|Company / developer||Patrick Volkerding|
|OS family||Unix-like (based on Softlanding Linux System)|
|Source model||Free and open source software|
|Initial release||17 July 19931|
|Latest stable release||14.0 / 28 September 20122|
|Latest unstable release||14.0 RC5 / 20 September 20123|
|Update method||pkgtools, slackpkg|
|Package manager||pkgtools, slackpkg|
|Supported platforms||IA-32, x86-64, ARM, S/390|
|Kernel type||Monolithic (Linux)|
|Default user interface||GNU Bash, KDE Plasma Desktop or Xfce|
|License||GNU General Public License|
Slackware is a free and open source Linux-based operating system. It was one of the earliest operating systems to be built on top of the Linux kernel and is the oldest currently being maintained.4 Slackware was created by Patrick Volkerding of Slackware Linux, Inc. in 1993.
The current stable version is 14.0, released on 28 September 2012.2
Slackware aims for design stability and simplicity, and to be the most "Unix-like" Linux distribution, making as few modifications as possible to software packages from upstream and using plain text files and a small set of shell scripts for configuration and administration.5
The name "Slackware" stems from the fact that the distribution started as a private side project with no intended commitment. To prevent it from being taken too seriously at first, Volkerding gave it a humorous name, which stuck even after Slackware became a serious project.6
Slackware refers to the "pursuit of slack", a tenet of the Church of the Subgenius. Certain aspects of Slackware logos reflect this — the pipe which Tux is smoking, and the image of J. R. "Bob" Dobbs' head.
A humorous reference to the Church of the Subgenius can be found in many versions of the install.end text files, which indicate the end of a software series to the setup program. In recent versions, including Slackware release 14.0, the text is ROT13 obfuscated.78
Slackware was originally derived from the Softlanding Linux System (SLS), the most popular of the original Linux distributions and the first to offer a comprehensive software collection that comprised more than just the kernel and basic utilities.9
Being a student at that time, Patrick Volkerding was asked by his artificial intelligence professor at the Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) to make SLS installations for the computer lab. First Volkerding made notes on bug fixes and modifications of the system's configuration, to be applied after the installation was complete. Later he incorporated the changes directly into the SLS install disks "so that new machines would have these fixes right away". He changed parts of the original SLS installation scripts and added a mechanism that installed important packages like the shared libraries and the kernel image automatically.6
Volkerding had no intentions to provide his modified SLS version for the public, assuming that "SLS would be putting out a new version that included these things soon enough". However, seeing that this was not the case and that many SLS users were asking on the Internet for a new SLS release, he made a post titled "Anyone want an SLS-like 0.99pl11A system?", to which he received a lot of responses. As also his friends at MSUM urged him to put his SLS modifications onto an FTP server, he made them publicly available on one of the university's anonymous FTP servers.6 This first Slackware release, version 1.00, was distributed on July 17, 1993 at 00:16:36 (UTC),1 being supplied as 24 3½" floppy disk images.10
Version 2.1, released in October 1994, already consisted of 73 floppy disks, showing the rapid growth of the distribution.11
In 1999, Slackware's release number jumped from 4 to 7. Patrick Volkerding explained this as a marketing effort to show that Slackware was as up-to-date as other Linux distributions, many of which had release numbers of 6 at the time, and Volkerding expected them to reach version 7 by the time of the jump.15
With version 10.0, released in June 2004, Slackware saw a major change in its implementation of the X Window System, making the transition from XFree86 to the X.org Server. Volkerding explained his motives in the version's change log: "Seems the community has spoken, because the opinions were more than 4 to 1 in favor of using the X.Org release as the default version of X. It's primarily (as is usual around here) a technical decision."16
In 2005, the GNOME desktop environment was removed from the pending future release (starting with 10.2), and turned over to community support and distribution.17 The removal of GNOME was seen by some in the Linux community as significant because the desktop environment is found in many Linux distributions. In lieu of this, several community-based projects began offering complete GNOME distributions for Slackware such as Ximian and LinuxSalute.
In May 2009 the development team announced the public (testing) release of an x86 64 variant called Slackware64.19 As of Slackware 13.0 (released in August 2009), a stable 64-bit version has been available and officially supported.
Version 13.1, released in May 2010, introduced PolicyKit and ConsoleKit in the desktop framework. Furthermore, Slackware made a switchover from the IDE to the libata subsystem, changing the nomenclature of device nodes for almost all types of disk drives.2021
Version 13.37 was released in April 2011. Among the new features are support for the GUID Partition Table hard disc partitioning scheme which could replace the MBR system, as well as utilities for the btrfs filesystem.22
The design philosophy of Slackware is oriented toward simplicity, software purity, and a core design that emphasizes lack of change to upstream sources. Many design choices in Slackware can be seen as a heritage of the simplicity of traditional Unix systems and as examples of the KISS principle.24 In this context, "simple" refers to the simplicity in system design, rather than necessarily implying directly attempting the simplification of ease of use. Thus, ease of use may vary between users: those lacking knowledge of command line interfaces and classic Unix tools may experience a steep learning curve using Slackware, whereas users with a Unix background may benefit from a less abstract system environment. In keeping with Slackware's design philosophy, and its spirit of purity, most software in Slackware uses the original configuration mechanisms supplied by the software's authors; however, for some administrative tasks, distribution-specific configuration tools are delivered. These and other core design decisions for Slackware lead to features that set it apart from most other modern Linux distributions.
Slackware ships without a graphical installer. Like most distribution-specific tools the Slackware installation program is an ncurses-driven shell script. A barrier for inexperienced users may be the lack of a guided hard disk partitioning tool within the installer. Prior to starting an installation the user is prompted to partition the host system with cfdisk or fdisk.25
In contrast to most other Linux distributions which employ a System V-like init system (or newer init replacements like Upstart or systemd), Slackware uses a less complex BSD-style init system. However, starting with version 7, Slackware also includes System V init compatibility.26 The main purpose of adding System V compatibility was to improve interoperability with commercial software packages which may install System V init scripts. At the end of the BSD-style init, the script rc.sysvinit is executed, that does an optional runlevel based initialization comparable to most other Linux distributions.
The default user environment is the command line interface provided by the user's shell. Whereas the majority of Linux systems boot into a graphical environment, Slackware's default runlevel puts the user into a textual shell. This behavior can easily be changed by editing a configuration file, still it reflects both the Unix tradition and the fact that some users may decide to not install a graphical subsystem at all.
Strictly speaking Slackware offers no GUI-based administration utilities. The set of administration tools consists of shell scripts which either utilize a GUI-like ncurses-based dialog interface (for example: netconfig, liloconfig, pkgtool, xwmconfig); or, administration tools may rely on a pure CLI script (for example: adduser).
While Slackware64 is "multilib ready,"27 the 64-bit Slackware distribution does not ship with 32-bit compatibility libraries. This is in marked contrast with other common distributions. On the "downside", this means that some applications will have larger memory footprints than on other systems. On the "upside", the lack of compatibility libraries and 32-bit applications reduces the complexity of the overall system.
Slackware follows a non-open development paradigm, in the sense that there is no formal bug tracking facility (like, for example, bugzilla) and no official procedure to become a code contributor or developer. As a consequence the project does not maintain a public code repository. Bug reports and contributions, while being essential to the project, are managed in an informal way. All the final decisions about what is going to be included in a Slackware release strictly remain with Slackware's Benevolent Dictator For Life, Patrick Volkerding.28
The first versions of Slackware were developed by Patrick Volkerding alone. Beginning with version 4.0, the official Slackware announce files list David Cantrell and Logan Johnson as part of the "Slackware team".29 Later announce statements, up to release version 8.1, include Chris Lumens.30 Lumens, Johnson and Cantrell are also the authors of the first edition of "Slackware Linux Essentials", the official guide to Slackware Linux.31 The Slackware website mentions Chris Lumens and David Cantrell as being "Slackware Alumni", who "worked full-time on the Slackware project for several years."32
The next two Slackware versions, 9.0 and 9.1, appear to have been again the sole effort of Patrick Volkerding.
In his release notes for Slackware 10.0 and 10.1 Volkerding thanks Eric Hameleers for "his work on supporting USB, PCI, and Cardbus wireless cards".3334 Starting with version 12.0 there is, for a second time, a team building around Volkerding. According to the release notes of 12.2, the development team consists of seven people. Future versions added people.1818
Since version 13.0, the Slackware team seems to have core members. Eric Hameleers gives an insight into the core team with his essay on the "History of Slackware Development", written on October 3–4, 2009 (shortly after the release of version 13.0).28
Slackware's package management system can install, upgrade, and remove packages from local sources and over a network.
Slackware packages are tarballs. Prior to version 13.0, the compression method was DEFLATE (gzip) with filenames ending in .tgz. Beginning with version 13.0, the compression method for packages is based on the LZMA algorithm, indicated by the .txz extension.36 Since the change in compression methods, the package filename extensions comprise .tgz,.txz,.tbz and .tlz.
The package contains the files that form part of the software being installed, as well as additional metadata files for the benefit of the Slackware package manager. The files containing the very software are organized in a hierarchical way that reflects their respective locations in the root directory of the destination system.
The metadata files are placed under the install/ directory of the package. Two files are commonly found there: slack-desc and doinst.sh. The slack-desc file is a simple text file which contains a description of the package being installed. It is used when viewing packages with the package manager. The doinst.sh file is a shell script which is run at the end of the installation of a package and usually executes commands or makes changes which could not be best made by changing the contents of the package.37
The package management system does not track or manage dependencies, instead it relies on the user to ensure that the system has all the supporting system libraries and programs required by the new package. If any of these are missing, there may be no indication until the newly installed software is used.
While Slackware itself does not incorporate tools to resolve dependencies for the user by automatically downloading and installing them, some community supported software tools do provide this function, similar to the way APT does for Debian and its derivatives.
Swaret was included as an extra package in Slackware version 9.1, but was not installed by default.38 It has been removed from the distribution as of Slackware 10.0 but is still available as a community supported package.
SlackIns is a complete and simple Qt-based graphical user interface for installing packages.
Slapt-get is a command line utility that functions in a similar way to APT. While slapt-get does provide a framework for dependency resolution, it does not provide dependency resolution for packages included within the Slackware distribution. However, several community package sources and Slackware based distributions take advantage of this functionality. Gslapt is a graphical interface to slapt-get.
NetBSD's pkgsrc provides support for Slackware, among other Unix-like operating systems. pkgsrc provides dependency resolution for both binary and source packages. The project pkgsrc-on-slack has the goal to promote the use of pkgsrc on Linux, and expand Slackware (and derivative distributions) with additional packages.
Tukaani pkgtools replaces the Slackware pkgtools (installpkg, upgradepkg, etc.) with enhanced versions that provide network downloading capabilities and an early version of the alternative compression support now found in Slackware pkgtools.
Sbopkg is an original concept using slackbuilds.org repository to provide an automated package creation. Slackbuilds are all-in-one scripts that handle the whole compilation-to-package process. Slackbuilds' scripts deliver ready-to-install packages.
slackpkg is included since Slackware 12.2 as an automated package management tool for installing or upgrading packages but does not resolve dependencies between packages.
Repositories of community-maintained and -supported binary Slackware packages are provided by slacky.eu. These projects may include more recent versions of software or software not provided by Slackware Linux.
SlackBuilds.org is a community-supported project offering so called SlackBuilds to build extra software not included with Slackware. A SlackBuild mainly provides a shell script that builds a particular package on the user's system. This build process is nearly identical to the way Slackware's official packages are built. SlackBuilds have several advantages over pre-built packages: Since they build from the original author's source code, the user does not have to trust a third-party packager; furthermore the local compilation process allows for machine-specific optimization. In comparison to manual compilation and installation, SlackBuilds assure better integration into the user's system, inasmuch as they utilize Slackware's package system.
SlackFind is a package search service for Slackware.
Since GNOME was dropped from Slackware Linux,39 several community projects now provide GNOME binary packages and Slackbuilds for Slackware Linux. These include Dropline GNOME,40 GSB: GNOME SlackBuild, GWARE, Gnome-Slacky, and SlackBot.
|1.0||July 17, 19931|
|1.1.0||November 5, 1993|
|1.1.2||February 5, 1994|
|2.0||July 2, 1994|
|2.1||October 31, 1994|
|2.2||March 30, 1995|
|2.3||May 24, 1995|
|3.0||November 30, 1995|
|3.1||June 3, 1996|
|3.2||February 17, 1997|
|3.3||June 11, 1997|
|3.4||October 14, 1997|
|3.5||June 9, 1998|
|3.6||October 28, 1998|
|3.9||May 10, 1999|
|4.0||May 17, 1999|
|7.0||October 25, 1999|
|7.1||June 22, 2000|
|8.0||July 1, 2001|
|8.1||June 18, 2002|
|9.0||March 19, 2003|
|9.1||September 26, 2003|
|10.0||June 23, 2004|
|10.1||February 2, 2005|
|10.2||September 14, 2005|
|11.0||October 2, 2006|
|12.0||July 1, 2007|
|12.1||May 2, 2008|
|12.2||December 10, 2008|
|13.0||August 26, 2009|
|13.1||May 24, 2010|
|13.37||April 27, 2011|
|14.0||September 28, 2012|
Slackware's release policy can be said to follow a feature and stability based release cycle in contrast to the time-bound (e.g., Ubuntu) or rolling release (e.g., Gentoo Linux) schemes of other Linux distributions.
As stated by Patrick Volkerding, "it's usually our policy not to speculate on release dates, since that's what it is — pure speculation. It's not always possible to know how long it will take to make the upgrades needed and tie up all the related loose ends. As things are built for the upcoming release, they'll be uploaded into the -current tree."42
Despite this conservative development paradigm the Slackware team aims to deliver up-to-date software, on at least an annual basis.28 Thus, new versions are released continuously and within a reasonably foreseeable time frame. Since inception, Slackware has had at least one release per year. Release activity peaked in 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1999, when there were three releases per year. Starting with version 7.1 (June 22, 2000) the release progression became more stable. There were two releases per year in only 2003, 2005 and 2008.
Slackware's latest stable i386 and x86_64 releases are at version 14.0 (as of April 30, 2013), which include support for Linux 3.2.29, GCC 4.7.1, GNU C Library 2.15, Perl 5.16.1, Apache 2.4.3, KDE 4.8.5, Xfce 4.10.0, Firefox 15.0.1, GIMP 18.104.22.168
Until recently, Slackware had no officially stated support term policy. The oldest release supported with security patches was version 8.1 (release date: June 18, 2002).45
On June 14, 2012, a notice appeared in the change logs of Slackware versions 8.1, 9.0, 9.1, 10.0, 10.1, 10.2, 11.0, and 12.0, stating that, effective August 1, 2012, security patches will no longer be provided for these versions (which will all be more than 5 years old at that time).46
Slackware has traditionally concentrated solely on the IA-32 architecture and previous releases were available as 32-bit only. Users wanting 64-bit were required to use unofficial ports such as slamd64. As of Slackware 13.0, a 64-bit x86_64 variant is available and officially supported in symmetrical development with the 32-bit platform.
Slackware is also available for the ARM architecture in the form of Slackware ARM (originally known as 'ARMedslack') and for IBM S/390. Both ports have been declared "official" by Patrick Volkerding,4748 but the ARM port is at the same version as the X86 and AMD64 versions, while the S/390 port is still at version 10.0 for the stable version and 11.0 for the testing/developmental version, and has had no updates since 2009.4950
Slackware 14.0 can be ordered from the official Slackware store as a 6 CD set or as a single DVD. The CD set is targeted at the IA-32 platform but also runs on x86_64 processors in 32-bit mode. The DVD contains both the IA-32 distribution and a genuine x86_64 version.
The distributions of the ports for the ARM architecture and for IBM S/390 are neither available as CD/DVDs nor as ISO images, but can be downloaded (freely) from the respective rsync, FTP or HTTP mirrors.5152
Slackware S/390 installs from a DOS Partition or from Floppy Disk.53
Slackware ARM does not distribute ISOs because most ARM devices can not boot from a CD or DVD.54 Instead, it is installed off a network, using Das U-Boot and a TFTP boot server55 or from a mini-root filesystem.56
The popularity—in the sense of actual usage—of any Linux operating system cannot be reliably determined, due to the lack of scientific measurement methods and strategies. Yet some websites provide statistics on page hits and search terms, which allow one to see trends.
The website DistroWatch.com provides information and download links concerning different Unix-like operating systems, as well as a compilation of respective page hits. The DistroWatch statistics, tracking page hits since 2002, show a decreasing but still substantial visitor's interest regarding Slackware: In 2002 the Slackware page was ranked as number 7, but dropped to number 10 by 2005. In 2006 it reached number 9, whereas since then being constantly below the ten most popular pages. Slackware had its lowest rank (13) in 2009. In 2010 it had been listed as number 11, in 2011 as number 12.
A website specifically dedicated to the accumulation of data regarding the usage of Linux-based operating systems is the Linux Counter project, which gathers its data via a webform that is filled out by registered visitors. As of June 6, 2012, the web site claims a Slackware share of 4.99%, based upon 6250 users submitting information on the distribution they use.58
The search engine Google offers an "Insights for Search" service,59 that gives information about the geographical distribution of search terms for the period "2004–present". According to these statistics the search term "slackware" was most often used in Bulgaria. Of the ten countries listed, seven are located in Eastern Europe, the remaining three being Brazil, Indonesia and Italy.
||This section may contain original research. (November 2012)|
Slackware is considered to have been the most widespread Linux distribution in the early years following its inception. While this general opinion cannot be evidenced by historical sources, Slackware's impact can be inferred from the large number of Linux distributions that are derived from it. Most notably, early versions of the SuSE operating system were based on Slackware. As to the number of descended distributions, Slackware had an influence that is only surpassed by Debian and Fedora/Red Hat Linux.
- Patrick J. Volkerding <bf703@cleveland.Freenet.Edu> (17 Jul 1993). "ANNOUNCE: Slackware Linux 1.00". comp.os.linux. Web link. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
- Slackware 14.0 is released!, The Slackware Linux Project Unknown parameter
- Slackware 14.0 release candidate 5, The Slackware Linux Project Unknown parameter
- Distrowatch.com. "Top Ten Distributions".
- General Information at Slackware's website
- Hughes, Phil (1994-04-01). "Interview with Patrick Volkerding". Linux Journal. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
- Slackware version 1.1.2 install.end file
- Slackware version 14.0 install.end file
- A Short History of Linux Distributions at LWN.net
- Slackware Release Announcement, The Slackware Linux Project
- README.210 Slackware Release 2.1
- CDROM.txt file in the Slackware 3.0 repository
- Change log of Slackware 3.1
- Linux Slackware 96: The Internet's Favorite 32-Bit Operating System
- Frequently Asked Questions, The Slackware Linux Project
- Change log of Slackware 10.0
- Change log of Slackware 10.2
- Release notes of Slackware 12.0
- Change log of Slackware64 13.0 See entry Tue May 19 15:36:49 CDT 2009
- CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT file of Slackware 13.1
- Announcement of Slackware 13.1
- Change log of Slackware 13.37
- Package additions/removals
- Slackware Linux Basics, Chapter 2
- The Slackware Linux Project: Installation Help
- History of Slackware Development
- Announcement of Slackware 4.0
- Announcement of Slackware 8.1
- Official Slackware Book
- Slackware Alumni
- Release notes of Slackware 10.0
- Release notes of Slackware 10.1
- Info about changes in Slackware 12.2 at Slackware's website
- The Slackware Linux Project: Slackware Changelog See entry dated Fri May 8 18:49:03 CDT 2009
- "Building a Slackware Package".
- Announcement of Slackware 9.1
- Change log of Slackware 10.2 — see entry dated Sat Mar 26 23:04:41 PST 2005
- Dropline GNOME's official website
- Trinity desktop and Slackware
- Slackware General FAQ
- Announcement of Slackware 14.0
- The Slackware Linux Project: Slackware ChangeLogs
- Change log of Slackware 8.1
- Change log of Slackware 12.0
- Website of Slackware ARM
- The Slackware Project: Ports
- Change log of Slack390
- Change log of Slack390x
- ARM Download Mirrors
- S/390 Download Mirrors
- FAQ.txt file of Slack390 10.0
- Download page of Slackware ARM
- General installation instructions for Slackware ARM
- README.txt file for mini-root filesystem, Slackware ARM
- Installation instructions for Slackware ARM (Qemu)
- Linux Counter statistics
- Google — Insights for Search for "Slackware"
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Slackware|
|Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Slackersbible|
- Official website
- The Slackware Documentation Project
- Official Slackware Book
- Unofficial Slackware Wiki
- Slackware at DistroWatch
- The Slack World (Magazine)
- Slackware — A complete overview of all versions
- Unofficial History of Slackware releases
- Interview with Slackware founder Patrick Volkerding on theage.com.au, 2002
- Interview (audio) with Patrick Volkerding on Linux Link Tech Show, 2006
- Interview with Patrick Volkerding on linuxquestions.org, 2012
- Stories of Linux: A Look at Slackware Linux, 2011
- Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it, 2012
- Slackware at the Open Directory Project
- Slackware forum