Slackware is the earliest distribution of the Linux operating system that is still (as of September 2007) being developed. Patrick Volkerding created Slackware from an even earlier distribution called Softlanding Linux. According to the Slackware project Web site, the OS was designed, in particular, for ease of use and stability.
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Here's a description of the Slackware philosophy, from the project site:
Since its first release in April of 1993, the Slackware Linux Project has aimed at producing the most "UNIX-like" Linux distribution out there. Slackware complies with the published Linux standards, such as the Linux File System Standard. We have always considered simplicity and stability paramount, and as a result Slackware has become one of the most popular, stable, and friendly distributions available.
A full installation of Slackware includes (among other features):
- the X Window System
- C/C++ development environments
- networking utilities
- a mail server
- a news server
- a web server
- an FTP server
- the GNU Image Manipulation Program
Slackware's name is a reference to the concept of "slack" in the Church of the SubGenius, a largely Internet-based satirical pseudoreligion that had a cult following in the 1980s-90s. Within the Church, along with the common meaning of latitude, slack also implies personal space and freedom, independence, and the capacity for original thought. The developers of the Slackware operating system used the term to suggest that the project was, at least at its inception, a not-quite-serious spin-off project.
Slackware's mascot is a pipe-smoking version of Tux, the Linux penguin.