My thoughts on Slackware, life and everything

Bear is live

alienIn the evenings of the past few days I have been working hard on getting a new server setup to replace the buckling server.

I proudly announce , no longer a virtual machine but a real physical server I am renting at Thanks to many people donating money to ensure that I can pay the server’s rent for a long time to come, and thanks to kikinovak and the support staff at for helping me with getting Slackware installed (it is not an official installation option). So:

Linux bear 4.4.6 #2 SMP Wed Mar 16 14:17:03 CDT 2016 x86_64
Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU C2350 @ 1.74GHz GenuineIntel GNU/Linux

Bear is running Slackware64 14.2 RC1 and has a 2.5 Gbps (shared) connection to the internet. I managed to get 94 MB/sec downloads from, which means I saturated the full bandwidth of this UK mirror. Downloading content should easily give you speeds in the order or 20 MB/sec if you have that bandwidth at home, meaning a Slackware Live ISO should be downloaded to your computer in about two minutes.

Speaking of Slackware Live Edition, there’s another bounty associated with running a 64bit Slackware-current OS on this server – bear can generate the Live ISOs by itself. So I wrote a script (inspired by called “” which works the same way: every time there is an update to the Slackware64-current ChangeLog.txt this script will create a 64bit Slackware Live ISO from scratch. It’s already scheduled in cron, and its output can be found at . Note that the ISO creation process takes roughly two hours, so before starting a download please check the logfile to see if the process has finished (last line should be “— Cleaning up the staging area…“)

This weekend, if I have time (plans for Easter are still prone to change) I will migrate the SlackDocs Wiki ( from taper to bear and then taper will no longer run a critical part of my services. The cgit web interface to the git repositories is already up and running at and after Easter, the actual git repositories at taper will stop being accessible on taper when I move them over to bear.

Summarizing: all of you who were using for downloading Slackware related stuff, please switch to The new server offers http, https and rsync access to all content and does not apply black- or whitelisting. Everyone is welcome to use it. The server has unlimited data transfers so I do not have to be afraid of hidden costs.


  1. Deny Dias

    Great news, Eric! Long live Bear.

    Bear is all set here in my scripts. As simple as:

    # sed -i "s/taper/bear/g"

  2. Deny Dias

    Oh! I forgot to mention: Bear pipe (sadly it’s not a beer pipe) is damn fast too! My 60mbps downlink is full from it.

    Many thanks to you, your supporters, including @kikinovak and the fellow guys at!

  3. Geremia

    HTTPS is using a broken cert; it’s self-signed.

    Get a free SSL/TLS cert with the open source <a href="">Let's Encrypt</a> project.

  4. end_user

    Current-isos back online again.
    Thanks to all involved.

  5. Arief JR

    trying to access from here, very fast. Great!

  6. Slacko

    Wondering why ‘bear’? 🙂

  7. alienbob

    Geremia, it is *not* a self-signed certificate.
    The certificate has been signed by CaCert which is an organization whose CA root certificates are not accepted by Google and Mozilla- because it is a grass-roots community movement and not a corporately backed organization.
    I urge you to install the CACert root certificates in your browser to get rid of the certificate warnings when visiting my servers.
    I have looked at letsencrypt which is the CA infrastructure created by these big corporate entities. It is nice that free SSL certificates are now within reach of everyone, and also good that th letsencrypt root certificates are supported in the Google and Mozilla browsers, but I refuse to install 15 additional python programs just to be able to request a certificate.

  8. alienbob

    Slacko, I am working my way through my favorite Sci-Fi authors. Hostnames I used in the past are brin (David Brin) and vance (Jack Vance) and now it was time for Greg Bear to make an appearance.

  9. ikke

    Thanks for info and the new iso : ‘ slackware64-live-current.iso 2016-03-26 0:05 2.5G’
    Did a frugal install and found it is much slower than 0.7.0. Also had to use ‘startx’ to get X. Had to wait a long time for the big ‘K’ to appear. And then the icons down didn’t work. Could not open the KDE menu to see all the available programs.
    Any comments?
    Zalige Pasen.

  10. Niki Kovacs

    Congratulations on your new server, Eric. And BTW, letsencrypt works great. Even though it’s only beta, I’ve been using it on my production server since last december. And since when are you afraid of building a handful of packages? :o)

  11. alienbob

    I don’t want to build fifteen useless packages that only serve to request a SSL certificate.
    With, certificate management is dead easy, but it is a manual job. Since when do we need automatic certificate renewal? Dangerous methinks.

  12. Brad Reed

    Congratulations on your new server!

  13. izzle121

    Fantastic news, Eric!

  14. Drakeo

    Put it in the latest video. 🙂

  15. fabio

    blazing fast. All hail bear!! thx

  16. LoneStar

    my wildcard certificate issued 2 years ago with StartSSL is about to expire and I was going to get into the mess of letsencrypt for a permanent free solution, but your reference to CaCert made me learn there is an interesting alternative for a longterm wildcard certificate. Thank you 🙂

  17. alienbob

    The http and rsync on taper are running again.
    I have made transparent redirects for a couple of webserver areas that will cause anyone still accessing taper URLs to end up on bear automatically.

    And rsync will filter out "slackware-live" as well as "slackware*current*iso".

    The above measures should safeguard taper’s health as a backup.

    This allows me to still host all the Slackware releases on taper.
    A copy of my ktown and regular slackbuilds repositories also remain accessible on taper.

  18. kjhambrick

    Eric —

    I would like to contribute US Dollars to the Bear Server.

    However, my bank has an issue with Foreign Banks ( the last time I tried it they helpfully canceled by card ! ) and I don’t have a PayPal Acct.

    Anyhow, is there an alternative method for sending $US ?

    Thanks !

    — kjh( )

  19. alienbob

    Hi kjhambrick.

    I have no idea how a foreign bank account can be refused by your local bank, but at least Paypal allows payment using credit card if you do not have a paypal account yourself.
    Again, do not feel frustrated or upset if you are unable to donate any money to me. Or if you are on a small income. Donations help pay the rent and are gladly accepted but they are in no way mandatory.

  20. ikke

    Did a full install of slackware64-live-current.iso 2016-03-29 on an external usb SSD (using setup2hd) It appears installation was succesfull. But didn’t install ‘lilo’. What would be the correct lilo entry.? Found two kernels : huge and generic. But no initrd.img. Guess this is ok. Will try to boot via grub legacy already installed on the SSD.
    Thank you.

  21. alienbob

    The "setup2hd" is identical to the regular Slackware installer, except for dealing with the package source. The regular installer lets you choose a source (DVD, local disk, NFS, HTTP, etc) and then lets you select the packages you want to install.
    The "setup2hd" on the other hand, copies the complete filesystem of the Live OS to your harddisk, thus skipping the above two choices.
    The final stage, setting up the boot, is no different with setup2hd than with the regular installer. The installer will call "liloconfig" at the end, and this will allow you to install lilo. In case you have an EFI system it will prompt to install elilo instead.
    There is no initrd because you need to create one yourself. That is why you will find the "setup2hd" script only in a Live ISO that also contains a huge kernel.

    I am wondering though…. did you not see a (e)lilo setup dialog at all?

  22. ikke

    Thank you very much for quick reaction.
    Yes, "setup2hd" is nice and does the job. Although it took a long time…
    Yes "setup2hd" called "liloconfig" but I skipped it since I had prepared the SSD and want to boot with ‘ grub legacy ‘
    Could you please provide your own lilo entry so that I coud adapt it in my ‘menu.lst’

    Thank you very much for help.

  23. alienbob

    Yes, it takes awhile to install all files. I have not measured it, but it should not take more time than installing all the packages of Slackware through a regular installation using the same medium (USB, DVD, local harddisk partition). After all, both the regular installer and setup2hd need to decompress the data to your harddisk.

    If you skipped LILO because you already have another bootloader and want to add your entry there, then that is a task for you, not for me.

    It is no different with regular Slackware installations. You either have just a huge kernel (installed by setup2hd) or a generic kernel plus an initrd (created by you). How that looks as a menu entry in grub-legacy… no idea. But I guess it will be quite similar to what’s already in there. And note that the syntax of lilo.conf is different from grub.conf or menu.lst.

  24. ikke

    Thank you very much for your comments and good advice.

    The huge kernel doesn’t work : kernel panic. So I guess an need an initrd. Can I create a initrd.img-file for the installed system from within the live system?

    Did also a frugal install of the latest (02_04) live system. Nice! very nice!

    Thank you for kind attention.

  25. alienbob

    ikke, all Live ISOs boot the generic kernel plus a modified initrd.
    The modification is just a single file replacement: the init script which sets up the Live filesystem.
    The mkinitrd command to create the initfrd image is nothing special, in essence it is:

    mkinitrd -c -w 5 -l us -o /boot/initrd_4.4.6.gz -k 4.4.6 -m squashfs:overlay:loop:xhci-pci:ohci-pci:ehci-pci:xhci-hcd:uhci-hcd:ehci-hcd:usb-storage:hid:usbhid:hid-generic:hid-cherry:hid-logitech:hid-logitech-dj:hid-logitech-hidpp:hid-lenovo:hid-microsoft:jbd:mbcache:ext3:ext4:isofs:fat:nls_cp437:nls_iso8859-1:msdos:vfat -L -C dummy

    The "-L -C dummy" is only there so that the LVM and LUKS configuration tools are added to the initrd, but the Live OS does not use them by default.

    Interesting that the huge kernel panics. Do you see where it panics?
    When setting up the new ‘bear’ server I had the exact opposite experience: the generic kernel with initrd panicked so I had to stick with the huge kernel instead.

  26. alienbob

    To answer your other question (can I create a initrd.img-file for the installed system from within the live system): certainly, it is explained as part of the README_LVM.TXT file. At the end of the setup (or rather, at the end of setup2hd) when you are dropped into the shell and the next step would be a reboot, you DO NOT reboot just yet.
    Instead you chroot into your installed system, you run the mkinitrd command which creates the initrd script, you update lilo.conf and you run lilo. In your case you would not run lilo after you generated the initrd image of course.
    You then run the "exit" command to exit the chroot and you are back at the prompt of your Live OS. You can then do the needful with that fresh initrd.

    If you are unsure about the exact mkinitrd command parameters, you can run the following command inside that chroot and it will show you the mkinitrd command to use:

    /usr/share/mkinitrd/ -r

  27. ikke

    Eric, just to say thank you for all this info and all the good advice.

    Will try another install on a hard disk and follow your instructions.

    Again : dank!

  28. ikke

    Did a full install of latest (0402) iso on hard disk, using ‘setup2hd’. No kernel panic now but system hangs :
    Going multiuser …
    touch: cannot touch ‘/var/log/dmesg’: Read-only system
    chmod: cannot access ‘/var/log/dmesg’: No such file or directory
    /etc/rc/d/rc/M: line 48: ‘/var/log/dmesg’: Read-only file system
    Starting sysklogd daemons: /usr/bin/syslogd /sbin/ldconfig: Can;t create temporary cache file /etc/ Read only file system
    Any help?

    Thank you.

  29. alienbob

    Yeah you discovered a fatal flaw in my reasoning. I re-wrote setup2hd to deal with files that are added in one module and then removed in the next module. The original setup2hd script left lots of ugly files in the filesystem (shown as "c———").
    So I took a different approach when I re-wrote the script, which is to use the already assembled Live filesystem and just ‘rsync’ that to the harddrive.. Unfortunately that also rsyncs the Live modifications which is what I do NOT want. I.e. you get all the edits in the /etc/* files, required to make it a Live OS.
    So you ended up with a unusable system, probably because you answered "no" when the script offered to overwrite an already existing fstab file.

    I need to think of a clean method to exclude the content of the 0099-slackware_zzzconf-current-x86_64.sxz module when copying content to the harddive…

  30. ikke

    Thank you for kind reaction.

    Seems the whole system is ‘read-only’.

    Waiting for your clean method.


  31. alienbob

    I have already committed a fix to git:
    Currently the Live ISO on bear is in the process of being rebuilt with this fix. The ‘setup2hd’ script should now install only the packages and not the Live OS modifications which caused your readonly issue.

  32. ikke

    Good news. Am downloading the "2016-04-08 14:06".iso. Will try to install it on HD with setup2hd.

    Will keep you posted.
    Thank you!

  33. ikke

    Bravo. Congratulations. Thank you.

    Install on HD with setup2hd was successfull.

    Testing now!!


  34. izzle121

    Eric, I’m having difficulty getting Slackware-Live to work via PXE. I’ve followed the instructions from
    The PXE boot process drops me into RESCUE mode with the following error: "No live media found". I have nfs exported and tested the export on a different machine, do I need to have a specific directory of the live media exported?

  35. alienbob

    The latest version of the liveslak scripts (0.8.0) which I checked into git solves issues with PXE boot of the Live OS. There was a discussion on LQ where some people tested with various hardware, which made me realize that some modifications had to be made to the initrd image.
    New ISO images based on this new 0.8.0 release of liveslak will be uploaded today or tomorrow but you can of course checkout the got sources and try yourself.

  36. izzle121

    Awesome, I wasn’t aware of your 0.8.0 build. I’ll check it out, thanks!

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