Moved to Slackware

So I moved to Slackware.

I tired from custom systems I built for almost nine years. I do not want to build everything from source. I want a portable system which just works™ (for myself however, not for anyone and their cat like Debian claims).

Linux experience

I gained major experience in Linux systems (and most other UNIX systems in general) during these nine years. Yes, I must admit it had it’s merits, and I feel enjoyed and I became wiser.

I learned how to configure many types of software, how to cross compile it, how to add additional flags on many build systems, what is autotools, imake, qmake etc. and how to deal with them. I written numerous tools of my own, and authored my own small projects.

I learned Bourne Shell to a point of quickly fixing things and writing shell scripts on the fly, I gained major experience in C programming language, and usage of gcc and llvm/clang compilers to the point that I was able to teach other people how to use them.

I learned to build my own small embedded systems. musl libc was a core part of them. My home router now runs such a system. Albeit unmaintained, it still does it job very nice.

I skipped Gentoo and Arch Linux just because I was able to overcome the need of them. I quickly gained the experience to run my own systems without hitting major problems other distros had. Yes, sometimes quick software updates were sacrificed in preference to stability, however I tried my best in updating parts that had access to Internet though.

I burned part of my life in exchange for the wisdoms and knowledge I gained, and I feel myself experienced and satisfied. I am a little tired now from all of that.

Why Slackware?

And now I moved back to a “generic” distro.

These days computers became very cheap. Owning two, three or more machines is not such a problem. If you’re poor to buy peripherals for them like additional screens and keyboards, you can switch between them, leaving others running or shutting them off when they not needed. I realised that, even if by now I am myself still a poor person.

On one you could install Slackware, on other - MSWindows™, third maybe your testbed for OpenBSD for example. Disks are not so cheap, but spares are ready to go, even IDE HDDs are ok. I have many to throw in.

I chose Slackware just because it deals with software dependencies just how I like and always wanted it to be like: don’t track them at all. Binary packages may be installed as is, no prerequisites are checked. If it does not runs - check the errors that come to your tty. Most just are missing shared libraries, which is easy.

I had seen how major distros resolve this: pull so much crap to disk just because some stupid chose to built in all dependencies, even optional ones. Slackware is better there, too: maintainers just build software in a way the software authors decided it should be built. I like it, just because I did the same thing most of the time, picking options only when I really needed them.

Still, Slackware allows you to build from source. I like this possibilty - I have many patches of my own to apply to existing packages. More, there is Slackbuilds - a semi-automated build scripts written by people. And I found it relatively easy to integrate my own patches into existing SlackBuild script.

The idea of Slackware *.txz package also bought me. It is very easy to install and remove software this way - just touching this single package, without pulling and otherwise disturbing the chain of it’s dependencies, which was very clumsy and painful on distros like Debian to test multiple versions of same software.

For example, I was able to test that wine-2.2.xx-staging did not solved the problems of Skyrim game, but wine-4.0 at least did run it without the mouse glitching all over time. (Still, it did not run Skyrim at all, well, both wine and Skyrim are not the best pieces of software). All that I needed is just to juggle two packages with installpkg / slackpkg remove.

… And that feel of old, but still maintained and supported, Unixish distro.

That’s it

Well, that’s it for now. I ported my installation to my netbook too, very easily - Unix style - just with tar by ethernet cable. All I needed to do after is to change hostname, disable static network management in favor to NetworkManager which I installed after, and cleanup nvidia blob remains.

I uploaded my X11 startup scripts and desktop configuration, and, omit different screen resolution, it now works the same way as my desktop. I like that!

Really, I need to build a new small LiveCD soon, based on Slackware. Remove graphics which I do not need when I do backups, but add software which I need when I recover data.

I still do not know how to update it reliably however, but it’s a TODO item to have fun in near future.

R2

R2 was my base “distro” for all Linux installations: a custom built musl libc based system.

R2 is going to be abandoned. I do not plan to develop it further. Recently (before moving to Slackware) I tried to build it’s 1.2 version with all accumulated changes - and it failed! Even in plain tested things like gcc. Sigh.

Now I archived it. As with other abandoned and obsoleted software pieces of my own, it will be there forever (archived status means that I deleted my local copy and I now trust GitHub to preserve it). If it will be gone for some reason, then I do not care. If you would continue it, be warned there are bugs and unfixed glitches which will be never fixed.

Written on April 6, 2019