More On Slackware

I’ve had quite the week here in Iowa. The weather has turned to November, our Spanish customers accepted their telecopes in our shop on Monday, I’m starting to pack for a two-week install, and I’ve rediscovered the subtle pleasures of a thin stable Linux distribution.

Admittedly, Slackware has presented some challenges this week. Things that I’ve taken for granted in the other major distributions for the past few years, I’ve had to work for in Slack. It’s meant even later hours and longer nights. I’ve puzzled over the paradox of a fully mature distribution without an advanced package manager. In the same moment, I’ve marvelled at raw stability and looked ahead to the potential of a long-term well-nurtured Slackware system. At the end of the Great Distro Review, I may come back to Slack. It’s got me charged again about the potential to build an OS that is truly my own.

Therein lies another paradox. I greatly enjoyed the Mandrake leg of the Great Distro Review. It was easy to install, beautiful to look at, and rich with every possible tool to make my experience comfortable. Slackware was something less than all that and, by being less, was something much more.

I can’t easily say that I’d recommend Slack to a brand new Linux user. If you’ve been only a casual computer user with no programming background, you’re likely to find the learning curve to be very steep. There are other distributions, such as Mandrake, that will make the transisition much smoother. Slack’ll be around. You can always come back to it. On the other hand, if you’ve had *some* Linux experience, are interested in putting your own personal stamp on every element of your system, and have time and a perservering attitude, Slackware could easily become your distro of choice.

As interesting as this week has been, it pales in comparison to what awaits in the weeks ahead. At 6:40 Tuesday morning, I’ll board a plane in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At approximately 1:30 AM Wednesday morning, Iowa time, I’ll touch down at Osaka/Konsai International Airport to begin the installation of our 1-meter ‘scope. Japan is someplace I’ve always wanted to visit and, despite the fact that it’s a working trip, I’m looking forward to some exploration time. I’m a pretty well-equipped road warrior, with a Sony Vaio laptop running RedHat 7.2 and Win2k. I’ve also got my webcam, and it’s going with me. I’ll bring you along both verbally and visually.

The trip to Japan will, however, have an impact on the Great Distro Review. I’ll proceed as planned next week, but the review will take a week off the following week. I won’t have a desktop to install on, nor, probably, the time necessary to do it justice. We’ll pick it back up the week of December 16.

And tomorrow? To paraphrase The Bangles, “It’s just another DIY Friday.”