Thursday, April 28, 2011

Slackware, circa 1995 versus 13.37

I got my "Linux start" with Slackware way back in 1995. I even bought my first home computer in order to do it. Before that time, I figured any computer use at home was probably going to be for work, so I figured that my employer should - and did - provide something, usually a terminal and a modem.

In the Fall of 1995, I started researching Linux distributions, found Slackware to be - at least at that time - the most highly regarded distribution, and the UNIX developers at the company I worked at seemed to use it more than anything else, too. So I looked for a computer system. Back then, I felt that computers were still pretty expensive - doesn't $2500 - $3000 for a home computer seem expensive now? I got a Micron P100, which was at least well built and a solid performer for the price.

Then I had to decide what I wanted to have with it. Windows 95 was available by then, but I couldn't tell if I could "dual boot" with 95 yet or not. Turned out you could, but I did not know that, so I bought the system with Windows for Workgroups 3.11 instead of Windows 95. Then I bought a book containing a CD with Slackware on it, and an explanation of how to install it, configure it, and use it.

I did not know anything about installing Linux, so I did a lot of reading before attempting it. My very first installation was a success, but I discovered that the Diamond Stealth graphics card in my Micron was not yet included in the version of Slackware that I installed, so the best video I could get was eight color VGA, not very impressive. So I got on the news groups at work and found out that the Diamond Stealth card now had a Linux driver. Using the Internet, I downloaded a copy onto my workstation at work, then used my own 3 1/2" floppy to bring the image home. I copied it onto the PC, researching as much of this in advance as possible, and Voila, 256 colors and better resolution - good for its generation.

Fast forward to today. The Slackware 13.37 distribution has been under development for a while now, and last night I saw the announcement that it has been released. As soon as I can get an ISO image of it, I will download it and try it out. It looks to be very well tested according to the announcement, so it should be worthwhile.