On the recommendation of Darin Stahl I decided to deviate a little from living at the bottom of the list on Distrowatch.com and reached out and downloaded the oversized ISO for the newest iteration of Slackware Linux. At 2.2 GB it is by no means a tiny install and I had tended to avoid the Slackware Family because of the lack of simple setup program but what the heck…you only live once.
There were several issues with the download last night (mainly because of a DNS issue that my ISP was suffering from) but after several attempts, the download was waiting for me come morning. As always I configured my Oracle Virtualbox with 4GB of RAM and a 20 GB Drive and off I went.
First off, the installer is not very intuitive at all so I headed over to the Slackware site for some install assistance. Even this read more like a technical reference than an actual help page but I was able to get the system setup after some hair pulling and thinking back to the wonderful world of the Linux Terminal. My first attempt at install would not allow me to start up the xserver and I was living at a perpetual terminal screen so I figured I would start the process all over again and good thing that I did as I had missed a couple of configuration steps along the way (there is something to be said for simplifying the process with a Graphical Installation Program).
All that being said once I had confirmed that I would be able to access the “desktop” I restarted everything and with a boot time of under 45 seconds (despite having to start things manually) I was quite impressed. During the verbose Install and configuration process there were several options for a desktop offered including KDE, XFCE, Windowmaker, Fluxbox, Blackbox and Tab Window Manager. Seeing no option for my personal favorite Gnome I installed the KDE version and with it being a very up to date version I was quite impressed with the configuration and options available.
The developers of Slackware jammed a lot of choices into the 2.2 GB DVD and to list all of the default installed software would take up the next several weeks but the highlights and surprises:
The Gimp, Paint and Karbon for Graphics
Amarok, kPlayer, Xine and XMMS for Multimedia
Calligra Suite for Office Productivity
Konquorer, Firefox and Seamonkey for Web Browsing
Several Games and a multitude of extra FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) Goodness.
I wanted to take a step back and examine Calligra as the Office Suite for a moment because nearly every Distro that I have looked for has opted for the LibreOffice Suite to handle Productivity needs. In looking at the this Suite it includes everything that would be needed including a Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations but also includes things like a Brainmap builder, Database Builder (Kexi), Flow Charts and even Project Planning. Interesting enough, this suite has a Windows and Mac option as well and might be worth taking a closer look at.
Overall I liked the system but even though it does not come up beyond the initial install (which all said and done only took about 25 minutes to complete – TWICE) I have a hard time getting past the “elitist” format of staying with the verbose non-GUI installer. This did knock things down for me because when it comes to introducing people to Linux…it needs to be EASY to get them started and not require the looking for guidance on how to install (and when you go looking…finding documentation that lacks personality and 21st century connections). I did locate a great “how to book” to provide some insight and get past the poor documentation at the Slackware site.
For a beginner…this is not a good fit. The target market is definitely the more experienced Linux User and even that I would strongly recommend having some documentation handy to guide you through the nuances of the setup and “Slackware Experience”.