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[ale] slackware, the most...LINUX-like?

I must admit I have my very first slackware CD's still..


Spotlight on Linux: Slackware Linux 13.1
Jun 01, 2010	  By Susan Linton
 indistributions Slackware

People sometimes ask which distribution to try if they want to learn how Linux 
works. Common answers are Gentoo, Arch, or Debian. However, I disagree. Each 
of these distros teach users their particular brand of Linux. There's only 
one truly pure Linux, and that is Slackware.

Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution. In its early years, 
Patrick Volkerdin rolled up a kernel, init, libraries, desktop, and 
applications to make Linux easier for users. And that's still what he is 
doing today. He doesn't change anything, he doesn't customize anything. Every 
component is exactly how the original developers intended. For example, users 
get a vanilla kernel and default desktop configuration.

Version 13.1 was released May 25 with Linux and KDE 4.4.3. Slackware 
ships with other desktop options, such as Xfce 4.6.1, and lots of handy 
software. As expected, it comes with Web browsers, office applications, 
multimedia software, personal communication tools, image management, and 
more. Slack usually includes Java, but most other browser plugins and 
multimedia codecs are left to the user to install. 13.1 still uses HAL and 
udev in order to grant users access to removable media without root 
privileges or sudo. Along those same lines, this release also brings 
ConsoleKit and PolicyKit to allow even more convenience in running the system 
without elevated permissions. This release should be easy to use for users of 
any experience.

Slackware's original package management system - or software installer and 
uninstaller - neither resolves dependencies nor downloads from online 
repositories. However, some third-party attempts came along to address this 
and one, slackpkg, has recently been added to Slackware to bring the same 
capabilities as APT on Debian and Debian-based distributions. However, if you 
install the full range of packages on the Slackware install DVD, there isn't 
much extra on official mirrors. That's why some recommend the community 
repository hosted by slackbuilds.org. Between slackpkg and slackbuilds, 
Slackware has moved into the 21st century of software management.

Once upon a time Slackware was a favorite because of its hardware 
configuration method. In the tradition of keeping it simple, it had one file 
that users needed to edit (for most purposes). Most drivers were listed and 
users just uncommented whichever was used by their hardware. But even that 
isn't necessary anymore. Just like any other distro today, most hardware is 
automagically detected and configured.

Finally, the installer is another area of Slackware that gets some negative 
comments from time to time. It isn't very pretty by today's standards and it 
is keyboard driven, but it isn't difficult to use. It asks a few questions 
during the process in a similar manner as other Linux installers. Perhaps the 
most difficult aspect is the need to partition your disk prior to beginning 
the install setup. The installer disk comes with fdisk and cfdisk for this 

So, all in all, besides the partitioning requirement and the lack of 
multimedia support, Slackware is just as up-to-date and easy-to-use as any 
Linux distribution. Like a split personality, today's Slackware is steeped in 
tradition yet surprisingly modern.

1. True Linux experience
2. High Performance
3. Extremely stable

1. Off-putting partitioning and installer
2. No live CD/DVD
3. Still uses Lilo for boot management
4. Lacks multimedia codecs

Paul Cartwright
Registered Linux user # 367800
Registered Ubuntu User #12459