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[5]: Packages, packages...
by OddFox on Mon 5th May 2008 20:49 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Packages, packages..."
OddFox
Member since:
2005-10-05

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 http://slackware.oregonstate.edu/slackware-12.1/UPGRADE.TXT ) 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

RE[6]: Packages, packages...
by garymax on Mon 5th May 2008 21:34 in reply to "RE[5]: Packages, packages..."
garymax Member since:
2006-01-23

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.


No conceit, here. Just an appreciation for the distro and a statement of fact.

While I take umbrage to the statement "Slackware lacks a package manager" this lack of knowledge by those outside the Slackware community really doesn't affect Slackware users who know better. We just like to set the record straight every once in a while.

As for making things "easy", it's not about ease of use, per se. It's about efficiency and a clean system under the hood.

One reason why Pat Volkerding doesn't try to "make things easy" isn't because he has this thing against usability; he knows that the more layers of abstraction that are added to a system the more that system gets bloated and more prone to bugs and errors. Case in point: Ubuntu. It releases every six months--ready or not--and the community is left picking up the pieces, having to place bug reports at Launchpad. And the bugs that do get reported may not even be fixed until the next release because of their release/upgrade policy.

I'll take Slackware as it is. It's fast, efficient, reliable and secure. I'll take that over a bloated distro any day.

For what it's worth, I ran Kubuntu 7.10 and 8.04 along side of Slackware over the last several months leading up to the release of the latest versions of both distributions (Slackware and Kubuntu). I much prefer the stability of Slackware.

I took time to make the assessment rather than base it on community opinion.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[7]: Packages, packages...
by OddFox on Mon 5th May 2008 22:32 in reply to "RE[6]: Packages, packages..."
OddFox Member since:
2005-10-05

You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and the pioneering distros who are on the forefront with technologies that actually improve the user experience are going to have more bugs than something like Slackware that as a rule doesn't touch upstream. I can appreciate that Slackware is a great distribution for specific purposes; however, it has far more potential and that potential has always been explored morseo by derivative systems such as Vector. Your case in point with bugs on Ubuntu paint a grim picture of users banging their heads against the wall due to show-stopping bugs. Personally, I haven't had any issues with the latest Ubuntu release, even during the alpha test stage. Were there bugs? Sure. My hardware/software configuration simply didn't bring them to my attention.

I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree on what makes a distribution good for end users. A fast, efficient, reliable and secure base system, which Slackware is, is all well and good, but it has the polish of a chunk of Pumice newly discovered from the ground. I also don't really notice anything of a speed hit going between Slackware, Ubuntu, Gentoo and Fedora. OpenSuSE I haven't gotten to test too much lately in terms of speed, but SuSE has traditionally been the more sluggish and polished distro. I haven't had any problems with performance on a Linux desktop since I first got 512MB of RAM and a 1GHz processor, that might sound like outlandish expectations for a desktop system that will be responsive and useful, but a system like that costs beans now and has for a long time.

I guess one of my biggest problems with Slackware is that it simply is so boring, it's what you would get if you went and did a LFS build and threw a tag onto what you have just created, and that's not a bad thing, it's just not something I look for in a distro for my desktop and the desktops of friends. Slackware has always just, to me, seemed like Debian without the philosophy and the package management with proper full dependency resolution support. Your arguments against layers of abstraction don't really stand up to intense scrutiny. How much are you willing to give up in your crusade against ewwwwbloated software that actually has features and advanced capabilities? Are you going to start advocating that everyone write in assembly code because it's so much less accident-prone?

I'll take Ubuntu/Fedora/Debian/Gentoo as it is. It's fast, efficient, reliable and secure. I'll take that over a hobbled distro any day.

Disclaimer: I have a machine that you'd be hard pressed to stress to the point of poor performance and responsiveness, but I haven't always and I regularly introduce newbies to Linux via Ubuntu (Gentoo if they really want it). Oh, and why oh why is Slackware still stuck using LILO by default?

Reply Parent Score: 1

psychicist Member since:
2007-01-27

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


I can't say I don't agree with that sentiment. I ended up with Slackware after using SUSE, Mandrake and Red Hat probably about the same time as you did and it isn't as if I was really looking for it.

It actually found me, since whatever I tried with the other distributions to make them run stable and complete I ended up fighting them to make things work. Slackware was both fast and went out of its way to enable customisations without breaking everything.

The lack of dependency resolution makes things hard for upgrading but on other distributions it's already hard enough to make things work in the first place.

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.


I agree that there is no excuse for not automating the process as much as possible. One point is the nature of the text configuration files themselves. You have to parse them and look for changed data.

It would be much better if each config file had a stock read-only one and a writeable one with additional options so you could blow the stock ones away with an upgrade. Or change to XML configuration files with settings.

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.


It sure is interesting but some concepts could use updating. You don't even want to know what I had to endure on irc even suggesting some things could be improved upon or changed for the sake of useability or ease without giving up the core values of the distribution.

Every attempt at doing things differently is seen as an attempt to fork when I just want to get changes merged upstream for everyone to benefit from. I consider forking a last resort, but perhaps it's ultimately necessary for the project to evolve into the 21st century.

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.


I would like to remind you that not all Slackware users and developers are like that. I have used all kinds of operating systems from the aforementioned GNU/Linux distributions to Solaris (Express) and the BSDs, two Macs (one running OS X 10.4 and one Slackintosh current) since a few days (and am also pretty familiar with that other operating system). I can see the benefits and drawbacks of each of these and what could be integrated to make Slackware a better and more easily handled operating system.

I'm open to and welcome suggestions for improvement that I can try on my MIPS (running on Loongson 2E/2F) and SPARC (developed on UltraSPARC, but almost exclusively built with V8 compatibility) ports. If several changes prove to be genuine improvements it's always possible to get them to be applied upstream if PV wants them to.

You can send me a PM if you've got a suggestion or other kind of improvement that you're willing to share with me.

Reply Parent Score: 2