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I am Eric Hameleers, and this is where I think out loud.
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February 2016
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RSS Alien's Slackware packages

RSS Alien's unofficial KDE Slackware packages

RSS Alien's multilib packages


Cleanups from the -current update fallout

blueSW-64pxI think I have managed to fix most of the important breakage in my packages, after Slackware-current updated its icu4c package a couple of days ago.

Recompiled packages are now available for -current:

  • Regular packages: LibreOffice 5.0.3
  • KDE 5_15.11 packages: qt5 (which was bumped to 5.5.1 at the same time), step, akonadi4, akonadi, akonadi-search, akonadi-calendar and kdepimlibs. Here at home, Plasma 5 works again on latest slackware-current.
  • Multilib: fixed convertpkg-compat32 script so that it will properly handle the new eudev; and also updated the “compat32″ package directory with a new eudev-compat32 package.

If there are other packages in my -current repository that require recompilation, please let me know!


Slackware Live Edition

I thought it would be a cool idea to celebrate the “farewell to udev”. With the abandoned ConsoleKit replaced by ConsoleKit2 which is actively maintained by the Slackware-friendly XFCE crew, and Gentoo’s eudev taking the place of udev, we are well equipped to keep systemd out of our distro for a while. Basically eudev contains the udev code as found in the systemd sources, but then stripped from all standards-violating systemd crap and with a sane build system. Hooray, we’re back in business and eudev gained some more traction. Win-win.

How to celebrate the occasion? Easy! By releasing a first public Beta of the Slackware Live Edition.

Please also check out the follow-up articles on Beta2 Beta3 Beta4 and Beta5 which include a source repository to create the Live ISOs and detailed usage instructions.

Screenshots of my latest “Project X” were already revealed in a recent post. Slackware Live Edition is a version of Slackware-current (64-bit only for now)  that can be run from a DVD or a USB stick. It is an ISO image meant to be a showcase of what Slackware is about. You get the default install, no customizations, but with all the power.


Let me repeat the reasons I had for creating the Slackware Live Edition (apart from sheer curiosity):

  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. The 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!

What will you get with this first Beta? I have two ISO images, created by a single script: The full Slackware64-current contained in a 2.6 GB ISO image; and a 700 MB stripped down version with XFCE as the Desktop (fits on a CDROM!). Unfortunately Plasma 5 is currently broken due to the icu4c upgrade in -current, or else I would also have included an ISO with a  Slackware64-current & Plasma5. But that ISO will come once the broken packages have been recompiled.

The ISO images are hybrid, which means you can either burn them to DVD, or use ‘dd’ to copy the ISO to a USB stick. Both methods will give you a live environment which will allow you to make changes and “write them to disk”. The changes will be kept in a RAM disk, so a reboot will “reset” the live OS to its original default state. I.e. there is no persistency.

I want your feedback to get the bugs out of the boot-up stages. Slackware Live Edition is using syslinux as the bootloader and a modified Slackware initrd.img file as created by the “mkinitrd” command (the modifications are in the “init” script). Boot-up is fine both on my ageing laptop and the bleeding-edge desktop computers that I own but I am sure that there will be corner cases.

Based on your feedback I will release a second Beta somewhere soon, and those new ISOs will be accompanied by the scripts I used to create them. One of those scripts, “” will write the ISO content to a USB stick, after partitioning the stick (erasing all data). That USB stick will have persistency! I.e. the things you change while Slackware Live is running are not kept in RAM but written to the USB stick. And that will survive a reboot.

Slackware Live knows two user accounts: “root” and “live”. They have passwords, and by default these are… you guessed: “root” and “live”. Also by default, the ISOs will boot into runlevel 4  i.e. you will get a graphical login. The syslinux bootloader will allow you to pick a non-US language if you want (I made a selection of commonly used languages) and that will also determine the choice of keyboard layout and timezone. I am not yet happy with this boot menn: I want a separate choice of keyboard layout. That will be something to take care of for a future Beta.

Press <F2> for an overview of (most) boot parameters. Pressing <TAB> will expand the currently selected boot choice, allowing you to edit the commandline. Owners of a recent Nvidia graphics card will want to add the word “nvidia” to the commandline, as this will load the latest Nvidia driver (contained in the full Slackware ISO), giving you instant hardware graphics acceleration.

How is the Live filesystem assembled?

I tried to deviate as little as possible from a regular Slackware boot. For the full Slackware ISO the process was as follows:

  • every Slackware package set (a, ap, d, .., y) was installed into a separate chroot directory
  • every chroot directory has been squashed into a separate squashfs module
  • these modules are loop-mounted and combined together using an overlay mount
  • some filesystem initialization is done on the overlay (a locate database is created, slackpkg is configured, user accounts are created, initial environment for the accounts is configured, initrd is generated, etc)
  • all this is stuffed in an ISO file and syslinux is used to make the ISO bootable. The “isohybrid” command is run on the ISO so that you can “dd” the ISO to a USB stick and thus create a bootable USB media
  • on boot of the ISO, the “init” script in the ISO’s initrd does the magic of finding the live media and re-assembling the filesystem overlay before giving control to the real Slackware init process (PID 1)
  • a RAM based filesystem is used as the writable component of the overlay, so that the OS thinks it is working off a writable disk and won’t choke

The XFCE ISO is a severely slimmed-down version of Slackware for which I wrote a custom list of packages to add.

Get the ISOs here:

More mirror locations are welcome! I really hope that the server will not buckle and die when you people start downloading, so please be gentle. The “rsync” command has a “–bwlimit” parameter which lets you limit the download bandwidth.

Please send me an email with your URL if you have a server with lots of bandwidth, or leave a comment below this article.

And tell me about your experiences, your feedback, your ideas! You’ll all be beta testers, and I expect that the biggest pitfalls will be in the initrd’s “init” script. Also, don’t be scared of all the available loopback disks – those are the squashfs modules that are loop-mounted before assembling them into a overlay filesystem.

Have fun! Eric

LibreOffice 5.0.3 and new steamclient

libreoffce_logoTwo weeks ago, a new version of LibreOffice 5 became available. On their blog the Document Foundation mentioned that apart from version 5.0.3 there has been a (final?) release in the 4.x series: 4.4.6 sources were made available as well. I will find time to compile 4.4.6 for Slackware 14.1 soon, since there are security fixes too, but there were more pressing matters to attend to, and therefore I limited myself to the new 5.x release for the moment.

This is what the Document Foundation wrote about the two versions: “LibreOffice 5.0.3 is more feature-rich, and as such is targeted to tech enthusiasts and power users, and LibreOffice 4.4.6 is targeted to more conservative users and enterprise deployments as it has been in widespread use for a longer time, and as such offers a better experience for document production

The new LibreOffice 5.0.3 packages have been compiled for users of Slackware-current only. The 4.4.5 packages that I have for Slackware 14.1 should also work on -current, but I have not tested that. I hope that this package for LibreOffice 5.0.3 survives the day… Pat is planning another (possibly intrusive) update to slackware-current which may break the package.


The package was yet again compiled against gstreamer-1.x, so I would like to hear if the issues that were reported about embedded multimedia files are still there.


Then there was a new release of Valve‘s steamclient. The changes are minor – adding udev support for new controllers. And anyway, your Steam run-time gets updated automatically anyway when you go online. The package is useful when installing the Slackware OS from scratch so I provide the updated package in my repository. Remember people, there is a Slackware community on Steam too! And no, I do not want to hear the moaning about a closed-source platform. Valve does more for Open Source and Linux in general than many other game companies.

Get your packages from any of these sites (there are probably more mirrors than these but I am unaware of them):

Cheers! Eric

GCC 5.2.0 multilib

I had a bit too much to do, so creating multilib versions of the new GCC compiler suite in Slackware-current was not on the top of my TODO list.

Today I finally built GCC 5.2.0_multilib packages and uploaded them to the server. Along with the new compilers, I also refreshed the set of “compat32″ packages which give your 32bit applications a working 32bit support layer.

All of that can be downloaded from:

Have fun! Eric

KDE 5_15.11 for Slackware-current – visual improvements

plasma5_startup In one of my previous articles,  where I wrote about the upcoming Slackware Live edition, I added some premature screenshots of the Plasma 5 packages I am announcing today. Just when I was preparing for upload, Pat released his big November 14th batch of updates to Slackware-current (including new kernel, compilers and X.Org), dubbing it “almost a beta”. That delayed the release process for my November Plasma 5 packages because I needed to check the impact of these updates to my already compiled packages.

Here it is finally, since I could not find any showstopper bugs: KDE 5_15.11 . It contains the following updates: Frameworks 5.16.0, Plasma 5.4.3 and Applications 15.08.3.

What’s new in KDE 5_15.11?

  • Frameworks 5.16.0 is an enhancement release. Interesting are the two new Frameworks: breeze-icons and oxygen-icons5. They were moved here from other collections, and the visual enhancement they cause on the Plasma desktop is immediately visible. Lots more colored icons that are replacing the bland and boring Plasma icons of previous releases. Still, the bland systemtray icons remain but I hope that something will be done about that. You can read the details on
  • Plasma 5.4.3 is a bugfix release and should be the last before 5.5.0. See .
  • Applications 15.08.3 was released last friday. It is a bugfix release. Note that I did not recompile the Telepathy applications this time!


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” and “telepathy”.

Upgrading to this KDE 5 is not difficult, especially if you already are running KDE 5_15.10. 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.


If you are using slackpkg+, have already moved to KDE 5_15.10 and are adventurous, you can try upgrading using the following set of commands. This should work but feel free to send me improved instructions if needed (assuming in this example that you tagged my KDE 5 repository with the name “ktown_testing” in the configuration file “/etc/slackpkg/slackpkgplus.conf“):
# slackpkg update
# slackpkg install ktown_testing (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_testing (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 that I do not want to repeat here, but if you want to read them, here they are:

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 “testing” repository):

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/ 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