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Two years ago I installed Slackware V10. In these two years, I've had **quite** a few problems with the installation of new software (to name a few: GIMP quits unexpectedly, gedit quits unexpectedly, QuantaPlus quited unexpectedly (gedit and Quanty being installed together with the whole system!)). I feel that I'm having a really messy system now (so many things that don't work, software installed from source, or installed with the installation scripts, or some with pkgtool). One thing that I really miss is dependency checking.
All this made me decide to install a new system. With all the software installation problems in mind (and coming from a Slackware background (and also attracted by the idea of first installing a base system and then installing extra software as you need it) I was pretty sure to try Arch Linux, but recently I read a few reviews that complained about not so stable or even buggy behaviour and the sometimes lesser quality of software packages available for Arch.
So now I'm in serious doubts: will Arch satisfy my needs or should I stay in the Slackware camp (maybe Slackware 12)?
I recently found out about Swaret, but the project seems to be down at the moment. How are the opinions about using Swaret (which apparently does have depency checking) in combination with Slackware?
P.S.: My main criteria for a distro are:
-speed (as in: being able to work without annoyingly long loading times (my Slackware system boots fairly slowly)
-stability (of the system, but also of software packages)
-not having too much trouble with the installation of new software (and also one central place that keeps track of installed software)
P.P.S.: Maybe I could have avoided a few problems by consistently installing new software with pkgtool, but this doesn't put aside the problems with apps that were installed together with the system.
I ran Slackware for a short time--from version 10.2 through 11.0. When 12.0 came out, I became mildly disappointed and moved to Arch. I have not regretted it and have no plans to go back. Regarding the features you believe are important:
Speed: Arch boots and shuts down noticeably faster than Slackware (in my opinion). Perhaps 50% faster. It runs fast too.
Stability: I have not run into stability issues as a result of upgrades--including many kernel upgrades (perhaps 20). Sometimes a dependency conflict will keep you from installing something, but that is the point of having dependency checking. Once it is resolved, the installation can safely proceed. If there is an issue, you will learn about it at the official Arch forum. Their forum is quite active, and includes many developers so any problems are typically addressed quickly.
Software Installation: The Arch repositories are reasonably large. They are not as large as Debian's, but I cannot recall off the top of my head having any problems finding pretty much anything I wanted. The package manager, pacman, is excellent.
PS: The 2007.11 Arch .iso was supposed to be released last week or thereabouts, so it should be available shortly.
How does Debian compare to Slackware and Arch Linux? From what I read on the website (debian.org), this is also a stable system with thorough package management.
Is Slackware 12 notably faster than its predecessors?
If I recall correctly, Debian is the distribution for which users coined the term "dependency hell." My personal experience with Debian left me with two impressions:
1. It's fast and attractive--although not as fast as Gentoo, Arch, or Slackware.
2. The installer is one of the worst out there. I have installed it three times on two machines and not one install went properly. An example of something that went wrong would be that the GNOME menu did not get installed due to some conflict (if you select the GNOME desktop environment). The fix is simple, but a user should not have to put up with stuff like that.
Regarding the speed of Slackware 12, my impression is that it was about the same as 11.
"dependency hell" is actually the term I would use to describe my Slackware system (Slackware 9 by the way). It's because so many people are positive about Slack that I still believe in it. But, as I stated in the starting post, the problems are probably due to not having chosen one standard way of installing software on my computer. At the moment, I'm considering Slackware 12 with slapt-get as package manager.
Gentoo is not an option (at this moment in my linux quest) because I'm not very eager to compiling *everything* from source.