The Linux Project VI:
Test three: Slackware, the system I didn't expect.
When I began The Linux Project, I didn't think I'd find anything in the world of open source operating systems that would come close to acceptable, functional, pretty, fun, and requiring almost nothing in the way of modification from its installation to its nearly flawless operation. I am happy to say I was very wrong. The amazing thing is it took me this long to get that operating system setup on this computer. The sad thing is I will have to remove it soon enough to test the next operating system to be tested for The Linux Project. The good thing is when the Linux project is done; I will be putting it back on the system to stay!
The system I am referring to is known as Slackware. The version tested is version 11. It is available at http://www.slackware.com/ . If you are truly in the market to get out from under the thumb of Bill Gates and his software monopoly, Slackware is the system for you. Not only does run as close to flawlessly as the average Microsoft offering, and worlds better than Windows 98, but for your download and source disk setup, you get not only an impressive and very pretty operating system, you also get an incredibly impressive and usable suite of software to go along with it. Not only do you get an operating computer, you get just about any tool you need to do just about anything you can do with a Microsoft loaded machine. And you get it for free.
Add to that, if you are the kind of computer geek that gets excited at the thought of being able to create and set up your own applications, widgets, and other goodies, Slackware aims to please on that front as well. With C++, G++, JAVA, PERL, FORTRAN, and numerous other programming packages and libraries, you can spend days trying out all the programming suites that come along with your Slackware install. And, you can wedge a full installation on ten gigs of hard drive space and still have lots of room for the files you will create, and other goodies that catch your fancy.
Now with all this praise, you'd probably think that Slackware is completely trouble free. Well, you'd be wrong. While the installation was pretty straightforward, it wasn't without its troubles. It is still best set up by someone who understands basic computer concepts. If you understand partitioning drives, and can follow basic instructions, you should be okay.
You will also be asked to make some decisions about your setup as proceed. Fortunately, Slackware usually selects the default setting for you. Ergo, even if you aren't the brightest bulb on Broadway, you might just be able to get through the setup of Slackware. Now, since I have already more or less let the cat out of the bag, let me get to how Slackware rates with the criteria of The Linux Project.
As I already intimated above, when it comes to the first criterion, ease of installation, Slackware is a fairly easy install. It's not quite as easy as PHLAK 0.21, but then again, unlike PHLAK 0.21, Slackware actually works right pretty much from the first boot. You will need to know a bit about computers with Slackware, but assuming that's not a problem, setting Slackware up won't be a problem, either.
The setup is done from a command prompt. It is menu driven, and looks just like the ANSI screens that used to greet me when I set up MS-DOS in the olden days. Once you get past the partitioning and formatting of the hard drives, you simply choose the packages you want installed and let setup do its thing. Sit back and smoke 'em if you got 'em. It took about an hour and half for Slackware to place all the software on my hard drive. I’m sure it won’t take quite as long on a faster system.