Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New age Slackware.

It used to be said that Slackware was the best all round fit for both server installations an desktop systems. It was also said to be the best fit for both old, older and new systems. In the days of yore many, if not most, of its users were command line junkies. Nowadays though, almost none of that holds true.

Sure, the venerable Slackware distribution can be, and is, used on a few servers here and there with the desktop components not being installed but my own findings are that Slackware is nowadays mostly found on desktop installations. That assumes one can find anyone outside of the clique that makes up its current user base who is actively using it. This change of direction came around the time Gnome2 was dropped from the distribution and the horrible KDE became the main desktop GUI. This was a major choice by the creator of Slackware and not one that was popular. My dislike of KDE is because of its QT dependency. I dislike QT with a passion which means I dislike KDE too and anything else that depends on it.

Slackware, rightly, has a reputation for being staid in its choice of software. Some of the software that makes up the distribution is not bleeding edge. This gave Slackware a reputation for being solid in use. Slackware has always shipped with a choice of desktop Gui's but the dropping of Gnome was a minor disaster for Slackware which ultimately lost it a few users to other distributions that did include Gnome. There are also a few people that built Gnome for Slackware almost making a mockery of the Slackware authors claim that Gnome2 was hard to build and maintain.

In the latest release, due real soon now, the use of a default 2.6.x kernel, and the tools that go with it, also shows a leaning by its creator towards desktop installations. Many users, or potential users, of Slackware are now told to use an older version if the system it is being installed on is an old one. How old is old? Well, my reckoning is any CPU from the pre 2004 days. That move to a 2.6.x kernel combined with the dropping of Gnome2 excludes a lot of users.

So, with the combined dropping of Gnome2 and now the move to a 2.6.x kernel, Slackware stands to lose a few more users. I have no idea just how many installations, server and desktop, comprise of Slackware installations but my findings indicate the number has dropped dramatically in recent times, which is a shame because it is a fantastically stable distribution.

Added to this the Slackware creator has gathered together a bunch of people who he is hoping will take up the slack (no pun intended) should the creator decide for whatever reason, he has had enough and quits. Not all of these people are popular amongst its current user base and will I reckon lead to even less usage of Slackware in the next few years. Some of these people are arrogant, something the creator of Slackware has never been seen to be. They stomp all over other peoples work by stealing it. They never give attributes where due. Work that they gave away for free on various web sites dotted here and there. Web sites that in some cases have been around longer than some of these people. They jump on anyone who might have something bad to say about Slackware itself or the creator of, even if that something has merit.

I have used Slackware since around 1993 when it was born from the soon to be ashes of the SLS (Soft Landing Systems) distribution and have followed it not only by usage of it, but also with a general interest when compared to other distributions. Nowadays I have a 64 bit CPU which Slackware itself does not support but other distributions based on Slackware do. Of these ports I find Bluewhite64 to be the best fit as it directly mirrors, save for the 32 bit compatibility layer, Slackware itself. So, the transition from 32 bit Slackware to 64 bit Bluewhite64 via Slamd64 seemed to me to be an obvious one. I took it and find that Bluewhite64 with Gnome2 is the best of breed. I just find it a shame that the Slackware creator dropped Gnome2 from the distribution. Through my own scripting of the Gnome2 build process, and all its various dependencies, and the usage of other peoples scripts to build it, that the claim it is hard to build and maintain is laughable. However, it is, and was, his choice as it is after all his distribution that one assumes mirrors his own usage on the desktop at least and that is something I respect.

It has hurt to write this post because I honestly think that Slackware and the none sanctioned 64 bit ports of it are the best distributions by far, but that said, what I have said here is based around my observations of how the distribution has developed in recent times. It does not make good reading if you are, like me, a stout and devoted Slackware user but it is my view of the current state of play.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ubuntu sufferation.

My wife uses a Ubuntu desktop and it is fine for her. After a few days tutorial by yours truly she is now very adept and upgrading/installing and removing applications by herself.

And that my friends is where Ubuntu should stay. On the desktop. It is great there for those with minimal Linux knowledge. My wife loves the way automatic updates just works "like it did in windows".

So, why on earth do Linux hardware sites use Ubuntu as their OS of choice? It is, by design, unstable. It is, by design, a desktop OS. Sure one can get a Ubuntu server OS but come on. Using it as the OS of choice for benchmarking is just plain stupid. Ubuntu has layers and layers of useless crap between it and its users which slows it down. The guys who run and work on these hardware sites have tons of Linux knowledge so, surely they are capable of using a real Linux OS inplace of that toy OS and still provide the articles their users love to read.

Use Slackware or one of the x86_64 derivatives. Use CentOS. But for crying out loud don't use bloody Ubuntu and then claim Linux is unstable when it bloody crashes. It may even raise your profile in the eyes of us geeks that have years and years of Linux usage under our belts.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Why oh why?

It seems only myself posts here any more. I have no idea what is happening in the world of this blogs creator as he does not reply to my emails anymore. He is based in the U.S.A. while I reside in the U.K. so it is not as easy as popping across the road when trying to contact him. I am sure he will pop up here eventually but right now it seems I am alone in providing content.

Oh well.

So, what is this "Why oh why" all about? Well, as many Linux based applications compile and run fine on Mac OSX why don't creators of certain software create said software for the Linux platform when they create it for MAC OSX?

Now that the venerable MAC uses a BSD base system under all that pretty GUI-ness there is little to seperate the Mac platform from a Linux one. They can use Xorg on the Mac so the differences are less and less so why don't they allow their software on the Linux platform? I really do not know. They do though so email them and ask them. Every day for ever until they release their games and applications on our platform. They create MS Vista and XP ones so why not Linux based ones too?