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Old 03-08-2008, 10:08 AM   #1
pixellany
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Slackware vs Arch


There are some similar threads, but I'd like some very recent perspective--especially in re laptops.

I am in a 12-step program recovering from distrohopitis. When attempting to setup a new laptop, I found that every distro I tried would do some things right and fail at others. Realizing that I was going to have to "get under the hood", I started veering towards the "purist" distros. A pivotal event was the discovery that kernel 2.6.24 had done some things with my particular wifi driver (Intel 4965). The only distro offering this kernel thru the package manager was Arch.

I had used Arch on various previous occasions, and always liked their approach. Now the wireless is consistent and reliable (CLI-only, for the moment), and I have the basics of power management under control.

The question:
I hear and understand the arguments for the long-time purist distros such as Slackware. I also feel that Arch has many of the same attributes, and is easier to install and set up. For the same functionality (ie SW load), is there a reason to believe that Slackware would be faster or more stable?
 
Old 03-08-2008, 10:16 AM   #2
ludist
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Faster? No (between ubuntu and Slackware I see no-big-deal issues on speed)
More stable? I don't know.

(you can build latest kernel with slackware)
 
Old 03-08-2008, 10:45 AM   #3
pixellany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ludist View Post
(you can build latest kernel with slackware)
Of course---you can build the latest kernel with ANY distro!!
While I am leaning to a more optimized, bottoms-up approach, I do not yet have the time or energy to start compiling custom kernels---plus I like someone else to manage dependencies.

(And there is nothing wrong with your English--way better than many native speakers.)
 
Old 03-08-2008, 11:47 AM   #4
shadowsnipes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pixellany View Post
The question:
I hear and understand the arguments for the long-time purist distros such as Slackware. I also feel that Arch has many of the same attributes, and is easier to install and set up. For the same functionality (ie SW load), is there a reason to believe that Slackware would be faster or more stable?
Slackware and Arch are about the same as far as stability and speed, but since Arch uses dependency resolution there is a chance that it can mess itself up. I wouldn't say either is easier than the other to set up.

If you like Slackware, but want dependency resolution then I would say Arch is a great alternative. I say go for it. Otherwise, you could add dependency resolution to slackware via many third party solutions. You could also use a Slack-based distro like VectorLinux, but I personally prefer the original.
 
Old 03-08-2008, 12:10 PM   #5
Uncle_Theodore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pixellany View Post
There are some similar threads, but I'd like some very recent perspective--especially in re laptops.

<...>

The question:
I hear and understand the arguments for the long-time purist distros such as Slackware. I also feel that Arch has many of the same attributes, and is easier to install and set up. For the same functionality (ie SW load), is there a reason to believe that Slackware would be faster or more stable?
Well, I usually stay away from A vs B discussions, but since I'm running Slackware and Arch on the same laptop, I'll throw my two cents in.
I installed Arch alongside Slack mostly beacause I wanted to explore a pure 64-bit distro on a 64-bit machine. It's a Toshiba, Satellite a215-7422. So, my Slackware 12.0 is 32-bit, and my Arch is pure 64-bit. Observations:

1) There's no difference in speed or stability between the two on my laptop.
2) pacman is more convenient, but has some issues. For example, I didn't manage to install some applications due to unexplainable errors it produced in trying to do so. This sort of reminded me of my old days with Mandrake and the RPM hell...
3) There are some issues specific to Arch being 64-bit, so I won't concentrate on them, but I also believe that the fact that Slackware uses a non-modified kernel make certain things like compiling drivers and dealing with non-mainstream hardware somewhat easier.

So, if Slackware is 5 on the scale of Linux distros for me, Arch would be somewhere close to 4.

4) Everything I said here is just my personal opinion, not designed to influence everyone else's decisions...

Last edited by Uncle_Theodore; 03-08-2008 at 12:11 PM.
 
Old 03-08-2008, 12:42 PM   #6
chess
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I have used both for years and know them both pretty well.

I think is Slackware is much more stable. In fact, in reading interviews with the Arch devs and listening to their interviews on podcasts, they publicly state that since Arch is a rolling release distro, users are to expect breakage from time to time. I think that's the nature of the beast and is actually a feature, not a bug. :-) There is talk time to time on creating a stable branch or something but so far it has not materialized.

As a result of the rolling system, Arch has no security updates since the entire system is continually on an upgrade cycle. You cannot 'set' a release to a single point in time and get security updates, like you can with a Slackware release. I have a Slackware server still running an old version that Pat and the Slackware Security Team still support. Personally, for servers I _much_ prefer having that single stable release with security updates and patches than a continually rolling release.

Arch's bootup time is incredibly fast, probably the fastest of any Linux distribution out there. However, since I rarely reboot my machines this is a non-issue for me.

Arch's package manager, pacman, works pretty well, I must say. However, it's not perfect and there have been problems in the past when upgrading particularly tricky parts of the toolchain or userland. There are not really that many mirrors, and they seem to have a synchronization problem sometimes, so you need to be careful when doing large upgrades.

Slackware's packaging system is much cleaner, IMHO. Building a PKGBUILD (the Arch equivalent of a Slackbuild) is not as intuitive or clean it seems.

Arch generally does not install any docs for software (i.e. nothing in /usr/share/doc), which was a decision made early on by Judd Vinet, the original creator of Arch. You can change this for software you compile, but unless you decide to recompile the entire system, much of it will be without any docs. More info here: http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/...and_Info_Files

Arch has a script-building system called 'ABS' which is very similar to FreeBSD's ports tree or the scripts at Slackbuilds.org. You run a script and it fetches the source and compiles the application.

Slackware's installer is much better, IMHO. Arch's installer is similar, and has a few features not found in the Slackware installer, but overall, it does not seem as straightforward or as simple to me as Slackware's.

Both distros require manual tweaking. Arch by default does not support laptops any better or worse than Slackware since in both cases you generally need to create some manual acpi scripts. Arch borrows from the BSD's and has a single configuration file at /etc/rc.conf but Slackware's init system and boot scripts are broken out a bit more in /etc/rc.d/rc.*.

In the end, like any similar comparison, you should try them both out and see which one works well for you. Arch is a nice system, for sure, and probably my second favorite Linux distro after Slackware. For me, however, at the end of the day, Slackware offers the best combination of stability, security, flexbility, simplicity, and tweakability, which is why it has been and continues to be my favorite Linux distro.

Finally, as to your specific question on Intel 4965 wireless drivers -- check out today's -current changelog. There are some nice surprises in there. :-)
 
Old 03-08-2008, 03:58 PM   #7
MannyNix
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I agree 100% with Chess Griffin. (Great post)
 
Old 03-08-2008, 09:22 PM   #8
lstamm
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I agree also with Chess. I'd add also that I found some of Arch's compile options bizarre, too. For instance, PostgreSQL is compiled without support for perl. I ended up having to recompile apache too, for some reason I can't remember right now.

So in the end, I didn't find pacman to be overly useful. I did experience some breakage with upgrading too. I still have Arch installed on my laptop, but I stopped updating after I got it into a stable state. I will reinstall Slack on it when I get the time, and in the meantime any updates or new apps are compiled from source.
 
Old 03-09-2008, 08:31 AM   #9
Franklin
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I can't comment on the differences as I've never used Arch. I am using slackware 12 with the 2.6.24.2 kernel on my laptop and found that this kernel seems to do alot of things right with respect to my laptop (Dell E1505). The iwl3945 driver works well and was my main reason for moving to this kernel.

I run -current on my desktop and saw that PV (as of 3/8) has moved to 2.6.24.3 and now includes the firmware for these cards as well. The next release will have these cards running out of the box. If you want to run -current, your card "should" run "out of the box" as well - although I have not moved to -current on my laptop and don't plan plan to for a while.

Just an FYI.
 
Old 03-09-2008, 08:43 AM   #10
pixellany
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I want to thank everyone for the comprehensive answers. I'm going to add Slackware to the laptop (and have a showdown...)

Another specific question: What is the Slackware stance on disseminating proprietary drivers? Arch is friendly in this regard---they just politely advise you.
 
Old 03-09-2008, 09:03 AM   #11
Franklin
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You won't find nvidia or ati drivers included in the distribution - most people know where to go and what to do with these. IPW3945 was included in 12.0 in /extra as source only - not a pre-built package. IWLXXXX is different because it not a prop driver. Not sure if you thinking of anything in particular.

HTH
 
  


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