Thursday, August 7, 2008

x86_64 Slackware.

When the realms of the improbable become the realms of now then the time has come to make those hard decisions. There was a time when Slackware was all I saw. None of the other distributions held any level of promise for me. It was all I used, or ever have used. Now though that time of intense personal investment is closing. It hurts to say it. The 2Gb of notes I have collected. The 2Gb of scripts, some large, some small, I have created or collected. The 52Gb of source, build scripts and binary packages I have collected over the years. The 10+ years of general evangelism I have given to it. All will soon be gone.

Yes, I am fully aware Slackware does not have an official x86_64 version but still, why do the various repositories of slackbuild scripts not do x86_64 scripts? It can be achieved in two or three lines with maybe a patch to increase compatabilty and yet these dinosaurs continue to service only the i?86 clones.

Just because Slackware itself stubbornly refuses to get with the times and either do their own x86_64 port or sanction one of the ones already available does not mean these slackbuilds people need to keep their heads in the sand as well.

Given that there are, as far as I know, only 3 x86_64 ports of Slackware the choice of which to sanction is not a hard one. Knowing past issues with application selection (the dumping of gnome2 is a prime example of going against its users wishes) and the arrogance displayed in ignoring the users wishes the choice will not be based on which is the best or a closest match for Slackware itself (Bluewhite64 wins here) but will be the one least used or liked by the users of. Of ccourse the Slackware creator himself will find the creator of whichever x86_64 Slackware port that can display the biggest suck up to the Man himself.

Once upon a time I would only recommend Slackware to friends and family. Not because it was easy to use (it is) nor because it was easy to install (it is) but because of the stabilty it held so proud and rightly so because it always was and has been the more stable distribution out of the 380+ distributions now available. Now i find even my own attraction to it is waning. After some 10+ years of usage I now no longer recommend it to anyone. Not because it has suddenly become somehow unstable but because I think its relevance it waning to an all time low. While distributions like the Ubuntu family exist, and there is no reason to suppose they will disappear, it is easy to see why people coming from their MS Windows system, and with all the baggage that brings with it, are drawn towards them.

Dell, HP and a few other of the big hardware players put one of the Ubuntu family on their systems and those systems sell (apparently they are selling quite well) it is the Ubuntu family that steals the limelight and distributions like Slackware become marginal at best. There will be those who say "So what." I used to have those thoughts as well. But I can no longer say it. For over 10 years I have been a staunch Slackware user but nowadays I find myself looking evermore and what else is available. I am looking to switch distributions because I am sick and tired of waiting for an officially sanctioned x86_64 port of my (once) favourite distribution.

Slackware will not die anytime soon but the writing is on the wall. If they do not bring out their own x86_64 port or sanction one, if not all 3, of those x86_64 ports already out there then that writing may very well come true.

For myself, I have decided that if this sanction is not given by the end of this year (2008) then I feel I have no choice but to move to another distribution. The main part of my work is distribution agnostic but when support is needed then more often than not it is one of the Ubuntu family mentioned. If I want to continue my work then I feel I should use what those i am supposed to be supporting use. I don't care what the AOLS (alt.os,linux.slackware) Usenet faithful say nor any of those who have already made the switch (one can see the handles in the various distribution specific newsgroups and on various forums that have at one time or another posted to AOLS or had some web page somewhere with Slackware specific information on it or posted to some Slackware forum. The time for Slackware on my systems is drawing to a close. I have decided that for myself that close will be at the end of the current year (2008).

I don't expect any Slackware faithful person to see what I am seeing nor do I expect them to agree with me but my decision is my choice to make and I have made it.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I agree with you, but ...

Slackware-x86 can run for long time on my vmware servers and specially now that ESX3i are

if I need windows my choice are for xp running on virtualbox and not vista 64bit. actually my laptop (T2400) can't run 64bit and Slackware still make me happy.

and more, my 100 xp workstation will be, one day, virtualized
Slackware_x386 (not ubuntu_64) running on thin client.

for real powerstation_64 Slackware is out also becouse power users ask for OSX/Ubuntu.

but for my next pc/laptop I don't know what to do. I like BW but really, Slackware-x86_64 will be the choice if available.


Anonymous said...

Just a quick note:
Slackware now has a full 64 Bit version.