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DistributionWatch Review: Slackware Linux 7 - page 3

Downloading and Installing Slackware Linux 7

  • February 21, 2000
  • By Andrew Chen

After lunch, we checked the installation process and noted that it had prompted us to select boot options. Since this machine would only be running Slackware Linux, we allowed it to install LILO into the MBR (Master Boot Record). The setup program very politely gave us the option of several stylish screen fonts and color schemes.

Setting up networking was also a breeze--it detected our AMD PCNET Ethernet Adapter and asked us for our TCP/IP information. A quick reboot later and we were up and running.

During bootup, it was notable that the default configuration had the system probe many different kinds of SCSI cards. Although we were using an IDE-based configuration, it was nice to know that users with higher-end SCSI systems would essentially have a plug-and-play bootup--something that Windows has been better at traditionally. We logged in as root and created a single user account (remember--doing daily work as root is a bad idea!).

After installation, we noticed a typo in our earlier TCP/IP configuration causing us to drop off the Internet. We reconfigured our TCP/IP settings with the text-based GUI utility netconfig, which was able to bring up our TCP/IP networking without a reboot. For those of you who despise GUIs, network settings can be found in /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 and rc.inet2. Although we didn't have a modem to test with, PPP can also be setup by a text-based GUI by running pppsetup.

The next step was to configure X Window with /usr/X11/bin/xf86config. After giving all the right answers, we were able to start X with startx. The default Enlightenment+Gnome desktop is very functional right from startup. Popular applications were accessible with a middle mouse click on the desktop. However, being adventurous, we absolutely had to try and add more software.

For the source purists out there, you'll be happy to know that Slackware Linux 7 is based on libc 2.1.2, with egcs-1.1.2 supporting it. In addition, a fully working Perl 5.005_03 is included with the basic fixings. For those of you intimidated by directories full of .c and .h files, Slackware offers package installation tools, including its own pkgtool and the more popular RedHat Package Manager (RPM). RPM is a newcomer to the Slackware distribution, with pkgtool being the primary package tool since the early versions.

We quickly grabbed a nmap 2.3 beta 14 distribution off the Internet and gave it a run for its money. Quickly, Slackware Linux did its thing and presented us with a working installation of nmap. For those that have traditionally enjoyed using pkgtool, the standard issue rpm2tgz tool is provided to convert RPM files into .tgz files, which pkgtool is able to read and install.

To add more packages from the original Slackware CD-ROM (or any CD-ROM for that matter), we simply mounted our Slackware CD-ROM as root and launched pkgtool, specifying our CDROM mount point as the installation source. In response, pkgtool presented us with a list of packages, including descriptions.

Compared to PhatLinux, a Linux distribution that ran under DOS/Windows 95/98, Slackware Linux 7 appears to be faster, with better graphics acceleration. Of the several Linux distributions I've tried, I feel that Slackware Linux 7 has presented me with one of the cleanest, most usable desktops, very suitable for anyone from a Linux professional to the casual desktop user switching from Windows. In fact, Slackware Linux is strong enough to be a Windows competitor in that it supports a wide range of hardware configurations from installation (more can be added with /etc/rc.d/rc.modules), and it provides a large suite of applications that Windows does not.

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