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Last Review by tronayne - posted: 12-11-2012 01:15 PM [ Post a Review

Views: 30733

I've used Slackware both personally and professionally for some 15 or so years; maybe more, maybe less, I forget. Tried others every so often, found them wanting in some way other other that made me work at fixing problems that I should not have had to deal with. VirtualBox makes trials easy to install (and just as easy to remove if found wanting). I do full installs, on both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms, both "servers" and a couple of laptops, do not mess with the kernel (don't need to) and, once up and running, they sit there mumbling happily to themselves in a closet (2) or under by desk (1) doing what they're supposed to do with no fuss or bother -- they get rebooted, maybe, every few months unless there's a real good reason otherwise (like the power went out or a system library got updated). One 32-bit data base server ran for two years without a reboot till I decided to update it. Installation is clean and easy: read the instructions on the CD-ROM/DVD, use cfdisk to partition, execute setup, wait a while, add a network address and DNS server (or choose DHCP), set the root password and you're off and running (there are setup options that slow things down enough for you to read the package descriptions and choose what to install or not but in these days of half- and multi- terabyte drives there really isn't a good reason to not just install everything). No, there's no GUI installer (thank heavens) -- it's ncurses based and dirt easy to use. There's no automagic configuration, it's up to you to decide configurations, starting daemons, adding and managing users. You start clean and mess things up from there on your own if and when you want to. Slackware is all about choice: if you don't want to install the default ("huge") kernel with everything available, you can choose to install the generic kernel and fine-tune or fiddle all you want, you have the full kernel source and all the necessary tools and libraries available at your fingertips to do as you please or need. If you don't want KDE, choose Xfce or one of the other window manages available by default (no GNOME, but, then, who cares -- if you want it, it's available). Slackware is, on purpose, not bleeding-edge (thus the stability and reliability). The distribution software is as un-foooled-around-with as it can be to maintain the upstream developers' intent. There is no branding; e.g., Firefox, SeaMonkey and Thunderbird are as intended by Mozilla. You won't see Slackware logo's plastered all over everything. Slackware does not include, for example, or If you want one or the other (or both!) they are available at (along with hundreds of other application packages, libraries, utilities, you name it). is maintained by a group of volunteers who make available software for multiple Slackware releases based upon SlackBuild scripts (used to compile and package Slackware itself); SlackBuild scripts compile source into Slackware packages that are installed, upgraded or removed using Slackware standard package tools. Slackware comes in two versions: "pure" 32- or 64-bit. You can't execute 32-bit software on a 64-bit box without adding multilib (freely available at Eric Hameleers, alias Alien BOB, a Slackware team member, developed and maintains multilib packages for Slackware 64-bit. If you need it, it's available; if you don't need it, well, you don't. When I say rock solid, I mean it: I keep local files in /usr/local (fonts, home-grown utilities, add-on applications that don't qualify to live in /opt). When I do a fresh install it takes about 25 minutes from booting the DVD to running system with all my local add-ons in place and ready to go (that's on a large 64-bit box, it's about 10 minutes more on 64-bit laptops and old 32-bit boxs). I do that by choosing to not format the /usr/local (and other) partitions when assigning them to fstab during setup. I may choose to recompile existing software using my existing SlackBuild scripts (I usually do) but, typically, I don't have to right away -- most everything "just works"). If you're going to use Slackware you won't regret it but you do need to invest some time learning the basics; Slackware is not click-`n'-drool, it's a full-boat operating system that will serve you well for years but you will need to learn a few things (like how to use a text editor and read some manual pages, for instance). This is not to say that it requires tremendous effort, a full install delivers a fully-usable system, but the time will probably come when you'll wonder if you can add something or change something to fit your needs and Slackware make that enjoyable, feasible and fairly easy to accomplish will little fuss and bother (and a little elbow grease on your part). For my money, Slackware is the only distribution. Hope this helps some.

Rating: 10
Product Details: "14.0" by wsteward - posted: 09-30-2012 - Rating: ********* 9.00

Last Review by tronayne - posted: 06-07-2011 08:31 AM [ Post a Review

Views: 125332

At $47.90 (including shipping) for a two-sided DVD (64-bit version on one side, 32-bit version on the other), Slackware 13.37 is a steal. Of course either (or both) versions are available free to a good home from any number of sources; e.g.,, Oregon State University Open Source Lab, but I prefer to support Slackware development in what is really a small way by paying for the jewel case and its content. Installation is a breeze -- insert the media, reboot, wait a little while for the CD-ROM/DVD to load, log in as root and you're ready to get on with it. If it's a new machine, the first thing you would want to do is partition your disk drive (at least a root and swap partition) using cfdisk /dev/sda (for a SATA drive) or, if it's an already-in-use system, you don't need to partition anything unless you want to change it for some reason. Next you execute setup and you're presented with a few questions to answer (assign drive partitions, automatic or manual installation [so you can pick in choose if you don't want "everything" installed]); the basics. I always do a full, automatic install -- in these days of 500 G to terabyte disk drives, there really isn't much reason to pick and choose unless you're interested in stripping things down to the bare essentials. One common complaint about the installer is that it's not gooey; frankly, that's what I really like about it. It's text, it's simple (and thus elegant) and you don't have to wait forever for the thing to figure out what you've got in the way of hardware so you can click-'n'-drool your way through what is pretty basic stuff. On the four machines I maintain installation takes no more than 15 minutes start-to-finish. That includes setting the root password and network configuration (typing addresses and the like). It usually takes me another 10-15 minutes to "fine-tune" the things I want a certain way -- setting up printers and plotter with HPLIP and CUPS, setting up NTPD, getting web pages and HTTPD running and the like. I also keep a few add-on packages from and I'll install the packages from those (or, if GLIBC has changed, rebuild the packages and install them). So, it's up, it's running, now what? How is Slackware to actually use? Frankly, it's a dream machine -- it stays out of my way and it comes with everything already installed. Well, it doesn't come with, but those are freely available from and it's a quick (well, not that quick; they're roughly 18 M) download-and-install using the built-in Slackware package management tools. Also, I've never been able to wrap my head around BASH. I've been a Korn Shell user for some decades and I'd rather fight than switch -- Korn Shell is included with Slackware, no fiddling around downloading it from somewhere or other then struggling with getting it installed and changing the default shell (I simply edit /etc/passwd -- carefully!). I am a heavy user of a console; I've been at this on and off for... oh, dang, about 50 years (starting in 1961 with punch cards) and I'm perfectly comfortable with typing the name of a utility, some options and hitting the carriage return. A lot of folks aren't comfortable with that and prefer the "click-'n'-drool" school of computer use; I ain't one of them. I'll use a GUI-based utility if it makes life easier (K3b is one that truly makes life easier burning a CD-ROM or DVD!), but, generally, I'll type it if I can before going off and finding a different way. Two of the best things about Slackware are:
  • It is the most un-fooled-around-with distribution there is; there is no "branding" in KDE, Firefox, Thunderbird and other utilities. What you get is what the developer(s) intended.
  • It is the most like System V. If, like me, you bounce back and forth between Slackware and, say, Solaris, well, you appreciate that. A lot.
My machine are, typically, up and running for months without a reboot. I think that pretty much says it.

Rating: 10
Product Details: "13.37" by wsteward - posted: 04-28-2011 - Rating: ********** 9.60


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