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If you're reading this, it means you've decided to take the plunge and to install Slackware. Whilst there may be a few tears shed, you won't regret it.

This document is here only to provide a quick overview and introduction to some parts of Slackware we feel it is important for you to know before you get started. It is highly recommended that you also read The Book. You could also try the more in depth Slackware Linux Basics.

Simple Text Editing instead of GUIs

The first thing you will need to be aware of is that using Slackware is a quite different experience, especially to those of you coming from a Windows or more GUI oriented Linux distributions (although if you have a BSD or UNIX background, expect a lot of similarity and overlap). One of the main differences being that Slackware is a very heavily text editing based distribution – there are few, if any, fancy GUI tools to get between you and your system. For some, this is quite a shocking proposal, and they believe that Slackware is stuck in the stone age. For those of us who actually use it, the reverse is quite true. We are not at the mercy of poorly written GUI tools, and instead can set up Slackware to do what we want, how we want it.

Package Management

Another large difference is the Slackware package management. Slackware has an excellent dependency checking system built in – you! Slackware's *.tgz package format is simple, but deceptively so, and very effective. You know best how to deal with dependencies, not a tool trying to guess and leaving you in the RPM-style 'dependency hell'.

In a lot of cases though, you will be expected to roll your own packages for applications outside the distribution.


There is no 'official' Slackware updating tool (the official 'unofficial' one is slackpkg, which can be found in /extras on either CD 2 or any Slackware mirror. There are others though, such as SwareT (the official 'unofficial' tool of Slackware 9.1), slapt-get (a Debian apt-get style tool) and emerde (a Gentoo emerge style tool)).

Slackware has a number of versions which are still being maintained (this usually means security patches are being back ported to them). These are the normal versions, and -current. You will need to decide what you want to update.

In either case, if you choose to update you will need to decide for yourself how best to do this.

What cannot be stressed enough though is *before* you apply updates, read the ChangeLog!


By default, Slackware has installed a lot of documentation in /usr/doc (especially /usr/doc/Linux-FAQs and /usr/doc/Linux-HOWTOs. Go to the directory you want in a terminal, and use 'less <filename>' to read the file)

Slackware is not a heavily custom patched distribution as some, patches will tend only to be applied for security updates or newer versions. Therefore, the default documentation that comes with a program will normally be more than sufficient for your needs.

Problem Solving

Slackware is a distribution that expects you to first do some research of your own when you hit a problem. “Google is your friend” (now sometimes expressed as JFGI – Just (F word) Google It!) or the ever common acronym, RTFM (Read The (F word) Manual!)). [1] So do try reading through the documentation or searching the web for your problem first – if it's already answered, you don't have to wait for someone to post the answer again!

If a question is already answered on the forums, or somewhere else, you may well be given simply a link to that answer. It isn't us being rude, it's just that the question has been asked numerous times before, and there's no reason to repeat the answer, when a perfectly good answer already exists. When you hit something that isn't answered, or you've tried but just can't find an answer, then by all means, ask away on Slackware forum and we'll be more than happy to help you (read Eric S. Raymond's 'How to Ask Questions the Smart Way' to help you in best getting your question across).

External Links

With that in mind, before you start installing Slackware, or if you already have, the following resources are invaluable to you (especially the Book, and the updated Book, which are considered *essential* reading).

Foot Notes

[1] Use the command 'wtf' to find the meaning of an acronym in Slackware:


wtf QED