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Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 1:23 UTC (Wed) by corbet (editor, #1)
In reply to: Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it by allesfresser
Parent article: Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Indeed, Linux is now old enough that there's plenty of us geezers around to reminisce about it. Hands up, everybody who manually did the a.out to ELF conversion on their early Slackware systems...


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Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 3:41 UTC (Wed) by xanni (subscriber, #361) [Link]

Ouch, did you really need to bring that memory back? :)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 3:43 UTC (Wed) by felixfix (subscriber, #242) [Link]

Me! Me!

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 4:16 UTC (Wed) by k8to (subscriber, #15413) [Link]

Oh, I had forgotten this step. Hah, why did I bother?

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 5:01 UTC (Wed) by JoeF (subscriber, #4486) [Link]

I actually had all forgotten about that...
In my memory, it wasn't all that bad, but that's probably due to the passage of time.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 7:13 UTC (Wed) by Darkmere (subscriber, #53695) [Link]

*wave* ( Long uid here, shame on me ;)

Gotta admit, I first got started on slack back on an IBM PS/2 ...

Mature Linux Users

Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:07 UTC (Wed) by Felix.Braun (subscriber, #3032) [Link]

( Long uid here, shame on me ;)

No need to be ashamed! Back when LWN started offering user registration, I was very sesitive to privacy issues too. I remember only being willing to give up my anonymity when non-subscribers had to wait for a week to be able to access the newest content.

Nowadays, I subscribe to a lot of other sites. I guess I'm getting mellow with old age... :-)

Mature Linux Users

Posted Mar 23, 2011 10:26 UTC (Wed) by fatrat (subscriber, #1518) [Link]

You've just been corrupted by the Zeitgeist of the age :)

Mature Linux Users

Posted Mar 24, 2011 7:48 UTC (Thu) by frazier (guest, #3060) [Link]

The subscription model also got me to setup an account, though apparently not quite as quickly as for you.

Mature Linux Users

Posted Mar 26, 2011 6:16 UTC (Sat) by speedster1 (subscriber, #8143) [Link]

Subscription model forced me to get an account as well -- but I put LWN subscription on a wishlist for my birthday, which delayed things for a few months. Guess I was too cheap to buy it for myself, a grad student at the time ;)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 26, 2011 2:07 UTC (Sat) by roelofs (guest, #2599) [Link]

Gotta admit, I first got started on slack back on an IBM PS/2 ...

I think I installed mine on (the remains of) an IBM PC/AT. Granted, the motherboard was gone, but that case and keyboard were built like a tank. IIRC, the upgrade path was something like 286-6 -> 386-25 (first Slackware, early 1994) -> 486-33 -> 486-66 (CPU upgrade only) -> 2 x Pentium-100 -> 2 x PII-266. The power supply was still working after nearly 20 years...but its lack of ATX headers finally killed the upgrade cycle.

These days I run a mix of systems, including two that shipped with Ubuntu, but I still have Slackware on my current desktop at work and on at least one or two laptops at home. Ah, X Windows and Netscape in 16 MB of RAM...those were the days.

Greg

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 7:27 UTC (Wed) by hjb (subscriber, #25523) [Link]

I did. I didn't even use binary packages; I compiled most stuff by hand.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:08 UTC (Wed) by vmlinuz (guest, #24) [Link]

I think I probably just kept using the old stuff until I reinstalled, but I did use a.out Slack...

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 10:32 UTC (Wed) by jzbiciak (subscriber, #5246) [Link]

Re: your username...

I remember when I could still boot my vmlinuz image from a 360K 5.25" floppy. It was a sad day when I made my 3.5" drive A: instead of my 5.25" floppy. (I even booted a bare 5.25" floppy once, just 'cause.)

dd if=/vmlinuz of=/dev/fd0 bs=512

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:08 UTC (Wed) by SiB (subscriber, #4048) [Link]

Calani Bluenote 486-DX33, 4MB RAM, later 8MB, 200MB disk, no network, Slackware, of course, early 1994.

X11, Emacs, Latex alternativly swapping in and out of RAM.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 12:02 UTC (Wed) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

And the long long waits whenever Emacs decided to do a GC. (Of course I was used to that, having started Emacsing way back in the DOS days, in 1990 or thereabouts.)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 12:36 UTC (Wed) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106) [Link]

> 8MB, Emacs, swapping
So it was YOU!

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:38 UTC (Wed) by tomsi (subscriber, #2306) [Link]

Yes, this reminds me of something I had to at one time ...

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:47 UTC (Wed) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

I dunno about that, but the first Linux I installed myself, was a version of Slackware whose version-number I no longer recall, but I *do* remember that it came with the 1.2.13 kernel and was delivered on a CD from Walnut Creek.

I guess that must mean it was 1995 or something of that nature ?

We're thus nearing the date when I can say: "I've run Linux since before you where born, little one."

I -do- remember a.out vs elf being a big deal - along with getting scandinavian letters to work right on the console, which at the time required arcane magic. (and even then you couldn't generally expect it to work right in all programs)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:55 UTC (Wed) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

"We're thus nearing the date when I can say: "I've run Linux since before you where born, little one.""

Well, we're there already. At least, I am. In the krita project we have a 15 year old contributor, and at conf.kde.in I was hacking together with a five year old who knew Python and C++... Not to mention that I was using Linux before my twins were born, and they are Linux users as well.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 8:59 UTC (Wed) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

My twins are only 4. But they do use Linux. No C++ yet ;)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 28, 2011 4:48 UTC (Mon) by The_Barbarian (subscriber, #48152) [Link]

>a five year old who knew Python and C++

What

I can see a five year old that can do some Python, but the thought that a five year old could do any C++ terrifies me.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 10:59 UTC (Wed) by etienne (guest, #25256) [Link]

> the 1.2.13 kernel and was delivered on a CD from Walnut Creek.

You could then download it (by dialup), it was 27 floppy disks if I remember correctly - and worked on 386sx 16Mhz.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 23:07 UTC (Wed) by jcm (subscriber, #18262) [Link]

I've been using Linux more than half my life time, since about 1996 (I believe summer of '96 though I might have heard about the SLS or other floppy installs before that, which I was on SunOS and other platforms). So in a little over 2 years from now there will start to be kids in college and turning up at conferences who were born after I started using Linux. I suspect there are readers here for which this is already true.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 10:29 UTC (Wed) by jzbiciak (subscriber, #5246) [Link]

Oh yeah, I remember that. libc4 to libc5....

And I remember "impure" executables, great when you wanted a really tiny a.out file. "gcc -N", right? That allowed your data and code segments to overlap, rather than be page aligned....

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 12:00 UTC (Wed) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Yes indeed. ZMAGIC and QMAGIC, happy days...

Of course then there was libc5 -> libc6 and we had to recompile everything *again*, and it took forever to compile glibc or X on my 8Mb RAM 486...

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 12:28 UTC (Wed) by kay (guest, #1362) [Link]

OUCH? me ...

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 16:17 UTC (Wed) by tjc (guest, #137) [Link]

I don't miss that sort of thing very much. The Good Old Days were really quite bad.

I was working in tech support back then, and on one occasion we spent days trying to get a Diamond video card to work with X on Slackware. Diamond finally relented and gave us the information we needed. I think the FVWM screenshot in this article must have triggered that memory. :)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 19:46 UTC (Wed) by SiB (subscriber, #4048) [Link]

> I think the FVWM screenshot in this article must have triggered that memory. :)

fvwm is still managing my windows. My current fvwm2rc.m4 was handcrafted more than 10 years ago, but still does what I need.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 20:03 UTC (Wed) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

I lost mine when I moved to S.u.S.e... I sometimes miss fvwm, but that's more or less pure nostalgia. I also miss slackware sometimes, but these days I can't afford the time spent tinkering. And OpenSUSE just works for this software developer.

FVWM

Posted Mar 24, 2011 15:46 UTC (Thu) by tjc (guest, #137) [Link]

> My current fvwm2rc.m4 was handcrafted more than 10 years ago, but still does what I need.

I've often thought the FVWM project could do themselves a favor by using a more "normal" default configuration. This wouldn't affect people like yourself who have their own fine-tuned configuration, but I think it would help new users stick with it longer, with more of them staying on as long-term users. The way it it now it's tempting to say "I can't use this" after about 10 minutes and move on to something else.

I haven't tried FVWM for about a year, so maybe this has changed.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 25, 2011 0:19 UTC (Fri) by jonabbey (guest, #2736) [Link]

fvwm? N00b! tvtwm for the win!

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 23:09 UTC (Wed) by jcm (subscriber, #18262) [Link]

Admit it, you miss APS/Magicfilter and isapnpdump more though ;)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 25, 2011 15:10 UTC (Fri) by rbrito (subscriber, #66188) [Link]

(Debian maintainer of magicfilter hat on)

Gee, what is the problem with magicfilter? :-)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted May 4, 2011 9:50 UTC (Wed) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

It doesn't work with CUPS, which as far as I can tell has a far less capable filtration system (certainly a much less flexible one). :/

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 27, 2011 20:58 UTC (Sun) by dsimic (subscriber, #72007) [Link]

isapnpdump -- those were the days! ;)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 16:18 UTC (Wed) by joey (subscriber, #328) [Link]

Did it on Slackware and then arrived at Debian just in time to work on the tail end of it there. :)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 23, 2011 16:43 UTC (Wed) by marduk (subscriber, #3831) [Link]

I remember that time (as well as libc5 to glibc).

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 28, 2011 4:58 UTC (Mon) by The_Barbarian (subscriber, #48152) [Link]

Now that I saw the tail end of. I am not sure, but I believe the version of Mandrake I started with was the first Mandrake with glibc

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 24, 2011 3:02 UTC (Thu) by skvidal (guest, #3094) [Link]

I was there on name server I maintained at my college.
Looking back on it I was fairly reckless doing that on a production server.
:)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 24, 2011 17:08 UTC (Thu) by cdmiller (subscriber, #2813) [Link]

I must be older than I thought :)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 24, 2011 22:11 UTC (Thu) by ldarby (guest, #41318) [Link]

I've been using Slackware exclusively on my desktop for the last 8 years (since 9.0), and all you guys are making me feel like a n00b!

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 24, 2011 23:04 UTC (Thu) by allesfresser (subscriber, #216) [Link]

I don't actually remember whether I went through that or not--perhaps that's the age kicking in. :) I do remember I started with Slack (and GNU/Linux) in 1995 at kernel version 1.2.13, so if that's the version with a.out, then I did. I got started because the nonprofit I was working for couldn't afford a new server, so I resurrected a 386SX with 4M of RAM from the attic (literally) to serve in that capacity. I had a web server book that came with a CD copy of Slackware, and so I used that for the first install. It served as local smtp, uucp, pop3, afp, and dns for quite a number of years running 24/7, until I understand it finally gave up the blue smoke. (I was already on to other pursuits by then.) The organization folded shortly after the server died, so perhaps the person that succeeded me hadn't done proper backups...

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 25, 2011 1:30 UTC (Fri) by baldridgeec (guest, #55283) [Link]

That was how I broke my first Linux install! (Slackware 3.0)

Then I reinstalled and did it again with a better understanding of what was going on. I'd been running Linux on my PC for all of three weeks before trying to manually upgrade libc. It was a great experience. :)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 25, 2011 1:35 UTC (Fri) by baldridgeec (guest, #55283) [Link]

Wait, I'm wrong - a.out -> ELF was libc4 to libc5. I was going from libc5 to glibc (libc6).

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 25, 2011 6:26 UTC (Fri) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

I think I must have skipped that, probably upgrading to a distro that was using ELF, but I remember damaging a monitor once, trying to write X modelines. I was terribly poor at the time, too, so I had to suffer with the monitor for several months, as it got darker and darker, until I could finally afford to replace it.

Good times, for a limited definition of good. :)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 25, 2011 7:08 UTC (Fri) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

Ha, yes. I did this too - destroyed a monitor by running it at slightly too high a refresh rate, on its maximum resolution, with a custom modeline. :)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 26, 2011 2:27 UTC (Sat) by roelofs (guest, #2599) [Link]

Ha, yes. I did this too - destroyed a monitor by running it at slightly too high a refresh rate, on its maximum resolution, with a custom modeline. :)

Yeah, we've all been there. Though in my case, the monitor in question (KFC 17", I think) claimed to support 1280x1024 at 60 Hz, so I didn't feel too bad about sticking them for an in-warranty replacement. I had to wait about six weeks for the damn thing, though.

Haven't destroyed anything since then, but ironically enough, I did end up mucking with modelines and deep X voodoo not too long ago, trying (futilely) to get a stupid onboard Intel chipset to do 1920x1200. I'm still kind of annoyed by that one...

Greg

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 26, 2011 6:19 UTC (Sat) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

That was the big selling point of the expensive 'multisync' monitors -- you couldn't wreck them that way. :-) All monitors these days are multisync; they just ignore signals they can't correctly reproduce.

Fixed-frequency monitors were much cheaper, but they were scary to use with Linux. It was sooo easy to get a modeline wrong.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 26, 2011 20:40 UTC (Sat) by roelofs (guest, #2599) [Link]

That was the big selling point of the expensive 'multisync' monitors -- you couldn't wreck them that way. :-)

"Expensive" being the key word... This was a multisync, but either it didn't have the circuitry to detect out-of-range signals, or else its parts were borderline. (It did survive my settings for at least a couple of months, and I believe its replacement did, too, though it's possible I tweaked things.)

Hmmm...just found a 1997 XF86Config:

Section "Monitor"

    Identifier  "KFC 17-inch"
    VendorName  "Kuo Feng Corporation"
    ModelName   "CA-1726"

    Bandwidth   110.0
    HorizSync   31-70   # multisync
    VertRefresh 45-90   # multisync

    [...]

    # 67Hz 1152x864 mode (hsync = 63.1kHz, refresh = 67Hz)
    Mode "1152x864"
        DotClock        100.0
        HTimings        1152 1200 1296 1504
        VTimings        864 866 869 904
        Flags           "-HSync", "-VSync"
    EndMode

    # better 1280x1024 mode (hsync = 64kHz, refresh = 60Hz)
    Mode "1280x1024"
        DotClock        110.0
        HTimings        1280 1288 1472 1712
        VTimings        1024 1025 1028 1054
    EndMode

EndSection

I had forgotten all about interlaced modes (one of the 1024x768 settings) and the need for special, lower-res modes to accommodate graphics cards that either didn't have enough memory to support 16bpp at full res (e.g., 2MB ATI Mach32) or couldn't crank up the dot clock high enough or both.

Good ol' days, indeed...

Greg

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 26, 2011 23:09 UTC (Sat) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

I'm pretty sure that must be a later-generation XConfig. The ones I was working on weren't nearly that friendly. They were more compact, using single lines where you've got stanzas. It was best to use a calculator to figure out the correct numbers, and very easy to get it wrong.

Multisyncs aren't *supposed* to be killable by any input, but obviously your experience disagrees. :-)

What I always lusted over was the early Sony multisyncs. Those were beautiful monitors.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 26, 2011 23:37 UTC (Sat) by roelofs (guest, #2599) [Link]

I'm pretty sure that must be a later-generation XConfig. The ones I was working on weren't nearly that friendly. They were more compact, using single lines where you've got stanzas.

Yup, my early-1994 ones were like you describe, and the one I excerpted still has equivalent commented-out lines like that:

#   ModeLine "1280x1024a" 110 1280 1320 1480 1728 1024 1029 1036 1077
#   ModeLine "1280x1024"  110 1280 1288 1472 1712 1024 1025 1028 1054

Was that an X11R5-vs-R6 change, maybe?

As you say, it was very easy to get wrong, which is why, in slightly later releases, the bundled text file(s) showing other people's working configs for card/monitor combos were so valuable.

What I always lusted over was the early Sony multisyncs. Those were beautiful monitors.

That they were. I eventually bought a used Hitachi 21" with the same (Trinitron-style) shadow mask; it's still sitting on my desk behind the LCD. :-)

Greg

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 26, 2011 21:36 UTC (Sat) by jcm (subscriber, #18262) [Link]

I'm actually a fan. Part of me pines for the days when using a computer required the brain to be fully enabled. Blowing up a monitor with an incorrect modeline is a nice IQ test. Yea, it's nice that we're all encompassing these days, but I liked it when things kept out of my way.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 26, 2011 22:54 UTC (Sat) by malor (guest, #2973) [Link]

I'd argue that if you have to keep your brain engaged to use a computer without blowing anything up, it's most emphatically not getting out of your way. :-)

There's still plenty of brain-bending stuff in Linux these days -- a great deal more of it, in fact. Things must be a hundred times as complex, overall, as they were back then. You don't need as much knowledge to use the system at a basic level, but becoming truly expert is far more difficult than it was, simply because there's so much more to know.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 27, 2011 4:50 UTC (Sun) by jcm (subscriber, #18262) [Link]

I'm thinking about the LWN crowd - people who work on Linuxy stuff. I'm all for using EDID provided data and doing everything automatically for end users, and even happy with lots of the prettification on that front, but if you're going to really work with Linux in terms of the features and experience provided to end users, you should be forced to at least know what a mode line is, etc. If this kind of logic were broadly applied, the results could only be a good thing.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 27, 2011 7:20 UTC (Sun) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

Modelines are among the most arbitrary wastes of time ever inflicted on Linux users (and I say this as an ex-graphics driver writer). You'd spend the afternoon reading docs and fiddling little numbers just trying to get the stupid video card and monitor to sync without flickering. The only lesson you'd remember is that most graphics hardware is junk... which you already knew.

You'd rather see people monkeying around with VESA tables instead of working with Linux? You advocate FORCING people to learn this antiquated stuff?? You should force them to key in the bootloader using front-panel switches instead, at least then they learn the machine architecture.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 27, 2011 17:38 UTC (Sun) by sfeam (subscriber, #2841) [Link]

You should force them to key in the bootloader using front-panel switches instead
Ah, nostalgia. But was there really a version of linux that would run on a PDP-8?

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 30, 2011 5:01 UTC (Wed) by cmccabe (guest, #60281) [Link]

> Ah, nostalgia. But was there really a version of linux
> that would run on a PDP-8?

No... not *yet*.

Just kidding. I don't think Linus would take that new arch. We've got enough archs that are pining for the fjords already...

But seriously, someone did write a UNIX for commodore 64 from scratch in the 1990s. It was called LUnix:

http://hld.c64.org/poldi/lunix/lun_about.html

Apparently it was written in pure assembly language. Wow...

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 27, 2011 18:13 UTC (Sun) by jcm (subscriber, #18262) [Link]

Certainly some velue in the front panel switch suggestion as well. Having a good understanding of computer architecture is never wasted ;)

Clearly I'm exaggerating. But I don't always like the world we live in because things are sometimes getting a bit easy. This is why I think occasionally doing something arcane or forcing yourself to skip the fluff for a few minutes can only be useful education.

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 25, 2011 22:22 UTC (Fri) by cry_regarder (subscriber, #50545) [Link]

:-) I did a manual a.out to elf conversion. Soon after that I said "Never again!" and switched to red hat.

I started with SLS and SWiM Motif way back in the day.

It's been nice long ride!

Cry

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Mar 29, 2011 10:46 UTC (Tue) by jschrod (subscriber, #1646) [Link]

Ouch, bad memories. Did you have to wake them? :-) :-)

But then, having Slackware was so much better than compiling everything by hand. (I used SLS before Slackware, having used original Version 7 and BSD Unix before; and was quite happy when Slack came out in 1993.)

Slackware 13.37: Linux for the fun of it

Posted Apr 7, 2011 17:09 UTC (Thu) by stevem (subscriber, #1512) [Link]

Oh gods, yes... :-)

Then the mess I had left caused me to switch to Debian later that year IIRC...


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