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Old 03-17-2011, 08:39 AM   #1
jzb
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Question Tell me your Slackware stories


Hi all,

I'm writing a story for LWN on Slackware 13.37 this week.

I'd like to hear from current Slackware users:
  • How are you using it, and why you're using it? What appeals to you about Slackware Linux instead of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Debian, etc.?
  • Slackware tends to move a bit more slowly than other distributions to adopt newer features (like, say, GRUB) -- is this a pro or con for you?
  • How long have you been running Slackware?

Any other thoughts about Slackware?

If you respond, please indicate in the post how you'd like to be attributed if I use your response in the story. (e.g., sign your name or indicate that I should use your forum username, etc.)
 
Old 03-17-2011, 09:17 AM   #2
Skaperen
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While we do have a lot of Fedora, LinuxMint, and Ubuntu machines around here, we also have some Slackware. At the moment, Slackware is on the simpler machines, because Slackware lets me more easily keep them simple and secure. Also, Slackware lets me upgrade things more independently (meaning, I don't have to if I don't need to, while still upgrading those things I do need, usually security upgrades).

Slackware is not slower in terms of the pace. It does intentionally lag behind to let the other shake things out. Since it is easier to compile packages from source, you can still move up to the bleeding edge, if you want, and just for the parts you want to be there on.

GRUB has some uses, and I have even set up Slackware systems with GRUB (legacy) as the boot loader. But GRUB is heading in a direction I don't care for, so I don't see a long term interest on my part. I do have in mind what I'd like a boot loader to be like, and having found none like that, if I get some time I'll write my own.

Slackware is more tolerant of making changes to things. Even small changes can upset Ubuntu completely. Whereas Slackware just keeps on going. But this is indicative of the intended audience for each. Slackware seems to be aimed for those who want to be in detailed control of their computers, like me (for most of my computers ... I do have one netbook of my own that runs EasyPeasy, which is based on Ubuntu).

FYI, I've used Slackware since it came out, replacing my SLS Linux (on a 25 MHz 486) with it. Other distros have come (and many gone, at least from here), but Slackware has the staying power. I use it at home (almost exclusively) and at work (amongst others).
 
Old 03-17-2011, 09:39 AM   #3
hitest
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jzb View Post
Hi all,

I'm writing a story for LWN on Slackware 13.37 this week.

I'd like to hear from current Slackware users:
  • How are you using it, and why you're using it? What appeals to you about Slackware Linux instead of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Debian, etc.?
I've run Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Debian, Arch, etc.; they are all excellent versions of Linux. I love the total control that Slackware affords me, I can set-up my system *exactly* the way I want. Slackware does not assume to know what I want, I enjoy that flexibility! Slackware is very stable, secure, and has a small resource footprint.

Quote:
  • Slackware tends to move a bit more slowly than other distributions to adopt newer features (like, say, GRUB) -- is this a pro or con for you?
I appreciate the pace with which software is introduced to the stable branch of Slackware, this is an advantage in my opinion. Slackware runs proven software which enhances the overall stability of the distro.

Quote:
  • How long have you been running Slackware?
I have happily used Slackware since version 10.0.

George Nielsen

Last edited by hitest; 03-17-2011 at 01:51 PM. Reason: typo
 
Old 03-17-2011, 09:46 AM   #4
allend
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Quote:
How are you using it, and why you're using it?
On my netbook, desktop and on several servers. For some views on why see http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...ckware-852890/
Quote:
What appeals to you about Slackware Linux instead of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Debian, etc.?
I have always run Slackware. It does what I need. I am not a distro hopper. Slackware is not the oldest surviving Linux distribution for nothing. I prefer not to diss other distributions.
Quote:
Slackware tends to move a bit more slowly than other distributions to adopt newer features (like, say, GRUB) -- is this a pro or con for you?
This irks me as it is an oft stated preconception of Slackware not borne out by the facts.
Slackware uses LILO by default but GRUB has been available for since I started using Slackware. LILO works, so does GRUB, the merits of each have been debated ad nauseum.
PAM is seen to be desirable, but has a history of creating as many problems as it solves.
HAL was adopted later by Slackware than other distributions, but is now on the way out.
Package management with dependency tracking is seen to be superior, but somehow Slackware users have managed to keep their systems in good working order without it. Perhaps the 'necktop', supported by good documentation and a rock solid packaging system, is still a viable computing option?
Quote:
How long have you been running Slackware?
I started with Slackware 8 shortly before Slackware 9 was released.
Quote:
Any other thoughts about Slackware?
Happy St Patrick's Day! May the simplicity and solidity of Slackware combined with long term support of versions able to run on older hardware continue. Amen.

Last edited by allend; 03-17-2011 at 09:49 AM.
 
Old 03-17-2011, 09:48 AM   #5
dxnxax
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I manage more than 150 slackware servers across the state. The simplicity, stability, security and ease of management are why Slack is my distro of choice. I have also set up a hands-free auto-install system that lets me have a standardized install to a new box or vm in about 15 minutes. I currently have a slackware based thinclient system in testing. Should that system be moved to production, I can expect to turn some 1200 client workstations into diskless, PXE booted thinclients. I'm having fun.
 
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:55 AM   #6
sahko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skaperen View Post
GRUB has some uses, and I have even set up Slackware systems with GRUB (legacy) as the boot loader. But GRUB is heading in a direction I don't care for, so I don't see a long term interest on my part. I do have in mind what I'd like a boot loader to be like, and having found none like that, if I get some time I'll write my own.
What about syslinux? Its got the simplicity of LiLo and is as featureful as GRUB.
Its the best of both worlds, not perfect but far better than the alternatives.
 
Old 03-17-2011, 10:02 AM   #7
Skaperen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sahko View Post
What about syslinux? Its got the simplicity of LiLo and is as featureful as GRUB.
Its the best of both worlds, not perfect but far better than the alternatives.
I don't like being dependent on the FAT filesystem. I also find its documentation a bit vague in some places. And even it lacks the one feature I want that none have. But this is not a GRUB thread or boot loader thread, so I'm not going into that.
 
Old 03-17-2011, 10:18 AM   #8
ozanbaba
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I never used other than Slackware more than a ten minutes. I like the freedom it gives me on subjects actually matters instead of pretending to do so. And It has cooler name than others.

I think you misspelled alpha software there . Joking aside, this new features needs much more work to be actually useful for mare humans. And IMO, Grub is just unneedlessly fat and ugly. Lilo is simple and stable.

I'm using Slackware from 1998 version 3.5.
 
Old 03-17-2011, 10:52 AM   #9
tronayne
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Why Slackware?

Slackware has a reputation of being "the most like System V" (whether true or not, I find that to be the case). I came up, starting in 1961, from IBM tabulating equipment (punch cards and programmed with jumper cables) through Honeywell GECOS (similar to UNIX) to my own business selling Cromemco UNIX systems (Motorola 680x0, couple of meg of RAM, 50M disk drive, worked just fine, thank you) and doing software and data base development. That was followed by a few years of administrating Motorola VME-based systems running System V (3, not 4) then Solaris (yup, SVR4). About '95 or so I made the jump to Linux and, surprise, surprise, it was Slackware dual-booted on a Gateway with Win-95.

Slackware worked far better than did Win-95 (big surprise, huh?). I've never looked back -- Slackware fits every need I have: rock solid, dependable (I measure up time on my machines in months) and improving at a steady, predictable pace. Today I'm running Slackware 13.1 64-bit on two servers and 32-bit on two others (those will be retired soon).

Although I do not fiddle around with configuring and compiling custom kernels I know that I can and that matters more to me than actually doing the deed -- the off the shelf default kernel works just fine for me and that's good enough.

It does matter to me that Slackware is conservative; too many times I've burned by cutting-edge technology crashing down around my ears and, frankly, I don't want to deal with that nonsense. I value stability far more than I do bells and whistles. The first editor I learned was ed (came with GECOS). I use vi simply because it is rock-solid, dependable and I never have to deal with "improvements" that get in my way. I learned AT&T's Documenter's Workbench, still have it, still use it -- I like the macros and troff!

I should note that it took me half an hour to figure out how to add a ring tone to my cell phone. Not exactly an early adopter, me.

So, why not other distributions? Well, I've tried a few, found them wanting.

A full installation of Slackware results in a full-boat system -- the compilers are there, MySQL is there, Apache is there, all the tools are there, you get on with what you want to do (I do a lot of software development). When you install, say, Ubuntu you have to start adding (and adding and adding) stuff just to get to the point where you can compile and execute hello, world: nuts to that. Plus there's a constant barrage of updates. Plus, because the distribution has been "tuned," you really can't tell what the heck was done to which when you try to change something. Yeah, with Slackware you have to add OpenOffice.org if you want a word processor (KWord just doesn't cut the mustard) but that doesn't bother me anywhere near as much as not having a software development environment at first boot and having to figure out why I can't get Apache configured or where the heck to I get Korn Shell.

Slackware is the most un-fooled-around-with distribution and that makes it my baby.

I do not like GNOME -- I think it's a bloated mess. When Patrick Volkerding made the decision to drop GNOME from Slackware a few years back (essentially because it was just too much screwing around to maintain) that was not a problem for me; I'd tried it, didn't like it, went happily back to KDE. GRUB is another thing -- LILO works for my needs, good enough. Lately, KDE is going down the bloat road and may drive me to Xfce even though I have found that I don't really like it all the much.

I think that Mr. Volkerding's philosophy is similar to mine -- if it ain't broke, don't screw with it. I like that.

I do realize that Slackware is not for your gramma, at least not out of the box (I have friends that are running Slackware that I installed and configured; I don't get calls about problems -- that up time in months thing). I also realize that, if Linux is to grow and be adopted by more and more people fed up with commercial operating systems offerings that folks like Ubuntu are leading the easy adoption bandwagon. The fact that you can install Ubuntu or another Ubuntu-like distribution without having a clue what's going on and it "just works" makes a lot of nervous folk sleep better. That's a good thing -- not for me perhaps, but a good thing all around.

Hope this helps some.

Thomas Ronayne
 
Old 03-17-2011, 10:59 AM   #10
disturbed1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jzb View Post
Hi all,

I'm writing a story for LWN on Slackware 13.37 this week.

I'd like to hear from current Slackware users:
  • How are you using it, and why you're using it?
HOW
Our whole house is 99% Slackware.
Router - (iptables, dnsmasq, squid, ntp, cups)
MythTV - (Backend, 2x Frontend). The Backend was recently upgraded to a more powerful CPU, and now also doubles as a general file server.
My PC, Girlfriend's PC, Roommate's PC. We each each also have laptops with Slackware.
2x misc PCs. These are for our younger nieces and nephews to do school work, and game on.
The 1% is that my Girlfriend still has a Windows partition --- just in case she ever needs a reminder

I also use Slackware to troubleshoot and clean Windows PCs for friends/family/clients.

WHY
Stable. No politics. Predictable security. The community is great, and ranges from someone that's brand new, to the seasoned veteran. Quality is better than quantity
Slackware is designed, administered, and used in an easy to follow, and easy to understand methodology. The package management is exactly what I need and want!


Quote:
  • What appeals to you about Slackware Linux instead of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Debian, etc.?
Read the why above. We've witnessed serious stability problems with Ubuntu. Unpredictable updates. Misconfiguration of software, inexperienced and juvenile dev's. Parent company does not give 2 shits about FOSS. openSUSE has hit or miss releases, I've always felt their released product was still beta calibur. YAST is not my cup of tea. Debian is a little too free - to point of being entirely too restrictive to get the things you want to work how you want when you want. Though Debian is in my personal favorites.
Never dug far enough into Fedora. RPM hell left me with a bad experience 10 years ago.

Quote:
  • Slackware tends to move a bit more slowly than other distributions to adopt newer features (like, say, GRUB) -- is this a pro or con for you?
Absolutely a PRO!!! There is no reason to fix what is not broken.
Other distros and other users may like this, and I'm glad they do. Today's alpha software is tomorrows stable software. If I wanted to test new tech or new concepts, I would use one of those distros. I depend on Slackware for it's stability.

Quote:
  • How long have you been running Slackware?
It's been a while. I remember when Gnome was still included. Matter of fact that's what prompted me to try Ubuntu. Pat, more or less, told all Gnome heads to give Ubuntu a shot. I moved permanently back to Slackware once the 2.6 series kernel was the default kernel. Slackware had 2.4 as the main kernel, then 2.6 was in testing, and finally during a current dev cycle 2.6 was transitioned in. I rsync'd with current that day, and never looked back.

Quote:
Any other thoughts about Slackware?

If you respond, please indicate in the post how you'd like to be attributed if I use your response in the story. (e.g., sign your name or indicate that I should use your forum username, etc.)
Please don't spend too much time on the install or initial setup. I can not stand articles/reviews about a Linux distro that spends 3 pages on installation/setup, and 2 paragraphs on actually usage.

When you subscribe or purchase the Slackware DVD, it is a pressed dual side DVD, with a full color insert. Not some burnt at home product some web shops sell of other Distros. Also, the Black Slackware Tee Shirt is a high quality Haines Beefy T. If you use Slackware, think about ordering a shirt, and wear it in public. It's a great conversation starter!
 
Old 03-17-2011, 11:02 AM   #11
jzb
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Autoinstall

Quote:
Originally Posted by dxnxax View Post
I manage more than 150 slackware servers across the state. The simplicity, stability, security and ease of management are why Slack is my distro of choice. I have also set up a hands-free auto-install system that lets me have a standardized install to a new box or vm in about 15 minutes. I currently have a slackware based thinclient system in testing. Should that system be moved to production, I can expect to turn some 1200 client workstations into diskless, PXE booted thinclients. I'm having fun.
Curious - is this something you've created yourself? Any reason not to use Kickstart or another auto-install system?
 
Old 03-17-2011, 12:15 PM   #12
lonestar_italy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jzb View Post
  • How are you using it, and why you're using it? What appeals to you about Slackware Linux instead of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Debian, etc.?
I use it both at work and at home, as my main desktop workstations, on laptop and desktop pc's. Also I use it as a server for my own website and mailserver box, as I like to run my own internet domain on my own server located at home, not on some hosting or VPS service like most people do. Legacy habit after many years of Fidonet BBS'ing in the 80s.

I've used Redhat/Centos (I'm a RHCE) and recently some Ubuntu for work reasons. Whatever any other distribution does, it's always a superstructure of the basics that Slackware does. When you know how the basics work, you can put your hands into anything more superstructured and make it work when it's broken. Slackware teaches system administration, something that every computer user should learn, at least to some extent.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jzb View Post
  • Slackware tends to move a bit more slowly than other distributions to adopt newer features (like, say, GRUB) -- is this a pro or con for you?
This because you look at stable releases. For me, using Slackware means using Slackware-current. My systems are all -current installations and I update them daily with everything that comes out from Patrick's Changelog. Sometimes I also install something even more updated when I'm in need of it.
Btw, Debian is well known to be the slowest distribution in adopting new technologies.
Btw2, speaking of GRUB, I still don't see what's so great about it, besides calling drives with unfriendly names, and I'm happy with LILO. I admit this could be because my pick on hardware is LILO-friendly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzb View Post
  • How long have you been running Slackware?
Since 1994-95, version 3.0

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzb View Post
Any other thoughts about Slackware?
Actually it's the only distribution that should exist :-)

If you'd quote me, you can use my forum nickname.

Last edited by lonestar_italy; 03-17-2011 at 12:16 PM.
 
Old 03-17-2011, 12:32 PM   #13
Skaperen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jzb View Post
Curious - is this something you've created yourself? Any reason not to use Kickstart or another auto-install system?
He sounds much like myself in many ways. I invent my own stuff because it doesn't exist (yet, sometimes ever). I also tend to make it specific to my purpose because I don't have a lot of time to make it general purpose for everyone else. Then along comes some other general purpose tool, BUT, it just doesn't have everything in it that I want.

It sounds like he's got some quick boot utility, or just uses PXE network booting, to bring a vacant machine up, and it has enough to do partitioning, formatting, download a full filesystem tree from a file server (perhaps with rsync), and custom tweak it (specific IP address, etc).

I just built a couple machines that need to be on Ubuntu. But having the experience to know that sometimes Ubuntu can get itself mangled, I also tossed in an extra partition (using GPT now ... plenty of partition numbers) for an "on the disk rescue system". That 8GB partition simply has a full install of slackware64-current from 2011-03-14.

When running most other distros, it's best to do things like this, and other stuff, with packages others have put some time into to make sure they play well with a variety of distros (or the distro it is specifically built for). But with Slackware, it's really easier to just roll your own real quick. Much less time is needed to make sure its compatible, because Slackware doesn't really impose too much. Where it might, you can usually yank that part out and move on. A few years ago I wrote the entire startup RC scripts from scratch. I had first boot success the same day, and had all the bugs that I could see out in a couple more days. 6 machines at home still use those scripts. FYI, they are neither BSD style, nor SysV style, but a scheme of my own.
 
Old 03-17-2011, 12:36 PM   #14
Skaperen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tronayne View Post
I think that Mr. Volkerding's philosophy is similar to mine -- if it ain't broke, don't screw with it. I like that.
I have one exception to that philosophy ... if I simply want to try something new just to be different. And Slackware makes that easy. It's good that Pat has that philosophy so the rest of us can each be creative in our own specific ways.
 
Old 03-17-2011, 12:44 PM   #15
Spinlock
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How are you using it, and why you're using it? What appeals to you about Slackware Linux instead of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Debian, etc.?

I use Slackware on a number of machines, including my VPS in Texas, my development laptop, my home media server with XBMC, and an older laptop I keep around for a backup work machine. I use Slackware for a number of reasons:
1) It's the most generic Linux. This means that when I go looking for support (and when I do, it's not asking how to change the colors on my desktop), I can find it and apply it 90% of the time.
2) Pat keeps things as close to upstream as possible. He also publishes the scripts and patches he uses in the source tree, so if I have a question how something was compiled, I simply have to go looking. I don't worry about reporting bugs to upstream, because there's no risk of "Well, I'd love to help but this problem was introduced by your distro, not our code." There's also no risk of "Gee, Valgrind complains about this code so I'll write a patch that breaks OpenSSL."
3) A simple packaging system. I've been fairly active in the SlackBuilds.org community, developing scripts to build packages for popular or useful software. When Slamd64 still existed, I was an admin of our fork of the SBo concept. Building and working with software packages in Slackware is very intuitive - no arcane babbling required. The packages themselves are tarred and compressed archives, and can be inspected using standard decompression tools and tar.
4) Stability. I actually run on the bleeding edge of Slackware known as "-current" on most of my systems, but I haven't run into major software breakage in the 3 years I've been doing so. Any problems I have run into have generally either been quickly patched, or my own silly mistakes in configuration. I can also depend on packages to identify themselves correctly - one of my major grips with Arch is that they tag pre-release software as major versions, especially in cases like KDE. In Slackware, if it says version 1.0.2, I can be assured it's not 1.0.1999.
5) Long-term support. Pat is still releasing security updates for Slackware 8.1, which was released in June of 2002. My VPS runs Slackware 12.2, and I'm only considering upgrading to 13.37 for grins - it's still rock-solid otherwise.
6) Just enough pre-configuration. There are defaults that make sense in Slackware, and the rest is left to the end-user admin. I'm assumed to be competent enough to admin my own machines, but not tasked with mindless configuration details that I generally don't care about, where the general use case applies to me.
7) LILO. Many people assume it to be terribly limited, but I haven't ever had a single problem multi-booting whatever I wanted with it. Windows of varying versions, Slackware, Ubuntu, Red Hat - all played nice with LILO. I haven't seen a single killer feature in Grub that would attract me (though I have seen it kill a booting system before, which makes me wary.)
8) Emacs is in its own diskset. I can skip it completely in the installer, no questions asked.
9) The installer. It's about as portable as you can get, doesn't require certain graphics card drivers or anything like that. It's also very flexible as far as how you install, from which packages you select to how you select them to what install medium you use. Other distros with installers that require downloading the base system are a pain in the neck at times, and I have never had success using the Fedora installer.

Slackware tends to move a bit more slowly than other distributions to adopt newer features (like, say, GRUB) -- is this a pro or con for you?

Pro. As I mentioned, I very rarely see any breakage from software upgrades - I know they are tested fairly thoroughly by a crack team before I ever see them. In the rare occasion something does break, we have a technically competent enough userbase that a patch is soon to follow, and also to be submitted upstream instead of hoarded by our dev team.

How long have you been running Slackware?

I started about five years ago running Slax, which was mainly a limited choice of Slackware packages combined with a kernel modded to run in a live environment. When Slackware 11 came out, I swapped over to using that for a while before discovering Slamd64 shortly thereafter. I stuck with Slamd64 until 64-bit Slackware came out with 13.0, at which point I (along with the developer of Slamd64) swapped to pure Slackware. I engaged in the community during this entire period, and was careful to stick with distros that kept the Slackware philosophy and overarching design in mind.

Any other thoughts about Slackware?

Slackware has a reputation for being difficult to use or full of ancient software. I have not found either of these stereotypes to be true. There is a thriving community of users and developers working with and on it. The developers tend to be approachable and reasonable, which is refreshing given certain other personalities in the open-source world. When I work with a Slackware system, there's a sort of freedom and openness I haven't encountered elsewhere, a sense of controlling my own system rather than having all my decisions made for me. I'm reminded of this particular tidbit from one day in the ##slackware channel on Freenode irc: http://noobfarm.org/?id=634

Oh... we also have lemons. Barrels full of them. Slackware is lemony-fresh.

JK Wood, http://twitter.com/jktheslacker
 
  


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