Slackage Management, Baby!

There are those who say that Slackware Linux doesn’t really have a package manager. BAH! I say. It has two package management systems, actually.

The first is the older of the two. It’s good ol’ pkgtool. The rumor that Slack has no package manager is baloney. pkgtool is an outstanding little package management tool that serves its purpose wonderfully. The other rumor that pkgtool has no dependency checks is true, though. Slackware assumes you have half a brain and can determine which dependencies you need to fulfill to install Jumpin' Joe's Majong Marathon.

From the command line, you can installpkg, removepkg, or upgradepkg… easy-peasy, folks! Anyone familiar with compiling and installing SlackBuilds will have used the pkgtool when performing that job.

Slackpkg is the second, and newer, of the two Slackware package managers. It was introduced with version 13 of Slackware last year. It is the native manager for the new .txz compression format, which is based on the LZMA compression algorithm. Slackpkg has a few more usage options than the old pkgtool does, giving it some more usability.

Both of these tools serve their purpose admirably. It took me a little time to get used to the new Slackpkg for updating. I was used to using the old SwareT application with pre-13 versions of Slackware. SwareT was an outstanding tool. Unfortunately, when Patrick V. decided to go with the new compression method, SwareT was left by the wayside. The app hadn’t been updated in quite a few years, anyway.

There are third party package management tools out there, but SwareT was the only one I ever tried. Although, I did use Slapt-get in Zenwalk, a Slack derivative. They both worked well with the older .tgz format. I can’t say anything about the others out there because I’ve never used them. Slack’s native package managers are all I need. Oh, there’s no GUI front ends for them, so you’re stuck in the command line. WAAAAA! Sorry, GUI penguins.

So, the next time you hear someone say that Slack doesn’t have a package manager, you can tell them that’s baloney. It has TWO!

Until next time, folks…


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  • mfillpot  On May 13, 2010 at 15:35

    Nice brief explanation Eric, it is good to see that you included swaret.

    If someone wants a little more info you can checkout my past post on this subject at which incidentally I was inspired to write by Eric and others

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On May 13, 2010 at 16:22

      AHA! There’s that post. I went looking for that. I couldn’t remember where you had posted it at Thanks for posting that link here. That is an excellent tutorial, Matt!



  • GregCallahan  On May 13, 2010 at 20:36

    Very true. Who really needs a GUI package manager anyway. Ive been using Slackware for 4 years and the last 2 it has been my primary OS. I have to say the simplicity and stability are unmatched by all the “user friendly” distros. To me “user friendly” means crammed to the point of bloat with unstable and often unproven programs that invariably fail rendering those distros less than “user friendly.

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On May 13, 2010 at 21:24

      Hi Greg…

      Yeah… there are very few distributions out there with the pedigree, the simplicity, and the elegance of Slackware. It is a unique Linux.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


  • Securitybreach  On May 13, 2010 at 23:02

    Very nice overview Eric!!!!

    Also, very nice post Mfillpot!!

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On May 13, 2010 at 23:22

      Thanks! And yup… Matt’s detailed article (link in the comments above) is much more informative… great tutorial!


  • Anthony  On May 14, 2010 at 07:50

    Both of these are great at what they do, but without dependency checking they are not really package managers, just package handling tools. I am not saying that is necessarily a bad thing – I personally started out on Slackware, and still think it is an amazingly good distribution. I also think it can stand on it’s own without making these kind of excuses for it’s lack of a package manager. Just my $0.02.

  • spc  On May 15, 2010 at 08:54

    I’m Slack user for almost 2 years. I must admit i’ve become lazy…. 😦
    So fresh install and let the compiling olimpics begin (thank god for not using gentoo), not much, but still it takes some time 😦 Some say it’s more flexible, but, as a un-poweruser do i need it. I shun gnome deps – and it’s working to have gnomeless system (almost).
    Lack of deps is it worth it??
    I’m starting to belive that i need new distro….
    Another galling thing is that slack’s progeny doesnt have one unified, common package system…
    And that boogles my mind… why??



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