Slackware Linux is one of the oldest Linux distributions remaining. Over the years, it has stayed true to its roots and form. This article explains how to install Slackware Linux 9.1 and configure a few things after installation too.
Installing Slackware Linux
2004-01-27 Slackware, Slax 55 Comments
Best distro ever!
i tried to get it today, but the torrent was sooooooo slow i decided that waiting untill next week to install it was not something i was up for. They dont even bother to update the ftp mirrors. gah.
I will have to agree 🙂
These should be pretty fast.
Well done that man. Bring more people over to the light side
Slack is easily the best distro around – try it and you’ll be hooked.
RE: FTP mirrors…
not all of them are updated often enough but most are and you can usually get a good dl rate. Look around (i often try the irish one heanet.ie or something like that)
>They dont even bother to update the ftp mirrors. gah.
What are you talking about? The latest changes do reflect on most of the US mirrors (and you are in US if I judge of your IP address). The ISOs are on the FTP servers, get it from there instead of Torrent.
I love slackware. It’s one of my favourite distro’s. Everyone I know who’ve tried it love it as well.
you have to try Dropline Gnome!( http://www.dropline.net/gnome/ ). Absolutly woderful, combines extra performance with more eye candy.
Yes, but Dropline is not without its faults or problems. I know, I use it: http://www.gnomedesktop.com/article.php?sid=1616&mode=nested&order=…
I’m reading the article right now, and one thing I don’t like is they’re using fdisk. cfdisk is way more user-friendly.
Can Slackware be installed from ISOs (ISOs on a HD FAT32 partition) ? I do this with redhat/fedora and it’s very convenient
> I don’t like is they’re using fdisk.
Slackware offers cfdisk as well:
>Can Slackware be installed from ISOs (
Yes. Download 9.1 from an ftp server.
“2. Some package naming confuses the swaret tool and the system.”
Yea I had the same problems with swaret/slap-get/emerde. It seems isolated to a few packages but it is still pretty annoying.
I take it that you mean you overwrite that FAT32 partition with slackware’s reiserfs one.
There is also ZipSlack that you might want to try.
I know that, I just don’t like that they’re using fdisk in the article. cfdisk is an option(it’s included) and they should’ve chosen that.
“However, in essense, Slackware is one of the simplest distributions there is if you are proficient with a Linux system…the init scripts and configuration files are easy to follow…you are getting the full, complete, standard releases of software in this distribution, installed in a sane manner.”
I agree 100%. Slackware is a pleasure to use. I’m lazy enough to want automatic package management on my desktop machines — thus Gentoo on my desktop and Fedora on my laptop — but for machines I won’t be installing stuff on all the time, Slackware has become my distro of choice. I recently put together a small-ish beowulf cluster as a project at the university I attend, and I didn’t even have to think about which distro to use. Slackware is simple to set up if you know what you’re doing, and it acts like it is supposed to. It doesn’t surprise you with nasty tricks re: how things are configured, where things are installed, where config files are buried, where commands are…it’s stable and it’s set up simply and rationally, and it’s nice and easy to administer. I recommend Slackware for anyone who wants a nice solid Linux to use.
i heard that slack got less vuln than any other linux distro, so is that right?
and i dont like to change my OS every 6 months , so you advice me to take it or to take debian?
New Slackware versions are released more often than Debian versions, so Debian versions are a bit longer supporten. But personally I’d rather go for Slackware for various reasons:
* It is really easy to upgrade to a new version.
* Slackware is just simple, plain *nix. This makes maintaining a system much easier, because it is easy to understand how it works.
* Patrick Volkerding is very fast in releasing security updates (which can sometimes take awful long with Debian, e.g. the ptrace kernel bug).
* Old is not always good. I had a machine running Debian 2.2, which was at that time the latest stable release. While the whole world was already using the SSH2 protocol, the only thing that was available for the stable Debian was OpenSSH that supported SSH1.
Of course, it is mostly a matter of personal preferences.
the 9.1 iso’s permisions are set to unreadable on http://ftp.slackware.com, and the mirrors only mirror the checksums. It was like this a month or so ago as well. The readme states it doesnt allow access to the iso’s for bandwidth reasons (good enough for me) and suggests torrent (which sucked) and mirrors (which again only mirror the checksums)
Don’t worry ’bout the torrent being slow buy the CD set, support your favorite distro!
it’s nice to see that they haven’t changed the installation part a bit since I used it back in the 3.6 days. I guess that it didn’t have ALSA back then, also it didn’t have a dhcp-client (maybe it did in 3.6, but I remember being on a LAN and my friend had to download the dhcp-client and put on a floppy for me to join…bah, who doesn’t pick their own ip anyway!? . AAhhh, the memories and joys of slack. I can definately recommend it to people who like to be in control.
ps. why pick fdisk over cfdisk, to show off? if it’s a guide aimed for newbies, I mean, come on …ds
Has anyone tried pkgsrc with Slackware? http://www.netbsd.org/Documentation/software/packages.html
Does it work OK?
The article is well thought out. The average newbie can easily get a dual boot system up and running by simply following the default suggestions. However, I’d rather use Expert mode lilo configuration, it is as simple as:
1. Start with a new lilo header
2. Add a linux partition (you can add one multiple times, and later just edit the kernel lines if you want multiple kernels)
3. Add a dos partition for win*
4. Install lilo
I’d also rather choose to run GPM by default. Copy & paste in the console is generally a Good Thing (TM).
The fdisk part was especially good, it not only covers fdisk (which is fairly easy to use once you have hit “m”), but explains
quite a few things about disk partitioning that would really make a newcomer’s life easier.
I noticed in your comment at Footnotes a mention of Slack 9.2. Any idea when it is coming out? Slack became my favorite distro after reading your review and installing it.
When the official mirrors don’t have what you want you can always go to http://www.linuxiso.org/distro.php?distro=17
to get the isos files.
A while ago I remember Eugenia having Slack screenshots showing the Ximian patched version of OO.org; how easy is it to obtain/compile/install the package, and is there already a slack package for a recent version? I’ve had a look at http://ooo.ximian.com but the information is a little cryptic, and targetted more at OO.org hackers…
Any suggestions / pointers welcome
Um, I’ve been running 9.1 for a while now. I agree bit torrent really sucked for me, and I’d written as much in a previous article here. Found a nice ftp site in Norway.
Did we fall into some sort of time warp here?
The current time between releases seems to be 6 months (at least, that is what Slackware Store site says, and what someone from the Store told me). Slackware 9.1 was released at the end of september, so after doing a bit of math one can conclude the next version will be released at the end of March.
But really, no one can tell except for Patrick.
I’ve learned everything I know about linux through using slack. Unlike Red Hat, Slack doesn’t try to make things “easier” by symbolicly linking everything. (menu.lst -> grub.conf). And the best part about slack is it’s easy to follow everything that’s happening in the system from bootloader to kernel to rc scripts to gnome.
One thing I’ve noticed about slack9.1: Not all the ISOs are exactly the same. Maybe someone can correct me but I’ve had to download 9.1 4 seperate times and each time I had to download from a few sources until I got what i think is the “correct” ISO set. Anyone share this expirience?
I’ll definitly be buying the next Slack set.
After going through several distros including LFS, Gentoo, Redhat and Debian. I came across Slackware 8.1, I thought KDE in it was nice and smooth on my old 150MHz boxen but it took a bit of time to start stuff up. Once i’d done that I was grabbed for life and am now keeping up to date with slackware-current
are you building these with “checkinstall” or http://slackpack.tripleg.net.au/ methods?
SWareT is the SlackWare Tool. It’s a package system that does dependancy checking (via locate or find) that doesn’t rely on some easily broken package registry. I love how Slackware lets me install things on my own without breaking anything. SWareT just lets me do things faster.
I upgraded my system from 9.0 to 9.1 via swaret it only took a couple commands. (I recently upgraded two Debian machines from stable to testing and swaret was much faster and easier.)
for using Slackware as a Desktop OS, is there a GUI installer for Slackware like Red Hat or Mandrake’s?
Slackware is the best distribution I have ever used. Its installation is fairly straight forward (although I don’t know why the article used fdisk instead of cfdisk.)
I have gone through every distribution that was free for download. The list goes on and on… Redhat, Debian, mandrake, Gentoo, LFS, Xandros, Libranet, arch, etc… And every time I keep coming back to Slackware.
Slackware packages are easy to install, no dependency (or very few) if you use a full installation. And even better yet, updates are readily available if you use swaret or slapt-get with the current tree.
Slackware 9.1 was the 1st distribution I can remember that was kernel 2.6 ready out of the box. And all I had to do was download and compile the 2.5.* series and reboot (that was the current kernel at the time.)
Slackware really has come a long way since the 3.6 days with a thousand floppys…
Slackware will and forever will be my choice untill I find a better distribution. (I now have another test system that I use to put other distributions on.)
From Distrowatch weekly news:
Burapha Linux 5.3.1, a Slackware-based Linux distribution from Thailand, has been released: “Welcome to Burapha Linux 5.3.1. This is a derivative of the Slackware 9.1 distribution. It has been modified with a new easy installation process, and contains some slackware-current (and other) updates. It also has some GPL software written by students at Burapha University. Changes: This release does not include OfficeTLE since we could not build it. We hope to include OfficeTLE in the next release. Upgrade to alsa 1.0.1…”
I wouldn’t say the installer is actually difficult to use – it is as simple as clicking Next > Next…and disk partitioning is much easier using cfdisk than the example discussed in the tutorial
I use slackware-current + swaret + dropline (2.6.1 kernel)
and IMHO Slack is the best[again, IMHO] distro around.
Easy installs, easy updates, NO Dep Hell.
It’s fast, stable, loads in [my test PC] 35-40 sec [excluding lilo-10sec]
Good grief, 38 comments so far and only one person has anything good to say about the Howto! Obviously the author went to considerable pains to produce it, and I think it’s one of the best guides around to installing and configuring Slackware. I wish I’d had it the first time I tried to install it. (And to defend it against one criticism: no, it’s really not a big deal which of fdisk or cfdisk one uses to partition the hard drive.)
The author answers a couple of questions which arose for me when installing, and might be unclear for others as well. (For example, what should one use as a domain name when configuring a desktop setup; his answer: “localdomain”).
There are few more questions I wish he’d dealt with (perhaps he’ll do a “second edition”): Which services should I run at bootup? My understanding is that for a desktop client setup, the answer is close to “none,” except maybe for a print server and definitely rc.pcmcia for laptops. (Why does everyone ignore laptops?) And it deserves mentioning that one doesn’t run *both* rc.cups and rc.lprng. (Or does one?) Another question: is rc.inetd essential to run, and if not why does Slackware have it checked by default in the list?
It’s also worth mentioning that with Xfree86 4.x (the current version), one can often get a configuration file by running Xfree86 -configure, with less tedium and effort than xf86config requires.
I’ve used almost all the major distros and after getting a new notebook and reading Eugenia’s review I decided to try it out. It’s easier to install than gentoo imo and it’s biggest asset is its simplicity. My big gripe with debian is that they try to debianify everything and that upgrades tend to break things fairly often. I probably wouldn’t even have tried Slack if not for swaret. I don’t mind compiling my own stuff but depenedencies are a pain. Even though I’m running KDE 3.2 RC1 I installed dropline Gnome and it looks very nice – Side note: Why does gnome terminal continue to suck?.
I think I’ll be using Slack for sometime to come.
I’m glad to have read that article. Many describe the experience, but to know in advance what to expect is a plus. Thanks, Eugenia, for posting this article!
Slackware has been my Linux distribution of choice since roughly around release 1.1.2, and I recommend it for everyone who wants to learn what Linux is and wants a distribution that is rock solid and easy to manage.
It’s good to see an article on installing Slack that someone actually put some work into. Unfortunately there are (in my opinion) a few mistakes/errors/bad recommendations/flaws in the article.
1) He mentions ext2 as his favorite (it comes across as the recommended) file system.
While that may be his personal preference, I’d strongly recommend that new users go with one of the journaled filesystems (ext3 & reiserfs being easily available during setup – xfs & jfs also being options). Ext3 is just ext2 + a journal, so it’s as solid as ext2 but with aded bennefits – who wants to wait for fsck on a 20GB+ ext2 fs?
2) He states that “All you really need to install and run Linux is a root partition, and a swap partition.”.
That’s just plain false. All you /really/ need is a root partition – swap is optional. Slackware will run just fine without a swap partition if you have enough RAM, and if you don’t want (or can’t) set aside a partition for swap, then a swap file can be used instead (with a little manual setup). I agree that /some/ swap should always be configured since even if you have enough RAM the kernel cn still swap out stuff to make more efficient use of the RAM you have, but stating that a swap partition is required is wrong.
3) I agree with his recommendation that new users do a “Full” install, but he gets the explanation of the other options wrong – or at least they are not 100% accurate.
“Full” does what he says; a full install of all package sets you selected.
“Newbie” he also gets right, stating that it prompts for every single package to install (with a description), but he neglects to tell the reader that packages marked as “Required” are auto installed without prompting.
“Menu” he just says “lets you choose groups of related things” – well, it shows you a menu of the individual packages in a set and lets you choose packages based on a single menu with one-line descriptions. What he does not say is that Required packages are not in the list.
“Expert” is just like menu, except it allows you to deselect packages initially marked as Required.
4) He recommends that people create a boot disk.
While this is generally a good recommendation, I believe it to be unnessesary unless you originally booted the installer from floppies. If you booted the installer from CD-ROM, then you have the perfect “boot floppy” in the first CD. The first CD can conveniently be used to boot your installed system by entering a command like “bare.i root=/dev/hda1 ro noinitrd” at the very first prompt (edit to match your need of kernel and root fs location ofcourse), so there is no need to create a boot floppy if you succeeded in booting the installer from the CD-ROM.
5) He recommends that people use the “Simple” LILO setup.
I disagree. Simple LILO setup does the right thing in some cases, but in a lot of cases it does not. Examples are if you have both IDE and SCSI devices in your system and want to boot off of the SCSI device (simple will put lilo on the IDE device) – and there are other drawbacks as well, just look at the lilo.conf that simple generates. Choosing Expert LILO setup really isn’t that difficult, and it’ll give you a nice choice of where to install LILO, what partition to boot. It’ll also allow you to add boot options for other Operating Systems and various other stuf that you may need.
Using Expert LILO setup really is recommended in my opinion.
6) He states that GPM has ” nothing to do with using a mouse in the GUI”.
While that is usually correct it is not always so. Gpm may in some cases with certain hardware interfere with X. He should at least have given a notice about this so that people who enable GPM will know that it’s something to try and disable in case of weird X mouse trouble.
7) He uses “foo.localdomain” in his network setup example.
I disagree with this. He should have used one of the RFC 2606 ( ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/bcp/bcp32.txt ) reserved domain names. Those are reserved exactely for local use and for use in documentation and are guarenteed to never conflict with any real domains.
8) His clock configuration screenshots convey a preference towards “Hardware clock is set to local time”.
If you have to cooperate (dual boot) with a windows system this may be a good choice, but if Slack is your primary OS then it’s a bad one. Setting the hardware clock to UTC and then getting local time based on that and your timezone is much more preferable since it’ll allow you to see local time no matter from where in the world you access the box. If hwclock is always set to local time, then users logging into the box from another timezone will not see their own local time, but the local time of the host they connected to – that’s a mess.
9) He tells readers how to mount a NTFS partition but neglect to tell the reader how to cope with the fact that UNIX and Windows file permissions differ.
He needs to tell the user how to map proper permissions/ownership to the foreign file system in fstab.
There are probably other minor issues that I haven’t spotted, but the ones above is something that ought to be corrected in my oppinion.
In case it is of value to someone, here’s a link to a FAQ I wrote on slackware (mainly 9.0, but 99% of it is just as applicable to 9.1) : http://www.linuxtux.org/~juhl/slackwarefaq/
I’m hip to slackware’s philosophy of K.I.S.S.
But seriously folks, this distro represents everything Linux has been striving to leave behind.
No one values encyclopaedic knowledge of the O.S. outside of developers, I.T support personnel & hobbiests circles.
It’s funny you should say that; one of the things I love about Slackware is the surprisingly *low* level of knowledge required to administer it. I’m not talking about the home desktop here — I mean administer for real — but the home desktop is not the only place Linux is aiming to be. I find that “friendly” distributions like Red Hat require drastically more knowledge than Slackware does, once you move beyond firing up Gnome and installing some desktop apps, and into the mess of trying to customize the system or fixing things when something goes wrong. Anyone with a decent working knowledge of Linux — significantly less than an expert — can do this with relative ease using Slackware, because it is set up simply and intelligently. Red Hat, Mandrake? Good luck memorizing every little detail of how the distribution you’re using does things, where files are kept, what you have to take into consideration about kernel modules, compiling the kernel, where the scripts are and how they’re set up, etc, not to mention what to do if the GUI tool the distribution pushes on you doesn’t work. The knowledge required to do tasks that would be simple in Slackware really is encyclopaedic.
As for IT support personell: they don’t want to need encyclopaedic knowledge. Not everything should be that hard from an administrative perspective. I’d prefer to support Slackware over just about any other Linux distribution any day, precisely because it is so much simpler.
I find that “friendly” distributions like Red Hat require drastically more knowledge than Slackware does
I totally agree; everything in slack is exactly where you expect it to be. All the configuration files are as described in all the *nix FAQs. There are little/no ugly distribution-specific hacks.
Anyone with a decent working knowledge of Linux — significantly less than an expert — can do this with relative ease using Slackware, because it is set up simply and intelligently
I started off in linux with the “big” GUI based distros like RH etc. I’ve recently been using a hard disk install of Morphix. Whilst debian has its plus points, it also has a the problem of if you want a decent desktop with recent apps, you’re gonna end up mixing stable/testing/unstable. I decided that using apt-get really wasn’t helping, and I was finding more dependency issues than ideal. I installed slack a few weeks back (my first big distribution) and I am delighted with how easy it is to install software, maintain and administer as a desktop OS.
I wouldn’t consider myself a power user by far – I still resort to the FAQs and HowTos for the simplest of commands and configurations, but I personally find slack the easiest distro to really learn linux with.
The authors of slapt-get are working on a GTK based front end. Screenshots at http://software.jaos.org/ (at the bottom of the page)
Did anyone here get GNUCash to work on slackware 9.1? If yes. how did you do it?
I would love to have a working GNUCash on my slack system
I’ve looked at how other distros do it, but it doesn’t work on slackware:(
You need to start here: http://www.linuxpackages.net/search_view.php?by=name&name=gnucash&v…
And read through the dependency issues outlined at the site in the Details link.
Slackware is good.
I really like dropline gnome and also like being able to compile and install new kernels is really easy man.
No other distro comes close.
For misson specific servers
For desktop systems
For installing on your toaster.
Slackware is the only REAL Linux OS.
“it’s funny you should say that; one of the things I love about Slackware is the surprisingly *low* level of knowledge required to administer it.”
Yes, I get this already & I agree!
“I’m not talking about the home desktop here — I mean administer for real — but the home desktop is not the only place Linux is aiming to be. ”
Exactly.. but where does it say on the slack web site “for seriuosly frowning admin geeks only”
“I find that “friendly” distributions like Red Hat require drastically more knowledge than Slackware does, once you move beyond firing up Gnome and installing some desktop apps, and into the mess of trying to customize the system or fixing things when something goes wrong. Anyone with a decent working knowledge of Linux — significantly less than an expert — can do this with relative ease using Slackware, because it is set up simply and intelligently. Red Hat, Mandrake?”
Well I agree absolutely.
What we need to see is slack taking on the good bits such as excellent hardwaree detection etc.
Telling somebody they have to ‘know’ what kernel modules they want *before* they even install it is a show stopper for most folks ( except for _eliteist geeks_ of course ).
“Good luck memorizing every little detail of how the distribution you’re using does things, where files are kept, what you have to take into consideration about kernel modules, compiling the kernel, where the scripts are and how they’re set up, etc, not to mention what to do if the GUI tool the distribution pushes on you doesn’t work. The knowledge required to do tasks that would be simple in Slackware really is encyclopaedic.”
I agree but, I just despair of the current divide between what I regard as eliteist geek distros & the bloated proprietary distro’s. I note (on distrowatch) that there have been several attempts at basing a new distro on slack that acknowledges the strenghts of slack but aims to drag it into the the 21st century.
I follow these projects with interest.
“As for IT support personell: they don’t want to need encyclopaedic knowledge. Not everything should be that hard from an administrative perspective. I’d prefer to support Slackware over just about any other Linux distribution any day, precisely because it is so much simpler.”
Speaking as someone who has worked in the industry, I would agree that in a perfect world this would be wonderfull.
I’d also love to see a good, simplified desktop-friendly distro, but I’m doubtful it’ll come out of Slackware. Although the site obviously doesn’t say ‘for geeks only,’ I don’t really see the distro moving in a ‘make everything uber-friendly’ direction. I admittedly haven’t followed any Slack-offshoot projects closely, but I think it’s more likely that something will come out of a project that already has a great deal of momentum, like Gentoo. I could see a binary-based no-compiling-needed version of Gentoo aimed at the desktop; I suspect something like that will happen as Gentoo continues to gain in popularity.
I have had the experience of slackware and found it to have a fine setup program and capability beyond the norm with programming.
I read a review of Arch0.5 by Eugenia’s column and found reference to installing Slackware programs into Arch. Because arch uses PACMAN to upgrade, it would seem not a good idea to introduce strange bedfellows into arch from other distros because pacman serves arch programs even though the programs may be installed, the upgrade system could well balk…….. and cause hang-up.
I recently (a couple of days ago) wiped my laptop and decided to try a different distro out (I’ve been a strict Slack follower for years now). I stumbled across Arch and decided to give it a shot, installed version 0.5 and played with it for a day and a half.
While it is certainly fast (i686 optimized pkgs!), I began to long for Slack’s beautiful startup scripts and file structure/directory layout. Call me strange, but I just don’t like the automated “fetch and install” binary package managers like pacman or apt-get. I much prefer to download the source tarballs myself and compile them myself. Slack’s simplistic package system is more than enough for me when I actually cave in and install from a package.
As of right now, on my laptop, I’m running Slack 9.1 with kernel 2.6.2-rc2-mm1 and compiling a few remaining KDE 3.2 RC1 source packages. The combo seems to be working great.
For a real Linux user:
Slackware Linux + kernel-2.6.1 + fluxbox + swaret = 24/7 runs fast stable and never die as long as electricity get black out