Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Slackware 13.37 Installation Process

It has been years since I had a Slackware on my desktop computer. It was not because I did not have a good experience with it, but more of a distribution-hopping disease that got me since I was bitten by the penguin Tux. And also, I am a does-not-bother-with-manuals-until-something-goes-wrong kind of guy. So instead of getting to know my tgz and txz, I left it for rpm and deb.

Now, Slackware is back on my permanent partition (I still have test partitions for other distributions that had passed my VirtualBox scrutiny). And I will be detailing here how I did it.

Note: What I did may not work for you, dear reader, but I am hoping it will give you some insight on how it is done.

First, I went to and chose Slackware 13.37 x86 DVD ISO since my machine has 32-bit data width architecture. With my 1MB DSL connection, I got the ISO image in approximately 6 hours. (If you're wondering, the answer is NO, I did not wait for it from start to finish.)

Secondly, I downloaded a 40MB boot-only CD from the website (thanks to Eric “AlienBob” Hameleers for that) and burned it to a CD+RW.

The reason for step number two is that (1) I do not have a DVD player on my machine and most importantly (2) it is much faster to install Slackware using the hard drive.

Third step is booting my newly burned Slackware CD.

Fourth step is partitioning my hard drive using cfdisk. Since I have a 3 GB memory, I opted to skip a swap partition altogether and allotted 20 GB for the / partition (a primary partition of course).

$ cfdisk /dev/sda

You might wonder what about the /usr or the /var. Well, since my hd is only 320 GB and I have at least three OS in it all the time, it has become a rule of mine that each OS must be contained in a 10-20GB primary partition while the home or Data will have the remaining space in an extended partition all by itself. In summary, my hard disk has the following partitions in order: OS|OS|OS|Data.

My style of slicing the magnetic storage may sound strange to you, but you must remember, partitioning a hard disk is a personal choice.

Fifthly, I created a folder /installer and mounted the partition where I had my Slackware DVD ISO image. I moved the ISO in /installer/iso folder for easy access.

$ mkdir /installer
$ mount /dev/sda2 /installer
$ mkdir /installer/iso
$ mv /installer/files/downloads/slackware-13.37-dvd.iso /iso

Sixthly, I launched the setup program, selected my newly created 20GB partition.

$ setup

Part of the choices in setup is to select partitions to be loaded on start-up so I also added other partitions to my /etc/fstab.

Seventh step is where I specify the Installation Source.
> I pointed to “Source is a Partition”
> Partition: /dev/sda2
> Directory: /isoz`

In step eight, I selected “Full” selection of packages to install and waited until it was time to configure the new OS.

Ninth step is setting up the administrator password, network (DHCP for me), fonts, mouse, and services to run during start-up. I did not install LiLo because I liked GRUB more.

Tenth step is to reboot the PC using the CD image. But this time, I selected /dev/sda3 as the root image. Then, I mounted the partition where the Slackware ISO image was and also mounted the ISO image itself.

$ mount /dev/sda2 /mnt/hd
$ mount -o loop /mnt/hd/files/downloads/slackware-13.37-dvd.iso /mnt/iso

I navigated to the extras folder and installed GRUB 1.5. Under extras, I also installed the Java Development Kit 1.6 update 25.

$ cd /mnt/iso/extras
$ installpkg grub/grub*.txz
$ installpkg jdk/jdk*.txz

There are other software under extras, it's up to you to chose what you want.

I ran grubconfig to setup my GRUB's menu.lst. You have two choices, simple and expert. I chose 'expert' mode because I need to specify the /boot/vmlinuz-xxx-xxx for other operating systems.

Eleventh step is to create a normal user, password with group membership to audio, cdrom, plugdev, video, power, and netdev.

$ useradd -m ferdibojos
$ passwd
$ useradd ferdibojos audio
$ useradd ferdibojos cdrom
$ useradd ferdibojos plugdev
$ useradd ferdibojos video
$ useradd ferdibojos power
$ useradd ferdibojos netdev

Twelfth step is to reboot and test the GRUB menu. Chose Slackware, login as a normal user, and then run startx (for a graphical desktop environment).

As you can see it is lengthy, but, in the end, I got a very fast and stable operating system with lots of free software installed ranging from office suites, graphical apps, games both for fun and learning to programming tools. 

Next post will be much shorter where I detail my video driver installation in Slackware and how I updated my KDE 4.5 to KDE 4.7.4.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Cycle of Desktop Environment

When KDE 4 replaced KDE 3 I was excited. I had a great working environment with the earlier version and expected much more from the newer model. The crashes came and I was forgiving; baby's first steps after all, I said. Patches came, KDE minor versioning increased but still the crashes went on. 

I went back to the previous version but I knew KDE 3 was done for.  It was just a matter of time. And at that time, I realized, it was a time for change. It is good to look at the past for reference; better to hold on to what is now; but sooner or later, it is time to push forward. I evaluated my choices and realized that I had to wait for KDE 4 to mature; I can wait but my productivity cannot; that was the day I switched to the GTK side. Gnome, I decided, was the only choice after KDE.

After two years since that fateful day, I was comfortable with Gnome thanks to Linux Mint (and even had a short and pleasant experience with XFCE 4.6). KDE 4 went past 4.5 marker, still I waited. The day when Gnome 3 was announced was the day I realized the cycle had started anew. Like the story of KDE, Gnome has to mutate. So must I change.

I started with a netinstall of Debian Squeeze then choosing KDE as the environment. Good looking but awkward.

After reading the Distrowatch review I gave Simply MEPIS 11 a shot. It was also good looking but it was solid and very stable as well. It now resides permanently in my external USB HDD. The only weakness SM11 possessed was its very own strength -- its linked to Debian's growth pattern. The price of stability is fewer incoming changes. So I went looking for a new resident OS to my desktop.

Then Kubuntu 11.10 came and tried it. Pretty but freezes sometimes and consumes much more memory than SM11. The search continued.

I tried Salix, liked its low memory consumption and speed. KDE version was still 4.5/4.6 and has to be upgraded. While doing so, it came to me that upgrading to KDE 4.7.x was by using a Slackware unofficial repository. Hmm ...

The solution was simple. I went back to my first distro, Slackware. It felt like coming home.

It's still less than a month since my shift to KDE 4.7.x and I am very happy with it. There are some adjustment of course. I miss Nautilus and Gnome-Do. I realized that I like Yakuake better than Guake. Amarok I avoid, using Audacious instead. I never use Gnome AbiWord but KDE KWord I like (writing this with it right now). I am delighted with KDE Activities more than the plasmoids.

That's the story so far 'cause the cycle never stops.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What is GNU/Linux?

GNU is recursively defined as GNU's Not Unix. It was started by Richard Stallman (founder of  GNU Project and Free Software Foundation).

GNU Project was intended to create a free operating system alternative to the commercial UNIX OS. To   create open source software, he and like-minded others developed open source compilers known as the GNU Compiler Collection.  

So GNU represents the collection of free and open source programs that will make up the GNU OS but its GNU Hurd kernel is not yet available. Kernel is the at the heart of every computing OS; without it there's no OS to begin with.

In April 1991, Linus Torvalds posted his "... just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu..." kernel which was greatly adopted by other developers.

From then on, GNU/Linux and the open source movement spread to the masses.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blogger's foreword

I created this blog some time ago but never got the chance to put anything in it.  Or should I say, I never thought of anything of interest to share with you readers. 

Empty, this blog existed. 

Unvisited (except by me), but the URI is validated.

And finally, it's alive.