Slackware 11.0

Slackware is a GNU/Linux distribution known for its simplicity, stability, and security. They announced the release of their latest production in terms of Linux installation CDs, so I decided to test-run it on one of my machines. Here is my experience with it. I hope it can help some people.

Installation

The installation is supposed to be very easy but I was in for some disappointing experience here: Booting on the first CD leads only to a crude command line. Following the information provided here is pretty easy, but it’s still the old-style Linux installation (a far cry from the more modern graphic installations of most GNU/linux distributions of today).

Anyway, I ran quickly through the list of options to choose from. Essentially choosing the default answer everywhere except for the keyboard (I use a French AZERTY keyboard), I had few difficulties except one reboot needed just to have the install program recognizing the presence of a CD drive.

After that, the installation took only a few minutes of heavy file copying between the CD-ROM drive and the hard drive even though I was essentially installing everything offered to my choice.

After file copying arrived a long list of questions for small configuration options. Obviously, nearly everything can be answered by blindly pressing YES or OK. But you must be attentive to trick questions like identifying your location.

Good points:

  • Default file system is the modern journaling ReiserFS.
  • Installation easily recognizes the presence of a swap partition, of a pre-existing NTFS partition that it offered to mount properly.

Weak points:

  • Bad recognition of a mere CD-ROM drive.
  • Keyboards could certainly be described in nicer or more user-friendly names than azerty-fr-latin1.

At the end of the installation a mere reboot starts the computer into the text interface. This is really wrong!

And I had to know about other installations to recognize that it was simply a matter of logging as root and starting the X-window engine, by typing X. But who else would know about it at first?

Test drive

Quite possibly, I did not configure the Slackware installation correctly since I only obtained a black screen with a cross as a mouse pointer. But nothing like a desktop.

Conclusion

Obviously, the installation was a real let down both compared to MS-Windows and to more modern GNU/Linux installation programs. But it was not as bad as the result of the installation itself.

I suggest that you avoid it if you don’t have both experience in installing Linux and some time to play with the configuration.

More information in the Slackware release announcement.