Today, Pat Volkerding published a massive amount of package updates to the slackware-current tree. The entry in the Slackware ChangeLog.txt measures more than 200 lines, and is probably the largest update to the development tree ever.
Many of the core packages have received an version upgrade, but those changes may not be immediately visible to the average end user. Some of the absolute highlights mentioned in the ChangeLog are indication of a big step forward for Slackware: a new kernel (126.96.36.199), new gcc (4.3.3), new glibc (still called 2.9 but the snapshot we use is more like 2.10), a new XFCE (4.6.0) and most importantly: KDE 3.5.10 is gone, replaced by KDE 4.2.1 (which had been living in the /testing directory for a long time).
I have been working with KDE4 releases for nearly a year now, running it as my default desktop, and 4.2.1 is stable, fast and beautiful. People who heard or read that the new KDE is bloated and slow, should try it out and decide for themselves; I think it performs better than KDE3. I also ran the new XFCE for a while and it looks sweet. Note that when you upgrade from XFCE 4.4 you may experience missing icons in the panel. This happens because the Rodent icon theme was removed from XFCE in the new release. The file CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT (located in the toplevel directory of slackware-current) explains this issue and what you can do about it.
One neat feature addition which did not make the ChangeLog, but is definitely worth mentioning: the initrd.img and usbboot.img files which contain the Slackware installer, have also been updated for the new 188.8.131.52 kernel. As a result, you can now install Slackware to an ext4 filesystem!
If anyone out there with a Netbook (one of those Intel Atom powered, 9 or 10 inch sized laptops with long battery life) is going to install Slackware-current on it, I would like to hear your impressions. Leave a comment to this blog post.
Have fun, Eric