I have been a Mandrake/Mandriva user since 2000 or so. It has been my only system since 2002 on my desktop.
I have been very pleased with how smoothly things have gone. Of course this is helped by my friends at the Pensacola Linux Users Group. I have been in their IRC channel to get help on a few of the technical issues.
Someone asked why I chose Slackware. Really that was not as important as why move from Mandriva. I was getting frustrated with Mandriva. It used to be a very mainstream distro of Linux. Every time you went to install software you were able to download a Mandriva specific RPM and install it. But, those days are gone. When Mandrake merged with Conectiva, things tanked quickly. The community love towards Mandrake seemed to change.
Mandrake was always flaky (for me) on the package management. Sometimes urpmi would work. Sometimes not. Keeping my sources up to date seemed to be more trouble than it was worth. Early on I religiously used only packages in the sources. This made sure everything was tracked by the package manager. But then there was always a piece of software I wanted that was not in the repositories. So I would either have to wait, install an old version, or install and hope that I did not hose anything. I got more and more lax on that the last couple of years. Things also got less and less stable.
I have been upgrading the OS on this hard drive since 2002 without ever really wiping it and installing fresh. That is a definite death knell in Windows. Should not matter in Linux unless the distribution providers move the locations of important files from one version to the next. Well…Mandrake and Mandriva have not stayed consistent.
So, why then did I move to Slackware? Here are just a few of the reasons. The biggest is that I am a fan of KDE. Slackware pushes KDE as it’s desktop environment. Many of the really popular distros at the moment use GNOME. While GNOME has improved greatly over the last several years, so has KDE. I am familiar with KDE and there are just a few niggly things about GNOME that I have trouble working around. Though, I have to admit I have run it on my notebook recently and it is a very good desktop environment. I could get used to it. I just don’t chose to.
The second reason is that Slackware seems to hold to more of a standard way of doing things. When you go looking for help online you will find a default way of configuring and setting up software. Then there will be an endless list of “If you are using this distro, then do this. And this distro do this.” With Slackware it seems to follow the default more often. To me, that means I can more easily get help on line. This is another area where Mandriva seemed be be getting left behind. They do things in less standard ways. And, with the community ignoring them more, you get less personalized Mandriva help.
Finally, and this is probably the biggest, I have several friends in the LUG that use it. I have been playing with it off and on for well over a year through either dual boot or on my 20th century notebook that I bought used last year. It has been pretty good to me. And with colleague help, that makes it much better for me. I ran Linux alone from 1997 to 2000. When I fell in with the P’cola LUG, that helped define my distro choices. For a while several of us were running Mandrake. I was finally the last man standing. Though there are very strong opinions as to which distro each member believes is the best, there are several Slackware devotees.
I have played with Ubuntu and really like it. But, it comes with GNOME. KUbuntu was so awful when I last used it, I swore off of it. I have used Gentoo in the past, but only for more of an embedded type environment. I don’t think I could stand it for desktop use. Suse was an option, but I feel they are too much like Mandriva. Though they currently have more community love going their direction. Fedora Core is not an option. I swore off of Red Hat (Fedora Core’s roots) at version 9. Though I never liked it going back to the days when Red Hat 2.something was popular. I kept trying it each new version until they hit 9 and that was the last of the jankyness I could take.
So, there we are. The move from Mandriva to Slackware and the why behind it. I must say, I have been using Slackware for about 24 hours and I have yet to have a program crash. Firefox in Mandriva would crash every few hours on me. With certain games the whole system would go down. I have yet to get the games installed, but that should happen later tonight. We shall see.