Monday, December 15, 2008

Slackware on the Acer Laptop

It didn't take long for the family to bork things on the ubuntu install with this laptop... The latest upgrade of wicd broke compatibility with the wpa network, and compiz somehow ended up broken as well... probably from my own user error in switching things over to xubuntu from straight ubuntu. ;p

So I had this nice and shiny slackware 12.2 dvd and it was time to replace ubuntu with something rock solid that would be less likely to suffer breakage.

The install for slackware hasn't really changed in this past millenia, so I won't bore you with the details. It's ncurses based, but very straightforward and easy to do. Once the base system was installed, I had a fully functional vanilla kde 3.5.10 desktop.

One nice caveat is that the card reader that I had to manually configure in ubuntu was found, and functional straight out of the box in slackware! I'll have to be sure to keep the relevant kernel modules in play after I trim down the huge kernel for everyday use. The huge series of kernels tend to be a bit bloated, but have a TON of stuff compiled right in, so just about all hardware works right out of the box.

The generated xorg.conf is quite bland and vanilla, as it requires user intervention to get it functional. I copied over the xorg from my old arch linux install and it works nicely. Even the synaptics touchpad works perfectly with scrolling in all directions.

Since Slack uses the older and more stable 1.4.2 version of xorg server, I was able to use the "export Intel_Batch=1" hack to increase graphics rendering speed. I added this to the bottom of /etc/profile to activate this system wide.

I used to build most of my packages, and to download a few binaries that either wouldn't compile from the slackbuilds or simply were not available. The transcode binary built for version 12.1 is such an example as it fails to compile in 12.2, due to an imagemagick error, yet the binary from built for 12.1 works perfectly.

The longest compilation was for qt 4.4.3, as it took nearly an hour to compile... yet it did so with no errors, and works just fine.

For wireless, wicd is included in /extra and I used ndiswrapper for the broadcom wifi card and experience very few drops. I like the stx driver, but it's not quite as stable as simply using ndiswrapper, so I'll stick with ndis for now.

I was going to recompile the kernel, but can't find an excuse to do so quite honestly. Boot up times are a tad slow, but nothing terrible, and the system is running quite nicely, so I'm loathe to really mess with things.

Openoffice 3.0 compiled and works great, and so did wine, devede, smplayer, and mplayer. We're using Thunderbird for email and Firefox for browsing, and the included software is quite robust.

Ran into one issue with installing playonlinux (which is great for managing wine games and programs), as the program would not run when invoked from the command line, but gave no error message. The arch linux aur version has a nice pkgbuild which gave me the hint I needed, as wxpython is needed, so I built this from, and playonlinux launched and ran just fine.

Slackware isn't for everyone, as some people simply just don't like compiling their own programs from source.... for a variety of reasons... but if you put in the time and effort, you have a rock solid Operating System with exactly what you want running.

I'll be happy to post my xorg.conf or help with compiling packages upon request.


David said...

Hi, what is the model number of your Acer laptop? Does it have Intel or AMD processor?

muaythaimaster said...

Hi David,

It's an acer 3680-2682. It has an intel celeron m 1.86 ghz processor with 1.5 gigs of ram.

Anonymous said...

Can you please post a copy of your xorg.conf?

Nemesis said...

Just as a hint, if you don't get any error message when running inside X, go to another console windows (ctr+alt+f6) and run the program there. It will usually give you an error in console. I had the same issue with playonlinux and did that and it pointed me to a missing wx file. I use slackware as well and wouldn't trade it for any other distro. :)

cheap computers said...

I was going to recompile the kernel, but can't find an excuse to do so quite honestly.