Home > Slackware, Slax > Distrowatch Takes on Slackware Distrowatch Takes on Slackware Adam Scheinberg 2002-12-20 Slackware, Slax 21 Comments CRM wrote in to tell us that the folks at Distrowatch have tried Slackware on for size. The review can be found in its entirety here. Conclusions are not surprising: impressive, stable distro, but if you like bells and whistles, stay away. About The Author Adam Scheinberg Vice President, Information Technology at Massey Services, Inc • President, Board Member, The Mockingbird Foundation • All Things Web, Umphrey’s McGee • Web Developer • Father • Foodie • Music Snob • OS enthusiast Follow me on Twitter @sethadam1 21 Comments 2002-12-20 3:32 am I find it funny when people really think that pkgtool is a good package management tool. It does just about the same amount of package management as tar does, for crying out loud. It’s not that pkgtool “doesn’t create unnecessary complications”, it simply pretends that VERY NECESSARY features of package management, such as dependency resolution, don’t exist or aren’t important enough to worry about. This review is shallow and entirely uninsightful to me, and that’s just when it’s not making grossly inaccurate statements such as the one I quoted above. 2002-12-20 3:58 am i think what is meant by it is that the dependencies are sorted out as the user compiles and builds his own packages. True pkgtool dosent care about dependencies but its wasnt designed to be a comprehensive packaging tool such as apt and rpm. It simply allows the user to easily package his own binaries from source on his own computer. the dependencies would have being sorted out by the configure file pior to compiling. 2002-12-20 4:34 am I started out this year as a Linux newbie, and considered Slackware as my installation to play on and learn the workings of Linux. But I went with Gentoo instead because of the incredible portage package manager. I’ve never regretted that decision. IMHO Gentoo is evreything that Slackware is and then some. 2002-12-20 4:53 am “I find it funny when people really think that pkgtool is a good package management tool.” What I find is funny is that people ignore the fact that everyone has different needs. Personally I love pkgtool. I use slackware for all my servers because I want to know EXACTLY what is happening at all times. I do not want my package manager trying to sort out its own dependencies. Thats my job. I want it to install a package.. the one I give it.. log the install for future upgraded/removal purposes.. and thats it. Is this the only way to do things? no. Is this the way everyone should do things? probably not. But it works great for me. Pkgtool is great! What exactly do you find funny with that? 2002-12-20 5:12 am too true skek! slackware is just so clean. you really know everything that is going on! sometimes people are just a bit ignorant of the fact that something that might not work for them, wont work for anyone else. 2002-12-20 6:09 am I have ran slackware for over a year and a half now. It is my second favorite distro, the first is LFS. Curently, I’m using gentoo. The portage is good and everything, but still I feel limited by it. With slackware I never used a package manager. Everything was compiled from tars, and it all worked pretty good. For package management slackware may not be the best distro, but it does have it’s advantages. I’ve installed it on everything from 1980 IBM servers to Mosix clusters, and I really think that another distro would simply not do the job. With slackware theres none of that graphical install crap, and it’s a quick and clean install, easily configured. Theres not so much of the bloat that’s in all the newer distros. I’m speaking of slackware 8, I have not tried the newer ones yet. I guess the point of it is that if I need to get a machine up quick and easily Slackware is what I will use. It runs good, fast, and does everything I need it to. 2002-12-20 8:07 am It’s true that pkgtool doesn’t have the checks that RPM has built in, and yet, any Slackware user will tell you that they have less problems with dependancies overall, than RedHat users. The reason might be that pkgtool is a simple method, that works fine and allows for your intervention, it gives you all the freedom you need to fix inconsistency problems. RPM on the other hand, TRIES to be smart and do a lot of stuff, but it’s broken and at the same time, limits you greatly in your attempts to fix the situation. 2002-12-20 9:29 am it lacks www in the link adress of distrowatch for it to work 2002-12-20 11:08 am ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ RPM on the other hand, TRIES to be smart and do a lot of stuff, but it’s broken and at the same time, limits you greatly in your attempts to fix the situation. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ EXACTLY. in all my playing with redhat and mandrake its become more and more apparent that the less i rely on their packaged software and the more i build things by hand the more stable my system becomes. (even when using “development” versions of things wierdly enough) 2002-12-20 12:20 pm quote zebuli “it lacks www in the link adress of distrowatch for it to work” You may want to check your browser settings. The link is fine without the http://www... 2002-12-20 1:25 pm hmmmm is exactly correct and then some. Slackware packaging assumes you have the required dependencies, which RPM does not. The fly in this ointment is “what if you _have_ the required dependency but it wasn’t installed by RPM? RPM will tell you it can’t find the necessary RPM. God help you if sometimes you configure/make, and sometimes rpm -ivh. I have never had a problem with mixing and matching with slackware. Explain to me how important it is to have dependency resolution if one can read error messages. The review was dead on correct in its explanation of the distro and its features. 2002-12-20 2:02 pm If the biggest “nitpick” about Slackware is it’s package management, that DOES say something about it. I’m biased, as I’ve been running Slackware since 1994. I’ve tried Redhat and Mandrake, but always come back to Slackware, since Slackware gives ME absolute control over my system. What’s wrong with having a package tool that uses a slightly modified tarred gzip format? It’s very effective. 2002-12-20 3:14 pm Every slackware package comes with a description that have a list of dependencies. Just reading this advices and installing before you can eliminate a dependency problem. 2002-12-20 3:30 pm Slackware << Gentoo Well, apples and oranges, really. Not quite a fair comparison. “I find it funny when people really think that pkgtool is a good package management tool.” What I find is funny is that people ignore the fact that everyone has different needs. Personally I love pkgtool. I use slackware for all my servers because I want to know EXACTLY what is happening at all times. I do not want my package manager trying to sort out its own dependencies. Thats my job. I want it to install a package.. the one I give it.. log the install for future upgraded/removal purposes.. and thats it. Is this the only way to do things? no. Is this the way everyone should do things? probably not. But it works great for me. Pkgtool is great! What exactly do you find funny with that? Okay, perhaps I should have said “advanced” or “sophisticated” instead of just “good”. Analogy: delivering everything you ever send to everyone else by hand is all well and good, but I’d hardly say that it’s a more sophisticated or advanced method than using a shipping company like UPS or FedEx. Sure, you can get it done and you are assured it all gets done, but you can get it done faster and with better logging and whatnot if you use a shipping company. sometimes people are just a bit ignorant of the fact that something that might not work for them, wont work for anyone else. It’s not ignorance. I’ve used Slackware and was .. well, contented with it, but unimpressed. Nevertheless, that has nothing to do with my statements. My statements have to do with the functionality of pkgtool, and not how well it suits my needs. The reason might be that pkgtool is a simple method, that works fine and allows for your intervention, it gives you all the freedom you need to fix inconsistency problems. RPM on the other hand, TRIES to be smart and do a lot of stuff, but it’s broken and at the same time, limits you greatly in your attempts to fix the situation. Agreed, you won’t find any RPM evangelism from me either Explain to me how important it is to have dependency resolution if one can read error messages. The review was dead on correct in its explanation of the distro and its features. Dependency resolution isn’t done by the rpm tool itself. That simply does dependency checking. Tools like urpmi and, to a much greater extent, apt, perform dependency resolution. Besides, when you get into sophisticated enough dependency troubles, “reading error messages” is generally insufficient. What’s wrong with having a package tool that uses a slightly modified tarred gzip format? It’s very effective. Nothing’s wrong with the package format (heck, debs are simply ar‘ed tarballs), but the tool itself is simply not very advanced or sophisticated, and I find it humorous when people think that it is basically a drop-in replacement for a tool like apt. You know, something like, “Bah, Debian’s apt and Mandrake’s urpmi! Slackware has package management as well – pkgtool!” When, in reality, this is sort of a non sequitur. pkgtool simply isn’t on the same playing field as the other two. 2002-12-20 3:30 pm Before I had my own computer to partition the hard drive, ZipSlack was all I had. It was easy to use, all you had to do to install it was unzip it on a Windows partition. While the regulat ZipSlack was rather bare, it was very simple to install new packags to make it what you wanted. 2002-12-20 3:43 pm I just recalled a situation that I had several times: I needed product X, but when I tried to install it, RPM complains that I need library A. I try to install packaga AA that contains A (using RPM) but it tells me I need library Z, even though I KNOW I don’t need the features that Z brings, because I don’t need AA by itself, only the library that it contains. But I can’t install A because I can’t install AA, unless I install Z first. That’s fine, but the version of Z that comes in the package ZZ is too old for AA. OK, so now comes the moment that I have to do it dirty: I got to compile Z from source…… Oh, of course there’s 104.599.364 tons of sh*t still ahead before you get to install product X. 2002-12-20 4:04 pm Yes. I also have tried ZipSlack as alternative instead of Windows 95. I also am limited by Win95 coexistance, so only one distro is good I can’t find another distro fitting. As about rpm vs deb vs tgz, I’ve explained earlier (in “linux binaries” comments) that all that rpm/deb is a bad choice, tgz is much better. All your dependencies are to be resolved not automagically, because all this magic produce errors much more times you can expect. 2002-12-20 5:22 pm I am in agreement with most that say that Slackware’s package management tool is basically useless. However, I find now that I have gotten used to building from source, when I switch to RPM based distros I tend not to trust RPMs and just get tarballs instead. Sure it takes longer, and it may be more of a pain when there are deps, but hey you get a system that’s built for YOU. ALso, I was a little disappointed with the review itself. It is really late (Slack8.1 has been around since June!!), and for some reason the guy ends it with this: “Slackware – efficient, dependent linux!” Dependent on what? I hope he meant dependable, because it sure is. Otherwise, what is he saying? Contradicting the entire review? Sheesh. I hate amateur journalists. cochese 2002-12-21 1:20 am i would assume that it is dependable. people never seem to pick up their own mistakes!! 2002-12-21 2:40 am Everyone here seems to be complaining about pkgtool and it’s limitations in package management. However, that’s not really the case. pkgtool is a packaging tool, created to allow the user to install packages, and that’s it. Each package can mention it’s dependencies, etc., but it’s not going to resolve them. RPM and deb’s are more akin to something comprehensive, where it should require to user interaction to meet dependencies. pkgtool wasn’t created to this end, whereas the others were. 2002-12-21 7:39 am Well, I’m an experienced slackware user. I’ve never had a problem with Slackware package management. In fact I recently upgraded KDE to 3.0.5 using Slackware packages from the kde.org website. I didn’t even use the proper upgrade option, it just overwrote the original packages, but I haven’t had any problems with the software. Slackware makes compiling source code fun. However, RedHat 8.0 has potential, I’m currently testing some builds on it. Right now I’d say they are head to head, maybe Slackware pulling ahead slightly with Dropline. I’m comparing RedHat 8.0 and Slackware 8.1 w/ Dropline GNOME 2 and a quick KDE update. But I’m biased. Personally I like the original GNOME and KDE menus and icons, but Bluecurve is very nice, so I tend to mix ’em up a bit across my desktops.