New Slax is comming

It has been long time ago when I released latest Slax version. The time has come to ressurect the project again. Why? Just for the fun :)

The main decision I had to make is to abandon Slackware. Yes it's true, next Slax is not going to be based on Slackware. Sorry Slack fans. The reason is simple: lazyness. I am too lazy, reall, really lazy. When I prepared Slax from Slackware, I had to patch kernel with aufs, configure, recompile, etc. etc. Then compile other software from sources, fight dependencies, and so on. I enjoyed doing that in the past, but now I'm not in the mood anymore. So, I've selected a different base for Slax. And it is, prepare youself, hold on, hold on, ... Debian.

I had to learn few new things with Debian, but other than that, it is the same as Slackware. I mean, all Linux distros are the same anyway, ... it's all Linux. Debian has the advantage of 'apt-get install aufs-dkms'. This simple command helps me add aufs to the kernel in an instant, and it's the main reason why I selected Debian. Another good reason is the database of packages for Debian, there is hell a lot of them.

So what is it going to look like? When is it going to be released? Well, I have it almost ready! :) I'm going to use fluxbox for window manager, compton for compositing (fading effects, transparency), xlunch as app launcher, xterm for terminal and chromium as web browser. That's it. All of this in a 800 KB download ISO image. Yes, you read it right, 800 KB, that's true, I'm not kidding :-) Standard ISO size is going to be like 210 MB, but there will be also a ~800 KB version which will simply boot everything over network. It will mount the big iso from web and download only the parts which are actually accessed. It can also work peer to peer, so all slax users who boot from network may connect to others to get Slax data (verified by checksum using official server).

If I am in the mood, I will maybe prepare a 1 GB version with some software collection. But at the moment I don't feel that's necessary, you can simply add anything you want using 'apt-get install' (and make a permanent module using 'savechanges' script), and there is no need for many software applications nowadays, since everything is moving to the web.

You'll probably want to see some amazing screenshots. Well, can't show you any yet, since I don't have the most important part for Slax - the right wallpaper ;-) As soon as I select one, I'll show you. Next Slax should be available in about a week or two.

More news to come ... :) Stay tuned, and take care.

User comments
stvn 2017-11-03 23:39

Interesting. Are you going with a Systemd-free Debian base?


[Sincere question] Should I be worrying about Systemd, or just stop worrying about it?

Thanks for all your hard work!

Y San 2017-11-04 03:59

Build Slax based on android :D

Klaatu 2017-11-04 07:14

I'm disappointed that it won't be Slackware-based, as that one of its main appeals for me, but it sounds like a cool release (800kb base image is pretty amazing). I look forward to seeing what you drum up, and I'm eager to give it a go.

Thanks for all your hard work, Tomas!

Za Xandros 2017-11-04 08:54

It is great news that slax is taking rebirth and that too in debian family this time :-)

My humble suggestions:
1) It will be great if it is based on debian "stable"
or, if you/somebody insists, then slax "2017.1" may be based on debian 9 "stable"(stretch released in 2017), slax "2018.1" may be released on debian "testing" , slax 2019 may again be released on debian "stable" 10 (buster to be released in 2019)

2) Although aufs is available in debian, BUT As aufs was "NOT" merged in mainline linux kernel despite repeated attempts. **Can unionfs or overlayfs, which are part of linux mainline kernel be used instead of aufs?**
Please note that writable branch balancing etc features of aufs are now implemented in UnionFS 2.x.
Also, note that while most of Live CD linux distribution used Aufs as of November 2016, but Slackware used overlayfs for live CD. Hence, probably in debian based too, may be overlayfs will suffice your usecase and in long run it will be more featurefull/battle tested/maintainable as being part of mainline kernel.
ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aufs

Za Xandros 2017-11-04 09:05

3) about 800KB release it is the best of the best news. If i want to burn this 800KB iso image into USB pen drive/USB external hard disk, AND as MS Windows7 etc detect only first partition on USB pen drive.

HENCE, after you release slax 800KB size, THEN **can you kindly blog/article about how to create a USB "PEN DRIVE" installation with "three" partitions** , such that: first partition - NTFS(so that windows 7 can use it being first partition) ; second partition - ext4(for usage in my linux machines) ; third partition - for slax bootable 800KB image.

Tomas M 2017-11-04 10:10

I understand that some people will be disappointed with Debian base, some will be happy with that. I made a poll some time ago and the result was that people on average do not care about the base. So I had two options, either release nothing, or release Slax based on something which will make my life easier.

Regarding systemd, Slax is going to be based on Debian 9.2.1. That means it will have systemd. From what I've seen, systemd is not so painful, at least considering the startup scripts (units), I had to learn how to use this. I heard stories about systemd, how bad it is, and so on, ... but from the user's point of view, I didn't notice any problems with it. I am neither "against systemd" nor "pro systemd". I don't care :) I think you don't need to worry about it :)

Last time I tried OverlayFS, it was a disaster. It didn't provide sufficient functionality. I read on github that some people were able to use it, I was not. Maybe it's the time to give it a chance again, if I am in the mood :) But so far I am happy with AUFS.

Eric Hameleers 2017-11-04 11:03

Good to see that SLAX is being revived and becoming something new. Running it directly off the internet sounds interesting. I am only concerned about the bandwidth usage it would cost you. Peer-to-peer data transfer will be sloe unless a lot of people 'seed' the data.
And the switch from Slackware to Debian? Well, it is a pity but it is your project and your effort. I'll try it out once it is available as a 800 KB bootstrap.

Kai Wienberg 2017-11-04 13:33

Long time Slax user here and I have to say I love this announcement! I like debian, so no complaint there. I also think you made just the right decision to make Slax so lightweight and it's great to hear that we have the possibility to use the savechanges script :)

Great work, I'm looking forward to it.

Za Xandros 2017-11-04 19:26

Thanks a trillion for rebasing it on debian, as i (and my friends and my organization) use Debian stable across all my devices. So we all are literallyextremely happy that you have rebased it on debian

stvn 2017-11-04 20:31

@ Thomas M

Thank you very much for your response to my question. I am looking forward to the fruits of your new labors. :)

shehzad 2017-11-05 00:22

Woww. thats a great news. It comes after ages but still we are excited. When is the probable date for release?

Tomas M 2017-11-05 11:55

I've added counter to the main page.

Vuk Mirovic 2017-11-06 00:57

Ah...I remember using Slax to dip my toes in Linux waters around 2007, it's been 10 years! I'm glad Slax is making comeback.
I really like the combo, Debian based distro with lightweight WM and only terminal and browser in ~200MB packaging - sign me up!
But I would suggest adding GParted to base image if it's not there already, it would be very useful

nanashi 2017-11-06 02:35

I totally understand you, as a slackware user I build and build sometimes to never ending, to achieve what others could have with a one line command with apt-get or yum.
Working at my day job and dealing with debian and CentOS distributions there are many times though that I miss slackware's simplicity.

Despite the systemd con new slax will have, slax was unique in any way, because you build it your self and customize it,it had your signature.
Now I feel that it would be a another choice of wallpapers and customizations that anyone could succeed and not far war from other derivative ubuntish & debian flavours.

But you are hear once again to prove us wrong with your ideas and innovation.

All the best to new slax.

Le Hoang Long 2017-11-06 05:40

Dear Tomas
I am a fan of slackware at first then I become a fan of slackware for it is slackware in small size. I cannot say that I am happy with this news. But I think I could share the same thought with you. We don't have much time to play around when we get older. I used to spend days and night to config several things on slackware. I was very happy with my explorations. I was a young student when I started to use slackware and slax in 2008. Now I use ubuntu in my work
I hate it for its slow, bloating and less flexible. But I don't have much time to configure all things manually at work. I am still using slackware at home where there isn't any deadline .
Good luck Mr Tomas
We get busy and lazy when we get older
It's the gospel true

Mike Fox 2017-11-06 07:39

Hi Slax guy

Why not Devuan? So it will be systemd-contaminated. NO, THANKS!

Mike Fox

Simon Morgan 2017-11-06 09:44

Love you view on Systemd. 98% of the world really doesn't care. Looking forward to the release

Mike Fox 2017-11-06 14:27

Maybe 98% of dumb lemmings do not scrutinize why systemd is doing an evil job. I prefer to be in the 2%-part and draw my conclusion. So be happy.

shevy 2017-11-06 17:27

Hello Tomas!

First, glad to see you are still alive.

I liked the idea of SLAX. It was really easy to "re-master" it, even as a casual user (I am probably not a casual linux user per se, but I like being lazy too).

I am predominantly a slackware and a GoboLinux user - slackware because it gives me the least problems; GoboLinux because it is beautiful.

I also have used countless distributions over the years.

I am also someone who does not use or need systemd. So while I can understand your explanation (I am sure lack of time also has a reason in it too), unfortunately it will also mean that I can not use SLAX.

I'll not go into the reasons why I am not using systemd; that really would take way too long and it leads to very long debates that do not resolve on anything. However had, I have to point out that it is NOT true that "nobody dislikes systemd" or "only a tiny minority dislikes systemd". There are countless people who not only dislike systemd - but also do not use it. That is why systemd-free distributions emerged - and are successful. :-)

The reason why I personally use slackware primarily, these days, is also mostly out of laziness. I'd wish slackware would be more active, but I understand that it is not that active compared of others... there are some mods, such as a swedish dude who made his patches available to sourceforge, and has a much more recent kernel, up-to-date software etc... but again, I think people can understand why you focus on what makes your life easier. That in itself I think is perfectly fine.

In the long run, I guess if your scripts/code work(s) in a general way, then replacing debian with devuan should be trivial. Perhaps the devuan guys could also help you - who knows.

At any rate, please don't forget the people who were happy SLAX users yet would prefer a systemd-free distribution. The easy re-master aspect of SLAX was one AWESOME thing. I am sorry to hear you struggled with aufs etc... perhaps unionfs... overlayfs... I can't keep up with all these things myself, either. :)

It's a bit unfortunate that linus does not focus more on compatibility layers and what not. My dream was to use something like SLAX but to use a layout such as GoboLinux would use.

I remember how I remodelled SLAX a few times in the part. Always was a lot of fun to do so, too! I can not remember any other distribution that made it as easy as SLAX back in the days. Then SLAX sort of became inactive and I guess you had your beauty sleep too - but SLAX always remind a GREAT idea. I hope more programmers can read the problems you had with whatever FS-overlay you used; there is clearly a need for it, if you look at docker and similar projects since they all do related things (ironically, docker also had problems with systemd ... but I am not going into that debate HERE; the primary point of my comment was actually not systemd-related but to give you a high five and a cheer! I also wanted to send a postcard, from Europe, somewhat west from where you live ;) but in the end, I was too lazy ... much easier to just write text these days :P )

win2linconvert 2017-11-07 09:52

Slackware = Slax. Maybe Debian = Debax or Debix? Just food for thought. Glad to see the revival of Slax.

Lukáš Zapletal 2017-11-07 17:43

Nice, it is end of an era for sure.

That 800 kB ISO will require network drivers, quite small I would expect it to be bigger (Linux kernel and modules). Oh I think I know - this will be based on iPXE :-)

willian firmino 2017-11-09 00:28

Change the name please, it won't be SLAx anymore.

Bruce Ferrell 2017-11-09 14:44

Bye Slax. Won't be looking at slax anymore. Deb went into my bit bucket back during the packaging wars and went dead to the bottom with systemd.

Stanislav Hoferek 2017-11-12 16:33

default internet browser?

Stanislav Hoferek 2017-11-12 16:37

Slax based on slackware - Slax
Slax based on debian - Slax
Slax based on ABC123 - Slax

keep name. changing name will make a few guys happier, but for LOTS of people it will do only problems

Tomas M 2017-11-13 11:44

Default internet browser will be Chomium in Slax.

Sadi Yumuşak 2017-11-16 09:08

Great news!
I missed Slax :-)
Regarding applications, I would even very much like if you didn't include a web browser as well - just the minimum base system should be sufficient.
Then users can install any web browser - e.g. the new Firefox Quantum (or even file manager?) they like...

trevor12 2017-11-16 10:10

pls add bcm wifi drivers to default iso so wifi work out of the box imediately after boot. Also it will be useful if Slax has possibility to install to hdd and use as regular nonlive distro (I know that it is probably impossible)

Stanislav Hoferek 2017-11-16 10:55

Agree with trevor. It us important to connect to the internet. When it is done, much more possibilies are possible. Not everyone have a wifi card with full support out of the box. Drivers for additional wifi cards should be a high priority.

Half Gray 2017-11-16 16:37

What happened with auto hdd mount & network ackuiring? :) sys.admin asking, that was been very useful undertool. Thanks for new core! Awaiting for plugins...