|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (June 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|OS family||Unix-like (based on Softlanding Linux System)|
|Source model||Open source|
|Initial release||17 July 1993|
|Latest release||14.2 / 30 June 2016|
|Update method||pkgtools, slackpkg|
|Package manager||pkgtools, slackpkg|
|Platforms||IA-32, x86-64, ARM, S/390|
|Kernel type||Monolithic (Linux)|
|Default user interface||CLI|
|License||GNU General Public License|
Slackware is a Linux distribution created by Patrick Volkerding in 1993. Originally based on Softlanding Linux System, Slackware has been the basis for many other Linux distributions, most notably the first versions of SUSE Linux distributions, and is the oldest distribution that is still maintained.
Slackware aims for design stability and simplicity and to be the most "Unix-like" Linux distribution. It makes as few modifications as possible to software packages from upstream and tries not to anticipate use cases or preclude user decisions. In contrast to most modern Linux distributions, Slackware provides no graphical installation procedure and no automatic dependency resolution of software packages. It uses plain text files and only a small set of shell scripts for configuration and administration. Without further modification it boots into a command-line interface environment. Because of its many conservative and simplistic features, Slackware is considered to be most suitable for advanced and technically inclined Linux users.
Slackware is available for the IA-32 and x86-64 architectures, with a port to the ARM architecture. While Slackware is mostly free and open source software, it does not have a formal bug tracking facility or public code repository, with releases periodically announced by Volkerding. There is no formal membership procedure for developers and Volkerding is the primary contributor to releases.
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.
Slackware refers to the "pursuit of Slack", a tenet of the Church of the Subgenius. Certain aspects of Slackware graphics reflect this — the pipe which Tux is smoking, as influenced by 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 14.1, the text is ROT13 obfuscated.
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, including X11 graphical interface, TCP/IP and UUCP networking and GNU Emacs.
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.
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. Volkerding's friends at MSUM also urged him to put his SLS modifications onto an FTP server, resulting in them becoming publicly available on one of the university's anonymous FTP servers. This first Slackware release, version 1.00, was distributed on 17 July 1993 at 00:16:36 (UTC), and was supplied as 24 3½" floppy disk images.
Version 2.1, released in October 1994, already consisted of 73 floppy disks, showing the rapid growth of the distribution.
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.
The 8.0 version, released on 28 June 2001, was the first Slackware release with support for the Mozilla browser. It was based on the 2.2.19 version of the Linux kernel. The 2.4.5 Linux kernel, which provided support for the ReiserFS file system, was shipped as an alternative installation option.
Slackware 9.1 was released on 25 September 2003. Major changes included the switch to the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) as the default sound system, and the inclusion of Sun's Java 2 Development Kit.
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."
In 2005, the GNOME desktop environment was removed from the pending future release (starting with version 10.2), and turned over to community support and distribution. The removal of GNOME was seen by some in the Linux community as significant because this 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. 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.
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.
Version 14.2 was released in June 2016 and shipped with Linux 4.4.14. This 31-month period is the longest gap in release history. This version added over 100 new packages. This included PulseAudio, due to a requirement from Bluez v5.x, and VDPAU, which adds hardware accelerated video playback. This version also included a switch from udev to eudev and Consolekit to Consolekit2, both done to prevent adding systemd during this release cycle.
The design philosophy of Slackware is oriented toward simplicity, software purity,[clarification needed] 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. In this context, "simple" refers to the simplicity in system design, rather than system usage. 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.
There is no formal issue tracking system and no official procedure to become a code contributor or developer. 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.
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". Later announce statements, up to release version 8.1, include Chris Lumens. Lumens, Johnson and Cantrell are also the authors of the first edition of "Slackware Linux Essentials", the official guide to Slackware Linux. The Slackware website mentions Chris Lumens and David Cantrell as being "Slackware Alumni", who "worked full-time on the Slackware project for several years." 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". 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. 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 3–4 October 2009 (shortly after the release of version 13.0).
Slackware's package management system, collectively known as pkgtools, can administer (pkgtool), install (installpkg), upgrade (upgradepkg), and remove (removepkg) packages from local sources. It can also uncompress (explodepkg) and create (makepkg) packages. The official tool to update Slackware over a network or the internet is slackpkg. It was originally developed by Piter Punk as an unofficial way to keep Slackware up-to-date. It was officially included in the main tree in Slackware 12.2, having been included in extras/ since Slackware 9.1. When a package is upgraded, it will install the new package over the old one and then remove any files that no longer exist in the new package. When running upgradepkg, it only confirms that the version numbers are different, thus allowing downgrading the package if desired.
Slackware packages are tarballs compressed using various methods. Starting with 13.0, most packages are compressed using xz (based on the LZMA compression algorithm), utilizing the .txz filename extension. Prior to 13.0, packages were compressed using gzip (based on the DEFLATE compression algorithm), using the .tgz extension. Support for bzip2 and lzma compression was also added, using the filename extensions .tbz and .tlz respectively, although these are not commonly used.
Packages contain all the files for that program, as well as additional metadata files used by the package manager. The package tarball contains the full directory structure of the files and is meant to be extracted in the system's root directory during installation. The additional metadata files, located under the special install/ directory within the tarball, usually include a slack-desc file, which is a specifically formatted text file that is read by the package manager to provide users with a description of the packaged software, as well as a doinst.sh file, which is a post-unpacking shell script allowing creation of symbolic links, preserving permissions on startup files, proper handling of new configuration files, and any other aspects of installation that can't be implemented via the package's directory structure.
The package manager maintains a directory, /var/log/packages, where each package installed will have a corresponding install log file that lists the package size, both compressed and uncompressed, the software description, and the full path of all files that were installed. It also maintains the directory /var/log/scripts containing all doinst.sh files to allow proper removal of installed symlinks. When a package is removed or upgraded, the old install logs and doinst.sh files are moved to /var/log/removed_package and /var/log/removed_scripts respectively, making it possible to review any previous packages and see when they were removed.
The package management system does not track or manage dependencies, however, when performing the recommended full install, all dependencies of the stock packages are met. For custom installations or 3rd-party packages, Slackware relies on the user to ensure that the system has all the supporting system libraries and programs required by the program. Since no official lists of dependencies for stock packages are provided, if users decide to install a custom installation or install 3rd-party software, they will need to work through any possible missing dependencies themselves. Since the package manager doesn't manage dependencies, it will install any and all packages, whether or not dependencies are met. A user may only find out that dependencies are missing when the software is attempted to be used.
While Slackware itself does not incorporate official tools to resolve dependencies, some unofficial, community-supported software tools do provide this function, similar to the way APT does for Debian-based distributions and yum does for Red Hat-based distributions. They include:
- 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.
- Swaret is a package management tool featuring dependency resolution. It was originally included in Slackware version 9.1 as an optional package, but did not contain dependency resolution at that time. It was removed from the distribution with Slackware 10.0 and turned over to the community. It eventually added dependency resolution and roll-back functionality; however, as of May 2014, there are no active developers.
- NetBSD's pkgsrc provides support for Slackware, among other Unix-like operating systems. pkgsrc provides dependency resolution for both binary and source packages.
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Third-party projects may include more recent versions of software or software not provided by Slackware Linux.
SlackBuilds.org (commonly referred to as SBo) is an officially endorsed, community-supported project offering "SlackBuilds" for building software not included with Slackware. A SlackBuild consists primarily of a shell script and metadata files which build a particular package on a local system, and may also include any needed patches against the upstream source. 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 of software, SlackBuilds provide cleaner integration by utilizing Slackware's package system.
pkgs.org is a Linux package search engine which also provides links to official and well-known third-party Slackware Linux repositories.
Since GNOME was dropped from Slackware Linux, several community projects now provide GNOME binary packages and SlackBuilds for Slackware Linux. These include Cinnamon, MATE, Dropline GNOME, GSB: GNOME SlackBuild, GWARE, Gnome-Slacky (Italian), and SlackBot.
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."
Despite this conservative development paradigm the Slackware team aims to deliver up-to-date software, on at least an annual basis. Thus, new versions are released continuously and within a reasonably foreseeable time frame. From its inception, Slackware had at least one release per year, with 2014 and 2015 as the only exceptions. Release activity peaked in 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1999, when there were three releases per year. Starting with version 7.1 (22 June 2000) the release progression became more stable. There were two releases per year in only 2003, 2005 and 2008.
|Version||Release date||End-of-life date||Kernel version|
|Old version, no longer supported: 1.00||1993-07-17||No EOL specified||0.99.11 Alpha|
|Old version, no longer supported: 1.1||1993-11-05||No EOL specified||0.99.13|
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.0||1994-07-02||No EOL specified||1.0.9|
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.1||1994-10-31||No EOL specified||1.1.59|
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.2||1995-03-30||No EOL specified||1.2.1|
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.3||1995-05-24||No EOL specified||1.2.8|
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.0||1995-11-30||No EOL specified||1.2.13|
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.1||1996-06-03||No EOL specified||2.0.0|
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.2||1997-02-17||No EOL specified||2.0.29|
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.3||1997-06-11||No EOL specified||2.0.30|
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.4||1997-10-14||No EOL specified||2.0.30|
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.5||1998-06-09||No EOL specified||2.0.34|
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.6||1998-10-28||No EOL specified||2.0.35|
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.9||1999-05-10||No EOL specified||2.0.37pre10|
|Old version, no longer supported: 4.0||1999-05-17||No EOL specified||2.2.6|
|Old version, no longer supported: 7.0||1999-10-25||No EOL specified||2.2.13|
|Old version, no longer supported: 7.1||2000-06-22||No EOL specified||2.2.16|
|Old version, no longer supported: 8.0||2001-07-01||No EOL specified||2.2.19|
|Old version, no longer supported: 8.1||2002-06-18||2012-08-01||2.4.18|
|Old version, no longer supported: 9.0||2003-03-19||2012-08-01||2.4.20 (patched to 2.4.21)|
|Old version, no longer supported: 9.1||2003-09-26||2012-08-01||2.4.22 (patched to 2.4.26)|
|Old version, no longer supported: 10.0||2004-06-23||2012-08-01||2.4.26|
|Old version, no longer supported: 10.1||2005-02-02||2012-08-01||2.4.29|
|Old version, no longer supported: 10.2||2005-09-14||2012-08-01||2.4.31|
|Old version, no longer supported: 11.0||2006-10-02||2012-08-01||220.127.116.11|
|Old version, no longer supported: 12.0||2007-07-01||2012-08-01||18.104.22.168|
|Old version, no longer supported: 12.1||2008-05-02||2013-12-09||22.214.171.124|
|Old version, no longer supported: 12.2||2008-12-10||2013-12-09||126.96.36.199 (patched to 188.8.131.52)|
|Older version, yet still supported: 13.0||2009-08-26||No EOL announced||184.108.40.206|
|Older version, yet still supported: 13.1||2010-05-24||No EOL announced||220.127.116.11|
|Older version, yet still supported: 13.37||2011-04-27||No EOL announced||18.104.22.168|
|Older version, yet still supported: 14.0||2012-09-28||No EOL announced||3.2.29 (patched to 3.2.45)|
|Older version, yet still supported: 14.1||2013-11-04||No EOL announced||3.10.17 (patched to 3.10.103)|
|Current stable version: 14.2||2016-06-30||No EOL announced||4.4.14 (patched to 4.4.19)|
|Latest preview version of a future release: -current||rolling||N/A||4.4.20|
Currently, Slackware has no officially stated support term policy. However, on 14 June 2012, notices appeared in the changelogs for versions 8.1, 9.0, 9.1, 10.0, 10.1, 10.2, 11.0, and 12.0 stating that, effective 1 August 2012, security patches would no longer be provided for these versions. The oldest release, version 8.1, was released on 18 June 2002 and had over 10 years of support before reaching EOL. Later, on 30 August 2013, announcements were made on the changelogs of 12.1 and 12.2 stating their EOL on 9 December 2013. It was stated in the changelog entries that they had at least 5 years of support. As of November 2015, there have been no announcements from the Slackware team on when any versions of Slackware from 13.0 and up will be EOL.
While there has been no official announcements for versions prior to 8.1, they are no longer maintained and are effectively EOL.
Historically, Slackware concentrated solely on the IA-32 architecture and releases were available as 32-bit only. However, starting with Slackware 13.0 a 64-bit x86-64 variant is available and officially supported in symmetrical development with the 32-bit platform. Prior to the release of Slackware64 users wanting 64-bit were required to use unofficial ports such as slamd64.
Slackware is also available for the IBM S/390 architecture in the form of Slack/390 and for the ARM architecture under Slackware ARM (originally known as 'ARMedslack'). Both ports have been declared "official" by Patrick Volkerding,. However, 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. Also, on 7 May 2016, the developer of Slackware ARM announced 14.1 will be EOL on 1 September 2016 and development of -current will cease with the release of 14.2, however support for 14.2 will be maintained for the foreseeable future. The EOL announcement for 14.1 was added to the changelog on 25 June 2016.
Slackware 14.1 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 64-bit 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. Slackware S/390 installs from a DOS Partition or from floppy disk. Slackware ARM does not distribute ISO files because most ARM devices can not boot from a CD or DVD. Instead, it is installed off a network, using Das U-Boot and a TFTP boot server or from a mini-root filesystem. Slackware ARM can also be installed on a PC running QEMU using the same technique.
DistroWatch shows a decreasing but still substantial 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. In 2010 it had been listed as number 11, in the years 2011 and 2012 as number 12, and in 2015 as number 33.
However, since DistroWatch only tracks visitors to the various distributions' pages, they state their ranking doesn't always correlate with the usage of a distribution, only the popularity of that distribution on their site. Because of this, their rankings "should not be used to measure the market share of distributions." Many people who are already familiar with a distribution may have no need to visit DistroWatch, so their trends could be applied more toward either new or potentially new users who are curious about a distribution.
Currently, there is no official method to track the usage or number of installs of Slackware.
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- Slackware Release Announcement, The Slackware Linux Project, 30 June 2016
- SUSE distributions (Slackware-based)
- Slackware-based Linux Distributions
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- General Information at Slackware's website
- Slackware Inc. "Slackware FAQ: Slackware Linux has a reputation for being tough for newbies. Is this true?".
- Datamation. "Top Linux Distros For Every Level User".
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- Tech Radar. "Power user Linux distros: 5 reviewed and rated".
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- PC World. "A Guide to Today's Top 10 Linux Distributions".
- FreeSlack, a project documenting non-free software in the Slackware distribution.
- Hughes, Phil (1 April 1994). "Interview with Patrick Volkerding". Linux Journal. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
- Slackware Propaganda
- Slackware version 1.1.2 install.end file
- Slackware version 14.1 install.end file
- A Short History of Linux Distributions at LWN.net
- Stefan Strobel; Volker Elling (1 January 1997). LINUX. Springer. pp. 82–83. ISBN 978-0-387-94880-5. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- 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
- 2002-2012 Andrew Maltsev, 2012-2013 Derek J. Curtis. "Linux Slackware 96 - ISBNdb.com - Book Info". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Frequently Asked Questions, The Slackware Linux Project
- Announcement of Slackware 8.0
- Release Notes for Slackware 9.1
- 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
- Kroah-Hartman, Greg (4 August 2013). "Longterm Kernel 3.10". kroah.com. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
...“longterm stable” kernel release every year, and maintain that kernel release for at least two years.
- Slackware Linux Basics, Chapter 2
- History of Slackware Development
- "Slackware Alumni". slackware.com. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- "Stories of Linux: A Look at Slackware Linux". linux.com.
- Announcement of Slackware 4.0
- Announcement of Slackware 8.1
- "The Revised Slackware Book Project". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- 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 Release Announcement". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Change log of Slackware 10.2, Sat Mar 26 23:04:41 PST 2005
- Trinity desktop and Slackware
- "The Slackware Linux Project: Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "The Slackware Linux Project: Slackware ChangeLogs". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- 8.1 ChangeLog.txt
- 12.1 ChangeLog.txt
- 12.2 ChangeLog.txt
- "The Slackware Linux Project: Slackware ChangeLogs". Retrieved 15 Dec 2015.
- Change log of Slackware 8.1
- Change log of Slackware 12.1
- "The Slackware Linux Project: Slackware Ports". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Stuart Winter. "Slackware ARM". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Change log of Slack390
- Change log of Slack390x
- "Slackintosh homepage".
- "Search results for "slack390"". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Stuart Winter. "Slackware ARM: Get Slack". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "Slackware Arm: Installation". Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- README.txt file for mini-root filesystem, Slackware ARM
- Installation instructions for Slackware ARM (Qemu)
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