Installing Slackware Linux, Part 1: Intro

For some time now I’ve wanted to write a post on how to install Slackware . I even had a bunch of pictures taken and kept getting distracted, then a new version came in the mail. I’ve finally sprung the time to set it up and will devote several posts to installing and configuring .

About :

Slackware is the oldest named Linux distribution. It is also supposed to be the “most Unix like.” I cannot speak to that because I’ve never used Unix. I can say that in the Unix user group in my new area, my first impression is that most of the old Unix heads seem to be using Slackware.

Indeed, Slackware is venerable enough in the short history of Linux that it has given its name to a family of distributions, which are described as Slackware-based, Debian-based, or Fedora-based. (Of the ones I’ve tested, Ubuntu is Debian-based and CentOS is Fedora-based. I am currrently using Ubuntu on my laptop and my netbook because they came that way from the factory and if it ain’t broke etc.; my desktops all run Slackware.)

Slackware is conservative, not cutting edge. In the choice between “new” and “stable,” stable wins out.

Ease (or Not) of Install:

There are some Linux users who will claim that Slackware is difficult to install. (They do not, of course, use Slackware.)

Others, true geeky snobs, take the position that anything less than Slackware really is not Linux. There is one fellow currently participating in the newsgroup, alt.os.linux.slackware, whose signature includes something like this (I’ve edited it slightly):

“Ubuntu”: an African word meaning “I can’t figure out Slackware.”

The truth is this: is not very difficult, but it is more difficult than installing and using many other Linux distributions. This is primarily because Slackware expects the user to be able to use either Linux fdisk (command line) or Linux cfdisk (menu-driven) to prepare the hard drive to receive the installation. (Linux cfdisk is similar to DOS fdisk). Most other distributions I’ve tested default to suggesting a formatting scheme and giving the option of doing it yourself.

Consequently, someone who has never formatted a hard drive is quickly confronted by a bunch of unfamiliar stuff to do and can understandably go up a tree complaining that “This Slackware stuff is too hard for me.”

Testbed:

The computer I’m using is a Pentium III 1000 with three hard drives:

  • 40 GB IDE drive jumpered as master.
  • 4 GB slave IDE drive jumpered as slave.
  • 4 GB slave SCSI drive jumpered as slave (the primary drive when the computer started its life as a WindowsNT server; I added the other two).

Over the next several days, I’ll describe the initial installation and configuration of the operating system. This is not intended to be a text book install–I’m hardly qualified to write a text book–but rather one person’s lessons learned.

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