I started using linux with slackware in 1995. So I saw slackware as an old friend. It was time for a re-acquaintance.
I should perhaps note that my prior experience had been with 32-bit slackware. Reading the site, slackware is still a strong supporter of 32-bit. However, I went with the 64-bit version.
The announcement mentioned that a torrent would be setup. I was unable to find a reference to the torrent. So I waited until today. And then, checking linuxtracker.org, I saw that a torrent was now available. I used “ktorrent” for the download, and that went quite smoothly.
The torrent created a directory “slackware64-14.2-iso”. Inside that directory, was the iso file itself (“slackware64-14.2-install-dvd.iso”), an md5 checksum file (with “.md5” appended to the iso file name), a gpg signature (with “.asc” appended) and a text file (“.txt” appended) with a list of contents.
The torrent download went quickly. However, ktorrent is still uploading. I set the share ratio limit to 2.0, but it is currently only at 0.3.
After the download completed, I checked the gpg signature. I still have the slackware signing key on my keyring. I added it back when I was using slackware.
I copied the installer DVD image to a USB flash drive, ready to use for the install. I used “dd_rescue” for the copy, though using “dd” should also have worked.
And a note. Back when I was a regular slackware user, I would have purchased the DVD installer — except that at that time it was several CDs. At that time, I was still on dialup, so buying the CD package was simpler than downloading. And that also provided some small amount of financial support to slackware.
The slackware site includes install instructions. They describe the use of a boot disk and a root disk. That brings back memories. I would copy the two disks to floppies drives using rawrite.exe in Windows or DOS. And then I would boot the boot disk, and insert the root disk when prompted.
My current computers do not have floppy drives. So that method was out. Instead, my plan was to just boot the USB where I had unstalled the DVD image.
I have successfully booted the installer USB on both an older computer with a legacy BIOS and a newer computer with UEFI firmware. I did need to disable secure-boot to use the installer on the UEFI box.
I have only installed on the older computer. I do not have any plans to install on the UEFI box.
On booting, the screen asks for any kernel parameters. I did not need to add any, so I hit enter. The system proceeded to load the kernel. And then a prompt told me to login as root, where I could use the “setup” command.
I tried that, and was soon in a very familiar setup screen. The installer is using ncurses on a command line interface. It does not attempt to do a graphic install.
The first step was to select the partition where to install. I set that to “/dev/sda8”, and told it to format that partition. The next step was the install source. I selected the choice to search for a USB installer, and it quickly found that.
And then it was software selection. I settled for installing everything (9GB). And I then proceeded with the install.
I was asked about timezone. I indicated that the CMOS clock uses UTC and that I am in US/Central. Next it wanted to install “lilo” for booting. I told it to skip that for now.
Since I had skipped installing lilo, I needed to have another way of booting into the newly installed system. So I booted opensuse 42.1, and ran “grub2-mkconfig” to update the boot configuration. That added a menu item to boot slackware (I do have that box set to probe for other systems).
I next rebooted, and chose the slackware entry. Alas, it got a kernel panic (unable to mount the root file system).
I booted again into opensuse, and looked at the grub configuration. The slackware system comes with two kernels, “vmlinuz-generic-4.4.14” and “vmlinuz-huge-4.4.14”. The slackware menu option would boot the generic kernel. But if I chose “slackware advanced”, I could select either kernel.
So I tried again. This time I selected the advanced ooptions for slackware, and took the second choice. This loaded the huge kernel, and I successfully booted into slackware.
Booting gave me a command line, where I logged in as root (the only user). I then added a couple of other users. I logged out as root, and logged in as an ordinary user. Then I ran “startx” to start a graphic session. That brought up a graphic session using KDE 4.14.21. I should note that, during install, I was asked which graphic desktop to use. I went with the default of KDE. My previous slackware experience had been with “fvwm”.
I tried a few commands. Everything seemed to be about as expected.
I also added an entry to “/etc/crypttab”. On reboot, that entry was ignored. So if I want to use it, I probably need to make some changes to the startup scripts.
Slackware was familiar. I could easily go back to using it. However, I have been spoiled by my experience with opensuse. With slackware, there are no configured repos. Any install of addition software takes additional effort, though perhaps just unpacking a tar file. And security updates require periodic checking for announcements and then manual installing.
So I’ll plan to stay with opensuse, with its configured repos and periodic updates. But it was fun visiting an old friend.