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This page gives an introduction to Slackware and an overview of related articles.

What is Slackware?

Slackware is one of the oldest distributions; its original release was in April, 1993. Its creator, Patrick Volkerding, has maintained the project since its inception. Pat is known affectionately as "The Man" to Slackware fans. Patrick has striven to maintain Slackware as a simple, efficient, and high-performance distribution throughout its history. Slackware is often described as the most "Unix-like" of Linux distributions, because of Patrick's desire to keep its configuration and customization methods as clean and straightforward as possible. Slackware uses unpatched, but well-configured "vanilla" kernels directly from, and tries to use software packages that are unmodified from their authors' original source. As a result, Slackware tends to be very stable, and easy to compile additional software against. It does not suffer from the myriad bugs that plague other distributions that attempt to make distro-specific modifications to common open-source packages.

Slackware tries to be stable, fast and efficient. It runs even on older systems with less RAM and less CPU Power.

The distribution is not intended for users who like "clickibunti" (german for point and click interfaces). Instead most of the configuration is done by modifying the right files with your favorite text editor. It is intended for power users and those who just want to have a stable and actual system without bloating sounds and fat animations which have only one reason: Slowing down your PC.

Slackware has an undeserved reputation of being difficult to learn and maintain. New users to Slackware whose first exposure to Linux come from more GUI-oriented distros like Redhat or Mandriva may initially find it to be overwhelming. However, Slackware's strengths become clear with a little persistance in learning its ways. Many distros with built-in configuration utilities are actually just modifying parameters in various text files in the /etc directory. A disadvantage to that convenience is that user-added modifications can be mysteriously overwritten by these utilities. Learning system configuration through the use of GUI utilities can also lead to users who don't really understand what's going on under the hood. A Slackware user is often much more prepared to solve problems when the easy way doesn't work.

One of Slackware's definite strengths is the stability of its underlying structure. The locations of configuration files, the layout of directories, and even its installation program have remained relatively unchanged since its beginnings in the early 1990's. New users may be concerned that a lot of Slackware documentation hasn't been updated in years (although the regulars of the alt.os.linux.slackware newsgroup have recently updated the main Slackware "book"). The reality is that since most of Slackware's core concepts change very slowly, documentation that is five years old is often still relevant. An additional benefit is that the investment in time to learn how to handle Slackware will not soon become obsolete.

One criticism of Slackware is its "lack of a package management system", such as RPM or apt-get. This criticism is a misconception, and would more accurately be stated that Slackware does not perform dependency-checking on new packages. However, Slackware does have its own package manager, pkgtool. It relies on the user to understand what he or she is adding to the system, and to satisfy dependencies manually. While this sounds like a nightmare, in practice it can prevent unintended and automated changes to the OS. A Slackware admin has much tighter control over additions and updates to the system than someone who simply types "apt-get dist-upgrade" and hopes for the best.

Slackware is a unique distribution with its own ways of accomplishing the common tasks that every Linux user and admin must do. While it can seem unforgiving to newcomers, it satisfies many Linux users who wish to have fine-grained and complete control of their systems.

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