Getting started with Slackware

Slackware is one of the popular distributions of Linux started by Patrick Volkerding in the 1992. It is one of the oldest living Linux distributions. Slackware is aimed at people who enjoy learning and tweaking their systems to do exactly what they want. It does not try to cover up processes with point and click GUI’s. Instead it puts users to see exactly what is going on.

Let me start with the installation of Slackware 12. Assuming you have the dvd of slackware 12, you first need to go to the boot settings of your pc and set it to the dvd drive. When you reboot your system, the linux kernel loads. Now you get the boot prompt. If you are installing a fresh copy of slackware (and not recovering the grub for previously installed OS) just hit enter at this prompt. Next step in installing is selection of keyboard type, just hit 1 to select the keymap for your keyboard. In most cases it’s the normal “qwerty” keyboard. After this is done the command prompt is returned. Here you can either start with the actual installation or you can partition your hard disk for the required Linux file system.

To partition your hard disk, type <pre>cfdisk</pre> at the prompt. It will return the list of existing partitions on your hard drive. You can also use <pre>fdisk</pre> for this but I find cfdisk more comfortable. In certain cases, it may return an error saying the hard drive is read – only. In that case you should use <pre>cfdisk /dev/sda</pre> (or <pre>cfdisk /dev/hda</pre> if your hard drive is not SATA). This will return the list of existing partitions as shown.

Now select the option delete from set of options provided by cfdisk at the bottom. After deleting the partition it will show the amount of free space left. Now use the create option to create a new partition for your Linux system. Enter the size for your new intended partition and hit enter. There you are, a new partition for the Linux OS will be created. Now you need to format the newly created partition with the Linux file system. Now go to the option Type , it will show a list of file systems you can use to format your drive. Select Linux as the type of file system (option number 82 or 83). After that you will return to your cfdisk list. Now use the option Write to format your partition with the selected file system. After you are done formatting the file system use the quit option to return back to the prompt. +Note+ : If your physical memory is more than 1GB then there is no need for a swap space unless you work with image editing software like GIMP. However if your RAM is around 256MB you need to include a swap space of around 512MB. To create the swap space follow the same procedure as above, the only change you need to make is to select the file system Linux swap while formatting this swap space. +Note+: On some laptops, the hard drive wont be detected. All you need to do is to go to the BIOS and disable the hard drive and then format it. The next step in installation is the actual installation of the components, softwares and kernel for Slackware. Type setup at the prompt, it will return a screen with different setup options as shown.

Now you have to select the destination (target) i.e., the partition where you want to install Slackware. Selecting the target option from the setup menu, will automatically scan your hard drive for any partitions of the Linux file system. If it does not find then you will have to manually specify the drive. After you are done with selecting the target, the next step is to select the source. Select source from the setup menu. It will ask for an option to scan the drives for any Slackware installation disks. Choosing the automatic option will return a message that the Slackware setup disk is found. The next step is to install the packages. You can either install the default packages or custom select those which you need. It will take approx 15 minutes to install all the packages. After you are done installing packages, the last step is to install the dual- boot or the grub. As soon as the install of packages are over it will ask for configuration of network, customizing the fonts, etc. then it will ask for installing the grub, go ahead with it. Select the default screen resolution that is specified. And most importantly do not forget to install the grub in MBR. This is it, the Slackware is installed on the system. Press ctrl-alt-delete to reboot and enjoy.