[NMLUG] Slackware users?

C. Ulrich nmlug@swcp.com
Mon, 26 Nov 2001 22:43:15 -0700

On Monday 26 November 2001 20:33, you wrote:
> Is slackware at least attempting to provide free net
> upgrades?
> SuSE seems to be trying to get me to buy more CD's,
> and its annoying.  (Upgrades stopped working.)
> I'm thinking of trying something else next time.
> I like debian's openness and ease of upgrade,
>    but it tends to be a little behind.
> I chose SuSE since it seems to be the most bleeding edge.
> Might slackware be a good middle-ground?

Hmm. I'm sure I'm not the *most* knowledgeable person on this subject, but 
I'll do what I can.

1) Slackware does not provide upgrades in the way that some distributions do. 
For the most part, you buy (or download) a release and that's that. If you 
want something between releases, you may be able to yank a few packages from 
slackware-current. Upon further reasearch, slackware-current seems to just be 
a tree of a few updated packages. The CURRENT.WARNING implies that the 
packages there are of beta quality. So I'm not sure what's up with that, but 
there ya go. It's all at ftp.slackware.com in /pub/slackware.

For what it's worth, Slackware's configuration is not all tied into custom 
tools specific for the distribution, so if you need something updated you 
just grab the tarball and go to town on your own. (Being careful to remove 
the appropriate Slackware package first.) I actually prefer to do it this 
way, since I don't upgrade or install a package without a very good reason so 
I don't need a big bossy package management system. pkgtool and a quick look 
in /usr/local/src tells me all I need to know.

2) When I chose to dump Mandrake, I would have considered Debian also except 
for it's notorious lagging-behind in software versions. Slackware 8.0, at the 
time of its release, had the latest and greatest and not a single problem to 
note. Debian proponents will tell you that Debian-unstable (or whatever it's 
called) also has the latest software, but comprimising Debian's "ledgendary" 
stability for newer packages. I'm not trying to get flamed here, but I don't 
think I've heard much strong evidence that Debian is any more stable 
*overall* (with heavy emphasis on the "overall" bit) than the average Linux 
distro out there.

3) I don't know much about SuSE, so I'm not qualified to comment on it. In my 
opinion, Slackware is good because it lets you do exactly what you want to do 
without having to go through or (more typically) around custom components 
built into the distribution. 

Design and development philosophies aside, the major downfall to Slackware is 
that certain software (particularly commercial) and documentation assume that 
you have a Red Hat compatible Linux system, and thus plain don't work on 
Slackware. But the damage is minimal: the only two pieces of software that I 
cannot get to work properly at this point are VMWare and Corel Wordperfect 
Personal Edition. (The former uses complex shell scripts that assume a 
RH-like system, the latter is no longer supported and requires libc5 
libraries, which Slack 8.0 does not have.) Everything else works quite well.

If you're still not sure one way or the other, I recommend you at least have 
a look at it. Download a copy of Slackware (or I can provide a copy to anyone 
here) and install it. Bottom line: If you're comfortable working with text 
config files, have a strong grasp of the command line, and want to have 
(almost) the latest software, you will be right at home with Slackware.

(Sorry if the above sounds propagandaish, it's just that I really really love 
this distro and feel the world would be a better place if everyone used it. 
--C. Ulrich
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