1. 56
  1. 22

    Well, I think I know what I’m doing this weekend. Seeing the Slackware installer dialogs gives me the happies!

    Slackware wasn’t my first distro (that was Red Hat… 5, I think?) but it is the first one I’ve used for any length of time. I learned a lot on it and I have always kept the latest version installed on one of my old computers for absolutely no reason other than fun. In a funny twist of fate, I came full circle: it’s the last Linux distribution I used, briefly, before getting a Mac about a year ago, and probably the reason why I didn’t get one about an year and a half ago.

    It’s a distribution that has an air of nostalgia and conservativism around it but having actually used it in the last decade, I think this is only partially true. It often feels a lot like an attempt to backport (what the maintainers consider) some of the least bad ideas from the Linux world of our age (Pipewire, to cite an example from this changelog) onto the most long-lived bad ideas from the PDP-11 era (Unix).

    It’s also an uncomfortable reminder of just how insane the Linux desktop world is these days, and how friable it is. Despite its age, Slackware is still that thorny-voiced child who points out that you can see the emperor’s butt.

    For example, on the one hand, its package manager is all sorts of primitive and weird. But on the other hand, whenever you use it, there’s no way to escape a bunch of conflicting feelings. That the way other distributions achieve the same result (apt, dnf, yum, snap, flatpak, Docker, whatever) is so involved and such a black art that it kindda feels like a really bad idea to trust it, and that there’s no way the sense of security those things give you isn’t at least partially false. That maybe the right way to build and manage packages should definitely be friendlier or more featureful, but also simpler. That it’s a little insane that there even is such a thing as being “the rpm guy” or “the deb guy” in an organisation – that one person who understands that whole thing well enough to do the CI, who everyone respects but also fears a little because there’s no way you can get that to work without sacrificing goats to Baphomet on every winter solstice. (Man, poor goats!). And so on and so forth.

    Finally, I think Slackware is actually remarkably representative of the capabilities of a Linux system these days, particularly on the desktop. It’s probably the closest you can get to something that reliably “just works”. Of course, the range of things it does out of the box is pretty limited: it reliably “just works” because that limited range is exactly the range of things that “just work” on Linux. Everything else lays in that pit of uncertainty that we all know from Ubuntu or Fedora, where you’re really happy it works out of the box on this release and this computer, but you just know it’s gonna break when you try it on your wife’s laptop.

    (Edit: it’s also pretty interesting to read what people who only tried Linux in this millenium think about it. I don’t mean that in a dismissive sort of way, lots of things that Slackware does are, I suppose, legitimately ass-backwards. It’s interesting because it still does a lot of things the way it did back in the nineties, and lots of people nowadays literally just can’t relate to it anymore. It’s completely foreign and it’s fun to see it the way it’s fun to find yourself (or to see other finding themselves, I guess) in a totally foreign country and innocently, flat out not getting things.)

    Call me weird but I’m gonna throttle my connection and leave this to download overnight, just like way back :-).

    Oh wow this was a wall of text. Man, Slackware release announcements make me happy. Sorry, I talk a lot when I’m happy.

    1. 21

      Installing Slackware from a heap of floppies on a second hand piece of crap Packard Bell in 1994 is a very big part of why I’m where I’m at today.

      1. 8

        I got a Slackware CD-ROM with a magazine in 1993. Unfortunately, the 2 or 3 MB RAM we had in our home PC was too little. So I traded the CD with my uncle for some Sherlock Holmes game.

        In 1994 we had 5 MB RAM (we wanted to play Doom) and I had another Slackware CD-ROM and I was hooked. Lots of discussions with my brother followed about the 40 MB hard disk should be partitioned between Linux and MS-DOS (though I also used loadlin + UMSDOS for a while).

        Patrick Volkerding bootstrapped my Unix education.

        Edit: I even wrote a Slackware Book when I was a student: https://rlworkman.net/howtos/slackbasics.pdf , though I never completely finished it.

        1. 6

          1995 for me. On a Gateway 2000 486SX33 desktop that I picked up for $30 when a local business sold it off as surplus. The floppies were nearly all AOL freebies with scotch tape on the write protect notch.

          And I let the smoke out of a 14” monitor that cost at least as much as that PC when I screwed up my XFree86 modeline.

          The things I learned exploring that system gave me an entirely different view of what I was studying and influenced my tech choices for a long time after.

          The last time I daily drove Slackware was 2002. I’m half tempted to do it again for a while now, just for nostalgia’s sake.

          1. 5

            logging into darkstar was pretty cool.

            1. 4

              Same. But from a magazine CD 😂

              1. 3

                Same here, but in ’97. I downloaded the release from an FTP server on a 33.6 modem. The damn thing took a week!

                1. 3

                  Whew, I feel young again! Same in 2001, on a 90 MHz Pentium someone at my dad’s office found in a closet. It had a whole 8 MB of RAM and Slackware was the only thing that would install on it. Never did get X11 working on it, but I sure learned a lot about living in the command line.

                  1. 3

                    I don’t recall if I first downloaded Slackware via a modem or what. I bought my first copy of SLS Linux (SoftLanding Systems, which predated Slackware) from a Usenet post from some random guy. He mailed me a set of 5.25in floppies.

                    After that I was using Slackware for a while.

                    By the mid-1990’s I had a CD-ROM drive and was buying CDs with the latest releases. Sometimes in stores. Which had shelves of software in boxes. I am so old.

                    1. 2

                      Same here!

                      1. 2

                        But my experience was on a Toshiba Portege 610CT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ram4Faoo9t8

                    2. 7

                      Slackware was my second introduction to Linux. My first introduction was Red Hat 6, the Red Hat that came bundled with popular Linux magazines in your local Barnes and Noble. After Slackware, I found refuge in the BSD camp.

                      I still have fond memories of Slackware, the 90’s underground hacker Linux distro of choice. I’m glad to see they’re still around.

                      1. 5

                        I don’t use Slackware anymore but I’d really like to see it use some form of version control, and I don’t care which (cvs, svn, git, hg, don’t care) because right now I think development occurs on LinuxQuestions which is kind of a pain to follow.

                        Conversely compare it with a similar distro (which I also don’t use) that seems much more organized with wiki’s and version control

                        1. 6

                          Still no HTTPS on the website, haha.

                          1. 4

                            Mirrors is on https://mirrors.slackware.com/

                            The mirrors.slackware.com site is now available via https only. Note that there is not any guarantee that you will be redirected to an https mirror. However, the package md5 sums and gpg signatures are (intended to be) served directly from this site, so you should have an added layer of trust that the content of those files was not modified in transit if you use https instead.

                          2. 3

                            I’m active Slackware user and have been waiting for this for a while. It’s been painful the last year or two trying to run a 5 year old distro. Still, it’s been great to be the one guy who’s unaffected by holes in Polkit ;)

                            1. 3

                              You could always just upgradepkg from slackware-current.

                            2. 3

                              Interesting to see, just a few weeks ago, I was arguing with people who insisted Slackware was dead since there was no release for a while, though I pointed out there’s a perfectly functional rolling release that has been consistently updated… but now I already linked them with this for a nice “told you so!”

                              I got on Slackware back in 2005 primarily because it was the only one I could actually get working at all on the computer I had at the time, and I’ve stuck with it ever since… and even grown to like it. Any time I’m forced to use another distro, it just feels like hell. Sure, the Slackware package manager doesn’t do fancy dependency resolution…. good! The other distro package managers have been a universally negative experience to me anyway, and it kinda drives me nuts how other distros have such minimal installs which forces you into the packages to do even basic tasks. Slackware actually just works for a great many things out of the box with its default settings. A Now, back in 2005, it came with both the gnome and kde in the default install. They don’t anymore, but it was quite nice at the beginning to try these various options. I used kde for a little while but ended up rejecting both and settling on the blackbox window manager. This actually gives my linux system a unique advantage over a Windows box - again, when forced to use other distros, it no wonder to me why linux on the desktop never took off. They don’t leverage any unique strength linux offers!

                              Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll ever bother taking this 15.0 update. My system works and no need to fix what isn’t broken. And last time I tried to update, it was after Slackware dropped their opposition to the godawful PulseAudio and…. it broke things. Took me a while to purge it of that filth and make audio work again. And now they are offering the PulseAudio of graphics which I have less than zero interest having around. Looks like they make the effort to it right, but still, I see more risk than benefit in updating. idk, I’ll probably do it eventually if I have another hardware failure or something.

                              I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the old Slackware users are conservative with updates too.

                              edit: interesting, their blackbox is a new version. Someone picked up the thing. I wonder how it compares to my fork I’ve done over the years. Maybe I’ll test the live cd.

                              1. 3

                                Slackware was my first Linux so even I moved to FreeBSD more then 16 years ago its always nice to hear that the oldest Linux distribution is still in development.

                                For the first time ever we have included a “make_world.sh” script that allows automatically rebuilding the entire operating system from source.

                                This one caught my attention as make world is available in FreeBSD since almost the beginning of its existence and it just got into the Slackware more then two decades later :)

                                I also lived the that Other Init System part :)


                                1. 2

                                  I’m happy but surprised to see that 32 bit builds are still there.

                                  1. 2

                                    There’s a mutlilib option too for 64+32 bit together as a separate download on the homepage.