Learn Slackware, and you have learned Linux

I have recently switched to Slackware 13 on my laptop.  This distribution is the best performer of all distributions I have used when it comes to Wi-Fi access.

You might think that Slackware is for the ubergeek.  At one time it was.  Today’s distribution, while it requires manual configuration for the most part, some parts, such as wireless networking and printer configuration have been facilitated with new tools.

Wireless configuration under Slackware, and its variants Zenware and Vector Linux, is facilitated with the wicd suite, which is faster and better than Network Manager, designed for the GNOME desktop.

Slackware flies on the Toshiba L305 laptop, and only requires anywhere from 128MB to 512MB depending on the desktop environment installed.  The 512MB is for the KDE 4.2 distribution that comes with Slackware 13.  XFCE, WindowMaker, FVWM, and iceWM are some of the desktop environments that come with Slackware, and there are numerous sources of Slackware packages.

Of course, you can install additional packages from source tarballs.  Once you get everything you want running, it runs faster than many well known distributions such as OpenSuSE, Mandriva, and Fedora.  Only Ubuntu comes closest to performance when compared to Slackware.

Back to the Future

VirtualBox and QEMU are emulators that allow other Linux distributions as well as other operating systems to run within Linux (in this case, Slackware 13).  As of this writing, I have PCLinuxOS running inside VirtualBox, FreeDOS 1.0 running inside QEMU, and IBM PC-DOS 6.3 running in QEMU.

Why did I do this?  I have in storage boxes of old DOS and Windows software on diskette of which I have purchased back in the 1990s, and I wish to get as much of this old software running on my laptop as possible.

On FreeDOS, I have Lotus 1-2-3 v2.4, the Rebel Spreadsheet (how many of you remember this lesser known product?), and Turbo Pascal 4.0 (now there is a classic).  FreeDOS includes the Watcom C and C++ compilers.

On PCDOS 6.3, I have the DJGPP compiler system with GNU utilities.  This is the definitive software development system for development of 32-bit DOS applications.  (These applications can run on DOS with 32-bit extenders, Windows 3.x, Windows 9x/ME, and OS/2.)  I also have Geoworks Pro v2.  This was an office productivity suite built on GEOS (originally written for IBM x86 machines as well as for the Apple II series, Commodore 64/128, and Atari ST series machines).

On WINE (the Windows compatibility layer package), I have Lotus Improv running on Slackware.  This product is a true classic.  This was how spreadsheets were supposed to be designed.  I could explain how this spreadsheet works, but then I would take up too much space on this blog to do so.  But I do know this:  WINE allows access to printers connected through the CUPS system, thanks to the WINEPS.DRV file.  How’s that for going back to the future.

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