Absolute Linux is a lightweight modification of Slackware Linux. It does not change how Slackware works, it just includes utilities that make configuration and maintenance easier. So if you are familiar with Slackware, you can still do all the configuration the old-fashioned way if you like.
While being completely configurable for those with the knowledge and inclination, Absolute Linux is a usable and productive "out of the box" for anyone; because of small, single-purpose applications and utilities that help get things done. This takes away a huge learning curve for those unfamiliar to the ways of Linux and Slackware.
Most of the utilities and customizations are in Python or Bash scripts, so you can look at the code on an installed machine. Most of the custom scripts are separated into /usr/local/bin and /usr/local/sbin (rather than just /usr) so folks can find and play with the Slackware customizations more easily.
Absolute Linux is for desktop-oriented users who value speed, stability, security, ease of use and development.
Here are the major highlights:
icewm/pcmanfm/ROX_Filer as a window/file manager(s) combination
Very lightweight and responsive. Common attachable device handling built into the kernel and accessible via pcmanfm and playable media pops up menu via ivman. Pcmanfm slightly modified to enable openning current folder with ROX-Filer and to send current path to clipboard. Has Fluxbox/Fox PathFinder as an alternative or backup.
Slackware is wonderful, don't get me wrong -- but to new users the configuration and maintenance can be time-consuming and frustrating. Rather than try to create an all-in-one solution with tons of processing overhead, like KDE and others -- Absolute is still controlled completely by the same simple text files that Slackware uses, but several small utilities were made as a front end to these. For instance, there is one to make a new user with common rights and permissions to desktop stuff. Just put in a name and password, and the user is created. But you can still go in and edit group permissions and all the rest the same way as with a basic Slackware machine. But most folks, most of the time, will never have to bother.
Not the kind of thing you would worry about when using a desktop environment like KDE, Windows or Gnome, But with a bare-bones window/file manager these things are not normally setup. With Absolute, the menus/associations are already set up for the preinstalled applications (and even for some that are not yet -- like OpenOffice.) So you get the raw speed of a lightweight desktop without any of the inconvenience.
Server software, emacs and many applications desktop users have no need for or interest in are skipped while stuff like Deluge (bittorrent), K3B (CD-burning), MPlayer (movie/DVD player), Firefox (browser - but Links2 is there for older machines), some real games and many other titles desktop users actually want are already there.
Same BASIC text-based CD installer as Slackware, but package selection is NOT an option. All included packages are installed and take up about 1.8Gb of hard drive space. Sound and volume are preset on first boot if Alsa (the sound system) supports your sound card. Xorg (display) settings are configured for you.
The first time started you log in as root, create whatever users or make configuration changes you would like, then go about your business.
This is often the most overlooked feature in Open-Source Software. But as you can see in the screenshot section, Absolute has a menu section that holds an extensive library of manuals for specific applications, as well as for the file and window managers and even more generally for Slackware (upon which Absolute is based) and Linux.