Monthly Archives: October 2023

KDE: February 2024 MegaRelease

Just a heads-up to you people who wondered when Alien BOB would pick up on the KDE Plasma bleeding edge again.
Simply put: Patrick did a hell of a job pushing every new KDE Plasma update into the slackware-current package tree (even before the 15.0 release) in no time. There was nothing for me to do (or to improve on) since Plasma5 got added to the distro.

My intention is to change that, soon.

Exactly one month ago, KDE published their planning for Plasma6, the successor to Plasma5, so numbered after the version of the Qt framework which underpins it. As seen on the ‘February 2024 MegaRelease‘ page, the first Alpha release of the Qt6-based Frameworks, Plasma and Gear (the three main components of KDE Plasma) is expected to see the light on November 8th, 2023. The final stable release of KDE Plasma6 will be on February 28th, 2024.

I don’t expect that Slackware itself will absorb this new software immediately upon release. Perhaps we will have a Slackware 15.1 next February, maybe not – but a new KDE desktop is a major and potentially disruptive upgrade. Still, it needs solid testing on Slackware -current somehow. Therefore I will have that stable KDE Plasma6 in my ktown repository when it is released.

I am currently working on updating the kde.SlackBuild infrastructure which I took from Slackware-current, to make it work with the new Plasma6 sources. It is not a trivial task; there are new non-KDE dependencies, new KDE programs and changed interdependencies, patches to remove and patches to add.
So far, I have finalized the scripts for all of the new dependencies, as well as the Frameworks and Plasma. Currently working on KDEPIM, and then the Gear collection (formerly called Applications) awaits. The results up to now took me a full week, and the Gear will probably have the same level of unpleasant surprises (hey, it won’t compile! what did they sneak in now? <initiates another search through KDE Invent>…).

Meaning, I won’t make promises on the timeline for a first Slackware-based test release. I aim to make it coïncide with KDE’s own Alpha release, but I may not be able to finish on time. To be clear about my roadmap: anything that I make available before the stable release of Feb 28, will take the shape of a Slackware Live ISO image (the ktown variant, we haven’t seen that one for two years almost!) for you to test and play with.
There will be no new packages in the ktown repository until the time when KDE Plasma6 stable gets released. I am supportive of people who want to compile this set themselves, so I will make the sources available in ktown as soon as I release the first live ISO and will keep updating those sources.

Note that I will not make Plasma6 co-installable with Plasma5. It’s going to be one or the other. Any official Slackware package that I have to recompile to add Qt6 support, will not lose its Qt5 support. Meaning, my ktown versions of gpgme, kdsoap, phonon, polkit-qt-1, poppler, qca, qcoro or qtkeychain will be 100% compatible with standard Slackware.

Hope to have more news in a week or two!

Sunday update (Oct 29) – a screenshot of the “about” screen after I compiled the new dependencies, Frameworks, Kdepim, Plasma, Plasma-extra and Gear (excluding some twenty packages which are not yet compatible with Qt6):


Chromium 118 (also ungoogled) is a security update

I uploaded new 64bit packages for Chromium 118.0.5993.70 (also the un-googled variant) for which the sources were released a few days ago. This first release in the 118 series addresses a critical vulnerability (CVE-2023-5218) so it’s wise to upgrade.
As mentioned in a previous blog post, future 32bit package updates will have a lower frequency: one update per month. Google has increased the frequency of its Chromium releases dramatically (one per week) and I just cannot keep up. If you need that 32bit package badly now, you can of course grab the sources and my SlackBuild and build it yourself.

Looking at this 118 major release, one thing you need to be aware of is the changed behavior of “Enhanced Safe Browsing” which you can enable in the browser’s security settings (chrome://settings/security). Probably most of you already have this enabled. This is what changed:

Google will be able to disable an installed browser extension remotely if it determines the extension is labeled as ‘malicious’ and the extension was not installed via the Chrome Web Store.
The browser’s security checks of downloaded online content have been enhanced with so-called ‘deep scanning’ meaning the browser may now ask you for a password to open a protected archive you just downloaded. Note that the scanning occurs in Google’s datacenter – when you enable ‘enhanced safe browsing’ you consent to uploading some of your data to Google for the specific purpose of scanning and analyzing it for malicious content.
Also with ‘enhanced safe browsing’ enabled, the browser will send telemetry data about installed browser extensions using the chrome.tabs API to Google’s servers for analysis. This is meant to improve the “detection of malicious and policy violating extensions”.

It is up to you to decide which way the tradeoff between enhanced security and sharing data with Google works for you. If you don’t feel comfortable with this and you value your privacy, then you need to disable (or not enable) ‘Enhanced Safe Browsing’ in the settings.

Find the updated Slackware 15.0 and -current packages both for chromium and chromium-ungoogled in my repository and its mirrors (like my own US server and in a short while, the UK mirror).

Cheers, Eric

Chromium package and release update

You have surely noticed an increase in the frequency with which I am releasing new chromium and chromium-ungoogled packages. This is caused by a new release policy from Google, with an update every week and a bump in the major version (currently 117) every month.
I have tried keeping up with that schedule, but I am giving up.
My reasons? One chromium or chromium-ungoogled package takes 11+ hours to compile (part of the Chromium compilation involves compiling Google’s customized clang compiler). Every update, I need to compile 4 packages. It takes away the fun in updating them to be honest. I don’t know for whom I actually create the 32bit packages still.

So, from this moment onwards, my own package release policy changes as follows. I will keep up with the Google source release cycle, but only for the 64bit packages. My 32bit packages for chromium and chromium-ungoogled will be updated no more than once per month, unless there’s a big security hole to be patched.

By the way, I uploaded new chromium packages for 117.0.5938.149 yesterday and today I added its chromium-ungoogled sibling (64bit only).

Find the updated Slackware 15.0 and -current packages both for chromium and chromium-ungoogled in my repository and its mirrors (like my own US server and in a short while, the UK mirror).

Cheers, Eric