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On the HAL errors, there's been some semblance of an "errata" since the release. It's not really an error, per se, but a default configuration choice that can be misleading. You must manually add your user to both the cdrom and plugdev groups in /etc/group for it to work, even though shadow adds them at login via /etc/login.defs. This is a dbus problem, actually, and in hindsight, the plugdev addition probably should not have been made in /etc/login.defs, but the idea was to make things "just work" out of the box. So much for that... :-)
On upgrading, the <a href="http://slackware.osuosl.org/slackware-12.0/CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT">CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT</a> document is *not* intended to be used with <a href="http://slackpkg.org">slackpkg</a> (which is an unofficial tool written by one of the Slackware team), but it can certainly work. That document was intended as reading for *all* users (as evidenced by its mention in several of the other release-pertinent docs), and it includes instructions for upgrading with the pkgtool suite.
On another note, I should mention the <a href="http://slackbuilds.org">SlackBuilds.org</a> - repository of build scripts to create packages from source code of many different applications. Building the packages on your own system avoids the problems with undocumented package dependencies that plague many users of unofficial package repositories.