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I am Eric Hameleers, and this is where I think out loud.
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September 2017
« Aug    

RSS Alien's Slackware packages

RSS Alien's unofficial KDE Slackware packages

RSS Alien's multilib packages

RSS Slackware64-current


Updates for Chromium, LibreOffice, Calibre (and Flash too)

I took my new build server for a run and have not found its limits yet (plus, no Ryzen related crashes yet). Compared to my old computer, this new box compiles with roughly 10 times the speed. That makes a big difference for big updates like Chromium and LibreOffice, which would take me one day per package (i.e. per release and per architecture) in the past.

I can now effortlessly run 3 VM’s in parallel, all with 8 virtual cores and 8 GB of RAM. That will of course slow down compiling a bit (4 to 5 times the old speed instead of 10 times) but with 3 virtual machines I still get a lot more output than ever before.

Therefore, I have been able to create and upload new packages (Slackware 14.2 and -current):

And added to the stew: today’s Adobe Flash security updates, which give us version of the Flashplayer for Chromium and Mozilla browsers.

Have fun! Eric

Plasma 5 for Slackware – KDE 5_17.09

For some time now, no news about Plasma 5 for Slackware appeared on this blog. I just have been too occupied with family life and the demands of my day job.

But the configuration of my new server, the one I bought last month, finally is at a point where I can use it for running virtual machines and compiling packages. And it is fast… compiling LibreOffice in 90 minutes where in the past it would take me 10 times as long. Therefore I was able to create a new release of Plasma 5 packages while at the same time working on new LibreOffice packages.

I have uploaded the September ’17 set of Plasma 5 packages for Slackware 14.2 and -current to the ‘ktown’ repository. KDE 5_17.09 contains: KDE Frameworks 5.38.0, Plasma 5.10.5 and Applications 17.08.1. All based on Qt 5.9.1 for Slackware-current and Qt 5.7.1 for Slackware 14.2.
NOTE: I will no longer be releasing Plasma 5 packages for 32bit Slackware 14.2.

What’s new this time

Well, the good news is that ‘qt5‘ for Slackware-current is now at version 5.9.1. I did not want to risk waiting any longer for the 5.9.2 release which should be imminent but who knows what new bugs that will bring. Several of the other “deps” have been updated as well.
I added MP3 support to ‘kwave‘, and updated ‘digikam‘ and ‘krita‘ to their latest releases. Although… on Slackware 14.2 I had to stick with digikam 5.6.0. The newest digikam requires ‘exiv2‘ version 0.26. I did not want to risk breaking other (non-KDE) programs by adding a binary incompatible ‘exiv2‘ package to my ktown repository.
Other than that, it’s mainly stability and bugfix updates in the KDE software collection.

Installing or upgrading Frameworks 5, Plasma 5 and Applications

As always, the accompanying README file contains full installation & upgrade instructions.

Recommended reading material

There have been several posts now about KDE 5 for Slackware-current. All of them contain useful information, tips and gotchas. If you want to read them, here they are:

Where to get the new packages for Plasma 5

Package download locations are listed below (you will find the sources in ./source/5/ and packages in /current/5/ and  /14.2/5/ subdirectories). Only “bear” has the packages for now, the mirrors should follow within 24 hours. If you are interested in the development of KDE 5 for Slackware, you can peek at my git repository too.


A new Plasma5 Live ISO image will follow shortly on in case you want to try it out first (check the timestamp of the ISO on the web page).

Have fun! Eric

Build box: step 1, install Slackware

The new computer with its Ryzen CPU created some issues for me. To start with… I had not considered the possibility that a Ryzen CPU would not have an embedded GPU and so I did not order a graphics card. Bad idea!
I ended up ripping a GPU from one of my other computers (the only PCI-express card I could find) and plugging that into the new computer. That gave me a working video instead of a monitor that kept falling asleep.

Next came Slackware. When I booted the Slackware 14.2 installer, it did not give me a network connection. The Slackware Live Edition (based on slackware-current) worked properly on the other hand. But the graphics card I plugged into the computer did not work too well with the nouveau driver – whenever I started Chromium, it was inevitable that the computer would lock up after some time. Initially I blamed this on the computer hardware and feared that I bought a dead duck, but once I stopped running Chromium in the graphical desktop of Slackware Live, the system would remain operational. Since it is not going to be used as a desktop system and I will access it only remotely, that buggy nouveau driver is not a big issue and I could still install the binary Nvidia blob if needed.

So, the question became: I want to run a stable Slackware release on my new build server, but how am I going to install it? I was facing two major issues:

  1. The installer of Slackware 14.2 does not support NVMe boot devices (the new type of SSD hard drives with a M.2 PCI-express interface)
  2. The Slackware 14.2 installer lacks network capability on this new hardware, so I would have to perform a local install

I could spend a USB stick, putting the Slackware 14.2 DVD ISO on it, but then I still would have to patch the installer and I would not have a network connection after reboot. Considering the fact that slackware-current’s kernel works much better and NVMe support was added to the -current installer recently, I decided on a different approach.

I used a slackware-current based liveslak to setup the computer with Slackware 14.2 and then added a 4.9 kernel using the configfile for this kernel as found in slackware-current.

Steps taken:

  • Obtain a recent ISO of the Slackware Live Edition which is based on slackware-current (for instance, the 2.7 GB bleeding edge version or else the 700 MB XFCE based edition)
  • Write the ISO to a USB stick and boot liveslak. Now you have a proper graphical environment where you can query Google/DuckDuckGo and download anything you need.
  • We can not use the “setup2hd” of liveslak because that will install slackware-current and I want 14.2. So, download the smallest installer we can get:  slackware64-current-mini-install.iso which contains just the kernel and the installer (no packages) and is slightly more than 100 MB in size:
    # wget
  • Download my “” script which makes it easier to extract the initrd.gz file containing the installer:
    # wget
  • Partition the SSD drive. The M.2 interface results in a character device /dev/nvme0 and a namespace block device /dev/nvme0n1. The first partition on this device will be called /dev/nvme0n1p1. The installer in Slackware 14.2 can not handle this new namespacing format. The one in -current can.
    This is a UEFI computer, and I want Slackware to use this. That requires a FAT partition which will be used as the EFI system partition. Slackware will mount this partition at /boot/efi. I created a 100 MB partition of type EF00 (EFI system) and formatted this with:
    # mkdosfs -F32 -s 2 -n “EFI” /dev/nvme0n1p1
    The remainder of the disk is partitioned with swap (yes even with 64 GB of RAM it is still a good idea to add some swap space), and additional partitions are created for /, /boot, /var, /tmp and /home .
  • Extract the installer from this mini ISO into a new directory “/root/initrd64-current“:
    # mount -o loop slackware64-current-mini-install.iso /mnt/tmp
    # sh /mnt/tmp/isolinux/initrd.img /root/initrd64-current
  • Get the installer running in the terminal while we are still in a liveslak graphical Desktop Environment:
    # mount -o bind /dev /root/initrd64-current/dev
    # mount -o bind /proc /root/initrd64-current/proc
    # mount -o bind /sys /root/initrd64-current/sys
    # chroot /root/initrd64-current
  • Inside this chroot-ed installer environment, run the ‘setup‘ command and proceed as usual with the installation of Slackware64 14.2 from a network server. The liveslak has already taken care of the network connectivity. I have NFS and HTTP servers at home, providing package trees but I pick NFS because that is much faster. I pointed the installer to a Slackware64-14.2 package source and did a full install (first time ever that I installed the Emacs package, go figure).
  • At the end of the installation, do note yet exit! Instead, run “chroot /mnt” to enter the freshly installed system. Configure slackpkg with a suitable mirror, then run:
    # slackpkg upgrade-all
    This will install all the latest patches including the latest kernel.
  • Finally, blacklist the kernel-generic and kernel-modules so that slackpkg will never replace our kernel accidentally.
  • Create an initrd (the /usr/share/mkinitrd/ script will help you finding the correct parameters) and copy the generic kernel and this initrd to the EFI partition. This is the elilo.conf file I ended up with:
    # cat /boot/efi/EFI/Slackware/elilo.conf
        append="root=/dev/nvme0n1p7 vga=normal ro"
        append="root=/dev/nvme0n1p7 vga=normal ro"
  • Now that the Slackware 14.2 installation is complete we have to ensure that we add a working kernel to it. I want to use the kernel as found in slackware-current because I know the 4.9.x series is good (liveslak proved that) and because slackware-current contains a kernel config that I can just re-use. Download the kernel source, and the kernel packaging scripts so that we can compile a kernel and its modules manually but still can wrap the results in package format and install those. Warning – when you try this at home, the actual kernel version may have moved beyond the “4.9.44” which I use in the example below. Just substitute the actual version instead:
    # CWD=$(pwd)
    # lftp -c “open; mirror k”
    # cd k/
    # tar -C /usr/src -xf linux-4.9.44.tar.xz
    # cp config-x86_64/config-generic-4.9.44.x64 /usr/src/linux-4.9.44/.config
    Now we can compile that kernel (yes I compile kernels as root):
    # cd /usr/src/linux-4.9.44
    # make oldconfig
    # make -j 15 all
    # make install
    Now that the kernel is installed as /boot/bzimage and the modules as /lib/modules/4.9.44 we use the Slackware packaging scripts to create two packages:
    # cd $CWD/k/packaging-x86_64/kernel-generic
    # ./kernel-generic.SlackBuild
    # cd $CWD/k/packaging-x86_64/kernel-modules
    # ./kernel-modules.SlackBuild
    The two packages in /tmp can then be installed using “installpkg”. Do not use “upgradepkg” with your kernels – you will want to keep at least one previous kernel. The kernel-modules package will essentialy overwrite what’s in /lib/modules/4.9.44 but now with a package, we can control it through the package manager if needed. The kernel-generic package will have installed the new kernel as /boot/vmlinuz-generic-4.9.44. Copy that kernel to the EFI partition, and create a new initrd in the same location to match the kernel:
    # cp /boot/vmlinuz-generic-4.9.44 /boot/efi/EFI/Slackware/
    #  $(/usr/share/mkinitrd/ -k 4.9.44 -r -a “-o /boot/efi/EFI/Slackware/initrd_4.9.44.gz”)
    Add a section for the new kernel to elilo.conf. You can just copy the existing section for “label=slackware142” and change the version numbers. Make sure that the “default” keyword has this new label as its value. We want the new kernel to boot by default.
  • Exit the installed system’s chroot:
    # exit
  • Then exit the installer’s chroot:
    # exit
  • We are almost done. Unfortunately the eliloconfig of Slackware 14.2 did not add a Slackware entry to the computer’s EFI boot menu. So now that we are back in liveslak we need to fix this omission using the eliloconfig of slackware-current which is part of our liveslak:
    # eliloconfig /setup2hd /dev/nvme0n1p7
    This assumes the installed system is mounted under /setup2hd and the root partition is /dev/nvme0n1p7 . Change the parameters to match your situation. This time you will see that the Slackware entry is being created.
  • Reboot the system.
  • Have fun!

If I have omitted anything or steps are unclear, let me know. Now that I have Slackware on it, I can start thinking of how to add a virtualization solution. Either use my old scripts that wrap qemu and are very convenient and versatile, or go for qemu with libvirt and manage my virtual machines with virt-manager. The possibilities are endless. But first I need to get on with virtualizing my current server’s OS… its LAN services must stay operational but then in a VM on the new hardware.

New server arrived in the post

The hardware I ordered for the new build server arrived today – all components assembled and tested.

I am too tired to connect and boot the thing, so all I provide today is a pic of the package.

Then I have a lot of installation and configuration work to do the next couple of days… so I should hope that the downtime maintenance weekend at the office is going to be canceled.

OpenJDK7 and Flash Player security updates (Aug ’17)

icedteaOn the blog of IcedTea release manager Andrew Hughes (aka GNU/Andrew) you can find the announcement for IcedTea 2.6.11 which builds OpenJDK 7u151_b01. This release includes the official July 2017 security fixes for Java 7. Note that the security updates for Java 8 were already pushed to my repository some time ago.

Here is where you can download the Slackware packages for openjdk7 and openjre7:

The “rhino” package (implementation of the JavaScript engine used by OpenJDK) is an external dependency for OpenJDK 7, you can find a package in my repository. If you want to compile OpenJDK7 yourself you will need apache-ant as well.

Note about usage:

My Java 7 and Java 8 packages (e.g. openjdk7 and openjdk… or openjre7 and openjre) can not co-exist on your computer because they use the same installation directory. You must install either Java 7 or Java 8.

Remember that I release packages for the JRE (runtime environment) and the JDK (development kit) simultaneously, but you only need to install one of the two. The JRE is sufficient if you only want to run Java programs (including Java web plugins). Only in case where you’d want to develop Java programs and need a Java compiler, you are in need of the JDK package.

adobe_flash_8s600x600_2There was a recent security update for the Flash Player plugin as well. The new version is for both the PPAPI (Google Chrome and friends) and the NPAPI (Mozilla Firefox and friends) based plugins.

You can find Slackware packages for the Flash plugins in the following repositories (and probably many more mirrors):

Have fun! Eric