Tuesday, October 7, 2008

An affair with Slackware

Remember the days when I used Debian because Ubuntu was boring? Well you have had to read most of my blog in order to do that, so I'll assume you don't remember and give a little introduction about why I don't think Ubuntu is the distribution for me. Now don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against it and IMO it's one of (if not 'the') best distribution out there. However, it is a bit too "point and click" if you know what I mean. At first, I was happy nice little list of packages in Synaptic, hot fiery effects in Compiz-Fusion, but then I realized that this is not the true GNU/Linux way. You don't learn anything about a particular package by simply running `apt-get install blablabla`. So I went and installed Debian and because I was in search of some nerd-thrills, I didn't installed the GUI. Long story short, although Debian was a great experience I didn't like it's old packages, so I went back to Ubuntu.
A couple of weeks ago, I was on the search for another distro that was easy to install and yet maintained as much as possible of the original GNU/Linux feel (note that although you may thing "Gentoo" here, configuring portage is too much a pain for me. Not to mention the long installation time of applications). Right, so I went forward and tried Slackware, or more precisely Slamd64. It installed, complete with a bundle of useful applications, everything from xchat to kde. I went forward and added my custom kernel, compiled firefox 3 (mind you, it compiled on first try. Now try that on an out-of-the-box Ubuntu :D)

Right, so I've been using slackware for almost three months now and I have to say I'm very impressed with it. I've stopped using KDE and I am now using Enlightenment version 0.16. I have compiled it from source along with its modules. It impresses me through its simplicity and through its power at the same time.

Another interesting feature about Slackware is that it enables you to customize every thing on your computer. Also it teaches you how to do things and how things work in a manner different from Ubuntu: in Slackware you do things manually while in most other desktop distributions you use tools that do the job for you. For example, I now understand a little bit more on how initial ram disk works because I custom compiled my kernel and had to create a initrd image for it. However, because my computer is 64-bit based, compiling and are running 32 bit software is somewhat of a pain. In general, shared libraries work, but in order to compile large projects such as Wine I need to install a lot of 32 bit compatibility libraries. Also flash player 10 doesn't work. That being said, I think I will go back to ubuntu for a while, or at least maybe I'll remove Slackware and try to install a new 32 bit distribution. I should mention that I have tried to do this in the past but either that distribution didn't start up or my hard disk contents couldn't have been read because my partitions are LVM, and somehow LVM partitions that are created on 64 bit machines are not a read by 32 bit ones... or something like that.