Home Business IT Open Source Slackware is alive and kicking: Volkerding

An uninformed comment on a Linux community blog has led to questions over the stability and finances of the Slackware GNU/Linux project, but its founder assures iTWire that the project is alive and kicking.

Patrick J. Volkerding said jocularly, in response to queries, "A server's down, and I should be doing something about that, but first I'm going to upload some X11 updates."

The site was down in mid-April and its unavailability led to discussion on both the LinuxQuestions.org and DistroWatch sites about the stability of the project itself.

Central to the unnecessary speculation was a comment by Linux consultant Caitlyn Martin, about the wisdom of basing a project called Linux Yarok on Slackware, when the latter itself appeared to be unstable.

"You remember that comment about my involvement in the development of a Slackware derivative? Forget it. We're already discussing about delaying the release and rebasing off of something with a more secure future," Martin wrote.

The discussion went downhill from that point, with many Slackware supporters angry about this speculation.

On April 23, ITWorld blogger and former LinuxToday editor Brian Proffitt wrote a sensible article, headlined "Reports of Slackware's death way premature".

When this was posted on the American technology news website, Slashdot, Volkerding himself posted to the ensuing discussion to clarify issues.

In that post, he explained that the hardware hosting the website was more or less "toast" - that was the reason for the site's downtime.

Asked whether the project needed to solicit funds for a new server, Volkerding told iTWire: "We're not too broke to get a new server, though some (not I!) suggested that was the case.

"If we want to co-lo something, lots of people have also offered to give us servers they no longer use (and they are a lot nicer than the two that we've been using since the turn of the century).

"There are also offers for virtual space, and (most helpful of all), some people offering to take a look at the main issue, which is that the site will need work (perhaps even a rewrite) to bring it up on a new machine."

Volkerding has been a pioneer as far as GNU/Linux distributions go, having begun the Slackware project in early 1993 to try and address many of the problems which people were facing while using SoftLandingSystem Linux, the first and only commercial distribution at the time.

Hubert Mantel, one of the four co-founders of SuSE Linux, told iTWire during a recent interview that the first version of what was then known as S.u.S.E Linux, was a German version of Slackware.

Volkerding was hit by illness in 2004. He was diagnosed with Actinomycosis, a long-term (chronic) bacterial infection that commonly affects the face and neck.

Despite this problem, Slackware has been coming out regularly. The distribution has a very loyal following.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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