Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Slax 5.1.4 - Your Pocket OS

Filed under
Linux
Reviews
-s

Slax recently released version 5.1.4 of their amazing "pocket os" and since it had been almost a year since our last look, we thought we'd better find out what 5.1.4 was like. Much like its predecessor, it has a whole lot chocked into a small kde-based download. At 192 mb, is it worth the download?


Slax's homepage says it better than I would. To quote them,

"SLAX is fast and beautiful Linux operating system which fits on small (3.14") CD-ROM disc. It runs directly from the CD (or USB) without installing. The Live CD described here is based on the Slackware Linux distribution and uses Unification File System (also known as unionfs), allowing read-only filesystem to behave as a writable one, saving all changes to memory.

Imagine the ability to boot your favorite Linux distribution whether you are at home, at school, or at work. Imagine walking on the street and carrying the only thing you needed in life - the 8cm compact disk with your Live Linux CD. Wouldn't you want to experience such a feeling? Smile "

Well, "the only thing you need in life" might be a bit of an exaggeration, but perhaps it might be the only thing one needs in computing. It's a complete os featuring all the basic requirements: surfing, emailing, instant messaging, connectivity, office, image viewing and file manipulation all sitting on the wonderful performing base of Slackware Linux. Slax comes with a 2.6.16 kernel, xorg 6.9.0 and a light version of KDE 3.5.2. In other words, it's an updated small portable version of Slackware.

Booting slax is as easy as popping in the cd and rebooting your computer. The default configuration worked great here, but there are many "cheat codes" available and found by depressing F1 at the boot screen. Booting progresses with the output displayed in the bottom portion of the screen while a nice image of a shamrock dresses it up at the top. At the end of this process, one is taken to a login screen. Instructions for logging in and gui startup are displayed as well as instructions for some basic configuration. Startx starts the gui at 1024x768 with vesa drivers and xconf will start an autodetection of your graphics system for perhaps enhanced display and performance. Also noteworthy from this same screen is the command for "slax-install." The screen states that at this time it "still doesn't work," but it alludes to future capability.

        

The gui starts with a customized kde splash and consists of xorg 6.9.0 and KDE 3.5.2. The slax version is quite scaled down as evidenced by the size of the iso, but it doesn't seem so by looking at the apps. As stated, there are apps for office work, connectivity and commuications, and even image viewing. There are tools for system configuration and monitoring as well as file manipulation and multimedia use. I think their choices in slimming down the kde desktop seem quite intuitive. The desktop itself is attractive featuring a customized wallpaper and panel. In the panel one can find quick launchers for konqueror, kopete, kmplayer, and juk. In the systray sits a connection monitor, locale selector, kmix applet, and krandrtray. Desktop icons are Home and System.

        

The games list consists of kbounce, kbattleship and patience. The graphics menu contains kuickshow, kpdf, and kolourpaint. Your office choices are kpresenter, kspread, kword, and kontact.

        

Multimedia applications include kaudiocreator, K3B, KMpalyer, juk, and KsCD. For the internet and communications are konqueror, remote desktop setup and browsers, Kppp, KWiFiManager, Akregator, Kmail, and Kopete. Some utilities you might find useful are kpager, kdeprintfax, Kate, Font viewer, Kcalc, kjots and knotes. Also included are some system configuration and monitoring tools.

        

        

There are also many modules available for download and installation from the slax site. Also on the site is a nice looking forum for discussions on all things Slax. In fact, the whole site is rather great looking, complete, and easy to navigate. It's always a nice touch and professional when a developer goes that extra mile to provide a wonderful web interface for use of and help with their distro - in many languages as well. Also of particular interest is their users' contributions of their screenshots. There are some great looking desktops shown there! All in all, Slax is a very respectable project and their distro is an amazing offering. The developers work hard to offer such a fantastic distro and provide timely updates. I've always like Slax quite a bit and this offering continues that tradition. It is definitely worth the download!

Related Links:



Some recent changelog activity includes:

v 5.1.4 SLAX (all editions) (6th of May 2006)

- added KDE 3.5.2, koffice 1.5.0
- updated alsa sound drivers
- updated to latest Linux-2.6.16 patches
- updated ndiswrapper and atheros wifi drivers
- fixed gtk2 config to use nicer default theme and font (firefox users are happy)
- fixed manual IP configuration
- dhcpcd now waits only 5 seconds to DHCP response
- removed noatun at all
- upgraded many libraries from Slackware current
- added new busybox binary to linux live scripts, this fixes some accidental problems with mounting union during startup.
- created official development module and kernel source module for SLAX
- added iocharset= boot option, to mount NTFS/DOS fs with your encoding
- added make_disk.bat to CD tree, to create USB bootable disk in windows
- properly remount ro disk device if SLAX is using data from it
- added FUSE and SSHFS filesystems, this will replace webconfig in the future
- cups set as a default printing system in KDE
- artsd doesn't autosuspend now, as this caused hundred of artsd processes
to be started on some machines (and in vmware), causing SLAX to swap or hang
- autoexec boot argument replaces "~" by spaces now, very useful if you need
to execute some command with parameters
- when autoexec is used, halt (powerdown) instead of reboot
- added openldap client and upgraded samba client files
- removed 2 useless videos from k3b extras
- and finally, added kernel boot splash image (no patches needed!). Use vga=normal boot parameter if you like the old text mode
v 5.1.0 SLAX (all editions) (31th of March 2006)

- added DejaVu fonts (Bitstream Vera with enhancements)
- added missing libmikmod libraries
- added missing libstdc++ libraries
- properly unmount device mounted by changes= boot argument
- added kbuildsycoca to kde-uselivemod to rebuild menu entries
- webconfig configuration size limit raised from 8MB to 28MB
webconfig now saves ALL modifications in the whole filesystem
- webconfig now uses direct access (uselivemod and dir2mo),
configsave and configrestore are deprecated and will be replaced by
changes= cheatcode soon.

v 5.0.8 Standard Edition (23th of March 2006)

- updated to Linux Kernel 2.6.16
- based on newest linux live scripts
- updated squashfs and unionfs kernel modules
- this fixes uselivemod and configsave/configrestore
- the rest remains the same, KDE 3.5.
- fixed bug in mounting of dos partitions (long filenames work now)
- slax now uses only 60% of RAM maximum for its filesystem - Slax Server Edition released, includes Apache 2, PHP 5, MySQL 5.

Slax? Slow?

Have you actually USED Slax before? I've never heard someone call running from Slax slow before. I've used it on everything from 233 MHz K-6s to 633 MHz Celerons to Sempron 2800+s, and I have to say that I've never used a faster live-cd. I agree, if it was architecture specific, it might be faster, but that would break the wide compatibility users of the distro enjoy.

As far as using different compression, I'd have to say that I'll take the size of the SquashFS modules over the speed of tgz packages any day. The goal of this project is to fit a functional Slackware system into a footprint small enough to fit on a 210 MB cd. Tomas has done exactly that, and I have to say that to this day, I am amazed at the results.

And finally, I'll address your concerns with the amount of memory required... this is a function of KDE, not Slax in particular. I booted Slax on a computer with 60 MB of RAM just this morning. You can run Fluxbox in 128 MB of RAM, as well as XFCE. Tomas has created different Slax versions to address these concerns, and the modular design allows even further customizations with comparative ease.

Good point

I speak of things I know not of. I can see where you're coming from now, and I don't disagree. Unfortunately, I know that getting Tomas to implement such changes will be fairly difficult.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

Red Hat's "DevOps" Hype Again and Analysis of last Night's Financial Results

OSS Leftovers

  • Deutsche Telekom and Aricent Create Open Source Edge Software Framework
    Deutsche Telekom and Aricent today announced the creation of an Open Source, Low Latency Edge Compute Platform available to operators, to enable them to develop and launch 5G mobile applications and services faster. The cost-effective Edge platform is built for software-defined data centers (SDDC) and is decentralized, to accelerate the deployment of ultra-low latency applications. The joint solution will include a software framework with key capabilities for developers, delivered as a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and will incorporate cloud-native Multi-access edge computing (MEC) technologies.
  • A Deeper Look at Sigma Prime's Lighthouse: An Open-Source Ethereum 2.0 Client
  • Notable moments in Firefox for Android UA string history
  • Dweb: Creating Decentralized Organizations with Aragon
    With Aragon, developers can create new apps, such as voting mechanisms, that use smart contracts to leverage decentralized governance and allow peers to control resources like funds, membership, and code repos. Aragon is built on Ethereum, which is a blockchain for smart contracts. Smart contracts are software that is executed in a trust-less and transparent way, without having to rely on a third-party server or any single point of failure. Aragon is at the intersection of social, app platform, and blockchain.
  • LLVM 7.0.0 released
  • Parabola GNU/Linux-libre: Boot problems with Linux-libre 4.18 on older CPUs
    Due to a known bug in upstream Linux 4.18, users with older multi-core x86 CPUs (Core 2 Duo and earlier?) may not correctly boot up with linux-libre 4.18 when using the default clocksource.
  • Visual Schematic Diffs in KiCAD Help Find Changes
    In the high(er)-end world of EDA tools like OrCAD and Altium there is a tight integration between the version control system and the design tools, with the VCS is sold as a product to improve the design workflow. But KiCAD doesn’t try to force a version control system on the user so it doesn’t really make sense to bake VCS related tools in directly. You can manage changes in KiCAD projects with git but as [jean-noël] notes reading Git’s textual description of changed X/Y coordinates and paths to library files is much more useful for a computer than for a human. It basically sucks to use. What you really need is a diff tool that can show the user what changed between two versions instead of describe it. And that’s what plotgitsch provides.

LWN's Latest (Today Outside Paywall) Articles About the Kernel, Linux

  • Toward better handling of hardware vulnerabilities
    From the kernel development community's point of view, hardware vulnerabilities are not much different from the software variety: either way, there is a bug that must be fixed in software. But hardware vendors tend to take a different view of things. This divergence has been reflected in the response to vulnerabilities like Meltdown and Spectre which was seen by many as being severely mismanaged. A recent discussion on the Kernel Summit discussion list has shed some more light on how things went wrong, and what the development community would like to see happen when the next hardware vulnerability comes around. The definitive story of the response to Meltdown and Spectre has not yet been written, but a fair amount of information has shown up in bits and pieces. Intel was first notified of the problem in July 2017, but didn't get around to telling anybody in the the Linux community about it until the end of October. When that disclosure happened, Intel did not allow the community to work together to fix it; instead each distributor (or other vendor) was mostly left on its own and not allowed to talk to the others. Only at the end of December, right before the disclosure (and the year-end holidays), were members of the community allowed to talk to each other. The results of this approach were many, and few were good. The developers charged with responding to these problems were isolated and under heavy stress for two months; they still have not been adequately thanked for the effort they put in. Many important stakeholders, including distributions like Debian and the "tier-two" cloud providers, were not informed at all prior to the general disclosure and found themselves scrambling. Different distributors shipped different fixes, many of which had to be massively revised before entry into the mainline kernel. When the dust settled, there was a lot of anger left simmering in its wake.
  • Writing network flow dissectors in BPF
    Network packet headers contain a great deal of information, but the kernel often only needs a subset of that information to be able to perform filtering or associate any given packet with a flow. The piece of code that follows the different layers of packet encapsulation to find the important data is called a flow dissector. In current Linux kernels, the flow dissector is written in C. A patch set has been proposed recently to implement it in BPF with the clear goal of improving security, flexibility, and maybe even performance.
  • Coscheduling: simultaneous scheduling in control groups
    The kernel's CPU scheduler must, as its primary task, determine which process should be executing in each of a system's processors at any given time. Making an optimal decision involves juggling a number of factors, including the priority (and scheduling classes) of the runnable processes, NUMA locality, cache locality, latency minimization, control-group policies, power management, overall fairness, and more. One might think that throwing another variable into the mix — and a complex one at that — would not be something anybody would want to attempt. The recent coscheduling patch set from Jan Schönherr does exactly that, though, by introducing the concept of processes that should be run simultaneously. The core idea behind coscheduling is the marking of one or more control groups as containing processes that should be run together. If one process in a coscheduled group is running on a specific set of CPUs (more on that below), only processes from that group will be allowed to run on those CPUs. This rule holds even to the point of forcing some of the CPUs to go idle if the given control group lacks runnable processes, regardless of whether processes outside the group are runnable. Why might one want to do such a thing? Schönherr lists four motivations for this work, the first of which is virtualization. That may indeed be the primary motivation, given that Schönherr is posting from an Amazon address, and Amazon is rumored to be running a virtualized workload or two. A virtual machine usually contains multiple processes that interact with each other; these machines will run more efficiently (and with lower latencies) if those processes can run simultaneously. Coscheduling would ensure that all of a virtual machine's processes are run together, maximizing locality and minimizing the latencies of the interactions between them.
  • Machine learning and stable kernels
    There are ways to get fixes into the stable kernel trees, but they require humans to identify which patches should go there. Sasha Levin and Julia Lawall have taken a different approach: use machine learning to distinguish patches that fix bugs from others. That way, all bug-fix patches could potentially make their way into the stable kernels. Levin and Lawall gave a talk describing their work at the 2018 Open Source Summit North America in Vancouver, Canada. Levin began with a quick introduction to the stable tree and how patches get into it. When a developer fixes a bug in a patch they can add a "stable tag" to the commit or send a mail to the stable mailing list; Greg Kroah-Hartman will then pick up the fix, evaluate it, and add it to the stable tree. But that means that the stable tree is only getting the fixes that are pointed out to the stable maintainers. No one has time to check all of the commits to the kernel for bug fixes but, in an ideal world, all of the bug fixes would go into the stable kernels. Missing out on some fixes means that the stable trees will have more security vulnerabilities because the fixes often close those holes—even if the fixer doesn't realize it.
  • Trying to get STACKLEAK into the kernel
    The STACKLEAK kernel security feature has been in the works for quite some time now, but has not, as yet, made its way into the mainline. That is not for lack of trying, as Alexander Popov has posted 15 separate versions of the patch set since May 2017. He described STACKLEAK and its tortuous path toward the mainline in a talk [YouTube video] at the 2018 Linux Security Summit. STACKLEAK is "an awesome security feature" that was originally developed by The PaX Team as part of the PaX/grsecurity patches. The last public version of the patch set was released in April 2017 for the 4.9 kernel. Popov set himself on the goal of getting STACKLEAK into the kernel shortly after that; he thanked both his employer (Positive Technologies) and his family for giving him working and free time to push STACKLEAK. The first step was to extract STACKLEAK from the more than 200K lines of code in the grsecurity/PaX patch set. He then "carefully learned" about the patch and what it does "bit by bit". He followed the usual path: post the patch, get feedback, update the patch based on the feedback, and then post it again. He has posted 15 versions and "it is still in progress", he said.

PostgreSQL 11: something for everyone

PostgreSQL 11 had its third beta release on August 9; a fourth beta (or possibly a release candidate) is scheduled for mid-September. While the final release of the relational database-management system (currently slated for late September) will have something new for many users, its development cycle was notable for being a period when the community hit its stride in two strategic areas: partitioning and parallelism. Partitioning and parallelism are touchstones for major relational database systems. Proprietary database vendors manage to extract a premium from a minority of users by upselling features in these areas. While PostgreSQL has had some of these "high-tier" items for many years (e.g., CREATE INDEX CONCURRENTLY, advanced replication functionality), the upcoming release expands the number considerably. I may be biased as a PostgreSQL major contributor and committer, but it seems to me that the belief that community-run database system projects are not competitive with their proprietary cousins when it comes to scaling enterprise workloads has become just about untenable. Read more