You asked Slackware users to say why. As the resident Slackware user in the discord chat, I decided to chime in.
- Slackware is the most stable distribution I have ever used, and that’s many many distributions
- Slackware ships vanilla everything and ships complete package sets, that includes your beloved KDE
- Slackware is uncomplicated
- Slackware doesn’t change for the sake of change
- Slackware follows the element of least surprise (if you’ve been using UNIX/BSD/Linux for more than 10 years anyway)
- Slackware feels no need to be hip, and instead just ships security updates to each release
- Each release is supported for outrageously long time periods
- In my experience, Slackware makes good choices that avoid many of the vulnerabilities other distributions suffer
- Slackware has good hardware support and filesystem support given the multiple kernel configurations it ships with
- Slackware is outrageously hackable (bash scripts are the rule de jour, all sources are shipped on the install media)
- Slackware ships with tools for most tasks pre-installed, and often multiple different options for most tasks
- Slackware doesn’t do native dep resolution which adds to stability because I needn’t fear what the package tools will do
- Slackbuilds are available for most common apps out there, and I prefer Slackbuilds to AUR
- sbopkg is available so I don’t have to use the Slackbuilds website
- The Slackware community is helpful and welcoming
- Slackware users can make use of the Gentoo documentation, Archwiki, and LFS as well as project documentation because everything in Slackware is vanilla from upstream. We need only make changes for things like s/systemd/sysv/ and sane logging
- Slackware doesn’t try to abstract away the system and tools I need
- I do not have to fight anything to get my system to follow my commands
- Slackware doesn’t randomly break when I update it
- Slackware doesn’t take itself too seriously like RHEL or the African word for can’t configure Debian
- On updates, slackpkg asks me before overwriting configs and provides options on what to do
- Slackware is not designed by comittee and is therefore consistent
I personally have found that most of the people who dislike Slackware or had trouble with it didn’t fully know all of the tools available to them. To that end, Slackware does fall flat. Note that I mentioned other documentation projects because Slackware’s aren’t the best. Slackware also doesn’t market itself well. Most people aren’t even aware of the Slackware community existing because it isn’t at Slackware.com. Slackware uses the linuxquestions.org forums, and there’s a presence on libera.chat but there isn’t any Slackware branded location for the community to congregate. As I’ve been *nixing since the mid 90s, this never bothered me. I was around to follow the distribution and the changes to the computing landscape, but for those who weren’t around for that, I can see why Slackware fails “in the market”.
I will chime in into the reasons for Slackware. I think @GenBuckTurgidson already covered most if not all of it.
There are two great Linux distributions that I consider rock solid, universal and made for all purposes, Debian and Slackware (both veterans) and are not tight to any company with the main difference Debian being governed by a “committee” and Slackware by only one person and by extension an “elite circle” helping out.
You can use both on your server but they are also great work stations as in desktop ready unlike RHEL and derivatives.
Slackware is indestructibly reliable, stable and LTS by default.
Thanks, @MichaelTunnell - so much great news this week, though I’m most excited about the Pine E-ink device. I love my Kindle but I don’t love Amazon lock-in so I might even check the developer version and see if there’s a niche I might chip-in with at possible some time
BTW, I have very fond memories of Slackware from the mid-nineties when I first tried Linux. If I ever stop getting stuck at the networking section of LFS and build a complete system, I might give Slackware another shot thereafter, at least to experiment with!