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I am Eric Hameleers, and this is where I think out loud.
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OpenJDK security updates Jun’17

icedteaFor all lovers and haters of Java: new releases are available for OpenJDK versions 7 as well as 8. On the blog of release manager Andrew Hughes (aka GNU/Andrew) you can find announcements for IcedTea 2.6.10 (which builds OpenJDK 7) and 3.4.0 (which builds OpenJDK 8). The new OpenJDK 7 and 8 releases include the official April 2017 security fixes.

You may think what you want about Java, but it is an important piece of software tech and ubiquitous, so I will keep releasing Slackware packages for as long as I can. My package support goes back to Slackware 13.37 which is the oldest release I personally recommend – if you are using an even older release, it’s probably because your hardware is very old or weak… in that case, you do not want to use something like Java anyway.

Here is where you can download the Slackware packages:

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. It is not needed for OpenJDK 8 because that contains its own internal implementation of a JavaScript engine, called Nashorn.

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.

Plugin support in Web Browsers:

If you want to use Java in a web browser then you’ll have to install my icedtea-web package too. Oracle’s JDK contains a browser plugin, but that one is closed-source. Therefore Icedtea offers an open source variant which does a decent job.

Note that icedtea-web is a NPAPI plugin – this prevents the use of Java in Chrome & Chromium because those browsers only support PPAPI plugins. Formally, Mozilla have also ceased to support the NPAPI plugins. For instance Firefox 52 and newer does not support NPAPI plugins, although Firefox ESR 52 still supports them. If you can’t do without, then you can use Java plugins with the Pale Moon browser, which is based on an older Firefox codebase and maintained independently.

Have fun! Eric

liveslak 1.1.8 and new ISO images

blueSW-64pxNot much news of late about my ‘liveslak‘ scripts. I occasionally tweak them but the modifications these days are fairly minor. I stamped a new version on the repository this week: liveslak 1.1.8 on the occasion that I wanted to generate and upload a fresh series of Slackware-current based Live ISO images. After all, liveslak is meant to be a showcase of what Slackware-current is all about, and with the recent updates to kernel, gcc, glibc and more, a refresh was more than welcome.

The Slackware Live Edition ISOs are based on liveslak 1.1.8 and Slackware-current dated “Tue May  9 23:33:37 UTC 2017“.

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.

New in the ISOs

The new ISOs are based on the latest slackware-current with Linux kernel 4.9.27, gcc 7.1.0 and glibc 2.25.

The SLACKWARE variant contains exactly that: the latest slackware-current and nothing else. Ideal for testing and for checking out the status of its development.

The XFCE variant contains a stripped down Slackware with a minimalized package set but still quite functional. The small size is also accomplished by excluding all documentation and man pages, and the localizations for the languages that are not supported in the boot menu. This ISO is small enough that you can burn it to a ’80 minutes’ CDROM (700 MB).

The MATE variant (a Slackware OS with KDE 4 replaced by Mate) contains packages from the repository at http://slackware.uk/msb/current/ which is Mate 1.18.

The PLASMA5 variant (Slackware with KDE 4 replaced by Plasma 5) comes with the latest Plasma 5 release “KDE-5_17.05” as found in my ktown repository. Additionally you will find several packages from my regular repository: chromium (with flash and widevine plugins), vlc, ffmpeg, libreoffice, palemoon, qbittorrent, openjdk and more. This ISO also contains the LXQT and Lumina Desktop Environments. Both are light-weight DE’s based on Qt5 so they look nice & shiny.

The liveslak scripts support three more variants out of the box: CINNAMON, DLACKWARE and STUDIOWARE. There’s no ISO image for the Cinnamon and Dlackware variants this time. The Studioware variant is new, and you will find the download location for an ISO further down (in the “Download the ISO images” section).

What happened between liveslak 1.1.6 and 1.1.8

  • A boot-time tweak ‘nsh’ was added so that you can disable freetype’s new sub-pixel hinting if you are no fan of how the fonts look in slackware-current by default now.
  • I ensured that the XFCE ISO will again fit on a CDROM medium. Apparently the recent updates in Slackware cause packages to swell up. This reduction in ISO size required the sacrifice of quite a few packages (many X bitmap fonts, the TTF Sazanami font, the XFCE weather plugin, and GhostScript).
  • Studioware was added as a supported Live variant. From their web site: “Studioware is a project aimed at providing build scripts and packages of the best open source audio, video and photo editing software available for Slackware Linux.
  • The liveslak scripts will now download everything they need, including a local copy of the Slackware package tree if that’s missing.

Download the ISO images

This time, the ISO variants I uploaded for Slackware Live Edition are: SLACKWARE (64bit & 32bit), XFCE (64bit & 32bit), PLASMA5, MATE. These ISO images (with MD5 checksum and GPG signature) have been uploaded to the master server (bear) and should be available on the mirror servers within the next 24 hours.

There is another Slackware Live ISO, but it is not hosted by me – I simply do not have the free space for it. It’s the STUDIOWARE Live ISO and you can find it at http://studioware.org/iso.php . It’s filled with many audio, video and photography manipulation applications and you should definitely give it a try!

Read more about liveslak

This blog has quite some posts about the Slackware Live Edition. Check them out: http://alien.slackbook.org/blog/tag/live/ – they contain lots of insight and helpful tips.
And this was the original post (which has been edited later on so it could become a proper landing page for curious visitors): http://alien.slackbook.org/blog/slackware-live-edition/

Download liveslak sources

The liveslak project can be found in my git repository: http://bear.alienbase.nl/cgit/liveslak/ . That’s all you need to create a Slackware Live ISO from scratch. Documentation for end users and for Live OS developers is available in the Slack Docs Wiki.

Have fun! Eric

Chromium packages refreshed with v58

chromium_iconI really like my new job. It is exciting, rewarding, but also demanding, and I find that I have a lot less free time at hand these days than I used to when I was with IBM. Hacking Slackware is becoming a luxury. Simply, because I realized how easily I can lose my job when an administrator puts my name in a spreadsheet… so I work my ass off and try to convince everyone that I am indispensable. Works so far.
The downside is, I have to skip important software releases that require a lot of investigation or compilation time, until there is a free spot in my schedule. The Chromium 57 ‘stable’ release fell victim to that, and even version 58 was released last week  but I never got to sit down and find out why my compilation failed miserably. I finally found the patch I needed and built packages for a new dependency, nodejs (fortunately nodejs is only needed for the compilation, but not for actually running the browser). So, this morning I uploaded my new packages for chromium-58.0.3029.96… only to find out this evening that there’s already a newer release out, 58.0.3029.110. I guess I am not going to package that.

Anyway, my packages for chromium, and the chromium widevine CDM plugin, are available for Slackware 14.2 and -current in my repository or one of its mirrors:

Have fun! Eric

Palemoon browser

The Pale Moon browser was forked off the Mozilla Firefox codebase a couple of years ago, before Firefox switched to the Australis User Interface. Since then, the project has steadily been diverging from the Firefox codebase, optimizing its Gecko layout engine and rebranding that to ‘Goanna’ (which is the name of just another lizard). The community has a large vote in the direction the Pale Moon browser’s features are taking.

People are drawn to Pale Moon because it promises to be a browser that is leaner than the modern-day Firefox. Pale Moon has the look and feel of Firefox like it was years ago, which has a certain appeal. Firefox and Chrome are both plagued by code bloat. The Australis UI ruined Firefox for many people. Also, Pale Moon supports the old Mozilla Sync (Weave 1.x). You can easily setup your own private sync server at home.
Yet, Pale Moon promises to give you a contemporary user experience regardless.

On SlackBuilds.org (SBo) you will find two different scripts to create a Pale Moon package. One, called palemoon, will wrap the official binaries into a Slackware package. The other, called PaleMoon, is a build-from-source which attempts to stay close and true to the Pale Moon project’s official recommendations about the use of compilers (GCC 4.x but not newer) and optimizations (compiler flags are “-O2 -msse2 -mfpmath=sse”). The Pale Moon developers have decided that these conditions are necessary to compile their sources into a stable browser (i.e. one that is not prone to crashing all the time on sites that are heavy on media or JavaScript).

The lead developer of Pale Moon is also very strict about the use of his official branding by 3rd party source builds that are re-distributed as unofficial binaries. Builds that do not conform to these policies, must use unofficial branding (a monochrome logo, and the name “New Moon”). The scripts on slackbuilds.org do not re-distribute binaries so they are not affected by these policies.

I decided that I was curious enough to write a SlackBuild of my own, and see what I thought of Pale Moon. I took inspiration from Slackware’s mozilla-firefox.SlackBuild and then did two things crucially different from the official recommendations. I used the default gcc compiler of the Slackware release I built the package on (Slackware 14.2 has gcc-5.3.0 and -current had 5.4.0 at the time when I ran the compilation… of course, now -current has gcc-7.1.0). And the optimization I chose is “-Os”; a conservative optimization with a focus on smaller code size, instead of better speed.

The resulting package seems to be stable, and it is not crashing on web sites where other 3rd party builds seem to falter. See this LQ thread for more details about problematic web sites which my binary shows without issue. Also – judging from the forum posts – it appears that many crashes are triggered when running Pale Moon in KDE4 with the oxygen theme selected for your GTK+2 programs. I fixed that instability by applying a patch to oxygen-gtk2 that can be found in its code repository but was never included in an official release. That patched oxygen-gtk2-1.4.6.1 package is available in my SlackBuild repository, and is also included in my ‘ktown‘ repository for the Plasma 5 desktop environment. I urge you to upgrade your Slackware package to this version.

Moonchild, the lead developer, gave his approval to use official branding in a series of private conversations we had, but being a Windows person he wants his Linux developer to check my package out. I told him that I will have a Pale Moon package in my repository, or none at all – I will not use unofficial “New Moon” branding. My package should give you a stable browsing experience – if not, let me know and do not bother the Pale Moon developers. So, if you see the palemoon package disappear from my repository, you’ll know that I have fallen out with the project and am not agreeing to their requests.
So far so good of course – this is Slackware, and we offer a nice & stable OS to run this browser on. I hope that some of you will find your new favorite browser in Pale Moon.

Adobe Flash security update May ’17

adobe_flash_8s600x600_2I do not post every security update in my repository, but let’s do one again for good measure and to keep y’all sharp and focused.
There’s a new security update for the Flash Player plugin which was released by Adobe earlier today. Check here what version (if any) of the Flash plugin your browser is carrying.
Version 25.0.0.171 is now available for both the PPAPI (Google Chrome and friends) and the NPAPI (Mozilla Firefox and friends) based plugins. Note that these 24.x Flashplayer releases do not support DRM or hardware acceleration as Adobe first wants to focus on security.

You can find Slackware packages for these Flash plugins in the following locations (mirrors may take up to 24 hours to sync):

Have fun.