Where and how do I get it?

So you made a choice of which distro to try, now what?

Sounds like a simple question, but it does come up, even for the more technical folks. “I want to give Linux a try, but I have no idea where to get it, or how.”

When I started out in the Linux world, I didn’t know either. So I’ll help you out with that.

Let’s just suppose for a minute that you took my advice in last week’s post and went with one of the two simple options I suggested, depending on your needs. Good! That narrows down where you have to look to get what you need.

Of course, if you decided to go with some other distro, a great centralized location to start with is Linux.com. From there you can get to most of the major distros’ websites, and from those you can easily find places from which to download whatever you need to your heart’s content.

But let’s go back to the two from last week’s “Which Distro?” post. Slackware and Ubuntu.

Getting Slackware

There are two main ways you can obtain copies of the latest version of Slackware, both of which are readily available via the Slackware website. First, you can purchase it. Every year or so, that’s what I do. I do this by going to the Slackware store and I order the full set of CDs, which usually costs me about fifty bucks, plus a few bucks shipping and handling.

The other way to obtain Slackware is to download it. This can also be done via Bittorrent, with torrent files readily available here on the Slackware website, simply by going to the Get Slack section of the site and selecting your country and selecting a download mirror near you. If you use Bittorrent, I’ll dispense with further instructions about how to get the files that way, because you probably already know that much.

So I’ll skip ahead a bit to downloading the ISO files manually, via a browser. Let’s use “USA” as the country, for example, and select the HTTP slackware.cs.utah.edu mirror, just so we can all be on the same page.

In that directory, you simply scroll down to the ISO directory for the version you want (usually the most recent full release, in this case 12.2-iso, near the bottom). A lot of times you will need to sort through a number of files, but all you really want is d1 thru d3 “.iso” (i.e., this, this, and this). For those interested, a single DVD image is also available.

These files are the three install discs for the latest full release of Slackware, and your next step is to burn each one to CD with your favorite CD burning software. Each is a full disc image, so you’ll want to make sure you burn it as an image… don’t just drag and drop the file to a CD, because that won’t work (trust me).

You may be asking yourself at this point “why would I pay $50.00+s&h for discs from the Slackware store when I can legally download it free of charge and make my own?” and that’s a valid question. Two reasons. Convenience, and philosophy. I like to have the full set of discs that Patrick Volkerding (the creator and main guy behind Slackware) puts out, because it’s convenient having each full release in a nice multidisc case on my shelf for whenever I need it. I don’t need to bother babysitting a download, I don’t need to bother digging around through a bunch of CDs with my own cryptic handwriting all over them, they’re all just right there, shipped to my house. That’s the convenience angle.

The philosophy angle is simple. I use Slackware as my main OS, every day, on more than one computer. I get a lot of enjoyment out of Slackware Linux, and most of that is due to the hard work that Patrick puts into each release. I feel that it’s the least I can do to throw him $50.00 a year or so for that hard work. I also buy a t-shirt or something once in a while too, to show my support in a tiny little way. I don’t mind paying for a quality product, and Slackware Linux is a quality product. (Cheers to you, Patrick!).

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3 thoughts on “Where and how do I get it?

  1. Of all the distros, Slackware is still one I haven’t spent time with. Yes I’m terrible, but that will change soon! Funnily enough I downloaded the ISO for http://www.slax.org and plan to install that later this month :)

    • Slax is a really great offshoot of Slackware! I am planning a trip through Live CD land soon as the subject of a future post, and Slax is at the top of my list.

      As a caveat though, while Slax makes a great Live CD, as an installable distro it lacks the finesse that the full version of Slackware has. Works great running from the disc, but once you install it, it’s a bit kludgey. YMMV, of course. :)

      • I’m sure Slackware is much more comprehensive, and I’m eager to try it as soon as I have a copy. I’ll be running these in VM’s on Ubuntu 8.10 – what a great way to try out new OS’s :D

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