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I am Eric Hameleers, and this is where I think out loud.
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November 2015
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RSS Alien's Slackware packages

RSS Alien's unofficial KDE Slackware packages

RSS Alien's multilib packages


Why the relative silence?

I realize that I have been kind of silent on the blog these past weeks. There are several reasons for that.

Primary reason was that I was training helpdesk teams in Asia – and no, unfortunately I did not get to travel there despite original suggestions… higher authorities deemed it better (read: cheaper) to use Microsoft Lync for the training sessions. Two weeks of looking at my computer screen while talking to electrons… that was pretty exhausting.

Also, I have been working on the next Plasma 5 batch aka my ‘ktown-testing‘ package set. Almost finished compiling, I will be waiting with my upload until the sources for Frameworks are officially released – should be tomorrow.

And finally, two years after speaking about it for the first time, I finally sat down and started working in earnest on my new “Project X”. Errr?

Riding the top of my TODO list for a long time, I have been meaning to create a Live version of Slackware. I know, there’s Porteus of course (they have an impressive ISO generator wizard by the way), and SLAX. Both are great Live distros based on Slackware. And there is SlackEX and Salix Live, and possibly some others too. Then why the urge to create yet another Live version of Slackware? Simply: because those others are Slackware-derived, and they have carved a niche of their own, but none of them are really Slackware. Also, I have been irritated by past distro reviews where the reviewer complained that Slackware did not have a Live version. Meaning, to give it a test run they would have to install the distro to an actual computer – which would lead to the usual moaning about the arcane installer and “Slackware not keeping up with time”.

So what were my goals?

  1. Provide a Live version of Slackware proper – i.e. show Slackware as it is, but without having to install it. No hiding of kernel messages scrolling across the screen at boot – no custom wallpapers, etcetera. Meant for education and demonstration purposes.
  2. Target should be slackware-current – the bleeding edge. Many people want to know what that looks like but are hesitant to install slackware-current for fear that it breaks stuff and causes productivity loss.
  3. Provide a way to generate a Live ISO with just Slackware packages as the source – fully scripted and deterministic.
  4. Still be able to customize its content – for instance provide stripped-down or minimalist versions of Slackware but also allow for the inclusion of 3rd party packages.
  5. Option to create a bootable USB stick running Slackware Live (which is different from ‘dd’-ing the hybrid ISO to a USB stick!)
  6. Keep It Simple Stupid!

Foremost, this was meant to be a learning experience. I had no idea how a Live CD/DVD worked. I knew it had to be different from how a regular installation to a USB stick would work. Booting from a CD or DVD implicates that whenever the OS wants to write to disk, some measures have to be taken so that write operations would still be possible. Writing to a read-only CD medium is impossible so writes have to be done to RAM somehow. Still learning! Without doubt, the work done by Porteus, Slackware-Live scripts, Salix and Slackel was an inspiration during my journey to discover how this stuff works, but I did not have a need for all their complexity. I tried to keep my scripts simple and barebones and stick to the goals of creating an education and demonstration tool.

So far, I have indeed been able to stick to my goals. But I am far from done, and I would consider the current state of things at most to be “Beta Quality”. Nevertheless I wanted to share a few screenshots to probe the interest in such Slackware Live media. The screenshots show that I did actually do some customization: the initial boot looks fancier than the regular Slackware system. Just to attract more newbies :-)

I am using syslinux and its sibling extlinux for booting up the Live environment… not lilo or grub or elilo. Why? Because I wanted to know more about Syslinux’ capabilities.


Slackware Live – Syslinux boot menu showing language choices

I created a 700 MB ISO (fits on a CDROM!) containing a stripped-down Slackware with XFCE as the Desktop Environment and XDM as the graphical login manager. I also “prettified” XDM as you can see below. XDM now has proper “halt” and “reboot” buttons and Slackware logo.


Slackware Live – XDM graphical login

I have two versions of full Slackware; one containing the actual Slackware-current full install with KDE 4 as the default Desktop Environment, and a second one with Plasma 5 instead:


Slackware Live running Plasma 5.4.3

The Plasma 5 version uses SDDM as the graphical login manager:


Slackware Live – SDDM graphical login manager

The version of Plasma 5 shown in the screenshots is my still unreleased ktown package set by the way – showing that this Slackware Live would be a powerful way of showing what Slackware is capable of.

Note: my live scripts are using features only available in 4.0 kernels and higher. This makes my live environment unfit for any released version of Slackware. That is not bad. In fact, if you are looking for production-ready live OSes you are probably better of by using any of the previously mentioned distros. My version of Slackware Live is a real demo tool for the development tree of Slackware. Its core is a single script “” and a set of configuration files. Plus a “live init” script which replaces Slackware’s init script in the initrd image which is created by “mkinitrd”. Essentially it will be so basic that everyone should understand how this works in no time at all.

After all these big words, is there more to show than just screenshot teasers? Well, no. I am nagging the coreteam to give the ISOs a test run and this has already exposed some bugs that I am working on eradicating. When I feel confident enough I will probably upload the XFCE and Plasma 5 versions, and when the feedback is OK (and I fixed all the glaring bugs you guys will surely uncover) I will also release the scripts. For now… it’s just the screenshots.

What do you think, is this worth while? Or do you think it is redundant?

Procmail config woes

Damn… last friday I updated my ~/.procmailrc file on to get rid of some persistent spam, and forgot to actually check the validity of that change.

I wish I had checked the logs… on sunday I started wondering why the mail had stopped arriving for alien at slackware dot com, on monday I asked Pat to check the fetchmail schedules and the sendmail queues (nothing stuck there) and emails I sent from outside as a test never arrived. It took until this evening to realize that I had stopped receiving emails after I made an edit in my mail configuration.

Damn again. Anyone who sent me an email between last friday Oct 30 and today Nov  3 21:00 UTC, please re-send it. Last one that I read and answered was one from McQuen.

Apologies if I sent your email to the blackhole called /dev/null

Slackware-current got updated… 448 lines of ChangeLog

Another big update to slackware-current today.

The ChangeLog.txt entry of “Thu Oct 29 20:12:14 UTC 2015” counts 448lines, and a little less than half of that number consists of updates to packages; the rest is rebuilds. A massive package recompilation occured because several core libraries got updated and Pat is quite conscientious in getting all the library dependency issues resolved properly.

Items of interest: this batch contains several security updates (gvfs, jasper, curl, ntp, php, mozilla-firefox).

The kernel got updated (from 4.1.6 to 4.1.12)! Perl was refreshed too (to 5.22.0 coming from 5.18.1). Scons got added. And ConsoleKit2 got added too folks! This replaces the unmaintained ConsoleKit.

The GTK/GLib subsystem got overhauled thanks to the hard work of  Robby. And then there’s Mesa which is now at 11.0.4 accompanied by X.Org 1.17.3 and libdrm 2.4.65.

In the KDE department, several components were updated to their most recent releases: KDEvelop is now at version 4.7.2, Calligra went up to 2.9.8. The various Long Term Support (LTS) packages are now at their final versions: kdelibs to 4.14.13, kdepim* to 4.14.10 and kde-workspace to 4.11.22. No further updates for KDE 4 are expected.

All in all a potentially disruptive update. I suggest that you upgrade with care, especially if you are running my Plasma 5 packages. I have not yet had the time to test whether recompilations are required, and I am pressed for time (delivering training courses to a new Helpdesk team this week and the next) so it may take several more days before I can come up with rebuilt Plasma packages.

If you want to dive right in and report the Plasma 5 packages that no longer work for you, I’d be grateful.

Have fun! Eric

OpenJDK updated to 7u91_b01

icedteaVersion 2.6.2 of IcedTea was released last week. I am working on a cool new idea (no guarantees that this will ever go public but if it works, you’ll know it) so the announcement kind of slipped my attention.

The IcedTea “build harness” for OpenJDK will compile OpenJDK 7 “Update 91 Build 01“. In Slackware terminology: here is the package openjdk-7u91_b01. The release synchronizes with Oracle’s october updates to OpenJDK. Read more about the release on the blog of release maintainer Andrew Hughes.

As with every Java release, this one comes with a list of  security fixes and CVE‘s which have been addressed and fixed:

Note about usage:

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.

The Java package (openjre as well as openjdk) has one dependency: rhino provides JavaScript support for OpenJDK.

Optionally: If you want to use Java in a web browser then you’ll have to install my icedtea-web package too. While Oracle’s JDK contains a browser plugin, that one is closed-source and therefore Icedtea offers an open source variant which does a decent job. Note that icedtea-web is a NPAPI plugin – this prevents use of Java in Chrome & Chromium because those browsers only support PPAPI plugins, but you’ll be OK with all Mozilla [-compatible] browsers of course.

Download locations:

Have fun! Eric

October ’15 security fixes for Adobe Flash

adobe_flash_8s600x600_2Adobe released updated Flash player plugins yesterday, which adddress newly discovered vulnerabilities. I applied those updates to my repository and the packages are ready for you to download and install.

The updated Slackware package for chromium-pepperflash-plugin (to be used together with my chromium package) has version The updated flashplayer-plugin has version

The PepperFlash plugin is extracted from Google Chrome 46.0.2490.71 (first stable 46 release). The accompanying source code for Chromium has become available today, so I am going to compile that later into a chromium package for Slackware.

My download locations for the Flash plugin packages are as always:

If you are using the slackpkg+ extension for slackpkg, then you just run “slackpkg update && slackpkg update flash”. Alternatively, you can subscribe to my repository RSS feed to stay informed of any updates.