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Old 10-05-2006, 05:05 AM   #1
Celeborn
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Question The appeal of Slackware


I want to start this post by saying: I don't hate Slackware, and this is not intended to be an attack on it. This is just my personal experience and wonder in action.(Note: this will probably be interpreted as "I hate Slackware, and this is my attack on it." )

I can't find an appealing aspect of Slackware. It has a large userbase, and people seem to love it, yet I can't figure out why. This makes me think it's something I'm missing, something dealing with me, not Slackware. It also seems like a lot of things I hear about being the "pros" of Slackware are contradictory to the actual system, but again, I'm thinking it's probably just me, and I'm asking for someone to shed some light onto my confused perspective.

1.First and foremost, I hear about Slackware being a "quick, basic" install, giving you only what you need, and letting you build your system from there. This is what I generally like to do with a Debian Net Install, so that was immediately appealing to me. When I boot the install cd, however, an install is "3+GB", and recommended. I imagine there's a way to slim down the install incredibly, but I'm really unsure about what's necessary and what's not, and there's one other thing that makes me think a small install with Slackware would be a horrid thing(read next point).

2.I have heard Slackware is "free from dependency hell" many times, yet in the handbook alone even it says that Slackware's package management tool doesn't check dependencies. A direct quote would be:
Quote:
Apparently many people in the Linux community think that a packager manager must by definition include dependency checking. Well, that simply isn't the case, as Slackware most certainly does not. This is not to say that Slackware packages don't have dependencies, but rather that its package manager doesn't check for them. Dependency management is left up to the sysadmin, and that's the way we like it.
That last part of the statement also hits a bad nerve with me, "...and that's the way we like it." This sounds ridiculously and immediately defensive, which is strange, because it's almost as if Slackware is giving recognition to the fact that dependency checking is a good thing, recognizing it doesn't have it, and already defending it's self without even anyone attacking it. I can't imagine how manual dependency checking is a good thing, but again, if someone can share with me maybe some postive points about this method, I'd be glad to hear them. This is another reason it seems like Slackware was almost DESIGNED for a full install, just so you don't have to go through the process of manually installing and fulfilling dependencies. It seems generally that Slackware's preferred method of installation is compiling from source, converting into a package, and installing. This really isn't any different from just "./configure && make && make install" on any other system, other than it keeps track of the packages a little better. To me, dependency checking is one of the key points of package management. I think a distro should use it's package-management (debian's apt-get, for example) first and foremost, and then if what you're looking for is not available, compiling from source should be the last resort. Compiling isn't unique to Slackware, it feels like Slackware just has source-based installation, while every other distro has their own, generally easier installation methods, and they still have the source method if you want to do it that way.

3.On the topic of attitude. People on these forums are generally very nice, but sometimes you wish for a more active, immdiately communicative environment, and that for me usually results in irc. I don't know why, but generally #slackware on freenode.net, to me, is full of the most cocky and non-informing type. Usually I wonder why some of them are in there. To type "RTFM" many times, while not even reading the fact that you've already read the manuals and are still confused about something? I don't account it to the number of users in the slackware channel, either, as I've used the #gentoo channel many times before, and it averages a higher number of users, and is generally much more friendly and helpful. I don't know if I'm generally just misconceiving this, and this doesn't really relate to the functionality of the distribution, but it bothers me. Why do Slackware users(in general, if I may) have a "greater-than-thou" attitude?

4."If you learn Slackware, you learn Linux." This statement makes no sense to me whatsoever. Slackware is different from every distribution I have used, just like every distribution is different from every other distribution. "Installpkg" to a .tgz file won't work in anything else, "xwmconfig" won't set up my window manager in any other distro. The only thing Slackware might be able to say, is that it forces users to do things the "hard way" and learn a method they might not be familiar with. I don't feel this is valid though. I learned how to compile a program for source just as well in Debian when something wasn't in apt, long before I had ever used Slackware. In most distributions in the past, I used the console to edit config files, because I felt like learning how to use the console. It seems that every other distribution has EVERYTHING Slackware has, and then some, and leaves it up to you if you want to do it the "hard way", or their easier way.

Again, I'm going to say, I don't hate Slackware. I'm just confused by it. I know there's something good about it, something maybe I'm missing, but to me it just seems like the most basic, unnecessary form of an operating system ever conceived. I've read other topics similar to what I've just posted about, and none of them seem to have any valid points whatsoever. I generally see points such as "free from dependency hell"(mentioned above) "stable"(choice of versions of software usually determines stability...) "it just works"(what?? Every distribution "works" in a sense, and usually with much less effort than Slackware. This, to me, is a statement like saying "Well, I can't think of any really great attributes it has, but I suppose it can get basic desktop computing done.")

If you managed to read through all of this, I salute you. All I ask now, if you're a Slackware user, is to shed some light unto my confusion, if you would be so kind. I would really like to believe Slackware is a great distribution that I could use daily over all of the other distributions out there. Tell me what you appreciate about Slackware, why you choose to use it over other distributions, and the frustrations you face with it. Tell me anything about Slackware you think I should hear.
 
Old 10-05-2006, 05:21 AM   #2
vharishankar
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Quote:
Why do Slackware users(in general, if I may) have a "greater-than-thou" attitude?
This can also be said about a part of the Linux community in general which gives the majority a bad name...

Last edited by vharishankar; 10-05-2006 at 05:22 AM.
 
Old 10-05-2006, 05:34 AM   #3
vbisis
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Hi!

Alright, I'll try to tell you, what I like about Slackware and why I think it is better than any other distro ( well any other distro, I've tried. )

1. You could just install packages marked as required during install to get a small distro and there might be people who don't have a fast internet connection to do a netinstall, or people who might still have some dial up connection which is paid per online time.
But instead of those a debian net install might be something good.

2. There are some packages which have depencies that aren't really there - like just compiled with that library or that function, which requires something being installed. Because Slackware doesn't do depency checking I can install software anyway and use it exept maybe the one or another function, that I perhaps don't even need. It is possible to create a link to a library which is the wrong version and then check if a programm is running while it won't even install with depecie checking.
I can for example remove my xserver without removing kde, which might be good if I think my xserver installation is screwed up or just needs an update or something like this.
I can just temporarily install and remove software for testing or because I need a library for compiling which conflicts with something different and then install the previous version again without any trouble.
I think it makes things easier since it is my choice what to install and what to remove, and not the choice of some packetmanager - though I admit it is sometimes nice to have a program like apt-get doing this for you.

3. Don't know about irc, since I have never been in #slackware, but I think users on the forum are great
4. Well Software in Slackware is the way it is intended by the developor, not by the distributor - so it is the way it should be. Since there are absolutly no nice gui-tools to configure something you have to work with shell and texteditors and read about config files. It might not always be neccessary with other distris like suse or fedora.

Apart from that it is just the fastest and most stable linux distris I have ever used. Kubuntu had been almost as stable, but never taht fast, and the not set root password was annoying for me, though it is easy to change.

Others like RedHat or fedora are so much customized that it has nothing to do anymore with how the developor wanted his software to look and feel - I just don't like that. To me it is as if someone is telling me what is wrong or right and I just don't have the choice.

Hpoe I could help
 
Old 10-05-2006, 05:58 AM   #4
rkelsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeborn
1.First and foremost, I hear about Slackware being a "quick, basic" install, giving you only what you need, and letting you build your system from there. This is what I generally like to do with a Debian Net Install, so that was immediately appealing to me. When I boot the install cd, however, an install is "3+GB", and recommended.
A full installation of Slackware-11.0 comes to 3.7Gb. It is made up of 544 packages. In this modern day & age where a full installation of Fedora, Mandriva, Suse, etc. will take up 15Gb and install ~2000 packages, the Slackware installation is comparatively small & basic!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeborn
I imagine there's a way to slim down the install incredibly, but I'm really unsure about what's necessary and what's not, and there's one other thing that makes me think a small install with Slackware would be a horrid thing(read next point).
One word: Zipslack. It's on the CDs. This is a very slim installation of Slackware (~150Mb) to which any bits you want from proper Slackware are easily added.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeborn
I have heard Slackware is "free from dependency hell" many times, yet in the handbook alone even it says that Slackware's package management tool doesn't check dependencies.
I see where you're coming from. The truth is, the Slackware system "just works." I know it sounds incredible, but I can honestly say that dependancies have never been an issue for me in over 7 years of using Slackware.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeborn
Why do Slackware users(in general, if I may) have a "greater-than-thou" attitude?
That's a fair-sized generalisation you've made there, and (if I may ) in all honesty it's a bit rich coming from a Debian user.

I'd say that most Slackware users don't have this attitude, and many prefer to solve their own problems without help. Many of the people you see on IRC or forums are not representative of the general Slackware community. Regardless, if you read the Slackware forums here, I'm sure you will find them helpful. There are many Slackers here with lots of experience.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeborn
Again, I'm going to say, I don't hate Slackware. I'm just confused by it. I know there's something good about it, something maybe I'm missing, but to me it just seems like the most basic, unnecessary form of an operating system ever conceived.
I don't know what you're trying to achieve with statements like these. If you don't like it, go back to a distro that you do like. It ain't rocket science. Slackware isn't for everybody. If it was there wouldn't be any other distros.

And BTW - If you think Slackware is basic, you should try a *BSD.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeborn
All I ask now, if you're a Slackware user, is to shed some light unto my confusion, if you would be so kind.
I've tried, but you don't seem the 'persuadeable' type.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeborn
I would really like to believe Slackware is a great distribution that I could use daily over all of the other distributions out there.
I believe it is. Whether you do is entirely up to you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeborn
Tell me what you appreciate about Slackware
First and foremost: Its simplicity. I've found that if there's something you can't figure out under Slackware, you're over-thinking the problem.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeborn
why you choose to use it over other distributions
What else would you recommend? I've tried everything else. Nothing else is as quick or simple to install & configure. Nothing else offers me anything that Slackware doesn't.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeborn
and the frustrations you face with it.
I don't know. Originally I switched to Slackware from RedHat-6.0, which still holds the record as the most frustrating OS I've ever used. Upon installing Slackware, I was gobsmacked and awestruck that Linux could be so good. It instantly struck a chord with me. I gave up trying other distros, because I'd use them for a week and always end up deleting them. Slackware is my home. It doesn't second-guess me. It stays out of my way. It makes my computer do as it's told when I tell it. Unlike many other distros (and Windows even) I've never found myself staring at the HDD led wondering what it's doing, because I know what it's doing all the time.

If, after all that, you still don't get it: You gotta have slack to "get" slack.

Last edited by rkelsen; 10-05-2006 at 06:01 AM.
 
Old 10-05-2006, 07:29 AM   #6
AtomicAmish
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkelsen
It makes my computer do as it's told when I tell it. Unlike many other distros (and Windows even) I've never found myself staring at the HDD led wondering what it's doing, because I know what it's doing all the time.

If, after all that, you still don't get it: You gotta have slack to "get" slack.
Excellent explanation, rkelsen. Mysteriously accessing my HD is a pet peeve of mine. Any distro does that is in the garbage, pronto.
 
Old 10-05-2006, 09:59 AM   #7
coldbeer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkelsen
A full installation of Slackware-11.0 comes to 3.7Gb. It is made up of 544 packages. In this modern day & age where a full installation of Fedora, Mandriva, Suse, etc. will take up 15Gb and install ~2000 packages, the Slackware installation is comparatively small & basic!
I have been a slackware user since 2000. My current version is 10.0. This comment explains alot of my disappointment with slackware 11.0. I am floored at how slow it runs in terms of bootup and the new KDE 3.5. I got rid of the hotplug and run fluxbox on my 10.0 and its damn fast. But my KDE3.3 is no where near as slow as KDE3.5.
I guess its what you alluded to namely that unfortunately Linux distros are now going through a bloatware phase. That is really unfortunate in my opinion because the first thing anyone notices when comparing Linux to Windows is the speed.
I was so disappointed I put 10.0 back on my computer. I was also disappointed that 2.6 wasn't the default kernel.
I think this should have been Slackware 10.3 not 11.0.
 
Old 10-05-2006, 10:20 AM   #8
manwichmakesameal
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I feel the need to chime in here about the "slacware makes you learn linux" part of your post. I think slackware does indeed make you learn somewhat. It doesnt have all the fancy gui config options, so you actually have to edit the *.conf file. Once you start learning about all the config files, you start learning more about how things actually work on your system. But thats just my 2 cents.
 
Old 10-05-2006, 10:23 AM   #9
vharishankar
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Quote:
feel the need to chime in here about the "slacware makes you learn linux" part of your post. I think slackware does indeed make you learn somewhat. It doesnt have all the fancy gui config options, so you actually have to edit the *.conf file. Once you start learning about all the config files, you start learning more about how things actually work on your system. But thats just my 2 cents.
I've said it before and I'll say it again...

What's with this "learning" thing? Doing routine system maintenance is not learning unless you plan to be a full-time system administrator or a Linux specialist.

Equating learning = installing some drivers + making your sound work + configuring xorg and video + compiling applications is just stupid.

Learning has more to do with doing something actually productive on your computer and not just routine maintenance.

I get tired of this argument after a while.

Last edited by vharishankar; 10-05-2006 at 10:27 AM.
 
Old 10-05-2006, 10:29 AM   #10
b0uncer
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These topics are so boring -- whether they are "I hate" or "I just don't get it" or "I love it" type. Think a little. Linux is basically just the kernel, and a distribution is a kernel plus apps (GNU on most cases), so basically you're just arguing about something that is built up of the very same pieces as something you are not arguing about. Stupid, eh? Especially when you think that the things that make distributions differ from each other are not so big after all..they all get to the same goal: a usable operating system, and they all use the same pieces: kernel and programs.

It's like if you're arguing about a pizza - you're actually just arguing about the way it's laid, and that has nothing to do with you since you can choose a better layout. The pizza itself is just a flat thing with stuff on board, and if you don't like the stuff, switch it. Or alternatively, if you hate the flat thing itself, why even talk about it -- you could as well use that time on something that matters.

Foolish..

EDIT: and if you want to know why you should like the stuff, or the flat thing itself, don't ask it from the others since they can't possibly know. Go and taste, if you don't like, switch the stuff and taste again. Or switch the flat thing and don't taste again.

Last edited by b0uncer; 10-05-2006 at 10:31 AM.
 
Old 10-05-2006, 10:30 AM   #11
vharishankar
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b0uncer I couldn't agree with you more. I dislike both the fanboy kind of posts as well as the "constructive" criticism kind of posts each targetting a particular distro or Linux in general.

But that's the bane of online forums...
 
Old 10-05-2006, 10:37 AM   #12
swampdog2002
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I have tried many other distros as well, but Slackware seems to be the only distro that I can actually configure, for the most part, to do what I need it to do. I have found it interesting that many many people feel that Slackware is difficult to install and configure, due to its very basic installation procedure, as opposed to those of the likes of SuSE and Fedora. I have tried to use these distributions, and have had nothing but trouble with them, so I have come back to Slackware each time. While the installation and/or configuration problems I have had with SuSE and Fedora Core are most likely machine-specific to me, Slackware has been much more user-friendly in my case. In a few words, Slackware just works for me! If it doesn't work for you, then as someone else suggested, find something that does. There is no sense, at least in my opinion, to add unnecessary frustration to your computing experiences.

Last edited by swampdog2002; 10-05-2006 at 10:39 AM.
 
Old 10-05-2006, 11:33 AM   #13
dive
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My first slack was downloaded via 56k dialup. There used to be a guide that told you which packages you absolutely needed to be able to get up and running, although I can't find it now.

Total download was very small for an OS - around 100mb I think.

But on the whole I agree with b0uncer here. If it ain't for you then that's ok. Just try other distros until you find what you do like. The main difference will be in package management and configuration utilities.
 
Old 10-05-2006, 12:16 PM   #14
Ilgar
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The original question was
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celeborn
Tell me what you appreciate about Slackware, why you choose to use it over other distributions, and the frustrations you face with it. Tell me anything about Slackware you think I should hear.
So it's only natural that you see pro-Slackware responses here. This has nothing to do with being a fanboy etc. Nobody told Celeborn that he must use Slackware. Like everyone, he has a taste of his own and can of course go with his choice of distribution. Upon his request, we're explaining why Slackware is our choice, that's all.
 
Old 10-05-2006, 12:33 PM   #15
folkenfanel
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Talking blue, green, milk, burgers, ...

Hi there

I like blue and green but not pink (when it comes to clothes). I don't eat cheeseburgers. I like lemon juice. I dislike anything spicy. My brother in the other hand does not eat whitout chili...

Can't see how different that is from the way people like Linux distros (and in general, operating systems and to a greater extent, everything). Every distro has a "focus". I think the focus here is to let you do pretty much whatever you want. In Slackware that's the way I feel it and that's the way I like it. In RH the focus is enterprise, in Mandriva the focus is easiness, in Kurumin is absolute easiness, etc. etc.

Actually there is no distro that I like 100%. But Slackware is the closest. What I do NOT like about Slackware?... No GNOME, the default kernel is 2.4, it's mostly i486 optimized and all my machines are i686 (not a big issue, but that's the way I like things). So I remasterized my own Slackware. Have I considered using LFS to do that? Yes. But Slackware is pretty functional and I did not want to reinvent the wheel. I took what I liked, added what I needed, deleted what I didn't use. Keeping most Slackware features because I liked it that way. Hey, if you like orange+apple+grenade juice, mixed, don't you mix them and make some sort of cocktail? About the deps tracking: I like not having them checked. If you like to check dependencies, well there are plenty of utilities that could be "ported" to Slackware (or maybe should consider using Debian or something else ). I like compiling from source and Slackware gives me a sturdy platform to play my games.

If Slackware ceased to exist I would use a custom Debian. I have been in contact with Debian and I like it too (not as much as I like Slackware but I do like it; I "touched" Debian before knowing nothing about politics- to be honest I don't care about the issue of Debian and politics I just say it's technically good to me). About the looks and feel and easiness, ANY distro can be as easy to use as one would want and with modern desktop environments most of them look the same (even other OSes like Solaris, BSD, .....). But it's ultimately a matter of taste and that's why www.linux.org says distros are like "flavors" of Linux.

As a wise man once said, have fun! (and make love, not war )

Greetings
 
  


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