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I am Eric Hameleers, and this is where I think out loud.
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Slackware

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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.

Some thoughts on the recent updates in Slackware-current

 Last week, a new LTS kernel (4.9.26), new glibc (2.25) and a new gcc compiler suite (7.1.0) landed in Slackware-current. Note that gcc no longer contains the Java compiler (gcj): subsequently Slackware’s gcc-java package has been removed from slackware-current.
We are at the head of the herd again folks. There is not yet any other distro that ships with the gcc-7 compiler by default. This will certainly pose some challenges for people who compile their stuff themselves – the SBo team warned their community about scripts that require patches to compile against gcc-7.

I have my set of challenges myself too… until now, I have not been able to compile the multilib versions of the gcc compiler suite. That’s infuriating, I can tell you. Specifically, I have issues with brig, gnat, go and objc compilers; the 7.1.0 versions of c and c++ compilers are just fine. I hope to resolve this soon-ish… until then, you will have to wait for new multilib compilers. If you really need a gcc 7.1.0 compiler (for instance, to compile a kernel module) I suggest that you (temporarily) switch to Slackware-current’s gcc 7.1.0 packages. Running your multilib system is of course not affected by this – gcc is only needed to compile stuff. I will probably release glibc-2.25_multilib packages ahead of the problematic gcc multilib packages to give you at least something.

Another interesting addition is lame. After the last Fraunhofer MP3 patent expired on 16 April 2017, the doors were opened to enable MP3 encoding support in Slackware. Several packages have been recompiled to take advantage of the new MP3 encoding capability (cdrdao, sox, ffmpeg, MPlayer, audacious-plugins) and the gstreamer packages were updated for good measure.

I have added ‘lame’ to the ‘massconvert32.sh‘ script of my compat32-tools package and updated the set of “compat32” packages in my multilib repository.

May updates for Plasma 5 (Slackware)

The May 2017 updates for my ‘ktown’ repository are fairly minimal, but anyway here it is: KDE 5_17.05.
This new release contains: KDE Frameworks 5.33.0, Plasma 5.9.5 and Applications 17.04.0. All of this is still built on top of Qt 5.7.1.

NOTE: I will no longer be releasing Plasma 5 packages for 32bit Slackware 14.2.

What’s new in KDE 5_17.05?

  • The ‘deps’ section has two updated packages: json-glib and sip.
  • Plasma 5.9.5 is the final bugfix release of the 5.9 series before 5.10. The oxygen theme package is now extended with Qt4 support so that KDE4 applications can blend in with the Plasma 5 applications if you use the
    Oxygen theme. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.9.5.php .
  • In applications-extra I updated krita and krusader, and rebuilt calligra.
  • In kde4-extragear I added a patched oxygen-gtk2 package which should fix crashes in firefox-derived browsers such as Pale Moon.

This upgrade should be relatively straightforward if you already have Plasma 5 installed. See below for install/upgrade instructions. For users who are running slackware-current, the most crucial part is making sure that you end up with Slackware’s packages for ‘libinput‘ and ‘libwacom‘. I had those two packages in the ‘current’ section of my repository for a while (they are still part of the ‘14.2’ section) but Slackware added them to the core OS. Failing to install the correct (i.e. Slackware) packages, may render your input devices (mouse and keyboard) inoperative in X.Org.

Non-ktown packages you probably want anyway

There are a couple of *runtime* dependencies that I did not add to the ‘ktown’ repository, but you may want to consider installing them yourself because they enable functionality in Plasma 5 that you would otherwise miss:

  • vlc: will give phonon another backend to select from.
  • freerdp: access RDP servers through krdc.

All of the above can be found in my regular package repository.

In order for kdenlive to reach its full potential, you might want to consider replacing Slackware’s ‘ffmpeg‘ package by my version with extended functionality: more supported codecs including AAC, MP3 and H.264 encoders.

Multilib considerations

If you install a 32bit program on a 64bit Slackware computer with multilib and that program needs legacy system tray support (think of Skype for instance), you will have to grab the 32-bit version of Slackware’s ‘libdbusmenu-qt’ and my ktown-deps package ‘sni-qt’, and run the ‘convertpkg-compat32 -i‘ command on them to create ‘compat32’ versions of these packages. Then install both ‘libdbusmenu-qt-compat32‘ and ‘sni-qt-compat32‘.
Those two are mandatory addons for displaying system tray icons of 32bit binaries in 64bit multilib Plasma5.

Installing or upgrading Frameworks 5, Plasma 5 and Applications

You can skip the remainder of the article if you already have my Plasma 5 installed and are familiar with the upgrade process. Otherwise, stay with me and read the rest.

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“, “kdepim“, “plasma“, “plasma-extra“, “applications“, “applications-extra” and “telepathy“.

Upgrading to this KDE 5 is not difficult, especially if you already are running KDE 5_17.04. You will have to remove old KDE 4 packages manually. If you do not have KDE 4 installed at all, you will have to install some of Slackware’s own KDE 4 packages manually. Luckily, KDE 5 is mature enough that there’s almost nothing left from old KDE 4 that you would really want.

What I usually do is: download all the ‘ktown’ packages for the new release to a local disk. Then run “upgrade –install-new” on all these packages. Then I check the status of my Slackware-current, upgrading the stock packages where needed. The slackpkg tool is invaluable during this process of syncing the package installation status to the releases.

Note:

If you are using slackpkg+, have already moved to KDE 5_17.04 and are adventurous, you can try upgrading using the following set of commands. This should “mostly” work but you still need to check the package lists displayed by slackpkg to verify that you are upgrading all the right packages. Feel free to send me improved instructions if needed. In below example I am assuming that you tagged my KDE 5 repository with the name “ktown” in the configuration file “/etc/slackpkg/slackpkgplus.conf“):
# slackpkg update
# slackpkg install ktown (to get the newly added packages from my repo)
# slackpkg install-new (to get the new official Slackware packages that were part of my deps previously)
# slackpkg upgrade ktown (upgrade all existing packages to their latest versions)
# slackpkg upgrade-all (upgrade the remaining dependencies that were part of my repo previously)

And doublecheck that you have not inadvertently blacklisted my packages in “/etc/slackpkg/blacklist“! Check for the existence of a line in that blacklist file that looks like “[0-9]+alien” and remove it if you find it!

Recommended reading material

There have been several posts now about KDE 5 for Slackware-current. All of them contain useful information, tips and gotchas. If you want to read them, here they are: http://alien.slackbook.org/blog/tag/kde5/

A note on Frameworks

The KDE Frameworks are extensions on top of Qt 5.x and their usability is not limited to the KDE Software Collection. There are other projects such as LXQT which rely (in part) on the KDE Frameworks, and if you are looking for a proper Frameworks repository which is compatible with Slackware package managers such as slackpkg+, then you can use these URL’s to assure yourself of the latest Frameworks packages for Slackware-current (indeed, this is a sub-tree of my KDE 5 repository):

The same goes for Frameworks for Slackware 14.2 (change ‘current’ to ‘14.2’ in the above URLs).

Where to get the new packages for Plasma 5

A Plasma5 Live ISO image will follow shortly on http://bear.alienbase.nl/mirrors/slackware-live/latest/ in case you want to try it out first (check the timestamp of the ISO on the web page).

Package download locations are listed below (you will find the sources in ./source/5/ and packages in /current/5/ and  /14.2/5/ 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

Plasma 5 for Slackware – April edition

During the past week (ever since the source tarballs for the new Applications were made available to packagers) I have been working toward an April 2017 release of my ‘ktown’ repository: KDE 5_17.04.
This new release contains: KDE Frameworks 5.33.0, Plasma 5.9.4 and Applications 17.04.0. All of this is still built on top of Qt 5.7.1.
A Plasma5 Live ISO image will follow shortly in the usual location.
NOTE: I will no longer be releasing Plasma 5 packages for 32bit Slackware 14.2.

What’s new in KDE 5_17.04?

  • The ‘deps’ section has one recompiled package (because of incompatible library updates in slackware-current): dvdauthor, and five upgrades: accountsservicefrei0r-plugins, gpgme, ninja and poppler.
    There’s also one new package (but only for the Slackware -current package set): qtav as a new dependency for digikam.
  • Frameworks 5.33.0 is an enhancement release. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/kde-frameworks-5.33.0.php
  • Plasma 5.9.4 is an incremental bugfix of the 5.9 series with small fixes only. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.9.4.php . At first I wanted to wait for the 5.9.5 release which is around the corner but decided not to waste another couple of days. I may add the 5.9.5 later on, since that will be the final iteration for 5.9.
    I am not sticking with the long term support (LTS) releases of Plasma 5.8, as I think LTS should be targeting stable Slackware. If you want to know more about the long term support plans, go read: https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.8.0.php .
  • Applications 17.04.0 is a new major release and marks the transition of yet another pack of applications from the old kdelibs4 to KDE Frameworks (KF5). I should check what’s still based on kdelibs4 sometimes… can’t be too many left. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-applications-17.04.0.php . And the release notes give more detail about the changes in packages.
    Since k3b is now part of the Applications suite, I have removed the package that I had added to ‘applications-extra’ (which was based on a git snapshot). Another package which is no longer part of my ‘ktown’ set: kajongg (it requires python3 now which is not part of Slackware). And two packages are no longer shipped because their sources are no longer part of Applications: pim-storage-service-manager and kommander.
  • In ‘applications-extra’ I added the latest releases of krita, the KDEvelop suite and of kpmcore (the partitionmanager core libraries). I rebuilt digikam against qtav.
    The newest calligra was already added last week as part of a package rebuild, caused by slackware-current library updates. Worth mentioning is that calligra, krita, ktorrent, partitionmanager, skanlite and the KDE Development Suite in ‘applications-extra’ are all KF5 based.
  • In ‘kde4-extragear’ I have added audiocd-kio4 and libkcompactdisc4 which are built from the kdelibs4-based Applications 16.08.3 sources. All of audiocd-kio4libkcddb4 and libkcompactdisc4 packages are (only) required by Slackware’s kaudiocreator.

This upgrade should be relatively straightforward if you already have Plasma 5 installed. See below for install/upgrade instructions. For users who are running slackware-current, the most crucial part is making sure that you end up with Slackware’s packages for ‘libinput‘ and ‘libwacom‘. I had those two packages in the ‘current’ section of my repository for a while (they are still part of the ‘14.2’ section) but Slackware added them to the core OS. Failing to install the correct (i.e. Slackware) packages, may render your input devices (mouse and keyboard) inoperative in X.Org.

You may want to check out the new Plasma 5 before installing. For this purpose, I have generated a new Live ISO for the PLASMA5 variant. Look for that ISO on http://bear.alienbase.nl/mirrors/slackware-live/latest/ .

Non-ktown packages you probably want anyway

There are a couple of *runtime* dependencies that I did not add to the ‘ktown’ repository, but you may want to consider installing them yourself because they enable functionality in Plasma 5 that you would otherwise miss:

  • vlc: will give phonon another backend to select from.
  • freerdp: access RDP servers through krdc.

All of the above can be found in my regular package repository.

In order for kdenlive to reach its full potential, you might want to consider replacing Slackware’s ‘ffmpeg‘ package by my version with extended functionality: more supported codecs including AAC, MP3 and H.264 encoders.

Multilib considerations

If you install a 32bit program on a 64bit Slackware computer with multilib and that program needs legacy system tray support (think of Skype for instance), you will have to grab the 32-bit version of Slackware’s ‘libdbusmenu-qt’ and my ktown-deps package ‘sni-qt’, and run the ‘convertpkg-compat32 -i‘ command on them to create ‘compat32’ versions of these packages. Then install both ‘libdbusmenu-qt-compat32‘ and ‘sni-qt-compat32‘.
Those two are mandatory addons for displaying system tray icons of 32bit binaries in 64bit multilib Plasma5.

Installing or upgrading Frameworks 5, Plasma 5 and Applications

You can skip the remainder of the article if you already have my Plasma 5 installed and are familiar with the upgrade process. Otherwise, stay with me and read the rest.

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“, “kdepim“, “plasma“, “plasma-extra“, “applications“, “applications-extra” and “telepathy“.

Upgrading to this KDE 5 is not difficult, especially if you already are running KDE 5_17.03. You will have to remove old KDE 4 packages manually. If you do not have KDE 4 installed at all, you will have to install some of Slackware’s own KDE 4 packages manually. Luckily, KDE 5 is mature enough that there’s almost nothing left from old KDE 4 that you would really want.

What I usually do is: download all the ‘ktown’ packages for the new release to a local disk. Then run “upgrade –install-new” on all these packages. Then I check the status of my Slackware-current, upgrading the stock packages where needed. The slackpkg tool is invaluable during this process of syncing the package installation status to the releases.

Note:

If you are using slackpkg+, have already moved to KDE 5_17.03 and are adventurous, you can try upgrading using the following set of commands. This should “mostly” work but you still need to check the package lists displayed by slackpkg to verify that you are upgrading all the right packages. Feel free to send me improved instructions if needed. In below example I am assuming that you tagged my KDE 5 repository with the name “ktown” in the configuration file “/etc/slackpkg/slackpkgplus.conf“):
# slackpkg update
# slackpkg install ktown (to get the newly added packages from my repo)
# slackpkg install-new (to get the new official Slackware packages that were part of my deps previously)
# slackpkg upgrade ktown (upgrade all existing packages to their latest versions)
# slackpkg upgrade-all (upgrade the remaining dependencies that were part of my repo previously)

And doublecheck that you have not inadvertently blacklisted my packages in “/etc/slackpkg/blacklist“! Check for the existence of a line in that blacklist file that looks like “[0-9]+alien” and remove it if you find it!

Recommended reading material

There have been several posts now about KDE 5 for Slackware-current. All of them contain useful information, tips and gotchas. If you want to read them, here they are: http://alien.slackbook.org/blog/tag/kde5/

A note on Frameworks

The KDE Frameworks are extensions on top of Qt 5.x and their usability is not limited to the KDE Software Collection. There are other projects such as LXQT which rely (in part) on the KDE Frameworks, and if you are looking for a proper Frameworks repository which is compatible with Slackware package managers such as slackpkg+, then you can use these URL’s to assure yourself of the latest Frameworks packages for Slackware-current (indeed, this is a sub-tree of my KDE 5 repository):

The same goes for Frameworks for Slackware 14.2 (change ‘current’ to ‘14.2’ in the above URLs).

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/ and  /14.2/5/ 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