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Old 09-25-2009, 02:26 AM   #1
Josh000
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Slack and other minimal/lightweight distros, compared to 'bigger' distros.


Hey guys, a serious question here. Please do not turn this into a flamewar, and keep it on topic.

I started using slackware from version 7, and it was a great experience, and I genuinely learned most of my knowledge through doing so. Now, because I have been closer to the slackware community, and to a lesser extent the gentoo and arch(And similar) communities, I have noticed a common opinion.

Namely, that other distributions, such as RH, SUSE, Ubuntu etc, all prevent you from learning linux directly, and teach you distro specific stuff, make it harder to edit config files directly, all of this sort of stuff.

Indeed, it is a somewhat popular saying that if you learn ubuntu, you will learn ubuntu, but if you learn slack, you will learn linux.

I honestly wonder how justified this is. This is my question.

I want to know how justified the opinion is that the other distros, generally considered more bloated or having a lot of wrappers and stuff actually make it hard to admin stuff directly and simply.

The reason I ask, is that I was talking to an ubuntu fan recently, who basically said that it was quite a myth. You can still edit all files directly, you are not discouraged from doing so etc

So, is it in fact true, that with ubuntu or RH, you have the same control as you have with slack, but with the option to use (intended to be easier) to use wrappers for stuff? I am aware there will not be the same level of package control as there is with slack or the others, but that is not what I am asking about.

What would be the different between a bare minimum ubuntu install and a slack install, aside from vendor patches?
 
Old 09-25-2009, 02:39 AM   #2
~sHyLoCk~
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Quote:
The reason I ask, is that I was talking to an ubuntu fan recently, who basically said that it was quite a myth. You can still edit all files directly, you are not discouraged from doing so etc
Really? just goto ubuntu forums and create a topic "how to enable root account" and see their reaction. Oh also let me tell you, according to forum rule if someone helps you out detailing the procedure to enable your root account, he/she might get banned and/or warned.Obviously you can modify ubuntu or any Linux distro for that matter, but you won't get official support for a distro like ubuntu or fedora, if you mess with the defaults.

Last edited by ~sHyLoCk~; 09-25-2009 at 02:41 AM.
 
Old 09-25-2009, 03:08 AM   #3
catkin
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You can hack ubuntu around, for example I created an ubuntu system with read-only / and /usr file systems trimmed down to less than 1 GB on /.

The real restrictions are package dependencies, for example even on that minimal system and with the ubuntu-desktop "meta package" removed I still couldn't remove the cups package without also removing some essential packages.

ubuntu does give the user more GUI tools to configure Linux with than Slackware does but -- like all GUI tools (including Windows') -- they offer a limited subset of options. If you really want to make the OS sing and dance, you end up on the command line, scripting and editing.

So ubuntu's Linux itself is not too hard to work with; a bigger problem is Gnome -- dumbed down, buggy, slow, poorly documented, really hard to reverse-engineer. Most of that is no problem for the designer's intended users who aren't interested in tweaking the GUI or pushing it to the limits and accept what they get rather than asking "why not?" and saying "it would be nice if ...". It's a case of "horses for courses" rather than a criticism of Gnome.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately!) I haven't experienced KDE but suspect that it is not so different from Gnome -- thus bringing Slackware and ubuntu into the same place as regards editing configuration files directly.
 
Old 09-25-2009, 07:03 AM   #4
justin_p
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The differnce....Updates.....My thoughts on Debian distros.....having to run extensive updates daily with tens of packages is no fun. I have run everything on my PC and truly love slackware. Once set up, it just goes. Now that your xorg is set up automatically there is very little to manually edit.

For a minimal install I think that Ubuntu is not the way to go due to the dependencies indicated above.
 
Old 09-25-2009, 08:18 AM   #5
samac
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I stopped using Mandrake (now Mandriva) and then Debian and moved to Slackware for the following reasons. Mandrake thought it knew better than me and kept overwriting changes that I made to configuration files. Debian thought that it knew better than me and installed dependencies that broke other programs and then could not be removed because they broke the system.

I moved just over 5 years ago and since then I generally only break my system when I break it, and because I broke it I know how to fix it. When I moved the saying that you mentioned was true, I learned more about linux in a few months using Slackware than I had in the previous 5 years that I had been using linux Redhat 5.2, Mandrake 6.1, Caldera, Debian and various others.

It may not be true now but, my guess is that it probably is.

samac
 
Old 09-25-2009, 08:28 AM   #6
storkus
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Not a flame, only a comment, first: I wouldn't consider Slack a minimal/lightweight distro. True, it doesn't have the massive amounts of software a Debian, Red Hat, or Gentoo distro (or their derivatives like Ubuntu, Fedora, etc) might have, but it's very far from the minimal/lightweight category. There's very little that those other distros have been able to do that I haven't been able to do on Slackware, better package management being the biggest one of course (at the cost--oh, the irony never escapes--of less stability! .

When I think of minimal/lightweight, I think of Tom's rtbt, DSL, etc. If I can run a decent GUI (with a browser) on a machine from over a decade ago and the distro is current (as opposed to loading up, say, Slack 3.x on it), it's lightweight. If the GUI isn't present or is bare-bones (fv/twm w/o X, anyone?) or it'll work in an embedded environment, I'd call it minimal. Using the examples above, Tom's is minimal (still fits on floppies and runs live!) and DSL is lightweight (can probably--but haven't tried it yet--install on an old 1996 P-100 16MB RAM 100MB HDD I have laying around that came with win95 1st edition).

Now to answer your question about learning, the ultimate learning tool IMHO has got to be LFS (Linux From Scratch); that said, before LFS, there was Slackware. LFS even acknowledges this in that they give specific directions to make Slackware/BSD-style init scripts instead of the usual System-V style if that's what you want. Since I don't understand the Sys-V-style (so damn convoluted!!) and all I've ever used is Slackware (since the mid-90's), that would make things a lot simpler for me; YMMV, of course.

Mike
 
Old 09-25-2009, 09:12 AM   #7
hitest
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I learn the most about computing when I use Slackware and the BSDs. These distros are designed logically and they make the most sense to me. I appreciate the fact that when I set-up Slackware and/or FreeBSD my computer will run without crashing...indefinitely.
I don't like Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, etc...because they conceal system functionality from the end-user. Shiny GUIS and package managers are nice things *if they work*. An Ubuntu user will still need to be able to use a text editor if apt-get fails. Slackpkg in Slackware and ports in FreeBSD are elegant, well thought out package management systems.
If I f**k something up on my box it is because I've done it myself and I can fix it with a text editor, command prompt, or by booting from the DVD.
I'll always be a Slacker.
 
Old 09-25-2009, 09:13 AM   #8
alexiy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samac View Post
I stopped using Mandrake (now Mandriva) and then Debian and moved to Slackware for the following reasons. Mandrake thought it knew better than me and kept overwriting changes that I made to configuration files. Debian thought that it knew better than me and installed dependencies that broke other programs and then could not be removed because they broke the system.

I moved just over 5 years ago and since then I generally only break my system when I break it, and because I broke it I know how to fix it. When I moved the saying that you mentioned was true, I learned more about linux in a few months using Slackware than I had in the previous 5 years that I had been using linux Redhat 5.2, Mandrake 6.1, Caldera, Debian and various others.

It may not be true now but, my guess is that it probably is.

samac
Samac +100. Nice explanation: "I generally only break my system when I break it, and because I broke it I know how to fix it"

I went through the same! And destination point is Slackware.
 
Old 09-25-2009, 09:28 AM   #9
sahko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by storkus View Post
Not a flame, only a comment, first: I wouldn't consider Slack a minimal/lightweight distro. True, it doesn't have the massive amounts of software a Debian, Red Hat, or Gentoo distro (or their derivatives like Ubuntu, Fedora, etc) might have, but it's very far from the minimal/lightweight category.
I agree that Slackware isn't a "lightweight" distribution. After all, it comes with 2 DE's and 3 WM's by default! It can be customized to be less bloated but so can most other distributions. Even Ubuntu. Fedora, Debian etc. In fact i don't see how the default Slackware installation is any different from a default Ubuntu one. They both aim to give you a complete working desktop (of course Slackware is also suitable as a server, but server installations will be probably customized by definition).
 
Old 09-25-2009, 09:31 AM   #10
onebuck
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Hi,

'Slack and other minimal/lightweight distros, compared to 'bigger' distros.' is not really a fair statement in my opinion. I believe in the use of the right tool for a job. Slackware can be trimmed down to fit the description as being light weight for a install. Slax is a good example of a fork that can be used to aid a user.

Larger size (quantity) instead of quality doesn't make something better. But to state that 'bigger' is because of number of users doesn't mean it's better. Some users of the so called 'bigger' distros have to wait or hope the maintainer aligns with their needs/requirements. If not then hopefully their needs can be addressed via other methods.

A Slackware user doesn't need to sit and wait to get something. They can either install what is necessary via a package or create the necessary app via source. Sure we have 'Slackbuilds' but sometimes a user must get down an perform tasks to get something for themselves. Hopefully that same user will share.

BTW, I do use other forms of GNU/Linux whenever the need arises.
 
Old 09-25-2009, 09:35 AM   #11
~sHyLoCk~
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Slackware is more of an Operating System than another Linux distro. It provides you with a complete set of applications that you would need for a desktop/server daily use. For a minimal system install, there are always gentoo,arch,lfs or even debian! Again it's a matter of choice and preference.

Last edited by ~sHyLoCk~; 09-25-2009 at 09:36 AM.
 
Old 09-25-2009, 09:57 AM   #12
dwr1
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With xfce installed slack is, on my system, ~3.5gb, minus my home directories. I wouldn't call that lightweight. If you mean that slack doesn't have a lot of handholding applications to help the user configure stuff, then yeah, okay, it's lightweight.

Plenty of posters in this thread have spoken about how other distros try to automatically administrate their system. The other distros do this with higher level abstractions, normally with a GUI face.

These are basically abstractions on the core unix system, most of the time. But these abstractions only grant a limited number of possible administrative options, for abstractions hide away functionality, not increase it.

This is all well and fine while you want to play within the bounds of the abstractions. But most slackers don't. And when they're forced to they become frustrated. And reinstall slack.

Last edited by dwr1; 09-25-2009 at 09:59 AM.
 
Old 09-25-2009, 11:49 AM   #13
Peacepunk
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You can't blame Slackware if you damage your system... How true, and how significant: I take this as completely opposed to the very idea of 'rock solid distro' that Slackware puts forward... Does anyone sees the gap in logic?

I believe this is why 'mainstream' Linux distros make it harder, concealed - if not downright inaccessible, forbidden & all that. Then, there'll always be other people to think they know better than you, it's a feature of Systems Design, not a bug.


The issue here is that we have been crying after 'Linux for the Masses' for years - hence, that's what we have, Linux distros hacked for the dumb user in mind. Mind you, if you don't fool around, they are _quite_ useable.


I work with Ardour2, an ICE1724 soundboard, homebrew realtime kernel, on a slack12.2 with the Enlightenment DR16 WM - Even with E DR16 providing no threat at all on the graphic system, and with 3G of ram, I can tell you I crash my system alot, while relying on 'Stable' releases only. Slack isn't more this or less that: the good point of the entire Linux landscape lies within its breadth, the manyful choices we have at hand.

These choices, like any, make us compromise between this, and that: SLack is good for me, 'cause I can compile 99% of my needs fuss-free - then, I may run a dependency hell. Yet, my wife runs Fedora and my daughter UNR and they love their laptops to the point of advocating Linux 24/7.

It is then true you learn alot - see how many answers the u-forums have to offer! Beyond the matter of taste, it's more like a big school where one has the opportunity to choose which class he/she will attend, and without the necessity to pass an exam at the end of the year.


Just stick to what's good for you.
And don't complain if it isn't, just switch over.

Jean-Philippe
http://pics.zenerves.net/index.php?g...mbodge/Pirates

Last edited by Peacepunk; 09-25-2009 at 11:51 AM.
 
Old 09-25-2009, 07:20 PM   #14
gargamel
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1. I agree with some other posters, that Slackware is by no means light weight or non-mainstream. It's a top-ten fully-fledged distribution of Linux.

2. I have used SuSE Linux for many years. I don't subscribe to the point of view of some posters here, that distributions with GUI admin tools prevent you from configuring your system by hand. At least, SuSE does not prevent you from anything you can do in Slackware. You can edit all configuration files directly, and in most cases the admin tool will leave the files you edited alone from the moment you touched them first.
But this means, that some parts of the automatisation break. Once you start editing configuration files by hand in SuSE, there's no safe way back, other than deleting the edited files and re-installing the package to which it belongs.

To give you an example, for what I really liked a lot in SuSE: I ran an Apache 1.3 web server. I had not touched the original configuration files, because my requirements could all be met by using YaST for setting it up. Then a new version of SuSE Linux was released, including Apache 2.0 as standard. My configuration was transparently converted, and my computer ran Apache 2.0. I did not have to touch a single file, it just worked, because the configuration settings I had done in YaST were simply mapped to Apache 1.3 in the older release and to version 2.0 in the new one.

I could have modified the Apache configuration files directly, just as well. But then I would have had to the migration myself, also. This would have been possible, but I would have lost the comfort offered by SuSE forever, as far as Apache HTTPD is regarded.

For various reasons I don't run SuSE on any of my machines, currently, and in my opinion Slackware is the best Linux distribution (and the best operating system) I have seen, but I still have every respect for the efforts of the SuSE development team. Despite the fact that I don't understand why Novell has let go so many highly skilled people, they still produce my other favourite distro (#2 in my current ranking).

For some specific things, YaST by default ignores that configuration files have been modified manually by the user or system administrator. But it's always possible to configure YaST to not overwrite any modified files.

3. Learning Linux is possible with just about every distribution. The question is: What is Linux?
If Linux is what the LSB defines, then OpenSuSE is Linux, and Slackware is not. Because it doesn't include PAM, and does not use a System V boot scheme. Also, it doesn't use RPM for package management.
There are very good reasons for Slackware not to include this stuff, but it also means that it is not standards compliant. In fact this is one reason, why other distros, such as Red Hat and SuSE had more acceptance in large enterprises than Slackware: They were "certified" for their LSB conformance.
But then, what's the benefit of the LSB? Mainly, that RPM packages for Red Hat will work unmodified on SuSE, too. As a Slackware user I couldn't care less. Meanwhile I think the package management of Slackware is the superior approach compared to RPM, PAM has a reputation of introducing security problems and complexity into a system, and System V boot schemes are more flexibel, but also more difficult to maintain than the BSD style mechanism used in Slackware.
But none of the major distros prevents you from learning shell scripting, learning about inodes and file modes and so on, if you really are interested. (Well, the *buntus may be an exception, here, for the reasons mentioned by others in this thread, already...)

gargamel
 
Old 09-25-2009, 07:54 PM   #15
manwithaplan
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First I respect the Slackware community for its contribution to the Linux desktop, and its a true original.

My opinon is to stick with a distro that suits your needs, I think these Canonical based distros, and all there spinoffs are catered to the new Linux converts. I started with Redhat 6-7 (before Fedora), and hated it. It felt restricted, so I went to Debian, then noticed that the binary standards didnt suit me. I chose Gentoo because I liked the portage, and the USE flag features. And I have a speedy enough computer to compile code quickly. I have enjoyed using Arch and pacman & yaourt, and making and adjusting PKGBUILDS, and using there AUR, and ABS system. It's hard to switch from making my custom ebuilds, and using portage, to start using Slacks, and Arch fulltime. So as a side project I'm going to install a minimal Slackware, and chroot in, and mess with it a bit.

I have learned more from building LFS & Gentoo then any other variant. I started to write my own scripts, started programming pygtk, and other things that I would'nt have really thought of, unless I started installing minimal, and creating my own software tools.

As a side note SUSE ... is just right around the corner from my place, and I have to say I used to work for Novell, it was plagued with constant strife, and back stabbing management. I swore that I would boycott there software for the way they treated me, and others. I saw that they would washout good people out of favoritism for others, very cliche'. I jumped ship from Novell sometime ago, and haven't looked back

Last edited by manwithaplan; 09-25-2009 at 08:02 PM.
 
  


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