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Old 01-02-2004, 08:55 PM   #1
Registered: Oct 2002
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Trying to learn linux..

And I'm trying with Slackware, heh.

And already, I'm having problems. Problems just downloading.

I went to Slackware's site to download, finally found ISOs (Most sites had 1kb ISOs?!)

And now I'm screwed up.

There's 2 Slackware 9.1 ISOs. And then there's 4 Slackware-Current ISOs.

Which ones do I need? I'm confused because one says Current and has *4* ISOs, but as far as I know, 9.1 is the most current, but only has 2 ISOs.
Old 01-02-2004, 09:09 PM   #2
Registered: Dec 2003
Location: Layer 7 =D
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9.1 also 4 iso's, dunno which mirror you went. you can't download them from anymore because they are low on bandwith....go to an official mirror:

you need CD#1 and probably want CD#2 which contains Gnome and KDE...
CD 3 and 4 are loaded with the sourcecode only.....nothing that you will care about at the momment I guess ^^

Old 01-02-2004, 09:12 PM   #3
Registered: Oct 2002
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Which I guess is why the 9.1 mirror I went to didn't have the other two.

Thanks for the help.
Old 01-02-2004, 09:13 PM   #4
Senior Member
Registered: Jul 2003
Location: So. Cal.
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You probably only need the 2 disks. I tried and had a horrible time downloading them and installing them so i finally just ordered some disks from
Old 01-02-2004, 09:32 PM   #5
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Another question. I'm downloading Linux just in hopes of learning it (I've tried Mandrake and quit multiple times.) and possibly play a few of the ported windows games in Linux.

I don't program, I don't run servers, I don't do any of that stuff.

Is Slackware a bit too much for that stuff? Would I be better off using one of the distros that are generally considered easier to learn?
Old 01-02-2004, 09:37 PM   #6
Registered: Jul 2003
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Mandrake is an easy way to start and get up and running, and to get a feel for linux, but if you really want to learn then slackware is a great choice. When you say you want to "learn" linux, there is really no limit to how much you can learn, the learning is only limited by your time and your desire to learn.
Old 01-03-2004, 05:07 AM   #7
Registered: Jul 2003
Location: Australia
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Just get the isos from - it has links to lots of mirrors.
Old 01-03-2004, 12:06 PM   #8
Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Texas
Distribution: Slackware and Ubuntu
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Dont confuse "easy to learn' with "hiding the how from you". RH and Mandrake provide a lot of applets to make editing configuration files easier, but in the end you are lost without the gui. Slackware doesn't provide that much gui, making you have to learn how to edit the config files and understand how Linux works.

Old 01-03-2004, 02:54 PM   #9
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Distribution: Slackware, Slackwarearm
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Slackware is very simple to configure since. Configuration is almost always done with an editor although slackware and some things (like X) have command line configuration or very basic dialogue box configuration.

After you have completed your install you will be left with a command line at which you will have to log in as root and edit two files and maybe configure X before you can get into say gnome or kde.

Read the text file HOWTO on the first cd. Its pretty much all you need. If your unfamiliar with anything discussed, google it.

Remember that you can install as many times as you want. Don't think that you're stuck with an install if you've botched it. When starting out you don't have anything to loose so just reinstall over the previous install (re-formating as you go). Four years ago I stared out with SUSE and I became an install king :^)

Assuming you've picked up a little Linux along the way I'll provide only couple things for starters. You may know them already!

During install:
-Read everything put in front of you and think before click/keystroke.
-Make a boot disk (make two).
-If you're not setting up a network when prompted to set up the network choose "loopback".
-Enable gdm for your mouse. It comes in handy (see below).
-You can use a winmodem with slack but not right off the line so do not set up for a modem during the install
-If your winmodem has a Lucent chipset you can download the current ltmodem package and compile your own modules/drivers for your modem. It's dead easy these days.

After installation all you will have is a commandline prompt. So to get into a gui you will need to run the command "startx". You will then get gnome because its first in line in a file called /etc/rc.d/rc.4 (I'll explain more below).

Remember you are starting out as root so you have the permissions to do anything you want whether you wanted to or not. Be carefull! You can create a normal user with the command "adduser". You can move back and forth when you have to by typing "su" to become root and "su [username]" to switch back to being a normal user.

If your x session (windows) doesn't work or look good, the default config obviously doesn't suit your box. Go get the horizontal and vertical syncs for your monitor and the details of your graphics card then run the command line config tool "xf86config" If you botch it you can do it again. It writes a new /etc/X11/XF86Config file each time.

You can do anything on the command line with the commandline tools provided in slack but you may find it easiest to start out with the commandline file manager Midnight Commander. You can bring it up with the command "mc" and it shouldn't take you long to fugure out how to run it with tabs, arrows, funtion keys and enter. Its companion editor is "mcedit". These are both about as gui as you will get at the command line because with gdm enabled you will also have some mouse functionality.

If you want to boot right into a gui you will have to edit two files from the commandline. You can use the command "mcedit /path/filename" to open up a file for editing or you can navigate to the file in mc then press F4 to open it in mcedit, F2 to save it after editing, then F10 to close it.
mcedit /etc/inittab

You need to edit the file /etc/inittab so that line 24 reads like this:
so that will now boot into a gui session manager.

You will also need to edit rc.4 if you do not want to boot into a Gnome session manager. You will need to use the full path with mcedit.
mcedit /etc/rc.d/rc.4

I prefer KDE and gdm is the first session manager listed in /etc/rc.ds. So I comment out the lines relating to gdm in the rc.4 script. kdm is next so it will be called when the script is run.

To "comment out" means to place an " # " at the beginning of the line so what follows is changed from an action to a notation (my words only). So in rc.4 I commented lines
16-18 as follows:
#if [ -x /usr/bin/gdm ]; then
# exec /usr/bin/gdm -nodaemon

You will find that the balance of you configuration will consist of either commenting or uncommenting lines in scripts (begin with #!/bin/bash) or configuration file files. Distros like mdk have gui's that do this for you but you won't learn anything about how the system works using them.

You will find that most config scripts have lots of commented lines explaining what to do and that lots of the things that you want to be started (like sound card modules (drivers in windows) can be started by uncommenting the line that would load them.

If you want a service like CUPS (for printing) and you didn't nominate it during the install you can configure slack to start it by making the script /etc/rc.d/rc.cups executable so that it runs at boot.

This is what makes slackware clean and quick. It doesn't install/boot with a bunch of unecessary (for you) stuff loaded or running so that it will work on 95% of the PC's in the world. Slack installs/boots with the bare minimum and it's your choice from the start what you run what you load. KDE is pure KDE, CUPS is pure CUPS, etc. There is no software that has been modified any more than was necessary to make sure that it will run in slackware if configured correctly (by you, not by Bill, Steve, or anyone else)

That's all. This is getting verbose and you have enough to get started. May I suggest the Slackware FAQ and Slackware Tips & Tricks by Jack S. Lai to give you an idea and some guidance as to some of the other post install configuration things you may want to do. I don't have theurls handy so google them.

Als I used to have some post install tips listed under "Other HowTo's" at but I'm not sure if they're still there and they were written for slack-8.1. Although things haven't changes that much.


Last edited by justwantin; 01-03-2004 at 03:30 PM.
Old 01-04-2004, 12:59 AM   #10
Registered: Oct 2002
Posts: 44

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I just wanted to say thanks a lot for the info.

I was almost considering running out and buying the Red Hat 9 Bible just for the sake of being held by the hand (And probably learning nothing in the process)

But you've convinced me Slack is the way to go.

My only apprehension is that I don't have any *serious* use for it. I kind of want to learn what I can about it, and maybe TRY to install the NVidia drivers (for my Geforce 4) and fool around with some of the few Linux games (Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Unreal Tournament 2003)

I figure if I can learn how it works, everything else will be easy.

Edit: I'm going to most definitely check out those sites. But I was curious, are there any newbie friendly slackware books out there? I mean, I know how to Start X, but I'll be damned if I know how to shut down X. And while I guess Slackware doesn't use RPMs, I still have no idea why you add -ivh (Or various other commands) to the line when you do it.

Oh, and a good explanation of the directory structure of Linux. I have absolutely no idea where to look for anything.

Last edited by Valael; 01-04-2004 at 01:02 AM.
Old 01-04-2004, 06:56 AM   #11
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Distribution: Slackware, Slackwarearm
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I'm almost on my way to bed so I'll be brief.

Whats serious? I sometimes don't use it much more than for emails (personal and work), internet (personal and work), and my banking.

Other times I'm listening to cd's and maybe hacking around in bash.

Sometimes I use Open Office but alas I still need an MS box for MS Access and dealing with thingos I bring home from work where there's a mix of 98 and 2000 running scada progs weatherstation, etc.

Also I've got a small lan set up. My daughter wants the net or to print on her box in her room all she has to do is go in the study and turn on this box. Nothing else needed CUPS does the printing and a simple script lets her dialup remotely.

That's using slackware on two old 586's with 256 and 380 Mb Ram.

They stand up by themselves, never fall over and I'm quite satisfied with the gui's available and other aps when needed.

Excellent value and over the past year and some since I switched from Mandrake, I've learned how to keep this thing running clean and quick. slack-8.1 through to slack-9.1 if anything the boxes are running a little quicker. Of course KDE code has gotten cleaner, kernels are faster, but it's just as much the fact that slackware is a great little distro if your willing to get your hands dirty. Once you've got it running te way you want it's downright boring and you'll probably go looking for trouble. tweek out some more speed, try a new program

I keep a stable install on this box and another just for crash and burn but it don't happen much anymore.

Three finger salute works well to take down a session, ctrl+alt+esc with a mouse over the frozen ap will give you a skull and crossbones, hit enter and you've shut down the program but your still in a session.

I don't know of any newbie oriented slackware books. There is the old Slackware Unleashed which you can still find around and on the net. There's also a project to update it (unofficially) on the net somewhere too.

Really though. Find any book that talks pure Linux and your okay. You might want to avoid anything too distro specific. I picked up an old Running Linux by O'Reilly cheap because it was somewhat out of date but it still had the basics (including file system discussion) and was an immense help because slack is about as pure and basic linux as your going to get.

If you have an rpm that hasn't been modified too much in favour of a specific distro like rh or mdk you can use the command
rpm2tgz some-package rpm
to convert it to a slack pack (.tgz), then you can install it with slackware's packaging system using.

Slackware ships with rpm if you want to use it but I can't think of any time I've used it except once for a really obscure library that wouldn't work with rpm2tgz.

I've found in many cases it's simpler to compile my own aps from tarballs and slackware is great for that. I do that allot of compiling games for my daughter.

As far as flags on the command line. You will learn them with time and you'll tend to remember the ones you need frequently very quickly. Ditto with the file system, you remember where you need to go quickly and learn the rest as time goes by. Also once you got the configuration done there will be a gui environment to work in. Most people slowly move into the command line. I don't use either exclusively (more choice, more control)

Yawn...that's it and I won't edit tonight either


Last edited by justwantin; 01-04-2004 at 07:04 AM.
Old 01-04-2004, 09:20 AM   #12
Amigo developer
Registered: Dec 2003
Location: Germany
Distribution: Slackware
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You can shutdown X by pressing CTRL+ALT+BACKSPACE. You'll probabl need this if you run startx without first configuring X. If the mouse is not right this is the only way to kill it. Use xf86config to configure X. There are other utilities but they don't complete the job and will may make it necessary or impossible to kill X. Backup /etc/X11/XF86Config first so you have it for reference. If you have win95/98 machines I'd recommend using ZipSlack at least to start with. Much less to download and easier to install. See my HOWTO which will also explain a minimum install. I have X, Opera, Rox-Filer( a great file manager) and lots of other goodies in about 150MB installed. Plus I can back the whole thing up from windows by making a Zip file and transport. reinstall, or duplicate the setup in about 3 minutes after the 'unzip' is finished. I have run this with as little as 16MB RAM/120MHz hardware. See the HOWTO at:
Old 01-05-2004, 09:45 AM   #13
LQ Newbie
Registered: Nov 2003
Location: UK
Distribution: Slack
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Originally posted by Valael

Edit: I'm going to most definitely check out those sites. But I was curious, are there any newbie friendly slackware books out there? I mean, I know how to Start X, but I'll be damned if I know how to shut down X. And while I guess Slackware doesn't use RPMs, I still have no idea why you add -ivh (Or various other commands) to the line when you do it.

Oh, and a good explanation of the directory structure of Linux. I have absolutely no idea where to look for anything.
Not sure if you are already aware of this but check out the slack site there is a good book for newbs there, covers most of the things you asked about above.

Have Fun
Old 01-05-2004, 12:23 PM   #14
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Distribution: Slackware, Slackwarearm
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Also for general linux from the ground up these two books are good and available from more than one site. You can find a site that lets you load the complete book in html you could then read while offline.
Old 01-05-2004, 07:03 PM   #15
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I think you're on the right track with the book question. Slack's fun partly because its (considered) the most classically-unix-like distro; it's designed to be learned. So the previous post about ``nothing distro-specific'' is true; most books with ``unix'' in the title will be really applicable---even if they're old-edition bargain bin, discount store ones (though of course, newer is nice). For user-level stuff, I wish some one had recommeded ``Unix Power Tools'' (O'Reilly publishers) to me when I started out. It's in 3rd edition now if you can afford a new copy; otherwise 2nd ed. is quite nice.

Don't be intimidated by the Slack rep. It's really not all that hard---just educational!


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