A Windows User visits Slackware Linux, Part 3: Impressions

After my Slackware experiment and some usage, I find myself with mixed emotions.  In Part 1 I described the overall installation and some preliminary setup.  Part 2 was a tale of my experience with permissions and application installation.

At the end, I found that I could configure Slackware pretty much exactly as I wanted to ... but I had to be prepared to do some digging to find the solution.  In some cases, I had to go so far as to build what I wanted from source.

As a Slack n00b, it took me quite a bit of time just to figure out what I was doing and how to do it.  It definitely forced me to understand what I was doing - and I learned some things that will be helpful across multiple distributions.

One of the benefits of using Slackware is that it lets you make all your own decisions.  From what I saw, nothing was arbitrarily overwritten by some random install wizard.  As such, I can see why it would be very stable and much-loved by Linux server gurus.  However, I can't really recommend it as an all-around general usage distribution for the desktop.  Server, yes.  Desktop - no.  And I definitely wouldn't recommend it for the casual user...unless you are some sort of masochist when it comes to your OS.

Not counting the installation media setup (ISO download; USB prep/disc burn) it takes me about 2 hours to fully install, patch, and configure a Fedora setup on the same machine.  Same apps, everything.  In contrast, it probably took me ten times as long to fully configure Slackware to a point where I felt comfortable using it.  

I'll wager that it's probably faster to set up such things for a seasoned Slack pro, but I don't fall into that category.  Near the end, installing new software sent me into internal arguments on whether i REALLY needed that particular utility or piece of software, as I knew it was going to be a somewhat involved process to install it.  I also frequently change my mind and try new things, so this is probably not the ideal environment for me to use daily.

I will say that if you are either a) very comfortable with Linux and all its commands or b) willing to take the time to really dig into it, Slackware will treat you right and happily putter along doing exactly what you told it to do.  No doubt it will continue to do so for years, too - until either the hardware fails or you change something.

For the mainstream fickle consumer and the Linux toe-dipper, though, there is something to be said for standing on the shoulders of a community.  Slackware will always be there for those wanting to look behind the curtain, along with siblings like Arch and Gentoo.

For everyone else?  I'd stick with Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint, or openSUSE.

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