Slax is a fantastic idea that takes the concept of the tiny ISO Linux distro, and then throws in a SUSE Studio approach to build and customise your very own version by adding modules from the website. The next version, Slax 7, has been in development for a while, and it’s been three years since the last release of the Slax 6.X series. A lot has changed since then, so what’s made it into the update, and how has it affected its portability?
Well for starters, the desktop has been updated the KDE 4.9 as of the second release candidate – a huge jump over 3.5 being included with the last release. For a lot of people, this will probably set off some alarm bells – Slax has always been a very small ISO, 200 MB for the basic version of the current stable release. KDE 4 is not well known for taking up little space, however the developers over at Slax have spent a while wrestling with the desktop environment and produced an ISO only 180 MB in size. That’s smaller than the core version of the previous release, and that is an achievement.
This core version of Slax offers very little as standard, with just enough to help you edit some text through Kate, surf the internet with Firefox 16, and even watch some videos with the lightweight SMPlayer. It still boots incredibly fast though, with a short verbose boot sequence logging straight into the modified, but recognisable and fully functional, KDE desktop.
For the RC, you cannot just yet go through and add the extra modules to your ISO, however for the current version you can augment Slax with such essentials as LibreOffice, Eclipse, GIMP, VLC, and hundreds or thousands of other packages that the community has submitted and maintained. It’s still a very smart system, and hopefully will be updated when Slax 7.0 is properly released.
Due to the way Slax is designed, there is no install to disk option included with the distro – this shouldn’t really be a problem though. Slax automatically detects any attached storage, so putting it on a USB stick will allow you to easily access the rest of the available space. Slax is supposed to be portable after all, and its very easy these days to create a bootable USB stick using something like UnetBootin.
This update to Slax so far is looking incredibly promising. While managing to keep the same ethos as the previous version, not to mention the small image size, it’s managed to update the code base to something a lot more relevant and usable in modern computing. As the kernel has been updated to 3.6.6, it also has a lot more compatibility with newer systems, which helps it run faster and more efficiently among the many other things such as hardware support. Currently there’s no word as to when 7 will finally be released, however it will be well wroth the upgrade whenever that is.