My thoughts on Slackware, life and everything

Raspberry Pi deserves Slackware

Some time ago I ran into this website promoting a very cheap computer the size of a credit card. The Raspberry Pi is being created by a charitable foundation. It is designed to “plug into a TV or be combined with a touch screen for a low cost tablet“. Typically its target is “teaching computer programming to children“, but such a cheap computing device will certainly have “many other applications both in the developed and the developing world“.

You have to see the device to believe it, I guess. The videos and photos look very promising. It’s not in production yet but according to the developer team’s schedule first shipments should commence before the end of the year.

Its specifications are not stellar (256 MB of RAM will likely rule out the top-heavy desktop environments like KDE) but hey! it only costs 35 euros! And the ARM processor, a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC with a ARM1176JZF-S core seems to have good support in the Linux kernel (a patch that adds support to linux-3.0.4 is fairly trivial). Check out this video which shows the Raspberry Pi running Quake III in 1920×1080 resolution with 4x antialiasing.

There is a thread on LinuxQuestions which shows that it may in fact not be hard to boot Slackware – or rather, ARMedslack. Using the latest QEMU which supports the Broadcom’s ARM version, and a recent kernel compiled for ARM (see above), QEMU can successfully boot one of ARMedslack’s “mini rootfs” filesystem images.

So, I think that the Raspberry Pi deserves Slackware. If we are going to bring Slackware to the masses, this ARM device would be a nice vehicle. I am going to get myself one or two of them. Stuart Winter (ARMedslack developer) promised to help me with the nasty bits. We will see how this ends up – either incorporated into ARMedslack, or as a separate development tree hosted by me, or (nicest option but not a very realistic one perhaps) folded into the main Slackware tree. It would be cool to have the main tree expand to support a third architecture besides x86 and x86_64.

Cool, another project for my evergrowing TODO list! Oh my… I can’t even find the time to spend on another project that is itching at the back of my mind… I guess should at least make an effort to upload all of the OCR related packages I created a month ago.



  1. Lawrence McDonald

    Thank you for your Input and dedication to slackware
    Coming from a very low tech Africa Raspberry PI is definitively on my agenda to master 🙂

  2. toby

    I’m interested in the raspberry pi, slackware on one of those would be lots of fun!

  3. bgeddy

    To anyone who is interested there’s a very good article today in the Register about these boards – its here: .

  4. Nuts

    Hi Eric,
    there is another development , have a look at!

  5. alienbob

    Hi Nuts

    Yes, but the price of the Pandora (445 Euro) is way too steep to be an alternative to what I want to achieve with the RaspberryPi…

    A sort-of gaming console which happens to be able to boot any OS from SD card is nice though. I don’t see many real uses outside of gaming. The keyboard is good for texting but not for serious typing.


  6. integrale

    Hi Eric,
    I’m also following the development of the Raspberry Pi for a while now and will order two or three of it, I think. So far I thought, I will give Arch Linux a try, since on the RasPi homepage was mentioned, that it will be one of the Distros which will support the RasPi. But it would be great to have Slackware or even ARMedslack on the RasPi. So it would be great if you would go for it 🙂


  7. phrag

    I’m going to buy one as soon as they become available in NL… so would love to contribute in any way I can to getting Slackware running nicely on it =)

  8. bgeddy

    More new on Raspberry Pi. This is from The UK Government’s response to Next Gen. Transforming the UK into the world’s leading talent hub for the video games and visual effects industries Cm 8226 :
    In addition to the curriculum review and the pilot IT GCSE the Government
    recognises the potential developments such as the Raspberry Pi computer project
    have for stimulating and motivating children to understand basic computer science
    in schools. Much as the BBC Micro inspired a generation of computer programmers
    in the early 1980’s the Raspberry Pi could provide the platform for teachers and
    pupils to gain hands on programming experience. Raspberry Pi is an example of
    how games developers are finding innovative and affordable solutions to tackle the
    perceived issues highlighted in the Next Gen Report.
    Very cool getting mentioned in an official government report.

  9. ljones

    I’m no expert or developer, but I’m not sure how easy it will be to get slackware/armedslack to work on the rasberry pi. From what I’ve read either its booting or video will be propietary which could make porting (say) armedslack a major job.

    If it’s anything like the efika mx smartbook then video will be a problem, the drivers for that are propietary — I have armedslack running on the mx but only using the normal framebuffer/vesa X driver so performance in X is dreadful.

    Might just be that only the “blessed” distro that comes wtih rasberry pi will work on it and nothing else. x.x .


  10. ljones

    …another intresting device to get slackware working on might be the ben nanonote! ( ) though it dosen’t use an ARM cpu.


  11. LoneStar

    Hi Eric,
    do you know if it’s actually possible to buy this device right now in european countries? Any online store with int’l shipment?

  12. alienbob


    The Raspberry Pi is not for sale yet. They are waiting for the first batch to be sent from the factory.
    I assume that the device will be available for sale world-wide after launch.
    Pre-orders are not taken, everybody will have to wait in line.


  13. tim

    you mentioned QEMU which has recently gone up to version 1.0 .the link on QEMU site to your build appears to be down. Any chance of an updated version. thanks 🙂

  14. Slamd64

    Hi Eric,

    I am wondering if there is any possibility to port an ArmedSlack to kicked off mobile phones such as Nokia N8 and 5800 which I have. Idea is to make a loader and boot off sd card. There was uboot loader project but not actively developed. I think it should be possible, because these phones are using ARMs. My phone can be connected to tv via s video and can handle usbs. N8 even has HDMI! Something like Ubuntu on Android. I think it is a better thing than raspberry pi because we use it every day. I do not have enough skill and community support to bring life to this project. It is just a suggestion, so please share your opinion about this.

  15. alienbob

    Hi Slamd64

    I don’t think there is a Nokia on the market which can run Android, let alone a “real” Linux, even ARMedslack. These phones are running Symbian which is an OS incompatible with Linux.


  16. Peter

    Armed Slack reported as working on Raspberry Pi.
    Mine should be delivered week of 28 May.
    Hope to try Slack then.

  17. Peter

    I’ve now got my Raspbbery Pi and it’s running with Slack –
    the image comes via:
    Linux slackware 3.1.9+ #63 Wed May 16 14:42:21 BST 2012 armv6l ARMv6-compatible processor rev 7 (v6l) BCM2708 GNU/Linux

  18. Cuetzpallin

    Good to know Peter, I’ll try that once my Rpi arrives to my hands.

    Thanks a lot for the effort

  19. Peter

    ARMedslack on Raspberry Pi seems to be dying.
    Not many comments on the RPi forum and the website with the .img file has gone AWOL for several days now
    (Mind you, perhaps he’s just following in the tradition of the 🙂 ).
    But there’s still a mirror available @

    Offtopic- OpenELEC on the RPi is impressive.


  20. alienbob


    Neither Stuart nor I own a Raspberry Pi yet, so there is little chance for real development.
    Perhaps you want to stick with OpenElec then, if that’s more useful to you.

    The longer I wait for the device, the less desire I have to spend any time on it.


  21. Peter

    “The longer I wait for the device, the less desire I have to spend any time on it”.
    That’s a shame. I think it’s a really neat device. The Slackware image from Romania does run OK. I even installpkg’d gnuplot from an ARMedslack 13.37 mirror and it ran just fine. But as to whether ther’s a signicant number of users just waiting for Slack on it, who knows….
    May buy a second one just to use as an OpenELEC media player, and keep the first for my weather station project, and maybe for 24/7 ADSL performance monitor too.

  22. Eduardo

    Hello There mr. Allien it seems I’m from mars since I came here asking for an 32 bits Slackware version.
    All that I already read here on this web blog is about concerns the 64 bit Distro version.
    Will I be forced to by I new machine?
    Fedora, for instance, does not force me to do so.
    Best regards

  23. alienbob

    Eduardo, what do you mean? You are not making any sense at all.

    First: you are commenting to a blog post about an _ARM_ version for Slackware.
    Second: there has always been a 32bit version of Slackware. In fact, the 32bit Slackware OS existed well before the 64bit version was born. And it is not going away either.

  24. Abhishek

    Where can i buy raspberry pi pls ?

    • Jen I got mine here. Great service, fast shipping, even though it’s international shipping for me.

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