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I am Eric Hameleers, and this is where I think out loud.
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New Live ISOs for Slackware-current 20180209

blueSW-64pxI have uploaded a fresh set of ISOs for the Slackware Live Edition. They are (of course) based on the ‘liveslak‘ scripts and contain the latest Slackware-current dated “Fri Feb 9 19:59:54 UTC 2018“), which sports the new 4.14.18 kernel which is mitigated against the Meltdown and Spectre v1 vulnerabilities.
The ISO variants you will find at the download URL https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/ (remember to add support for CACert to your system if you see certificate warnings!) are:

  • Full unmodified Slackware (32bit and 64bit).
  • Stripped-down XFCE (32bit as well as 64bit), this ISO will fit on a CDROM medium.
  • Slackware with MATE instead of KDE4 (64bit) to showcase the new 1.20 release of just 2 days ago. Thanks to Willy Sudiarto Raharjo for the packaging!
  • Slackware with Plasma 5 instead of KDE4 (64bit) to showcase the Plasma 5.12 Long Term Support (LTS) release. This ISO also contains LibreOffice 6.0.1 and VLC 3.0.0.

The new liveslak version 1.1.9.6 has seen only a few updates since the previous tag, they are related to the package additions in Plasma 5.

Wayland and X.Org

The PLASMA5 ISO image does not feature Wayland support this time, but if you want you can build an ISO version that does! Download my liveslak scripts and use the following command to generate a PLASMA5 ISO (you will find it in /tmp afterwards) with the additional packages from my ‘testing’ repositories that add Wayland support:

# git clone --depth 1 git://bear.alienbase.nl/liveslak.git
# cd liveslak
# ./make_slackware_live.sh -d PLASMA5 -m plasma5wayland -M -X

If you run a Wayland-enabled Slackware Live, you can login to a regular X.Org Plasma5 session but you can also choose the “Plasma – Wayland” session from the SDDM dropdown menu.

Refreshing your USB stick instead of re-formatting

If you already use a Slackware Live USB stick that you do not want to re-format, you should use the “-r” parameter to the “iso2usb.sh” script. The “-r” or refresh parameter allows you to refresh the liveslak files on your USB stick without touching your custom content. If you want to modify other parameters of your USB stick, use the script “upslak.sh“. It’s main feature is that it can update the kernel on the USB stick, but it also can replace the Live init script. As with most (if not all) of my scripts, use the “-h” parameter to get help on its functionality.

Historical info on liveslak

More detail about the features of Slackware Live Edition can be found in previous posts here on the blog.

Have fun!

LibreOffice 6 packaged for Slackware

The new major release ‘6’ of LibreOffice was made available almost two weeks ago but I have been struggling with the 32bit build. Despite the fact that my 64bit -current packages for libreoffice-6.0.0 were online for a short while (almost nobody noticed), I did not have anything good to share so I removed those again.
And in the meantime, faster than scheduled because of some serious regressions and a security report, I noticed the release of version 6.0.1 two days ago. I had been busy with new Plasma5, VLC and GCC packages but with those out of the way I set myself again to the task of fixing the 32bit build. And I nailed it, so now I can finally announce packages for Slackware 14.2 and -current.

There’s a lot to write about what has been improved or added to LibreOffice 6, the release page names quite a few already and here is a selection of features that I found striking:

  • modernized look & feel of the user interface
  • gpg-based document signing & encryption, yay!
  • export to epub
  • better unicode font coverage by including a selection of noto fonts
  • improved spell-checker and custom dictionaries
  • improved help system
  • interactive form creation through a new ‘form’ menu in writer
  • impress templates are re-designed into 16:9 format
  • etc…

The Document Foundation has also recorded a video summarizing the best new features of LibreOffice 6. i invite you to take a look at it.

You can get the new libreoffice-6.0.1 packages from my repository or any mirror, like:

I have also added this release of LibreOffice to my just-uploaded PLASMA5 Live ISO which is based on Plasma 5.12 LTS.

February release of the Plasma5 Desktop for Slackware

Yesterday, I uploaded my Febrary’18 release of Plasma 5 packages for Slackware-current. The KDE-5_18.02 release contains: KDE Frameworks 5.43.0, Plasma 5.12.0 and Applications 17.12.2. All based on Qt 5.9.4 and exclusive for Slackwarecurrent because as explained in a previous post, I stopped providing regular Plasma 5 version updates for Slackware 14.2 (only security updates).
There’s again a choice of ‘latest‘ and ‘testing‘ where the ‘testing’ repository contains 17 recompiled packages that provide a Wayland compositor stack. This means you can have a working Plasma5 Wayland session if you use ‘testing‘ as opposed to ‘latest‘.
The ‘testing‘ repository is for… testing. Do not use those packages on a production environment unless you are familiar with Slackware, debugging graphical sessions and know your way around slackpkg/slackpkg+.

What’s new in this KDE 5_18.02 release

  • The ‘deps’ section has been graced with an updated qt5 package. I opted for qt5-5.9.4 which is the last one in the 5.9 series in the hope that Pat updates to qt5-5.10 when adding Plasma5 to Slackware.
    Also, I added two new packages here: cryptopp and cryfs. The Plasma Vault requires an encryption backend but I had not yet added one so the application was not useful. Cryfs seems to be the best choice (alternative backends would be encfs or tomb). I had ignored Vault for the past few releases but it looks like an interesting solution to store your data securely on cloud storage so I decided to make it functional.
  • Frameworks update is a stability release, see: https://www.kde.org/announcements/kde-frameworks-5.43.0.php .
  • Plasma is the highlight of the month. Version 5.12 is a Long Term Support (LTS) release, which replaces the previous LTS version 5.8. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.12.0.php .
  • Applications 17.12.2 is an incremental update for the 17.12 series and fixes some bugs.
    See https://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-applications-17.12.2.php .
  • In ‘applications-extra’ I have upgraded the packages for calligra and added calligraplan.

The accompanying README file contains full installation & upgrade instructions. I have some further reading material in case you are interested in the Wayland functionality of the ‘testing’ repository: README.testing.

Package download locations are:

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 (based on liveslak-1.1.9.6) will be uploaded soon to http://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/ , in case you want to try the new Plasma5 desktop out first in a non-destructive way.

Have fun! Eric

Finally: VLC 3

largeVLCIt took the VideoLAN developers several years of development to leave the ageing v2 releases of their VLC player behind and release a shiny new version ‘3’. This is also the first version which unifies the releases for all platforms the player can run on.
Lots of changes went under the hood and I encourage you to read the release notes. The new release contains working ChromeCast support using a software stack the developers wrote from scratch, where the video’s you cast are transcoded on the fly if necessary. The UPnP support which was broken for many years, has been re-written and finally works again, so that you can watch the movies you make available on your LAN using for instance Plex or Universal Media Server.

When I compile the VLC package I try to follow the VideoLAN guidelines for its supporting libraries, so that the user experience and functionality matches that of the official binaries as closely as possible. That resulted in several changes to the libraries used by VLC:

  • Updated internal libraries: libass, libdvdcss, libdvdnav, libdvdread, libbluray, ffmpeg, live555, libssh2, x262, x264.
  • New internal libraries: microdns, sdm, srt.
  • Removed libraries (no longer used internally): aacenc, daap, faad, faac, vcdimager.

A note about dependencies for the new package:
My Slackware packages for VLC are mostly self-contained with all of the supporting libraries compiled into the package. This makes for a minimal dependency on external libraries/packages. But there are some caveats with the new release: most importantly, its interface has switched from Qt4 to Qt5. While Slackware contains a ‘qt4’ package, it does not contain ‘qt5’ and therefore, the vlc-3.0.0 package introduces three new dependencies, all related to the Qt5 GUI: libxkbcommon, qt5 and qt5-webkit. On Slackware 14.2, two more packages are needed which are already incorporated into slackware-current: libinput and libwacom (the latter one only for 64bit).

A warning to users who built a ‘qt5’ package themselves, using the SlackBuild script at slackbuilds.org:
Un-install that ‘qt5’ package please and install mine. The ‘qt5’ package built with the SBo script will make VLC crash with a segmentation fault.

A note on compiling:
When you want to compile VLC 3 yourself, be sure to install java8 and apache-ant or your build will fail.

Where to find the new VLC packages:

Rsync access is offered by the mirror server: rsync://slackware.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 14.2 & -current. I stopped creating packages for Slackware 14.1 and earlier because of the effort it takes to build 4 packages for every Slackware release.

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

Security week

This week and the last, I have pushed quite a few packages into my repository that are meant to enhance the safety of your Slackware computer. If you have not been hiding under a stone for the past couple of weeks, you will have read about the Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities that plague many CPUs. Mostly Intel CPU’s, but the less harmful variants are also affecting AMD and ARM CPU’s. The broader Linux community is working hard to mitigate the effects of these vulnerabilities, and new kernels have landed in Slackware that have been recompiled with patched compilers so that the vulnerabilities will be harder (or impossible) to exploit.

These patched GCC compilers in Slackware 14.2 and -current needed a multilib variant of course, so you will find those in my multilib repository. For Slackware 14.2 that’s a set of all-new gcc-5.5.0 packages, i.e. the latest gcc 5 release available. In Slackware-current it’s of course the latest gcc 7: version 7.3.0. These compilers support “-mindirect-branch=thunk-extern“, allowing full mitigation of Spectre v2 in the kernel (when CONFIG_RETPOLINE is used).

Then there were the monthly Flash security vulnerabilities, patched by Adobe in version 28.0.0.161 of the flashplayer-plugin (NPAPI plugin for Mozilla based browsers) and the chromium-pepperflash-plugin (PPAPI plugin for Chromium based browsers).  This one was particularly nasty because a 0-day exploit was used actively to gain full control of vulnerable computers (including Linux computers).

The update of Chromium to version 64.0.3282.140 fixed one security related bug, but the previous stable release (the first 64 version I packaged two weeks ago) actually plugged a series of serious vulnerabilities with CVE‘s assigned to them. So, time to upgrade!
And this latest Chromium package of mine has one additional feature: I enabled HEVC/H.265 video playback in the embedded ffmpeg engine. Try it out here: http://www.h265files.com/embed-h265-video.php and notice that most other browsers (except Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari) do not support this video codec. Unfortunately, the online HTML5 tester does not detect this HEVC playback capability.

Another browser’s security update: Pale Moon plugs two vulnerabilities with their 27.7.2 release. Updated package available in my repository of course.

 

And to end this series, I will soon upload a patched plasma-workspace-5.11.3 package for Slackware64 14.2, for those of you who are running my ‘ktown’ Plasma5 desktop.
A vulnerability was discovered, allowing arbitrary command execution in the removable device notifier.
This bug is already fixed in Plasma 5.12, so those who run the Plasma5 Desktop on Slackware-current only need to wait until tomorrow to get an all-new monthly set of packages among which Plasma 5.12. Watch this blog for the news!