Slackware

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Slackware

Details

Current Version: 12.0
Core: kernel version 2.6.21.5, gcc 4.1.2, glibc 2.5, Apache 2.2.4, XOrg X11 7.2+, KDE 3.5.7, and much more.
Package management system: pkgtool (binary .tgz)
Price: Free download or 6 CDs at $49.95 or 1 DVD at $59.95
Website: The Slackware Linux Project (http://www.slackware.com/index.php)
Slackware Manual: http://www.slackbook.org

Summary

Slackware was announced in July 1993 and is the oldest (by a couple of months) Linux distribution still in active development and use. Slackware still remains largely the work of Patrick J. Volkerding, the "Benevolent Dictator For Life" of the distribution.

Slackware is well known for its lack of automatic dependency resolution and lack of distribution-specific graphical configuration tools. These are seen as weaknesses by its critics and strengths by its advocates.

There was a minor controversy when Gnome was dropped from Slackware 10.2, although support for GTK-based programs was never in doubt. As a result, 3rd party Gnome releases for Slackware have flourished. The long-standing Dropline Gnome (http://www.droplinegnome.org/), Freerock Gnome/GSB (http://gsb.freerock.org/) and GWare Gnome (http://www.gware.org/) seem to be the most popular of these. Dropline remains the most active of these projects.

For a summary of the changes to Slackware 12.0, see the official Changes and Hints (http://slackware.osuosl.org/slackware-12.0/CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT) page.

Reviews:

ShiftBackspace Review of 12.0 (http://shiftbackspace.com/2007/07/06/slackware-linux-120-a-review/)

User opinion:

Users might like to submit their own experiences of the distro - what they liked, hated, and had problems with.

Mike Saunders I used Slackware for about three years, and only switched to Ubuntu for the gigantic package repositories (essential for finding libraries when writing HotPicks!). (Ubuntu is still great BTW.) Slackware gets out of your way and lets you build up an OS as you please -- not deliberately minimal like LFS, or power-user-focused like Gentoo, but just plain 'vanilla' Linux. Hardly any patches are applied to packages, so you know what you're getting, and the init scripts are refreshingly simple. Slackware is a fine choice if you don't want any distro-specific features and/or bugs getting in your way. Even as primarily the work of one guy, it's still very stable.

Andy Ferguson I'd agree with everything Mike said above, and also add that Slackware is a great distro to get to know if you want to understand how a distro actually works. It is fairly straightforward to rewrite the configuarion and installation scripts to tweak every aspect of the OS, and although the package selection can be somewhat conservative, it's possible to rebuild the ISO with (almost) anything you require (and the scripts to do so are even included on the installation disks). I think I probably learned more about Linux from working with Slackware for a month than Ubuntu for a year.

Wilby Jackson While it may be that Slackware comes with a relatively small package selection I am of the opinion that it incorporates one of the best package tools available, pkgtools is one of the easiest package programs to use and my Slackware system is one of the cleanest environments I've used. In addition http://www.linuxpackages.org/ is dedicated to Slackware Linux packages so if it doesn't come with the distro chances are it's here and as easy as slapt-get --install mplayer to install. The Slackware community is a knowledgeable, dedicated following that builds packages for most major open source software.
I also think that Slackware is the best distro for anyone who really wants to know how Linux works. As mentioned in the other reviews the configuration scripts are easy to manipulate. The file-system is FHS compliant so a new user can find their way around simply by reading the FHS documentation. The package utility is straight forward. Most important is that it's secure out of the box. A minimal number of processes are started at boot and privileges are set appropriately. This brings me to my next point which is that because Slackware leaves much of the system configuration to the user a new user is going to learn a lot simply by configuring their system to their likings.

Robby Workman As stated earlier, Slackware does not come with every package under the sun, but there are quite a few places on the internet which provide additional packages or an easy way to build packages for additional applications. I'm a bit biased, as I'm one of the founding members of this project, but SlackBuilds.org (http://slackbuilds.org) is a very good resource. Be sure to read the HOWTO (http://slackbuilds.org/howto/) document.