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I am Eric Hameleers, and this is where I think out loud.
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Adobe Flash security update July ’17

adobe_flash_8s600x600_2This month’s security update for the Flash Player plugin has arrived. The new version is 26.0.0.137 for both the PPAPI (Google Chrome and friends) and the NPAPI (Mozilla Firefox and friends) based plugins.
I know… Flash is a monster and should be killed. But as long as people need it on Slackware, and as long as Adobe keeps releasing Linux plugin updates, I will package them and add them to my repository.

You can find Slackware packages for the Flash plugins in the following locations:

Also security related but nothing to do with either Adobe or CVE’s:

The Veracrypt developers have released version 1.21 of their fork of the abandoned TrueCrypt code. The Slackware ‘veracrypt‘ packages for this new version can be found in the same repositories as mentioned above.

Have fun.

Encrypted Media Extensions on the World Wide Web

Today, a post about Digital Rights Management. I am not going to bore you with the pros and cons of restricting your freedom, but I do want to point to a meaningful event which happened this week.

Before I continue, I want you to fully realize that with Slackware Linux, your rights are not taken away. You are free to use – or not use – technologies that allow you to watch “protected” content like Netflix videos. Our browsers will work just as well if you choose not to use DRM technologies. The libraries which implement the DRM layer are separate from the Slackware packages containing the browsers (Firefox, Chromium) and are not distributed with the OS. It is up to you to add DRM extensions if you need them. You are and remain in control of your OS.

With that out of the way, what happened?
This week, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has finally approved the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) as part of the HTML5 standard. Objections from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Software Foundation and other digital freedom advocates have not been honored. But that does not necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. EME is a standard to implement DRM, but it is not a DRM solution itself. EME allows companies that built their business model around the commercial distribution of protected media content to create rich applications that run in your browser, based on international standards.
Digital Rights Management is not new and it is not going away either. However: it is in need of standardizing to improve the current status-quo. Because there are already several de-facto standards to stream protected content to your browser: Flash, Silverlight, to name the two that have been most widely used in the past years. Both these technologies are dying or dead already. New technologies that build on HTML5 are already becoming unofficial standards; think of Widevine, which is a DRM solution from Google. Not just browser plugins like the ones I mentioned, but also applications can implement DRM when they allow you to watch or listen to multimedia without the option to make unrestricted local copies. Locally stored content will be encrypted and can only be played back using the original app. Lots of those on Android for instance.

DRM solutions are proprietary. Their code is not free and the libraries are distributed as binary-only. There’s a logic to that of course. Think what you will, but there are both providers and consumers that embrace them. What is more important, is that there is wisdom in embedding these technologies in Web standards. We should not encourage companies to pollute our computers with incompatible and non-interoperable solutions. So yes, I am glad that EME is a W3C standard finally. Let the Web remain viable, allowing maximum flexibility and compatibility.

I mentioned Widevine in the text, and I have something new to tell about that too.
My package repository contains the chromium-widevine-plugin. It is a add-on package to my chromium browser package that allows you (among others) to watch Netflix video content in your Chromium browser. In the past I have always used the Google Chrome RPM’s to extract the ‘libwidevinecdm.so‘ library and make a Slackware package out of it. Google stopped distributing 32bit versions of the Chrome browser after version 48 so those of you on 32bit Slackware and using my Chromium package, were stuck with an old version of the Widevine CDM library and no way of knowing how long this library would remain compatible with newer Chromium sources.
But Mozilla have since then extended Firefox’ capabilities, so that it too is now able to use Widevine’s Content Decryption Module. In Firefox, this DRM capability was implemented in such a way that by default, the browser is completely DRM-free. You (the enduser) first have to explicitly enable DRM in the browser’s settings after which Firefox will download the Widevine CDM from an Internet URL. And since Firefox comes in 32bit as well as 64bit variants, I was thinking “where do they download these Widevine libraries and are they useable in Chromium as well?”

So I set out to find the Firefox download location for Widevine CDM libraries, found them, retrieved them and tested the libraries in 32bit and 64bit Chromium. Lo and behold…. this worked!

I have now rewritten my SlackBuild script for the chromium-widevine-plugin package to use this alternate download location. And since I no longer have to extract the library from a Chrome RPM, I have also changed the package version numbering. The package version no longer reflects the Chrome release, but now it is actually reflecting the internal version of the Widevine CDM library.

Have fun watching Netflix! While I am at it, I recommend The Expanse, or perhaps Helix. If you’re not so much into Sci-Fi (or have already seen those series) and want to know more about our basic foods, check out Cooked.

New ISO for Slackware Live PLASMA5, with Stack Clash proof kernel and Plasma 5.10.2

blueSW-64pxAfter I released KDE 5_17.06 (June edition of my Plasma 5 package set) for Slackware 14.2 and -current a few days ago, I have now also uploaded an ISO image for the Slackware Live PLASMA5 Edition based on liveslak 1.1.8.1 and Slackware-current dated “Mon Jun 26 20:36:18 UTC 2017“. It will be the only Live variant this time,

If you already use a Slackware Live PLASMA5 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. I used the script just now on my own PLASMA5 USB stick and updated that from liveslak 1.1.8 to 1.1.8.1 in no time at all.

New in the ISO

The new ISO is based on the latest slackware64-current with Linux kernel 4.9.34, gcc 7.1.0 and glibc 2.25. This is a kernel which has been patched against the Stack Clash vulnerability.

And of course it contains the latest Plasma 5 release “KDE-5_17.06” as found in my ktown repository. You will find Plasma 5.10.2 based on Qt 5.9.0, accompanied by the latest versions of Digikam, Calligra and Krita. Additionally you will find several packages from my regular repository: chromium (with flash and widevine plugins), calibre, vlc, ffmpeg, libreoffice, palemoon, qbittorrent, openjdk and more. There’s also support for Cisco AnyConnect VPN and OpenVPN connections.
The PLASMA5 ISO does not only contain the Plasma 5 Desktop Environments. As usual, it contains the LXQT and Lumina Desktop Environments as well. Both have been recompiled against Qt 5.9.

The ISO is big (4.3 GB) but there’s not much you can not do with it.

Download the ISO image

The ISO image (with MD5 checksum and GPG signature) has been uploaded to the master server (bear) and should be available on the mirror servers within the next 24 hours.

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

LibreOffice 5.3.4 packages for -current

libreoffce_logoWhen looking for package updates in preparation for a new Slackware Live PLASMA5 edition, I noticed that the Document Foundation had released LibreOffice 5.3.4 without updating their blog with the news – it’s only mentioned on the download page.
I have built and uploaded Slackware-current packages for libreoffice-5.3.4. If you are on Slackware 14.2 you will probably have to skip this one, as I will not have time for compiling packages the coming weeks (allocates one virtual machine for one day per build, since I can only check on progress in the evenings).
The package for -current needed to be (re-)built anyway because of the library issue with Slackware’s updated libGLEW which prevented Impress to start.

Check out the LO releasenotes if you want:  https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/5.3.

The libreoffice packages for Slackware can be downloaded from a mirror like this one: http://bear.alienbase.nl/mirrors/people/alien/slackbuilds/libreoffice/.

Have fun! Eric

Plasma 5 for Slackware – June release

Slackware64 14.2 users will have to wait another day, but I have uploaded my latest set of Plasma 5 packages for Slackware-current to the ‘ktown’ repository. KDE 5_17.06 contains: KDE Frameworks 5.35.0, Plasma 5.10.2 and Applications 17.04.2. I based this new release on Qt 5.9.0 (at least for Slackware-current… for 14.2 I will stick to Qt 5.7.1).
NOTE: I will no longer be releasing Plasma 5 packages for 32bit Slackware 14.2.

The move to Qt 5.9 meant that I had to recompile/update some of the packages in my regular repository as well, so if you look there, you will find the latest Calibre 3.1.1 which I based on Qt 5.9 as well (same story here: the Slackware 14.2 variant uses Qt 5.7.1).

What’s new in KDE 5_17.06?

  • As said before, I moved to Qt version 5.9.0. This is supposed to be a LTS release (Long Term Support).
  • As a result of the qt5 upgrade, lots of other packages in the ‘deps’ section were recompiled (grantlee phonon polkit-qt5-1 qca-qt5 qt-gstreamer qtav) or upgraded (OpenAL PyQt5 libdbusmenu-qt5 poppler qt5-webkit wayland).
  • Plasma was updated to 5.10.2 bugfix release, see https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.10.2.php . And if you want to know more about what’s new in Plasma 5.10, read it on https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.10.0.php .
    I compiled plasma-nm against openconnect so that it picks up support for it. However I did not add openconnect to the ‘deps’ section, you need to install it separately if you need it.
  • Frameworks 5.35.0 is a maintenance release, see https://www.kde.org/announcements/kde-frameworks-5.35.0.php .
  • Applications 17.04.2 is a bugfix update for KDE Applications 17.04. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-applications-17.04.2.php .
  • In applications-extra the following packages were upgraded: digikam, krita, kpmcore, partitionmanager. Calligra (for slackware-current) was recompiled against the new gsl, marble and qt5 libraries.

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.
  • openconnect: provides support for Cisco’s SSL VPN

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 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, 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_17.05_02. 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_17.05_02 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