Category Archives: Me

Reverse birthday present: KDE-5_19.05

After a three-month hiatus, I have new Plasma5 packages for you. I just uploaded “KDE-5_19.05” to the ‘ktown‘ repository. It’s filled to the brim with new stuff.
Hopefully not many of you will be disappointed by the fact that this is a 64bit-only release. I have a severely limited capacity unfortunately due to health issues. But, today is my birthday and I wanted to get this out as a ‘reverse present’ to all of you ūüôā The 32bit packages will eventually follow, but I am afraid I will no longer be able to manage a monthly update cycle.

As always, these packages are meant to be installed on a full installation of Slackware-current which has had its KDE4 removed first. These packages will not work on Slackware 14.2.

What’s new for this May 2019 release

My May 2019 release of KDE Plasma5 for Slackware contains the KDE Frameworks 5.58.0, Plasma 5.15.5 and Applications 19.04.1. All this on top of Qt 5.12.3.

Deps:
Because of the three-month hiatus between releases, there are quite some updates to be reported. The ‘qt5’ package went up to 5.12.3 and with it come the latest versions of ‘libxkbcommon’, ‘qt5-speech’, ‘qca-qt5′, gpgme’, ‘sip’ and ‘PyQt5’. The ‘qt5-webkit’ package was recompiled against the new ‘qt5’.

The ‘cryfs’ package and its dependency ‘cryptopp’ were updated to their most recent releases.
To support the latest version of kdenlive, a new package ‘rttr’ was added and the ‘mlt’ package was updated.

Frameworks:
Frameworks 5.58.0 is an incremental stability release, see: https://www.kde.org/announcements/kde-frameworks-5.58.0.php

Plasma:
Plasma 5.15.5 is the final iteration before we move on to 5.16. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.15.5.php

Plasma-extra:
I updated to the latest release of ‘kdeconnect-framework’. If you use a smartphone then this is a must-have application to integrate phone and laptop into one seamless experience.

Applications;
Applications 19.04.1 is a stability and bugfix update for the 19.04 cycle, but since I never packaged the .0 release, this is actually the first ‘ktown for Slackware‘ release with the new Applications in which we find a KDEnlive with 60% of its code re-written from scratch. Other main applications like Okular, Dolphin, Kate have been enhanced significantly. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-applications-19.04.1.php and if you want more detail about the 19.04 cycle you should also read https://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-applications-19.04.0.php .

Applications-extra:
Many upgrades here: ‘alkimia’, ‘digikam’, ‘falkon’, ‘kdevelop’, ‘kdev-php’, ‘kdev-python’, ‘kmymoney’, ‘kpmcore’, ‘krita’, ‘kstars’, ‘okteta’ and ‘partitionmanager’.

Where to get it

Download the KDE-5_19.05 from the usual location at https://slackware.nl/alien-kde/current/latest/ . Check out the README file in the root of the repository for detailed installation or upgrade instructions.

I am not yet able to generate a new ISO of the Slackware Live Plasma5 Edition, because I am in the midst of an update to the liveslak scripts. When I find time to finish or revert that update, the ISO will follow soon after. When I upload a new Plasma5 Live ISO you will find it in https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/

And let me know – in the comments section below – whether you are actually using my 32bit Plasma5 packages!

Have fun! Eric

Explorations into the world of electronic music production

Apart from playing the recorder flute in primary school and keyboard with my father-in-law, I pretty much never had the chance to make music or even, to create new music. That did not bother me in the past, but when I married into a very musical and creative family I realized I was the only one without musical education or skill in playing an instrument. The family has (ir)regular jam sessions and sometimes arranges (mostly private but) quite high-quality classical music performances.

But, I had other hobbies, Slackware being one of them of course, and reading books while listening to my own music collection (which almost has no overlap with my wife’s by the way). And I was glad when I saw that my son has inherited my wife’s genes and has a knack for languages and music. He is exploring digital music making, has a keyboard or two and installed Ableton Live on his computer. I could never convince him that Slackware was the better alternative to Windows, all his friends are on Windows and what the group does is important for a teen. And furthermore, there’s a slew on tutorial and instruction video’s out there, all expecting you to use Ableton.

I looked at Ableton for its possibilities, and I had several discussions with one of my colleague/friends who is also a DJ/producer and uses Ableton a his primary driver. Seems to be a real nice program… but it costs hundreds of euros. So purchasing a license for Windows 10 and another one for Ableton, just to be able to converse with my son was not an option. I’ll introduce him to my friend and we’ll visit his studio to get inspiration. Then he can implement what he learnt, using tools he is familiar with.

During the past two years, I made some purchases just to have fun with creating sounds and rhythms, buying a couple of Pocket Operators from Teenage Engineering. I had one of these PO’s in my car, plugged into the car stereo and let my son create loops and sounds while on trips. Lots of fun and not too expensive. I also have an external USB soundcard,a FocusRite Scarlett 2i4. and a MIDI keyboard and bass guitar in the attic. But life’s too short and lots of stuff asks for attention – I never spent much productive time with my gear.

But these recent discussions about how to create digital music from scratch, and my wish toe be able to record the live performances of my in-laws, triggered a desire to have a better look at electronic music production and music recording, but then on Slackware Linux of course.

What would be needed for that? I would need software to create sounds (i.e. synthesizers), manipulate audio, create drum tracks, sequence the music, record and mix it. Also my USB sound card needs to be supported and I want my use midi keyboard to enter the notes that I play into the system. I obviously need low-latency real-time performance of my Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

I guess that for many Linux musicians, the Debian-based AVLinux is a first choice when looking for pre-packaged, pre-configured Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) solutions and supporting software. But we Slackers already have Studioware – a Slackware expansion set which gives you a great toolkit with audio- and video manipulation software. My liveslak project even supports Studioware directly, and is able to create a Studioware Live ISO. You should try that out – it has a ton of software, not just for audio but also for video recording, manipulation and recording.

But… again… and that’s just me… I think that there’s no fun in using other people’s ready-made stuff. Here I am thinking again as the software packaging geek who wants to create possibilities for other people while not necessarily using those myself.

Anyway, I decided not to look too closely at what others had already done, and research a decent set of software products that I want to try out, and on Slackware-current too. Studioware is running on Slackware 14.2 and I tend to develop new stuff on our development platform.

And after a couple of weeks spent on reading, compiling, testing and scratching my head at my lack of knowledge, I came up with this list of software that I think is a nice start for venturing into DAW country. All of this is free and open source:

  • Music recording/mixing/manipulating:
    • ardour: the¬†professional-grade Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
  • Sound editing:
    • audacity: a graphical sound editor with a GTK3 based UI.
  • Synthesizers:
    • amsynth: an¬†analog modelling synthesizer.
    • helm: a¬†polyphonic synth with lots of modulation also works as a LV2 plugin.
    • zynaddsubfx: a software synthesizer and also a LV2 plugin.
  • Drum machine:
    • hydrogen: an¬†advanced drum machine with Qt5 based GUI.
  • MIDI input:
    • vmpk: Virtual MIDI Piano Keyboard is a MIDI events generator and receiver which can be used to drive a MIDI synthesizer.
  • Audio manipulation plugins (not counting the standalone applications mentioned above that will also run as an Ardour plugin):
    • avldrums.lv2: a LV2 plugin wrapping the¬†AVLinux Drumkits.
    • calf: Calf Studio Gear is a LV2/DSSI plugin collection but it also works as a standalone JACK-host.
    • eq10q: equalizer (and more) as LV2-plugins.
    • vamp-aubio-plugins: a small collection of audio feature extraction¬†plugins.
  • System tools:
    • jack-audio-connection-kit¬†(jack2): to provide low-latency real-time audio routing.
    • alsa-plugins-jack: part of alsa-plugins but not included in Slackware, allows audio to be routed to and from ALSA applications that are not JACK-aware.
    • qjackctl: a Qt5 application to control the JACK sound server.
  • Support libraries for implementing a DAW:
    • aubio: a system to extract annotations from audio signals.
    • ladspa_sdk:¬† SDK for sound plugins adhering to the Linux Audio Developer’s Simple Plugin API (LADSPA).
    • liblo: implementation of the Open Sound Control (OSC), a¬†protocol for communication among multimedia devices.
    • lv2: the LV2 open standard for audio plugins.
    • rubberband: a library for audio time-stretching and¬†pitch-shifting.
    • vamp-plugin-sdk: an audio processing plugin system (you still¬†need to install actual plugins).
    • wxGTK3: GTK+3 implementation of the cross-platform wxWidgets API
  • Further dependencies for the above (not part of Slackware) that I had to create as packages to get it all working:
    • drumstick:¬†MIDI libraries for Qt5. This is also part of my ‘ktown‘ Plasma5 desktop package set.
    • liblrdf:¬†library to access LADSPA plugin metadata.
    • lilv: a library for using LV2 plugins in applications.
    • mxml:¬†library to read and write XML and XML-like data files.
    • serd:¬†RDF syntax library.
    • sord:¬†library for storing RDF data in memory.
    • sratom:¬†library for serialising LV2 atoms to and from RDF.
    • suil:¬†library for loading and wrapping LV2 plugin UIs.
  • System libraries that I already had in my repositories and which you may already have installed:
    • qt5: the toolkit for creating graphical interfaces
    • libxkbcommon: support library for Qt5, handling keyboard descriptions.
    • OpenAL: support library for Qt5, implementing a 3D audio API.
    • SDL_sound: support library for Qt5 handling the decoding of various sound file formats.
Update 15-march-2019

Additions to the above set resulting from the discussion in the comments area below the main article:

  • Music notation:
  • Live Coding:
    • supercollider:¬†a platform for audio synthesis and algorithmic composition
  • Plugins:
    • lsp-plugins: Linux Studio Plugins supporting LV2, LADSPA and Jack.
  • Support libraries:
    • portaudio:¬†a cross platform audio I/O library.
    • portmidi:¬†a platform independent library for MIDI I/O.
  • Front-ends:
    • qsynth: a¬†Qt5 GUI Interface for FluidSynth.

Looking back, that is a big list! Actually when I started with my shortlist as mentioned above I did not anticipate that my ideas would require this many tools to support it. However I think that in order to do some serious audio production work on your computer, this is actually the minimum of applications that you require. There may be more, and I am very curious to hear from you if there is Open Source Software not on the above list, which you think is invaluable to your work as a musician or music producer and should be added here.

The ‘big boy’ in this collection, and the center of any DAW activities on Linux, is Ardour.

Ardour DAW

This is a complex program, but luckily the developers have an extensive manual online. And if you search on Youtube you will find a lot of videos on how to work in Ardour (most of them for older versions and most of them too obscure or too rambling to be educational). However, an¬†Ardour channel on Youtube has just been created with the intention of releasing a new series of quality instruction videos, produced by Unfa who himself has a lot of nice videos on his own channel. Like I said, I have been scratching my head a lot lately, but my hair is still there and I will make progress and understand how to use this tool efficiently… eventually.
And I am glad to finally have Audacity in my repository, something I wanted/needed for quite a while.

All these packages are available in my regular repository, with one caveat (at least for now): I have built all of them for Slackware-current (both 32bit and 64bit). If you are running Slackware 14.2 then for now you need to have a good look at Studioware instead, or you can of course download the sources for my packages and compile them yourself.
The build order is roughly like this:

  • jack2
  • alsa-plugins-jack (depends on jack2)
  • lv2
  • vamp-plugin-sdk
  • aubio (depends on jack2, and additionally on ffmpeg on Slackware 14.2)
  • liblo
  • ladspa_sdk
  • liblrdf (depends on¬†ladspa_sdk)
  • rubberband (depends on ladspa_sdk and vamp-plugin-sdk)
  • serd
  • sord (depends on serd)
  • sratom (depends on lv2 and sord)
  • lilv (depends on sratom)
  • suil (depends on lv2 and qt5)
  • ardour (depends on jack2 aubio lv2 vamp-plugin-sdk liblo liblrdf lilv rubberband and suil)
  • mxml
  • ntk
  • portmidi (depends on openjre)
  • portaudio (depends on jack2)
  • zynaddsubfx (depends on jack2 liblo mxml ntk and portaudio)
  • hydrogen (depends on jack2 ladspa_sdk liblo liblrdf rubberband and qt5)
  • wxGTK3
  • audacity (depends on jack2 ladspa_sdk lilv suil vamp-plugin-sdk and wxGTK3)
  • qjackctl (depends on jack2 and qt5)
  • calf (depends on jack2 and lv2, and for Slackware 14.2 additionally on fluidsynth)
  • avldrums.lv2 (depends on lv2)
  • helm (depends on¬†jack2 and lv2)
  • amsynth (depends on jack2 ladspa_sdk and liblo)
  • eq10q (depends on lv2)
  • vamp-aubio-plugins (depends on aubio and vamp-plugin-sdk)
  • drumstick (depends on qt5)
  • vmpk (depends on drumstick)
  • musescore (depends on jack2¬†portaudio¬†portmidi and qt5)
  • qsynth (depends on qt5)
  • lsp-plugins (depends on jack2 ladspa and lv2)
  • supercollider (depends on jack2 and qt5)

I hope to get some interesting feedback from you. I am also considering how all of this could be added to a function-focused liveslak variant, as small as possible so it may load completely into memory. Actually I would prefer to attempt such a Live ISO using a bare Plasma5, rather than XFCE or other light-weight desktop environments (everybody else is probably already using XFCE). The Plasma5 desktop framework is very powerful and fast, and it could benefit the user of a DAW if everything she plugs in just works.

Ideas? Enjoy! Eric

 

KDE Plasma 5 for Slackware – end of the year edition

There has been a bit of a hiatus in my Slackware related activities and a relative silence on this blog, It’s mostly related to my new job which proved to be a bit more time-consuming than I anticipated. I also have to fulfill my old job role until that vacancy is filled. Actually, February 1st is when the successor for my old job will start in my new team. A little less than two months to go, meaning that the hard work continues. But, I get to visit the US of A in January, just booked the flights and hotels today. Wilton and San Diego will be my ‘targets’ but a sunday stroll in New York will certainly be an option, unless there’s a meter of snow of course.

Here is some Slackware related news for you.

I just uploaded a whole new batch of packages containing KDE Plasma5 for Slackware. The previous batch, KDE 5_18.10 is already two months old and has some library compatibility issues. The new KDE 5_18.12 for Slackware consists of KDE Frameworks 5.53.0, Plasma 5.14.4 and Applications 18.08.3. All this on top of Qt 5.11.3.
Compiled on the latest Slackware -current, it’s running smoothly here on my laptop.
I decided against upgrading to QT 5.12.0. This is a new LTS release, but I will wait for the other distros to find bugs in this new software. Next week, KDE will release KDE Applications 18.12.0 and that too is something I want to check a bit before releasing Slackware packages. Therefore it’s likely that a new batch of packages containing Qt 5.12 and KDE Applications 18.12 will see the light shortly after the New Year.

I updated some of the other packages in the periphery of the KDE software collection. In plasma-extra there’s new versions of kdeconnect-framework and wacomtablet. And in applications-extra I updated kdevelop, kdev-php, kdev-python and kmymoney to their latest versions.

There’s also a package removal. The kde-wallpapers package in plasma-extra originates in the old KDE4 era, and the new Plasma5 has its own wallpapers in the package plasma-workspace-wallpapers.

As always, the ‘ktown’ repository¬†https://slackware.nl/alien-kde/ (rsync://slackware.nl/mirrors/alien-kde/) is the master for the KDE Plasma5 packages for Slackware-current. A fast mirror is¬†http://slackware.uk/people/alien-kde/ (rsync://slackware.uk/people/alien-kde/).
The source code history for the ‘ktown’ package build framework can be found in git:¬†https://git.slackware.nl/ktown/ . I will create a new “5_18.12” tag there today.

A fresh Plasma5 variant of the Slackware Live Edition based on liveslak is in the making and will be uploaded to https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/ once it is ready and I have tested it properly. Check the ISO timestamp somewhere later this week.

Have fun! Eric

Who wants my old job?

When I left IBM in November 2016 to join ASML a month later, I thought I had found a job (managing a Linux server infrastructure) that would keep me busy for years. At ASML things are not always what they seem, and instead my actual scope turned out to be a lot bigger, so I became the Technical Application Manager within the IT team responsible for the Electrical Engineering Infrastructure (EEI) which is used by the Electrical Development group within Development & Engineering. A challenging and fun job, working with a terrific team, and I can confidently say (our IT director confirmed) that we are the most socially coherent group within IT.

Not even two years later, and a restructuring of the IT department causes me to say farewell to this job…

No, I was not fired. In fact, I did so well that I got a new job. ASML D&E is growing insanely fast, last month the company hired more than 500 new employees in Veldhoven (our HQ) alone. The IT department has a challenge there, as we need to keep up with the pace, in terms of capacity and also the force of innovation. The real challenge? You¬† can hire a lot of highly intelligent motivated people but as a company you need to stay coherent and keep focus on the business priorities. I.e. you need team and group leads who are able to inspire and guide their teams. Ideally these TL’s and GL’s should not be hired, they should mature within the organization so that they actually know what is needed to get the job done. ASML is not a run-of-the-mill company in that regard.

And that is why I was tagged as Solution Team Manager of a team which will focus on virtual product development (providing services to our data analysts and simulation engineers). I will also manage our group’s “general services” meaning architects, project managers, infra coordinators and the technical application manager. And there he is! I left my old job and started a new job, and now I have a vacancy in my team.

Who is interested to work for and with me? Read the job vacancy here: https://asml.csod.com/ats/careersite/JobDetails.aspx?id=5303&site=1 and let me know if you are interested. This will not be exactly the job I had for the past two years РI have some other plans for the TAM that I was never able to execute myself,

If you want to know more about the company, ASML, click the video at the top of this blog post and get inspired.

The work location will be Veldhoven, The Netherlands. It’s a permanent pool position (i.e. no flex job, you’ll be on the ASML payroll with all the perks that that includes). Please only respond if you actually think you are qualified – our HR department is very strict in their initial pruning and filters out more than 80% of applicants before their resumes can land on our desks and I want to avoid any disappointment.