Slackware Turns 20

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 17, 2013

Slackware Linux turned 20 years old yesterday and no one gave them a party. Even I, who commonly remembered the illustrious distribution's birthdays in my now former column, had to be reminded by LWN. Well, that won't do. Let's look back at some history of Slack.

As I look back over my history with Slack, I'm struck by how many distributions were once based on Slackware. Most are no longer maintained, but some names may still be familiar. GoblinX was a strange looking but quite stable and fun distribution. It's biggest issue in adoption is their pay-to-play business model that often fails in Linuxville. Austrumi is a tiny distro from Latvia, a tiny Northern European country most Americans' education didn't include. It was fast and stable and looks to be abandoned. Ultima 4 was trying to provide an easy to use Slackware and Mutagenix was a really cool distro that has disappeared off the face of the Earth. But Slackware is still here. There are many more derivative epitaphs, but the oldest surviving Linux distribution is 20 years old and is still very actively and enthusiastically maintained.

Me and Slack

While I had installed and run Slackware on several distant occasions, it appears my first review of Slackware was in February 2005 with the release of 10.1. 10.0 had been released the month I registered my Website, but it'd be months before I make my first post. My February 2005 review looks more like one of my current news blurbs, but it was one of my first reviews ever. (I would improve some.) In it I said,

Slackware has never been accused of being cutting edge instead opting for stability and usability. It did employ udev but I found no hardware issues other than it detecting my bios-disabled on-board sound before my sbl!. Little edit of this file and that was resolved.

The KISS KDE desktop of Slackware 10.1

Ah, yes, my review of 10.2 looks more like the early work I remember doing. About 10.2 I said,

In the past I enjoyed Slackware for it's ease of configuration, all set up nice and easy in a few start up files. But these days, one really doesn't have to mess with that too much. I personally didn't have to change a thing. All my hardware was detected properly and functioned perfectly upon boot.

Slackware 10.2 featured Linux 2.4.31, XFree86 6.8.2, GCC 3.3.6, and KDE 3.4.2

The latest version of Slack is 14.0 released September 28, 2012. It shipped with Linux 3.2.29, Xorg X Server 1.12.3, GCC 4.7.1, and KDE 4.8.5. Distrowatch has a nice full review of it.

Historical Sprint

This Robert Storey review of 9.1 from 2003 seems to be the oldest still in existence (not an exhaustive search though). He said then, "Slackware (now at version 9.1) still commands a loyal following despite the existence of formidable competition. Many other distros have come and gone, yet Slackware - like an old reliable grandfather clock - just keeps on ticking."

Slackware 1.1.2 is still archived at least at this one Brazilian mirror (again, not an exhaustive search). 1.1.2 was the third release of Slackware making its appearance in February 1994. 1.0 was released July 16, 1993. In the announcement Patrick said installing from other than 3.5 inch floppies might work, but 5 1/2 inch floppies would probably never be officially supported. 1.0 needed 24 floppies for the full install and it wasn't until 1995 with version 3.0 that users could install from CD. In August 2009, version 13 featured Slackware's first 64-bit variation. See the Slackware page to start your own research.

Congratulations and thank you, Patrick Volkerding, one of the great founding fathers of Linux.