Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution. In its early years, Patrick Volkerdin rolled up a kernel, init, libraries, desktop, and applications to make Linux easier for users. He doesn’t change anything, he doesn’t customize anything. Every component is exactly how the original developers intended.
Version 13.1 was released May 25 with Linux 126.96.36.199 and KDE 4.4.3. Slackware ships with other desktop options, such as Xfce 4.6.1, and lots of handy software. Slack usually includes Java, but most other browser plugins and multimedia codecs are left to the user to install. 13.1 still uses HAL and udev in order to grant users access to removable media without root privileges or sudo.
New to the desktop framework are ConsoleKit and PolicyKit. ConsoleKit handles “seats”, things like dealing with devices when switching from one user to another. PolicyKit is a system for fine-grained access control, allowing a non-root user to run certain tasks with elevated privilege, but more securely than if the entire task were simply run as root.
Finally, the installer is another area of Slackware that gets some negative comments from time to time. It asks a few questions during the process in a similar manner as other Linux installers. The most difficult aspect is the need to partition your disk prior to beginning the install setup. The installer disk comes with fdisk and cfdisk for this purpose.
So, all in all, besides the partitioning requirement and the lack of multimedia support, Slackware is just as up-to-date and easy-to-use as any Linux distribution.