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You also seriously do not need to be much of a programmer to compile and install these things for yourself. All it requires is the ability to follow procedure and some times deduce what dependencies are required for a certain piece of software to compile successfully. Other than that, there's no C/C++ coding, generally no tweaking of configuration files or any of the hassle it's made out to be.
In general there are a few, simple steps.
Download generic source (.tar.bz2 / .tgz) from the software's "home" site (ie kernel.org for kernel, or amarok.kde.org for music player)
Unpack it in a source directory, such as /usr/src/myapps/_name_of_software_piece_here
Run ./configure from that directory
Run make from same directory
su - root
checkinstall (which creates a package for you and does the full job
Now - it normally pays to read the included README and/or INSTALL to get the value add of customizing the software for yourself (ie turn on or off MySQL support as per your desires), but all in all, this is very easy.
Trust me - I've never been a programmer, haven't examined source code since a mandatory minor University course 15 years ago, and still run programs I compiled myself with the greatest stability..
Debian may be a bit quicker by allowing you to just grab a packet and go, but in my experience you'll build most of what you need in one afternoon and then you're ready to rock.. Once you get a hang of it, it becomes very simple and automagic.
I use swaret (a tool much like slapt-get), so unfortunately I cannot help you there.
I've used Debian on all my servers at work for the last two years. I'm in the process of migrating all of them to Slackware.
There are a bunch of quality packages for Slackware, but nothing close to what Debian has.
Working with Slackware involves more hands-on configuration and compiling/installing than Debian, but with this, gives you greater control of your boxes, and you learn much more
It means after the initial installation you are supposed to take over installing additional software by compiling sources and making use of checkinstall or writing slackbuild scripts and updating packages as and when required
The official Slackware packages can be found at ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware or any mirror. Those found at linuxpackages.net are not official slackware packages and how much trust you put into those packages is up to you.
. I panic when a distro has less than 15.000 packages available. Who knows:
-How many packages are available for Slack (slapt-get seems to be missing a lot of packages)
- Tips/sites for installing/searching/downloading software on slack is appreciated!
- You panic when there are less than 15 000 packages available?? Oh MY! .. Hehe... i cannot imagine what you do with your computer if you need that many apps..
The great thing about slackware is that you can download any source tarball/unpack it to somewhere
open the README file and follow the 5 or 6 steps to compile/install ... It's a piece of cake and works every time flawlessly with slackware. (plus its well cool working off the console and doing it all yourself...)
I did try to use some sort of package downloader/installer/seter-upera one day in another distro and im not quite sure what it actually did.... It did seem to install something/somewhere ?
- Everything can be downloaded as good 'ol rock solid source.. (it cannot be downloaded for every distro pre-packaged and ready to go though) I think you'll find with slackware you have access to alot more software than what you think.
I have downloaded quite a few drivers now where in the forums ppl on other distro's have been saying it doesnt work / wont install / giving errors etc... Worked fine in Slack though.
I fully aware of the possibility to compile software from source. However I think this process is cumbersome and frustrating. Let me explain:
Step 1: Google for the right software (this can take some time)
Step 2: Download compile and install it (and keep fingers crossed nothing goes wrong and that you have all the dependencies otherwise much more work will follow)
Step1: Search for the package e.g. in Synaptic, or for a description of the the function yoou need (e.g. usenet client) in the descriptions. In 5 secs you know if the application is available or which applications are available for the task you wish to perform
Step 2: Install the package easy, fast and no dependency issues.
Distribution: Slackware 11.0; Kubuntu 6.06; OpenBSD 4.0; OS X 10.4.10
I need to be careful here, because this could degenerate into one of those "This is why I like Slackware better than any other distro" threads. In my opinion, though, this thread has demonstrated one of the fault lines between Slackware and many other distros.
There are distros in the world that pride themselves on "shielding" users from the need to compile software. Under the guise of being "user-friendly", using this tool or that, the user has the ability to install a broad range of software. These distros make claims on their popularity based on the number of "distro-specific installer tool aware" applications there are available for them. But, somewhere out there, there are a great many people who compile and manipulate software so that it fits one or the other of these installer tools and its specific distro, and everyone who uses a distro-specific tool depends on someone else - one of these volunteers - to be kind enough to compile and transmogrify the software so that they can install it with one simple command.
The amazing/surprising/sad thing about this is, is that is in about 80% to 90% percent of cases, it is as easy to compile your own software as it is to get a distro-specific tool to do it. With Slackware, you have a high probability that "./configure && make && su -c "make install"" will get you what you need. (Oh, hey, and BTW, that was a single command line argument.)
So, when I use Slackware, I am not limited to the 15,000 applications available as .deb's (as the OP suggested). When I use Slackware - and the knowledge that compiling isn't really as hard as some make it out to be - the whole universe of POSIX- and ANSI-compliant software is available to me. And that universe, my friends, is well over 15,000 applications large.
So, have I sworn off of slapt-get or swaret or what-have-you? No, I haven't. Pat publishes updates to Slackware, and I acknowledge my dependence on him to keep track of the distribution. I use slapt-get to track -current. (I have also used swaret for the same purpose.) That keeps my basic system up-to-date.
But for most other applications I need, I download the source, read the README and the INSTALL documents, run "./configure --help" to see what additional options the programmer has offered me (which option, BTW, is not available to me if I blindly install a .deb, .rpm or even .tgz) and then configure and compile. In those occasional situations where I can't compile because of a missing library, I download the library source and compile it before going back to my original compile. A little annoying? A little more work? Yeah, maybe. But, I know what I have installed and why.
The normal habit is to build apps that are not supported yourself. If you don't know how to do that, google for scripts. If you mention the application, maybe I have a script for it. I know I should put them online one day, but I'm just so damn lazy.
Another thread which threatens to descend into Debian-bashing. This is a trend I see on other Slackware communities too. The moment they compare with Debian, somebody spews venom on the Debian community and the Debian user - I'm not saying this thread is like that, but it's heading that way.
Why is Slackware different? It requires manual configuration of almost *everything* on your system. This can be a pain or a pleasure depending on whether your objective is to get a system up and running fast or whether you want to learn Linux.
When people say you can compile on Slackware, I say you can do the same on Debian as well. I mean, the objective of a package manager is to prevent compilation and to allow easy one-click installs. However, I do agree that Slackware has its benefits.
The biggest problem I have with Slackware is that it's not a "rolling" distro (meaning upgrading from one version to the next may not be a painless task). I am aware of Slack-current and such, but that is not necessarily an ideal way to do it.
To be fair, I love using a lot of distros. To say that 'when you use Slackware you learn Linux' is a bit unfair because each distro actually is Linux and configuration files/locations does vary form distro to distro. It would be better to say 'when you learn Slackware, you learn Slackware' and such.
Because no single distro can claim to be the genuine "Linux". Every distro is Linux. If people here think I'm being anti-Slackware, all I can say is that I am anti-nothing and pro-Linux. In fact, I've reinstalled Slackware on my machine to dual-boot with Debian to give it another try.
I prefer learning as many distros as possible while sticking to one as a main option. I'm always fidgeting to learn and to me Slackware provides a window to learn while Debian allows me to have a stable Linux system which I can depend on for my regular work. Some people have it the other way round - prefer Slackware for a stable, regular system while experimenting with other distros. But from experience I can say that nobody can actually focus on more than one distro at a time. You'll always have one main preference - and mine happens to be Debian.
PS: I was recently bashed on a Slackware newsgroup for praising Debian. I won't like the thread here since it's not worthy of a link, but I thought I would share some of my thoughts here. Note clarification: The article I wrote was in my blog and I found that somebody linked to it on this particular newsgroup. I didn't deliberately troll the group.
Last edited by vharishankar; 04-01-2006 at 09:18 PM.