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Slackware is a Linux distribution created by Patrick Volkerding of Slackware Linux, Inc. Slackware takes a different approach than other popular distributions such as Red Hat, Debian, Gentoo, SuSE, and Mandriva in that it tries to be a "UNIX-like" Linux distribution [1] ( It has a policy of incorporating only stable releases of applications, and has a distinctive abscence of distribution-specific configuration tools found in other distributions of Linux. Partisans have been known to say, "When you know Slackware, you know Linux... when you know Red Hat, all you know is Red Hat."

Missing image
Slackware mascot -- Tux with pipe

History and name

The first Slackware release, 1.00, was released on July 16, 1993 [2] ( by Patrick Volkerding, founder and lead developer. It was based on the SLS Linux distribution and supplied as 3½" floppy disk images that were available by anonymous FTP. Slackware is the oldest maintained distribution to date, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2003.

The name "Slackware" stems from the term "Slack," as defined by the Church of the SubGenius.

In the early releases of Slackware, the distribution had three user accounts, "satan", "gonzo" and "snake". These were provided as examples, but were removed from later releases as they were a potential security risk.

In 1999, Slackware's release numbers saw a large increment from 4 to 7. This was explained by Patrick Volkerding [3] ( as a marketing effort to show the Slackware was as up-to-date as other Linux distributions, many of which had release numbers of 6 at the time.

In 2004, Patrick Volkerding became seriously ill and the future development of Slackware became uncertain. He has since recovered and the development of Slackware has continued.

In 2005, the GNOME desktop environment was removed from the pending future release, and turned over to community support and distribution. The removal of GNOME was seen by some in the Linux community as significant because the desktop environment is software found in many Linux distributions.

Throughout Slackware's history, there have been distributions and LiveCDs based upon Slackware. Some popular distributions derived from Slackware include Suse, College Linux and SLAX.


x86 release history
version date
1.0 July 16 1993
2.0 July 2 1994
3.0 November 30 1995
3.1 June 3 1996
3.2 February 17 1997
3.3 June 11 1997
3.5 June 9 1998
4.0 May 17 1999
7.0 October 25 1999
7.1 June 22 2000
8.0 July 1 2001
8.1 June 18 2002
9.0 March 19 2003
9.1 September 26 2003
10.0 June 23 2004
10.1 February 2 2005

Slackware is primarily developed for the x86 PC hardware architecture. However there have previously been offical ports to the DEC Alpha and SPARC architectures. As of 2005, there is an offical port to the System/390 architecture. There are also unoffical ports to the ARM [4] (, Alpha [5] (, SPARC [6] (, PowerPC [7] ( and x86-64 [8] ( architectures.

Slackware's latest stable x86 release is 10.1 (as of February 2, 2005), which includes support for ALSA, GCC 3.3.4 (with 3.4.3 as an alternative in /testing), Linux kernel 2.4.29 (with Linux 2.6.10 as an alternate choice in /testing), GNOME 2.6.1, KDE 3.3.2, and all the usual utilities.

There is also a testing / developmental version of Slackware called '-current' that can be used for a more bleeding edge configuration.

Design philosophies


KISS, which stands for "Keep it Simple, Stupid", is a concept that explains a lot of design choices in Slackware. In this context, 'simple' refers to the viewpoint of system design, rather than ease of use. This is the reason there are so few GUI tools to configure the system. GUI tools are (as the theory goes) more complex, and are therefore more prone to have problems than simple command line tools. The overall result of this principle is that Slackware is very fast, stable, and secure, at the cost of user-friendliness. Critics generally say that this makes things too time-consuming and difficult to learn. Advocates say that the flexibility and transparency as well as the experience gained from the process more than make up for it.

Startup scripts

Slackware uses BSD style init scripts, while most other Linux distros use System V style init scripts. Basically, with System V style each runlevel is given a subdirectory for init scripts, whereas BSD style gives a single init script to each runlevel. BSD style advocates say that it is better because with this system it is much easier to find, read, edit, and maintain the scripts. System V advocates say that the System V structure for the scripts makes them more powerful and flexible.

It is worth noting that System V init [9] ( compatibility has been incorporated into Slackware, starting with version 7.0.

Package management

Slackware's approach to package management is unique. Its package management system can install, upgrade, and remove packages as easily as other distributions. But it makes no attempt to track or manage what are referred to as "dependencies" (i.e. ensuring that the system has all the supporting system libraries and programs that the new package "expects" to be present on the system). If required prerequisite(s) are missing, there may be no indication of this until a program is executed.

The packages are gzipped tarballs whose filenames end with .tgz<tt> rather than <tt>.tar.gz. They are constructed such that, when extracted while in the root directory, their files go to their installed locations. It is therefore possible (if inadvisable) to install packages without Slackware's package tools, using only tar and gzip, and making sure to run the script, if one was included in the package.

In contrast, Red Hat's RPMs are CPIO archives, and Debian's .debs are ar archives. They contain detailed dependency information and their package management utilities can use it to find and install the prerequisites. They will refuse to install unless their prerequisites can be found (though this can be overridden).

Debate on the relative merits of tracking or ignoring dependencies, while not as intense, is somewhat reminiscent of the "religious warfare" found in the longstanding UNIX "vi versus Emacs" text editor debate. Slackware's approach to the problem seems to be well accepted by its often technically adept user base.

Automated dependency resolution

While Slackware itself does not incorporate tools to resolve dependencies for the user by automatically downloading and installing them, some 3rd-party software tools exist that can provide this function similar to the way APT does for Debian GNU/Linux.

Some of these tools determine dependencies by analyzing installed packages, determining what libraries are needed, and then discovering what packages are available that provide them. This automatic process is time-consuming, and more primitive than APT's hand-tuned method. However, it generally produces satisfactory results.

  • Swaret (
  • slapt-get (
  • SlackUpdate (
  • Emerde (
  • slackpkg (

Slackware 9.1 included Swaret as an extra on its second CD, but did not install it by default. Swaret was removed from the distribution as of Slackware 10.0 but is still available as a 3rd party package.

slackpkg is included in /extra starting with Slackware 9.1.

slapt-get does not provide dependency resolution for packages included within the Slackware distribution. It does, however, provide a framework for dependency resolution in Slackware compatible packages similar in fashion to the hand-tuned method APT utilizes. Several package sources and Slackware based distributions take advantage of this functionality.

Internet communities

Slackware is the topic of discussion on many dedicated web forums, as well as the Usenet newsgroup alt.os.linux.slackware (news://alt.os.linux.slackware) and the IRC channel ##slackware (irc:// at

See also

External links

Slackware distribution

Slackware discussions and software assistance

  • The Revised Slackware Book Project ( - updated users' guide for Slackware
  • Slackware Linux Basics ( - a book that aims to provide an in-depth introduction to Slackware
  • Slackware forum (
  • "old" Slackware Forum ( (still active)
  • Dropline GNOME ( - GNOME packages for Slackware
  • GWARE ( - GNOME packages for Slackware
  • GNOME.SlackBuild ( - GNOME SlackBuild scripts
  • Slackware Tips & Tricks by Jack S. Lai (
  • SlackWiki ( - unofficial Slackware Wikipedia
  • LinuxPackages ( - abundant source of 3rd party Slackware packages
  • Slackware Gallery ( - Slackware screenshots, and community.
  • userlocal ( - Slackware community site
  • Slacklife ( - Brazilian Site for community slacker.
  • slackersbible ( - a project to keep Slackware documentation as up-to-date as possible

Slackware-based distros

  • College Linux
  • DARKSTAR Linux — Aims to be a desktop, gaming, and multimedia system for novice users.
  • GoblinX ( — Live CD with standardized themes targeted at novice users
  • Klax ( — LiveCD based on SLAX that features KDE 3.4 RC1
  • Slamd64 ( — Unofficial port of Slackware to the x86-64 architecture
  • SLAX, Slackware LiveCD (
  • Stux (
  • TopologiLinux ( Topologilinux runs within an existing Windows system.
  • Ultima Linux ( — lightweight distro based on Slackware (maintained by Martin Ultima)
  • Vectorlinux ( — Distribution aimed at usability improvements
  • SLAX a Live CD that uses KDE. It can also be stored on a USB keydrive
  • Stux a LiveCD that has a feature to remember configuration between use.
  • Mutagenix ( a series of Live CDs
  • MiniSlack (
  • SlakbootEBS ( An Embedded Slackware SDK designed for ease of use.


cs:Slackware de:Slackware et:Slackware es:Slackware fr:Slackware is:Slackware it:Slackware nl:Slackware Linux ja:Slackware no:Slackware pl:Slackware pt:Slackware Linux ru:Slackware sk:Slackware fi:Slackware sv:Slackware tr:Slackware he:סלאקוור


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