Slackware Linux

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Slackware Linux, created by Patrick Volkerding in 1992, is the oldest surviving Linux distribution. Forked from the now-discontinued SLS project, Slackware 1.0 came on 24 floppy disks and was built on top of Linux kernel version 0.99pl11-alpha. It quickly became the most popular Linux distribution, with some estimates putting its market share to as much as 80% of all Linux installations in 1995. Its popularity decreased dramatically with the arrival of Red Hat Linux and other, more user-friendly distributions, but Slackware Linux still remains a much-appreciated operating system among the more technically-oriented system administrators and desktop users.

Slackware Linux is a highly technical, clean distribution, with only a very limited number of custom utilities. It uses a simple, text-based system installer and a comparatively primitive package management system that does not resolve software dependencies. As a result, Slackware is considered one of the cleanest and least buggy distributions available today - the lack of Slackware-specific enhancements reduces the likelihood of new bugs being introduced into the system. All configuration is done by editing text files. There is a saying in the Linux community that if you learn Red Hat, you'll know Red Hat, but if you learn Slackware, you'll know Linux. This is particularly true today when many other Linux distributions keep developing heavily customised products to meet the needs of less technical Linux users.

While this philosophy of simplicity has its fans, the fact is that in today's world, Slackware Linux is increasingly becoming a "core system" upon which new, custom solutions are built, rather than a complete distribution with a wide variety of supported software. The only exception is the server market, where Slackware remains popular, though even here, the distribution's complex upgrade procedure and lack of officially supported automated tools for security updates makes it increasingly uncompetitive. Slackware's conservative attitude towards the system's base components means that it requires much manual post-installation work before it can be tuned into a modern desktop system.
 

  • Pros: Considered highly stable, clean and largely bug-free, strong adherence to UNIX principles
  • Cons: Limited number of officially supported applications; conservative in terms of base package selection; complex upgrade procedure
  • Software package management: "pkgtool" using TXZ packages
  • Available editions: Installation CDs and DVD for 32-bit (i486) and 64-bit (x86_64) processors
  • Suggested Slackware-based alternatives: Zenwalk Linux (desktop), VectorLinux (desktop), SLAX (live CD), Slamd64 Linux (64-bit), Bluewhite64 Linux (64-bit), Wolvix (desktop, live CD), GoblinX (desktop, live CD)
  • Other distributions with similar philosophies: Arch Linux, Frugalware Linux

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updated: 01.11.2010

released: 31.10.2010