Saturday, July 25, 2009

Slackware Day 2: Configuration and New Packages

So now I had a fresh Slackware install on my Eee...what next? The first task I accomplished was fixing a problem with the tutorial I followed: it only had you install packages from the first install CD, but I wanted packages from ALL the install CDs. Fortunately, this is easy sauce.

Go to any of the FTP Slackware mirrors and navigate to the slackware folder, which has all the software packages. Since the ones I had installed from the ISOs needed to be updated anyway, I just copied all of them into my local slackware folder. I then mounted the hard drive on my Slack system, and navigated to the package collection I wanted to install, and ran:

#installpkg *

This will install everything in the folder.

Important note: You'll notice MOST of the packages have the extension .txz. If you have an older version of pkgtools, Slackware won't know what to do with these. A good way to handle this is to download the .tgz packages of tar, gzip, pkgtool, and xz, install those using installpkg, and then install everything else.

Finally, not only do we have a great base system, but X is installed! I chose to not install the KDE or KDEI packages, my window manger of choice is xmonad, so I'll go through the steps to install that. :) However, if you installed the XAP packages, you should have at least fluxbox, blackbox, xfce4, and a few others, so you're more or less in business!

Before configuring X, make sure to add a user. All the previous actions needed to be done as root, but X has lots of user-specific configuration, so if you haven't done that already, get it out of the way.

Finally, to configure X:


That should be it! To choose your initial window manager, run:


Running startx should drop you into whatever you chose! Further, more fine-tuned X configuration is usually done in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf; configuration for your personal X session (as a user) is done in .xinitrc.

Bonus task: Installing Xmonad
Xmonad is my favorite wm, especially on my netbook. It's fast, clean, minimal, and relies very heavily on the keyboard. Another good one is ratpoison, but I use xmonad for my day-to-day :)

To install, go to the Xmonad site, downloads, and slackware. All the packages you need to install xmonad on your system are right there (there's not many of them!). Download them all into a folder (I called mine xmonad), navigate into the folder, and run

#installpkg *

After that has finished, open up .xinitrc (it should have been created after you ran xwmsetup).
Where it says:

exec /usr/bin/startflux

or something similar, replace it with:

exec xmonad

Done! Exit out, start X again, and enjoy Xmonad :)

That's pretty much the extent of my Slackware-installation posts, I've managed to get the full system running quite a bit faster than my first time. Any subsequent posts will more than likely deal with getting wireless up and running, though compared to the first time I tried, it should be significantly easier...the 2.6 kernel has the best wireless drivers built-in already! I hope people find this helpful, or even a little interesting...thanks for reading!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Slackware Day 1: Installation

Of course, the first step before doing ANYTHING is to back up my laptop...don't want to lose anything important!

While waiting for the files to back up, I needed to create a boot disk on my USB (Eee's don't have a disk drive :P). According to the step-by-step I referenced in the last post, I needed to perform a dd to get the usbboot.img I downloaded from the Slackware site onto my flash drive.

I got the device ID for the flash drive by running the command:

sudo fdisk -l

This is crucial...the last time I assumed I knew what the device ID was, I borked my entire system (side note: if you find yourself thinking "this is taking a really long time", you borked your system). Fdisk says that my USB is /dev/sdb1, so my dd command would be:

dd if=usbboot.img of=/dev/sdb1 bs=512

That resulted in:

54504+0 records in
54504+0 records out
27906048 bytes (28 MB) copied, 1.26218 s, 22.1 MB/s


Important edit: this will only install the very basic packages. My next post discusses how to get *all* the packages later, including updates, but at this step it would be easier to not bother with the ISOs at all, and go to any of the ftp sites offering slack packages. There should be a slackware folder in slackware-current with all the package groups; download them into your slackware folder. This way, you get everything, and it's all up-to-date.
Next step: getting an ISO of the install disk 1, mounting, and copying the slackware/ directory to another USB drive. I installed gmountiso (recommended by The Ubuntu Geek, a fantastic Ubuntu help-page), mounted the ISO, and copied the /slackware folder (with all the packages) onto an external hard drive.

Finally, booting and installing! Following the instructions on the website, I managed to get the system and packages installed without a hitch. I didn't manage to get LILO installed immediately, but I was able to boot successfully into my new system using the following commands in the GRUB prompt:

grub> root (hd0,0)
grub> kernel (hd0,0)/boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/hda1
grub> boot

And now for the real work, next time: configuration and installing new packages!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And Moving Back to Slackware...

I change Linux distros more often than I change underware. It's always for different reasons, but the result is always the same...I get to spend time setting up a brand new system, working out all the little hiccups, until it's running smooth as silk. Today is Part 1 of my decent into madness: The Migration Back To Slackware.

Slackware was my very first Linux distro. Before I even really understood was Linux even was. I ruined about 10 CDs trying to get the iso images to burn correctly because I was using Windows, and that shit is hard! Finally...Slackware was mine. I spent the next few years or so just learning how to manipulate the most basic functionality, culminating in my finest achievement, learning how to successfully compile my own kernel. But really, the furthest I got was building a usable desktop environment. Sure, this is a success in and of itself, but it left huge gaps in my knowledge that other, gentler Linux distros slowly filled. When my friend recommended Arch to me, I was very excited, since it's basically Slackware with package management. Package management eventually became my friend after I worked with Debian (which probably directly influenced my move to Ubuntu as my primary desktop).

Recently, though, I've been dreaming of Slackware again. I think it's finally time to come back to my first toy distro, and see how much I've REALLY learned after all these years.

Resources to start:
How To Install Slackware On The Eee
The Main Slackware Page