware's lack of package management might not make much difference. Ditto for embedded use.

For my own personal and professional needs, I require something which handles software installation and dependencies more efficiently than does Slackware. I support some 60 or so machines in various configurations, and that "small amount of effort" you refer to adds up fast. What you somewhat disparagingly refer to as wanting something "easy", I refer to as wanting something scalable, managable, and face it, modern.

Edited 2008-05-04 17:13 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Packages, packages...
by garymax on Mon 5th May 2008 04:30 in reply to "RE[3]: Packages, packages..."
garymax Member since:

I did not mean to disparage your user needs by the word "easy"; I meant to point out that those who want dependency resolution want that convenience and that is not necessarily a bad thing as I stated.

But the extra effort a Slackware system requires yields far greater benefits than having pre-compiled packages.

Any automatic dependency resolution will almost always create bloat. Convenience? Yes. But also bloat.

There are other systems like Gentoo which are used as build servers to custom build packages and then roll them out to the other systems when ready.

Your needs will vary from others to be sure. But the amount of time you want to spend on your configuration efforts and the resulting system will determine your choice of distribution and your choice of package manager.

As to your comment about wanting a "modern" package manager, it's not really worth commenting much on.

Convenient != modern. It's simply a choice of package manager made by the administrator of a system.

Since others have used the car metaphor I'll do the same.

A manual transmission does not make a car a "classic" or outdated. It is usually a sign of sportiness and class. More work? Maybe. More fun? You betcha. Shift when you want, how you want.

Reply Parent Score: 3

psychicist Member since:

I'm really bothered with the "convenient == modern" view of a distribution. For instance Ubuntu, Fedora and OpenSUSE are pretty convenient for installation, but they're also slow and more bleeding-edge and buggy than Slackware.

I installed Ubuntu 8.04 on one of the Powermacs G4 I bought a few days ago just to see what it's like before I erased it to install Slackintosh. The speed difference for both the installation and running the system is enormous, making the difference between useable and unuseable.

Ubuntu was even slower than the instance of Mac OS X 10.3 running on it a few hours earlier. I don't want to detract from the ease of use that Ubuntu claims to have but I found it anything but easy to get OpenJDK and Gnash running on there, something which is arguably easier on x86 and x86_64 by using Sun's JDK and Adobe's Flash.

I've also used and lived with OpenSUSE in the recent past and in a distant past Fedora Core 1 and you can't portray them as being ultimately convenient and Slackware as something ancient which isn't worth bothering with, because that's just not true.

I'd say it's the other way around. Slackware has considerably fewer problems after you've done initial configuration, to the point of not having to muck around with it at all either because of bugs or dependency resolution issues.

The point about package managers doesn't sit very well with me either. Slackware does have a package manager, it's called pkgtool. One may be right that it doesn't bother with dependencies but it does a good job of installation, removal and upgrading of packages.

If you want a convenient dependency resolving update manager such as apt or yum, there are tools such as slapt-get, which work well if you've created the necessary package metadata. It's like the difference between dpkg and apt or rpm and yum, but pkgtool and slapt-get have a much cleaner separation of responsibilities.

Rpm (yum) and dpkg (apt) may be more modern and convenient, but who is to say that these are the last word on package management? Both have bugs (see the ugly story on rpm leading to the rpm5 fork and the occasional failure to install or update packages on apt-get managed systems).

Maybe it's time for another more modern and up-to-date package manager like Conary that learns from these mistakes and offers a compelling advantage over both. In the meantime I'm glad that Slackware hasn't wandered into these territories yet. Also Solaris is also only now adopting a new package management facility.

It could be that eventually Slackware adopts something superior to both dpkg and apt, its ways aren't cast in stone. Moreover, if someone comes up with something better than the current tgz scheme, who knows if Slackware's maintainer might adopt it if it turns out to be good enough of a replacement, even though I admit that is not very likely.

If one is talking about Slackware in the enterprise I agree that it lacks some tools for remote management, graphical configuration utilities and overall integration (such as LDAP/AD), but these could be added over time. No distribution was ready for this kind of deployment from day one, enterprise features were created and refined over time. Also 24x7 and multi-year support seems to be more important than technical superiority, otherwise we'd all be using Slackware, Solaris or FreeBSD for our desktops and servers.

To show that I'm not biased I'll say that I've created and maintain MIPS and SPARC ports of my distribution that is derived from Slackware so I'll take suggestions to improve upon standard Slackware behaviour at heart to create a better user experience, since no distribution is perfect, not even Debian and Ubuntu.

What I don't appreciate is detracting from Slackware without saying what aspects could be be improved and offering suggestions in which ways this could be done.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[4]: Packages, packages...
by garymax on Mon 5th May 2008 20:05 in reply to "RE[3]: Packages, packages..."
garymax Member since:

I would agree that for very simple systems with well defined requirements, Slackware's lack of package management might not make much difference.

You have made the classic mistake of equating dependency resolution with package management. Your statement that Slackware lacks a package manager is just not true. It has one. It's name is pkgtool.

pkgtool performs flawlessly with the installation, upgrading and removal of Slackware packages. The one thing it does not do that you seem to always emphasize is "dependency resolution".

Please do not confuse "ease of use" with package management. Or, in other words, if it isn't easy, if it doesn't resolve dependencies, or if it doesn't "scale", then it doesn't have a package manager.

This is flawed thinking.

But that's OK. Those who use Slackware are the only ones who need to know.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: Packages, packages...
by OddFox on Mon 5th May 2008 20:49 in reply to "RE[4]: Packages, packages..."
OddFox Member since:

As much as I love Slackware, it's an incredible pain in the arse to maintain (read: keep up to date) and expand beyond the original scope of Patrick's vision for a distro. slapt-get and swaret help to minimize these issues but I'm left wondering why in all these years since I started using Linux (Mandrake 8.1, Slackware 8.0. I stuck with Slackware until around the time you started having to use Dropline GNOME unless you wanted to build/install it yourself) Patrick and apparently the Slackware community see no need to step up to the plate and create a solution that at least tries to make life easier for the people who want things to be simple.

My case in point is that the upgrade process for Slackware 12.0 to 12.1 (found at ) is 8 steps long. Not only 8 steps long, but two of them require delving into other files/documents and one of them requires that you manually (read: needlessly tedious) migrate all of your previous config files in /etc. Contrast this to the upgrade process on Fedora, Debian or Gentoo: yum/apt-get/emerge upgrade. Last time I checked Fedora seems to automagically handle updating /etc config files, which I am usually distrustful of. Debian will prompt you during the upgrade process for any input as to config file changes. Gentoo provides etc-update which is an intelligent interface to comparing the differences of the files and easily merging the two.

Using Slackware requires that you utilize a third-party utility. Swaret hasn't seen a new release since June of 2005, almost three years ago. slapt-get is still quite active apparently, and the way it handles dependencies according to the Wikipedia article leaves me a little confused, but ultimately with the same idea that for some odd reason dependency resolution is some kind of evil vile thing, kind of like how Patrick used to always be so up in arms about PAM for some stupid reason.

Slackware is an interesting distribution, one that I personally feel is antiquated in methodology for the time being. It is so reluctant to change that it makes Debian look like Fedora, IMHO. I would hope Patrick makes an effort in the near future to make his distribution more accessible to people who don't take pride in doing things by hand and "the hard way" just because. Your final comment, "But that's OK. Those who use Slackware are the only ones who need to know." reveals just how conceited the majority of Slackware users are. There's nothing impressive in what you do managing the system, but it is greatly impressive when people get together to make things easier on everyone, and why I hope slapt-get makes it official soon and extends its support for true library dependency resolution. I'm about to install this beast myself and see how I like it compared to my Gentoo, which I've started to shy away from because more and more I'm more interested in things working than polishing my Propellerhead title.

Edited 2008-05-05 20:51 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1