OpenSUSE never was practical for my little Fujitsu P2120. Little things like it taking 10 minutes to load the software update screen had started to get on my nerves. So I pulled Slackware 12 down, stuck it in the dvd drive, and gave it whirl.
I was pretty happy to see that some things just don’t change. Slackware still has the ncurses-based installer. There’s only subtle differences that suggest that time has not passed Slack by. First, the default kernel is hugemem-smp (useful for modern computer’s, not useful for my little guy). Then the section for adding a swap device acknowledges that modern drives do bad-block checking and therefore it was no-longer a requirement. Not to forget the fact that Slackware now ships on a DVD. Oh, and I liked Pat’s note that using the install method that prompts you for every package would likely take you 1 year to complete for the X11 package set.
Given how bare-bones Slackware is, it’s a good barometer for the usability of the core of Linux, before the likes of Canonical, RedHat, and Novell get to adding the user-friendly layers. I was pretty impressed that
X -configure gave me a valid X11 file that worked for my system and that I didn’t have to futz too much to get wireless working without the NetworkManager. Moreover, KDE and Xfce look pretty nice out of the box these days as well.
The next step towards total linux geekdom was to grab the Enlightenment packages from SlackE17. Although E17 is still considered Alpha, it works pretty well and is stable enough. Even with all the effects, it’s surprisingly responsive on this machine. It feels even more responsive than Xfce did on OpenSUSE. Of course, I don’t have any emperical evidence to back up that claim.
Of course, there are somethings that just don’t work. Suspending to RAM is as non-functional as always and suspending to disk will require a kernel patch, which I really don’t feel like doing. The special hotkeys for my screen brightness are also non-functional. Nor do I have any working power management.
On the other hand, I have a lot of shiny effects, which is pretty good for a 3 and a half year old machine that was slow on the day it was bought.
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