Enough was enough. I rocked and rolled along with one mainstream distribution after another, since I started using GNU/Linux in 2000. It was time for something else. Something that wasn’t trying to be everything.

Even I was slightly surprised then that, knowing so little about it, I chose Slackware Linux as my next distribution.

Here are some rough-and-ready notes from my installation, in case they’re of help to anyone else.


To install on an encrypted drive, I followed Juan Valencia’s blog:

Apart from the natural modifications expected, i.e. kernel versions, the instructions were completely sound and the installation proceeded without issue.


One LILO was installed, and the system rebooted, I had two issues:

  1. The USB devices attached to my ThinkPad’s docking station weren’t activating at boot time
  2. The keymap of the initial ram disk was set to US, so to decrypt my drive I had to observe the alternative placement of certain characters… 😉

To resolve these issues, I found the “IT Debris” blog (amusingly sub-titled: “Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect”):

To the command line (mkinitrd -c -k 3.2.7 -f ext4 -r /dev/vgl01/lvroot -m usb-storage:ehci-hcd:usbhid:jbd2:mbcache:ext4 -C /dev/sda2 -L -u -o /boot/initrd.gz) I added the flag “-l uk”, which loaded the UK keymap by default into the initial ramdisk.

Not forgetting to run lilo afterwards!


LILO’s keymap was also set to US. I decided to take a look at this. While the documentation is pretty comprehensive, the instructions for this particular issue were met with a slight problem – the file locations and names had changed in the 13 years since the documentation was written.

keytab-lilo is the recommended tool for updating LILO’s keyboard mapping.

keytab-lilo expects a US map and the other map (in your language, that you want to use) in order to create a mapping between them.

According to the docs, as referenced in /usr/share/doc/LILO…/doc/README’s web link, keytab-lilo expected keyboard mappigns in /usr/lib/kbd. This directoty doesn’t exist, so I did this:

mkdir usr/lib/kbd mkdir /usr/lib/kbd/keytables

loadkeys uk

cd usr/lib/kbd/keytables

cp /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/i386/qwerty/ . cp /usr/share/kbd/keymaps/i386/qwerty/ . gunzip gunzip

mv us.kmap mv uk.kmap

keytab-lilo uk > /boot/uk.ktl

.. FINALLY, edit /etc/lilo.conf in your favourite editor:

emacs -nw /etc/lilo.conf

boot = /dev/sda keytable = /boot/uk.ktl

NOTE: the remapping doesn’t seem perfect. The hash (“pound” in en_US) symbol (#) is mapped to two keys and the UK pound (£) symbol is not mapped to number 3 at all, but in the main this is a usable UK mapping for me.


Edit /etc/profile.d/, adjusting from en_US to en_GB


After this, there were a couple of issues which I wanted to resolve. When using Ubuntu, I recall there was an issue with using a ThinkPad T420 (my machine) and possibly other ThinkPads with audio output via the docking station‘s analogue port. The issue was also addressed in a Ubuntu forum post.

I created /etc/modprobe.d/t420.conf and added the following:

options snd-hda-intel model=thinkpad

options iwlcore led_mode=1

.. then rebooted. Perfect – audio came up as expected. The flashing LED still appears to be flashing, though, so this requires further investigation.


(+ hangouts plugin):

TERMINAL – modifying the prompt

A long trip arouind the documentation and understanding how bash is invoked made me realise that the easiest thing to do is go into XFCE’s Terminal preferences, and tick the box that says “Run Command as login shell”. Then I get my nice prompt with my login, hostname and path instead of just “sh-4.20$”.


These are my first steps at installing and configuring Slackware Linux. So far, so good. And not a single crash, which is what I expect from a sensible GNU/Linux distribution.

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