HumBo - About Slackware Linux


What about Slackware?

Slackware is a Linux operating system that was initially released on Saturday 17 July 1993 by Patrick Volkerding, which beats Debian (by 2 months) as the longest surviving-- currently maintained-- Linux distribution available and is still the most "UNIX-like" distribution out there. Slackware complies with the published Linux standards, such as the Linux File System Standard and has always considered simplicity, and stability, paramount. As a result, Slackware has become one of the most popular, reliable, and friendly distributions available. Slackware is also one of the most powerful Linux distributions available. But having this kind of power at your fingertips doesn't come easy, because it's not nearly as effortless as many other Linux alternatives.

"Use Debian and learn Debian. Use Ubuntu and learn Ubuntu. Use Slackware and learn Linux!"
FatDog says ... Although the above line is an old Internet aphorism, that's generally used tongue-in-cheek with a hint of humour, there's actually an element of truth in it!

What's different about Slackware?

Slackware is its own entity and does not attempt to gain dominance over its peers by offering the 'bells-and-whistles' GUI wizards that do it all for you which can be found in many other distributions. Slackware is predominantly a command-line-based environment and most of what you do is typed at the command prompt. With Slackware you have complete control over your system at every level. It forces you to do things, sometimes in ways many other distributions do not, and in-turn gives you experience, an education, and an insight into Linux that you might not otherwise attain. Of course, there is more work, time, and effort required to install and set up Slackware than most other Linux distributions but once the system is installed and running it will require very little maintenance. Or it might require a lot of maintenance, depending on the purpose of your system. That's the beauty of Slackware, you can use it for whatever you like. It's not difficult at all, it just requires the right knowledge and know-how (as with all things) and this can be achieved by reading, asking questions, and gaining experience while using the system. Slackware is certainly not rocket-science but it does require a little more in-depth knowledge and learning than most other distributions, and for good reason. It's the best educational tool you will find on any Linux platform. If you want to really know and learn about Linux then Slackware is something you should seriously consider using. There's is no better learning-curve available on Linux-based systems.

But Slackware is +20 years old?

A lot of people, Linux users included, believe that Slackware is 'too old' and 'too hard' to bother with in this modern age. Well, with over 20 years experience the Slackware Team have been providing a similar and familiar installer accompanied by a collection of basic administration tools that have more than proved themselves throughout the years. This means system administrators (i.e. you) don't have to re-educate themselves from scratch each time a distributor decides to deploy a new init system, again. Slackware *is* old (as far as the age of any operating system goes) but it's far from decrepit. In fact, Slackware is still one of the more secure Linux distributions available because updates and upgrades are only released when they are ready, after being thoroughly tested and proven. This ensures there are less errors and bugs in software releases, if any at all. People who say Slackware is, "Too old!" often mean to say it is really, "Too hard!" or, "Too much work!", perhaps because it requires a little more time and effort than they are willing to waste on pointing and clicking, or typing 'apt-get -y install' or 'yum update'.

What about Slackware package management?

Slackware allows users to carefully pick and choose which packages to install, so it has a much more neutral approach than most other Linux distributions. The package management system (pkgtool) does not track or manage dependencies, instead it relies on the system administrator to ensure that the system has all the supporting system libraries and programs required by any new packages. If any of these dependencies are missing you might not find out until the newly installed software is used. If a package is not included in the distribution, there's a good chance SlackBuilds.org has a build script for it. Alternatively, if not, you can simply compile your own. No other distribution makes building packages from source as easy as Slackware does. Incidentally, many people in the Linux community seem to think that a package manager must by definition include dependency checking. This is not to say that Slackware packages don't have dependencies, but rather that its package manager doesn't check for them. While Slackware itself does not incorporate tools to resolve dependencies by automatically downloading and installing them, some community supported software tools do provide this function, similar to the way apt-get does for Debian and its derivatives.

Anything else of interest?

Yes, there's 1,256,831.5 other interesting things about Slackare Linux that we're not going to get into here. The best thing to do if you're curious is to try it for yourself!

Conclusion About Slackware

As a reliable, stable, dependable, and simple Linux system, Slackware fits the bill in every respect. Although it's not the first Linux distribution you're likely to recommend to new users, Slackware is not that difficult to get to grips with and has fantastic support from its following of very passionate users and hardcore supporters (a.k.a. Slackers).

If you're the kind of person who doesn't expect everything to be easy as clicking a mouse button, and likes a bit of a challenge, with the reward(s) of learning and growing in knowledge and experience in using Linux, Slackware might just be what you're looking for. If you haven't tried Slackware yet you *ARE* missing out! ;-)