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Slackware is the oldest active Linux distribution, having begun life as a much improved variant of SLS (Soft Landing System) in 1993 and was perhaps the first distro to really put itself on the map. After that, Red Hat and Debian and other distributions followed. Slackware is primarily the work of Patrick J. Volkerding.

Slackware consistently rates high at the LQ Distribution Review section, with each version since 8.1 achieving a rating of at least 9 out of 10 on average.

Slackware has continued to have a mixed reputation, being seen as pure, genuine, simple and a great distro to learn Linux on, or possibly also as old-fashioned, unfriendly, and difficult for newbies. Slackware software packages tend to be modified as little as possible for inclusion into the distribution. The software you get is pretty much as the developer made it (rather than it being patched in various ways to work with a given distro's idiosyncrasies).

Although it is as graphical as any distro, Slackware places an emphasis on the command line and text file configuration. While it has very straightforward package management tools used by the majority of system admins, Slackware encourages advanced users to compile program sources into binaries by its providing well-stocked libraries, a complete suite of development tools, and everything in its place.

The installer is text-based, unlike the vast majority of graphical installers which themselves can place demands upon available system resources. Slackware's 'setup' installer is relatively straightforward and simple. LILO is the default loader, but the newer GRUB is available as an alternative. For UEFI boots, the default loader is elilo. Although partitioning is left to be performed by the user, done with either fdisk or cfdisk, Patrick J. Volkerding provides a great deal of straightforward user assistance on the install media itself for partitioning and the other first installation steps. The default runlevel defined in /etc/inittab is 3, which boots to a console login which leads to a bash prompt. The startup configuration is defined by relatively clear and straightforward BSD-style init scripts, as opposed to SysV. Most of the few Slackware-specific tools are bash scripts. The default /etc/skel contains only a '.screenrc'.

An easily manageable and wide array of packages are included with Slackware -- it has only expanded beyond a single CD of binaries with Slackware release 9.1, 10.0, 10.1, and 10.2, now having two CD's, while many distros include 3, 4, 7 or more. More recent versions use a single DVD. The packages included are generally well-tested and reasonably secure. The result is a fast, lean, stable system. New users are strongly advised to install the complete system, as this is guaranteed to satisfy all program dependencies.

Slackware has several helpful IRC channels. There is #slackware on OFTC (, ##slackware on Freenode ( and #slackware on EFNet (

Derived distributions

  • Zenwalk (
    Zenwalk Linux is a Slackware-based single-cd distribution which focuses on providing an efficient set of development, multimedia and Internet applications and tools.
  • Salix OS (
    Salix OS is a Slackware-based Linux distribution that is simple, fast, easy to use and compatible with Slackware Linux. Optimised for desktop use, Salix OS features one application per task, custom package repositories, advanced package management with dependency support, localised system administration tools and innovative artwork.
  • SLAX is a Live CD based on Slackware.
  • BackTrack - Security Penetration tool.
  • 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 (
    Live CD based on SLAX.
  • Mutagenix (
    rescue and Freerock Gnome Live_CD's.
  • RUNT (
    ResNet USB Network Tester. Runs from a USB keydrive.
  • SlakbootEBS (
    An Embedded Slackware Software development kit designed for ease of use.
  • Slamd64 (
    Unofficial port of Slackware to the [1] architecture.
  • Stux a Live CD that has a feature to remember configuration between use.
  • TopologiLinux (
    Topologilinux runs within an existing Microsoft Windows system.
  • Ultima Linux (
    lightweight distro based on Slackware (maintained by Martin Ultima).
  • Pocketlinux (
    another lightweight Slackware-based distro from Germany.
  • VectorLinux - Distribution aimed at usability and speed.
  • Voltalinux is based on Slackware with NetBSD's pkgsrc
  • Wolvix is a SLAX remodel designed for a smaller footprint.

See also

External links