What You’ve Been Waiting For…

Slackware 14.1 released…

Yes, it is that time again!  After well over a year of planning,
development, and testing, the Slackware Linux Project is proud to
announce the latest stable release of the longest running distribution
of the Linux operating system, Slackware version 14.1!

We are sure you’ll enjoy the many improvements.  We’ve done our best to bring the latest technology to Slackware while still maintaining the stability and security that you have come to expect.  Slackware is well known for its simplicity and the fact that we try to bring software to you in the condition that the authors intended.

Slackware 14.1 brings many updates and enhancements, among which you’ll find two of the most advanced desktop environments available today: Xfce 4.10.1, a fast and lightweight but visually appealing and easy to use desktop environment, and KDE 4.10.5, a recent stable release of the 4.10.x series of the award-winning KDE desktop environment. These desktops utilize udev, udisks, and udisks2, and many of the specifications from freedesktop.org which allow the system administrator to grant use of various hardware devices according to users’ group membership so that they will be able to use items such as USB flash sticks, USB cameras that appear like USB storage, portable hard drives, CD and DVD media, MP3 players, and more, all without requiring sudo, the mount or umount command.  Just plug and play.  Slackware’s desktop should be suitable for any level of Linux experience.

Slackware uses the 3.10.17 kernel bringing you advanced performance features such as journaling filesystems, SCSI and ATA RAID volume support, SATA support, Software RAID, LVM (the Logical Volume Manager), and encrypted filesystems.  Kernel support for X DRI (the Direct Rendering Interface) brings high-speed hardware accelerated 3D graphics to Linux.

There are two kinds of kernels in Slackware.  First there are the huge kernels, which contain support for just about every driver in the Linux kernel. These are primarily intended to be used for installation, but there’s no real reason that you couldn’t continue to run them after you have installed.  The other type of kernel is the generic kernel, in which nearly every driver is built as a module.  To use a generic kernel you’ll need to build an initrd to load your filesystem module and possibly your drive controller or other drivers needed at boot time, configure LILO to load the initrd at boot, and reinstall LILO.  See the docs in /boot after installing for more information.  Slackware’s Linux kernels come in both SMP and non-SMP types now.  The SMP kernel supports multiple processors, multi-core CPUs, HyperThreading, and about every other optimization available.  In our own testing this kernel has proven to be fast, stable, and reliable.  We recommend using the SMP kernel even on single processor machines if it will run on them.  Note that on x86_64 (64-bit), all the kernels are SMP capable.

Here are some of the advanced features of Slackware 14.1:

- Runs the 3.10.17 version of the Linux kernel from ftp.kernel.org.
The 3.10.x series is well-tested, offers good performance, and will be
getting long term support from kernel.org.  For people interested in
running the previous long term support kernel series, we’ve provided
sample configuration files for Linux 3.4.66 under the /testing directory.
And, to make it easier for people who want to compile the latest Linux
kernel, we’ve also put configuration files for Linux 3.12 in /testing.

- System binaries are linked with the GNU C Library, version 2.17.
This version of glibc also has excellent compatibility with
existing binaries.

- X11 based on the X.Org Foundation’s modular X Window System.
This is X11R7.7, a new release, with many improvements in terms of
performance and hardware support.

- Installs gcc-4.8.2 as the default C, C++, Objective-C,
Fortran-77/95/2003/2008, and Ada 95/2005/2012 compiler.

- Also includes LLVM and Clang, an alternate compiler for C, C++,
Objective-C and Objective-C++.

- The x86_64 version of Slackware 14.1 supports installation and booting
on machines using UEFI firmware.

- Support for NetworkManager for simple configuration of wired and
wireless network connections, including mobile broadband, IPv6, VPN,
and more.  Roam seamlessly between known networks, and quickly set
up new connections.  We’ve retained full support for the traditional
Slackware networking scripts and for the wicd network manager,
offering choice and flexibility to all levels of users.

- Support for fully encrypted network connections with OpenSSL,
OpenSSH, OpenVPN, and GnuPG.

- Apache (httpd) 2.4.6 web server with Dynamic Shared Object
support, SSL, and PHP 5.4.20.

- USB, IEEE 1394 (FireWire), and ACPI support, as well as legacy PCMCIA
and Cardbus support.  This makes Slackware a great operating system
for your laptop.

- The udev dynamic device management system for Linux 3.x.
This locates and configures most hardware automatically as it
is added (or removed) from the system, loading kernel modules
as needed.  It works along with the kernel’s devtmpfs filesystem
to create access nodes in the /dev directory.

- New development tools, including Perl 5.18.1, Python 2.7.5,
Ruby 1.9.3-p448, Subversion 1.7.13, git-1.8.4, mercurial-2.7.2,
graphical tools like Qt designer and KDevelop, and much more.

- Updated versions of the Slackware package management tools make it
easy to add, remove, upgrade, and make your own Slackware packages.
Package tracking makes it easy to upgrade from Slackware 14.0 to
Slackware 14.1 (see UPGRADE.TXT and CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT).
The slackpkg tool can also help update from an older version of
Slackware to a newer one, and keep your Slackware system up to date.
In addition, the slacktrack utility will help you build and maintain
your own packages.

- Web browsers galore!  Includes KDE’s Konqueror 4.10.5, SeaMonkey 2.21
(this is the replacement for the Mozilla Suite), Mozilla Firefox ESR 24.1,
as well as the Thunderbird 24.1 email and news client with advanced
junk mail filtering.  A script is also available in /extra to repackage
Google Chrome as a native Slackware package.

- The KDE Software Compilation 4.10.5, a complete desktop environment.
This includes the Calligra productivity suite (previously known as
KOffice), networking tools, GUI development with KDevelop, multimedia
tools (including the Amarok music player and K3B disc burning software),
the Konqueror web browser and file manager, dozens of games and utilities,
international language support, and more.

- A collection of GTK+ based applications including pidgin-2.10.7,
gimp-2.8.6 (with many improvements including a single window mode),
gkrellm-2.3.5, xchat-2.8.8, xsane-0.998, and pan-0.139.

- A repository of extra software packages compiled and ready to run
in the /extra directory.

- Many more improved and upgraded packages than we can list here.  For
a complete list of core packages in Slackware 14.1, see this file:

ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/slackware-14.1/PACKAGES.TXT

Downloading Slackware 14.1:
—————————

The full version of Slackware Linux 14.1 is available for download from the central Slackware FTP site hosted by our friends at osuosl.org:

ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/slackware-14.1/

If the sites are busy, see the list of official mirror sites here:

http://mirrors.slackware.com

We will be setting up BitTorrent downloads for the official ISO images.  Stay tuned to http://slackware.com for the latest updates.

Instructions for burning the Slackware tree onto install discs may be found in the isolinux directory.

Purchasing Slackware on CD-ROM or DVD:
————————————–

Or, please consider purchasing the Slackware Linux 14.1 six CD-ROM set or deluxe dual-sided DVD release directly from Slackware Linux, and you’ll be helping to support the continued development of Slackware Linux!

The DVD release has the 32-bit x86 Slackware 14.1 release on one side, and the 64-bit x86_64 Slackware 14.1 release on the other.  Both sides are bootable for easy installation, and includes everything from both releases of Slackware 14.1, including the complete source code trees.

The 6 CD-ROM release of Slackware 14.1 is the 32-bit x86 edition. It includes a bootable first CD-ROM for easy installation.  The 6 CD-ROMs are labeled for easy reference.

The Slackware 14.1 x86 6 CD-ROM set is $49.95 plus shipping, or choose the Slackware 14.1 x86/x86_64 dual-sided DVD (also $49.95 plus shipping).

Slackware Linux is also available by subscription.  When we release a new version of Slackware (which is normally once or twice a year) we ship it to you and bill your credit card for a reduced subscription price ($32.99 for the CD-ROM set, or $39.95 for the DVD) plus shipping.

For shipping options, see the Slackware store website.  Before ordering express shipping, you may wish to check that we have the product in stock. We make releases to the net at the same time as disc production begins, so there is a lag between the online release and the shipping of media. But, even if you download now you can still buy the official media later. You’ll feel good, be helping the project, and have a great decorative item perfect for any computer room shelf.

Ordering Information:
———————

You can order online at the Slackware Linux store:

http://store.slackware.com

Other Slackware items like t-shirts, caps, pins, and stickers can also be found here.  These will help you find and identify yourself to your fellow Slackware users.

Order inquiries (including questions about becoming a Slackware reseller) may be directed to this address:  info@slackware.com

Have fun! :^)  I hope you find Slackware to be useful, and thanks
very much for your support of this project over the years.


Patrick J. Volkerding    <volkerdi@slackware.com>

Visit us on the web at:  http://slackware.com

Thanks to Pat V., the Slackware Linux team, and everyone who has contributed to and supported Slackware throughout the years!

Don’t forget to share your knowledge and gain some knowledge at the Slackware Documentation Project.

Later…

~Eric

Sources: quoted announcement from the Slackware release Announcement.


LinuxQuestions.org’s Jeremy Interviews Slackware BDFL Patrick Volkerding… a MUST Read!

Earlier today, I received an email from Jeremy @ LinuxQuestions.org alerting me to his recent interview of Pat V.

It is absolutely outstanding. I enjoyed it very much. You should give it a looksee…

Interview with Patrick Volkerding of Slackware

Enjoy!

~Eric


How I Got My Nickname (Revisited)

How I Got My Nickname

Posted by V. T. Eric Layton on Mar 31, 2010

What exactly is a “nocturnal slacker”? Is it some late night lazy slob who hangs out and posts baloney like this online?

Umm… well, could be. However, that’s really not the origin of the nickname. The “nocturnal” part of my nickname is due to the fact that I actually am a serious night owl. The nick was given to me years ago by the biker community. The “slacker” part isn’t indicative of my laziness; although, I do suffer from that affliction occasionally. A “slacker” in Linux-land is someone who uses the Slackware Linux distribution.

What’s Slackware? Well, that’s what I’m here to talk to you a bit about tonight. Slackware Linux is the oldest, continuously maintained GNU/Linux distribution. Slackware was created by a young man by the name of Patrick Volkerding back in 1993. Slackware prides itself on being the most “unix-like” GNU/Linux distribution. Its stability is absolutely legendary in the Linux community. It’s simplicity is a thing of beauty.

Alas! Slackware is not for everyone. New Linux Explorers would curl their eyebrow hair just looking at Slack’s text-based installer. I once read an Eric Hameleers (AKA Alien Bob) quote about Slackware in a Linux Magazine interview. He said, “Slackware assumes you are smart! This appeals to people.” That is true… and COOL! People often have heard me state that Slackware is the only GNU/Linux distribution that comes complete with ATTITUDE. It takes a special brand of whacked geek to love Slackware.

Now you know how I became the…

Until next time…

~Eric

=====

This article originally published on my Nocturnal Slacker | Lockergnome blog. To read it there along with the original comments, click HERE.


The GNU/Linux Adventurer’s Backpack

If you are setting off on your new GNU/Linux adventure, there are some must have things that you’ll be needing to take along with you.

When you’re at the kitchen table packing that backpack for your big adventure, don’t forget to stuff these items in there with your lantern, matches, water purification pills, and lip balm. You’ll find this stuff will come in very handy along the trail.

A little history

Linux, which specifically means the kernel portion of the operating system, was born in 1991 when Finnish student Linus Torvalds decided he wanted something to run on his 80386 processor based PC. Linus turned the code for his new kernel loose on USENET.

Within a short while Softlanding Linux System (SLS) was born of a mating of Linus’ new kernel and Richard Stallman‘s GNU Operating System. The SLS project was taken over by Patrick Volkerding, who morphed it into Slackware Linux, the oldest still living GNU/Linux distribution. You can view the Linux family tree to see how things progressed from there.

Some handy documentation –

C’mon. Quit whining. Sometimes, it’s a good thing to read the fine manual. The “man” pages, short for manual, are available to you from within any GNU/Linux distribution. They’re already in your backpack even if you didn’t know it. To access a manual page for a certain command within Linux, just use this from the command line:

$ man <command or application name>

For example, let’s say you want to know how to use the ls command. You would type this into the command line:

$ man ls

LS(1)                            User Commands                           LS(1)

NAME
       ls – list directory contents

SYNOPSIS
       ls [OPTION]… [FILE]…

DESCRIPTION
       List  information  about  the FILEs (the current directory by default).
       Sort entries alphabetically if none of -cftuvSUX nor –sort.

       Mandatory arguments to long options are  mandatory  for  short  options
       too.

       -a, –all
              do not ignore entries starting with .<snip>

…and the manual page for the ls command will magically appear. Cool, huh? You can also refer to that same manual page by using online websites that make that same information available to you. You can use Linux Man Pages, Linux Man Pages Online, or other similar sites.

For some more in depth GNU/Linux documentation, you can check out The Linux Documentation Project (TLDP), LinuxDocs.org, or DistroWatch.com. The last provides brief synopses and reviews of most of the GNU/Linux distributions available today.

Which distribution to start the adventure? –

If you clicked on that DistroWatch link above, you’d see that there are many, many GNU/Linux distributions out there in the world. While choice is a good thing, numerous choices can sometimes be overwhelming for new adventurers; what trail should I take? Every GNU/Linux advocate will have their own favorite list of distributions that they recommend to all the new adventurers they run across. Following is my list of the five easiest transition distributions. What’s a transition distribution? I define that as a GNU/Linux distribution that is easy to install and use right out of the box for new adventurers who are mostly used to using Microsoft Windows products.

Ubuntu – this is the distro that took GNU/Linux from the desktops of geeks like me and put it on Gramps and Granny’s system. It did more to popularize the GNU/Linux operating system than any other distribution prior.

Linux Mint – this distro from the land of Eire is slam packed with all the great stuff you’d want in an operating system. It’s good to go right out of the box.

Mepis – while not the most popular GNU/Linux out there, this Debian-based distribution is a fine product, and most suitable for new adventurers.

PCLinuxOS – this distro is a branch of the old and venerable Mandrake/Mandriva GNU/Linux. It’s easy to install and to operate.

Ultimate Edition – this distribution gets its foundation from its Debian and Ubuntu roots. It is also easy to install and has loads and loads of useful software included the moment you boot up.

Vector Linux – this excellent distribution is based on Slackware Linux. It is easy to install and use.

OK, then. We have some history, some documentation, and a choice of distributions in our backpack now. We’re almost ready to begin the adventure. But wait! There are a few more very important items that we’ll be needing.

Tips and Tutorials –

Tutorials are documents that teach in a step-by-step fashion. They can cover a lot of information in a small space. They’re usually simplified so that amateurs and novices can follow along without the need to know the really complicated stuff underneath it all. Tips are just that; little tid-bits of information to make things go easier on your adventure.

There was once a man called Bruno, he was my friend. He was also a serious GNU/Linux advocate and teacher. He selflessly spent many hours of his daily life teaching others about GNU/Linux. Many of us who knew him learned from him and were inspired by him to carry on his tradition of teaching. While Bruno may no longer be with us, part of the legacy he left us is his Tips for Linux Explorers site. Yes, some of the info there is a bit dated, but most of it is still very relevant and helpful.

As far as tutorials go, there are many sites with wonderful GNU/Linux tutorials. Here are a few that I use regularly: The Linux Tutorial, YoLinux Tutorials, Linux Survival, HowtoForge, Tutorialized, and Linux Planet Tutorials. Believe me, if there’s something you want to accomplish within GNU/Linux, there is a tutorial somewhere that will show you how. Remember, when searching for answers to your GNU/Linux questions, Google is your friend.

More good reading –

5 Things Every Aspiring Linux User Should Know – another article that may be useful to new Linux Adventurers.

New to Linux? Here’s Your Hitchhiker’s Guide to Linux Forum Galaxy! – by Megatotoro

Some Advanced Reading –

The books listed below are somewhat advanced. I wouldn’t recommend that new Adventurers dive into them right off. Give yourself some time to climb a bit higher on that learning curve, then give these books below a peak or two. The more you experience GNU/Linux, the more the information in these books below will make sense to you. I put them here because they are excellent learning tools… when you reach that level.

Linux – Rute User’s Tutorial and Exposition by Paul Sheer

LINUX: Rute Users Tutorial and Exposition is the only Linux sysadmin’s guide proven by 50,000+ Web users. It presents in-depth coverage of all aspects of system administration: user management, security, networking, Internet services, packages, config files, shell scripting, and more. It also contains detailed cross-references to LPI and RHCE certification topics, making it invaluable for exam preparation. (description from Amazon.com) *This book is also available online in .pdf format.

Linux Pocket Guide by Danial J. Barrett

Linux Pocket Guide is organized the way you use Linux: by function, not just alphabetically. It’s not the ‘bible of Linux; it’s a practical and concise guide to the options and commands you need most. It starts with general concepts like files and directories, the shell, and X windows, and then presents detailed overviews of the most essential commands, with clear examples. You’ll learn each command’s purpose, usage, options, location on disk, and even the RPM package that installed it. (description from Amazon.com)

A Practical Guide to Linux – Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming by Mark G. Sobell

Packed with hundreds of high-quality, realistic examples, this book gives you Linux from the ground up: the clearest explanations and most useful knowledge about everything from filesystems to shells, editors to utilities, and programming tools to regular expressions. Sobell has also added an outstanding new primer on Perl, the most important programming tool for Linux admins seeking to automate complex, time-consuming tasks. (description from Amazon.com)

Understanding the Linux Kernel by Bovet & Cesati

Understanding the Linux Kernel will acquaint you with all the inner workings of Linux, but it’s more than just an academic exercise. You’ll learn what conditions bring out Linux’s best performance, and you’ll see how it meets the challenge of providing good system response during process scheduling, file access, and memory management in a wide variety of environments. This book will help you make the most of your Linux system. (description from Amazon.com)

The Debian System by Krafft

The Debian GNU/Linux operating system approaches Linux system administration differently than other popular Linux distributions, favoring text-based configuration mechanisms over graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Debian may appear simplistic and even slightly outdated, but it is actually very robust, scalable, and secure. Debian’s open development cycle and strict quality control by the developers help Debian to constantly gain popularity, despite its reputation as an operating system just for professionals and hardcore computer hobbyists. (description from Amazon.com)

And lastly, but never last, this most necessary thing to have in your GNU/Linux adventurer’s backpack:

Community –

We come into this world alone and we leave it alone, but fortunately, while in this world, we have each other. Were it not for the GNU/Linux – Open Source community, there wouldn’t be any GNU/Linux; or if there were, it would be some ghastly thing used by a few uber-geeks in the darkness of night on their own desktop systems. Joyfully, that isn’t so because we have community; arguably the most important ingredient in the brewing pot.

There is a large and very active GNU/Linux – Open Source community every where in the world. You can access and interact with that community in many ways; boards and forums, USENET Groups, mailing lists, websites and portals, blogs like this one, etc. Community means a lot to me. Below you’ll find my list of favorite places where I go to learn what I need to continue on my own adventure:

Boards and Forums

Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux – a Linux support forum and much more. This site is run by Scot Finnie, Editor-in-chief of ComputerWorld.com.

Jeremy’s LinuxQuestions.org – a Linux support forum and community dedicated to assisting adventurers of all skill levels and abilities.

TechSupportGuy Forums – Linux and Unix – another excellent Linux community forum.

The Linux Foundation’s Linux.com Community – a relatively new and growing community with many helpful members.

Just Linux Forums – a great community resource.

Linux Forums – search this place for great tips and assistance as you travel along in your adventure.

Also, don’t forget… nearly every distribution of GNU/Linux has its own very helpful support community. Check out the main websites for links to their forums and such. All the distros mentioned above have their own forums. Check ‘em out.

Linux News Sites

Tux Machines – Susan Linton’s wonderful Linux community site.

Linux Today – news you can use.

Linux Insider – more informative Linux news.

LXer Linux News – the world is talking about GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source Software.

The above are just a sampling. There are literally hundreds of top level, informative Linux news sites on the Net. Search!

Linux Learning Blogs

Linux Operating System – Guillermo Garron’s very helpful and informative blog.

Linuxaria – Ricardo Capecchi’s bi-lingual Everything About Linux blog.

All About Linux – a self-professed “very” popular blog about Linux, Open Source, and Free Software.

Linux Notes from Dark Duck – helpful information on choosing and running Linux on your systems.

Dedoimedo – a place to learn a lot about a lot. A unique experience, I might add.

There are many more sites out there, too. Each distribution usually has a handful of dedicated bloggers and teachers running from their own websites. Don’t forget to search online. You’ll find some wonderful stuff.

One other thing you can do when starting out on your adventure is to register with The Linux Counter and be counted as part of the community. Proudly display your Linux Registered User number for all to see. Sorry, they’re out of stock on the super-dooper decoder rings, though. You may find one in that Cap’n Crunch serial box on your kitchen table. ;)

I’ve tried to make this as all-inclusive as I could, but of course, I’ve failed miserably. GNU/Linux is a topic that volumes have been written about. How could I possibly give you all that information in one short article? Oh well. I hope that what you do find here will help you along in your adventure. I leave you with three bits of wisdom that I learned early on when I first started out on my adventure:

  • First and foremost, GNU/Linux is NOT MS Windows. Please don’t expect it to be.
  • Secondly, KEEP notes! You will find this an immeasurably important practice to discipline yourself into doing regularly. I don’t care if your notes are on your iPad or your main system or on a dead tree note book (my choice medium). Just keep notes. You won’t regret it.
  • Lastly, but again NEVER last, the community is there for you. Take from it all that is offered, so that you can learn and expand your horizons on your great GNU/Linux adventure. We ask only one thing from you in return; when the time comes that you have reached a level of knowledge where you can comfortably (and accurately) do so, please give back to the community that supported you. This way there will always be those willing to help the new GNU/Linux Adventurers coming along the trail.

Happy adventuring!

~Eric

P.S. I intend this document to be a living device. I will probably be amending it from time to time.

Addenda:

I – 08 May 2011

a. added Vector Linux to suggested starting distributions

b. added an advanced book list for those who would like to go a bit deeper in their studies

II – 28 February 2012

a. added link to 5 Things Every Aspiring Linux User Should Know

III – 22 August 2012

a. added Megatotoro’s New to Linux? Here’s Your Hitchhiker’s Guide to Linux Forum Galaxy!


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