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Operating Systems Linux

Slackware, Oldest Linux Distro Still In Active Development, Turns 24 70

sombragris writes: July 17 marked the 24th anniversary of Slackware Linux, the oldest GNU/Linux still in active development, being created in 1993 by Patrick Volkerding, who still serves as its BDFL. Version 14.2 was launched last year, and the development version (Slackware-current) currently offers kernel 4.9.38, gcc 7.1, glibc 2.25, mesa 17.1.5, and KDE and Xfce as official desktops, with many others available as 3rd party packages. Slackware is also among the Linux distributions which have not adopted systemd as its init system; instead, it uses a modified BSD init which is quite simple and effective. Slackware is known to be a solid, stable and fast setup, with easy defaults which is appreciated by many Linux users worldwide. Phoronix has a small writeup noting the anniversary and there's also a nice reddit thread.
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Slackware, Oldest Linux Distro Still In Active Development, Turns 24

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  • by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @12:51AM (#54856487) Journal

    Praise Bob.

  • Slackware (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Clived ( 106409 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @12:58AM (#54856503)


    I started my Linux adventures on Slackware back in 1998.

    • Re:Slackware (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ACDChook ( 665413 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @01:17AM (#54856531)
      Likewise. Jumped in at the deep end with some guidance from a friend who was definitely a militant linux-ist. Switched to Gentoo after a couple of years for the package and dependency management, and have used it ever since. But Slackware was where it all started for me.
    • Ahh yes, the good old days... downloading 12 or 13 floppies at 28Kbps on dial-up. Doing battle with X-config, trying to get it to work with your graphics card (and hoping you don't fry your CRT in the process). And god-forbid you have a need for Asian language support... There has been enormous progress over the last couple of decades -- mostly that first decade, frankly. I haven't had any of those issues in a long time.

      At first I maintained a dual-boot Windows partition, but I've been running pure Linux fo

      • I know there will be many floppy disk comments on this story. Did you all really install from floppies?
        I downloaded the files, copied them to an old hard drive, shut down the PC, and removed the old hard drive. Then I installed the old hard drive onto the future Linux box along with a new hard drive. I used only 2 floppies (boot and root image) to start the Linux box. Install Source: old hard drive. Destination: new hard drive.
        I also used custom tag files (only used ADD or SKP) to *almost* automate the

    • by farrellj ( 563 )

      My journey started with Soft Landing Systems, or SLS Linux, which Slackware was based upon. Technically, it was a fork of SLS. They are up to 14.2-current...what a long strange trip it's been!

      Hail Bob, and Hail Eris!

      • I remember SLS! It was kind of a grubby, dysfunctional distro which always made me think of industrial waste. I never got much working on it, but I learned a lot trying! Slackware was a breath of fresh air in comparison. It's kind of a shame it never gained the mind/market share of some of the later distros. It was a good, solid distro, and it probably still is.

    • Me in 1994, it came on a 120Mb Colorado Jumbo tape and had a 1.0.8 kernel I think.
    • Whoa, now that brings back memories. 1995 Version 2.3 (Kernel 1.2.8) The last full version of the static libraries release. And my computer adventures were never the same again. I used that in place of Windows until Windows 98 and Diablo was released (the only reason I used Windows back then).
    • Yup. Started in 1993 with 2 boxes of floppy disks and I still use it today (Slackware, that is, not those floppies :)). I never switched from it and it is my day-to-day OS. I'm currently running a pure 64 bit version of Slackware.

      The only naggle I have with it is that there is no easy upgrade path from version to version. I do upgrade software occasionally and I even use the package system from Slackware so that I can restore older versions of packages, if necessary. It also lacks dependency tracking so som

      • by nazsco ( 695026 )

        honesty you only dream that any OS has an upgrade path because you are using one that doesn't lie and claims it has.

        Ubuntu, windows, etc... none of them can ever be upgraded without a full install. it will kinda work until something will drive you crazy and you succumb to the reinstall. sometimes losing data.

        of the rolling upgrade ones, arch was pretty close. gentoo was a crash fest every major kernel or big driver. only time I had problems with arch was even I left one box 3mo without any upgrade...

        OSX is

    • First Slackware, something with kernel 2.0.30 in 1997. Still remember it. First I read all that looked interesting in /usr/doc, then I edited all /etc, seemed like best system ever. I used Slackware for many years, now I mainly use Gentoo. I still have a Slackware partition I keep up to date, mostly from nostalgia, I think.

    • Same here. I moved the mailinglists I managed from OS/2 to Slack in 1995, and have been on some version of Linux since then. I felt bad when I moved from Slack to Redhat, but it still holds a dear place for me.
      • I felt so bad after I migrated to Red Hat (with 4.3, 5.0 was the disaster) that I migrated to NetBSD. Slackware is a good training ground for transition to a real UNIX because it's structured like one, with a proper standard init system. You can use all the classic old documentation, i.e. the O'Reilly UNIX and XWindow texts, and the Sobell books. There's nobody trying to cruft it up with Microsoftisms.

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @01:03AM (#54856515) Homepage Journal

    If Slackware is a millennial, does it mean it only has 5-6 seconds of attention span for ads?

  • Tracker announce: transamrit.net: error.

    FWIW, other torrents are working.

    Yes, I know this isn't tech support.

  • Still king (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @01:31AM (#54856561)

    I've been using Slackware since before Slackware 96 (a Windows 95 joke, you see, and my memory is dim, but I seem to recall that there was once some semi-serious questions on which one would be released first) and I haven't yet found anything I wanted to do that I couldn't do in Slackware.

    Mythtv backends? Slackware. Frontends? Slackware. Webserver? File server? Mail server? DNS server? All Slackware. iptables/ebtables bridge/router/firewall/VPN abomination? Slackware, baby!

    Runs great on my litebook too. In fact, not counting my Pis and other appliances, the only linux box I have that isn't Slackware and probably won't ever become Slackware is my CNC controller - and that is because EMC comes as an installable/live ISO.

    My personal favorite was setting up iSCSI targets. The examples and documentation are all written for enterprise distros, but they just wouldn't work. Load slackware, write a couple of slackbuild files, fire up the compiler and BAM! $10,000 in hardware outperforms the dedicated SAN boxes other people are spending 6 digits on. Hell, I think I paid less for my entire DRBD bulk slave than some of the quotes that I got for annual maintenance on commercial SAN "solutions".

    Oh, and if I recall correctly, Patrick is one of the handful of other 4-digit UIDs still active here. I haven't talked to him in a while. If he is still in MN, I should make a point of getting up to his remote part of the state to buy him a beer.

    • This revision ('96) was my first Linux too. Left it ultimately because of a combination of the libc5/glibc2 fiasco and a lack of modern package management system.

      If no systemd and if devuan fails I might just have to come back and put up with less package management.

    • by sidevans ( 66118 )

      Slax is underrated too

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm a 4 digit UID, and yes I got my start with Slack. I remember buying the cd sets at the UCF Computer Store for cheap, I think like $15 for 4 discs was the first set, then 6 discs, and I think there was even an 8 disc set before they went DVD. I always loved the filesystem layout.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'm a 4 digit UID, and yes I got my start with Slack. I remember buying the cd sets at the UCF Computer Store for cheap, I think like $15 for 4 discs was the first set, then 6 discs, and I think there was even an 8 disc set before they went DVD. I always loved the filesystem layout.

        Nobody cares about your UID, and if they did, posting as an AC isn't going to help.

    • I too have used Slackware since 1996 when a fellow Tacoma Linux User's Group member by the name of "Wes" introduced me to it. I have used it ever since. It is currently on by laptop and my main PC. Oh I have used other distros too, but I always came back to favor Slackware. I did upgrade to XFCE from Windomaker! I sure like the copy and paste feature of the XFCE4 terminal. I am looking forward to the next release!
    • by thsths ( 31372 )

      Yes, I remember running Slackware in late 1993. It was a great start to the Linux universe, excellent for geeks, and it did work quite well from floppy disks (the install medium of choice back then). Maybe it was not the most user friendly distribution, but I will always remember it fondly.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I remember when he almost died from some strange disease (no not systemd or pulsaudio). And had to diagnose himself because no doctor was able to sort it out. I though that was the end of Slackware, fortunately it was not. I still have it running on a printer/log server and it works just as great now as it did new installed more than ten years ago.

    • I bought a book with Volkerberg as co-author that had Slackware 95 as the cover CD-ROM. I've never heard of this Slackware 96 you refer too.

    • Slackware used to be my favorite distribution back in the late 90s. I started with Redhat, what a mistake that was, and within a few weeks was using Slackware.

      Ultimately, Slackware did not cut it for me so I went to Gentoo for several years.

      Long story short, none of the distributions fit me now. I would go back to Slackware but try getting 32 bit wine to work on Slack64 or even try running/compiling any ncurses based programs.

      Slackware does not "Just Work" for me and making it "Just Work" requires re-archit

  • I started with slackware 2.3 some time in the mid 90's. I used it for a good 10 years.
  • by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @02:50AM (#54856713) Homepage

    A link to a four day old reddit thread. So useful.

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @04:15AM (#54856817) Homepage

    I started on Slackware back in the 90s, left for a while after going to DeadRat then Suse but came back after getting sick of things Just Not Working with the aformentioned "professional" distros. So I thought what the hell, installed slackware 13.0 on my laptop, everything worked (and I mean everything, even the wifi and printer out the box with minimal configuration) and I've stuck with it since. And now with systemd taking over most other distros I have no plans on changing.

    Thumbs up to Patrick, good work, keep it up!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Slackware is the ideal expression of Unix's "sharp pointy tools". Nothing unnecessary, everything as simple as needed to do it's job. It is the anti-Windows instead of trying to become Windows. The rap about difficulty comes from people who don't appreciate transparent, well organized access to everything an OS does down to its core.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Slackware was the first Linux variant I used full time when I abandoned Windows dual booting. I can only remember good things about it. Absolutely solid, easy to administer, simple, and logical. It wouldn't suit everyone, being a little less targeted at new users, although it was definitely fine for any moderately competent user. I really ought to give the new version a chance next time it comes to a disk swap. Many thanks to its maintainer for all his hard work.

  • Yep (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @08:55AM (#54857333) Homepage

    Slackware was the first serious distro for me.

    I also remember using ZIPSLACK, which booted it via SYSLINUX from a DOS prompt, saved in a normal FAT partition, if I remember correctly. It was the first real "how to use Linux without trashing your partitions or using a boot disk" version.

    I remember spending a lot of time on Slack 3.9 which contained just the right versions of GCC and kernel to compile for Freesco (a single floppy router distro that's still around).

    For many years, I ran it as my only desktop (8.0 - 13.0 or thereabouts) and - when hardware has failed and I've been forced onto older machines - I've installed Slackware in preference to get as much done as I can on the creaky hardware.

    I ran servers on it for all kinds of purposes and in all sorts of places.

    Then, I admit, I had to move to Ubuntu when deploying desktops, just for the ease of use. And now, in the virtual machine era, I have a weird switch where - instead of Slack on servers and Ubuntu LTS on clients - I do the reverse. Which gives me one-command app installation with dependencies on servers (who cares what GUI is used), but Slack lets me choose how my personal system works and exactly when and makes it predictable and configurable.

    Slackware gave me a lot. From my first glimpses at a real OS that I'd heard only in myth and legend, to the knowledge that you could run machines within machines even before virtualisation was readily available, to my first real exposure to serious programming and working on open-source projects, to a career in deploying boxes equivalent to the more expensive commercial offerings, to running all the backends of my professional setups, to providing me with a free and powerful desktop when I had no money, to giving me control over my server estate and running inside Windows servers to do the things they just can't do as efficiently.

    At one point or another, Slackware has shown me everything about a computer that I find interesting and intriguing, which Windows has never managed. DOS and Windows were always a case of spending time trying to get the best out them through guesswork and hope and closed tools (see the EMM386, etc. conversation in the Reddit thread!). Slackware showed me that you can look into the system and change anything you like, because that's exactly how it got made, and everything became understandable, predictable, and Slackware was chosen on merit out of THOUSANDS of other distros that all used the same code (which to me, shows just how good it is - anyone could copy Slackware's entire codebase, and many have, but Slackware is still going).

    And then some fuckhead made systemd and all the other modern shite. And still Slackware is out there, competing without even trying.

    If I was sent on a mission out of the solar system, where it was just me and a bunch of machines around me to keep me alive, I'd be insisting it all ran Slackware. And taking a bunch of Slackware CDs with me.

    • If I was sent on a mission out of the solar system, where it was just me and a bunch of machines around me to keep me alive, I'd be insisting it all ran Slackware. And taking a bunch of Slackware CDs with me.

      I fully agree. The only other Operating System I would consider in that case would be OpenBSD.

  • Yay slack (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chewbacon ( 797801 ) on Saturday July 22, 2017 @09:34AM (#54857481)

    I went to Slackware out of frustration trying to get Linux to run on a laptop. It worked on the first boot. One thing I love about Slack compared to Ubuntu is Slack never tried to fuck up my config files when I updated software.

  • I had read about UNIX, had a fascination with it from the start of the 90s, first got to see it for real when I started university in 1995, and Slackware 3.0 appeared on the PCW April 1996 issue. (I think it was this issue and version: google isn't much help here, and neither is the rest of the web.)

    Took me a week to work out rm deletes files. My usual solution to finding myself in vi was exiting via ctrl-z followed by jobs -l followed by kill -9. Until I'd learned rm and mv, if I created problems by creating a file, I'd reinstall. I figure out many things I could type by reinstalling and watching the package names. Learned the basics of TeX via a gentle introduction document, and basically taught myself by reverse engineering the gobbledigook one found in .sty packages. (I found out rm via a hint inferred from the openlook file manager asking 'do you want to remove this file', rather than 'delete' or 'erase', which were the two synonyms I knew from DOS. At first, the only UNIX command I knew was ls, since the UNIX column in PCW mentioned it somewhere. cd worked the same way as DOS, and from DOS I recalled that md and mkdir were synonyms, so tried md and mkdir and found the latter worked.)

    In those days there were no online howtos (or at least, no easy way to even know such things existed, and no easy way to find out about ways to find stuff -- these were the days when some industry commentators were suggesting that Microsoft Network would make the internet obsolete :-)) ).

    • That sounds like the painful way to learn Linux. Most of us did it the sane way: By using the Slackware CD-ROM that was included in the back cover of the Linux book we bought.

      I remember I had an ATI All-In-Wonder card at the time that had a TV tuner in it and the TV tuner didn't work in Slackware. I actually e-mailed ATI and offered to write the driver for them. To my shock, they actually e-mailed me back and wanted to know more about what I planned to do and what my credentials were. Of course, my cre

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A friendly guy in the computer lab showed me 'man man' to learn how to use the man pages on bsd 4.2... that changed my life.

      I also remember getting out of full screen programs with Ctrl-Z and killing the job from the jobs list! Oh, hilarious youth :)

  • I remember downloading Slackware onto 5.25 floppies on a 2400 baud modem. It took forever, but it was worth it. I liked it better than SLS.

  • I picked up Slackware 3.0 in late 1995, and happily got it to install on my home-assembled desktop. Once installed I didn't have a clue what to do with it, but it wasn't from Redmond, and that was a major victory. I tried many other distros over the years, Slackware opened a big door I didn't really know existed at the time.

    Happy Birthday Slackware!

  • I first used Slackware for a college/university's computer science course for ANSI C programming in (19)95/96. I used it in its computer lab and remotely with a shell account.

  • In an age where everything else is off fiddling with systemd, moving around config files and installing software and support wherever they feel like, Slackware still looks, thinks and behaves like it's a Unix...

    The installer hasn't substantially changed in 20 years, and looks/feels more like the FreeBSD install than anything else, and package management is more akin to the BSDs than anything else.

    For someone like me that uses Linux because it's Unix-y and not just an alternative to Windows, the fact t

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."