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Old 10-13-2007, 04:20 AM   #1
scrappydoo
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Question Slackware before Arch?


I'm looking for opinions from Arch users who have come from Slackware, and/or continue to use Slack as well as Arch.

I'm going to begin learning Linux for the first time soon, and I want to learn it from the ground up. I don't want any automated hand holding going on as I learn; nothing hidden from me, and I don't want a bunch of programs installed with the Distro besides maybe just a few necessary basics. I want to just add programs as I deem necessary, and as I go along.

From what I've researched so far, the two Distros that have really captured my personal philosophy of computing are Slack and Arch. I can't be sure which one I will prefer or stick with until I've tried both.

My understanding so far is that it would be best for me to start out with Slack while learning Linux, and then move on to Arch and try it out.

What are your opinions on this?
 
Old 10-13-2007, 08:44 AM   #2
hollywoodb
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I'd recommend Slackware... Some of Arch Linux's configuration setup is a bit nonstandard, where just about everything you'll encounter with Slackware you can apply to any other distro as well.

Also, Slackware is dead stable.
 
Old 10-13-2007, 03:33 PM   #3
scrappydoo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hollywoodb View Post
I'd recommend Slackware... Some of Arch Linux's configuration setup is a bit nonstandard, where just about everything you'll encounter with Slackware you can apply to any other distro as well.

Also, Slackware is dead stable.
That's been my impression so far. I'm sure there are many Arch users that have come from Slack and have chosen Arch as their primary Distro. I'm wondering if they feel the same way about starting out with Slack before transitioning to Arch; that it's a good way for the newbie to learn Linux prior to using Arch.

I'm also interested in hearing from experienced users of both Distros what the main differences are, and what they feel the strengths and weaknesses of each in comparison may be.
 
Old 10-13-2007, 11:54 PM   #4
hollywoodb
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Well, I happened to learn on Slackware about version 9.0, a while back... at the time linux was not nearly as common-hardware-friendly as it is today. Today I work part-time (I'm a student 1st priority) as a RHEL admin, a job I got based solely on my knowledge of generic linux systems and my ability to hold my own using the bash shell... both skills I developed using Slackware.

So now, while I'm not RHCE-certified (yet) I admin a few RHEL servers and run Fedora at home (for consistencies sake, and because I find Fedora incredibly pleasant). I have run Arch in the past, but in the end it wasn't for me. Given the choice I'd choose Slack over Arch, but I know there is an entire league of people who would disagree, and to each their own.

Still, I'd recommend starting out with Slackware, keep your patience. Read the slackbook, read http://rute.2038bug.com, read http://tldp.org. If you start to feel like you've got the situation nailed down, then any other distro you use you'll find you know how to solve most issues you encounter.
 
Old 10-15-2007, 02:09 AM   #5
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I'll stick up for Arch. If you're willing to learn Linux, and you're intending to eventually move on to Arch, given the fact that you're only considering between Slackware and Arch, go with Arch.

Arch's installation isn't really all that difficult. It's config is a little nonstandard as stated before, but it's nonstandard config is one of it's stronger selling points. No GUI, No Wizards, and the config files are either combined in rc.conf or are otherwise standard. Even though the config is nonstandard, you'll learn the inner workings of Linux just fine using Arch.

You'll also learn to love pacman. Pacman is fantastic.

Apart from that, the distros are pretty similar. Arch tends to be a little more bleeding edge, Slackware being more stable. I've never had a question that hasn't been found in Arch's documentation wiki. (Although Slackware's documentation is stellar as well)

Basically you have listed the only two distros that people most to, and not from, so you'll get conflicting advice here.
 
Old 10-15-2007, 02:59 AM   #6
scrappydoo
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The reasons you've mentioned are what has attracted me to Arch. I don't really know how to say it, but to me, Slack and Arch seem to be very powerful and "pure" Linux Distros, where Arch has moved out a bit further than Slack, it is still very true to what I understand the core ideals of Linux to be, but of course, to each his own.

There really are so many great Distros out there. I see great things in many of them that attract me, but after a fair amount of research, I've concluded that Slack and Arch most closely match my needs and personality, so these will be my first two to work with.

I appreciate all of the different views that others may share. In the end it only serves to better educate me, as well as others.
 
Old 10-15-2007, 04:08 AM   #7
scrappydoo
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Installed Apps and Drivers

As a newbie, I don't really understand what the install process for Linux is, or what the options are.

I've looked at the "standard" install listing of apps and drivers included with both Slack and Arch, and I find them to be absolutely bloated.

Is there a reasonably easy way for a newbie such as myself to install either one of these Distros with only the apps and drivers that I want, instead of the laundry list of apps and drivers in the standard installs?
 
Old 10-15-2007, 04:37 AM   #8
FredGSanford
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Not quite sure but you would want to choose at least "a", "ap" "l" and "n" for a minimum install of slackware. Check out doing an Expert Install.

Also go cast some spells with www.sourcemage.org to really have some fun!
 
Old 10-15-2007, 10:39 AM   #9
bloody_reaper
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Yeah, I kind of agree that slackware is a little too bloated in it's standard-install (audacious, bind, apache). But I find Arch's way of configuring things a little bloated - I personally like it better to edit the configuration files directly than having one central thing that you use to configure most of the things (but only most of the things and not everything, a little random imo). That just adds a couple layers between the user and what the system actually reads in. And now guess what, everybody who has a little knowledge about Linux should be able to clean a bloated slackware (who uses the standard installation anyways?), the way how Arch handles the configurtaion you can't change.
Fact is, all distribution have different focusses and so do the users. Both distributions are good, they both have their up and downsides. I've been using slack for numerous years and arch for about 2 years too. here's what I think they compare to:
Slackware is a very clean system (configuration wise), the structure is awesome because everything is in it's place. I think in that regard it helps that slack is maintained by only one guy, Pat Volkerding (alright, not exactly true anymore) - so (whether you like that way or not) everything follows one idea and is structured and makes sense. And because of it's simplicity, it's absolutely fault proof, everything you change is gonna be taken into account by the system and can't get lost in dozens of abstraction layers in between the user and the system as it can with other distributions.
But the absence of an advanced packet manager is in my opinion really really bad. One can go a long way with swaret and checkinstall but it's not perfect. checkinstall takes time (especially if you're trying to resolve f-ing pearl dependencies) and swaret doesn't change anything about the slim package repository. Well, there's sites like linuxpackages.net or slackbuilds.org but it's still lacking the comfort of real dependency checking and you might be sacrificing the mentioned "unity" of everthing on this system.

Arch sparked my interest because of it's large software repository and if you can't find software in there, then you will most likely find it in AUR. Arch's package manager "pacman" has come a long way and now is imo a pretty decent one. That is great. And I like the idea of a small base-installation and then adding what you want and need better than having a bigger base-installation and having to remove what you don't want.
But (especially coming from slackware) Arch is replacing simplicity with complexity and it is missing the unity. For example you have a central configuration file that let's you configure many things like the locale, keymap, timezone, daemons, networks and more all in one place. Sounds neat, but while the wired interfaces are configured there completely, wireless interfaces need to be configured in that /etc/rc.conf but also in /etc/conf.d/wireless. Sounds a little bit all over the place and doesn't look like uniform configuration, huh? And there is things like that at pretty much each and every corner: sometimes binaries are linked into some path in $PATH to be accessible (eg. openoffice is linked like that), others append their path to the executable to $PATH (eg firefox). wtf? Or some more path inconsistencies: Why would /usr/X11R6/bin be in $PATH on a system, if that path doesn't even exist anymore. Looks like someone forgot about that...
All these are just examples of inconsistencies but what I think is a very major design flaw is Arch's approach to strip pretty much all the documentation. The semi "official" reasoning behind that seems to be that it eats up bandwithand that ppl think like: you need an internet connection to use arch anyways so you can find the documentation on the net.
Well that is true, you can find the documentation on the net but first of all that defies both terms structure and simplicity and furthermore: when do you need help the most: when everything is working well or when something is not working correctly? And if something's not working correctly, why the hell would anyone make you search for it then, I mean, I keep bandaids on hand (in my house ) in case I need them, I don't say: I got a fast car, I'm gonna get them whenever I need them. And to the if-there's-10KB-of-documentation-in-a-package-that-is-8MB-in-size-anyways-then-it-multiplies-with-all-the-many-people-who-download-it-and-costs-soooooooooooo-much-money-that-arch-doesn't-have"-argument: Well if things are that tight then why the hell do you put the ftp.archlinux.org as the standard mirror in your package-manager's configs? Sry but that's retarded, don't put that mirror as standard for all archlinux-installations if you can't afford it, but don't use this as an excuse to handycap the user.
Because that's what it does, it handycaps you and if you have to go online anyways to find the solution, why bother looking around yourself it is so much easier to ask on a forum instead. As you can tell, this stripping the docs policy is something I really don't like because it makes the user dumb because he's unable to help him self (or at least makes it harder to help himself).
But from this non existent documentation problem to something really reallly nice: The arch community. Arch has a pretty big and friendly community, ppl are willing to help you. Arch also has a pretty good wiki (well if you find what you're looking for it's usually good, sometimes you won't find what you're looking for there).

So after all I personally pretty much only use Arch, I don't remember the last time I booted slack. I only occasionally miss slack, that is when I want to do configure something I miss Slackware's simplicity, or the feel that everything belongs together rather than everything is scattered all over the place. But the lack of a better package management in slack outweighs the advantages of slack for me.
My recommendation would be: If you are the regular joe and want a rather responsive feeling system that let's you install things easily then Arch is absolutely great for you. If you want to be close to the operating system as such and not have ton's of "cushioning" in between or if you're studying something computer-administrator-like then slackware is what you should want. If you think you're somewhere in between (like I think I am) then choose Arch and hope for either a change in either one of the distributions or for the ultimate distro to finally arrive.
But both systems are really good and both can absolutely be recommended. I love them both (maybe slack a little more though ).
 
Old 10-15-2007, 07:20 PM   #10
scrappydoo
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It's the underpinnings of Linux that I want to interact with as I learn. I think the best way to do this would probably be LFS, but I need to get up and running relatively quickly, so that's why I'm looking for something a bit pre-configured, which means an actual Disrto. Among the major Distros I found something admirable about them all, but none really as you say the "perfect" Distro. Since I want to be more intimate with what's going on underneath the hood so to speak, I gravitated towards Slack, and then Arch, because after Slack, Arch seemed to be the most elemental of the other Distos I researched.

Since I have yet to really use Linux other than in a GUI live CD version, I really have little to no experience at this point, so I don't fully understand what it is like to install and remove packages, and deal with dependences and the like.

Are packages essential applications that are installed or removed?

I don't like the idea of the settings and configuration of files and such being scatered around the Distro, I would prefer things to be more consistent, standardized, and centralized. Besides Slack and Arch, are there any other Distros that I should be considering?

Last edited by scrappydoo; 10-15-2007 at 07:24 PM.
 
Old 10-15-2007, 09:56 PM   #11
SilentSam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrappydoo View Post
Since I have yet to really use Linux other than in a GUI live CD version, I really have little to no experience at this point, so I don't fully understand what it is like to install and remove packages, and deal with dependences and the like.

Are packages essential applications that are installed or removed?

I don't like the idea of the settings and configuration of files and such being scatered around the Distro, I would prefer things to be more consistent, standardized, and centralized. Besides Slack and Arch, are there any other Distros that I should be considering?
Dealing with dependencies isn't the worst thing in the world, but it does require you to read ahead and find out what the dependencies are. All this really equates to is more time required to install the program.

Packages don't necessarily mean essential software, but a prepared binary of software meant for a particular distro. Slackware's package manager doesn't automatically resolve dependencies, whereas Arch's does. This means that installing software is easier in Arch.

As for the config files, Slack scatters them more than Arch does. The thing is that most distros share the location of the config files with Slack, whereas Arch combined most config files into one: /etc/rc.conf. There are some exceptions, such as wireless, fstab etc. So the term standardized is used in it's traditional sense, as opposed to a cleaner sense.

For other distros I'd also recommend looking into Debian. It's definitely a little more automated than Slack or Arch, but you can still start off with a base install and build your system from the ground up, making it a good learning tool.

Last edited by SilentSam; 10-15-2007 at 09:57 PM.
 
Old 10-23-2007, 12:49 PM   #12
antis
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I have moved from Slackware to Arch and I do not regret it. Slackware tought me alot and it is the distro that I once started my Linux experience with. It is very stable, but so is Arch!
What made me grow tired of Slackware is the lack of package management. Sure, compiling from source, using checkinstall and all that works very well but I wanted something more convenient.

After having tried a fair share of the debian based distros I didn't feel it was good at all and there... like a god sent angel (ehrrr) was Pacman! Pure genious that makes Arch to the great distro it is. When you install Arch you can chose to start with practically nothing and build you way up to get a very lean, fast and stable system that's got exatly what you need and want and nothing more.

I like it alot and it would take a great deal to make me switch to any other distro. Of course, IF I was to switch, I would take Slackware any day of the week
 
Old 10-23-2007, 02:07 PM   #13
hollywoodb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antis View Post
I have moved from Slackware to Arch and I do not regret it. Slackware tought me alot and it is the distro that I once started my Linux experience with. It is very stable, but so is Arch!
What made me grow tired of Slackware is the lack of package management. Sure, compiling from source, using checkinstall and all that works very well but I wanted something more convenient.

After having tried a fair share of the debian based distros I didn't feel it was good at all and there... like a god sent angel (ehrrr) was Pacman! Pure genious that makes Arch to the great distro it is. When you install Arch you can chose to start with practically nothing and build you way up to get a very lean, fast and stable system that's got exatly what you need and want and nothing more.

I like it alot and it would take a great deal to make me switch to any other distro. Of course, IF I was to switch, I would take Slackware any day of the week
I had a similar experience... I too started on Slackware. Back then you really did have to compile everything (I did it by writing build scripts and making packages), but now there are sites like http://www.slackbuilds.org.

I ended up moving to Fedora/RHEL and now I get paid to do support for RHEL (inhouse, not by RedHat) while I earn my degree. That being said, without the skills I learned using Slackware I wouldn't be here today.
 
Old 10-23-2007, 02:22 PM   #14
scrappydoo
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That's been my impression from what I've read. Basically Slack forces you to be more involved with the installation and maintenance, which is no doubt good for learning, and may have other benefits as well, where as Arch works with you more; using pacman to help get things done.


*Why does this thread force me to side scroll to read it?
 
Old 10-23-2007, 04:29 PM   #15
Cogar
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"Slackware is stable" can mean "modestly outdated" as well. For example, wireless support in Slackware or the ability to handle unusual networking situations is not great. Let me add that a few things were broken in version 12 (I had been using Slackware since 10.2), and having to mess with bugs in a "stable" distribution was my incentive for looking into Arch in the first place.

Although they both have a package management system, Slackware's is primitive compared to Arch's pacman. It also boots and runs a little slower than Arch, at least in part because Arch is compiled specifically for i686 and x86_64, not older processor architectures that require compromise. I also like the "rolling release." Once you have Arch installed, that is the end of that occasionally annoying process. All you do is update from then on. With most other distributions there are some minor "hassles" with each new release and your machine becomes partially broken while you search for fixes.

The primary advantage of Slackware (and this applies when comparing it to virtually any other distribution) is that it closely retains the UNIX file structure. It is nice to have if you work in both UNIX and Linux.

PS: Let me add that choosing a distribution is not an academic exercise. You will not know which is better until you use them both. Linux runs a lot different "in person" than it does "on paper."
 
  


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