SLAX, the Shrunken Slackware

SLAX, the Shrunken Slackware: SLAX is a minuscule version of the well-known Slackware Linux distribution. It is a LiveCD operating system that does not need to be installed on a computer’s hard drive as it can boot and run from either a USB or a CD drive. There is also an option to run SLAX from RAM. So now it's time to take a microscopic look at this tiny distro. But first, some SLAX facts:

SLAX was originated from the Czech Republic, developed by Tomas Matejicek. It is currently ranked #27 in Distrowatch. There are five official versions of SLAX. “SLAX Standard” is the standard distribution for normal personal use. There are two specialized versions; “SLAX KillBill” includes Wine and Qemu to run Microsoft Windows applications. “SLAX Server” supplies additional Internet functionality and comes with pre-configured server applications. In addition, there are two more minimalistic versions – “SLAX Popcorn” and “SLAX Frodo”. SLAX Popcorn uses Mozilla Firefox as the default web browser and the lightweight Xfce as a desktop environment instead of KDE. SLAX Frodo is designed for users with a low amount of RAM and does not contain the X Window System.

For this review, I got the latest "Standard" development release version which is SLAX 6 rc7. I downloaded the 184MB LiveCD directly from here.

I used VMware to test SLAX using only 128 MB of VM RAM at first. After I loaded the LiveCD, I was taken directly to the traditional boot menu where I was given several boot choices. I opted to start using the default KDE option, and then without delay, I was taken to SLAX’s desktop. The desktop was running sluggish as applications were slow to open. 128MB of RAM just can’t handle a KDE desktop well, or perhaps it's just because I'm running SLAX in a VM environment. But, when I increased the RAM to 256MB, it now ran efficiently.

I started with a screen resolution of 800x600, but I successfully changed it to my desired resolution size. SLAX has a good looking and polished artworks, and I love the default desktop theme and wallpaper. Its KDE desktop is ideal for users who want to try out Linux for the first time because it is very user-friendly.

SLAX was excellent in detecting my VM hardware, everything worked from my USB, audio, and Ethernet. I can instantly browse the web without having to configure anything.

SLAX is loaded with valuable and functional out-of-the-box software applications: for office tasks, there is KOffice; for multimedia, there is Kplayer; for web surfing and file browsing, there’s Konqueror; for developers, there’s KWrite advanced text editor. Perl scripting language was included but sad to say Python is not. SLAX is also loaded with networking tools, plus some added games for recreation. I also found out that Flash is already installed by default, so playing videos on YouTube is just a few clicks away. You can also use the “SLAX module manager”, described as a package management beyond your dreams for adding and removing software modules.

The applications were running smooth and steady in SLAX. The responsiveness and the quickness of Slax reminded me of using the even smaller-sized NimbleX distro. Users with older computer machines can indeed benefit from using SLAX.

All things considered, SLAX is without doubt, a distro to beat in terms of speed, functionality, and stability. It is filled with handy applications ideal for productive use. SLAX LiveCD can also be reliably utilized to rescue a broken system or as a backup software, and it can be fully customized if you want to create your own CD or even a SLAX based distribution. Certainly, SLAX fits this tongue twisting description: "SLAX is a shrunken Slackware."


  1. I'm using Slax as a rescue tool, it really is very reliable. Great review.

  2. I love Slax, it has saved me time and time again,and once loaded into RAM its a pleasure filled Linux distro. Great review about SLAX.

  3. its very ironic that you put a screenshot of the proprietary macromedia flash in action by showing a video of Richard Stallman :)

  4. how would you compare Slax to other small distros you've tried?

  5. The only real complaint I have about Slax is that I haven't figured out a way to install it to my HD. Puppy and DSL are by far better because they can be installed, and do just as good a job as Slax. With puppy, I can copy all the files from the CD into a folder, in this case, puppy301, and add the lines recommended by Puppy in the Grub menu.1st, and bingo. Very easy. I try the same with Slax with nothing but error messages. But, hell, I'm an old DOS person who may be overlooking some simple Linux command.

  6. for instaling SLAX 6 to your HDD you can always use script at slax forum, i have script that i used to install slax to many machine at my office, slax is very cool...i loved slax and now i have been waitting for the latest slax realease SLAX6 final !!!

  7. Slax is the best live distro I've tried for it's ease of customization. I repair computers and it's very handy. Besides that, I love to play with the modules. I don't know how they feel about link posting so you just have to go to the slax site(now a blog) and look for the link to the old site in the blog just below the youtube vids. In the documentation section, there is a section about installing to HDD.

    Actually, just google: "Come on, how to install SLAX to harddisk" and you'll go right to it with the first link or "Feeling lucky" button.

    I have it on a 4GB USB and it's great. Can't dload enough modules.

    The easiest way I've found to save your settings is to use the "Broderskapets Ring module" (also first link in google)

  8. Sorry for the double, but I forgot to mention that there are tools that come with slax to make your own modules from directories/files using the dir2lzm command and most of the slax 5 modules will work with slax 6 using the mo2lzm command. There are several other tools for various tasks. I'm still somewhat of a Slax n00b, but it's so good I think I should spread the word.


  9. WTF ..... "SLAX is a shrunken Slackware."

    Not really close buddy. Slax is generally used as a 'toram' or 'copy2ram' meaning that is amazingly fast and nothing at all like a hard-drive installed Slackware.

  10. archi is right on target when he praises SLAX's customizability. I've searched for another modular live distro, and haven't found one yet.

  11. AnonymousJune 11, 2008

    Well - but it still is a live distro - not something you'd use as your main desktop OS. I've been carrying around SLAX on a USB stick with me for several years after I had used it once to rescue Windows 2000 from a complete disaster (induced by me playing around, not the system itself =).

    It's nice to pop-in into some computers abroad or in internet cafes but I'm currently using Mint as the main distro for dual-booting.

    Nevertheless I agree that SLAX is king among purely Live distros.

  12. I've been using linux since I had an old computer. And I am currently using puppy as my Os at home. but I haven't tried slax yet. I hope it will work properly on my old hardware as good as puppy. Especially the Sound card. thanks for this nice information