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Slack is faster when booting, running in KDE and seems to run a little lighter overall. I find it easier to setup boot processes and such while running from a terminal. Slack installs faster, but is a little more difficult for a new user. Slack also takes up less space.
RH's rpm packages are more popular, I find myself installing more from source in Slack. There are more gui admin apps. More support (except here) for RH. I have not tried RH 8.0 and 9.0, so they may have changed things.
For the most part, if you don't mind doing it yourself, Slack is better.
Slackware lets you control every aspect of your computer and its configuration. It doesn't hold you down with GUI config menus and makes you do everything by hand.
In return you get a lean, fast and stable distro that does everything you want.
It encourages you to compile from source because there are not nearly as many TGZ packages as RPMs (though slackware can install rpms).
Its completly generic, so anything you learn how to do in Slackware, you can do in any other distro (unlike Redhat).
Basically, Slackware makes you learn more and work harder, but you get a better system. You have to ask yourself if you're willing to put in the time. If you are, go for it! If you have actual work to do , then maybe you should stick with a different distro.
I agree 100% with contrasutra's comments, they are spot on. But, in any event, why don't you just try Slack and decide for yourself whether or not you like it more than Redhat. You'll never know unless and until you try. As for me, "Install Redhat and you will learn Redhat. Install Slack and you will learn Linux." That's not an original quote (I saw it on another post here at LQ) but it has been true in my experience. -- J.W.
What can I say that others here haven't? When I "took the plunge," so to speak, I asked around which distro I should start with, and some of the "older" linux folk told me Slackware, but that I'd be in for quite the headache, learning to configure everything and run the system hands-on instead of letting some GUI take care of everything. Suffice to say, it was a very long process, and it's by no means over, but I'm happy I did it.
Slackware is also a great step if you eventually want to work on "linux from scratch," due to the in-depth knowledge you'll gain (compared to some distros) of the command-line. Best of luck!
The reason I love slack is that it's more 'unixy' . Slackware tries to use Unix standards for files and paths, while Redhat has a tendency to go their own way where stuff is placed.
I switched to slack from Redhat when I became so frustrated by reading TLDP, and finding that the Redhat setup was different. With slackware, I have a greater chance of having the setup described in generic documentation (i.e. non Redhat documentaton) match my setup.
Slightly off-topic... the install was easy. I was expecting a big deal installing slack, but it's just about as easy as Redhat (although Redhat's install is prettier). Well, except for the partitioning... Redhat partitioning is very easy, but with slack, you have to have a clue. But as long as you get the gist of what you're doing in partitioning, it's not a big deal.
After the install, though, that's when it slack becomes a challenge. But the challenge is always solve-able, educational, and with the right mindset, fun.
I am a newbie to Slackware just like you (having installed it just a week ago). However, I must say that I would have learnt a lot more in the past 2 years if I had slack. Others have already spoken about most of the important benefits of Slack. I would just like to emphasize two important ones:
1. speed : (the new slack 9.0 runs quite a bit faster than redhat 9.0 or mdk 9.1
2. most of all : the install size. This was what I found VERY impressive: with rh 7.1 gnome,kde and others had taken up about 1.3 GB previously. I had tried rh 7.3 but just KDE and others (without GNOME) had taken 1.4 GB. With RH 9/MDK 9.1 there was no hope of fitting into my 1.6 GB /. But Slackware, with its one installation CD and extremely well chosen collection of packages fitted GNOME 2.2, KDE 3.1 and others within 1.3 GB !
I can pretty much echo what everybody else is saying about Slackware vs. the hat. I've used several versions of both, and Slackware has become my distro of choice. RedHat is fine for beginners, but if you want to see what linux is really all about, Slackware is the distro for you.
You'll find some things are a little bit less user friendly, but all cary the benefit of making sense. Slackware will boot much faster than redhat, and in my experience its uptime kills it.