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Upgrading to Slackware 12.1

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Pat Volkerding and the Slackware team released the latest version of Slackware Linux, 12.1, on May 2. Even though it is a "point one" release, the list of new features reads like what other distributions would consider a major new version. Slackware 12.1 features the latest KDE 3.5.9, Xfce 4.4.2, and a number of improvements, especially to udev. The full list of updated features is in the official product announcement. From a user's perspective, version 12.1 is a true refinement of the previous version.

Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution; its first release was in 1993. It is a very "hands-on" distribution -- nearly all the system configuration chores require editing text files. Additionally, Slackware is a very plain distribution. The Slackware team makes few changes to sources, preferring to compile them and pass them on.

The same philosophy is evident in how Slackware performs package management. Slackware has easy-to-use package management features both from the command line and graphically (ncurses-based). But Slackware does not check packages for the presence of libraries they depend on, nor will the package management tools automatically download and install dependencies.

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