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-   -   Preparing to Install Slack (

AK-33 08-31-2010 01:36 AM

Preparing to Install Slack
Greetings, LQ.

In about a month from now, I will be detoxing my 280GB laptop of all traces of M$ and giving it a clean scrubbing with Slack. Now, this is something I have never ever done before - devoting an entire machine to a *nix distro. On the plus side, I don't have to go through the hassle of multi-booting. On the minus side, I'm very much intimidated.

Having worked with Ubuntu, RedHat and CentOS for lab assignments in university, I'm not a complete *nix virgin. I never touched Slack before, but it came highly recommended. To help me dive straight into the deep end, I'm going to order the Slackware 13 Linux tutorial package. It advertises as, "the only books on Linux you will ever need!" (Why do I doubt that?)

However, when I asked the product's custom care service a question, here was the reply:

"Keep in mind that Slakware [sic] is a distro destined to technically versed users. It requires skills and previous experience with Linux starting from its classical , non-graphical installation. It is offers great flexibility but requires technical skills. It is also tends to be more of " Linux nerd's" choice rather than a mainstream installation.

If it is going to be your first Linux and/or you learn it with a future job in mind, we would recommend to go with Fedora 13 of CentOS."

Now, you know you have something to worry about when the guy who's supposed to convince you to buy something from him warns you against it! So, I'm posting this thread as a request to those here more experienced to input your advice and general tidbits on the pitfalls I'm to expect during installation.

I was going to buy the Slackware book along with the tutorial package, but since they're working on a 3rd edition, I thought I'd save the money for now.

Thanks in advance.

repo 08-31-2010 03:13 AM

Welcome to LQ

I would suggest to make a dual boot or make sure to have a computer with a connection.
If you have problems, you can use the other OS to find a solution.
First thing to do, is search if all your hardware is supported.
Read the slackbook,
Then just go for it.
If you encounter problems, use LQ to find a solution.
In my experience, almost everything works out of the box.
I only had problems with my wireless, but if you install wicd, it will work as expected.

Good luck

AK-33 08-31-2010 04:08 AM

Thanks. I'll keep that in mind.

I do have a desktop running XP, but I only use it for things like movies and gaming. So, no worries about a backup system in case the Slack installation screws up.

I read some reviews on Amazon about the Slackbook. One notable complaint is that it doesn't delve too deeply into the subjects it covers and is completely devoid of important peripherals, like how to install a printer. Hopefully, the 3rd edition will be more up-to-date.

repo 08-31-2010 04:47 AM

It would be a good idea to learn fdisk and/or cfdisk, since you need to use it during install
in order to partition the disk.
Perhaps you need to think about how you are going to partition your HD.
The best way to learn is to start using slackware, and solve the problems as they come along.

Kind regards

hughetorrance 08-31-2010 08:22 AM

I always attempt to do things the easy way if possible,that's being a Slacker... anyway you can use stuff like Gparted as found on the Parted magic live CD to do your partitioning,cfdisc is easier then fdisc.
When installing if you find some entry you do not know you can just hit enter as the installer has a default value,if you don't know your host name or domain name and you don,t want to be a darkstar then enter localhost and localdomain.
You can have any number of attempts to install so if at first it is,nt quite right then do it all again and again until you get it right... good luck and welcome to LQ

slakmagik 08-31-2010 02:02 PM

Read up on fdisk/cfdisk before you install. Do not be intimidated, as cfdisk is a very user-friendly tool and even fdisk is simple enough.

Accept the installer's defaults unless you have a good reason and especially, as a new user, do a full install with no prompting. All of Slackware's packages work together and there are no dependency issues but you can elect not to install any package, resulting in a lean (good), broken (bad), or unbootable (worse) system.

But installation has been easy for years and only gotten easier.

Once installed, make your shell, editor, and pager your best friends. Play around in your file system and read your man pages. Especially interesting places: /var/log/packages is your package database. ls and grep and other standard tools (for example, awk for really exotic stuff) can be used to select and display this data in useful ways. (/var/log/scripts and /var/log/removed_* are also package db-related dirs.) And, of course, the /etc directory. /etc/inittab to /etc/rc.d/ for system startup, /etc/profile to /etc/profile.d/ for system shell initialization, to individual program configurations. Many of these files are well commented and editing these files is a simple stable way to configure your system. Learning one editor gives you a single interface that exposes all possible configuration options and is unlikely to ever crash and never changes anything without your intent, vs. only getting a subset of options after learning multiple GUI widgets for multiple tools which sometimes change things randomly or crash and ruin configs.

Be prepared to read and put forth some effort yourself but most things will Just Work these days. If you need more help, show you've put in some effort, ask the Slack community, and you'll get a lot of help.

Welcome to LQ and have fun!

slakmagik 08-31-2010 02:18 PM

Also, read this sticky thread. I'd never read it before (already am a Slacker) but it looks like it would be helpful to you. For instance, it reminds me to point you to the on-disk documentation before install (very important) and to tell you that, when adding an unprivileged user account, you should probably use one of the few Slackware-originated tools, adduser, to do so. And when you do so, arrow up when assigning your user to groups to get the nice default set that Slackware expects.

The installer will ask you to set up your root account but setting up an unprivileged account should be about the first thing you do after your initial boot/login.

But, like I say, that thread and the docs and books you read should tell you all this.

hilyard 08-31-2010 03:39 PM

There are lots of Slackware gurus and such here (perhaps one of the better forums for the Slacker) so there's not want of help. If, however, one wishes to ease into the Slackware realm, one recommendation is the new Salix 13.1.1, which has incorporated a form of dependency resolution and has a commendable forum, as well. Just a suggestion.

AK-33 08-31-2010 07:16 PM

Thanks again for all the advice, guys. I'll be sure to check up on the resources you listed in due time.

I'm planning to keep a log of all the installation issues that's bound to come up. You guys here are all saying it's no big deal, but all my colleagues tell me that I have no chance not screwing something up if this is my first time. So, yes, I will do my research and take this seriously. I'm planning to put a whole week aside just for the installation.

@repo: Like I said, I'm not planning to fool around with any dual-booting, so partitioning should be easy. I think all I need are the swap, the /home and the /usr partitions (and that's just for a security measure, right?). With 280GB to spend, I don't think configuration is going to be too much of a problem.

I may be getting ahead of myself at this point, but are there any security tools (anti-virus/spyware/malware) I should read up on for Slack or *nix in general? Someone I know who recently switched to Slack has the same question.

Any idea when the 3rd edition of the Slackbook is going to be out? The official page says it's due in a few months, but I don't know how many months ago that was posted.

damgar 08-31-2010 08:32 PM

The slackbook seems to be a bit stalled, but the previous version is going to be more relevant than not. In all honesty, if your hardware is supported, you probably have very little to worry about, especially if you've used other linux distributions at the university level. Granted there WILL BE A LEARNNG CURVE, but it's not (in my experience anyway) something to be intimidated by.

Having said that, I was scared to install Slackware because of all the "not for newbies" hype, but after about a month of daily use, I realized Slackware is probably the most straightforward OS I've ever used. I occasionally get in over my head (on purpose ;))and find myself thinking "Slackware is just too complicated"......and then I look at doing the same thing with another OS or distribution and I think, "Wow, I'm glad I'm a Slacker!"

In the end it's almost always me trying to either do something complicated, or simply over complicating something simple rather than Slackware doing anything other than what I've told it to do. That is the one thing that might leave a bad taste in some people's mouths: Slackware won't prevent you from breaking it, it just does what it's told to do. On the other hand, Slackware is the easiest OS I've ever used when it comes to fixing something that I've broken! :)

onebuck 09-02-2010 06:42 PM


Welcome to LQ & hopefully Slackware!

I suggest that you look at 'How to Ask Questions the Smart Way' so in the future your queries provide information that will aid us in diagnosis of the problem.

If and when you do have trouble we will aid you to a solution. Be sure to provide us with what you have attempted and then maybe someone will be able to assist when things do happen and need some tender attention.

The SlackwareŽ Store has a lot more options to select from and by purchasing from the store you are supporting Slackware therefore PV.

Get Slackware Linux is probably the easiest & cheapest source for Slackware.

You could look at the 'Get SlackwareŽ Linux' section of 'Slackware-Links' for SlackwareŽ Mirrors or;

Official List of Mirrors

AlphaGeek's Unofficial Mirror List <<<<<<< Great > ISOs > SlackwareŽ

elektroni <-FTP

Oregon State <- FTP/HTTP + Open Source Lab + Hosting Policy + bandwidth of over 1 gigabit per second

The Linux Mirror Project

If you do download then be sure to check the validity of the ISO for integrity & hash. You can get the .asc & md5 sum for the ISO download at the site you download from. Some users prefer to get the .asc from but the official mirror list will have the proper .asc & md5 files.

The 'md5sum' or 'hash' is very important to learn to use and too regularly get in the habit of utilizing it. Loads of newbie errors are when the ISO & image burnt are not verified.

You can get a sum checker for M$ if need be; 'md5sum.exe'.

For GNU/Linux the 'man md5sum' will get you all the information to perform the check. You can get the 'man command' from the 'cli' at anytime.

If you downloaded the CD/DVD ISO then be sure to check the md5sum for the original ISO. From the cli;


~#cd /downloadisolocation      #cdromiso.iso cdromiso.md5
 ~#md5sum -c cdromiso.md5      #substitute the correct name to check

If the ISO md5 is OK then you should check the image burn with 'CdromMd5sumsAfterBurning''.

This way you will know if the burn was OK!

This will check the download ISO with the known md5sum that you also get with the ISO. You should do the check for any download that you might perform, even a LiveCD. Plus burn the image. Sometimes you may need to lower the burn rate to get a valid burn.


Just a few more useful links;

SlackwareŽ Essentials << aka Slackbook
SlackwareŽ Basics << another great Slackware reference
Linux Documentation Project << All the GNU/Linux Docs
Rute Tutorial & Exposition
Linux Command Guide
Bash Reference Manual
Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide
Linux Newbie Admin Guide
Getting Started with Linux
Virtualiation- Top 10

The above links and others can be found at 'Slackware-Links'. More than just SlackwareŽ links!

slkrover 09-02-2010 07:19 PM

Google " how to install slackware" There are 3 or 4 very good, in depth, step by step instructions for slackware 12 and 13 that made my install so easy.

AK-33 12-18-2010 11:34 PM

@onebuck: I'm going to check out that Slackware Basics books because apparently the Slackbook 3.0 seems to be coming nowhere fast.

Thanks a lot for all the great advice. I can't wait to start writing C programs in Slack - Windows is giving me funny crap with my code.

onebuck 12-19-2010 07:43 AM



Originally Posted by AK-33 (Post 4196432)
@onebuck: I'm going to check out that Slackware Basics books because apparently the Slackbook 3.0 seems to be coming nowhere fast.

Thanks a lot for all the great advice. I can't wait to start writing C programs in Slack - Windows is giving me funny crap with my code.

I'm not saying that the older Slackbook is not useful. Still a lot of useful information within.

AK-33 12-26-2010 10:45 PM

All right, I read over the Slackware Linux Basics PDF and thoroughly went over the installation process. (Some other parts seem really advanced for a basics book.) I'm just about ready to give my first attempt at installation. Before I do, I have a last set of questions I need answering from the Basics book.

I originally intended to dedicate my laptop solely to Slack, but since my college is such a Microsoft whore, I unfortunately do need Win7 on the system, too. Thus, I need to install Slack over Win7. :(

1. Do I need to pre-partition my Windows drive, or can I just use cfdisk during the Slack installation?

2. The book talks about physical and logical partitions, but doesn't give too many helpful details. My laptop HDD has 300 GB (283 actually). I'm planning to devote 10 GB to Slackware with an additional 1 GB for the swap space (or is that too much?). What do you recommend for my physical vs. logical partition settings?

3. It is recommended that a bootdisk is made. However, my laptop does not have a floppy drive. Any recommendations or should I just skip it?

4. Since it's my laptop, my modem is probably PCI (ttyS4), but is there a way to know for sure?

5. Must the hostname correspond with my Windows computer name? If I at home, as in I'm not a part of a network other than my private home LAN, what would be my domain name?

6. At what stage of the installation process would I have the option of installing the X Windows System? Or is that something I do after the initial installation?

7. Finally, what would you recommend as Linux equivalents to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as a PDF reader like Adobe?

Thanks so much in advance for any help. I'll try my best to document my installation process so if anything goes wrong I can be as detailed as possible when asking for more advice.

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