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I am Eric Hameleers, and this is where I think out loud.
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Coordinated release of VLC 2.2.0

largeVLCSeven months after the VideoLAN team released version 2.1.5 of their VLC player, we are treated to two new releases. There is a version 2.1.6 bugfix release, but that is not really getting attention. Everybody’s eyes are focused on the brand new 2.2.0 release. For the first time in the history of the VideoLAN Client, nowadays better known as the VLC player, there are simultaneous releases for most Operating Systems, including Android, iOS, Windows RT and Windows Phone. Of course there’s a release for Linux too (ok… and Windows) so I built you all some packages for Slackware (compatible with 14.1 and -current).

The 2.2.0 release has been (very) long in the making. With nothing really exciting going on for many months – at least not publicly – I spent my time on other things and left the VideoLAN developers to do what they do best: release good software when it’s ready. A commendable philosophy, obviously they have eyes on Slackware as the shining example of releasing when ready, not before :-)

A month ago, I took some time to check out the ongoing development because the number of show-stopping bugs had almost gone down to zero. I refreshed many internal support libraries, polished the vlc.SlackBuild and tested a git version of the player. Looked good! Most of the open bugs and remaining things to be done were not relevant to Linux anyway. Therefore it took no time at all to build packages for the official 2.2.0 release once that was announced yesterday afternoon.

I had a busy saturday, so the blog post took a while, but those of you who check the repository’s RSS feeds or are using slackpkg+ will already have seen the new packages yesterday.

What’s new in 2.2.0 apart from cross-platform support? There’s enhancements all over the spectrum: video decoding, encoding, supported formats etc. Here are some of the highlights taken from the official release notes that are relevant to the Linux player:

  • GPU 0-copy decoding-rendering for Linux using VDPAU
  • Improved support for UltraHD codecs, H.265 and VP9
  • Resume playback where you left off
  • Subtitles download from the web, using OpenSubtitles
  • Support for BD-Java menus and overlay in Blu-Ray
  • Acceleration of VP9 and H.265/HEVC decoders
  • Support for encoding in H.265, Opus and VP9
  • Rewritten support for WMV, Ogg, MP4 and AVI, notably for seeking

But under the hood there’s a lot more going on than these buzzwords can do justice. The team have indeed delivered a tremendous job. considering that this is an all-volunteer project.

Where to find the new VLC packages:

Rsync access is offered by the mirror server: rsync://taper.alienbase.nl/mirrors/people/alien/restricted_slackbuilds/vlc/ .

For BluRay support, read a previous article for hints about the aacs keys that you’ll need.

Note that I only built packages for Slackware 14.1 & -current. I stopped creating packages for Slackware 14.0 and earlier because of the effort it takes to build 4 packages for every Slackware release. One remark: I compiled the packages on Slackware 14.1 which is the cause of one bug in the package if you use it on Slackware-current: the ProjectM visualisation plugin does not work because of a libGLEW library version error. I have not yet been able to find a fix for it, but the impact is fairly minor so I let it pass.

My usual warning about patents: versions that can not only DEcode but also ENcode mp3 and aac audio can be found in my alternative repository where I keep the packages containing code that might violate stupid US software patents.

Have fun! Eric

Updated KDE 5 packages for Slackware (release 5_15.02_02)

qt-kde-620x350Earlier this week I grabbed the new Plasma source tarballs and used them to update my ‘ktown’ package set for KDE 5. I tagged that update “5_15.02_02″ to indicate that this is my second release in Feb 2015.

Highlights

Some more highlights of this incremental release are:

  • Plasma has been upgraded to 5.2.1, this is a bugfix release. No new functionality or packages.
  • The deps/libssh package has been re-added. I used it for my KDE 4.14.x packages because the newer version (compared to Slackware’s version of the package) allows the sftp kioslave to be compiled in kde-runtime.
  • The kde/applications/kde-runtime package has been recompiled against the newer libssh package.
  • And kde/frameworks/kglobalaccel was also rebuilt. The kglobalaccel5 deamon moved from plasma-workspace-5.2.0 into kglabalaccel-5.7.0, but when I built kglobalaccel with plasma-workspace-5.2.0 present it picked up a dependency on that package’s libkdeinit5_kglobalaccel5.so library. When I upgraded to Plasma 5.2.1, that library was suddenly gone and kglobalaccel5 would no longer start.

Installing or upgrading to KDE 5

As always, the accompanying README file contains full installation & upgrade instructions. Note that the packages are available in several subdirectories below “kde”, instead of directly in “kde”. This makes it easier for me to do partial updates of packages. The subdirectories are “kde4″, “kde4-extragear”, “frameworks” “plasma”,  “plasma-extra” and “applications”.

Upgrading from Slackware’s KDE 4 to this KDE 5 is non-trivial. You will have to remove old KDE packages manually. If you do not have KDE installed at all, you will have to install some of Slackware’s own KDE 4 packages manually. If you are upgrading from KDE 5_15.02 then it’s an easy and painless upgrade, in particular when using slackpkg+.

If you are completely new to KDE 5 for Slackware, I urge you to also read my previous posts about KDE 5_15.01 and KDE 5_15.02 in its entirety, as well as the follow-up article about  the changes in system tray support in the Plasma 5 desktop which is mandatory reading material as well if you are using Dropbox, Skype and other non-Plasma 5 software that wants to dock an icon in the system tray.

Using the KDE Frameworks 5 separately

Someone mentioned in a comment to an earlier blog post that LxQt 0.9 uses some of the KDE Frameworks, now that they have migrated from Qt 4 to Qt 5.

To accommodate Slackware users who want to run that version LxQt I have added repository definition files to the frameworks package directories, so that you can use the Frameworks package repository even if you do not want to install KDE 5.

Use either one of these URL’s in your package management tool such as slackpkg+ for the Frameworks repository:

Where to get the new packages for KDE 5

Download locations are listed below (you will find the sources in ./source/5/ and packages in /current/5/ subdirectories). If you are interested in the development of KDE 5 for Slackware, you can peek at my git repository too.

Using a mirror is preferred because you get more bandwidth from a mirror and it’s friendlier to the owners of the master server!

Have fun! Eric

KDE 5_15.02 release for Slackware-current

qt-kde-620x350I have released an incremental upgrade to my ‘ktown’ package set for KDE 5 aka Plasma 5. I have decided on a version tag for my packages, consisting of MajorRelease_Year.Month. Therefore, this package set carries version 5_15.02.

The KDE 5_15.02 increment contains the KDE Frameworks 5.7.0, Plasma 5.2.0 and Applications 14.12.2. Also present is a bunch of the “good old” KDE 4: most of kdebase, kdebindings and all those “extragear” packages like k3b and kdevelop which were missing in my 5_15.01 release.

This blog post will re-iterate some text of my previous Plasma 5 post, which I also encourage you to read, because it offers a lot more detail on the migration from KDE 4 to Plasma 5.

These KDE 5 packages of mine are going to be your only KDE desktop. There is no choosing between KDE 4 and Plasma 5 – KDE 4 will be mostly replaced. The “kde-workspace” package which provided the well-known KDE 4 workspace has been stripped down to the bare minimum, and has been replaced by “plasma-workspace”. The KDM graphical login manager has been retired and replaced with SDDM. While you will be presented with a pretty Plasma 5 workspace, most of the KDE applications you’ll be using are the familiar KDE 4 versions (with updates and bugfixes), nicely blending in to the new Breeze theme.

The highlights of this incremental release are:

  • KDE Frameworks have been updated to 5.7.0
  • KDE Applications have been updated to 14.12.2 (bugfix release, no new KF5 ports)
  • For two applications, kate and konsole, that have already been ported to KF5 (KDE Frameworks 5) it became apparent that the KDE 4 embeddable component (or “part” in KDE terminology) was still needed. So, a katepart4 package has been added so that kdevelop works again, and konsolepart4 was added to bring back the embedded terminal in dolphin. These two packages don’t share any files with their KF5 alternates.
  • The kde-workspace package has been re-added after stripping it so it no longer shares any files with plasma-workspace. The package is still needed by kget and kdeartwork.
  • The sddm-theme-breeze package has been removed because the Breeze theme files are actually part of the plasma-workspace package now… and the sddm-theme-breeze package was mostly empty already in the KDE 5_15.01 release.
  • In Applications 14.12.2, to date the only KF5 ports are still kate, konsole, analitza, gwenview, kalgebra, kanagram, khangman, kig, parley, kapptemplate and okteta. Apart from bugfixes to these and the KDE 4 based applications, the Applications 14.12.2 collection also contains updates for kde-workspace, kdelibs, kdepimlibs, kdepim and kdepim-runtime.

Testing Repository URL

I still consider KDE 4.14.3 the “latest stable” version for Slackware-current, and therefore the repository URLs http://taper.alienbase.nl/mirrors/alien-kde/current/latest/x86_64/ (for 64-bit) and http://taper.alienbase.nl/mirrors/alien-kde/current/latest/x86/ (for 32-bit) will keep pointing to KDE 4.14.3. You can use this repository URL for slackpkg+ or slapt-get or whatever package manager you use.

The URL http://taper.alienbase.nl/mirrors/alien-kde/current/testing/x86_64/ (for 64-bit) and http://taper.alienbase.nl/mirrors/alien-kde/current/testing/x86/ (for 32-bit) is pointing to my KDE 5 testing ground. I consider Plasma 5.2.0 a “testing” release, with potential to be your next stable desktop, but with some caveats and reservations. The URL itself will remain permanent, even when the versions of the software components get updated. Currently “testing” points to version “5” in the repository because versions of Frameworks, Plasma and Applications are not co-ordinated and package updates may appear in the next months for these sub-sets. The “5” is a good middle ground. You should use this “testing” URL when you configure slackpkg+ or slapt-get if you want to upgrade to Plasma 5.

You must use only one of these URLs!

Enabling SDDM in runlevel 4 instead of KDM

Runlevel 4

If you want to see the new graphical session (login) manager SDDM in action, add the following lines to the Slackware file “/etc/rc.d/rc.4” right after the line: echo “Starting up X11 session manager…”

# — 8< ————————————–
if [ -x /usr/bin/sddm ]; then
exec /usr/bin/sddm
fi
# — 8< ————————————–

… and then switch to runlevel 4 by typing at the command prompt (as root):

# init 4

Select “Plasma” from the SDDM session dropdown. Alternatively, if you prefer good old runlevel 3, you can type this at the command prompt (logged in under your own regular user account):

$ xwmconfig

… and select “xinitrc.plasma” as your default window manager for X11. Then run:

$ startx

To enter your desktop session.

Installing or upgrading Frameworks 5, Plasma 5 and Applications

As always, the accompanying README file contains full installation & upgrade instructions. Note that the packages are available in several subdirectories below “kde”, instead of directly in “kde”. This makes it easier for me to do partial updates of packages. The subdirectories are “kde4″, “kde4-extragear”, “frameworks” “plasma”,  “plasma-extra” and “applications”.

Upgrading to this KDE 5 is non-trivial. You will have to remove old KDE packages manually. If you do not have KDE installed at all, you will have to install some of Slackware’s own KDE 4 packages manually. I can not guarantee that there will be no deal-breakers for you (missing functionality or persistent crashes).

Note:

If you are using slackpkg+, have already moved to KDE 5_15.01 and are adventurous, you can try upgrading using these four commands, this seemed to work (assuming in this example that you tagged my KDE 5 repository “ktown_testing”):
# slackpkg update
# slackpkg install ktown_testing
# slackpkg upgrade ktown_testing
# removepkg sddm-theme-breeze

If you are completely new to KDE 5 for Slackware, I urge you to also read my previous post about KDE 5_15.01 in its entirety. There was a follow-up article about the changes in system tray support in the Plasma 5 desktop which is mandatory reading material as well if you are using Dropbox, Skype and other non-Plasma 5 software that wants to dock an icon in the system tray.

Where to get the new packages for Plasma 5

Download locations are listed below (you will find the sources in ./source/5/ and packages in /current/5/ subdirectories). If you are interested in the development of KDE 5 for Slackware, you can peek at my git repository too.

Using a mirror is preferred because you get more bandwidth from a mirror and it’s friendlier to the owners of the master server!

Notes

  • First, read all of the Notes at the end of the previous KDE 5 article, they still apply.
  • If you want your shutdown/reboot options back:
    • Solution: a simple patch which removes the use of “kwrapper5″ to start the KDE services will bring back both options. Kwrapper is meant to speed up the start of the Desktop Workspace and be a bit friendlier on resource usage but if you really do need shutdown and reboot options present, then apply the following patch to “/usr/bin/startkde”:
      --- /usr/bin/startkde.orig     Notes  2015-01-31 18:09:25.744173291 +0000
      +++ /usr/bin/startkde    2015-01-31 17:49:18.938578280 +0000
      @@ -380,7 +380,7 @@
       # lock now and do the rest of the KDE startup underneath the locker.
       KSMSERVEROPTIONS=""
       test -n "$dl" && KSMSERVEROPTIONS=" --lockscreen"
      -kwrapper5 ksmserver $KDEWM $KSMSERVEROPTIONS
      +ksmserver $KDEWM $KSMSERVEROPTIONS
       if test $? -eq 255; then
         # Startup error
         echo 'startkde: Could not start ksmserver. Check your installation.'  1>&2
  • I can not find how to bring back the “Suspend” option for my laptop. Any help on this is more than welcome!
  • Please report any other issue you encounter and I will add it here if it is serious enough.

Have fun! Eric

Forgot to tell you about the new LibreOffice 4.4.0 packages

I won’t bother you with the week in hell we are experiencing at the IT Helpdesk. It’s not over yet, and it leaves me exhausted every evening when I get home after long hours. I need to recharge my battered but faithful old Nokia work phone twice a day to be able to do all the emergency calls during office hours. Oh, but now I did bother you ;-)

Rather than writing blog articles and helping people, I decided to wind down during the evenings by baking bread. The kneading process relaxes the mind while it exercises the muscles (and relieves back pains). My son does not mind… he eats all I bake anyway. Sourdough in the weekend and regular yeasted breads during the working week. The aromas coming from the oven right now are making me feel hungry again at 10:30 PM.

And so I forgot to write about the LibreOffice packages that I released a couple of days ago. I started working on 4.4.0 when it was released on 29 January, and I really had high hopes for fixing the harbbuzz issue which has plagued me and my LibreOffice package since the packages were released for my first KDE preview. The Plasma 5 needs a newer harfbuzz library than the version in Slackware. but LibreOffice chokes on the new package with a symbol error. Downgrading harfbuzz to the Slackware original fixes LibreOffice… and to be honest, I have not yet encountered issues in KDE Plasma 5 due to the downgrade, so that is a a fairly safe workaround when you are running Slackware with Plasma 5 and need LibreOFfice.

What I have been trying – but without success – was to compile the harbuzz library statically into the LibreOffice programs. That is a supported option, there is a configure switch for it, but regardless of what I tried, some of the other libraries would eventually pick up the Slackware harfbuzz as a dependency again… resulting in ICU related symbol errors. I talked to Pat about upgrading both harfbuzz and icu4c in slackware-current but he considers that a non-trivial upgrade with potential breakage of lots of programs. So, this upgrade will happen at a point where other programs in slackware-current need an upgrade or rebuild anyway. I put my money on a new KDE 4 ;-)

After a week of trying long and hard, and letting the virtual machine compile new packages during the day, I finally gave up and released LibreOffice 4.4.0 packages that work on Slackware 14.1 and -current, for as long as you do not upgrade your hardfbuzz package.

No, I can not just forget about a newer harfbuzz because it is required during compilation of Plasma 5.

Some news for LibreOffice 4.4.0 so that you know it is a good idea to upgrade (all the details are in the release notes of course): enhancements in the visual department should be mentioned (aka a User Interface redesign), as well as an improved Track Changes functionality, and better interoperability with the OOXML file formats of the big competitor.

My LibreOffice 4.4.0 packages for Slackware 14.1 and -current are ready for download from the usual mirror locations:

Have fun! Eric

Update for Chromium and another Flash security fix

Chromium (and Widevine):

chromium_iconI built new Slackware Chromium packages for the latest update in the Chrome Stable Channel.  The new version is 40.0.2214.111  and comes with several security fixes (among which, a Flash Player update, see below) Both chromium and chromium-widevine-plugin have version 40.0.2214.111 actually – use the matching version numbers as a sign that they will work together. The Widevine plugin reports itself as version “1.4.6.738” in chrome://plugins .

Repeat message: Widevine is a Content Decryption Module (CDM) used by Netflix to stream video to your computer in a Chromium browser window. With my chromium and chromium-widevine-plugin packages you no longer need Chrome, or Firefox with Pipelight, to watch Netflix. The chrome-widevine-plugin is optional. If you don’t need it, then don’t install it. It is closed-source which for some is enough reason to stay away from it. The Chromium package on the other hand, is built from open source software only.

Flash browser plugins:

adobe_flash_8s600x600_2 With Flash it seems to be like my central heating. Last year I needed to connect the waterhose once a month and regulate the pressure in the pipes… it got worse to the point that I needed to re-pressurize every day. Until I called the maintenance guy who fixed a leak permanently. There is yet another leak in the Flash from Adobe and security updates have been added to my repository yesterday: the plugins for chromium (PPAPI) and for mozilla-compatible browsers (NPAPI).

The new Slackware package for chromium-pepperflash-plugin has version 16.0.0.305. The new Slackware package for flashplayer-plugin has version 11.2.202.442.

The update for pipelight can be done manually. As root, run the script:

# pipelight-plugin --update

Next time the pipelight plugin is loaded in your browser, it will update your Windows plugins to their latest versions where needed.

Eric