Slackware and Zenwalk



I’ve been distro shopping lately.  I had become complacent while working with PCLinuxOS because everything just works when using it.  With nothing broken, I had nothing to fix :(  This is a good thing, unless you want things to break every once in a while so you can learn to fix them.  I know, I’m a glutton for punishment.

After some initial toolings in Arch and Gentoo, I settled on Slackware…which was my first distribution I tried ever in 1995.  It felt good to be coming back to Slackware…there is a simple elegance about it.  It’s ultimately fast on just about every system I’ve put it on.  I really like the unix like rc files Slackware has; to me, it’s simple to get things working.  This could be because I cut my teeth on Solaris…but then again, I think it’s much easier to manage system services by making an rc file executable (chmod).  Sure Red Hat style is ok with ‘service name start|restart|stop’ but I really like going into a directory, listing it out, and seeing all my services that execute on startup in green.  Maybe it’s my nostalgia getting the best of me.  I’m sure that’s it.

Regardless, I stuck with Slackware only a short while because I was interested in XFCE (not that Slack doesn’t have XFCE…just that I wanted to see a distro that prides itself on XFCE) and decided to give Zenwalk 6 a try (I’ve tried Wolvix already…it just didn’t click with me).  I’d heard nothing but good things about this distro and it is Slackware based, which makes all the nostalgic parts of me tingle.

I installed and all I can say is WOW!  It’s a fantastic implementation of XFCE regardless of distribution.  The Slackware speed and rc system are there, greeting me on each startup/login.  XFCE is done brilliantly there and really feels like a superb implementation.  Updating is a snap with netpkg, something I haven’t had any experience with…it does the job nicely though.  Overall, I’m quite satisfied with Zenwalk and will be sticking with it for a while.  I’ll post back from time to time with any tips or tricks I might find as I’m stretching my legs so to speak in my new environment.

Zenwalk 6, slightly altered

The PII 350 MHz Computer Dies?!

I always hate to send hardware off to that big chipyard in the sky. However, the PII 350 MHz PC decided to give up on me. Perhaps that is why I was getting so many errors while attempting to install various distros of Linux (including those optimized for old PCs). So, for those of you that were following along with my little journey, the PII is no more…too many errors began to pop up even in steady Slackware. I made a judgement call and retired the motherboard.

In its place, I forked out 23 bucks for a PC Chips Socket A motherboard. I then slapped in a spare XP 2600 and I have the newest flavor of SimplyMEPIS and PCLinuxOS installed. It’s running like a champ and is turning out to be the best 23 bucks I’ve spent in some time. For those that want a steady board for Linux, check Newegg here.

Alas, the PII was a good board. I knew it well. So glad I didn’t have to put it down and that I could gracefully retire it on a good note. Now the slowest PC I have is the CentOS 4 gateway/firewall with a Celeron 900 (Emachines w/ a refurb Gateway mATX mobo). Works great. Sorry I couldn’t finish out all those other distros.

In the meantime, I’ve made it my mission to document some really simple things using KDE and Gnome (How-Tos) for stuff that you’d normally do in Windows. I’m attempting to track down the easiest way to setup an anonymous share using KDE and Samba (with no smb.conf or smbpasswd or smbuser alteration…no shell). Thus far this has proved quite challenging. Getting Samba to play nice without passwords and users with full write access on a share is murder. If anyone has tips or links to a great how-to, I’m all ears. Thanks for reading.

350 MHz XFCE Desktop Search Continues

I realized last night that I wasn’t going to get a day where I could just hammer out all of the distros I wanted to check out with my old PII 350 MHz. So, I figured I’d give STX Linux 1.0 a try. This distro comes heavily recommended for old PCs as we can see from the Stx website: “STX Linux is a desktop Linux distribution especially targeted to older hardware.” Minimum hardware requirements are well below those that my current setup contains. I come in at an average STX system. So I downloaded the distro, burned to CD and we’re off to the races!

Pics of the 350MHz:

STX 1.0

I started off pretty stoked because It is my understanding that STX is built on the solid base of Slackware Linux which happens to be my favorite distro. Boot up went relatively fast on the old PC. I was very impressed with the boot time. Everything was going fine with the install up until the software began to install. The install froze. I figured this wasn’t a good thing (duh!) so I rebooted and repartitioned the hard disk. I then made sure to format with cfdisk (along with some bad block checking). Another bootup and I’m back to installing again.

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Slackware 10.2 Tips and Tricks

Want to Install the 2.6.13 Kernel is Slack but don’t know how? Ask and ye shall receive!

First, mount the CDROM…in my case, it is /dev/hdb

mount -t auto /dev/hdb /mnt/cdrom

or

mount -t auto /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom

Next, let’s install that Kernel! Insert Slackware Disc 2…then issue the commands below.

installpkg /mnt/cdrom/linux-2.6.13/kernel-source-2.6.13-noarch-1.tgz

 

installpkg /mnt/cdrom/linux-2.6.13/kernel-modules-2.6.13-i486-1.tgz

 

installpkg /mnt/cdrom/linux-2.6.13/kernel-headers-2.6.13-i386-1.tgz

 

installpkg /mnt/cdrom/linux-2.6.13/kernel-generic-2.6.13-i486-1.tgz

 

installpkg /mnt/cdrom/linux-2.6.13/alsa-driver-1.0.9b_2.6.13-i486.1.tgz

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Slackware 10.2 + 350Mhz PII = Bliss

Slackware 10.2 came out a few days ago and I’ve recently decided to dust off a Pentium II 350 with 524MB PC100 RAM to see how things work with it. All I can say is WOW! I have resurrected this old computer to a new life. Slackware was where I started and I can assure you it will be a staple of my Linux diet for years to come. Despite the age of the computer and the slower processor, things are blindingly fast. I’m going to slim it down a bit more and tweak the boot process to speed it up even more.

Slackware 10.2 more than stacks up to my expectations…having not installed slackware since version 9, I was very impressed. XFCE 4.2.2 and KDE 3.4 are just a few of the nice things that come with Slack. My XFCE desktop was decidedly fast…much faster than any other distro that has run on my ancient PII desktop. That in itself is amazing. So amazing in fact that I immediately set out to document as many tips and tricks as I can for all of us slackers :P

So, I’ve written a nice How-To for installing the 2.6.13 kernel that didn’t come installed by default with 10.2 (Patrick instead opting for the proven 2.4 tree with 2.4.31). I dropped the how-to into the forum in case anyone had questions…since the forum would provide for a much more organized and dynamic way for people to pose questions. You must be registered to post questions (see links at top of the blog). So, if you’re interested in having Slackware 10.2 with a 2.6 branch kernel ( 2.6.13 ) then check it out!

Thanks for reading