What is `slacker` all about?

Growing tired of proprietary operating systems (Mac OS/X, MS Windows, etc.) and their ways of limiting and preventing power-users to do their own explorations through system transparency, I started leaning more and more towards Free / Open Source Software (F/OSS).

I started experimenting with various Linux-distributions in 95-96, a couple of years flew by, and I started becoming a Slackware Linux-poweruser in the late 90s.

Slackware Linux being a "bare-bones" (i.e. stripped) Linux-distribution, recommended to me by a computer-hobbyist friend.

I'll admit, I was intimidated by Slackware's UNIX-like ways of doing things (i.e. the Command Line Interface), but my friend insisted that I at least try Slackware, to see if it provided the right toolchains and transparent system-structure I needed to learn computing from a very low level. Which it did :-P

The slacker-part of my handle is a direct result of my computer-shenanigans in this period ;) it is just an alias.

Slackware Linux

Slackware Linux is known for being the most "UNIX-like" of the Linux-distributions available online. Which (co-incidentally) is the reason I liked it so much, and spent a good decade experimenting (read: playing) with it.

Slackware's BDFL (Benevolent Dictator For Life), Patrick Volkerding, has made his influences on Slackware to refer to the "pursuit of slack", a tenet of the Church of the Subgenius. Certain aspects of Slackware logos reflect this; like the pipe which Tux (Linux-mascot) is smoking, and the image of J. R. "Bob" Dobbs' head (also referred to, simply as "dobbshead").

"If you're just running into this kind of stuff on the web, you haven't been paying attention. Ever watch "Pee-Wee's Playhouse?" Take a look at his bulletin board usually right before he hops on his bicycle at the end of the show. You'll see a black and white picture of a grinning, pipe smoking man, That's Bob. Watch "Rugrats?" Catch the repeated references such as "as Bob is my witless" or "children are a gift from a Bob." It's much more prevalent than you may think.

If the church doesn't have a real leader, it at least has a logo, and that logo is the face of "Bob." His full name is J. R. "Bob" Dobbs; the "J.R." was dropped later because, as the church said, they didn't want to get in any trouble with Larry Hagman. And it has a mission; the pursuit of "slack." Slack is difficult to define. In a way it's like what Louie Armstrong said about jazz, if you have to ask what it is, you'll never know. It can be interpreted in the same way as the term "slacker," but to the Subgenius it's more of a way of getting through life without being brought down by the "normals.""

-- www.thestraightdope.com
J.R. ''Bob'' Dobbs / Dobbshead

Tux, smoking a pipe.

A humorous reference to the Church of the Subgenius can be found in many versions of the install.end text files (in Slackware), which indicate the end of a software series to the setup program. In recent versions, the text is ROT13 obfuscated.

These are just a handful of humourous and clever "easter-eggs" that encompasses the spirit of Slackware.

Misconceptions about Slackware are numerous. But the main one states that Slackware is outdated, or even obsolete, because it does not include graphical interfaces for installing, configuring, and the like. Yes, Slackware does not include many graphical "helper-interfaces" (if you will), but that is because Slackware strives to be the most "UNIX-like" Linux-distribution out there, not "user-friendly" :-p

I love to find out how things work, from high-level, to low-level. And Slackware was the ultimate "swiss armyknife" of Linux-distributions. So, it more than suited my needs, and even excelled my computer-skills drastically over a short time-period. Over the years, this developed into a strong appetite for programming-manuals and technical reference-books.

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