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-   -   A Review of Slackware 13. (http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/slackware-14/a-review-of-slackware-13-a-759922/)

cwizardone 10-05-2009 08:40 PM

A Review of Slackware 13.
 
While I don't agree with everything said, overall, I thought it a a fair and well balanced review:

http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?is...091005#feature

mudangel 10-05-2009 09:24 PM

Yeah, not a bad review, especially from the perspective of someone more used to distros that do a lot more hand-holding and auto-configuration...
I've found that the usability="it just works" bit is ok when it works, but when it doesn't- such as with some older or quirky hardware(very old, or very new laptops, especially)- it's a lot easier to get Slackware working than it is with some distros which rely on auto-configuration and graphical config tools... my opinion, anyway.

BrZ 10-05-2009 09:31 PM

Not fair my friend... Slackware is way more than desktop, and it have a nice set of the best out there.

But there is hope: ..."During my first three weeks running Slackware 13.0 I have yet to find significant bugs"... And 'out of the box' =]

Thank you Mr. Volkerding, for Slackware still being Slackware.

slakmagik 10-05-2009 09:41 PM

This was also noticed in a.o.l.s. Some remarks:

Quote:

Note that "ease of use" is listed as a goal and mentioned twice for emphasis. Despite this claim ease of use is something Slackware is just not known for. Even with improvements in Slackware 13.0 I still don't think there is anything easy about this distro for anyone other than advanced, experienced users who are extremely comfortable on the command line and with editing configuration files by hand.
She kind of answers her own question here. She doesn't realize that "ease of use" means something else for her than it does for Slackers. I find Slack a lot easier than any other distro because wading through their nonsense and dismantling it is a lot less "easy" than building up how I want from the start. Learning a thousand different goofy little GUIs is a lot less "easy" than using my trusty $EDITOR.

Quote:

The Slackware installer, however, really does assume that you know what you are doing. A newcomer to Linux or even someone who has only done simple GUI Linux installations may well find the installation process confusing and there are a few points where just taking the default really isn't an option.
I disagree with this, too. She's apparently never installed Debian or a BSD from a few years back (or doesn't recall it). Or hell, even a Gentoo. Or even an Arch until very recently. All are easy now, but were much more difficult than Slackware. And those, I'm sure, were cakewalks compared to what came before that. But Slackware's installer is a slamdunk. The only thing is that {c,}fdisk scares people.

Quote:

The Slackware installer also doesn't correctly detect other Linux distributions which may be installed.
This is wrong, too, implying Slackware *incorrectly* gave her gibberish. It "correctly" doesn't even bother. It's simple to add another stanza or so to lilo.conf.

Quote:

The installer barely deals with X at all.
And there's a lesson in that. X is optional. X is an addon. Your *system* is complete and operational without it. X is for displaying graphics and running lots of terminal windows.

Quote:

Perhaps a bigger concern is that most of the applets, lightweight applications and plugins from the Xfce Goodies project are not included and are not in the Slackware repository. They need to be obtained from one of the third-party repositories that support Slackware. As offered by the distributor, the Xfce implementation in Slackware 13.0 seems grossly incomplete.
Then she needs to review XFCE and criticize the maintainers of that project. They are the ones who decided that certain things are inessential gravy to their project and Slackware is under no obligation to go track down various extras for her. And, as is usually the case, that stuff is all available from SBo if you want it. Slack ships the XFCE the maintainers of XFCE think is the XFCE to ship.

Quote:

However, the new package format still does not include dependency information.
And it never will. It never ceases to make me laugh. All these reviewers all the time saying this, like they expect it to change. "And the sun still does not rise in the west."

Quote:

Having to figure out dependencies for yourself can be a recipe for dependency hell that's rarely if ever seen on other major distributions in 2009.
You couldn't write a funnier, more wrong-headed line. This precludes "dependency hell". It's the various dependency managing apps with their "wedged databases" and whatnot that give you true hell.

Quote:

Absolutely nothing which depends on GNOME libraries is included.
She's correct here but I suspect many people confused Gnome and GTK and she ought to make it clear that lots of GTK apps are included and all non-Gnome GTK apps can be easily added. (Of course, even Gnome can be added, but that's a different kettle of monkeys.)

Quote:

These are the package management tools used by the user-friendly Slackware derivatives including, Absolute Linux, AUSTRUMI, GoblinX, VectorLinux, Wolvix and Zenwalk Linux, and there is absolutely no reason the same functionality can't be added to Slackware itself.
There's also absolutely no reason to do so because those other distros have done that for themselves. If you want it, those distros are there for you to use. If you don't, welcome to Slack.

Quote:

The alternative, building everything you need that isn't included from source, is time-consuming even with the third-party tools available and requires a fairly high level of knowledge on the part of the user. I've read comments stating that using SlackBuilds.org, a site that truly is excellent, makes this "trivial". For many people time just isn't a trivial thing.
After installing Slackware, one step can be to install sbopkg. Time: about 30 seconds. Create an 'all.sqf' file. Time: varies from seconds to minutes. You don't have to start it from scratch again. Load the 'all.sqf' file, hit 'process queue', walk off and do whatever you want. Come back. Time: Real: varies from system to system; User: about 30 seconds.

***

Other than that main persistent sticking point of her wanting rpm and drakconf or whatever, yeah, a reasonable and fair article. You definitely should want to use $SHELL, $EDITOR, and read the manuals and it helps if you like to script. But, yeah, you can do a default install straight into 'startx' and seeing a shiny KDE and be as GUI as you want. And, if you want fast, stable, simple, etc., then it's hard to beat.

dugan 10-05-2009 09:44 PM

Oh, it's Caitlyn Martin again.

But yes, it's a very through and well thought-out review.

windtalker10 10-05-2009 10:11 PM

There's always gonna be different strokes for different folks.
I personally hope Pat never changes the Slack philosophy as it's the one and only distro I've ever ran that has been trouble free for me once it's been set up and set up to my liking.
I agree with the author that there are many, many distro's out there that not only hold ones hand, they almost change one's diapers also; however,, show me one that remains trouble free for the length of time a typical Slack install does.

foodown 10-05-2009 10:54 PM

I thought it was fair except for two points:

1) The reviewer repeatedly referenced the words "ease of use" in the Slackware mission statement. However, I believe that she is imposing an out-of-context and incorrect understanding of this phrase. It does not mean "easy for any dumbass who's only touched windows to use." It means "will not automatically edit my configuration files, start loading modules I don't want it to, or assume that it knows better than I do." It is ease of use for competent Linux users . . . after all, it is a Linux distribution. People who just want "easy" should stick to MS or Apple; that or Ubuntu and its out-of-box "it just works! . . . but it's really, really slow" performance. (To avoid the flames . . . yes . . .Ubuntu can be optimized to be just as fast as anything else . . . Out of the box it runs like a fat, wounded hog.)

Linux is, by definition, "UNIX-like." If editing text files to configure things or using a command-line interface is too "hard" for you, then you really have no business using anything "UNIX-like." Has anybody else here seen a UNIX system? Using one involves editing text files and using a CLI.

2) The reviewer seems very upset about there being no automated dependency checking in pkgtools . . . this is by design. It's part of the "ease of use" that she claims is not there. Slackers use packages for some stuff, but we are not babies who need rice cereal all the time. If there is not a package available, we will build from source, or decompress a .deb or .rpm package and gank the binaries, putting them where we want them. Automatic dependency checking is only desirable if you only use your package manager to install software, or if you are so inexperienced that you cannot go out and get a library for yourself. If this is the case and you do not even want to learn how to do these things on your own, you are not and will not become a competent Linux user and Slackware is not for you.

vinegaroon 10-06-2009 02:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by foodown (Post 3709054)
I thought it was fair except for two points:

1) The reviewer repeatedly referenced the words "ease of use" in the Slackware mission statement. However, I believe that she is imposing an out-of-context and incorrect understanding of this phrase. It does not mean "easy for any dumbass who's only touched windows to use." It means "will not automatically edit my configuration files, start loading modules I don't want it to, or assume that it knows better than I do." It is ease of use for competent Linux users . . . after all, it is a Linux distribution. People who just want "easy" should stick to MS or Apple; that or Ubuntu and its out-of-box "it just works! . . . but it's really, really slow" performance. (To avoid the flames . . . yes . . .Ubuntu can be optimized to be just as fast as anything else . . . Out of the box it runs like a fat, wounded hog.)

Linux is, by definition, "UNIX-like." If editing text files to configure things or using a command-line interface is too "hard" for you, then you really have no business using anything "UNIX-like." Has anybody else here seen a UNIX system? Using one involves editing text files and using a CLI.

2) The reviewer seems very upset about there being no automated dependency checking in pkgtools . . . this is by design. It's part of the "ease of use" that she claims is not there. Slackers use packages for some stuff, but we are not babies who need rice cereal all the time. If there is not a package available, we will build from source, or decompress a .deb or .rpm package and gank the binaries, putting them where we want them. Automatic dependency checking is only desirable if you only use your package manager to install software, or if you are so inexperienced that you cannot go out and get a library for yourself. If this is the case and you do not even want to learn how to do these things on your own, you are not and will not become a competent Linux user and Slackware is not for you.

I agree, good review, but the phrase "easy to use" has a completely different meaning applied to Slackware than applied to something like Ubuntu.

Daedra 10-06-2009 02:57 AM

It's kind of a weird catch 22, you have to be experienced in Slackware before you can realize why it's easier than other distros. At least that's how I feel. I tried Ubuntu for the first time maybe a year ago just to see it, It was pain wadding through all the gui BS, I ran it for like a day.

brianL 10-06-2009 04:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dugan (Post 3708991)
Oh, it's Caitlyn Martin again.

Deja Vu. Her conclusions are more or less the same as they were last time. I don't think I'll waste any more time reading any future reviews of Slackware written by her. Really, there's only one opinion of Slack that matters to me: my own.

kukibl 10-06-2009 04:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by brianL (Post 3709291)
Really, there's only one opinion of Slack that matters to me: my own.

Nice, couldn't agree more.;)

Argh... Caitlyn. I stopped reading her writings long time ago. Not just because she knows very well how to ruin decent article with few ridiculous facts, but also because of her attitude towards her readers who disagree with something she wrote.

This time, again, I'll skip it.

gegechris99 10-06-2009 05:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by brianL (Post 3709291)
Really, there's only one opinion of Slack that matters to me: my own.

Fair enough.

However I appreciate people writing about their experience installing/using one Linux distribution especially when they define their expectations (mostly having a functional home desktop) and describe concretely what they liked and what they didn't like (comments like "it rocks" or "it's bloated" don't bring much insight into the distribution).

I think that you can only get a good idea of what a distribution looks like when you take all reviews collectively into account (of course apart from actually testing it yourself). You can outline some general topics.

I've read many Slackware reviews since mid-2005 (some balanced, some unbalanced) and the following points about Slackware are always highlighted:

- Installation requires some prelimanary manual steps (i.e. partitioning) and is not GUI-based
- Package management has no dependency checking
- Setting up a functional desktop requires a lot of file editing
- You are the system administrator and can tailor the system to your own needs.
- Once the system is set up to your liking, it just runs without any hindrance.
- The official package list is limited however community-provided packages are available (mostly SlackBuild scripts that require you to build the package).

For me, these points (it's probably an incomplete list) are characteristics of Slackware and it just happens that I'm fine with them but I fully understand that someone else would feel unconfortable about them and would prefer another Linux distribution that would guide him/her more during the installation and for adding/removing applications (i.e package management).

So it's all about choice or, would I say, informed choice.

AGer 10-06-2009 05:12 AM

Oh, Caitlyn
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dugan (Post 3708991)
Oh, it's Caitlyn Martin again.

But yes, it's a very through and well thought-out review.

This name sounds familiar for me too and my feeling is that her reviews are improving.

I find this one nearly ideal for what can be done after visiting the Slackware site and using the distribution for a while. In order to improve it, she had to broaden the scope and, say, research how Slackware users comment in forums and blogs, possibly on Linux Questions as well. As far as I know, Caitlyn currently writes for money and any deep research may be not an option. Deadlines and the target audience ("is there a better Ubuntu than Ubuntu?") come to mind first.

Thus, I guess the review reflects the current PR level of Slackware. If Patrick finds it adequate then it is adequate beyond any doubt; otherwise, things like "Slackware Linux is a complete 32-bit multitasking "UNIX-like" system" must be updated ASAP and adding a "How to review" section never hurts.

tommcd 10-06-2009 06:32 AM

Notice how in the beginning of the article she quotes fellow reviewer Chris Smart:
Quote:

When writing a review, I always try and view the distribution in the light of what it is expected to do - as claimed by the creators.
She goes on to say:
Quote:

I share Chris' philosophy when it comes to writing my own reviews...
She then goes on to complain about the lack of graphical configuration tools, that the X-server is not setup by default, and (horror of horrors!!) no dependency management.

Well, the very things she complains about are simply not part of what Slackware "is expected to do - as claimed by the creators" [of Slackware]. She clearly is not following her own review philosophy here.

She did articulate some of the advantages of using Slackware though. What she fails to realise is that the very things she complains about are part of the advantages of using Slackware.

GazL 10-06-2009 07:04 AM

I noticed that too tommcd. :)

I get the feeling that she just said that as a lead-in to justify her attack on the 'easy to use' bit she'd latched onto from the Slackware description from the website.

Fair enough, that bit of the website could do with a rewrite to more clearly reflect what Slackware is about in relation to modern expectations. Like it or not, the modern expectation is for a linux distro to be just like Ubuntu, including dependency management and all those other things Slackware turns away from (for all the reasons that most of us, mostly agree with).


She's still missing the point somewhat with Slackware, but to be fair I don't think it's an easy point to grasp. Daedra put it quite well above;

Quote:

You have to be experienced in Slackware before you can realize why it's easier than other distros.


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