"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."