February 21, 2006

My desktop OS: Slackware 10.2

Author: Bruno Sousa

I've used Linux since 1999. I started with SUSE 6.4, but soon moved to Slackware because I wanted to learn how to administer an enterprise server. I then decided to try it on the desktop to improve my Linux knowledge. My experience with Slackware has been both demanding and amazing.

Slackware installation and configuration requires some Linux knowledge. The distribution is not as user-friendly as other Linux packages. When making partitions you need to use fdisk or cfdisk. After installing the software on my laptop, I configured the kernel to activate ACPI and other important hardware by following documentation that you can find on the Internet about kernel compilation.

Slackware doesn't check for dependencies when you install packages, so you have to face some risks, and Slackware by itself does not provide an automatic mechanism to upgrade packages. To keep my desktop system up-to-date, I installed slapt-get, which upgrades packages efficiently.

Slackware doesn't offer as full a complement of applications as some other distros. You have to download applications such as Skype, OpenOffice.org, and Acrobat Reader from the Internet because they are not packaged on the official Slackware distribution. To install applications you have two options. Binary packages are available on the official site of applications or on linuxpackages.net. If no binary packages are available, you must install the application from source code. So far I've had no problems compiling applications. For instance, I installed K3b from source, to backup my data on CDs.

As I study for my master's degree I use Slackware for all my work. I use OpenOffice.org Impress to produce presentations. I use Kpdf and Acrobat Reader to read PDF documents. I use Firefox to browse the Web. Tools like Latex and BibTex are almost mandatory to write scientific papers. I installed Kile to get into Latex more easily. I produce graphics with Dia (though I wish it had more objects), Kivio, and OpenOffice.org Draw. Sometimes I use the GIMP to make image conversions. I also use KThesaurus and WordNet to find synonyms. I use Thunderbird to read my email and Gaim to chat with others. I use gxine to listen to music and news from Internet radio stations.

I have a Hewlett-Packard multi-function printer, scanner, and fax machine that I got working on Slackware with practically all of its functions. The printer was easy to configure using the printer configuration in KDE. To get scanner working I installed HPLip, and I use Kooka to scan images. (I haven't tried the fax part.)

With Slackware, I have the system as I want with what I need. Slackware isn't a user-friendly distribution, so sometimes I have to research ways to solve some issues. But I don't need the last technological innovations; I just appreciate system stability and good performance.

What's your desktop OS of choice? Write an article of less than 1,000 words telling us what you use and why. If we publish it, we'll pay you $100. (Send us a query first to be sure we haven't already published a story on your favorite OS or have one in hand.) In recent weeks, we've covered SimplyMEPIS, Xandros, Mac OS X, Fedora Core 3, Ubuntu, White Box Enterprise Linux, and Mandriva PowerPack 2006.

Category:

  • Linux
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