Softlanding Linux System 1.05

There is another retro article on Soylentnews. This time it is about "Softlanding Linux System 1.05", probably the earliest of what we consider a Linux "distro".

And I thought things were a mess back in the days of Redhat Linux 5. :P


  • edited June 2020

    Yep! Without that mess, we would never have gotten Debian and Slackware.

    Sadly, most people seem to think Ubuntu and RedHat are the only Linux distributions these days. Even Debian is forgotten by many.

  • Heh, it's surprising I actually saw my own write-ups here! Had to sign up to comment. I can provide the assembled SLS Linux disks if you'd like to add them to the archive, as well as a patched A1 disk that can actually use "large" HDDs (it should work with 8 GiB, but the built in ext2 driver seems to blow up at 2+ GiB).

    The amount of negativity might put things to the side on writeups though :/. I also have fixed versions of some of the NT Service Packs which are kinda broken in the downloads.

  • Hi, NCommander, welcome to our humble commode :)

    Personally, I like those write-ups. I managed to patch up those broken SCO Xenix disk images, verify they worked OK, and added them to the library here. If Soylent is not appreciative of those kinds of write ups, you might consider posting them on the vintage computing forums, or here. (I've done some hardware writeups on, and software stuff goes here).

    Since that is rather historical (we don't usually do open source or shareware) yea, if you want to archive those up, I could post them.

    What is broken with the NT Service packs? We try to archive them as they were distributed, so some are MS-DOS self extracting files. If there is some issue I would like to either fix them or document workarounds.

  • I may post them here. As a note, SLS part 2 went up.

    With the service packs, a bunch of the NT4 ones are the 40-bit encryption and not 128-bit. That's just mislabeling. I have NT SP 3 and 6 128-bit I can upload somewhere.

    The WIndows NT 3.51 is missing the media detection file. I think it's supposed to read the label of the CD-ROM and failing that look for a file in the root directory. I was able to fix this one by creating the missing file and then installing it (specifically, you always need the workstation identifer even for servers).

    I don't remember if I had to monkey with NT 3.1 or 3.5's service packs. I'll check on the desktop later tonight. Also, is there forum notifications? I remembered to check on this by hand.
  • I have a super old on my site (you have to read the 404 page). From the last time I went digging through shovelware crap this was the oldest one around.

    NCommander is far more patient than me, I couldn't imagine installing this on physical hardware! I'm interested in the disk patches, maybe with GCC2 synthetic 64bit numbers can be used to magically make some 'long long' or int64's and stretch the filesystem in incompatible ways!
  • Thanks for writing this, @NCommander! I don't understand the negativity in the comments at all — people must have very limited mental horizons. I really enjoyed reading it, particularly since I have wondered about the topic for a while. I first encountered Linux in the form of a Knoppix CD-R, and being taught how to get into BIOS and boot the thing was a formative experience: it blew my mind realizing how much more control over the machine I had than I thought. (I recall it working pretty well out of the box on most PCs, though wifi wasn't a concern back then.) Nowadays, Linux is a household name (ish) and people rarely monkey with optical or magnetic media, but once upon a time things spread mostly person-to-person with physical media. So, I have long been curious about the early origins of Linux on the home computer, and particularly what the end-user experience was like in ye olde times. Your article answered a lot of those questions.
  • @pnppl yeah, I'm still interested in doing tech write-ups for my work and I've worked on newer projects; I have an offer to write here directly which I might take advantage of, I'm just surviving a move right now.

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