alwaysInBeta Stable software is for the weak

Salix Linux


Apparently, I still have a bit of a distro-hopping streak in me:)

Prelude: Oops, I broke it again

Quite some time ago, I managed to mess up my Void Linux install on my primary laptop. I'm still not sure whether it was the OS to blame or F2FS, because both times now that I've run Void on F2FS it's ended up with me being unable to boot. This, to say the least, is annoying. I didn't have time to deal with it at the time, so I grabbed another disk that had a working Arch install and stuck that in my laptop; this actually worked fine (the Arch install in question was specifically built to be a "just works" system, with minimal fine tuning), but... it was annoying. The worst thing was that I had been running F2FS because I was using an SSD, and the Arch system was on a scavenged spinning-rust hard drive. So I was running my main laptop on spinning-rust while keeping an SSD doing nothing. Seriously. This demanded fixing. This demanded... a clean install!

Decisions, decisions

But the question is: Install what? It should be a UNIX-like, probably Linux, because that's where all my software is (and I'm used to it). It doesn't have to be Linux; every time I look the BSDs look more tempting, and I even briefly looked over some more exotic options like Redox and OpenIndiana. Linux, though, is still home to me; I know what I'm doing (mostly), and I know my software works here (if anywhere). I just managed to trash a Debian system by doing something to dpkg, so I don't want to use anything Debian based for a while. I prefer something that isn't cutting edge, both because I'm getting boring in my old age and because I'd rather reduce SSD wear and tear by not effectively reinstalling the system weekly (there goes Arch and Void). And last, just to make sure there are no distros that meet my criteria, I don't want a systemd distro (yeah, I know... bite me).

That leaves us with.... Gentoo, Slackware, and a handful of under maintained or overly bare-bones systems. Oh, and LFS. Well, don't feel like emerging the world this week, and I've heard good things about Slackware, so let's investigate... and it has no dependency resolution. Dude, even the BSDs do that now! Further investigation leads me to Salix, "Linux for the lazy Slacker". That sounds promising! They let you install a full working system out of the box, claim to have package management, and look usable enough. Download an ISO, and off we go!

The good

Fast, light, mostly works out of the box. I kinda like this system.

The bad

Salix has 2 package managers, slapt-get and sourcery. Respectively, they provide core and extra packages... and neither have everything I want. Ugh. I have maintained half a distro in local source builds, but I don't want to deal with that. I work around this by installing Nix, but now I have 3 package managers, each providing different parts of my system.

The annoying

Beyond the package management fun, some things just didn't work well. Closing the lid doesn't suspend by default, and my efforts to fix that result in a system that suspends on every lid event... including opening the lid. Wifi is set up through Wicd (at least in the XFCE version I cannibalized), but Wicd is unreliable. This might be from interactions with sleep mode, but I've used plenty of systems that took far more abuse and had no issues. Furthermore, Salix has some oddly persistent defaults, such as vim settings that don't go away if you have your own vimrc, and tmux settings that refuse to change without manually sourcing tmux.conf. I live in vim and tmux, so this is sort of a pain.


Sadly, I would not use Salix again. I suspect it's nice if you use it as intended (say, not chucking XFCE for i3), but I do not want to fight my distro for control. The package management situation is a mess, although I suspect I would have been okay if I had installed a base system and then used Nix for everything else. At that point, I'd just start with Slackware proper. I'm not in a huge rush to install a replacement now that I've mostly forced the system to work for me, but this isn't the stable long-term system I'd hoped for. I haven't picked a replacement yet, either, although Gentoo tempts me and FreeBSD 11 is supposed to drop soon. We'll see.