Installing Slackware Linux, Part 6: Some Tips and Tricks
This is the last post in a series on installing Slackware Linux.
The earlier posts:
Part 1: Considered why some persons find Slackware difficult to install.
Part 2: Partitioned the hard drive for a clean install, as opposed to an upgrade or a dual boot installation.
Part 3: Formatted the swap drive and target drive and pointed the computer to the source media.
Part 4: Installed the operating system and included software and configured LiLo (the Linux Loader).
Part 5: Configured the network, time zone, mouse, and root password.
This post covers some in no particular order miscellaneous things I’ve learned that have made using Slackware more easier and enjoyable.
When your new Slackware system boots for the first time, it will greet you with a command line log in prompt. Log in as “root” with the password you selected.
The next thing you should do is add a new user with regular user privileges. The command is
- adduser [username]
Slackware will respond with a series of prompts for information, such as phone numbers, office locations, and the like. These are optional; you can just hit enter until you reach the prompt asking for a password. Enter and confirm the password and you now have a regular user for day-to-day computing.
Log in as root when you need to do system maintenance, modify system files, change global settings (such as time). Otherwise, log in as user.
Using the GUI
Start the GUI from the command line with the command, “startx.” Change the window manager from command line with the command, “xwmconfig.” (Once you are logged in, xwmconfig applies only to the logged in user.)
If you must boot directly into a GUI, log in as root, open a text editor, and change the default runlevel in the file /etc/inittab from “3” to “4.”
Root and User
One of the things I like about Slackware it that it does allow you to log in as “root.” Some Linux distributions do not. Ubuntu, for example, blocks the root login; to do system maintenance and make global changes, Ubuntu requires that you log in as user and then use sudo (“Super User DO“); “sudo” privileges expire after a short time.
If you have a bunch of stuff to do, repeatedly entering “sudo” and your sudo password becomes a chore. I like to log in as “root,” get the job done, then get out.
The su command
When logged in as user, you can open a command (sometimes called “terminal”) window and enter “su” (“Substitute User”). At the password prompt, enter the root password for root privileges in that window. You can run graphical applications with root privileges by starting the application from the command line while logged in as su. This is useful if you want to use, say, a graphical text editor to modify a system file.
Linux has firewall capability (“iptables“) out of the box; many Linux distributions ship with pre-configured firewalls. Slackware does not.
You can either download and configure a graphical interface for the firewall (my favorite is Firestarter–see Gnome below) or download and configure an rc.firewall script. I’ve done both; once I got an rc.firewall script working to my satisfaction, I stored copies in several different locations so I did not have to do it from scratch again.
My rc.firewall script is included in franks_samples.zip linked at the bottom of the page. It is completely without guarantee or warranty. It’s a text file; read it before you try it.
Gnome is one of the two popular desktop environments for Linux. Whereas KDE comes with everything and the kitchen sink (for example, it has four text editors, three or four browsers, several IRC clients, several email clients, it’s own office suite–KOffice–and so on), Gnome aims for simplicity. It comes, for example with one text editor; instead of a branded office suite, it comes with Open Office.
Several years ago, Slackware stopped including Gnome and went just with KDE, reasoning that there was too much duplication between the two environments.
Nevertheless, I find Gnome useful, even though I don’t use the Gnome desktop; it contains libraries and toolkits required by a number of programs (including Firestarter mentioned above). I have found that life is just easier with Gnome on the computer; the best source I’ve found for Gnome for Slackware is GNOME Slackbuild. Follow the instructions there to install Gnome.
This leads to
One of the big complaints among persons who don’t use Slackware is that Slackware does not automatically resolve dependencies.
If I download a new program for Ubuntu, Ubuntu checks to see whether there are other programs (library files and the like) that that program depends on. If they are not present, Ubuntu goes and gets them.
If I download a new program for Slackware, the package will include the program pretty much as it was designed by the creators. If program doesn’t run and throws and error message such as “Cannot open shared file [filename]: No such file or directory,” it’s up to me to go find the file and install it.
Usually, a quick Google search will tell me what to do. Sometimes, I’ve needed to visit one of the support sites listed at the end of this post.
Samba enables file sharing between Windows and Linux (and Linux and Linux, though there are other ways to share files in a purely *nix environment); it also permits Linux computers to use shared printers attached to Windows computers. It can do a lot; configuring it was, for me at least, a bear.
The configuration resides in a file called smb.conf in /etc/samba; Slackware includes a heavily annotated sample configuration file. Even though we set Samba to start automically in the last post, it will share nothing until that smb.conf is properly edited.
Samba can do so many things and is so complex that figuring how to make it do something simple was challenging. Again, once I got it working, I filed away multiple copies of the configuration file so I wouldn’t have to remember how to do it later.
I have included a sample of my smb.conf in the franks_samples zip linked below.
Using the Slackware package tool.
Compiling from sources.
Finding Slackware Packages
(The Slackware Package Browser, which I have used heavily, is being rebuilt.)
See Henry’s Notes.
The Slackware Wiki: the “official” unofficial wiki.
The LQ Slackware Forum: the “official” unofficial Slackware forum at Linux Questions.
alt.os.linux.slackware: The most active Slackware newsgroup. As with any newsgroup, read it for a while before participating so as to identify the trolls (there are a couple who are particularly obnoxious). If you post a question, clearly identify the problem in the subject line and include what you have already tried in the post. If you haven’t tried anything, at least google the problem before you post.
Slackware on Freenode.