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I am Eric Hameleers, and this is where I think out loud.
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Uploading 15 GB of new Slackware Live Edition ISO images

I finished generating ISO images for Slackware Live Edition 1.3.0.2. These ISOs are all based on Slackware-current “Thu Jan 17 04:52:06 UTC 2019” which means it will boot a Linux 4.19.16 kernel.

Available variants are:

  • Slackware (unaltered complete) in 32bit and 64bit flavors, ~3.5 GB in size
  • XFCE (minimalistic Slackware) in 32bit and 64bit flavors, ~700 MB in size
  • MATE (Slackware without KDE4 but with MATE added) is a 64bit ISO of 2.4 GB
  • PLASMA5 (Slackware without KDE4 but with KDE Plasma5 and a lot of other goodies added) comes in a 64bit flavor at 4.3 GB

The squashfs modules in the XFCE ISOs are compressed with ‘xz’ to keep them as small as possible (so they will fit on a CDROM medium). All of the other ISOs are compressed with ‘zstd’ which gives the Live OS a speed boost of ~20% at the cost of 10% increase in the ISO size.

There’s 15 GB to upload to slackware.nl so it will take a while to get there… even with 3 MB/sec upload speed. Rsync download is possible via rsync://slackware.nl/mirrors/slackware-live/ … you just have to be a wee bit patient.

In the meantime, if you feel bored, you can look at the development history in its git repository. If you want to read about what the Slackware Live Edition can do for you, check out https://alien.slackbook.org/blog/slackware-live-edition/ or any of the articles on this blog that followed.

Extensive documentation on how to use and develop Slackware Live Edition can be found in the Slackware Documentation Project Wiki.

Have fun!

KDE Plasma5 – Jan ’19 release for Slackware

KDE time!
Here is your monthly refresh for the best Desktop Environment you will find for Linux. I just uploaded “KDE-5_19.01” to the ‘ktown‘ repository. As always, these packages are meant to be installed on a Slackware-current which has had its KDE4 removed first. These packages will not work on Slackware 14.2.

It looks like Slackware is not going to be blessed with Plasma5 any time soon, so I will no longer put an artificial limitation on the dependencies I think are required for a solid Plasma5 desktop experience. If Pat ever decides that Plasma5 has a place in the Slackware distro, he will have to make a judgement call on what KDE functionality can stay and what needs to go.

What’s new for January 2019

This new January 2019 release of KDE Plasma5 for Slackware contains the KDE Frameworks 5.54.0, Plasma 5.14.5 and Applications 18.12.1. All this on top of Qt 5.11.3.

Deps:
There’s a new dependency to ‘OpenAL’: ‘SDL_sound’. And I finally decided to add ‘freecell-solver’ in order to be able to compile the KDE ‘kpat’ package. The ‘freecell-solver’ package needs ‘python3-random2’, ‘perl-path-tiny’ and ‘perl-template-toolkit’ to compile, so these were also added as packages.
I added ‘drumstick’ so that I could compile the KDE ‘minuet’ package.
And finally, I upgraded ‘phonon’ and ‘phonon-vlc’ and rebuilt ‘phonon-gstreamer’.

Frameworks:
Frameworks 5.54.0 is an incremental stability release, see: https://www.kde.org/announcements/kde-frameworks-5.54.0.php

Plasma:
Plasma 5.14.5 is an incremental upgrade in the Plasma Desktop 5.14 release cycle, bringing stability and performance fixes. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.14.5.php . You may want to read about all the new features in Plasma 5.14 here: https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.14.0.php

Plasma-extra:
In plasma-extra I have upgraded ‘wacomtablet’.

Applications;
Applications 18.12.1 is the first stability and bugfix update for the 18.12 release cycle. I did not package 18.12.0 so this is actually the first opportunity to test the latest KDE Applications on Slackware. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-applications-18.12.1.php and if you want more detail about the 18.12 cycle you should also read https://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-applications-18.12.0.php .
And since I added the required dependencies, there are two new packages in Applications: ‘kpat’ (a suite of Patience card games) and ‘minuet’ (music education using MIDI).

Applications-extra:
In applications-extra I have upgraded ‘kdevelop’, ‘kdev-php’, ‘kdev-python’, ‘kstars’ and ‘okteta’.

Go get it

Download the KDE-5_19.01 from the usual location at https://slackware.nl/alien-kde/current/latest/ . Check out the README file in the root of the repository for detailed installation or upgrade instructions.

I will upload a new Plasma5 Live ISO soon. You will find it in https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/

Have fun! Eric

New VLC and Flash

Time for an update of Adobe’s Flash Player plugins folks! I uploaded Slackware packages for the version 32.0.0.114 of the flashplayer-plugin (NPAPI plugin for Mozilla based browsers) and the chromium-pepperflash-plugin (PPAPI plugin for Chromium based browsers) to my repository. This release does not address security issues and instead resolves feature and performance bugs.

The VideoLAN media player, VLC, saw a new release a few days ago. I skipped 3.0.5 which is a lucky streak I guess according to the release notes for 3.0.6: “… fixes an important regression that appeared on 3.0.5 for DVD subtitles“.

Noteworthy to tell is that I added the ‘dav1d‘ decoder for AV1 video to this VLC package.
AV1 is a new video codec by the Alliance for Open Media, composed of most of the important Web companies (Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, Mozilla…). AV1 has the potential to be up to 20% better than the HEVC codec, but the patents license is totally free. VLC supports AV1 since version 3.0.0 but I never added the ‘aom‘ decoder/encoder to my vlc package, since ‘aom’ is the reference implementation of the video format and it does not really perform.
The VideoLAN and FFmpeg communities are collaborating on ‘dav1d’ to make this a reference optimized decoder for AV1. Now that ‘dav1d’ has an official release I thought it would be cool to have in the VLC package. Mozilla and Google browsers already have the support for AV1 video playback built-in, so… overdue here.

Remember that this VLC package depends on Qt5 – you’ll need libxkbcommon, qt5 and qt5-webkit packages, and on Slackware 14.2 additionally libinput and libwacom (those two are already part of -current).

Have fun! Eric

KDE Plasma 5 for Slackware – end of the year edition

There has been a bit of a hiatus in my Slackware related activities and a relative silence on this blog, It’s mostly related to my new job which proved to be a bit more time-consuming than I anticipated. I also have to fulfill my old job role until that vacancy is filled. Actually, February 1st is when the successor for my old job will start in my new team. A little less than two months to go, meaning that the hard work continues. But, I get to visit the US of A in January, just booked the flights and hotels today. Wilton and San Diego will be my ‘targets’ but a sunday stroll in New York will certainly be an option, unless there’s a meter of snow of course.

Here is some Slackware related news for you.

I just uploaded a whole new batch of packages containing KDE Plasma5 for Slackware. The previous batch, KDE 5_18.10 is already two months old and has some library compatibility issues. The new KDE 5_18.12 for Slackware consists of KDE Frameworks 5.53.0, Plasma 5.14.4 and Applications 18.08.3. All this on top of Qt 5.11.3.
Compiled on the latest Slackware -current, it’s running smoothly here on my laptop.
I decided against upgrading to QT 5.12.0. This is a new LTS release, but I will wait for the other distros to find bugs in this new software. Next week, KDE will release KDE Applications 18.12.0 and that too is something I want to check a bit before releasing Slackware packages. Therefore it’s likely that a new batch of packages containing Qt 5.12 and KDE Applications 18.12 will see the light shortly after the New Year.

I updated some of the other packages in the periphery of the KDE software collection. In plasma-extra there’s new versions of kdeconnect-framework and wacomtablet. And in applications-extra I updated kdevelop, kdev-php, kdev-python and kmymoney to their latest versions.

There’s also a package removal. The kde-wallpapers package in plasma-extra originates in the old KDE4 era, and the new Plasma5 has its own wallpapers in the package plasma-workspace-wallpapers.

As always, the ‘ktown’ repository https://slackware.nl/alien-kde/ (rsync://slackware.nl/mirrors/alien-kde/) is the master for the KDE Plasma5 packages for Slackware-current. A fast mirror is http://slackware.uk/people/alien-kde/ (rsync://slackware.uk/people/alien-kde/).
The source code history for the ‘ktown’ package build framework can be found in git: https://git.slackware.nl/ktown/ . I will create a new “5_18.12” tag there today.

A fresh Plasma5 variant of the Slackware Live Edition based on liveslak is in the making and will be uploaded to https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/ once it is ready and I have tested it properly. Check the ISO timestamp somewhere later this week.

Have fun! Eric

Who wants my old job?

When I left IBM in November 2016 to join ASML a month later, I thought I had found a job (managing a Linux server infrastructure) that would keep me busy for years. At ASML things are not always what they seem, and instead my actual scope turned out to be a lot bigger, so I became the Technical Application Manager within the IT team responsible for the Electrical Engineering Infrastructure (EEI) which is used by the Electrical Development group within Development & Engineering. A challenging and fun job, working with a terrific team, and I can confidently say (our IT director confirmed) that we are the most socially coherent group within IT.

Not even two years later, and a restructuring of the IT department causes me to say farewell to this job…

No, I was not fired. In fact, I did so well that I got a new job. ASML D&E is growing insanely fast, last month the company hired more than 500 new employees in Veldhoven (our HQ) alone. The IT department has a challenge there, as we need to keep up with the pace, in terms of capacity and also the force of innovation. The real challenge? You  can hire a lot of highly intelligent motivated people but as a company you need to stay coherent and keep focus on the business priorities. I.e. you need team and group leads who are able to inspire and guide their teams. Ideally these TL’s and GL’s should not be hired, they should mature within the organization so that they actually know what is needed to get the job done. ASML is not a run-of-the-mill company in that regard.

And that is why I was tagged as Solution Team Manager of a team which will focus on virtual product development (providing services to our data analysts and simulation engineers). I will also manage our group’s “general services” meaning architects, project managers, infra coordinators and the technical application manager. And there he is! I left my old job and started a new job, and now I have a vacancy in my team.

Who is interested to work for and with me? Read the job vacancy here: https://asml.csod.com/ats/careersite/JobDetails.aspx?id=5303&site=1 and let me know if you are interested. This will not be exactly the job I had for the past two years – I have some other plans for the TAM that I was never able to execute myself,

If you want to know more about the company, ASML, click the video at the top of this blog post and get inspired.

The work location will be Veldhoven, The Netherlands. It’s a permanent pool position (i.e. no flex job, you’ll be on the ASML payroll with all the perks that that includes). Please only respond if you actually think you are qualified – our HR department is very strict in their initial pruning and filters out more than 80% of applicants before their resumes can land on our desks and I want to avoid any disappointment.