Story 2014-09-12 2SAE Friday Distro: Absolute Linux

Friday Distro: Absolute Linux

in linux on (#2SAE)
story imageAbsoluteLinux [screenshots] is different from most other niche distros because it’s built on a Slackware base instead of Debian/Ubuntu, so I installed it in a VM and have been giving it a test drive for a while. It’s the work of one man: Paul Sherman, of Rochester, New York, who took his extensive customizations to Slackware and began making them available to the public as a distro.

Absolute fits on a single CD, and focuses on being a lightweight OS optimized for speed and designed to stay out of your way. It’s a desktop, with no pretensions of being installed on a server. It uses the IceWM windowmanager, so you get a fast, traditional desktop, task bar and tray with none of the bulkiness of modern KDE or Gnome desktops, and a set of apps judged to be ‘best of class’ as well as a couple of utilities he wrote himself (the volume control is a stand-alone app that avoids having to install another package that would’ve had other dependencies).

Because Absolute is based on Slackware you get all of Slackware’s simplicity, stability, and dependability. But you also get Slackware’s thin package selection and install mechanism. Absolute has its own repo, and you can add Slackware’s repository too [file list is here], as Absolute is 100% compatible with Slackware. But you will soon find yourself over at looking for 3rd party packages. You also have to manage your own dependencies - a good thing if you want to avoid finding out that a simple app brought all the underlying base packages with it, but a bad thing if you prefer the ease of simple apt-getting your way to the desktop you like. That said, you can use gslapt-get, which comes preinstalled, and takes some of the hassle out of package management.

That said, I like it. It boots quickly, and I do appreciate Slackware’s simplicity and straight-forwardness. By installing Absolute instead of straight Slackware you get a graphical, lightweight desktop by default. I think I prefer FreeBSD’s ports system or Debian’s apt-get for installing software, and it’s true Slack - and therefore Absolute - aren't for just anybody. But if you’re looking for a refreshing change from the quotidian, Absolute Linux is pretty enjoyable. And above all, it's a reminder that the most interesting things don't come out of corporations trying to be everything to everybody, they come out of willful and skilled hackers that focus on doing one thing and doing it well - much like the Unix tradition itself.
Reply 13 comments

Nice write up (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-12 16:37 (#2SB9)

I had a bunch of questions, and it turns out you answered them all within the post. Dependencies? check. Third party apps? check. Desktop or server? check. Window manager/interface? check. There's really nothing I even feel compelled to ask anymore.

There was some concern previously about how much each type of post was being read. Friday Distro is a winner, and wanted to throw that out there. Nice work, we appreciate it even if an article doesn't generate a bunch of commentary.

Re: Nice write up (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-12 17:37 (#2SBG)


My favorite feature (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-12 17:43 (#2SBH)

Distro Friday is my favorite pipedot feature. It's nice to see what is out there, and what other people think about when computing.

Re: My favorite feature (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-12 19:00 (#2SBS)

Absolutely! I don't know how long he can keep this up, but so far Distro Friday has been great.

Re: My favorite feature (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-12 22:25 (#2SC2)

Thanks for all the kind words. I think we can keep doing this for another while or so. But sooner or later we'll run out of distros! Trying to avoid the big guns and the "Ubuntu plus WM plus theme" distros here.

Anyway, it's been fun for me to explore so let's see what else we can discover here.

Re: My favorite feature (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-14 23:10 (#2SDK)

On the bright side he could also cover BSD variants *ducks*

Re: My favorite feature (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-15 02:09 (#2SDM)

Actually, I would love that. I use FreeBSD myself as desktop and server, but I'd be very interested to read about using OpenBSD or PC/BSD or DragonFly or NetBSD or whatever else is out there.

quotidian (Score: 1, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-12 18:41 (#2SBM)

That was my favorite part. :) You don't see that word used..... every day!

I too appreciate this feature. I know basically nothing about Slackware, so didn't feel qualified to comment, but I enjoyed this.

Now please get back to the KDE distros as the spaghetti monster intended!

From the installer (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-09-12 20:11 (#2SBX)

Please remain calm while your machine is assimilated
I like this distro already.

Torrent (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-14 04:09 (#2SCP)

I thought I'd give this one a try today. Couldn't find the torrent on their downloads page - - which is strange.

A quick google found it on -

Given how much fake software is floating around these days it is always good to have a link from the official site.

Re: Torrent (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-14 14:25 (#2SCV)

Good point. Maybe they don't offer a torrent anymore? You might want to make sure it's the latest version. I downloaded by FTP or HTTP from their site last time. Since it's a CD-size distro, it's a 600MB download, which is reasonable and doesn't take too long.

Write back later and tell us what you thought of the distro!

Distros (Score: 1)

by on 2014-09-24 02:29 (#2SVN)

I like messing around with older hardware and pushing the boundries... such as running VNC client under linux and using server scaling (UntraVNC server on WinXP) to display a 1600x1200 desktop on an 800x600 LCD panel, still usable despite the small text. I've run Deli linux and Thinstation on my 486/pentium laptops, is there anything more recent/capable that I should try out on these old machines with very little ram? I'd like to give BSD a go sometime (unsure of hardware requirements at this stage) I think I once got a pentium to run BSD but didn't really check it out much.