dctrud's Random Road

Occasional unimportant nonsense.

2022-02-15 - Slackware 15

I told myself I was done with Linux for non-work computing for a while, and I was going to retreat to just Windows, but that didn't last too long :-) As one of those people who might, on occasion, be inclined to mention they've been using Linux since the last century I have a soft spot for things that hark back to those days, like Slackware - one of the oldest distributions still in existence.


I last used Slackware in the early 2000s, I think, when I inherited admin duties for a university guild of students web server. The hardware was upgraded, and Debian Potato was installed, and that was the end of me touching Slackware until now.

Slackware 15 has been a long time coming but it's very nice! Well, very nice if you know your way around a bit and aren't expecting all the software under the sun to be in the official repositories. It now comes with the KDE Plasma Desktop, which seems to have gotten very very good in the N years since I last gave it a good try. I've manually installed Lagrange, butt, and rclone and am not missing anything else at the moment. I put it on a pretty recent laptop with an 11th gen i5, and Xe graphics, and that's all working well.

The biggest catch is doing an initial install that configures relatively normal things for this day and age, like a combination of EFI boot, LUKS encryption, and LVM. That does require more than a bit of knowledge about how to manually set each of those things up, and install and configure grub2. I've spent way too much of my life fiddling with that stuff, so it works for me without much hassle. Package management is pretty rudimentary, but I'm also someone who has spend much time building things for HPC clusters from source, so it's just a bit of time rather than too much effort working arount that. It's definitely not something you'd want to reccomend to everyone, though.

Security updates seem to arrive quickly, nothing has crashed yet, and everything on the laptop works as well as it does in Windows, apart from the fingerprint scanner... which is expected. Going to use this for at least a little while, so made sure to sign up to give a small amount monthly to Patrick Volkerding's Patreon account. It's pretty impressive that he's managed to lead the project, and do a large proportion of the work of pulling things together, for 28 years now.

Possibly the most notable thing about Slackware is how it is developed, by a small closed group, rather than out in public. There is no issue tracker or public discussion list. You can get the source, but it's not in a git forge with comments and discussion. The community of users is centered around LinuxQuestions - an old style web forum. I suppose many people would find this to be against open source community ideals these days, but perhaps it's quite a healthy way to do things, in light of the entitlement and conflict that is so prevalent in many projects.

I guess I need the classic penguin with a pipe sticker now!

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