Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Slackware-Current Maybe Too Current

If you have been following discussions on LQ, then you might have seen this thread where the original poster was Patrick himself. He basically asked for opinion about the future of -Current for this development cycle which will end up with Slackware 14.1 in the end.

Although things has been working pretty well in -Current as of now (at least in most systems looking at the comments there), but there are some considerations by Patrick in three parts of the system: kernel, GCC, and XOrg. They are critical components for most Linux distributions.

KERNEL
There has been some problems with Linux Kernel 3.8, even though i didn't experience it myself, but with recently added GCC 4.8.0, the problem might be a little bit more since some people has reported that there might be a new bug found when the kernel is compiled with GCC 4.8.0. This doesn't happened with GCC 4.7.x.

Patrick is thinking about reverting back to Linux Kernel 3.4 which was considered LTS, but then some people will have problems with newer hardware, but i guess that won't be a problem as most of them will likely compile their own kernel (like me). I tried to use the latest stable kernel, even though i don't closely use every Linux kernel release. I'm currently using Linux Kernel 3.8.5 on my desktop and it's working fine here without any problem.

GCC
Honestly, i was kinda surprised when Patrick included GCC just few days after it was released. In the past, he made sure that GCC is working fine for some time before it gets merged into -Current. It seems that GCC 4.8.0 is good in overall, but it may cause some applications failed to build due to stricter rules when compiling.

There's a new GCC 4.7.3 release and since it's a maintenance release, it should not regressed and only bringing bug fixes. It's a safe option suppose too many applications breaks with GCC 4.8.0. So far, not many default Slackware packages are breaking with this changes, but things may get worse in SlackBuilds where there are a lot of SlackBuilds script there.

XOrg
Again, the current situation works for me as NVidia has updated their proprietary driver to support XOrg 1.14 ABI, but apparently it's not the same situation for ATI users. Pat hoped that Slackware will be usable for ATI users as well out-of-the-box.

There hasn't been any decision yet for now, but i guess whatever the decision will be, every Slackware users will agree with the reason Pat is taking. The others who disagree can (and most likely will) compile their own packages for their systems.

If things are reverted to what Patrick has mentioned (Linux Kernel 3.4, GCC 4.7.3, and XOrg 1.13.3), then the current -Current is way too current and it should be the target for the next next Slackware release (hopefully 15.0).