Ah, but for the geek who needs to have total control, it nicely removes the temptation to go *BSD to maximize the UN*X nature. :) And when you compile your own kernel anyways, and you have a box with a functional ACPI BIOS, your devices will exist. The 2.4.31 default kernel is useful to make sure everything in the distribution set up sanely on first boot, and the rest of the distribution is fully 2.6-capable. I do vouch for the niceness of Freerock Gnome, even if you need to grab frg-current today to get full 10.2 support with Gnome 2.12. It no longer screws up your KDE menus, and it's pretty sweet in its own right. :)
And if you think that it's not Slack when you add these things, keep in mind that they are useful to you in proportion to their conformity to the Slack nature. Try to usefully troubleshoot an autodetected Mandrake installation, and tell me that home sweet home isn't still Slackware.
However, no, unless you're already doing things the UN*X way, or want to, Slackware probably isn't a wise starter distribution. Its user-friendliness is not readily apparent until you've needed to get into the nuts and bolts. Think of it like popping the hood. Most car owners never worry about how well arranged the engine compartment is, because they pay a mechanic to do that. But if you've seen the inside of an older muscle car, where every component is laid out *to be worked on*, you should be able to appreciate how user-friendly a clean and readable /etc is.
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