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Old 03-06-2004, 07:29 PM   #1
Hjulvisp
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Slackware Nightmare (Slackmare?)


Warning: This is not a question for help or any particular issue. It's merely a story, some food for thought .

First a bit of background. I'm seventeen, I grew up on Mac OS, and spent the last year and a half with Windows. I figured this is not where I want to be, merely because I like computers too much to run something mainstream and newbified.

This led me to discover Linux, so I did a few months of reading before I "took the plunge". I read on many an online forum about how Slackware is one of the most customizable and simplest distros around, and that it's for people who are not afraid of the command line.

Well, as a Mac and Windows child, it is not something I am entirely familiar with, but I never thought I would mind. After reading several online tutorials about Linux and its basic use, I had a fairly good understanding of the basic commands and how to do whatever I would need to for day-to-day use in Linux. Good stuff.

Slackware appealed to me because I wanted something basic but customizable, that would teach me all about Linux. This is the main goal, as it is a learning experience for me. I got the Slackware ISOs from a friend of mine and went about the task of installing it on my computer. Popped the first CD in and pressed <ENTER>. All good to go. Keyboard died.

Yep, at the second step, it wouldn't work at all. Even *Lock keys wouldn't light up the LEDs on it. Well this was a great way to begin my journey into Linux, wasn't it? Over the next few days, I sort of let it sit there. Occasionally I tried again, and once, to my astonishment, it responded! I partitioned my drive and got everything set up without problems, a major accomplishment for somebody who has no clue what he's doing. Of course, the keyboard still behaves this way. Loading the kernel is hit or miss.

Starting X makes one of my monitors go black. It just plain loses its signal, even though I input the factory specs when I configured X. Wow, no matter what I tried I couldn't get that fixed.

Then I realized I had no means of transferring files between my Windows partition and my Linux one, because the Windows one was NTFS. I did, however, have a 20gb Fat32 mp3 player. After fiddling with the mount command, i got that set up, and then naturally the next step was to configure ALSA because there was now music on my Linux partition. 3 speakers out of 6, not bad but not good. Figured I'd get the right drivers later for 5.1 support.

Next, the internet. ISDN took me 2 days to set up in OSX, it took me 2 days to get right in Windows XP, I could only imagine how hard it would be in Slackware. One week of trying, and still something isn't working right. I have asked for and recieved help on this forum, but it's still not quite there. Noting that every time I switch back and forth between Windows and Linux it takes me over half an hour of rebooting to get the keyboard to respond, having internet in only one means a great deal of time wasted.

So, without internet, or even a way to get into the OS in a timely fashion, I am left with Slackware sitting on my hard drive collecting dust.

Why am I telling you all this? Assuming you read this far, it's because I wanted to express how I feel about the idea that Slackware teaches people about Linux. This idea is far from off base, but flawed.

The major paradox here is that the very first things you have to do with a system to get it working are far more difficult than almost anything you have to do later on. The hardest steps come first, followed by the easy ones. If you are unable to get past those hard steps (some of my problems may only be solvable by editing and recompiling the kernel) then you will never learn how to use the OS. If you can get over the hump of configuring everything, it's smooth sailing.

I would not recommend Slackware to anyone as a first distro unless somebody is sitting over your shoulder the entire time through setting up the system and getting everything in working order. The way Slackware is able to teach people about Linux is if they know how to use it already but do not know the internals of the OS to the extent that Slackware requires. Then somebody can pick up Slack and learn a great deal about Linux. It just requires prior knowledge. I do not see Slackware as a distro a complete newbie can learn from.

For now, I'll format that partition and try an easier distro to learn with, but I promise one day I will return to Slackware.

Thanks for reading the post, for those of you who did, and I hope you were informed or that it was at least thought-provoking.

Cliffs Notes:
1. Newbie began with Slackware
2. Multiple problems with little documentation online
3. Couldn't configure half the things in the system
4. Gave up
5. The most difficult steps to using a new OS come first, followed by the easy part
6. Slackware is not a good first distro, IMHO

I'll be happy to hear any and all opinions of this story.

Last edited by Hjulvisp; 03-06-2004 at 07:31 PM.
 
Old 03-06-2004, 07:37 PM   #2
thing0
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i think that you should not tell that story, but... ask for help, hehe.
 
Old 03-06-2004, 07:52 PM   #3
Kaedynn
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I'm still confused on the thought that slackware would be a good first distro. All my online reading told me not to go to slack first. so i tried mandrake 8.1 and then bought suse then i went back to windows xp. but receently i realized i only had windows on for everquest and well i stopped playing it so i decided to ditch windows and go to linux only. played with mandrake 9.1 but wanted to learn more and use slackware so i took the leap and its been a big leap. I dont think im a total newbie to linux but i feel it to slack, but then isnt that half the fun trying to get it all up and running how you want not just ruunning it how some one else said too.
 
Old 03-06-2004, 08:01 PM   #4
thumper
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Hjulvisp - I recommend you give MEPIS a try. Gets you up and running quickly, unless you are running some thing old and/or obscure. If you have an extra partition that you want to devote to Slackware, then you can use the info in your Xfree config file and apply that in your Slack install.

No disrespect to the Slack distro, but you may not feel the need to change when running MEPIS.
 
Old 03-06-2004, 08:13 PM   #5
newinlinux
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Get yourself a Knoppix, and start from there.No messing with your hard drive, just plain linux fun. While you are at it, fire up Konsole, play with it, do everything in Konsole, from there you will learn. Good luck, and dont give up. People of the internet age has one problem going against them ie impatience.

cheers.
 
Old 03-06-2004, 10:00 PM   #6
thumper
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newinlinux's suggestion is a good one. Knoppix was a blast when I tried it. MEPIS-Linux is also a Live CD, so that you can evaluate while running from the CD only. These are good methods to try - you will see how all your hardware is detected (and if it isn't) and then decide to install. There's a lot live CD's these days - but give the 2 distro's mentioned here a look. Check out the websites. I'm guessing you will find something to your liking. Both Knoppix and MEPIS are Debian based, by the way.
 
Old 03-06-2004, 11:08 PM   #7
Longinus
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yeah knoppix or Slax(formally known as: Slackware Live) are good to start off with

well when i was totally new i started off with redhat 9.0: for like the first week

then i moved to slackware

and i think i learned alot more from slackware than i did with redhat
 
Old 03-07-2004, 04:33 AM   #8
Hjulvisp
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Thanks a lot for the info guys. To thing0, I have made a thread on every one of these issues, and the only responses I got were for the internet problem, but even after a week of trying something still isn't right. The right drivers wouldn't load correctly after a clean install.

I am far from giving up on Linux as a whole. I don't think anything will lead me to be a Windows user the rest of my life. I'm going to get started with Knoppix a bit . . . I think one of my friends has the German version only, but that'll do for now (I don't speak German, for those of you who don't know). After I fart around with that for awhile I'm thinking of moving on to Mandrake. I've heard that if you can't set it up correctly there must be something seriously wrong with you (or your computer), so that seems like a good place to start learning. Once I catch up I'll return to Slack.
 
Old 03-07-2004, 05:04 AM   #9
Justin_Time
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Re: Slackware Nightmare (Slackmare?)

Quote:
Originally posted by Hjulvisp
I would not recommend Slackware to anyone as a first distro unless somebody is sitting over your shoulder the entire time through setting up the system and getting everything in working order. The way Slackware is able to teach people about Linux is if they know how to use it already but do not know the internals of the OS to the extent that Slackware requires. Then somebody can pick up Slack and learn a great deal about Linux. It just requires prior knowledge. I do not see Slackware as a distro a complete newbie can learn from.

For now, I'll format that partition and try an easier distro to learn with, but I promise one day I will return to Slackware.

Thanks for reading the post, for those of you who did, and I hope you were informed or that it was at least thought-provoking.

Cliffs Notes:
1. Newbie began with Slackware
2. Multiple problems with little documentation online
3. Couldn't configure half the things in the system
4. Gave up
5. The most difficult steps to using a new OS come first, followed by the easy part
6. Slackware is not a good first distro, IMHO

I'll be happy to hear any and all opinions of this story. [/B]
Because your first try did not go as you have planned you can't blame slackware for it. I have a little brother who is 16 year's old. He also liked to try slackware and did the same ass you have. First reading a lot and then just trying.

I was really amased when i walked in the room and he was playing quake 3 in linux while 2 day's before he still had windows XP.

So "newbies" can start with slackware but it just takes more then only "reading articles". You really should learn how to search the internet google and forums do help a lot with troubleshooting.

And when you know how to search then all the things that you need to get configured you will notice how easy slackware really is (KISS). So, yes you had a bad experience with slackware but do not blame the distro. There are thousands of users who run this distro even users who started right a way with slack.

Cheers
 
Old 03-07-2004, 06:32 AM   #10
tobyl
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I think you just got unlucky.
There appears to be a known issue with your laptop and some linux distros. I did some googling and found similar references to your problems.
In one post, someone had the following results:

the keyboard problem:

Distro's exhibiting this behavior :
Gentoo 1.4, Lunar, Libra 2.7 & OL 2.02

Distro's that install without issues:
RH9, Fedora C1, MDK 9.1, SuSE 9, Knoppix 3.3, Mepis 10.1, & SourceMage 0.8

Well, it looks like you can add Slackware to the first list.

I also read that the problem did not occur with the 2.2 series kernels

It sounds like you are trying to run dual monitors on this system? Well you really need to get the base system working properly first.

I would try Mandrake or one of the 'Live' distros first. Come back to Slack after you have sussed out what Mandrake etc are doing differently. My guess is that XFree86 is the culprit.

tobyl
 
Old 03-07-2004, 09:45 AM   #11
sNicker
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hjulvisp
After I fart around with that for awhile I'm thinking of moving on to Mandrake. I've heard that if you can't set it up correctly there must be something seriously wrong with you (or your computer),
Uh? You make me worry... my system decided to work perfectly ONLY when I installed Slack... with a bit of work, of course.

Mandrake didn't want to do what I wanted to... Maybe because i have a Presario notebook and it's a doomed notebook for linux but now it works very well!! Just don't give up, find the distro that will fit your needs and enjoy your stay!

cheerz
 
Old 03-07-2004, 09:49 AM   #12
the_rydster
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I come to Slack by way of messing about a bit with Redhat and Mandrake a few months ago. prior to this I had only really had exposure to windows.

If I had dived straight into Slack I am confident I would have found it too difficult without having first found out a little about linux though Redhat and Mandrake first.

I choose Slack because it is command line based and I felt it will help me learn more and faster given the transparent nature of command line. This is been true so far basically because of problems I have had getting things to work. I have had to post questions on here, use trial and error, experiment, use google etc etc, and it is by doing this that you learn things. Sometimes I have almost lost patience but you have to remember that it is not easy especially as the command line and the whole linux setup is not intuiative.......its has to be learned.

Sounds like you want a full working distro yesterday. If so avoid slack, its 'basic' nature does not equate to ease of use for someone with little experience but rather equates to more control and power for the initiated.

You are better getting your feet wet with Fedora or Mandrake and trying to use the command line as much as possible, and then changing if you feel like you want to.
 
Old 03-07-2004, 10:29 AM   #13
newinlinux
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yeah, Slax could be a perfert candidate to ease you into Slackware. Since Slax is slackware based, whatever you pick up in SLAX, should be transplantable to Slackware in the future. This is provided if you are dead determined to get Slackware working on your comp.

Last edited by newinlinux; 03-07-2004 at 10:31 AM.
 
Old 03-07-2004, 10:38 AM   #14
rich442
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I think Slack is the simplest for those who are coming from a UNIX or BSD background. I still think it is the simplest for beginners because it tells the user what to expect and what they need to get going.

Disk 2 in 9.0 is a bootable live disc (just like Knoppix). You don't need to install anything if you don't want to.
 
Old 03-07-2004, 11:41 AM   #15
Hjulvisp
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Quote:
Originally posted by tobyl
I think you just got unlucky.
There appears to be a known issue with your laptop and some linux distros.
Well this is a desktop machine, but I see what you mean. I had been searching for ages on google and forums for this issue but it never came up. I asked on this forum but didn't get a response for over a week. Still haven't.

Quote:
Originally posted by tobyl
It sounds like you are trying to run dual monitors on this system? Well you really need to get the base system working properly first.
I couldn't agree more, but maybe I should elaborate on the problem. I do have 2 monitors, and I use both in windows. However, even with only one plugged in, and the secondary unplugged, the primary will lose its signal when I start X. If I have both plugged in, the secondary is the only one with a signal, so it was not the fact that I was running 2 monitors that was giving me trouble, it was the fact that one didn't work once I started X. I still have yet to understand why, because I was conservative on my vertical refresh and horizontal sync ranges, going through multiple tries. All in all, confusing.

I don't mean to single you out, tobyl, it's just clarification of some details.

I agree with all these posts, and again thank you for the advice and support. I hope to return to Linux with a distro that would be easier for me to learn with, and once I learn to get the hardware configured manually then I will return to Slack.
 
  


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