Debian vs Slackware

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Debian vs Slackware

Postby Lou » 2007-06-02 15:27

Here we have two of the oldest distros; being a Debian user i see some slackers moving to Debian, but because i'm not part of the Slackware forums i don't see people moving from Debian to Slackware.

If you are/were a Slackware user, please post your impressions, pros and cons about each distro in your opinion of course.

Thank you!
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Postby Vergil » 2007-06-02 15:45

I used to be a slackware user (~3 years ago). It was good because it felt like I had more control about what programs were installed, versions, etc... In the end it is to much work keeping your system updated since the native package management is very minimum. Also, I am a GNOME user so that added even more work.
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Postby ben » 2007-06-02 16:37

Slackware is great. There aren't any other distros like it. In an age of countless Ubuntu and Debian derivatives with every kind of patch and modification under the sun applied, it's nice to use a distro that is completely vanilla, with very few changes made to the original source code.

A lot of people criticize Slackware for it's minimalistic package management, but honestly, for an experienced Linux user, I think it offers a level of control and simplicity not found on other distros. As much as I like Debian, there are times when I wish I was using Slackware, just so I could download the source of a new program, and easily create my own package, and not have to deal with dependency checking.
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Postby Telemachus » 2007-06-02 16:42

ben wrote:A lot of people criticize Slackware for it's minimalistic package management, but honestly, for an experienced Linux user, I think it offers a level of control and simplicity not found on other distros. As much as I like Debian, there are times when I wish I was using Slackware, just so I could download the source of a new program, and easily create my own package, and not have to deal with dependency checking.

I think that I get the appeal of having lots of control (I keep trying Gentoo for just that reason), but I don't understand your point here. Isn't the whole problem with just "download and then build" that you (often?) run into dependency hell? Could you elaborate, please, on how Debian produces more dependency checking? Again, I thought the whole idea of apt/itutde was that they do the dependency checking for us.

I know that some people complain that precompiled binaries don't run as fast or as lean as building from scratch - again, hence Gentoo, but that's a different issue, right?
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Postby ben » 2007-06-02 17:12

Telemachus wrote:
ben wrote:A lot of people criticize Slackware for it's minimalistic package management, but honestly, for an experienced Linux user, I think it offers a level of control and simplicity not found on other distros. As much as I like Debian, there are times when I wish I was using Slackware, just so I could download the source of a new program, and easily create my own package, and not have to deal with dependency checking.

I think that I get the appeal of having lots of control (I keep trying Gentoo for just that reason), but I don't understand your point here. Isn't the whole problem with just "download and then build" that you (often?) run into dependency hell? Could you elaborate, please, on how Debian produces more dependency checking? Again, I thought the whole idea of apt/itutde was that they do the dependency checking for us.

I know that some people complain that precompiled binaries don't run as fast or as lean as building from scratch - again, hence Gentoo, but that's a different issue, right?


Well, compiling from source can reduce many dependency issues altogether, since you can disable/enable features yourself, to reduce bloat and complexity. ./configure does do dependency checking, and it will tell you if there is a certain library or program missing that is needed. You have to remember, Slackware is built for compiling. You get a full suite of developmental tools and libraries out-of-the-box, which makes compiling additional software fairly trivial. The whole appeal of that is that it gives you total control over your system, and you don't need to wait around for a package to enter your particular distribution. Want Pidgin? Download the source and roll your own package. No waiting around for distro maintainers to do it for you. Yes, you can create your own Gentoo Ebuilds, or Debian packages, with the native distro tools, but it is generally simpler to do it on Slackware from my experience.
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Postby Pobega » 2007-06-02 17:28

So ben, you're saying that Slackware comes with loads of development libraries by default? That actually sounds pretty interesting, I may try Slackware on my desktop one more time; Last time I tried it though, GRUB didn't want to work (And I was too lazy to bother to fix it), so I just installed Debian.
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Postby ben » 2007-06-02 17:55

Pobega wrote:So ben, you're saying that Slackware comes with loads of development libraries by default? That actually sounds pretty interesting, I may try Slackware on my desktop one more time; Last time I tried it though, GRUB didn't want to work (And I was too lazy to bother to fix it), so I just installed Debian.


Yeah. Slackware is definitely an interesting beast, one much different from Debian. I think for desktop use, Slackware works very well if you don't mind compiling all the latest software on top of a rock-solid distribution. In many ways, it's ideal for a power user who wants stability + current desktop applications.
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Postby jml » 2007-06-02 20:08

I recently bought a full set of Slackware 11.0 cd's because I like to suport Developers. The new Slackware installer is suprisingly easy to use. Its a rather interesting mix of conservative and cutting edge elements. They still install a 2.4.33.3 kernal by default (though they do offer 2.6.x kernals for the adveenturous.) but their applications are relatively cutting edge. It was an easy process to do a default installation. But I installed it on my IBM ThinkPad R40 and while the basic functions worked well, I could not get wireless networking functioning. Now to be fair, Slackware is not targeted toward laptop users. So for a desktop or laptop with a wired connection it would be a relatively easy set up. By the way, there is a package manager on the extras cd that gives some help with dependancy checking for dealing with binary packages.

My impression is that for the individual who is willing to climb the rather steep learning curve, Slackware could be a very powerful distro for them. I once read a quote who's source I do not remember but it goes like this: "If you have a question about your computer, ask a Linux user. If you have a question about Linux, ask a Slackware user." I think that sums it up very nicely.

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Postby diego1116 » 2007-06-02 20:19

I second Ben' opinion. I haven't used Slackware in the last few years but I know that many things have improved, such as new package management tools.

There's a nice article about them at Linux.com: A look at Slackware's package utilities.
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Postby ghostdawg » 2007-06-02 22:31

During my early days with linux, debian and slackware were the only distros to install without any issues. The so-called easy ones (mandrake, suse, redhat, etc) gave me lots of problems for some reason.

I used to use slack mainly but as others have said, the package management system needs working on, to make it easier. So I switched to debian for its PMS.
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Postby Telemachus » 2007-06-02 23:42

You all made me curious, so I just installed Slack to a small partition on the laptop dedicated to testing things (bye bye Gentoo). I let you know what I think, though I doubt you will see a repeat of this thread from me: http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?t=15641
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Postby jml » 2007-06-03 05:37

I look forward to reading about your experiences with Slackware. Especially how wireless networking goes.

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Postby ben » 2007-06-03 12:56

Telemachus wrote:You all made me curious, so I just installed Slack to a small partition on the laptop dedicated to testing things (bye bye Gentoo). I let you know what I think, though I doubt you will see a repeat of this thread from me: http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?t=15641


Might I suggest installing slackpkgfor keeping the distro in sync with the official repository, and installing checkinstall to create Slack packages from source.

Oh, and SlackBuilds.org is an excellent source of Slackware build scripts that make compiling super easy.
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Postby Lou » 2007-06-03 14:39

ben: besides getting different knowledge, etc, why don't you use Slackware? too much time maintaining it? Needed a change? Would you use it again?

What is "slapt-get" like?
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Postby ben » 2007-06-03 16:06

Lou wrote:ben: besides getting different knowledge, etc, why don't you use Slackware? too much time maintaining it? Needed a change? Would you use it again?

What is "slapt-get" like?


I ran Slackware 10.2, and later 11.0 up until Etch came out, and decided to go back to Debian for awhile, just to change things up. I'll probably give 11.1 a shot whenever it gets released. I've also been meaning to try Slackintosh, but Debian has been so solid on PPC, I haven't bothered yet. :D

I don't have much experience with slapt-get. I tend to use slackpkg for staying current with security patches. It works fairly similar to apt-get.

# slackpkg update
# slackpkg upgrade-all
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