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Slackware Linux 13.0 - the oldest Linux distro gets a major overhaul

Oct 05, 2009, 23:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Caitlyn Martin)

[ Thanks to Caitlyn Martin for this link. ]

"When I reviewed Slackware 12.1 for O'Reilly News last year the results were somewhat controversial. Chris Smart, at the opening of his review of Arch Linux back in January, wrote: "When writing a review, I always try and view the distribution in the light of what it is expected to do - as claimed by the creators. Each Linux distribution is unique and they all have different goals. Some try to do and be everything, while others are very niche. Some want to include binary drivers and proprietary codecs by default, while others go out of their way to make a stand against such things. It makes sense that you cannot judge them all by the same criteria." I share Chris' philosophy when it comes to writing my own reviews and it is precisely that approach which prompted much of the harsh reaction to my review by a few of Slackware's most ardent supporters.

"If you visit the info page of the official Slackware website the first paragraph describes the distro: "The official release of Slackware Linux by Patrick Volkerding is an advanced Linux operating system, designed with the twin goals of ease of use and stability as top priorities. Including the latest popular software while retaining a sense of tradition, providing simplicity and ease of use alongside flexibility and power, Slackware brings the best of all worlds to the table." Note that "ease of use" is listed as a goal and mentioned twice for emphasis. Despite this claim ease of use is something Slackware is just not known for. Even with improvements in Slackware 13.0 I still don't think there is anything easy about this distro for anyone other than advanced, experienced users who are extremely comfortable on the command line and with editing configuration files by hand.

"For this review I am focusing on Slackware on the desktop. I started working with Slackware 13.0 four weeks ago with a seven month old Sylvania g Netbook Meso (1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB HDD). That system suffered a hardware failure 17 days ago and is now being replaced. I completed the testing and review using my nearly 7-year old Toshiba Satellite 1805-S204 (1 GHz Intel Celeron CPU, 512 MB RAM, 20 GB HDD). Slackware has long been friendly to older hardware. That has not changed with the latest release which performs very well on the Toshiba laptop. Slackware 13.0 is the first release available with a native 64-bit edition. Unfortunately I did not have any 64-bit hardware available for testing so this review covers just the 32-bit edition."

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