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Monday, June 1, 2009

ZipSlack is a special edition of Slackware Linux that can be installed onto any FAT (or FAT32) filesystem with about 100 MB of free space

ZipSlack was a specially compiled release of the Slackware Linux distribution which was designed to be lightweight and portable. It was distributed in a ZIP archive along with the Slackware release.

Installing ZipSlack only required obtaining the archive and unzipping it to the place where the user wished to install it, which means that ZipSlack did not require one to go through the process of reconfiguring your existing partitions to try or install it.

What is Slackware Linux?

The Official Release of Slackware Linux by Patrick Volkerding is an advanced Linux operating system, designed with the twin goals of ease of use and stability as top priorities. Including the latest popular software while retaining a sense of tradition, providing simplicity and ease of use alongside flexibility and power, Slackware brings the best of all worlds to the table.

Originally developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991, the UNIX®-like Linux operating system now benefits from the contributions of millions of users and developers around the world. Slackware Linux provides new and experienced users alike with a fully-featured system, equipped to serve in any capacity from desktop workstation to machine-room server. Web, ftp, and email servers are ready to go out of the box, as are a wide selection of popular desktop environments. A full range of development tools, editors, and current libraries is included for users who wish to develop or compile additional software.

Slackware Overview

Slackware Linux is a complete 32-bit multitasking "UNIX-like" system. It's currently based around the 2.6 Linux kernel series and the GNU C Library version 2.7 (libc6). It contains an easy to use installation program, extensive online documentation, and a menu-driven package system. A full installation gives you the X Window System, C/C++ development environments, Perl, networking utilities, a mail server, a news server, a web server, an ftp server, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, Mozilla Firefox, plus many more programs. Slackware Linux can run on 486 systems all the way up to the latest x86 machines (but uses -mcpu=i686 optimization for best performance on i686-class machines like the P3, P4, Duron/Athlon, and the latest multi-core x86 CPUs).
Details

ZipSlack used the UMSDOS filesystem under Linux, which means that it actually ran on top of the FAT filesystem, originally widely used by Microsoft operating systems, and commonly found today on various types of removable media such as ZIP disks, SuperDisks, USB flash drives, and Secure Digital cards.

The last release of Slackware which contained ZipSlack was Slackware 11.0. Slackware 12.0 did not contain a ZipSlack setup within its distribution,[1] although this change was not mentioned in its release announcement.[2] The most likely cause of this is due to the lack of UMSDOS support in the Linux kernel version 2.6, as support for filesystem type has been removed from the official Linux kernel sources after some discussion[3] regarding it on the Linux Kernel Mailing List.

ZipSlack was quite lightweight, excluding a great deal of the software considered “normal” on an installation of a GNU/Linux based distribution today. For example, in ZipSlack, the X Window System was not present by default, nor were any GUI based web browsers. However, since ZipSlack was essentially just a miniature installation of Slackware, you were able to use the Slackware package management system to install whatever packages you may need.

Minimum requirements

As downloaded, ZipSlack required approximately 100 megabytes of disk space and an Intel 80386 or compatible CPU. ZipSlack was able to run with as little as four mebibytes of memory, with an add-on supplied by Slackware[1]. However, at least eight mebibytes—preferably 16—was the recommended minimum requirement;[4] possibly more if the X Window System or other GUI software is going to be used with it.

The UMSDOS file system needs to be hosted on a FAT subsystem, not NTFS.

Caveats

The archive which contained the ZipSlack distribution was too big to be decompressed with a 16-bit application such as the older versions of PKZIP for DOS systems.[5] Instead, software such as a 32-bit DOS version of Info-ZIP (compiled with a DOS extender), Info-ZIP on Linux, or WinZip, 7-Zip, or another similarly capable utility on Microsoft Windows needed to be used. Alternatively, the system could be booted on a live-CD version of Slackware, and the standard zip utility provided with the distribution used.

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