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Slackware is by far my favorite distro. Even though I have the occasional problems, I just can't deal with distros that try to use wizardry to "help you out". A very fundamental rule with Slackware, since it doesn't provide the nice tools like RedHat, etc. do for configuration is to AVOID KDE GUI-BASED CONFIG TOOLS! That isn't a Slackware caution; it applies to anything. Bugs have been known to sever hard links or delete things such as /etc/passwd.
I upgraded, in a sense, from 11.0 on my Compaq laptop by starting the install CD and running pkgtool to remove the old packages. To do this I had to mount all of my old partitions first. I left them mounted to run setup, but still had to provide a root partition to the program. This was not a problem, though, as it installed in the correct locations and let me pass up the opportunity to overwrite fstab. It didn't insist on overwriting anything else in /etc, and in fact left my /etc/rc.d/rc.local fully intact! It did not give me the option to skip kernel install, though, which upset me a little. I don't run lilo from my main installation; I run it from a bare "fix things when they break" text-only installation on the same machine. It's much safer that way, so do it! For some reason modules would not load after installation! I had to rebuild the kernel, which I have no problem doing since I've done it countless times and there are some great new kernel features.
KDE is pretty much the same as in 11.0. XFCE, however, has come a long way. It's on its way up toward the top, I think. It handles transparency A LOT better than KDE does, and even gives "you are root" banners when using as root. Yes, I run X as root sometimes. Don't tell anyone! The fish protocol is really the best reason to use KDE I think.
12.0 comes with a few more web browsers, but they are based on Mozilla/Netscape, so they aren't REALLY different. I do seem to have less X fonts, for some reason.
GCC seems more strict than that provided with 11.0. I seem to be getting a few errors/warnings I wasn't before, which is good (not by virtue, but because of what they say.) GCC is quite an impressive product to be getting for free.
I don't develop with KDevelop. I like to use Kate, Konqueror with one tab in Cervisa and one normal view with a terminal emulator at the bottom. This works extremely well, so I don't ever need KDevelop. That means I have no opinion of new vs. old. I can't seem to get Quanta to work, though, which is a step back from 11.0. I even deleted the config folder for it in my profile, but it still can't load my doc! I think it's the doc tree that does it.
I don't know Patrick's feelings on the politics of OpenOffice, but I really wish Slackware would come with it! I find KOffice almost unusable at times, especially KSpread with extensive calculations. And what about Gnome? Yes, yes, it is too difficult to maintain. Understandable. I think one would find this with KDE, too, if one were to pay attention to holes in the default state of KDevelop, though.
For some reason the libc infopages don't have pthread references anymore, and I don't have manpages for the functions. This might seem trivial to someone who doesn't write software, but for me this is HUGE! The previous docs were amazingly helpful. Chances are libc docs were generated without linuxthreads, but pthreads proper seem to still be there. Maybe the "portable" threads have replaced them and there is still back-comp linkage for pthreads? No depricated warnings. Hmmm...
A lot of formal reviews of Slackware detract from it's rating because it apparently doesn't have a large software selection included. This is VERY incorrect! In fact, some of the most useful tools are not found in KDE menus (pretty much only KDE and aesthetic X programs are,) but are hidden within bin directories. Take a look at the manpages in the help center or KPackage! Slackware has loads of useful command line tools and even some amazing X programs not found in the menus (such as XFig, which seems primative at first glance, but can take on nearly all "fancy" looking diagram tools.)
Something Slackware seems to be improving on is default support of alternative file systems. With Slackware 10.0, you pretty much had to load a module from a flash drive to install on an XFS partition. With 11.0 I had to do the same for JFS. Now I don't need to prebuild any modules.
It's nice to finally have a 2.6.x kernel and udev enabled by default. I've used encrypted file systems since 10.0 and with 12.0 I don't have to upgrade anything just to get to my partitions. With udev rules and a few scripts, I'm able to have many encrypted loopbacks that automount when I attach a flash drive with the encryption keys.
A lot of what I mention seems like basic functionality, but Slackware makes it very easy for an experienced Linuxer to do what they need to do. No fancy config tools and a well thought out configuration layout. Nothing says "Slackware would like to help you" or "Please wait while Slackware scans your computer for your convenience". I don't want any of that crap!
For newbies out there, Slackware is a great way to learn Linux. What makes Windows break (among other things) is it's covert manipulation of configuration with pretty little messages; the same goes for improperly-designed Linux tools. Slackware makes you get into the weeds and ask questions, and when you finally figure it out you can do it on any system, and eventually you will be irritated at how a lot of distros make you feel just as stupid after a year as you do on the first day. Slackware is a great investment of your time, and though you have to edit config files by hand, it builds character, and that's really what protects your system from you. If you are scared to edit a config file, you should be! GUI tools don't give you that fear of messing it up, so that's what you end up doing.
All of my complaints aside, Slackware is a very secure and stable system, which cannot be tangibly explained in a review. That's the main reason I use it.
This has gone on long enough. Download Slackware 12.0 and be happy. Don't believe their site when it says "ISOs on torrent only"; just search for "Slackware 12.0 ISO" and you will find a fast download somewhere.
One more thing! The latest version of GTK+! If you've ever tried to upgrade GTK+, you know that it's quite possibly the biggest ass-pain of an upgrade you will ever attempt, asside from building KDE or XOrg 7.x from source.
Maybe I'm just looking for the wrong things. I've been using Slackware for a while now and I primarily use Linux for software development. It has a feel to it somewhere between RedHat and Windows (not that that's bad, but it isn't for me.) A good distro for those who want a Linux OS but don't want to know all the details about how one works.