This tutorial shows how you can set up a Slackware 12 GNU/Linux desktop that is a full-fledged
replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things
they do on their Windows desktop.
Unlike some other Linux distributions Slackware users find themselves at the command line quite
often. One Slacker who maintains an online Slackware Desktop Enhancement Guide wrote that the
"pros and cons of Slackware could be summarized in one word: minimalism." He went on to discuss
the duality of minimalism by noting that although "Minimalism certainly means stability" it also
means that Slackware "can be exasperating for some people because the end-user must configure
many features with manual editing rather than the more familiar point-and-click."
You may be asking yourself if Slackware is the right distribution for you. When it comes to Linux
you have a huge selection of distributions to choose from. Some like Zenwalk Linux and
VectorLinux are based on Slackware but provide a more user friendly point-and-click environment
for the new Linux user. HowtoForge has a series of "Perfect Desktop" tutorials including one for a
nice distribution named PCLinuxOS. Read that tutorial here. There's also a website that tries to
match people with a Linux distribution suitable for them at Linux Distribution Chooser.
To follow this tutorial you should be familiar with navigating the file system with a file manager.
And, willing to type commands at the prompt. If you're not already familiar with using the
command line please click here to read a simple introduction to it.
Before you begin please join the Slackware mailing lists. The mailing lists will keep you updated on
new versions, major updates, software updates, and announcements relating to security issues.
When installing an Operating System it's sometimes necessary to know what hardware is installed
on the PC. Before beginning this tutorial spend a few minutes and get the name of the hardware
installed on your system including the network card, sound card, video card, monitor, and the
monitor's horizontal scan range (HorizSync) and vertical scan range (VertRefresh). If you're
running Windows you may want to audit your systems hardware with Belarc Advisor or the Device
Manger. If you're running Linux you may want to use HardInfo.
Please note that I won't be going through every software installation step by step. For more
information please refer to section 6, Installing Additional Software.
This tutorial comes with no guarantees that it will work for you. These are simply the steps I take
to setup Slackware 12 on my desktop computer.
Please backup ALL of your personal data before starting.
*Note added March 16, 2009: For an informative article on using Slackware as a multimedia
desktop please read Darrell Anderson's "A Full-Featured Multimedia Slackware".
1 Preliminary Note
To fully replace a Windows desktop, I would like the Slackware 12 desktop to have the following
The GIMP - free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
Google Picasa - application for organizing and editing digital photos
Java Runtime Environment (JRE) - includes the Java Plug-in which enables applets to run in
aKregator - RSS Reader
Pidgin - multi-platform instant messaging client (formerly known as Gaim)
Xchat IRC - IRC Client
gFTP - multithreaded FTP client
BitTorrent - command line client that integrates with Firefox
Guarddog - firewall
Skype - a P2P Voice Over IP program
OpenOffice.org - replacement for Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and
Adobe Acrobat reader
Kontact - personal information management (PIM)
Scribus- open source desktop publishing (DTP) application
kmymoney2 - personal finance manager
Sound & Video:
Audacious - Winamp style audio player
K3B- CD/DVD burning program
Noatun- out of the box plays mpg, mpeg, avi, wmv, asf, and mp3 on your new Slackware 12
VLC Media Player- plays DVD,flash, mov, and other various audio and video formats
Quanta Plus - web development environment, including a WYSIWYG editor
Kate - an editor for text (includes Spell Check) and programming
The Java 2 SDK - a development environment for building applications, applets, and
htop - a command line, interactive process viewer friendlier than top
iptraf - a command line tool, Interactive Colorful IP LAN Monitor
netstat - a command line tool, print network connections, routing tables, interface statistics,
masquerade connections, and multicast memberships
Filelight- a KDE graphical disk-space analyzer
KDE Info Center - a central place to find information about your computer system
Konqueror - file manager, web browser, picture viewer, rip Audio CDs, read archive files
such as zip, tar, gz, SSH, SFTP
VMware Server - lets you run another OS as a virtual machine under your Linux desktop
NTFS-3G driver - Read/Write support for NTFS partitions.
Slackware 12 lets you choose between multiple desktop environments (KDE, Xfce, Fluxbox,
Blackbox, Window Maker, fvwm2 Fvwm, twm). For this tutorial we will use KDE.
I will use the username brian in this tutorial, and I will download all necessary files to various
directories on brian's desktop which is equivalent to the directory /home/brian/Desktop. If you
use another username (which you most probably do ;-)), please replace brian with your own
username. So when I use a command like
you must replace brian.
2 Installing The Base System
Download Slackware 12 and burn it onto a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM.
For this tutorial I downloaded the Slackware 12.0 DVD ISO (everything).
Use the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM you created and boot your computer from it. From here on I will use
the term DVD to refer to both the CD-ROM and DVD-ROM.
At the boot prompt press Enter:
If you're using a US keyboard press Enter. If not type 1 and press Enter:
Select your keyboard map using the UP and DOWN arrow keys.
The OK and Cancel buttons can be selected with the LEFT and RIGHT arrow keys.
Highlight a keyboard map. Select OK and press Enter:
Test your new keyboard layout.
If it works, enter 1 on a line by itself and press Enter:
Welcome to the Slackware Linux installation disk:
During setup root does not have a password. Type root and press Enter:
Once you login you will be at the Linux command line:
Before setup begins the hard disk needs to be partitioned. For simplicity's sake I will create two
partitions. One big partition that will be our root partition. The root partition is also known as /. We
will also create a 512 megabyte swap partition. Of course, the partitioning scheme is completely
up to you - if you like, you can create more than just one big partition. For example, you might
want a swap partition, a root partition and a home partition. By partitioning like that you can
reinstall the OS without losing your home directory.
Just so you know I'm writing this tutorial on more than one computer so some screenshots may
show IDE and others may show SATA. At the moment I am installing on an IBM compatible PC. I
have an IDE hard disk and will create a partion on /dev/hda. IDE drives are given names /dev/hda
to /dev/hdd. For example, if you have one IDE drive attached to the first IDE controller then it will
be named /dev/hda. If you have a second IDE drive on the same drive controller it will be named
/dev/hdb. If you have a third drive it will be attached to the second controller and be named
/dev/hdc. As you can guess the fourth drive on the second controller is /dev/hdd :)
After the drive is partitioned it will have a number appended to its name. For example, the second
partition on the first drive will be /dev/hda2.
SATA and SCSI drives follow a similar pattern but are represented by sd instead of hd. The second
partition of the first SATA drive is named /dev/sda2.
You can partition your disk with either fdisk or cfdisk. For this tutorial I used fdisk.
If you have an IDE drive type
and press Enter:
If you have a SATA drive type
and press Enter:
Type m to see what commands are available:
To see your current partion table type p
As you can see there are no partitions on my IDE hard disk:
Warning: IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU BACK UP ANY INFORMATION YOU WANT TO SAVE
BEFORE DESTROYING THE PARTITION IT LIVES ON.
Create the swap partition. Type n and press Enter:
Type p to create a primary partition and press Enter:
Type 1 to create partition number 1 on /dev/hda and press Enter:
The default is fine so press Enter:
Type +512M and press Enter:
To make this partion a swap partion type t and press Enter:
Type L or l (