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This may sound a bit naive or ridiculous at times, but I have to get this off my chest. Here we go.
I started Linux back in 2001, and I don't remember if it was Slackware 7.1 or 8.0. I registered on the - since defunct - basiclinux.net mailing list, a group of folks who offered you free Linux training while expecting you to RTFM a lot. Though in retrospective it felt a bit like I wanted to work out a bit, and found myself in a training camp of the Navy SEALs
For the following few years, I've been using mainly Slackware and Debian, but around 2006 or so I had a confuse feeling of... how should I put it? Making my life unnecessarily difficult by choosing a "difficult" Linux distribution. From 2006, I've been using mainly a base of CentOS with many imported packages from Fedora. I chose CentOS because it was "enterprise class" and it was free, and I even ended up publishing a 530 page book about Linux command-line fundamentals, using CentOS as a base (search amazon.fr for "kiki novak"). But curiously enough, as the years went by, I became increasingly dissatisfied with Linux in general and even thought - briefly - of migrating to a mix of Mac OS X on the desktop and something like FreeBSD on the server. During a few years, you name the distribution, I've probably given it a spin. Gentoo would take ages to install, Arch would break things now and then, openSUSE would dislike some of my hardware and freeze for inexplicable reasons, and so on. The last thing I was using was Kubuntu 10.04 LTS on servers as well as on desktops, and it's sort of OK in the way that frozen pizza is "OK".
Then, about two weeks ago, I read a review of Slackware 13.37 on LWN ... looked out of the window - at the South French mountains - and gave a big nostalgic sigh. Ah, Slackware... the good old times. And then, slowly, things started to assemble themselves in my head. I hadn't given Slackware even the slightest thought since 12.0 (I know it by taking a peek at the stale SVN repo of SlackBuilds that gathers dust somewhere on a forgotten server). Since I'm running a business focussed on 100% GNU/Linux and FOSS (http://www.microlinux.fr), I need an "enterprise"-capable distro. Well, I thought, Slackware does offer updates for releases back to 8.0 (that's ten years!), so it would indeed qualify.
In my office I have half a dozen of "sandbox" machines, so I downloaded Slackware 13.37 and now it's a good week that I'm enthusiastically experimenting. On the desktop side, Slackware contains the cleanest and crispest implementation of KDE 4.5 that I've ever seen. Configuring X went like a breeze on all the boxes, and those with NVidia cards received drivers from slackbuilds.org that instantly worked, almost out of the box. But then, I've forgotten how it is to have a system where all the bootscripts are not written "with your feet" (as we say here), but everything is clean and crisp and... just works.
Yesterday I've setup a "repo" on my server (http://www.microlinux.fr/slackware) to centralize my stuff. To use the pizza metaphor above: right now, I feel like someone who's just rediscovering how good it is to cook by yourself. Install sbopkg and the french manpage doesn't display correctly? Just write a quick SlackBuild script and rebuild the package with the manpage corrected. Plus, Slackware doesn't reinvent the wheel every six months and replace the init system by the latest brand-new untested technology that's around (think SystemV -> upstart -> systemd -> unhealthy mix of all the three that's currently in too many distributions).
I've put together a TODO list to migrate all my companies' "services" (file server, Squidguard Proxy filter, central authentication, etc. for town halls, schools and the likes) from various distributions to Slackware. But most important: I've found the simple joy of working with Linux again. I'll have to check out how I can make a subscription to Slackware from France.
Cheers from the sunny South of France to all the Slackware users in the world, and thanks to Patrick Volkerding for the greatest Linux distribution out there.
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Lol, cool post. I distro hopped a while now and was always scared to try out slackware due to its reputation as a difficult distro. Slackware has been on my machine for about a month now and I must say it is the best by far. Somehow it just makes sense.
I had a similar experience: Slackware was my first encounter with Linux, back as a post-grad in 1995. I didn't install it, though: I was merely the junior nerd in my office, and so the guy with the thicker spectacles and correspondingly smaller eyes had the task of working through a stack of floppies to get Linux running on the office's state-of-the-art 486DX (on the front of which was a red LCD showing the speed at which the machine was currently running --- usually 75MHz --- and a button marked something like "Turbo"). I used Linux a bit, but there was no X (for whatever reason), so I generally opted for the office's NeXT workstation or went upstairs and used Solaris on the Suns.
It was almost five years later that I actually came to install and use Linux myself, when (I think) Red Hat 4.0 was featured as the cover disk of a PC magazine. It was so easy to install and use on my recently-bought 133MHz Pentium that I stuck to Red Hat from then on --- I could code, run & debug my work and use LaTeX for writing my PhD (until the latter eventually bored me to my bowels and I quit).
Some years after I'd emerged blinking into the light from the catacombs of the Physics department, I picked up a bundle of CDs of out-of-date distributions free of charge from one of the online stores selling cheap Linux CDs: one of them was an old copy of Slackware 4.0. I thought I'd try it out as a sort-of trip down memory lane, just for a laugh.
But installing it was no longer a geek's week's work --- it was easy, a pleasure even! ...And it somehow had more character and solidity than Red Hat. I was hooked. And have been ever since. Your description of how the other distributions compare with Slackware says pretty much how I feel --- I like them all in their own way, but I always come back to Slack.
For me too, it was a similar experience. I first got in touch with Slackware in 1994. It then came under the "disguise" as SuSE linux. It was easy to install and easy to administrate.
A few years later, the guys at SuSE made their own distribution and I still used it. One thing, which after a while appeared as an improvement to me, was the System V style init. Administration was ok, once you got around SuseConfig. What I really didn't get used to was the rpm package manager. Finding a certain file wasn't any longer as simple as looking in /var/log/packages and yes, I found the dependencies were quite hell. And from release to release it became more difficult to build your own packages (the first versions of KDE for example, when you didn't want to wait for official releases). I then tried out Redhat (maybe the original is better than the copy, as far as package management is concerned), but that didn't really suit me.
Then sometime in 2003 a friend told me that when trying out different linux distributions he stumbled upon Slackware. At this point I remembered that in my early linux days SuSE called itself "German Slackware" and was wondering that distribution still existed. Next day I downloaded Slackware 9.0 and installed it. I felt at home instantly, all the things I remembered where still where they had been back in 1994 and the big surprise was, that now System V style init was used too. Since that day I'm using slackware again.
I went to Linux from M$ Windows, did so circa 1999 to 2000. I was one of the first to get the msblast virus on Windows 2000.
I then decided that I would never get a compromised computer again. And, BTW, I've not had any compromise since then. I've not used M$ Windows since then.
I tried a few Linux distros, redhat before it had made the Fedora split. Then Fedora, also a few others, and Slackware.
Slackware is the only one that I kept on and kept on and kept on and kept on coming back to. Other distros I went back to a few times.
But Slackware is the only distro that now has long since been my forever come back to as well as my long term stay.
For greater than eight to nine years now, Slackware has done so well for me that I've not even had the slightest interest whatsoever to even try anything else.
Once properly built/setup, a Slackware box runs so trouble free for so many years that I can use all of that (so called Slack) or free time to do everything else except for work on computers. A Slackware box is as low maintenance as computers can get.
Ah, boring. I'm on my 12.2 Slackware box right now which I built within one week of when Slackware 12.2 was released. Now it runs absolutely no different than it did then.
It's a desktop. I've several VM's on it. I've used it hard and lots and long and same for the VM's I have onboard too.
Security patches/updates and the occasional fsck that it auto does after 20 or so bootups. Beyond those, I have not worked on this box. It cannot get any more minimal than this for maintenance.
I'm bored. I'll try to grab an around_to_it with which to put Slackware 13.37 on here before Slackware releases once again the next release that's yet to come after 13.37.