Slackware aims for design stability and simplicity and to be the most "Unix-like" Linux distribution. It makes as few modifications as possible to software packages from upstream and tries not to anticipate use cases or preclude user decisions. In contrast to most modern Linux distributions, Slackware provides no graphical installation procedure and no automatic dependency resolution of software packages. It uses plain text files and only a small set of shell scripts for configuration and administration. Without further modification it boots into a command-line interface environment. Because of its many conservative and simplistic features, Slackware is often considered to be most suitable for advanced and technically inclined Linux users.
Slackware is available for the IA-32 and x86_64 architectures, with a port to the ARM architecture. While Slackware is mostly free and open source software, it does not have a formal bug tracking facility or public code repository, with releases periodically announced by Volkerding. There is no formal membership procedure for developers and Volkerding is the primary contributor to releases.
The name "Slackware" stems from the fact that the distribution started as a private side project with no intended commitment. To prevent it from being taken too seriously at first, Volkerding gave it a humorous name, which stuck even after Slackware became a serious project.
Slackware refers to the "pursuit of Slack", a tenet of the Church of the Subgenius. Certain aspects of Slackware graphics reflect this—the pipe which Tux is smoking, as influenced by the image of J. R. "Bob" Dobbs' head.
A humorous reference to the Church of the Subgenius can be found in many versions of the install.end text files, which indicate the end of a software series to the setup program. In recent versions, including Slackware release 14.1, the text is ROT13 obfuscated.