[Techtalk] Which Distro? (was Re: "I need to use Windows because ...")

Kai MacTane kmactane at GothPunk.com
Sun Aug 11 20:41:00 EST 2002

At 8/10/02 10:12 PM , Kathryn Andersen wrote:

>So why did you change to Slackware?  What features does it have that
>make you like it?

Basically, Slackware speaks my language, rather than talking down to me. It 
seems that RH and Mandrake have tried to become, essentially, the "Windows 
systems of the Linux market" -- that is, they want to make things easy for 
home users, not scare them off, give them nice GUI screens at startup, etc. 
Now, this is probably a very useful thing for the Linux market in general 
-- it's a great way to get the Windows users to try Linux out and go, "Hey, 
this isn't so scary!"

But it drove me nuts to try to tell the installer, "I want my drives 
partitioned like so," and have it not listen. IIRC, the thing didn't even 
give me the *option* to use fdisk -- I had to do it through their annoying 
GUI tool. Somewhere along the way, I realized that Mandrake had become a 
Linux for windows users. "What good is that to me?!?" I snarled; "I'm a 
*Linux* user, dammit; I'm not afraid of a CLI!" So I tried out Slackware, 
and it's a Linux for actual Linux users, and it made me much happier.

The other beautiful aspect is freedom from RPM Hell. Slackware's normal 
package mechanism is a .tar.gz. (It gives you the option to install RPM 
during setup; I gleefully said "No!")

>   How does it rate on
>- stability

Just like every other Linux I've used at home: It has never crashed. There 
are only three ways any of my home Linux boxen have ever gone down:

1) I tell them to ("shutdown -h now");
2) Power failure; or
3) hardware failure.

>- ease of installation

*Much* easier than Red Hat -- package selection is greatly streamlined.

>- ease of upgrades

Haven't tried an upgrade yet.

>- ease of administration

Init scripts are more BSD-ish than the SysV-ish styles I'm used to, but 
that takes fairly little time to adapt to. It does leave a few warts here 
and there, though -- I still haven't figured out how to toggle an Ethernet 
interface off and back on without bouncing the whole machine. (Though I'll 
admit, I've been too busy to really look into it much.) Otherwise, it seems 
to administer just like any other Linux system, but minus the extreme 
hassle of RPMs.

>- security

I mostly take care of security on my own at this point, through mechanisms 
outside the standard, boxed-installation parameters. This installation is 
more secure than my previous ones were, but that's because *I've* learned 
more about security since the last time I set things up.

>- range of packages

As you may have guessed by now, I'm not a real package fan -- I like to set 
things up from tarball. That way, I have a decent idea of what it's 
installing and where it's going to put it all (and I can change the paths, 
if I want).

Essentially, I like Slackware for the same reason I prefer Unix over 
Windows/MacOS: it admits that I'm the human, and I know what's going on, 
and it will do what I tell it to, instead of insisting that it knows better 
and it must protect me from myself. I want my OS (and my computer in 
general) to be my servant and tool, not my Mommy or Daddy.

                                                 --Kai MacTane
"Playing dead and sweet submission,
  Cracks the whip deadpan on cue."
                                                 --Siouxsie and the

More information about the Techtalk mailing list