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Slackware 12.1 First Impressions

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Late last week I downloaded and installed Slackware 12.1 on my aging (OK, old) Toshiba laptop side by side with Vector Linux Light. I'll post a full review to my O'Reilly Linux Dev Center blog once I've had more opportunity to use the latest version of Slack.

My first impression: Slackware is still Slackware. The installer assumes you know what you are doing (think Expert install if you're an Ubuntu user) and that you want the ability to control every aspect of the installation. A newcomer to Linux would be utterly, totally lost. I've actually done two installations: a fully functional one with an Xfce desktop and all the dev tools that currently occupies about 2.7GB of disk space, and a truly minimal but usable installation with a minimalist window manager (PekWM) and a handful of apps and tools. That takes up only 600MB of disk space. Slackware always was flexible and that hasn't changed.

You can tell you're dealing with a distro for serious Linux geeks when booting into the GUI isn't even offered as an option by the installer. Heck, the installer doesn't even deal with X configuration. You start at the command line. GUI system administration tools? You can get them from third parties but Slackware itself is devoid of such things. Edit your config files or use command line tools.

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