Slackware

The Long, Slow Climb

I make no secret about it that I run Slackware on both my server and my desktop workstation. Slackware allows me to manage my systems the way I want to, without a "nanny" holding my hand and saying "No.". And, with this level of freedom comes a corresponding level of risk; you can really fsck things up as Slackware doesn't supply a safety net. But, that's all right: I believe in learning skills, and Slackware certainly requires skills.

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Pet Peeves: run-parts(8), asynchronous execution, and logging


I run Slackware on two of my systems. I have always admired Slackware's simplicity and honesty. Some people accuse it of being overly complex, but I've found that what others see as complexity, I see as the ability to control and fine-tune. Other distributions may be great for those who are looking for a Unix system with a Microsoft feel, but I prefer my OS to not hide it's controls, to not tell me that, for my own good, it won't do what I want it to do.

Slackware's run-parts(8) is one of those simple tools that works well. Built from a simple /bin/sh script, and using basic Linux tools, Slackware's run-parts does the basic work of "batch" processing for cron. But, this simplicity has it's price; target scripts are run synchronously, one after the other. If one get's stuck, the remainder can't run. And, there's no easy way to determine if a script has got "stuck"; there's no conveniently accessable logging of the start or termination of each script, nor is there any consistent way to gather messages from the scripts into one place.

And, so, my pet peeve: run-parts(8) doesn't do everything that I need in a batch processor. So, I went and built my own add-on solution.

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Upgrading a Slackware-based system


Over the years, I've performed many upgrades to my systems. I've moved my desktop incrementally from Slackware 3 to Slackware 12.1, refining my process as I go. While the various documents and notes in each Slackware release do help, I've evolved my own upgrade "management reporting" process that gives a clear picture of what the upgrade will and will not do.

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