The reason why it took Slackware 15.0 so long to get released

On Wed, February 2, 22:22:22 UTC, 2022, Patrick Volkerding announced the release of Slackware 15.0. The previous release, Slackware 14.2, was announced on 2016/06/30 so, I’ll leave it up to you to do the math on the time it took between these releases. One can say that it took too long of a development cycle to reach 15.0 from 14.2. Why it took so long?

Slackware 1.00 was released on 1993/07/17. The Linux kernel was at version 0.99.11 Alpha! Yes, The Linux kernel was yet to reach version 1.0.0. Slackware is by and far the oldest GNU/Linux distribution that is still being actively maintained. Slackware is developed by Patrick Volkerding with the help of a small core team. Donations to Slackware remains the only source of income for Patrick Volkerding and his family. There used to be a Slackware store that sold DVD, CD-ROM and other Slackware related merchandise. The Slackware store was a joint venture between some other folks and Volkerding family. It took a considerable amount of time before Patrick Volkerding realized that the store folks have been cheating him out of a substantial amount of money. At this point in time he and his family were nearly broke. Up until then he had assumed that may be the sales and donations were not that great, when in fact he was being ripped off by his store partners. Here is an excerpt from his post on linuxQuestions written on 07/23/2018,

I’ve been mulling over exactly how to tell you all this, and I guess this is as good a place as any. The store has been ripping me off horribly, and I’m very nearly broke. I have no evidence that they’ve ever done anything with donations besides line their own pockets. I’ve not been paid any money by them in two years. That was upon the 14.2 release (and followed another long period of time with no income). The 14.2 release generated nearly $100K in revenue. The store gave me $15K, and later said that I was “overpaid”.
When I agreed to set up the store, it was structured as a company where they owned 60%, and my wife and I owned 40%. I had not yet escaped California and would have quickly gone broke there with a house underwater had I not taken the deal. And 60% seemed fair, since the idea was that the company would be providing health insurance, paying for the production of the goods, and handling shipping and related customer service. And when my daughter was born and needed surgery and continuing medical attention I could hardly jeopardize our insurance in the days before the ACA. I was between a rock and a hard place like many residents of the US. Since then, the store has ceased to provide any benefits, and shouldn’t even be getting a 50/50 split in my opinion, much less looting the coffers for 81+% (anything they want to spend money on is an expense, apparently, while any expenses I have to support the actual project come out of the peanuts they toss me). I only found out about how bad it really was last year when I finally managed to get some numbers out of them. I thought the sales were just that bad, and was really rather depressed about it. Another side note - the ownership of the 60% portion of the store changed hands behind my back. Nobody thought they needed to tell me about this. At that point I’d say things got considerably worse for me.
Still not sure how to move forward, but I have some hope that the community might think that my work is and has been worth supporting. If at all possible I’d like to get away from replicating physical media which seems to be a lost cause. T-shirts? Well, maybe, but I don’t see that providing a reasonable income either. I’m wondering how Patreon would do. It would at least be better than nothing, which is where I am now.

Human beings like Patrick Volkerding are very rare in modern times. He could easily have found a high-paying job as a software engineer based alone on his credentials as the creator of Slackware and could easily have left the development of Slackware and moved on ahead with life instead of following his passion, idealism and living the life of a broke. Besides his own life, he also has responsibilities and duties towards his wife and daughter. Human beings like Patrick Volkerding and their ideals & principles needs to be celebrated and not mocked without understanding the sacrifices they and their families have been making towards a noble cause, towards making our computing lives free and better.

I did this ‘cause Linux gives me a woody. It doesn’t generate revenue.
~ Dave Taylor, announcing DOOM for Linux

If your financial situation allows it, I would request you to consider supporting Patrick Volkerding and Slackware. Even the smallest contribution goes a long way. You never know.

May the Slack be with Patrick & Slackware, forever.

Patrick Volkerding

 Date: February 19, 2022
 Tags:  people slackware

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