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-   -   Distribution choice: Slackware first or last? (

marsm 08-18-2005 05:14 PM

Distribution choice: Slackware first or last?
To start with, a popular quote from the "zealots"-dept ;) :

"If you use Red Hat you'll learn Red Hat, but if you use Slackware you'll learn Linux."

True or not, I'm running Slackware as my first distribution anyway without too much bother. I suppose having started using a computer with DOS as opposed to Windows and therefore being familiar with the command line helped.

Seeing how a lot of people seem to rather "end up" using Slackware than using it as their starting distribution leaves me wondering whether this was such a good idea though.

It would be nice to hear from anyone who has used a variety of distributions prior to Slackware what there is to learn from using these, that would contribute to being proficient in Linux and whether there is a certain order or minimum amount of distributions that I should try.

Tinkster 08-18-2005 05:35 PM

Hi, and welcome to LQ!

Since it gives you no trouble you seem to be well
ahead of the pack of lemmings (and quite likely off
in a different direction, away from that cliff) ....

Well done! :)

And stick with it, slack rocks!

And really, I should move this to success-stories ;)
or introductions.


Bruce Hill 08-18-2005 05:51 PM

Welcome to LQ!

There is no requirement to use any distro, and certainly not to use another before our beloved Slackware. Since you already have the best distro installed (take it from one of those zealots), just learn Linux via Slackware and enjoy your computer again.

I used DeadRat (RedHat ;) for about a month, and thoroughly disliked the way it hides things behind a GUI most of the time. So I decided to read and find a distro that was more easily configured. My three choices were Debian, Gentoo, or Slackware.

I chose Debian, and ran it for about 4 months. It was a very nice, minimal install, but the apt-get package manager wasn't entirely reliable. For instance, I was using their unstable and testing branches for software, because software in the stable branch was just too old for my tastes. About 4 months into it I decided to try KDE, but the developers or maintainers who entered stuff into the apt-get repositories couldn't agree on libs, so it was broken in unstable and testing, and could only be used from stable. And that meant I would have to take my entire system back to stable, which wasn't an option for me on a workstation. So I had to decide, will it now be Gentoo or Slackware?

After reading a lot, I decided I didn't want to spend the majority of my time compiling an entire distro from source (Gentoo), and most of the posts I'd read in LQ which were actual help, and not newbie guesses, came from Slackers. Additionally, at that time the majority of the mods in LQ were using Slack. So, I decided to try Slackware.

I'm glad that I did. I have learned more about my computer in 20 months running Slackware, than I did from DOS to Windoze XP. It is now fun to use my computer, and not having to maintain software for virii, worms, trojans, malware; and Micro$loth updates is a nice change. Granted, I'm spending more time learning about Slackware than I did doing those things, but it is an adventure that is enjoyable. And I'm learning something that is useful to myself and others, rather than just trying to stay one step ahead of the "bad guys."

And the thing that is the most amazing to me about *nix is it's multi-tasking ability. Slackware has any version of Windoze beaten by "a country mile" in that department. I have yet to touch my swap partition on a box with 1GB ram running an AMD AThlon XP 2600+ Barton, and can run circles around anything M$ has to offer. It's as different as a Volkswagon bug and a Formula 1 racer.

Here's another one: "Once you've used Slack, you'll never go back."

The only reason I can think to use another distro is to see how awesome Slackware is comparatively.

He posted since I started, so let me give him a plug. Tinkster has been invaluable help to me, and he's one of the guys whose posts I would always see, who had the right answers and not just "try this" guesswork. And afaik he's still a Slacker!

Tinkster 08-18-2005 06:19 PM


Originally posted by Chinaman
He posted since I started, so let me give him a plug. Tinkster has been invaluable help to me, and he's one of the guys whose posts I would always see, who had the right answers and not just "try this" guesswork. And afaik he's still a Slacker!
/me blushes...

Sure am, and thanks for the praise :}

The "diverse" is just because I find it too silly to put
3 + 1 distros in the side-bar. But my heart belongs
to slack, it's on all machines I own/have exclusive
control over. Others are:
RedHat AS3
SuSE 7.1 Enterprise
And a roll-your-own one (no, it's actually OLDER
than LFS :})

I've tried heaps of others(MDK, debian, Lindows, Xandros,
Mepis, ... to name just a few), too, and have used debian
and Mandrake on production systems in previous jobs.


Charred 08-18-2005 10:18 PM

<insert long, winding, excessively grandiloquent rant about the virtues of Slackware,



Welcome to LQ?:D

Slackware first, last, and always.

Bruce Hill 08-18-2005 10:34 PM

That's really quite an obnoxious post.
You should change the font size ...

Charred 08-18-2005 10:39 PM

You're right. I'm sorry. Is that better?

jrdioko 08-18-2005 10:42 PM

I'll throw in my two cents...

I've always been interested in computers on a deeper than surface level, but wasn't a DOS or coding master to any extent. I moved from Windows directly to Slackware, and haven't thought of going back. I ended up scrapping my first install, as I was learning how to use Linux at that point and ended up deleting some important directories, installing things the wrong way in all the wrong places, etc., but I've been on my second install for about a year now.

Slack is going to be harder to learn than other distros, but as your little quote goes, you do learn Linux itself and how to configure and change things "the real way." I keep seeing posts here from people using other distros asking about how to change permissions in this certain window and use certain package managers and change settings in some nice menu tool, but if you take that route you're learning things the Windows way--using utilities on the surface to make changes you're never 100% sure what they're doing. If you actually learn how to use the config files and do things yourself, it'll feel much better/easier once you figure things out.

Do what you feel best with, but there's no problem with taking the dive without working your way through "beginner distros" first. After all, this forum is an amazing resource and there are few questions you'd ask here without getting at least one useful response.

And if you do end up using Slackware, a quick tip. Download source packages to /usr/local/src, extract them, and use "checkinstall" instead of "make install" (the checkinstall program package can be found in the /extra (/extras?) directory on the Slack CD). That makes uninstalling easy and puts everything in the right place. :)

Bruce Hill 08-18-2005 10:43 PM

By about 20 points, I'd say. ;)

I love Slackware just as much as I despise Micro$loth,
so I could say I share your enthusiasm. Good edit btw...

Charred 08-18-2005 10:44 PM

Glad you enjoyed it.

Netizen 08-18-2005 10:50 PM

Welcome to LQ.

I started with Red Hat myself. And learned the Red Hat method. Since then I have tried Mandrake, FreeBSD, Debian, and then found Slackware. I can personally say that the statement "...use Slackware and you will learn Linux" is absolutely true for me. I learned more about Linux in one week, than in the previous two years of playing with distros. Since finding Slackware, I tried Knoppix, Gentoo, and Ubuntu. I still love Slack. I use Slack on almost all my computers at the house with one exception...I use IPCop on my router. Out of all the distros Slackware will always be first for me. However, if I was ever to leave it might be to Gentoo.

However, for a new Linux user distro...Ubuntu is outstanding. Its rather easy to setup, runs great out of the box with little configuration, and has great documentation. Its what I usually recommend these days to those that ask. Linux isn't for everyone, but Ubuntu goes a long way in making the switch as simple and seemless as possible right now.

As far as master of distros, I do not think it is needed. Sure you should try as many as you want. They all have pros and cons. But Linux is Linux, for the most part. Most of the differences are fluff, IMHO. If you are looking to support Linux for a living you will definitely what to know Red Hat and Debian. They are two of the most prevalant in corporate environments, or at least the two that I run into the most.

Oh, I second the comment on Tinkster. Absolutely one of the best Slackware, and for that matter, Linux references on LQ. I lurked for a while at the beginning and learned a lot from his posts as well as several others.


Tinkster 08-18-2005 10:51 PM


Originally posted by Charred
Glad you enjoyed it.
And not a bad timing, too... I was just about to ask you
to change it in an e-Mail ;)


Charred 08-19-2005 01:13 AM

I'm just embarassed that it slipped by my good-taste filter.

titopoquito 08-19-2005 03:35 AM

Welcome to LQ!

I started with Mandrake myself, then tried (for a very short time) Fedora Core 1, before I got to Slackware. After that I had doubts if there was a better distro for me, so I tried FreeBSD 5.x that gave me a very similar experience to Slackware. I ended up at Slackware again and am surprised again and again, how general and not distro-specific the things are, that I learn managing it.
I decided to try out Linux mainly because of lack of control in Windows -- in Slack you get more control than any other Linux distro I tried, just FreeBSD can compete with Slack at this point (from the distros I tried). I am glad I switched to it and didn't stick too long with other ones. It's simplicity is just beautiful. I LOVE Slacks init scripts. And if you're willing to search the forum, look in man pages etc. it's a very good distro even for a newbie like I still am :D


b0nd 08-19-2005 04:26 AM

The extent upto which i like slackware can be guessed by the way i'm experimenting with Redhat 9.
i'm on the learning path of kernel compilation. So i'm not touching my Slackware...............just trying my hand on Redhat, b'coz i won't regret of loosing Redhat.

Moreover i noticed and liked two things of slackware very much :
1> Its GUI
2> Its speed.......being too much high with RAM, some of u people may have not noticed this thing. i had only 128 Mb of RAM and as compare to the speed of Redhat its amazingly fast.


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