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My Preferred Slackware/Windows XP Laptop Setup


This document details the setup of a laptop that runs Slackware Linux and Microsoft Windows XP. This is how I like my laptop, it may not be optimal, or have the bells'n'whistles that other setups do, but it is simple and I get my work done with it. I mainly wrote this in case something happens to the laptop and I have to install everything from scratch.

The distribution of GNU/Linux I chose for this workstation was Slackware.

The version of Microsoft Windows I used was Windows XP Professional. Note that I don't detail the install of Windows here as it came preinstalled on the ThinkPad when I got it.

Why Slackware Linux?

I been using Slackware Linux on my server for several years, it's the most robust operating system I've ever had. I'm very comfortable with it, and although I use several other distributions at work, I prefer Slackware. At the time of this install, the latest version of Slackware (that I installed) was 12.

Why Dual-boot to Windows?

Simple reason, I do most of my work at a company that develops Windows-based software. Although I usually just use rdesktop to connect to my work machine, sometimes I need to test some software from home.

Hardware Profile

Here are the laptop hardware specs:

Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU T7200 @ 2.00GHz
Memory (RAM): 2.00 GB
Graphics: ATI MOBILITY FireGL V5200 256MB PCI Express graphics
Primary hard disk: 80GB
Wireless: Integrated Intel 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi wireless with Bluetooth

Install Slackware

I first collected the first 2 Slackware install iso's from Slackware.com. And burned them CD.

Then I inserted the 1st CD and rebooted my laptop. I followed the partitioning advice using cfdisk from here, taking care not to damage my Windows (NTFS) partition.

Then I followed the instructions for the "Full" install (all except the KDE packages): Use here or here for examples (the latter links to the "official" Slackware book).

Note as I said above that I chose all except the KDE packages; this is because I have never liked working in KDE. I find both KDE and Gnome a bit too bloated for my use. I prefer the XFCE or Fluxbox windows managers at the moment.

Add Users

After the installation, the pc boots to the command line, with root being the only account on the system. Use adduser username to add new accounts as is shown here.

Graphical Lilo

The default Slackware boot manager (lilo), is set by default to not use a graphical background, if you want one, do the following:

Create a bitmap file of size 640 x 480, with max 256 colors, then as root copy that file to /boot, then edit your /etc/lilo.conf file:

append="resume2=swap:/dev/sda2 splash=silent "
boot = /dev/sda
#the following line must be commented out:
#message = /boot/boot_message.txt
timeout = 50

Then run /sbin/lilo, if you have no errors, when you restart, you'll now see your bitmap as the background.

Command-Line Login

The default Slackware login is to the command-line (which means that to get to a graphical desktop, you'd have to run startx). This can lead to insecurities - if you do a ctrl-backspace it will bounce you back to the command-prompt unless you have an x-window login defined. If you do decide to stick to the command-line login, but you want your system to be secure, start your x-windows session like this: startx; logout (this will automatically log you out when the x-session ends).

Graphical Login

Due to security concerns when using x-windows (see the above note) I decided not to stick with the command-line ligin, and setup a graphical login as follows:

I modified the /etc/inittab file by changing line which reads id:3:initdefault: to id:4:initdefault: (If you want to switch back to the comand-line login, you can switch the above change and reboot or as root type: init 3).

Then I modified the /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/Xresources file like this:

xlogin*fail: Login incorrect

xlogin*geometry: 280x280+0+0
xlogin*greetFont: -*-clean-*-r-*-*-17-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
xlogin*greetingFont: -*-clean-*-r-*-*-17-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
xlogin*font: -*-clean-*-r-*-*-17-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
xlogin*promptFont: -*-clean-*-r-*-*-17-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
xlogin*failFont: -*-clean-medium-r-*-*-17-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
xlogin*face:            clean-17
xlogin*promptFace:      clean-17:bold
xlogin*failFace:        clean-17:bold

xlogin*greeting: Login
xlogin*namePrompt: Name:\040
xlogin*passwdPrompt: Password:\040

#ifdef COLOR

xlogin*borderWidth: 1
xlogin*frameWidth: 0
xlogin*innerFramesWidth: 0
xlogin*shdColor: black
xlogin*hiColor: black
xlogin*greetColor: white
xlogin*failColor: red
xlogin*promptColor: grey75
xlogin*foreground: grey75
xlogin*background: black
xlogin*borderColor: grey50

Then I modified the /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xdm/Xsetup_0 like this:

# $Xorg: Xsetup_0,v 1.3 2000/08/17 19:54:17 cpqbld Exp $
# uncomment out the following if you want to see any error messages on start
#xconsole -geometry 480x130-0-0 -daemon -notify -verbose -fn fixed -exitOnFail
/usr/bin/xsetroot -solid black
# the following can be any image
/usr/bin/xv -root -rmode 5 -quit /tmp/subgSW.gif

If you want to make more modifications, take a look here.


The fortune program automatically runs on each login, If you don't like this, change the persmissions of the /etc/profile.d/bsdgames.sh file:

chmod -x /etc/profile.d/bsd-games-login-fortune.sh


I found that the initial install left me with slightly blurry X-Windows screens. I fixed this by running the xorgsetup command.

VPN and Remote Desktop

These are documented here.


I wanted to have the screen blank out and lock after a certain amount of time. Firstly I found a bug in the default install that required me to run this statement as root: mkdir /usr/share/wallpapers. After that, once I had startd x-windows by typing startx, I opened a terminal window and typed xscreensaver-demo to configure it. To get Fluxbox to start the screensaver when the session started, I modified the ~.fluxbox.startup file to contain the line: xscreensaver &.

Fluxbox and GTK Fonts

The fonts of gtk applications will be different in Fluxbox as it doesn't control them. To change them, create .gtkrc-2.0 file under you home directory and add the line line gtk-font-name : "helvetica 8" to it (you can change "helvetica 8" to any other font available on your system (type xfontsel to see what's available)).

Upgrading Slackware

I have documented the main method of Keeping Slackware up-to-date here.


On This document? Contact me here.

Where to find documentation on your system: start in the /usr/doc directory.

Slackware Linux Forums.

Linux Command-line commands? I have a document on this Here.

Here's a great page on Cutomizing Slackware after your initial installation.

Here's a good overview of Slackware Linux 12.

Here's an interview with Eric Hameleers on Slackware64 (released with version 13).

© Roqet :: 2022-03-01 16:07:34