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I am Eric Hameleers, and this is where I think out loud.
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December 2014
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KDE 4.14.0 – no big surprises

The new major release of KDE 4 has been made available. KDE Software Compilation 4.14.0 is the first of four iterations which will all see the light of day this year, 2014 (KDE 4.14.3 will be released on 11 November). A relatively short cycle, caused by the parallel development towards Frameworks 5 and Plasma 5. What’s still missing for Plasma 5 is the KDE Application ports to Qt5 and the Frameworks and this is where most of the action is nowadays. There is nothing really worthwhile to mention about KDE 4.14 if you look at its feature plan. Nevertheless KDEPIM is being worked on a lot and judging by the activities in the applications’ GIT repositories everybody is still alive and kicking out code. The previously mentioned announcement page has more details about the individual application improvements.

Anyway, like I said: even though this is a new major release, it is more a polishing update to the KDE Applications. That did not restrain me from building new KDE 4.14 packages on Slackware-current. I was out of the country this week (my son is glad about the freedom that gives him around the house …) so the release of my new packages was somewhat delayed, but now that I returned I am going to fulfill my promise and create KDE 4.13 packages for Slackware 14.1 somewhere during the next week.

Akonadi is the only dependency that was upgraded after my KDE 4.13 packages. The KDE 4.14 package-set uses two sources from previous major releases because no new tarball was made available for KDE 4.14. Those are: kactivities-4.13.3 and kde-workspace-4.11.11.

How to upgrade to KDE 4.14.0 ?

You will find all the installation/upgrade instructions that you need in the accompanying README file. That README also contains basic information for KDE recompilation using the provided SlackBuild script.

You are strongly advised to read and follow these installation/upgrade instructions!

Where to find packages for KDE 4.14.0 ?

Download locations are listed below (you will find the sources in ./source/4.14.0/ and packages in /current/4.14.0/ subdirectories). 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

On LKML: an open letter to the Linux World

I wish I were better with words. There’s thoughts that strike a note in your heart and mind,  but I would not be able to express these thoughts on paper so that they deliver the needed punch. That was my first thought when I read this open letter on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML): . The text is written by a longtime Debian user who feels deeply betrayed by its board of leadership. The emotions he penned down are exactly mine. Thank you, Christopher Barry. This was of course not the first eloquently written rant, but I hope it sparks a discussion in Kernel Land about what is happening in User Land, and whether they can afford to keep looking the other way (with the public exception of Linus and some others).

One word. One demon. systemd.

What relation does Christopher’s rant have to Slackware? After all, it’s Debian that got the flak, and in the comments section people indicate they intend to switch to Gentoo… forgetting that Slackware is a good systemd-free alternative (but hey! this automatic dependency resolution thingie that makes life so comfortable in Gentoo is not part of Slackware either).

Last week I asked the SDDM developers to reconsider their decision no longer to support ConsoleKit because Slackware does not have systemd or logind and thus we need to keep using ConsoleKit. The answer could be expected: “answer is no because ConsoleKit is deprecated and is not maintained anymore” and therefore I had to patch it in myself.

Of course, the ConsoleKit successor systemd-logind, written by the same team that gave us all the *Kit crap, depends on PAM which we also do not have in Slackware. One of the fellow core developers in Slackware, who is intimately familiar with the KDE developers community, has heard from multiple sources that KDE is moving towards a hard dependency on systemd (probably because they are going to need the functionality of systemd-logind). We all know what that means, folks! It will be the day that I must stop delivering you new KDE package releases for Slackware. That’ll be the day.


Updates for Chromium and Flash

Adobe did their monthly security dance and as a result, Google also updated their Chrome browser with the new PepperFlash Plugin. That Chrome release meant that I could compile a new Chromium from the updated sources.

Chromium and Pepper Flash:

chromium_icon The update to my Chromium package was not just triggered by the update (in Chrome) of the Pepper Flash plugin. Chromium 36.0.1985.143 comes with a couple of critical bug fixes:

  • [$2000][390174] High CVE-2014-3165: Use-after-free in web sockets. Credit to Collin Payne.
  • [398925] High CVE-2014-3166: Information disclosure in SPDY. Credit to Antoine Delignat-Lavaud.
  • [400950] CVE-2014-3167: Various fixes from internal audits, fuzzing and other initiatives.

Note that I also updated the package for chromium-pepperflash-plugin to version it contains the newest library, taken from the official Google Chrome binaries and is a recommended companion for the new Chromium package.

Linux Flash:

adobe_flash_8s600x600_2 The Flash updates are released for all platforms, one of them is the “legacy” Linux NPAPI plugin for Mozilla-compatible browsers. See Adobe’s monthly security bulletin for all the version numbers and vulnerabilities. The Linux flashplayer-plugin went up to

First preview for Slackware of Plasma 5

qt-kde-620x350Today is my son’s 16th birthday, and I do have a gift for all of you, not just for him. I present to you a first preview for Slackware, of the KDE Frameworks 5.1.0 libraries, combined with Plasma 5.0.1, the next-generation desktop workspace from KDE.

I wrote about this in my previous post, but now you can experience it first-hand: Plasma 5.0 improves support for high-DPI displays and comes with a “converged shell”, i.e. one Plasma codebase for different target devices like desktop computers, laptops, tablet, phones etc. Plasma 5 uses a new fully hardware-accelerated OpenGL(ES) graphics stack. Plasma 5 is built using Qt 5 and Frameworks 5.

And with the Breeze themed artwork and its own Oxygen font, this desktop looks clean and modern.

If you want to start an application quickly, use the new KRunner (usually hidden behind Alt-F2) which will now be activated directly when you start typing when your desktop has the focus.

 What to expect from these Slackware packages

I think it worked out very well that I waited with my packages until after the first bugfix release of both the Frameworks libraries and the Plasma programs. The latest sources provide a much stabler desktop with more functionality. Still, we are only at the beginning of KDE 5 (or whatever the name for the software compilation will end up being). KDE 4 will be here for a while and developers are busy porting their applications away from Qt4 and kdelibs, to the new Frameworks libraries based on Qt5 and QML. Give it a year to mature and then we will be able to leave KDE 4 behind, is my guess.

These new packages are only going to be useful if installed on top of Slackware -current and my KDE 4.13 packages (plus dependencies). KDE 5 is still very much  a work in progress and needs the KDE4 applications and artwork to provide you with a fully functional desktop.

Testing Repository URL

I created a repository URL that you can use for slackpkg+ or slapt-get or whatever package manager you use.

The URL (for 64-bit) and (for 32-bit) will remain permanent, even when the versions of the software gets updated. Currently “testing” points to “5.0.1” in the repository because that is the current version of Plasma 5.

Enabling SDDM in runlevel 4 instead of KDM

Runlevel 4

If you want to see the new graphical session (login) manager SDDM in action, add the following lines to the Slackware file “/etc/rc.d/rc.4” right after the line: echo “Starting up X11 session manager…”

# — 8< ————————————–
if [ -x /usr/bin/sddm ]; then
exec /usr/bin/sddm
# — 8< ————————————–

… and then switch to runlevel 4 by typing:

# init 4

Select “KDE Plasma 5” from the SDDM session dropdown. Alternatively, if you prefer good old runlevel 3, you can type:

$ xwmconfig

… and select “xinitrc.plasma” as your default window manager for X11. Then run:

$ startx

To enter your desktop session.

Installing or upgrading Frameworks 5 and Plasma 5

As always, the accompanying README file contains full installation & upgrade instructions. Note that the packages are available in three subdirectories below “kde”, instead of directly in “kde”. This makes it easier for me to do partial updates of packages. The subdirectories are “frameworks” “plasma” and “plasma-extra”.

Note that the new Plasma5 packages do not upgrade any package from my KDE 4.13 set, although they will upgrade several Slackware original packages. Be careful when upgrading Slackware packages afterwards. Slackpkg+ will help you, if you add the above repository URL to the slackpkgplus.conf file and give these packages higher priority than the Slackware originals.

If you decide to remove the Plasma 5 packages but not KDE 4.13 (or whatever latest version of KDE I have in my ktown repository), be sure to re-install two packages at least: akonadi from my ktown repository and harfbuzz from the Slackware-current repository.

Separated configuration files

I have taken great care to ensure that the configurations for the new KDE5 are not overwriting your old configuration files for KDE4. New configurations will be written to ~/.local5 , ~/.cache5 , ~/.config5 and ~/.kde5 . That way, you should be able to go back to your stable KDE4 desktop without ill effects after having played with KDE5.

One “issue” you will notice, is that some non-KDE applications will forget their configuration and will start as if you are using them for the first time. Chrome/Chromium is such an example. If you want to use the old configuration in Plasma 5 as well, simply create a symlink, This is how I did it for my Chromium after I found out (first remove the new chromium directory that was created by starting Chromium in Plasma 5):

$ rm -r ~/.config5/chromium
$  ln -s ../.config/chromium ~/.config5/

Where to get the new packages for Plasma 5

Download locations are listed below (you will find the sources in ./source/5.0.1/ and packages in /current/5.0.1/ subdirectories). Using a mirror is preferred because you get more bandwidth from a mirror and it’s friendlier to the owners of the master server!

Known issues

The “known issues” section ends this article, and I will keep it updated with the feedback I receive in the comments section below, direct email,, Google+ etc. Be sure to visit here regularly! For the first batch, I simply used the information that Willy had already gathered on his own blog:

  •  When you switch back to KDE 4, in some cases, all the icons in the Applications tab in the KDE  Menu will change to a blue folder icon.
    • Solution: reinstall KDE 4.13.3 packages, log out and login again. That will fix it.
  • Adding a new entry to the KDE Menu using the Menu Editor sometimes does not seem to work.
    • Solution: Logout/login and the changes you made will appear. This happened to me and Willy -but only the first time we tried it. After that first time, all seems to work normally.
  • HPlip shows an error message about not finding a system tray area. The reason is because the Plasma 5 workspace does not implement the X11 “Xembed” protocol. The system tray area works differently now. Not just HPlip, but all other applications that are not part of  Plasma  5, will have this issue, but only HPlip shows an error. You will not see any icons for Dropbox, SCIM etc… as they don’t have a place to dock.
    • Solution: There is a short-term solution which is not elegant, but it gives you back your old systray ocins. Use third-party Xembed system tray implementations like stalonetray or wmsystemtray . I have stalonetray in my own repository, and both are also available at SBo.
  • There are now two SystemSettings programs. One is part of Plasma 5 and the other is the one from KDE 4. The Plasma 5 version is found in the “Favorites” tab of the K-Menu, while the one from KDE 4 (which is more complete) is available in the menu as “Applications > Settings > System Settings“. The Plasma 5 version is not yet feature-complete.
  • Certain conditions may crash your Plasma Shell. E.g. typing in the  Search field in the K-Menu “Favorites” tab and then removing that text will crash plasmashell (your desktop goes black), fortunately it will restart automatically.
  • KRunner (Alt-F2) will not save your command history.
  • Public holidays are not yet shown in the System Tray clock. See this URL for more information.
  • Resource usage of this new desktop is currently rather high due to a design limitations in KWin, The cause is known and this will be fixed in future releases.
  • In some cases, if your desktop becomes unresponsive, you might want to take a look at “top”. You may find that kded5 runs at 100%, eating all CPU resources available.
    • Solution: Killing the kded5 process or logout/login will fix this.
  • The updated harfbuzz package breaks the library’s ABI. As a result, LibreOffice 4.3.0 will no longer work (error looks like “symbol lookup error: undefined symbol: hb_icu_script_to_script“).
    • Solution: Downgrading to the original Slackware harfbuzz package solves it, which is a pity because I thought I had taken care of the ABI breakage by applying a patch which re-adds that missing symbol.
  • The hardware keys for altering volume and mute do not work on a global level. They seem to work for some applications – VLC is one of them. Sound is working fine though.

Have fun! Eric

KDE Frameworks 5.1.0 and Plasma 5.0.1 on the horizon

kf5_startup A week ago, the sources to KDE Frameworks 5.1.0 were released and together with Willy Sudiarto Raharjo we did some private beta testing of the packages I created from those sources.

A couple of hours ago I received word that the sources for KDE Plasma 5.0.1 were tagged, but unfortunately some of the tarballs were not generated properly so I have to wait until after the weekend so the release team can fix them.

It is my intention to release a set of packages for Frameworks 5.1.0 and Plasma 5.0.1 when the Plasma sources are publicly announced. Please note that this is still very much an early-adopter experience. Do not expect to find a 100% functional desktop after installing the packages. The Frameworks 5 and Plasma 5 packages should be installed on top of a KDE 4.13.3 installation on Slackware-current (no KDE 4 packages will be replaced) and I have taken great care to keep KDE 4 and KDE 5 separate, down to to the level of configuration files.

This means that you should be able to try out SDDM (the replacement of the KDM graphical session manager) and the new Plasma-shell and KWin and get a hang of what is all to come next year. If you’re done play-testing or want to get rid of it, it will be as easy as removeing the KDE 5 packages and you’ll be back in your KDE 4 desktop.

You don’t have to remove the KDE 5 packages in order to get logged into your familiar KDE 4 desktop by the way – just choose the appropriate Desktop Environment. As I said, the two environments don’t bite.

One thing you will notice, is how fast the new desktop is. The Plasma Desktop in KDE 5 uses an all-new, fully hardware-accelerated graphics stack on top of Qt5 and the Frameworks5 libraries, and the effect is amazing. Resource usage is still high but the reason for that is known: it is caused by a design issue in KWin and that is currently being worked on.

KDE 5 has been my default desktop for the past week (using Plasma 5.0.0 package), and I hope that the update to Plasma 5.0.1 will fix a couple of pesky bugs.

Wait for my packages, they should be available before the next weekend – I hope.