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Installing Slackware Linux

I'm usually an early adopter as far as Operating Systems go, and Linux was coming on the scene sometime around 1991 (actually, Linux Torvalds first posting of it to the comp.os.minix newsgroup is dated 9/25/1991 from the University of Helsinki).  I somehow stumbled onto the Slackware distribution in 1993 at kernel version 0.99pl12 (Slackware 1.0.3).  I actually ran this on a 386 16Mhz clone desktop - and it ran XWindows just fine!

I prefer Slackware Linux due to the simple fact that I can configure it however I want.  I don't have to wait for a distribution to include drivers, etc.  I can download the latest stable kernel and/or recompile it if I want.  It adheres to the true Linux file system mapping and has a pretty small, but stable following of users.  So I can always get questions answered if I need to.

Plus - check out this machine's ( uptime (no reboots) during updates, etc. Can your server or desktop to that?

How To Install Slackware from Scratch in 10 Easy Steps

1.) Boot from Slackware DVD (yes DVD - trust me, you don't want to have to create a root and boot disk like I had to circa 1993!)
2.) fdisk /dev/sda (or use the cfdisk utility)
3.) Create a / partition and a swap partition
4.) Activate swap space
5.) Continue with install - install everything
6.) Choose XFCE Xwindow system (I love XFCE - clean and simple!)
7.) Install SSH (to allow remote access and change port in /etc/ssh/sshd_config to something other than 22) - I'm not going to tell you what I use also see below to lock out root access if on the Internet!  But use a port between 1000 - 65535 that's not currently in use.
8.) Add a default user - so you don't run as root
9.) Make sure security patches are installed by doing...
9a.) slackpkg update (it'll probably ask you to pick a mirror close to you for security updates/etc)
9b.) slackpkg install-new
9c.) slackpkg upgrade-all
10.) Close down services you're not using in /etc/rc.d (or if you want a menu - run "pkgtool" as root and shut those down)

You're done!  This will give you a "stable", if you're interested in "slackware-current" - a bleeding-edge install - look at the end of this document.


Secure The Box!

Now you don't want "root" hack attempts, right?  So just set the SSH daemon to deny root access to the box.  You MUST do this if you're connected to the Internet.  There are tens of thousands of hack requests per month.  Most originate from China and Russia, but you never know where the bad guy truely is.  So do the following...

1.) Change the Port to something other than 22 (like I told you to above).

2.) Edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config

3.) Set "Protocol 2"

4.) Set "PermitRootLogin no"

5.) Number 3 and 4 are Mandatory, but I also set "LoginGraceTime 1m", "MaxAuthTries 2" as well to thwart bad login attempts.

Now if you need to login as root, you need to login as a user first, then "su root" to get access as a root user.  This is way more secure.


Never, Never, "Run as root"

You should never run common commands, X Windows, etc as root.  It's not that it causes a problem, it's just a safety feature all Linux/Unix/BSD/etc. administrators should follow.   There are some cases when you need to login as root to install a program, or configure part of the system.  With all that "back and forth", you sometimes miss the difference in prompt $ = normal user, wheras # = superuser (root).  I color code my bash prompt by doing the following...

1.) Edit /root/.bashrc

2.) Add the line......PS1='\[\e[1;31m\][\u@\h \W]\$\[\e[0m\] '

Need a printer? Do the following...
1.) chmod +x /etc/rc.d/rc.cups
2.) /etc/rc.d/rc.cups start
3.) Setup the Printer in X Windows


Want to Forward X Windows - to connect remotely to your X Windows over SSH?
1.) Edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config and change the following
       AllowTcpForwarding yes
       X11Forwarding yes
       X11DisplayOffset 10
       X11UseLocalhost yes
2.) Restart SSH daemon
       /etc/rc.d/rc.sshd restart
3.) On Local Windows/Linux Machine change /etc/ssh/ssh_config as follows
       ForwardAgent yes
       ForwardX11 yes
4.) Connect to remote X Windows like the following
       ssh -Y remoteuserid@remotemachineip
5.) Check to see if remote commands are echo'd locally
       echo $DISPLAY
       If nothing seen type...
       export DISPLAY=localhost:10.0
6.) Launch a program
       firefox &
       xterm &

FYI - I use Xming (free) and Starnet's XWin32 for XWindows Server.  It allows simple connectivity from Windows to a Linux box.  If you're logging into your system via Putty, then you need to change the X11 Forwarding option to "allow" in that portion of the setup to allow the display to be forwarded.



Want to Change Your X-Term Font Size?

/usr/bin/xterm -bg black -fg green -cr orange +cm +dc -font -*-fixed-medium-r-*-*-18-*-*-*-*-*-iso8859-* -geometry 150x40

The above line will launch X-Term with a Black Background, Green Font, Orange Cursor and an 18 point font size on a 150 pixel wide by 40 pixel tall window.



First time using Linux?  Here are some helpful commands and key combinations (to use from the physical box).

CTRL-ALT-F1 through CTRL-ALT-F6 takes you to virtual terminals.

CTRL-ALT-F7 - takes you to your running XWindows screen.



Console Screen Blanking?  Yeah, I Hate That Too!

Change the following script from blanking the screen after 15 minutes to something else (or not at all).  I'm not a big fan of power management, etc.  Damn tree-huggers!  Not sure why the distros like this setting in there.

Edit "/etc/rc.d/rc.M" and change the line starting "/etc/setterm -blank 15 -powersave powerdown -powerdown 60" to something more appropriate.


Slack Build Repository - By "Alien Bob" (Eric Hameleers' Slackware Repository RSS Feed) - he's a Slackware Guru.

Visit or subscribe to the repository at -


Want to read information about a command?  Read the manual!

Anything you ever want to know is in the man page.  Just type "man man" or "man command_here" and you'll get a wealth of information.  Want to leave what you've just read on the screen instead of clearing it out when you quit the man page?  Edit as root the /usr/lib/man.conf and change the PAGER line to look like this "PAGER   /usr/bin/less -isX" (notice the X) - that'll help when you find that perfect command and don't want the help disappearing on you - helpful in a console only screen.


So you're interested in "slackware-current"?

Slackware-Current is the latest and greatest packages as determined by Slackware's maintainers.  You can keep your system stable, or change your mirror to current.  You can switch to current by doing the following...

  1. Set your preferred slackware-current mirror by uncommenting the relevant line in /etc/slackpkg/mirrors.
  2. Update package list: # slackpkg update
  3. Install new packages: # slackpkg install-new
  4. Upgrade all installed packages: # slackpkg upgrade-all
  5. Remove unneeded packages: # slackpkg clean-system
  6. Repeat steps 2, 3, 4 and 6 once or twice a week to ensure that you are always in sync with the "current" development.


Other Questions?

Visit Linux Questions at - it is the de-facto place for anything Slackware.