Friday, October 10, 2008

Older Slackware versions (I)

Last week I found the original Slackware 3.5 CDs that I have. I have several older versions of Slackware in my collection, most of them original CDs.
I started using Slackware in 1996, when I bought a book called "Slackware Linux Unleashed" from Sams. It included Slackware 96, which is also known as Slackware 3.1

Since I liked Slackware a lot, I bought a subscription to receive the newer versions from Walnut Creek, a company that has ceased to exist.
So somewhere I have the original 3.1 disk and several versions up to at least 4.0
At some point in time the economy in Brazil went berserk and I had to cancel my subscription, since the value of the US$ quadruplicated and I had to fall back to downloading from the internet.
After I met some of the wonderful guys of the Slackware team in person recently (Eric, Robby, Allan) I decided to get a new subscription though.

But, getting back to the point...

Finding this old box of CDs brought back some memories. Memories how I struggled in the beginning to get everything working... and how I learned so much from the experience. It has been and still is wonderful to encounter a problem, search around and in the end be proud to find a solution.
So I started wondering if this version would still work on modern hardware.
I still have a lot of old hardware stacked up here (and when I say old, I'm talking about boards with the Z80 CPU, XT PCs, 286, 386, etc...), but now I install most systems on virtual machines. Yes, I like VMware...
I already have a VM running DOS 3.3, one running Windows 1.01 and another running MINIX. So, the logical next step was to create a VM running Slackware 3.5

I really had no idea if it would work, but I decided to try. In VMware I created a minimal machine with 64MB of memory and a 500MB hard disk. And then I started installing...

This 3.5 version has a bootable CD so it was quite simple.
For those used to recent installs of Slackware it's an easy job. Not much has changed since 3.5 in the interface, so installing this old version was simple.
The only big difference I noticed was that I didn't get an option for DHCP. Maybe in 1997 this was not too common. So I entered a fixed IP address for my local network and continued.

In the end, everything worked fine, except one thing: the network card. VMware emulates a PCnet32 interface, which is not automatically loaded by Slackware 3.5 The solution was simple, as the pcnet32 module exists in Slackware 3.5: just added

/sbin/modprobe pcnet32

to /etc/rc.d/rc.modules and it worked fine.

So I proved it was possible to install Slackware 3.5 (from September 9, 1998) on a Virtual Machine without too much trouble.

Some screenshots to show the result:

First the old-style lilo menu:

And here after logging in, showing the kernel version (2.0.34):

To check the internet connection, let's see if there are some updates in -current with lynx:

And last, just to show the size of Slackware 3.5:

Next chapter:
Adventures to get X working

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