After many months of development and careful testing, Slackware 13.1 has been released.
Slackware 13.1 brings many updates and enhancements, among which you’ll find two of the most advanced desktop environments available today: Xfce 4.6.1, a fast and lightweight but visually appealing and easy to use desktop environment, and KDE 4.4.3, a recent stable release of the new 4.4.x series of the award-winning KDE desktop environment. We continue to make use of HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) and udev, which allow the system administrator to grant use of various hardware devices according to users’ group membership so that they will be able to use items such as USB flash sticks, USB cameras that appear like USB storage, portable hard drives, CD and DVD media, MP3 players, and more, all without requiring sudo, the mount or umount command. Just plug and play. Properly set up, Slackware’s desktop should be suitable for any level of Linux experience.
New to the desktop framework are ConsoleKit and PolicyKit. ConsoleKit handles “seats”, things like dealing with devices when switching from one user to another. PolicyKit is a system for fine-grained access control, allowing a non-root user to run certain tasks with elevated privilege, but more securely than if the entire task were simply run as root.
Slackware uses the 22.214.171.124 kernel bringing you advanced performance features such as journaling filesystems, SCSI and ATA RAID volume support, SATA support, Software RAID, LVM (the Logical Volume Manager), and encrypted filesystems. Kernel support for X DRI (the Direct Rendering Interface) brings high-speed hardware accelerated 3D graphics to Linux.
There are two kinds of kernels in Slackware. First there are the huge kernels, which contain support for just about every driver in the Linux kernel. These are primarily intended to be used for installation, but there’s no real reason that you couldn’t continue to run them after you have installed.
The other type of kernel is the generic kernel, in which nearly every driver is built as a module. To use a generic kernel you’ll need to build an initrd to load your filesystem module and possibly your drive controller or other drivers needed at boot time, configure LILO to load the initrd at boot, and reinstall LILO. See the docs in /boot after installing for more information. Slackware’s Linux kernels come in both SMP and non-SMP types now. The SMP kernel supports multiple processors, multi-core CPUs, HyperThreading, and about every other optimization available. In our own testing this kernel has proven to be fast, stable, and reliable. We recommend using the SMP kernel even on single processor machines if it will run on them.