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Old 07-13-2002, 08:29 PM   #1
masinick
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Early impressions of Slackware 8.1?


I'm planning on getting a copy of Slackware 8.1 some time soon so that I can evaluate it against other distros.

In the past, I have found Slackware to be generally very stable, fairly easy to install, but not quite as easy to configure as some of the popular GNU/Linux distributions.

I've also found Slackware to look and feel somewhat more like a BSD UNIX system than most other distros, which generally follow a UNIX System V style when it comes to the directory hierarchy, the nature of administration details, and so forth.

Slackware does not always have the latest and greatest stuff in the stable distribution (which makes it similar to Debian in that respect), though "current" usually has decent stuff.

So I'm interested to see how well this particular release holds to Slackware traditions, and whether the majority of people appreciate the Slackware traits or not. (I'm assuming that hard core Slackware users wouldn't have it any other way, but there might be some dissenters out there who look for something different in their system).

Me? I generally like Slackware. It was the first GNU/Linux distro I ever tried, so it holds a special place for me. I tend to be partial to Debian distros, but I value the things that Debian and Slackware have in common - stability, flexibility, and an independent style that makes the distro distintive.

Other opinions, either way?
 
Old 07-13-2002, 08:52 PM   #2
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I've been using Slackware since early 90s. It always work on any machine I threw at it. I received the cds yesterday and have just finished installing it. Installation went smoothly. The distribution contains up to date apps; it is definitely not like debian's stable potatos branch. I am extremely happy with it especially nvidia driver work perfectly with it!
 
Old 07-13-2002, 09:25 PM   #3
masinick
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Cool! I'll have to give the new release a try! :-)
 
Old 07-13-2002, 10:17 PM   #4
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1) Slackware doesn't reinvent the wheel on every version.
2) Best general Linux distro for whatever your purpose. You build your own system for what you want it to be.
3) Adherence to original standards but incorporates new development standards as well.
4) Doesn't care what Microsoft is doing!
5) Installs to runlevel 3. That is the OS level. The X windows system is an application, not an OS.
6) Concentrates on a stable base system. Not trying to give the world everything, while the most popular environments are available if desired.
7) The most flexible (and powerfull) installation available.


I will admit that my view in comparison of other distros is fairly limited. I only have experience with RedHat, Mandrake, Corel (based on Debian), and SuSE. But since all of us have the availbility to build our very own distro, I would just end up with Slackware anyway.
 
Old 07-14-2002, 07:33 PM   #5
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Thanks! Those are very good reasons for choosing Slackware! I'm looking forward to using 8.1, and I appreciate your ideas about why Slackware makes a good choice!
 
Old 07-14-2002, 08:32 PM   #6
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I just got my Slack-8.1 up and running last night and have been using it all day today.

Since it just came out, it is very current. It's got kernel 2.4.18, KDE3.01, Mozilla 1.0, and lot of other current versions of stuff. It is said to include a better method of managing printers than before, but I haven't tried it out yet.

Installing Slackware is much the same as it has been. It has a simple menu based installer that configures most, but not everything. For example, you still have to get into /etc/rc.d/rc.modules and uncomment your sound cards and other stuff that is in there. The same goes for things in /etc/inetd.conf, samba.conf and others.

I bought the full set.

First tried out CD 2 which is a bootable live filesystem. I didn't think it was nearly as polished as other bootable CD's like this (like Knopplix or Virtual Linux). For example, I couldn't get networking to work properly with it, there was also lots of other things that didn't work right. It should function fine a rescue CD although.

Finally I installed the real system. It went like earlier Slackware installs. I'm glad my cdrom was bootable, because the floppy install images have grown to an unacceptable 6 disks! Still, I've always gotten along well with Slackware's installers compared with the other "fancy" distro's out there. I've mostly had trouble with those that require a working X-server to perform the install and ones that don't allow your to manually configure lilo.conf before butchering your disk's MBR. With Slackware, I've always enjoyed being able to poke in the back doors (via virtual terminals and such) to keep ahead of what's going on and head off potential problems. One problem for example that Slackware's installer dealt with was when I locked up my motherboard's keyboard controller with my KVM switch (which was not Slackware's fault), just after all the packages were installed. I simply did a hard reset, rebooted the CDROM, then jumped to the appropriate parts in the installation process and continued.

In general I feel that Slack 8.1 is a very good combination of the old familiar and new polish. It will still be as tough for new users to figure out, but the new stuff is wonderful. For example I've been using Slack 8.1's Galeon and KDE3's Konquerquer for web browsing for well over a day now without either of them crashing, or otherwise getting confused somewhere. This was never the case before with any Linux OS. In fact, so far all the software I've tried has worked very well except for the Xfree86 configuration programs which were terrible! I had to manually edit many items in the XF86Config file to make things work. I even had to download an updated driver for my Trident 3Dimage975 video card.

I like Slackware because I feel like I'm more in control of my OS with it than at it's mercy.

Last edited by wartstew; 07-14-2002 at 10:55 PM.
 
Old 07-14-2002, 09:07 PM   #7
masinick
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Hmm, my appetite is becoming whetted! I've been planning on experimenting some more with KDE 3.0.1 or 3.0.2 somewhere along the way. If Slackware 8.1 starts out with that as a base, plus current versions of Mozilla and Galeon, that's all the more compelling reasons to really give it a good test drive! :-)

Thanks!
 
Old 07-14-2002, 11:01 PM   #8
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Expect it to have fewer cool desktop apps than Mandrake, but you can always go out and fetch them yourself, or just install the Mandrake ones using either rpm or rpm2tgz. I've noticed a lack of cool CDRecord front ends, for example.
 
Old 07-14-2002, 11:42 PM   #9
GoremanX
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I've been running slackware-current since it first got branched last year. Everytime slackware-current got updated, I kept up with those updates, right up to when Slackware 8.1 was finally released in June (rsync is awesome for keeping up with slackware-current). So basically, I didn't go through a big version jump like most people who went from 8.0 to 8.1. I just got to experience all the updates as they happened. I wouldn't ever take a single step back though, all the changes have been for the better. Slackware 8.1 is by far the most powerful, versatile and customizeable Linux OS I've ever tried. Debian takes too long to adopt new app versions (unless you're running the unstable "woody"), and I can't stand the whole RPM package system so that puts most other distros out of the running. I've always found RedHat to be "more complete", but also far less stable. X-apps in RedHat crash on a whim, especially the custom-made RedHat utilities which are *supposed* to make system maintenance so much easier.

I totally agree with the above-mentioned quote:
"I like Slackware because I feel like I'm more in control of my OS with it than at it's mercy."

To get the level of control offered by Slackware, I'd have to build a Linux system from scratch. And that's just too much trouble and hassle. As it is, I far prefer the "out of the box" functionality of Slackware.

Instead of trying to cater to Microsoft -> Linux converts, which is what all modern distros seem to do, Slackware gives you a powerful operating system that allows you to do just about anything you want the way you want. People migrating from MS Windows will hate it because it doesn't do everything automatically for you or hold your hand along the way. And it doesn't have a streamlined process since you can choose just about any environment you want from countless numbers of them (console-only, KDE, Gnome, WindowMaker, etc. etc. etc.). But long-time Linux users will really appreciate the flexibility of Slackware.

I don't run my system the same way as anyone else, and I wouldn't want to.

Oh, and since slackware-current development seems to have stalled until the next version branch is cut, I've found that Linux Packages offers all of the latest Slackware packages for apps that have seen a new release since Slackware 8.1 was finalized (ie. Evolution 1.08). http://www.linuxpackages.net
So the fact that most software developers don't make Slackware packages available doesn't bother me one bit (I could always just compile from source too).
 
Old 07-15-2002, 01:43 AM   #10
wartstew
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Quote:
Originally posted by GoremanX
Debian takes too long to adopt new app versions (unless you're running the unstable "woody")
Maybe I need to give Debian more of a chance. Woody has been in the "testing" branch for a long time now. "Sid" is now the "unstable" branch. Debian users claim that these branches are typically more stable than most other peoples' production distributions. I guess that claim wouldn't be hard to prove. The Debian bureaucracy however, seems to make things progress very slowly. Woody is currently far less current than Slackware 8.1 and it isn't even officially the stable version yet! I'm guessing what Debian users do is start with the stable branch, then upgrade the parts they need using their "apt-get" system from the other branches. This might be a good way to do things, assuming that "apt-get" doesn't have all the "dependancy hell" problems that rpm has.

I've always thought that many of the distributions I've tried that were based on Debian were pretty nice and very stable.

I do miss having at least some dependency checking. For example, my first install attempt of Slackware 8.1 resulted in a very unstable system because I attempted (for the first time) to use the new user full prompting mode. I ended up only installing about 700mb of software, a lot of it that didn't function. I started over, did a full install, got 1.9 Gigs or so, but everything seems to work. Debian might be a better answer to when I don't want a "full" system install.
 
Old 07-15-2002, 10:04 AM   #11
masinick
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Regarding comments about Debian, I have found that Debian systems are absolutely the easiest to modify, using the apt-get method of working with .deb software packages. The stable distribution (currently "Potato") is absolutely the most stable software you can find anywhere. The testing distribution, (currently "Woody"), rivals most system's most stable distribution mechanism. The "unstable" distribution, (currently "SID"), contains more software packages (over 10,000) than any other system, bar none.

Comparing Slackware to Debian, it would seem that both of them have the similarity of seeking to produce a high quality product with little concern about the way that others handle it. Slackware is not produced by a collective group of people, but by one or a few people at most, so it benefits from not being bogged down by an organization, but it is also limited by the lack of an organization in terms of the amount of software that can be made available or tested. Neither Slackware nor Debian seem to lead the pack when it comes to being the first out with a new release, but both do far better than most of the other commercial distros when it comes to product quality, choice of apps, and freedom from being commonplace! :-)
 
Old 07-15-2002, 11:16 AM   #12
wartstew
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Thank you for your comments on Debian.

I probably need to build up a Debian machine soon to see how I like it.

Like Slackware, installing Debian seems to have a steep learning curve, and like Slackware, documentation specific to it is a little hard to find. I guess I can deal with this.

Like Slackware, they seem to put more importance on stability than on having the latest stuff. Perhaps Debian takes this too far.

Debian appears to have a much superior package management system, which should come in handy when attempting to keep your system up to date.

I was just wondering how well it works to do something like install "Woody" which is mostly stable, then upgrading packages that I feel I "have to have" from "Sid", and therefore ending up with something that I just got with Slack 8.1? I remember trying to update a Redhat system this way once and it ended in disaster.

One of the things that has kept me away from Debian is how to build a system that is reasonably up-to-date. I guess I need to read their FAQ.
 
Old 07-15-2002, 11:36 AM   #13
masinick
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I've been using a commercial implementation of Debian GNU/Linux from Libranet, a Canadian company. Their latest version, 2.0 Rev. 2, is based on a Woody distribution. It makes a great starting point. From there, it is trivial to upgrade or downgrade anything I want. I tend to stick with the base, but then install the latest versions of the things I'm interested in. Examples: I've installed updates to stuff like Emacs, Mozilla, nedit, and recently, something much bigger: GNOME 2.0. None of the updates have caused me any problems, but if they ever do, all I have to do is uninstall them and I'm back where I was! Works great!

I want to compare this approach to the latest version of Slackware and start playing around with Slackware current to see how analogous the two approaches are.
 
Old 07-15-2002, 10:43 PM   #14
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Unfortuanatly, I would expect that if you upgrade Slackware to Gnome 2.0 (currently 1.4), you will probably then have to manually upgrade some shared libraries (GTK+ and such) yourself to make the thing run. I would guess Apt-get handled this automatically.

This is the biggest downside to Slackware in my opinion; It sometimes can be tricky to add on to, or upgrade. The funny thing is that I often find it easier than dealing RedHat & Mandrake's RPM based installers!
 
Old 07-15-2002, 11:00 PM   #15
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I think this is more due to the fact that Gnome and KDE (moreso Gnome) depend on a large number of constantly-evolving libraries. Installing Gnome doesn't mean installing a few packages named "Gnome-xxx-2.0", it means installing a bunch of stuff that's all developed individually by different groups, and that may or may not have anything to do with each other at all. In that situation, a dependancy-based package system is definitely better suited to the task. I wouldn't blame the complexity on the package system, but rather on Gnome's haphazard structure.

Here's the way I see it:

Gnome is to KDE as Debian is to Slackware

Doesn't really matter much to me though, I run WindowMaker in purely "stock" form
 
  


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