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Old 04-28-2005, 12:10 PM   #1
xushi
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Lightbulb Difference between Slackware and other distros?


Hi,

I was meaning to ask this question... Its mostly to satisfy my mind.. I've read a few similar threads in LQ, but stil.. =/ And btw, if anyone who'se commenting base what they say or can include sources, do tell me. I wouldn't mind reading further.

What's so different between Slackware, and the other distros out there?

I mean Linux is Linux.. as long as you're using the linux kernel. As for the rest of the apps, they're more or less the same in any distro out there. I could see the exact same file hierarchy, and choice of packages in freebsd and linux (say, slack for now, since its the closest to the FHS), but the main thing that differs them from eachother is that one is using the linux kernel, while the other is using a bsd kernel.

The only four possible differences i see between distros, are their
- Filesystem Hierarchy Standard, and how close or far they stick to it
- Package management, and how different they might be from one or another.
- Configuration, and how each distro developer(s) ads configs here and there by default.
- And, where programs are installed...

But is that really it? Ignoring the legal terms of the actual name, can i call this distro i'm using now "Slackware" (i'm using slack btw..) just because its FHS compliant, and uses .tgz for packages? If i change the structure a bit will it stop being slack?

Can i create a linux system from scratch, and call it Debian, or a derivative of Debian if it complies with its filesystem hierarchy and supports .deb packages?

Or is it just the fact that Linux is Linux, being the kernel, and a distro is just a *reference to their work* name given by one or a group of developers who save you the trobule, and configure it their own way? (eg, a computer is a computer, you can build it, but you have dell, hp, etc...)

Or is this another one of those questions with no black<>white answers? where no matter what you'd answer, one can counter argue the matter?

Thanks alot.
 
Old 04-28-2005, 12:48 PM   #2
masonm
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It looks like you've pretty well answered your own questions. Yes, under the hood, Linux is Linux. By the way, "Linux" really just refers to the kernel. A "distro" is everything else built around that.

File structure, "helper apps", auto-configs, and other tools added are what makes an actual distro. What makes Slack a little different is the simplicity of design, a noteable lack of "helper tools", very little auto-config, and a file structure which closely resembles the Unix system.

Also, Slack uses Unix type init scripts where many (most) distros don't. Slack's Keep It Simple Stupid approach makes it somewhat different that the more complex "automatic" distros that are becoming popular, especially with new Linux users.

Slack also doesn't alter the packages thus avoiding adding new bugs. The packages are pretty much the way the upstream developers designed them without Pat doing any additional tweaking to them. Most distros these days alter the packages, sometimes a great deal.

The packages also install into the directories the original developrs intended, not the way the distro developers decided they should. This is a major problem for some distros and can lead to dependency hell when some package manager is looking for a dependency where it should be, but because of distro changes, it's installed someplace else. This becomes an even bigger problem when trying to compile an app that looks for things where they are supposed to be while compiling.

Another major difference between distros in general is the way the packages are compiled. What compile options/flags are used, etc. This dramitically affects how the apps will run.

But yeah, all in all, Linux is Linux.
 
Old 04-28-2005, 12:53 PM   #3
tangle
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Slackware is different mainly in where they put some of the system apps. In RH, Debian and such, they may put modprobe in /sbin and Slackware puts it in /usr/sbin. But the major difference is the start up scripts and how they are ran. I personually prefer Slackware way to the RH style. I find it easier to configure and understand. Call me stupid if you must, but it is easier for me to understand.

Now for the naming, Linux is the kernel. The rest, such as, FSH, apps and package manager is what defines a distro for the most part. If you where to make a distro from scratch, but base it (such as package managers) on a distro. I would say give that distro credit, but do not name it the same. That in my opinion is wrong. People put alot of work into making a distro, they deserver to have the name as their own. You also have to watch copy right laws if the name is copy righted. I find it nice that someone creates something and offers it for free. But they do have the right to keep somethings from themselves. Some might differ and say all things should be free, but then again is anything really free? There is price to pay for anything that you do or aquire. Whether it be time, money and/or sweat. Nothing is free, but the best things are always earned.
 
Old 04-28-2005, 01:00 PM   #4
neo
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The biggest thing I like about slack is that Pat doesn't pretend to know more about the programs then the original developers. Patching in slack is done only in cases where it is absolutely necessary. A lot of distro patch the hell out of everything and all they do is make more bugs? Some even patch thier patches.

Slack is also the most unix like distro as well. No "non-posix" optional flags are used to build source. Pat tires to use all "official" versions of tools like sed, grep, awk, etc so they follow the posix standard. I notice this with regex myself compared to some distro's version of tools.

Also I don't know if you picked up on this but even with a full install the system doesn't come to a screaming halt like a lot of distro's. Almost nothing except the essentails are running by default. The rest is up to you to configure to your liking. There is almost no customization except where absolutely necessary. This makes it very different from just about every single distro I've ever used. In my opinion all these reasons make it more stable than anything else out there.

As for as using the slackware name on your own custom built version, nope. It is a registered trademark owned by pat. If you used the slackware name on a non-official version he could sue you.
 
Old 04-28-2005, 01:19 PM   #5
xushi
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Very nicely put, thanks. Especially the startup scripts.

And don't get me wrong, i was just saying that putting the legal isue of the name 'slackware' asside, ... etc etc.. (asked and answerd).

Also, its good that there arn't fixed standards. Choices are good.. kde <> gnome <> xfce... kopete <> gaim, and so on. But could you agree that it sometimes causes problems?

Say the difference between each distro, in the path they choose to install apps, or dependancy hell that sometimes happen? (QT problems anyone?)

I mean if you put it the other way around, is standardization an issue, or threat to linux? both in the big picture, and the small one.

The small case? Say if 'autopackage' was really successful, most of the distros start using it..

Moving into bigger cases.. erm, sorry i don't have any examples off the top of my head.
 
Old 04-28-2005, 01:20 PM   #6
gbonvehi
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No offense and I don't want to start a flame war.. but standards in Linux is almost impossible, it's simple, you have the oportunity to choose, and you choose acording to your tastes.
And of course, it depends where you look at this, it can be a good or bad thing..

Last edited by gbonvehi; 04-28-2005 at 01:26 PM.
 
Old 04-28-2005, 01:24 PM   #7
tangle
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I really think that the FSH was a good idea that whould have been implemented. It would of helped out evenyone around. I do not mean that it is FSH way or not way, but I would like to see things install in the same place in every distro.

Standards are good for the most part, imagine the internet if there where not standards.

BTW, Pat is the man hand downs.

Last edited by tangle; 04-28-2005 at 01:28 PM.
 
Old 04-28-2005, 01:32 PM   #8
xushi
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Quote:
Originally posted by gbonvehi
No offense and I don't want to start a flame war.. but standards in Linux is almost impossible, it's simple, you have the oportunity to choose, and you choose acording to your tastes.
And of course,
I agree, but there must be atleast some form of standard, for example, FHS. The question really is, where does the standardisation <> de-standardisation point meet? And the fact that its a gray area allows for circumstances to slightly push one way or the other sometimes.

If we didnt have the FHS, then imagine the mayham linux would be in.. Now could we say the same thing with other standards? If we had a standard for the graphical interface for example... Instead of having X11, Xorg, Xfree (and whatever else there is) competing against eachother (which can sometimes be good), would we achieve the same results, or better, if we had just one to work with?.

EDIT: And i agree, no flame wars anyone.. This is purely educational.

Quote:
it depends where you look at this, it can be a good or bad thing..
The way i look at it, having it one way or the other might be bad. A mixture of both is good.

EDIT:
==========
By the way, again i want to stress on this. I don't mean to start any flame war.. I only ask for the sake of knowing about it, and the replies i'm getting are very good =)

Last edited by xushi; 04-28-2005 at 01:43 PM.
 
Old 04-28-2005, 02:59 PM   #9
masonm
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Legitimate questions.

As for standards, that almost flies in the face of what Linux is all about:choice. Everyone has the freedom to choose exactly what they want on their system, how it should work, and where to put it.

As long as there are people out there who think they have a better way of doing things that freedom is going to get exercised regardless of any arbitrary standards someone may wish to impose. This is the very reason Linux has progressed as far as it has.

While each distro set's it's own standards, it would be very difficult to establish any sort of community-wide standards for "these files should always go here" types of things as the type of people who are drawn to Linux, especially developers, are "do my own thing" kind of people anyway.

And in my humble and ignorant opinion that's a good thing. While Pat tries to adhere to his standards by keeping things very close to the Unix way of doing things, others have other ideas on what may work better. Nothing wrong with that.
 
Old 04-28-2005, 03:10 PM   #10
AxelFendersson
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Quote:
Originally posted by masonm
Also, Slack uses Unix type init scripts where many (most) distros don't.
Not that it makes that much difference, but all distros use Unix init scripts, the difference is what flavour of Unix. Slack's init scripts are based on those in BSD, whereas most distros use a system based on SysV.
 
Old 04-28-2005, 04:43 PM   #11
tech_penguin
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Good call Axel
 
Old 04-28-2005, 08:33 PM   #12
masonm
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Yeah you're right Axel, I meant to say BSD. Don't know where my head was at. LOL
 
Old 04-29-2005, 09:37 AM   #13
xushi
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So where does the legality of charging a user to use a distro come in? Can the user protest and demand to use the distro for free ?
 
Old 04-29-2005, 09:51 AM   #14
samac
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You are not being charged to use the distro, you are being charged to buy the media that the distro is supplied on and the copiers time and maybe physical documentation, or you are charged for support.

The majority of linux distributions are made up of open source and free applications.

Though some offer additional commercial applications in special packs that you pay more for eg Mandrake (or whatever its new name is).
 
  


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