Slackware 15 Install and Initial Impressions
Hackers 1995

Slackware has released Version 15 Release Candidate 1 and as there are some unused laptops sitting around the house (now that the kids have gone back to school) it was time to put it to the test. CognitiveMetropolis is a big fan of Slackware since “back in the day” and Version 15 continues the tradition of rock solid performance and easy-to-configure productivity. It looks great, works great, and just feels like the revolution is still alive.

However, unlike 10 years ago when Version 14.2 was released, most laptops and computers are now based on UEFI rather than traditional BIOS and this presents some hurdles to installation (at the moment anyway) because the installation scripts have not been significantly updated. So here are some tips for getting Slackware 15 RC1 (or Slackware 14.2) installed on modern UEFI-Based computers.

Accessing BIOS on a UEFI Computer

You are going to want to access the BIOS/UEFI settings and return to “Classic BIOS” mode to install. Getting to the UEFI/BIOS settings can be tricky on some machines. On the Lenovo T460, pressing Fn-ESC during startup can reset the Function keys to their default. Each manufacturer has their own little tricks for accessing BIOS and it may be necessary to consult your manufacturer’s hardware user guide, but overall this guide will show you how to access the BIOS settings. If you are feeling lucky, boot up your machine and let it reach login and then manually choose to restart (to ensure it is not secretly “sleeping”). When it does restart, immediately press the F1, F2, and F12 Keys (not simultaneously but one after the other) repeatedly until you see a screen like the one displayed below. If this doesn’t work, then follow the guide in the link to see more tricks for accessing BIOS on your particular computer.

Return to Classic BIOS Mode

Once you are able to access the UEFI/BIOS mode you have solved the most challenging issue. Now, you just need to navigate the menu and find the proper settings. With a little hunting and exploration, there is a good chance it will be self-evident as it will say something like “Classic BIOS Mode” and the options will be “Enable” or “Disable”. On this particular computer there is a setting under “Startup” that is called UEFI/Legacy Boot and that contains the options for Both, Legacy, or UEFI. I set it to “Both” but then set the boot priority to “Legacy First”.

Slackware BIOS UEFI Setup

Since you are likely to be installing from a USB image of Slackware on a USB Stick, don’t forget to go into the “Boot” menu (also under the “Startup” menu) and set USB HDD and USB FDD as priorities in the Boot order (before your HardDisk) or it will default to whatever Operating System is already installed. Insert your USB Drive and press F10 to “Save and Exit” BIOS and you should be booting into the Slackware Installer (See Below for Making a Slackware USB).

Slackware BIOS Boot Order

Remove the UEFI Partitions

Slackware 15 still runs from the good old-fashioned Linux mantra “Boot then Root” using their scripted setup (which is quite spectacular from the perspective of the Revolution). Surprisingly, this Slackware Installation Setup Guide from version 14.0 is still accurate except for one important part. You need to clear all the UEFI Partitions or things just won’t run right. After booting your system with the Installer, at the Command Prompt, simply type “Root” (ie, log in as Root).

Slacker Installer Boot then Root

At the command line run “fdisk -l” to show disk partitions on your system. In the picture you will notice there is another disk, /dev/sdb – that is the installer – so don’t mess with it!

Run Slackware FDISK

Make note of those partitions and now run “gdisk”. When it starts, it will ask for a path to partitions (which is likely /dev/sda) but enter whatever you noted from fdisk. Now, let’s get rid of that UEFI Partition. While still in GDisk, enter “x” (for expert mode) and then enter “z” (zap all UEFI Partitions). Be sure to Write your partition changes and then Exit GDisk. “Blanking out the MBR” should not be a problem either way, you are going to overwrite it anyway.

Slackware running GDISK

Last step is to create new DOS (FAT) disk partitions. Back at the Command Line, type cfdisk and configure a Linux partition and a Linux Swap partition. When cfdisk launches, it will ask what type of filesystem you are creating and you want to choose dos (you just deleted gpt). Dont forget to type “yes” and write the change to disk (you gotta write them!) or you will have to repeat this process step. Now you are ready to install Slackware 15. Back at the Command Line, just type “Setup” and follow the instructions. Enjoy!

Slackware cfdisk partitions

How to Install Slackware 15 RC1 from USB

Many of today’s laptops do not have a CD/DVD drive and so installing from a USB Stick is the only way. There is the easy way and hard way. I often like the hard way because I’m just like that and if you are like me, you’ll love this article on installing Slackware-Current on a USB Stick. If you are busy and don’t have time to perform all the keyboard gymnastics, here is the easy way. 1) Download and install Etcher from here: link. 2) Use Etcher to burn Slackware 15 RC 1. That’s it. Stick your USB in the slot and Boot from BIOS.

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