There are multiple questions there, so if I can pick and choose which to answer, others can pick up the rest perhaps.
Questions 1 - 3
Although there will be a range of answers as to the best package manager to use, most (all
?) of them will use the default pkgtool. I use and would recommend on the strength of my positive experience with it, the slackpkg tool (get it here: http://slackpkg.sourceforge.net/
). Read the docs, but in essence, to install it first, as root type pkgtool at the terminal window and an ncurses menu will come up, looking very much like it did when you first installed the system (not surprisingly, because it is the same thing). If you have download slackpkg to your /home directory, just select the option on the menu that asks if you want to install from the current directory. It'll ask you if you want to install slackpkg which you do. Once it's finished it'll spit you back out to the command line. For your reference, and in answer to question 4 directly: if you have a file <package.name.tgz> you can use the default installer in the way described, and things will be just fine.
Now back to slackpkg, as root again, use your favourite editor (joe is mine) and enter joe /etc/slackpkg/mirrors and uncomment the mirror closest to yourself (and ensure that it is under the slackware 10.2 section), then as root still enter slackpkg update-all. This will generate a package list of what's installed and what's available for upgrade. Then whenever you want to, as root enter slackpkg upgrade-dist and your distro will be upgraded to the latest packages. I should mention though that just to be on the safe side, edit the slackpkg blacklist configuration file. As root, joe /etc/slackpkg/blacklist and ensure that all the following are un
commented (i.e. will stop packages of these sorts being downloaded and installed):
Let it rip and within an hour or so you'll have an updated system basically. At some point during this, you will be asked about configuration files. I always enter k to keep existing configuration files because, to the best of my knowledge, by and large config files don't change; it is the libraries that change. I stand to be corrected though.
Questions 4 and 6
When do you install from source? When you can't find a slackware-specific package and for these, your best bet is either the slackware home page or http://www.linuxpackages.net
Just pay attention to what you are doing and that you are downloading the packages that suit your architecture.
When you install from source, just untar the tarball. It is this easy: tar xzvf <newpackage.tar.gz> (note the suffix!!) and then cd into the directory <newpackage>. Usually there will be a README and usually a configure script. As normal user, enter ./configure + any parameters you might need (see the README or INSTALL files), and it'll do a whole bunch of sanity and library checks on your system. Once it reckons it can work with what you have, it'll return you to your prompt. Then, as user, enter make and wait. This is the second stage at which the installation can fall down, and if so, the makefile will stop and give you an error message. Usually, this is because of a missing library that is needed (aka a dependency
). If so, you have to track down whatever file the new package is expecting, then delete the <newpackage> directory and re-untar (you can delete the configure.log file inside the directory if you don't want to delete the directory and re-untar), install the dependency file and redo the ./configure thing again. Once you are at the stage where the make instruction has returned you (without errors) to the command line, then just enter su -c "make install && make clean" <- exactly as shown and enter your root password. The system will chug along and install the programme.
What to do if the README is unclear? Come back here if that is ever the case with the specifics of what's not clear. There'll be plenty of help available, I'm sure.
Enjoy your GNU/Linux Slackware system
AND THIS IS MY 100th POST!!!