By now if you've read this blog in any great detail (or even if you haven't) you'd know by now I love FreeBSD and intend to use it as my primary desktop and server OS by the end of the year. Booh-yah!
Anyway I've had to admit lately though that most open source software isn't written for FreeBSD but for Linux, and for ages I've been looking for a Linux distro that as a FreeBSD user I could feel comfortable using; not to replace FreeBSD but just as an alternative I could dual boot into from time to time to keep myself up to date with Tux. Plus my work and university studies require Linux, so would be useful to have a real world test bed.
In my search I've steered farily clear of distros like Fedora, Chuck Norris, openSUSE, PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu/KitchenSinkuntu; personally I like to have more control over the installation and prefer to set up things like the shell, X11, packages and networking myself. A few years ago I would have shuddered at the thought of doing configuration on the command line, these days I can't see myself doing it any other way. There's something to be said for installing a barebones system and configuring everything yourself afterwards. Or maybe I'm just a freak ;).
Just for fun I downloaded through the torrents the latest version of Slackware Linux (using the optional 2.6.18 kernel) and gave it a shot; and was pleasently surprised! As compared to FreeBSD, the Slackware installer is very similar, the directory structure is very similar and the system just feels more UNIXy which I like. Plus it just seems clean and well designed as opposed to some of the more top-heavy distros which feel slapped together, if that makes sense.
A comparison of the installers: here's FreeBSD 6.2:
And here's Slackware 11.0:
As you can see, it's no wonder I felt right at home installing :).
As for documentation, the Slackbook is fantastic and easy to follow, and the man pages are well put together.
So far I've tried Gentoo, Debian and now Slackware and I feel as if I'm more inclined to use the latter! Installing dependencies on packages myself will take some getting used to (I've been spoilt by the FreeBSD ports system!) but I'm sure it will be a great learning experience. Or I could chicken out and use NetBSD's pkgsrc for it ;).