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ReaperX7 10-06-2012 01:32 AM

My own smallish yet simplish review of Slackware 14.0
 
I figured I'd do an in-house review of Slackware 14.0 rather than let some two-bit website say stuff.

Slackware 14.0 is the latest release of possibly one of the last of the oldest distributions of GNU/Linux by it's maintainer Patrick Volkerding. For this review I'm using roughly the following machine:

AMD Athlon X2 5000 2.5GHz
Nvidia GeForce 9800GT 1GB PCIe
ASUS Xonar DX PCIe
4GB DDR2 RAM (Dual-Channel)
500 GB Western Digital Green series hard drive

1. Setup and Installation

Slackware's setup is very primal but attempts to amount relying on heavy CLI usage. Most of the installation is very similar to how FreeBSD is now installed using NCurses menus. For some newbies to Linux this might seem a bit daunting, but if you read the documentation beforehand, it all makes perfect sense.

Slackware's install is very basic even for a full system and the whole system is fairly much up and running after about a good 20 minute install.

Slackware still uses LILO for it's boot manager, though for my own usage I skipped this and performed a rescue boot and installed GRUB2 from SlackBuilds.

2. Initial boot and basic Configuration

The boot time has been sped up a good bit from the last release, even with the Huge kernel. Normally with Huge my system on average took at least 25-35 seconds to boot to the Login. On this version, this has been cut down drastically by at least a 13-17 seconds boot time even with the BSD/SysV Init script system used by Slackware that some less than honorable developers would say is took slow. In fact this is one of the fastest boots for Slackware I've ever bore first hand witness to. I would dare to estimate using Generic and Initrd would shave off even more, but for me, this is fine.

ALSA lacks the alsaconf configuration script, but ALSA fairly much loads without need for this. A simply setup using alsamixer and alsactl to store the settings and no problems.

X11 is still fairly painfree to setup. Xorgsetup still exists which makes auto generation of an xorg.conf file in /etc/X11 fairly painless and is now really accurate at setting the correct driver. OpenGL acceleration through Nouveau was acceptable but was replaced for the Nvidia Binary Blob as I do require the added power of the official driver.

3. Initial usage.

For my usage I took on Xfce, my bread and butter WM and UI. Xfce 4.10 is very system resource friendly and is very configurable. In fact Xfce is probably one of the more modern style UIs that is system resource friendly. While KDE has it's fans, often I find KDE a bit much even on my fairly well-powered system. Sometimes simplicity just works.

I only had one gripe... Mousepad is gone and wasn't replaced. Luckily Leafpad was available on SlackBuilds and was a very nice drop-in replacement. Perhaps this would be a nice future addition for Slackware to be considered?

The lack of Java was negligible. A quick visit to AlienBOB's website and after installing OpenJDK and IcedTea-web, and problem solved. I'd honestly prefer if Patrick did one day decide to just include OpenJDK and IcedTea-web in the /extras folder and call the issue done and over with. If Oracle wants to play hardball, they can just go play with themselves (no pun intended).

The default Xfce interface was a bit different, but easily remedied with some customizations to give it a more familiar Windows-ish style I'm more used to as I often switch back and forth between OSes often throughout the day.

4. Conclusions.

Overall Slackware 14.0 is a very professional distribution that not only is fast, but very reliable, stable, and very well crafted like top quality ice cold beer. I've used other big brand Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, and even OpenSUSE, but Slackware by all regards seems so clean, refined, and possibly the highest professional grade Linux distribution out there.

Linux distributions come and go, but often it it said, those who stay true to their roots, often have the best blossoming of their fruits. For Slackware having stayed simple, small, and clean has allowed Patrick and crew to give a great distribution that not only has stood the test of time, but will continue to withstand the sweeping changes attempting to turn the GNU/Linux OS on it's head.

5. Side-note additions:

One oddity I'd bare mentioning... GMPlayer could be easily excluded from the MPlayer build and MPlayerplug-in removed and replaced with the GNOME-MPlayer which uses the Gecko-MediaPlayer as a web browser plugin. Perhaps another consideration for the future.

Also as mentioned OpenJDK could be effectively added to /extra and all mentioning of the Oracle package just excluded. Something more license and distribution friendly just needs to be worked out.

I also haven't even taken the time to consider multilib as practically I don't find I need it, yet. While there are those who might require packages for 32-bit, I often have found I don't need these packages for any reason, but as always, thank you bunches to AlienBOB for providing these for us when we do find we need them.

Eventually, LILO is going to have to be replaced at some point in the future as the default bootloader for Slackware. Grub2 is well designed and easy to use with 3 simple commands. Overall it would be a worthwhile replacement for LILO with the upcoming usage of UEFI systems and GPT partitioning methods. Perhaps Grub2 can be eventually added to /extra.

Overall I have to give Slackware 14.0 an 8.9 on a scale of 1-10. I deducted a few points for obvious shortcomings mentioned, but overall the OS is just extremely well designed, built, and made, I would have easily given it an 11.

If there was a Linux distribution that is meant for everyone, I'd have to say, Slackware is the Linux Distribution for Everybody. Every new release always feels like a shiny brand new penny that just happen to find.

A toast! To Patrick and to Slackware 14.0 on a job well-done!

Knightron 10-06-2012 02:32 AM

hi thanks for sharing. are you aware lq has a section for reviews? you should enter it there too. I enjoyed reading, wasn't sure of the grub2 remarks but everyone's allowed to have a preference.

ruario 10-06-2012 02:49 AM

Interesting though I don't agree with your assessment of replacing lilo with grub2. grub is over complex and has a an excessive amount of dependencies. It would involve less package additions to include elilo in addition to lilo for efi based machines. Alternatively syslinux is very nice and very simple. It is included in Slackware already and they are planning efi support.

Grub has the other downside of requiring an extra "BIOS boot partition" (partition type EF02 in gdisk) when using gpt with MBR. Syslinux does not need this.

By the way you, when you booted with the rescue disk did you mean a USB boot disk created by the installer? If so you could have just used your install media to boot first time if you wanted (maybe I misunderstood and that is what you did). An even better option would be to just chroot into your new install after setup has finished and then compile, install and configure Grub, saving yourself a reboot.

kikinovak 10-06-2012 03:56 AM

LILO is one of those components - like the Slackware installer, pkgtool, slackpkg, SlackBuild scripts, BSD init - that reflects Slackware's KISS philosophy:
  • Bone-headed, so what?
  • JustWorks(tm)

:cool:

Bazzaah 10-06-2012 04:29 AM

I disagree about Grub2. Someone's designed a utility so you can change the default order of the entries (among other things).

That utility would not be needed if Grub2 were easy to use.

saulgoode 10-06-2012 04:37 AM

Another LILO fan here. My mind revolts somewhat at the thought of using a 6 megabyte loader to boot a 4 megabyte kernel. Also, anybody else notice that after more than a decade of hearing from the GRUB camp how burdensome it supposedly was having to run 'lilo' after editing the config file, not a peep of complaint about having to edit a config file and run 'grub-update' for GRUB2?

I am a little disappointed that Slackware 14 did not include GUILE version 2 (it still has v1.8), though it should be no trouble building v2 from Mr Volkerding's Slackbuild since all the required dependencies appear to be met.

brianL 10-06-2012 05:51 AM

Like I've said before: if lilo was inferior to any other bootloader, it would not be the default in Slackware.

Soderlund 10-06-2012 06:15 AM

I agree that OpenJDK should be added.

Just thought I would add, for those who don't know it:

Earlier, OpenJDK was the GPL-ed version of Sun/Oracle's JRE/JDK, but since Sun didn't own all the code, they couldn't release all of it under the GPL, and some parts of it had to be replaced. This is probably why OpenJDK used to be more buggy than the official JDK.

But OpenJDK is the official reference implementation now. Everything in OpenJDK is in Oracle's JDK; Oracle just adds extra features to their version of it.

The way I see it, OpenJDK is less bloated (without Oracle's additional features -- Java should fix its problems, not add new ones, and it's already huge as it is) and less restrictive (being GPL-licensed), so there's no reason to use Oracle's version. If you can't even ship it in Linux distributions, then what good is it? It's like asking that it should go the same way as OpenOffice.

konsolebox 10-06-2012 06:49 AM

Grub (0.97) still works best for me.

GazL 10-06-2012 07:39 AM

Though I prefer lilo, I don't mind legacy grub, but having experienced grub2 recently on Fedora (installed only to keep informed about what the other distro's are doing) I think I would rather have my nuts chewed-off by a rabid squirrel than see it in slackware.

688a 10-06-2012 08:38 AM

According to the following tests, Slackware is almost performing the worest one! ( I don't know what the tests meant actually, I don't care)

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...xdistros&num=1

Didier Spaier 10-06-2012 08:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 688a (Post 4798772)
According to the following tests, Slackware is almost performing the worest one! ( I don't know what the tests meant actually, I don't care)

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...xdistros&num=1

There is another thread about that review.

hitest 10-06-2012 09:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ReaperX7 (Post 4798598)

Slackware 14.0 is the latest release of possibly one of the last of the oldest distributions of GNU/Linux by it's maintainer Patrick Volkerding.

That should say its. The word it's means it has or it is. Overall an excellent review. I do prefer lilo.

donallen 10-06-2012 09:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hitest (Post 4798790)
I know I'm being a pain, but, that should say its. The word it's means it has or it is. Overall an excellent review. I do prefer lilo.

The comma after "but" is not correct. And you should have quoted "its", as I just did. (Sorry, I couldn't resist. It's (!) really important, when correcting someone's grammar, to get your own grammar in order. I've checked this message carefully to try to be sure I didn't blunder, but if I did, I'm certain to hear about it.)

hitest 10-06-2012 09:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by donallen (Post 4798808)
The comma after "but" is not correct. And you should have quoted "its", as I just did. (Sorry, I couldn't resist. It's (!) really important, when correcting someone's grammar, to get your own grammar in order. I've checked this message carefully to try to be sure I didn't blunder, but if I did, I'm certain to hear about it.)

Fixed. Thanks. :)


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