Slackel 7.0 Open­box.........

The pre­vi­ous re­lease didn’t do much to im­press Shashank Sharma, so he’s on high alert with this re­lease to see if any­thing’s changed…

Linux Format - - CONTENTS -

Older ver­sions didn’t do much to im­press Shashank Sharma. He’s on high alert with this re­lease to see if any­thing’s changed.

Try­ing a new re­lease of a dis­tro that you’d pre­vi­ously re­viewed unfavourably is a cu­ri­ous feel­ing. The fears of be­ing dis­ap­pointed once again mix with the need to find some pos­i­tive im­prove­ment since the last it­er­a­tion. Thank­fully, Slackel 7.0 has learned plenty from its past sins. The lat­est re­lease, based on Salix and the cur­rent branch of Slack­ware, is a vast im­prove­ment from the 6.0 re­lease ( seere­views LXF184).

To be­gin, the dis­tro now ships with a graph­i­cal in­staller. It’s min­i­mal­ist, in that all you have is a win­dow into which you en­ter per­ti­nent de­tails: user­name, pass­word, root pass­word. The Par­ti­tions but­ton on the top left launches Gparted to help you carve space for the dis­tro. You also get to choose from three in­stal­la­tion modes us­ing ra­dio but­tons at the bot­tom: Ba­sic for a min­i­mal­ist GUI sys­tem with only a few apps; Core for a con­sole-based sys­tem with con­trol over what pack­ages are in­stalled; and Full to in­stall ev­ery­thing on of­fer.

De­pend­ing on your cho­sen mode, the in­stal­la­tion takes from three to five min­utes. That min­i­mal in­staller also of­fers the choice of GRUB and Lilo boot­loader, but doesn’t ask pesky ques­tions about key­board lay­outs and time­zones, de­fault­ing to GMT.

With the choice of Open­box in­stead of a full-fledged desk­top en­vi­ron­ment, the pre­vi­ous re­lease also favoured light­weight apps, put­ting the Mi­dori browser in place of more pop­u­lar al­ter­na­tives such as Chrome or Opera. The lat­est 7.0 re­lease, how­ever, ships with Fire­fox in ad­di­tion to Mi­dori, the com­plete Li­breOf­fice suite, Thun­der­bird, Gimp and many other ev­ery­day in­ter­net and me­dia apps.

Work in progress

While Slackel is now more fea­ture-rich, it also suf­fers from some per­for­mance is­sues, mostly stem­ming from its mixed her­itage. Slack­ware is one of the most sta­ble and ro­bust Linux dis­tros, so it’s only nat­u­ral to ex­pect the same from deriva­tives. Salix, on the other hand, strives to add ease of use on top of the sta­bil­ity of Slack­ware.

Slackel ships with bleed­ing-edge soft­ware from Slack­ware’s cur­rent branch, and some choice tools from Salix OS, such as the codec-in­staller and the Gs­lapt pack­age man­ager. Un­like the pre­vi­ous re­lease, Gs­lapt’s be­hav­iour is er­ratic and it un­ex­pect­edly crashed a few times dur­ing our tests. Another graph­i­cal tool bor­rowed from Salix OS, Sourcery re­fuses to launch due to miss­ing mod­ules. Also, Grub lists the dis­tro as Slackel 14.2 and not 7.0.

Un­like most other Linux dis­tros, most of which have ded­i­cated staff work­ing on the look and feel and art­work, this sin­gle de­vel­oper dis­tro in­stead ships with the same wall­pa­per as the last re­lease. While this isn’t a crit­i­cism, it’s sug­ges­tive of the fact that the dis­tro was maybe re­leased with­out re­gard to pos­si­ble chinks in its ar­mour.

The dis­tro has per­haps spread it­self too thin, hop­ing to repli­cate the ease of use of Salix OS. Al­though it’s made vast strides to­wards be­ing a wel­come choice for new users, there seems lit­tle need for Slackel in the cur­rent Linux ecosys­tem, which is lean­ing to­wards easy-to-use rolling re­lease dis­tros.

How­ever, if you’re a new user or even a skilled hand at Linux and wish for a light­weight and fast dis­tro that can work with a range of Wi-fi and Blue­tooth de­vices, with sev­eral use­ful ev­ery­day apps, then Slackel is just for you.

The dis­tro has im­proved since its pre­vi­ous re­lease, but has slipped up a lit­tle, too.

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