[nSLUG] Debian X server help.

Donald Teed dteed at artistic.ca
Wed Mar 3 07:59:00 AST 2004

On Wed, 3 Mar 2004 bdavidso at supercity.ns.ca wrote:

> Hi:
> On Sun, 29 Feb 2004, Donald Teed wrote:
> > > You can do ANYTHING with Slackware.
> > > Love those easy installs too.
> > > There's no doubt it's the most under-rated.
> >
> > Can you really do anything?  Try installing evolution 1.4
> > under Slackware 9.0.
> First, since last September 9.1 is the current Slackware version (aside
> from "Slackware-current" which is sort of like the Debian "testing"), so
> for bleeding-edge apps like evolution you probably want to be using the
> latest of whatever distro you use.

When I was trying to compile any version Evolution last summer,
Slackware 9.1 didn't exist.  I updated so much stuff in Slackware 9
(XFree86 with DRM, newest kernel available, ACPI back ports, etc.)
that it was as good as 9.1 in many ways.

Evolution 1.4 was released to great fan fair last spring/summer.
At first they did not provide anything other than RPMs for Suse
and Redhat.  People fumed.  Eventually they provided sources
from CVS.  That would not compile on Slackware 9.0.

Evolution 1.2 also would not compile on Slackware 9.0 because the libs
were too new (shouldn't happen ideally, but it did).  Slackware
packages for 1.3 existed, but as this is a development version
it produced a nag on every start up that one should not
be running that version.  I couldn't send that to our users.

> Second, never one to shirk a challenge, I decided to take up the gauntlet
> you hurled above.  Of course, I'm not running 9.0, but I am running
> Slackware.  Herewith the details:

Evolution 1.4 and Slackware 9.0 are an example of a situation which
Slackware allows to happen.  If you use 9.1 you are in effect
cheating, because the point isn't whether I could have waited for
9 months last year for 9.1 to appear, but whether I could
provide the ideal set of desktop packages for my users in
time for an August deployment.

I googled, I tried sources, I tried CVS, I tried claimed Slackware
packages, and nothing would provide a non-nagging Evolution at
the point of last summer.

Again, this is not a question of can I get it to work now with 9.1,
but that the situation existed for most of last year where it
was IMPOSSIBLE to provide Evolution to my users.

Whether it failed to provide me with Evolution, or whatever,
when an OS fails me like that, I'm not quick to say let's go back
and enjoy the agony again.  Not when I see how Xandros, Gentoo,
Debian and many others deal with the issue painlessly.

> > Slackware has the weakest package management I've seen in any
> > modern Linux distro.
> Or most efficient?

This is a little like saying dead people don't eat much.

> > In Slackware you are trapped in a snapshot of time for
> > a certain range of libc and other dependancies.
> What does that mean?

Core packages are not updated until there is a new version of
Slackware, unlike other distros where they do consider updating
core parts and they will do so to support a wide variety of
software packages.  At least I didn't see any updates to
anything core related other than kernel-sources and KDE
for the 5 months I had the project.

> > It requires
> > an upgrade of the OS itself, not just packages, to get
> > to a more graduated level of the core dependancies.
> The "OS itself" IS packages.  I have upgraded libc using the slackware
> package tools several times.  You can upgrade the packages glibc-solibs
> etc just like any other distro.  I don't think you have ever used
> Slackware.

Did you go outside of the Slackware FTP mirrors to apply
the updates/patches?

> > Sure you can manually compile your own base level of
> > gcc, libc and friends, but you run the risk of an unknown
> > number of applications breaking.
> If you upgrade your gcc, either by compiling it yourself or via paackage
> tools, and that breaks other apps, then you have done something other than
> upgrade your compiler.
> >
> > Slackware is fine for setting up a machine with a couple of roles
> > where you don't want a bunch of features, but for a desktop system,
> > it is pain in the ass to set up.
> No, it isn't.  You should try it sometime.

I did work with Slackware for roughly 5 months, to build
a nice desktop template for notebooks.  The users wanted
it to offer all of the similar level of goodies as
a person would find on the other bootable OS from Redmond
on the same machine.  I don't use Evolution myself,
but I was told users would want it.

At the time I encountered the problems with Evolution building,
I asked for assistance from many resources in how to resolve
the issue, and found no one could.

If you were setting up a desktop for yourself, and encountered
problems with Realplayer, or Evolution, etc, the natural thing
to do is move on to something else you think you will
like, or get mad at Real for having such poor Linux support.
But if you are setting up an ideal Linux desktop for
deployment to hundreds of users of varying levels of
Linux experience, it has to offer all of the stuff on the list.

Given this type of task, Slackware truely is a pain to get the
job done.

The time required to install Slackware and set up a web server
and a handful of desktop utilities like Kmail and Mozilla
is less than a day.  But if you want the intensely GUI
packages, like evolution, K3B, Mplayer, etc., it can
take some time to decode the compile errors and figure
out what dependancy is broken, and try, try again to
build it.

I'm sorry if Slackware is your favorite distro or second favorite,
but you should really get out and try the other ones before too long.

One man Linux distros just can't cover the ground of
rich application support.  I've also found that the user
contributed packages for Slackware are poor, so they don't
make up for it.

More information about the nSLUG mailing list