Discussion:
Slackware for production use
(too old to reply)
Levski Levov
2021-04-15 23:48:27 UTC
Permalink
These days I watched a video from the popular self-study platform ITProTV with Don Pezet and I asked him what he think about Slackware because he didn't mention it in the video:

What Linux Distro is Right for You? | ITProTV Webinar Series


Here is what he told me:
"Slackware was my very first Linux distro way back in the 1990s, so it holds a special place in my heart. Of all the distros, Slackware does the best at maintaining the UNIX way of doing things. However, I wouldn't recommend it for production use. It is still maintained primarily by a single person whose age and health have negatively impacted the project. It does not reliably receive timely updates."

Is it true that it is not really recommended for production work?
Eli the Bearded
2021-04-16 01:09:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Levski Levov
"Slackware was my very first Linux distro way back in the 1990s, so it
holds a special place in my heart. Of all the distros, Slackware does
the best at maintaining the UNIX way of doing things. However, I
wouldn't recommend it for production use. It is still maintained
primarily by a single person whose age and health have negatively
impacted the project. It does not reliably receive timely updates."
Is it true that it is not really recommended for production work?
Sounds about right. Here's a test you can do if you have an AWS account.
Go to the EC2 page and go to the AMIs search from left column:

https://$REGION.console.aws.amazon.com/ec2/v2/home
https://us-west-1.console.aws.amazon.com/ec2/v2/home

Select "Public Images". The region I'm looking at has just over 100k
(109,706). Try a search.

ubuntu -> 31,958
debian -> 21,095
centos -> 3,399
redhat -> 1,856
freebsd -> 1,085
rhel -> 779
suse -> 687
coreos -> 651
alpine -> 58
gentoo -> 9
kali -> 7
archlinux -> 2
netbsd -> 2
slack -> 0
slackware -> 0

That's pretty strong evidence that people don't use Slack for cloud
computing, and if it isn't used for cloud computing, it isn't used
for production. In my personal career, I have never seen Slack used in
production. The tooling around package management is not really up
to snuff. It's fine for "pets" but not "livestock".

And, personally, anything I'd consider Slackware for in production,
I'd probably rank Alpine as better for.

Elijah
------
would also consider freebsd
Henrik Carlqvist
2021-04-16 06:06:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eli the Bearded
That's pretty strong evidence that people don't use Slack for cloud
computing, and if it isn't used for cloud computing, it isn't used for
production.
Of course Slackware is still used for production, but lets face it,
Slackware no longer has the strong relative market position it once had.
Post by Eli the Bearded
In my personal career, I have never seen Slack used in
production. The tooling around package management is not really up to
snuff. It's fine for "pets" but not "livestock".
I would say that its completeness makes it great for software development
and that its simplicity makes it great for software distribution as it is
easy to create a custom Slackware installation media with your own
software.

Your list of about 15 Linux distributions on AWS does not show the whole
picture. According to https://distrowatch.com/ things are worse,
Slackware is nowadays somewhere around position 30 in the list of most
popular distributions. This means that it is about 30 Linux distributions
more popular than Slackware, and you probably haven't even heard about
roughly half of them...

I would say that the most important fact that has made Slacware lose
popularity among the big masses is that there hasn't been an official
release since 2016 and the last years it has been starting to show its
age.

Looking at the Linxu distribution timeline at
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/
commons/1/1bLinux_Distribution_Timeline.svg

you can see that a significant number of Linux distributions are spinoffs
from Slackware, but there has been no spinoff since 2016.

It is a common misconception that Slackware is a one man show, but it is
not only produced by the man himself, there are also other important
names like Robby and AlienBob. That said, if we would lose the man my
guess is that Slackware would continue its life through some spinoff.

regards Henrik
Rich
2021-04-16 13:27:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Henrik Carlqvist
I would say that the most important fact that has made Slacware lose
popularity among the big masses is that there hasn't been an official
release since 2016 and the last years it has been starting to show its
age.
I'd say the most important fact is it does not provide a coddling
system to assist those who expect Linux to install and operate like
MSWin. Instead you get pretty close to a "real Unix" machine, but you
do have to know what you are doing, as there's no coddling GUI to "help
you" do things after the install is done.
Ralph Spitzner
2021-04-16 16:37:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich
I'd say the most important fact is it does not provide a coddling
system to assist those who expect Linux to install and operate like
MSWin. Instead you get pretty close to a "real Unix" machine, but you
it also does not provide coddling attack vectors for script dillweeds,
which make it rather suitable for 'professional' not necessarily
'production' (whatever that is) use.
I've been running slackware facing the internet for about 20 years now
(including [high volume, for that time period] tittie chats around ~1999-2003)
and never had severe issues, like I hat them on deadrat ...
ddoses left aside.....

-rasp
Eli the Bearded
2021-04-16 17:10:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich
I'd say the most important fact is it does not provide a coddling
system to assist those who expect Linux to install and operate like
MSWin. Instead you get pretty close to a "real Unix" machine, but you
do have to know what you are doing, as there's no coddling GUI to "help
you" do things after the install is done.
Packer or Docker is not GUI driven base images. Puppet, Chef, and
Ansible, are not GUI driven configuration management.

I don't think that's a fair description of how Linux gets used _in
production_. Bootstrapping a production machine starts with a base Linux
image that someone has built (eg, an AMI for AWS). Typically that's got
a barebones install, and some way for a user to connect via SSH. The
image gets placed on the bare metal or the VM, and then scripting takes
over to finish the provisioning to the desired state.

I've seen Puppet, Chef, and Ansible all used for that provisioning step.
Some places assign a "role" explicitly for each hostname, some use REs
or globs to match a role to a hostname. But either way name determines
if Mysql or Postgres or Grafana or internal services get put on the
host. If they are doing it right, humans never log in to install a
package by hand. Updates are either scripted (eg via Puppet, Chef, etc)
or done by rebuilding from scratch ("cattle not pets") with an updated
base, or new provisioning scripts.

Alpine isn't beating Slackware because it has a "coddling GUI". Alpine
doesn't even provide bash unless you ask for it, so you need to know
the differences between sh and bash.

Elijah
------
bash is overrated
Henrik Carlqvist
2021-04-17 08:59:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eli the Bearded
However, I wouldn't recommend it for production use. It is still
maintained primarily by a single person whose age and health have
negatively impacted the project. It does not reliably receive timely
updates."
Is it true that it is not really recommended for production work?
Sounds about right. Here's a test you can do if you have an AWS account.
https://$REGION.console.aws.amazon.com/ec2/v2/home
https://us-west-1.console.aws.amazon.com/ec2/v2/home
Select "Public Images". The region I'm looking at has just over 100k
(109,706). Try a search.
ubuntu -> 31,958
debian -> 21,095
centos -> 3,399
...
Post by Eli the Bearded
slackware -> 0
That's pretty strong evidence that people don't use Slack for cloud
computing, and if it isn't used for cloud computing, it isn't used for
production.
I have one more important thing to consider when choosing distribution
for a production environment and that is how long into the future your
choosen version of your choosen distribution is going to be supported.

Yes, Slackware might partly mostly be a one man show and there is no
guarantee that the current stable version of Slackware is going to be
supported X years from now. However, in practice, Slackware does support
its old releases for longer than most other distributions do. At the time
of this writing Slakcware 14.0 which was released 2012 is still
supported, the last security patch was
dnsmasq-2.85-x86_64-1_slack14.0.txz released less than a week ago. So a
Slackware release made almost nine years ago is still supported.

Lets compare compare with the top 3 production environments on AWS:

Ubuntu: Its LTS release 16.04 reaches EOL about now, in 2021-04. 16.04
was released 2016, the same year that the current stable release
Slackware 14.2 was released.

Debian: Version 7.0 was EOL 2018, 7.0 was released 2013, the same year
that still maintained Slackware 14.1 was released. Since then also
version 8.0 relased 2015 has became EOL 2020.

CentOS: Version 7, released 2014, is said to get maintenance updates
until 2024-06-30. Version 8 released 2019 will not get any updates after
the end of 2021. Since CentOS has become a rolling release "beta version"
of RedHat I would not consider it for production. Also, I would not use
Slackware-current or any other rolling release distribution for
production.

I must say that it was mostly by coincidene that I started with Slackware
in the mid 90s as a complement to Sun workstations. The choice then was
between Yggdrasil and Slackware and somehow Slackware felt more future
proof. During the years I have gotten many good advices to switch
distribution, in chronological order those pieces of advice came about in
this order:

* Switch to RedHat because its package management makes it easier to
maintain.

* Switch to Debian because its wide range of supported software

* Switch to Mandrake bacause it is the way of the future

* Switch to SuSE because it is part of United Linux

* Switch to Ubuntu because it is easy to install

* Switch to RedHat because you can pay for support

* Switch to CentOS because you don't have to pay for support

During all these years I have never regretted sticking with Slackware.
Many others have listened to the advices and found themselves with
distributions that suddenly cost support money per installation, get
discontinued or in some other way gets completely new terms of use.
During all these year Slackware has simply kept on rocking the same way,
the only suggested distribution that would come close to that is Debian.

regards Henrik
Chris Elvidge
2021-04-17 09:09:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Henrik Carlqvist
Post by Eli the Bearded
However, I wouldn't recommend it for production use. It is still
maintained primarily by a single person whose age and health have
negatively impacted the project. It does not reliably receive timely
updates."
Is it true that it is not really recommended for production work?
Sounds about right. Here's a test you can do if you have an AWS account.
https://$REGION.console.aws.amazon.com/ec2/v2/home
https://us-west-1.console.aws.amazon.com/ec2/v2/home
Select "Public Images". The region I'm looking at has just over 100k
(109,706). Try a search.
ubuntu -> 31,958
debian -> 21,095
centos -> 3,399
...
Post by Eli the Bearded
slackware -> 0
That's pretty strong evidence that people don't use Slack for cloud
computing, and if it isn't used for cloud computing, it isn't used for
production.
I have one more important thing to consider when choosing distribution
for a production environment and that is how long into the future your
choosen version of your choosen distribution is going to be supported.
Yes, Slackware might partly mostly be a one man show and there is no
guarantee that the current stable version of Slackware is going to be
supported X years from now. However, in practice, Slackware does support
its old releases for longer than most other distributions do. At the time
of this writing Slakcware 14.0 which was released 2012 is still
supported, the last security patch was
dnsmasq-2.85-x86_64-1_slack14.0.txz released less than a week ago. So a
Slackware release made almost nine years ago is still supported.
Ubuntu: Its LTS release 16.04 reaches EOL about now, in 2021-04. 16.04
was released 2016, the same year that the current stable release
Slackware 14.2 was released.
Debian: Version 7.0 was EOL 2018, 7.0 was released 2013, the same year
that still maintained Slackware 14.1 was released. Since then also
version 8.0 relased 2015 has became EOL 2020.
CentOS: Version 7, released 2014, is said to get maintenance updates
until 2024-06-30. Version 8 released 2019 will not get any updates after
the end of 2021. Since CentOS has become a rolling release "beta version"
of RedHat I would not consider it for production. Also, I would not use
Slackware-current or any other rolling release distribution for
production.
I must say that it was mostly by coincidene that I started with Slackware
in the mid 90s as a complement to Sun workstations. The choice then was
between Yggdrasil and Slackware and somehow Slackware felt more future
proof. During the years I have gotten many good advices to switch
distribution, in chronological order those pieces of advice came about in
* Switch to RedHat because its package management makes it easier to
maintain.
* Switch to Debian because its wide range of supported software
* Switch to Mandrake bacause it is the way of the future
* Switch to SuSE because it is part of United Linux
* Switch to Ubuntu because it is easy to install
* Switch to RedHat because you can pay for support
* Switch to CentOS because you don't have to pay for support
During all these years I have never regretted sticking with Slackware.
Many others have listened to the advices and found themselves with
distributions that suddenly cost support money per installation, get
discontinued or in some other way gets completely new terms of use.
During all these year Slackware has simply kept on rocking the same way,
the only suggested distribution that would come close to that is Debian.
regards Henrik
+10

But I also find I quite like Void Linux.
--
Chris Elvidge
England
K Venken
2021-04-23 14:40:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Levski Levov
What Linux Distro is Right for You? | ITProTV Webinar Series
http://youtu.be/TO1geGn6js0
"Slackware was my very first Linux distro way back in the 1990s, so it holds a special place in my heart. Of all the distros, Slackware does the best at maintaining the UNIX way of doing things. However, I wouldn't recommend it for production use. It is still maintained primarily by a single person whose age and health have negatively impacted the project. It does not reliably receive timely updates."
Looking at the video, I have the impression that what Don suggested
about 'production use' was more about a support model then about the
quality of Slackware. There is no support model I am aware of
(commercial...?) with Slackware as some other distributions do have.
What I mean is the following.

Suppose you want to setup some critical infrastructure, and you can
choose a Linux without or one with commercial support. Obviously paying
for support is some kind of insurance or plan B. If something unexpected
happens which you didn't foresee and can't handle yourself, you have a
place to go where you are guaranteed to be helped out with. You payed
for it. And in some organizations/companies, this is important. With
Slackware, it feels like you are taking chances. Will you be able to
solve everything on your path?
Post by Levski Levov
Is it true that it is not really recommended for production work?
You might want to define production work here first. What is meant by
it? Just running something at work? Is an employee using Slackware at
his office production use? (I am) Is controlling a 3D printer with a
Slackware box at work (University) production use? Or running a backup
service or a tiny cluster? Or is a commercial support model required?
Then this obviously doesn't count. I can't tell except that I don't have
a 'support model', so I hope I wasn't taking too much chances here.
Eli the Bearded
2021-04-23 19:24:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by K Venken
You might want to define production work here first. What is meant by
it? Just running something at work? Is an employee using Slackware at
his office production use? (I am) Is controlling a 3D printer with a
Slackware box at work (University) production use? Or running a backup
service or a tiny cluster? Or is a commercial support model required?
Then this obviously doesn't count. I can't tell except that I don't have
a 'support model', so I hope I wasn't taking too much chances here.
Defining terms is a good point. I'd say "production" use means "any
outage will directly impact customer (client) use OR will directly
impact internal understanding of customer (client) use".

So a developer using Slackware on a personal computer? No, not in
production for any sane environment.

Slackware for the company's main website? 100% production.

Slackware for the company's internal staging website? 100% NOT production.
(Using a different OS for staging and non-staging? Not sane unless done
as part of transition to changing non-staging.)

Slackware for the company's internal nagios monitoring of production?
That's 100% production, too.

On to some the examples in Venken's post:

A 3-D printer required for for use of customer products? 100% production.

A 3-D printer for prototyping parts? Not production.

A 3-D printer students _must_ use for class? Probably production.

A 3-D printer for _convenience_ use of students? Probably not production.

A backup server for production systems? 100% production.

A backup server for staging or development systems? Not production.

I wouldn't say that "commercial support" is a necessary thing for
production. Sometimes you are willing to invest the money to
self-support, but it does mean hiring more expert staff. Netflix
famously uses FreeBSD in production. I don't know for certain, but I
strongly suspect they are self-supporting that choice. They are big
enough that they are choosing the "dev" branch of FreeBSD to catch bugs
and submit patches for things that affect them.

Elijah
------
smaller shops are not upstreaming patches
Henrik Carlqvist
2021-04-24 10:57:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by K Venken
Post by Levski Levov
What Linux Distro is Right for You? | ITProTV Webinar Series
http://youtu.be/TO1geGn6js0
nBzFt4AaABAg.9Ly_5PFtbTq9M9hmMFGV9C

I finally took the time to look at the video and I must say that most
points said in the video are very valid. It is rather obvious that
Slackware listed at about position 30 among the most worldwide popular
distributions at https://distrowatch.com/ would not make it among the 8
most popular distributions in the US to be discussed in the video.
Post by K Venken
Looking at the video, I have the impression that what Don suggested
about 'production use' was more about a support model then about the
quality of Slackware. There is no support model I am aware of
(commercial...?) with Slackware as some other distributions do have.
The availability of commercial support might be very important when
picking a new tool or environment for production use in a commercial
environment. Even though Slackware itself does not give commercial
support there is a list of third party vendors at
http://www.slackware.com/support/

Back in the mid 90s when I started with Slackware the availability of
commercial support from a company called Cendio (back then they were
called Signum support) in my own town was one of the mayor pros of
Slackware. In end I never bought any support, but it was good to know
that the possibility was there.

As is said in the video commercial support from a distribution could also
mean a big drawback if it means that you have to buy extra licenses for
every new install that you make.
Post by K Venken
Suppose you want to setup some critical infrastructure, and you can
choose a Linux without or one with commercial support. Obviously paying
for support is some kind of insurance or plan B. If something unexpected
happens which you didn't foresee and can't handle yourself, you have a
place to go where you are guaranteed to be helped out with. You payed
for it. And in some organizations/companies, this is important. With
Slackware, it feels like you are taking chances. Will you be able to
solve everything on your path?
Exactly, but the best of both worlds is to not have to pay for commercial
support in advance but know that you will be able to if the need comes up.
Post by K Venken
You might want to define production work here first.
So a developer using Slackware on a personal computer? No, not in
production for any sane environment.
I would say that this depends upon what kind of development it is. When I
am sitting at home developing open source software which I upload to
sourceforge or github I agree it is not production, it is only a hobby.
When I sit at work developing software for my employer I would say it is
production work and I depend upon my computer to be able to do my work.
Most likely at work my computer will not be a personal computer but
rather a workstation. This workstation will need to fit into the
corporate environment and most likely not only project files but also
your entire home directory will be on some server in the network. Also to
be able to log on to that workstation it most likely will need to be
connected to some kind of catalog service like ldap or nis.

regards Henrik

Loading...