A Windows User visits Slackware Linux, Part 2

 In Part 1, I outlined my experiences with getting Slackware set up as a daily-use distribution.  From a Windows/Mac perspective, there is considerably more configuration involved ... unless you come from the server side and know your way around scripts and the command line.

I'm a developer by trade, so the concept of the command line interface (CLI) and scripting is not foreign to me.  While I don't mess with server setups or configuration everyday, I know enough to be dangerous.  Like switching programming languages, much of it is a question of syntax and familiarizing yourself with the toolbox of commands that you have access to.  Longtime Linux/Unix/BSD users know that the CLI and shell scripts provide a powerful interface, and I've always been fascinated by those with a mastery of the shell.  I remember some time ago watching a guy find a file by a snippet of its contents in some obscure location of his drive by stringing together a series of commands.  No GUI involved, and everything he entered was just off the top of his head.  No cheat sheet or command templates.

However, while mastery of the shell is on my to-do list, it's not at the top.  I need to quit using the root user to do everything; time to create my own user.  It takes a bit of time and my best friend Google, but after a while I have a shiny new user, an "admin" user group, and I have the admin group added to the sudoers file (via visudo) so that I can use the familiar sudo elevation command with my new user.

For the record, I hate the vi editor, so I also created a ~./bashrc and changed it to nano as well as modifying the user runlevel to 4 in inittab so I can start at a GUI instead of a prompt.

Now, for applications!

First up is to install everything that I need to get things done.  Typical Slackware packages have a .tgz extension.  For some items, like those in the Slackware repository, you can simply install them directly. For others, there's a site out there called SlackBuilds with scripts that create install packages for you - which is quite handy.  Cue a minor groan from me as I hate extra steps.  However, as it turns out, I do NOT need Slackbuilds for everything, and once I've used SlackBuilds a few times it is actually surprisingly easy to use.

Take Dropbox for example.  Since the source link on the SlackBuilds page is out of date, it took me a while to figure out which source package to download (there is a link to it off the Dropbox site).  The script still works though, I simply needed to change a parameter to x86_64 since I am using a 64-bit distribution.  Place the .tar.gz file containing the source inside the unzipped Slackbuild folder called "dropbox" and run the script:


Install package created successfully!  I install it with the following command:

installpkg /tmp/dropbox-superlongnamethatidontremember

Next up - VirtualBox for virtual machines.  I WILL need Windows for some things, like programs that don't run on Linux.  I could look into WINE but I'd just as soon do it this way.  The VirtualBox SlackBuild script apparently doesn't work by default on x64 machines, but after some poking around it turns out the native install does.  I download the .run file from the VirtualBox website, kick it off, and it does everything.  No errors and it creates a vboxusers group.  Using usermod, I add my user to vboxusers and it appears to work fine.

I was also interested in tinkering with Android development, so I decide to install Eclipse.  This one didn't really have an installation; you just unzip and run it.  Installing the ADT Plugin and the Android SDK can be done from within Eclipse itself.

The Konsole terminal emulator is acting weird, so I install mrxvt, a tabbed terminal emulator based on rxvt.  It's not as pretty as Konsole, but it works better.  After a while I figure out how to add the PS1 command to .bashrc so I can see the current directory instead of just "bash-4.1$" all the time.

Finally, I install Google Chrome, which was very similar to installing Dropbox.  Yes, I am aware there is "Chromium," too, but Chrome allows me to log in and keep all my settings and bookmarks.

For items that were "installed" but not added to KDE, I figure out how to add shortcuts to them in the menu, as well as keyboard shortcuts to launch them.  I assign Ctrl-Alt-T to open the terminal and Ctrl-Alt-E to open Eclipse.

That covers most of the apps I'll use on this machine; now we'll see if I can use it regularly without getting super-frustrated.

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