Gray Matter


Linux Distributions: Slackware and Absolute Linux

Slackware and Absolute LinuxSlackware is the oldest Linux distro still being maintained. According to the Wikipedia page for it, the first version was released on July 17, 1993. It was a cleaned up version of Softlanding Linux System, which itself was abandoned later that year. I recently installed Slackware as a virtual machine, followed by Absolute Linux, which is based on Slackware.

Using the Linux distros timeline, I wanted to pick something newer than Slackware. VectorLinux should have been it, but I couldn’t get the website to load and I couldn’t find a torrent for it elsewhere.


The latest version is 14.2, which was released on June 30, 2016. This is the version I installed. Setting it up wasn’t too difficult, but I didn’t expect it to be so archaic. According to a few sources, the beta edition of version 15 should be released soon, possibly this year. I honestly don’t believe it will be any easier to work with.

During the setup, I had a choice of using KDE Plasma or Xfce as the desktop environment. I chose KDE Plasma because Xfce has visually changed much over the years.

After installation, I had to log in as root. I would have to manually create a new user to avoid using root. Then, to use the desktop, I had to enter “startx”. After eyeballing an old version of KDE Plasma, I decided I didn’t need to see anything else.

Absolute Linux

The latest version of Absolute Linux, which is what I installed, is Absolute64-20210730. The archaic installer was a little easier to use than Slackware, but not much. The developer made a lot of changes to the included packages of Slackware, focusing on desktop software vs. server software, but it still took a while to finish installing.

I didn’t pay attention to what was being installed, and I wasn’t given a choice of desktop environments during the setup process. The desktop being used is IceWM, which is fast and ugly. I only know what it is because I found it on the Wikipedia page for lightweight Linux distros.

Again, I had to log in as root, but at least it was from the window manager instead of having to log in and start the x window system from the console first.

My Assessment

Neither of these distros is aimed at the average user. If you’re not technically inclined, you won’t like them. Even if you are technically inclined, you might not like them. I don’t like them. Perhaps I’m just spoiled by full desktop environments and distros that are easy to set up.

If I’m not mistaken, Slackware was the first Linux distro I ever used, but only for a short time (like maybe a week). A friend of mine bought it already installed on a hard drive, and hard drives weren’t inexpensive in the 1990s. I believe I was using either Windows 95 or Windows 98 on my desktop PC at the time, and it was way more comfortable to me. Things have definitely changed since then.

I think I’ll examine a distro not based on Slackware the next time I go through these routines. Slackware and Absolute Linux are distros I would never intentionally use for anything.

Image Attribution: bobmoser, user of, GPL, via Wikimedia Commons

Author: RT Cunningham
Date: August 6, 2021 (UTC)
Categories: Computers
Tags: absolute linux, kde plasma, linux, slackware, xfce

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