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Hello all. In the near future I plan to purchase a laptop and get Slack up and running. I notice that the current version still uses the 2.4 kernel. I'm curious what major changes there are between 2.4 and 2.6 (anything that I absolutely need), and wondered if anyone has any idea when the new version of Slack will be released (and if it would be better to wait until then rather than try to compile the new kernel on 9.1... I haven't had the best of luck doing that in the past).
Kernel 2.6 has a few features especially useful for portable computers. Thinks like ACPI and power-save mechanisms.
Kernel 2.4 is more mature, however. I currently run SuSE 9.1 on a 2.6.5 kernel from SuSE, and I'm *not at all happy* with it. In fact, I haven't seen so many stablility problems since I dropped this infamous other OS.... It seems, that the recent patches from SuSE help, but I'll have to check that out a little longer.
My problems occur, when I try
- to burn two or three DVDs in a row using k3b (the first one has not caused any problems so far)
- scan a picture with my SCSI scanner from HP while saving to or reading from a SCSI tape streamer (HP Colorado). Result: The tape driver stops working, and the scan is black and white and of very poor quality, even if I choose a high resolution and color scan as scan mode in my scan program (XSane).
And that might be the reason why there is not yet a Slackware 9.2 release. Slackware is popular on production servers, so it's good to be conservative here.
So the decision is up to you: Kernel 2.6 really makes sense for your laptop, if and only if you are prepared to accept occasional frozen KDE desktops, and if you don't use SCSI.
What exactly is on 2.6 that is useful for laptops (or just ACPI)? I don't plan to use SCSI and Fluxbox is my window manager of choice, so those two things are fine. I've played around with Linux in the past but I want this to be a stable computer that I can use on a regular basis, so I'd rather be safe and give up some specific power-save uses to have a kernel that's established as being stable. I'd also like to avoid the fun kernel compile stage if I can. Still, if I'm going to need something like ACPI to be able to shut off the machine or something big like that, I guess I'll need to upgrade.
I was just wondering if anyone is into Slack development or the current version or something like that to be able to guess when the next version will be out (e.g. one month, six months, one year...) or if no one knows until the official release. I'm just saying I don't want to install 9.1, update the kernel, troubleshoot that and get everything working over the next month or two, and then have 9.2 come out right when I finish.
IMHO compiling a kernel is a good skill to have - using the steps in the stickies at the top of this forum, it will be relatively easy, and going through all the options in make menuconfig is a good way to become more familiar with the nuts and bolts of the kernel. You might have a couple of false starts, but you will eventually have a customized and stripped down kernel for your machine, and if you keep your .config then you can recompile it exactly the same any time you want. If your laptop has some fruity hardware config then it's possible that you might have to recompile anyway. I use 2.6.5 on my daily workhorse PC (which I mainly use for running apache locally and scripting, as well as regular tasks) and I've found it to be great - fast and stable so far.
From what I gather, no-one except Pat knows when the next version is due out - although half the fun is in the learning of how to configure your system. Anyway, the next version is not going to be much different from whatever's in -current - so it's not as if you're going to have to learn everything from scratch again anyway.
Thanks again for the info. I agree that compiling a kernel is something I should know how to do, and it is sounding now like I might be stuck doing that no matter what. I have done it in the past a couple of times, but the four or five times I did it either choosing the new kernel at lilo would just have the screen go black and nothing happen, or everything would stop halfway through loading modules, or I ran into some display problems, etc. The fun of Linux is learning to troubleshoot some of these things, but this will be my main system in college and I'd like to avoid any unnecessary tweaking that will lead to problems down the road. Thanks though, I'll go ahead and get 9.1 (which I'd like to buy from them, contribute to a worthy cause ). One last question that I looked for at the slack site but couldn't find: what are the procedures for upgrading to another version of slack, and how easy is it to do with an install already there?
I just changet from 2.6.2 back to 2.4.24 ( patched with acpi ) because I cant get the modem to work in 2.6.2. Havn't really found much difference in general use except it takes a couple of seconds extra to boot.
Well, I'm not the most competent person you could ask this question, but IMHO these are the differences between kernel 2.4 and 2.6 relevant for laptops:
- ACPI / Power saving is the most important improvement on laptops
- Extended hardware support, especially for multimedia devices like DVD burners
- ALSA (if you want sound)
- Better config tools (with dependency checks between options --- I haven't tried it so far)
Other users might be able to provide a more complete list...
Another word on stability: As long as I avoid burning CDs/DVDs, while reading and writing from and to SCSI tape streamers and/or scanning with my SCSI scanner everything is fine. My guess would be that there is an issue with SCSI devices in kernel 2.6. But note that I'm talking of the SuSE 9.1 version of kernel 2.6, here (with the latest patches applied). The standard kernel as normally used on Slackware might be different. (BTW, it's the first time in seven years that I have to complain about the stability of a SuSE kernel...).
My suggestion would be: Just try it out. It may work well for you. And if you find problems, you can (more or less) easily step back to kernel 2.4 (possibly accepting that some of the nice features of 2.6 might not be there).
On compiling a kernel: I remember the time when we were at kernel 2.2x. It was never a problem to compile a new kernel, then. It's a lot more complicated nowadays with over 700 options to configure... (And many of them aren't documented overly well...)
So good luck, have fun with your new laptop and Slackware!
1st: Always use the last kernel, 2.4.x or 2.6.x, because of the security fixes.
2nd: Compiling his own kernel is so f*****g good that you just can't miss it.
3rd: 2.6.x has some great new options, so why don't use it?????
CPU Frequency scaling (CPU_FREQ)
Clock scaling allows you to change the clock speed of CPUs on the
fly. This is a nice method to save battery power on notebooks,
because the lower the clock speed, the less power the CPU consumes.
Preemptible Kernel (PREEMPT)
This option reduces the latency of the kernel when reacting to
real-time or interactive events by allowing a low priority process to
be preempted even if it is in kernel mode executing a system call.
This allows applications to run more reliably even when the system is
And of course, ALSA into the kernel
Perhaps these options are backported to 2.4.x, so take a look at it.