Fresh liveslak ISO images, setup2hd can now install a basic firewall

Updates in liveslak

New ISO’s for Slackware Live Edition (based on liveslak-1.5.1) are available for download. You’ll find SLACKWARE (32bit/64bit), XFCE (32bit/64bit), DAW, LEAN, CINNAMON and MATE updated images (see below for download locations). I also refreshed the ‘bonus’ section with nvidia and broadcom-sta drivers matching the installed kernel, and other useful stuff.
All 32bit ISOs will boot a SMP kernel from now on, since the non-SMP kernels still refuse to execute the init script in the initramfs.

Firewall testers needed

This newest release of liveslak brings something that was recently discussed on linuxquestions.org. What about adding a basic firewall configuration to the freshly installed Slackware system? A new Slackware Linux computer may have several ports open already and some people are paranoid about any prying from the outside.
You will find as many firewall ideas as there are people in the discussion. So I based the core of the liveslak firewall on the code of Easy Firewall Generator of which I host a slightly modified version at http://www.slackware.com/~alien/efg/ . I added ipv6 support too. I know that this is old code, it’s also still using iptables instead of nftables but I wanted something functional that I knew well.

But in particular I want people to test the dialog-based configurator and give me feedback. You’ll notice that the configurator allows you to go back and forth in the various dialog windows. I also want to know what you think of the questions and the level of simplicity. Also look at the installed rc.firewall script. Does it do what you need it to do?
Also, does the resulting firewall configuration what you expected it to do? Is there anything that does not work?

Now, how does this firewall configurator work and where do I find it anyhow?

Every liveslak ISO since liveslak 1.5.1 has this functionality included. The firewall configurator will be invoked only when you use the (also included) setup2hd script to install the content of the Live ISO to your hard drive:

Adding a firewall is an optional step! You can choose to skip it during installation. The relevant files will be installed to your computer and you can call “myfwconf” at any time in future if you change your mind.
Note that this is a simple firewall. It does not do any NAT, it is meant for a single-homed single-purpose personal computer running Slackware which you want to protect from external attacks. The rc script will add a lot of sysctl tweaks to make your system safer, this is independent of opening (or not) any TCP or UDP ports via iptables.

Do I get this firewall when I use a Live ISO to install regular Slackware?

The firewall configurator is not available during installation of regular Slackware (i.e. from a HTTP/FTP mirror or a NFS/SMB network location).
If you would like to see the option of installing a firewall also for a regular Slackware installation, let me know. I am open to suggestions.

Some screenshots…

During the installation of the Live OS to your hard drive, the firewall dialog is inserted to the pkgtools setup directory so that it will be called during Slackware’s post-install configuration. The first question you will see when going through the configuration steps of your fresh installation is whether you want a firewall at all. You can opt out at this point, by selecting “No”, and no further questions will be asked:

Next you will be asked to select the external network interface(s) that you want to have firewalled. Sometimes you’ll have more than one network interface (such as a laptop with its wired and wireless interfaces) which you want to protect with a firewall. This dialog will show you all detected interfaces and will have the one with the default gateway selected by default:

Next question to answer is whether you want a firewall to completely block all external connections (excluding DHCP traffic) or that you want to have specific ports open to the outside. Select “No” if you don’t want a completely blocking firewall:

If you selected “No” in the previous dialog, you will be presented with a choice of common network protocols that you can open up from the outside by selecting them:

The next dialog allows you to specify additional TCP/UDP ports and/or port ranges to remain open:

You will have a final opportunity to review the choices you made:

Pressing “Generate” will generate ‘ipv4’ and ‘ipv6’ configurations for iptables in the directory ‘/etc/firewall/’ and install the scripts “/etc/rc.d/rc.firewall”, “/usr/sbin/myfwconf” and “/var/lib/pkgtools/setup/setup.firewall”. The “myfwconf” script is the actual configurator shown in the screenshots. The “rc.firewall” script executes on boot and activates your firewall, whereas “setup.firewall” is a convenient script to be called from pkgtools:

Note that you can use the “Previous” button at any stage of the configuration to go to the previous dialog(s) and change your inputs. Pressing “Esc” at any time will bring you back to the very first dialog but then the default choice will become “No” instead of a “Yes”.

 

Download Slackware Live Edition

You can find a set of new ISOs based on liveslak on download.liveslak.org/latest/, the 64bit versions of them support Secure Boot.

Some people report that the ISO images won’t boot when copied (using ‘cp’ or ‘dd’ for instance) to a USB stick but they all boot properly if you use the ‘iso2usb.sh‘ script provided with liveslak to transfer the ISO content to a USB stick. Of course, this will give you nice persistent storage of all your modifications with optional data encryption, ideal for a secure on-the-road Slackware environment.

Get liveslak sources

The liveslak project is hosted in git. Its browsable cgit interface is here: https://git.liveslak.org/liveslak/

A set of the liveslak scripts can also be downloaded from http://www.slackware.com/~alien/liveslak/ or https://slackware.nl/people/alien/liveslak/

Remember Secure Boot

All 64bit ISOs are able to boot on a computer with SecureBoot enabled. You’ll need to enroll the liveslak public key (a SSL certificate in DER encoding format with the filename ‘liveslak.der‘) into such a computer during the very first boot. That certificate file can be found in the EFI partition inside the ISO image or on the USB stick you produced. It can also be downloaded from https://download.liveslak.org/secureboot/liveslak.der if you want. This DER certificate does not change when new ISO’s are released, so an updated ISO should boot normally on your SecureBoot-enabled system using the stored version of the ‘liveslak.der’ certificate which you enrolled in the past.

Cheers, Eric

Secure Boot support landed in liveslak 1.5.0

Secure Boot ???

Secure Boot is part of the UEFI specification and first appeared in the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) 2.3.1 specification (Errata C). It is meant to prevent the execution of unauthorized code upon boot of a computer. Most modern Personal Computers will have a way of enabling Secure Boot in UEFI, but it is common to leave it disabled if you are not running a Microsoft OS on it since Microsoft controls Secure Boot.
For dual-boot scenario’s the story is different however. Microsoft Windows 8 and 10 advise to have Secure Boot enabled but don’t enforce it, but as far as I know, for Microsoft Windows 11 enabling Secure Boot will be a requirement to get full upgrade support.

Microsoft’s own Windows OS-es fully support Secure Boot (naturally), but non-Microsoft Operating Systems that want to boot on a Secure Boot enabled computer, must have an initial bootloader which has been cryptographically signed with the ‘Microsoft UEFI CA‘ key. Getting Microsoft to sign a 3rd-party (mostly Linux) bootloader is a complex procedure which involves money (but not always) and establishment of trust. You need to realize that if a malicious bootloader gets accidentally signed by Microsoft, this bootloader could be used to deliver all kinds of nasty to every Secure Boot platform in existence. And that would defy the whole purpose of a tightly controlled ‘Secure Boot‘ environment.

It’s likely that more and more computers with MS Windows installed or with a dual-boot configuration will have Secure Boot enabled in the near future. For Slackware and its derivatives, including my liveslak based ISOs, this is a potential problem because Secure Boot is not supported yet and therefore our OS will not launch.
Additionally, one of the use-cases of liveslak ISOs is to take it along with you on a USB stick on your key-chain and boot random PC hardware with it – just for fun, or to test the Slackware compatibility of new hardware, or simply to have your Slackware desktop with you on a stick all the time.
A liveslak ISO will be a lot less useful if every PC you encounter has Secure Boot enabled.
So I set out to find a solution.

One possible way out of this dilemma is to acquire a Microsoft-signed first-stage bootloader, just like Red Hat, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu and the other big brothers already provide. Like said before – this process is complex and I am not able to satisfy the requirements at the moment. In future, who knows? I am working on that.

Alternatively, and other small distros seem to do this too, an already signed bootloader can be ‘borrowed’ from another distro and used to boot a liveslak ISO. But that has consequences which I will elaborate further down. This is the solution I chose.

Note: In case you have doubts: the liveslak ISOs support Secure Boot from now on. But nothing changes when your computer does not have Secure Boot enabled. Slackware Live Edition will boot and work exactly like before.

Boot sequence

Let me give a quick and dirty and possibly not 100% terminology-accurate explanation of the boot procedure in a Secure Boot computer.

  • The TPM chip in the computer may be used to store a bunch of (Microsoft) security certificates which are trusted by the Secure Boot subsystem of UEFI, as well as (potentially) a list of certificates that have been revoked due to security violations. Otherwise these keys are stored in NVRAM (non-volatile RAM).
    Secure Boot will load only bootloaders that have been signed by a trusted Microsoft certificate. The most widely used Linux bootloader which Microsoft accepts for signing is the ‘shim‘, a trivial application which does not do much more than verifying the signatures of the second-stage bootloader which it is hard-coded to look for. A signed  ‘shim’ binary also contains an embedded SSL certificate of the distro that owns the shim binary.
    The shim accepts two certificates when it checks the signature of the second-stage bootloader and other binaries: one is the Microsoft certificate and the other is this embedded distro certificate. This allows such a distro to provide a nice unattended problem-free boot on every computer with Secure Boot enabled.
  • The shim loads the second-stage bootloader, this is most often the Grub2 bootloader but it could be any EFI image file (such as rEFInd). The hard-coded default filename that the shim will attempt to load is ‘grubx64.efi’ so whatever your distro bootloader, it needs to be renamed to that.
    Shim will check the signing certificate of that file and will proceed only if it recognizes the certificate as valid.
  • Grub will be informed by the shim that it loads in a Secure Boot environment and because of that, Grub will ask the shim if it is OK to load the kernel it is configured for. Shim will check the signing certificate of your kernel and will signal an ‘OK’ to Grub only if it recognizes the kernel’s signing certificate as valid.
  • Your Linux OS will now boot properly.
    But what happens if Grub or the kernel are not signed, or when they are signed with an un-recognized certificate? Well, your computer will refuse to boot.

Lack of trust

The problem for liveslak (and for Slackware) is that neither Patrick nor I own any of the private keys corresponding to the SSL certificate that these big distros embed in the signed ‘shim’ binary they provide (naturally). Therefore I must sign the liveslak grub and kernel images using my own private key and public certificate pair.
The public certificate I use for signing is not recognized by UEFI SecureBoot, since it is not embedded in any bootloader which has been signed by the Microsoft Certificate Authority. If Secure Boot is enabled then the signing certificate of liveslak’s grub and kernel images will not be accepted by shim… and the Live OS fails to boot.

As the owner of your PC, you can clear the Microsoft certificates from the local certificate store and load your own certificate instead. Your computer will then boot without issue because your bootloader finds the certificate that it is validating in the trust store.
This is probably the best solution if you are never going to run MS Windows on it anyway. But if you do, or might, or if you want to provide a solution that works on a multitude of computers besides your own, you need to come up with something else.

You are the Machine Owner

Lucky for us poor distro developers, Secure Boot recognizes a database of Machine Owner Keys (MOK) next to the Microsoft trusted keys. And you are the Machine Owner if you have physical access to the computer and know the password to unlock the MOK database (it is empty by default).
The MOK can be populated with public keys of your own making, or of your friends… and/or with liveslak’s public key. And then the shim will accept liveslak’s signed Grub and kernel… and liveslak will boot just fine.

Managing Machine Owner Keys (MOK)

My repository contains two relevant packages: mokutil and sbsigntools. The mokutil package contains the ‘mokutil’ program which allows you to query the SecureBoot NVRAM and to manipulate MOK certificates (the latter only if Secure Boot is enabled). The sbsigntools package contains ‘sbsign’ which is used by liveslak to cryptographically sign the Grub and kernel images.

To check whether Secure Boot is enabled, run:

# mokutil --sb-state

If this returns “Secure Boot enabled” then you are probably running a commercial Linux distro :-). In this case, you can generate a MOK enroll request to the shim before rebooting:

# wget https://download.liveslak.org/secureboot/liveslak.der
# mokutil --import liveslak.der

You will be prompted for an optional password. If you enter one, this password then needs to be entered again after reboot to complete the MOK enrollment.

If Secure Boot is not enabled, don’t worry: you can still enroll this ‘liveslak.der’. Just continue reading.

Adding liveslak.der certificate to MOK database

The remainder of the article will describe in detail how to add the liveslak public key (a SSL certificate) to the MOK if you were unable to use the mokutil program as described above.

Note that adding the certificate is a one-time action. Once the MOK database contains the liveslak certificate, future liveslak ISOs will boot on your SecureBoot-enabled computer out of the box.

Enable Secure Boot in your UEFI (press F1 or whatever key your computer needs to enter setup and find the proper menu to enable SB). Then reboot your computer with a liveslak (1.5.0 or later release) medium inserted.
UEFI will look for the first-stage bootloader on the liveslak medium in the ESP partition (ESP = EFI System Partition which is a FAT partition with partition type 0xEF00). According to UEFI spec, it wants to load the file ‘/EFI/BOOT/bootx64.efi’. The Fedora ‘shim’ binary which is now contained in the liveslak ISO has been renamed to that exact filename. Shim loads, it will try to load our Grub and discovers that its SSL signature is invalid/unknown. Shim will then ask you if it should load the MokManager instead (the ‘mmmx64.efi file in the same directory) which is signed with the distro certificate embedded in the shim.

If you press ‘any key’ within 10 seconds, the MokManager will load and you will have your opportunity to enroll the ‘liveslak.der’ certificate. If you wait instead, the computer reboots and if you had already made an enrollment request as described in the previous paragraph, that request will then be erased and you’ll have to try again.
If MokManager loads, it will show the below screen if you created an enrollment request before the reboot. Select the “Enroll MOK” to complete that enrollment request.


If you entered a password during the “mokutil –import” command you will have to enter that same password next:

 

If you did not create an enrollment request prior to reboot, then this particular menu item will not be present and you should use the “Enroll key from disk” menu instead.
A simple and spartan file browser will be your guide towards the ‘/EFI/BOOT/’ directory on the liveslak medium; select ‘liveslak.der’ file and confirm.
After enrollment of the ‘liveslak.der’ certificate, you must reboot.

After the reboot, your Slackware Live Edition should boot as usual. If you watch closely you will see a flash right before Grub loads – that is the shim loading right before it.

Now, you can check that Secure Boot is actually enabled:

root@darkstar:~# dmesg |grep -i secure
[ 0.016864] Secure boot enabled

Cool!

Download Slackware Live Edition

You can find a set of new ISOs based on liveslak on download.liveslak.org/latest/, the 64bit versions of them support Secure Boot.
I tried also generating 32bit ISOs but they refuse to load the init script. The kernel loads, it unpacks the initrd image, but then the boot process stalls right before control is handed over to the initrd. I have no idea why. I tried generating ISOs with an older release of liveslak (1.4.0) that had proven to produce working 32bit ISOs but no luck. Something in the new 5.15 kernel perhaps which liveslak fails to add to the ISO? Suggestions are welcome.

It will probably work best if you use the ‘iso2usb.sh‘ script provided with liveslak to transfer the ISO content to a USB stick, it will give you a persistent environment with optional data encryption and apparently this will allow it to boot on a lot more computers.

Get liveslak sources

The liveslak project is hosted in git. Its browsable cgit interface is here: https://git.liveslak.org/liveslak/

A set of the liveslak scripts can also be downloaded from http://www.slackware.com/~alien/liveslak/ or https://slackware.nl/people/alien/liveslak/

The liveslak public key (SSL certificate in DER encoding) that you need to enroll can be downloaded from https://download.liveslak.org/secureboot/liveslak.der

Let me know your experiences!
Cheers, Eric

liveslak-1.4.0 and new ISO images are available

It’s that time again for a fresh batch of ISOs for Slackware Live Edition.
The ISO files are based on Slackware-current of “Sat Oct 23 18:57:30 UTC 2021” and using the liveslak-1.4.0 scripts.

The Slackware-current snapshot on which the Live ISOs are based contains a Linux 5.14.14 kernel.
This is not yet the pre-emptive variant of 5.14.14 which you can find in “./testing” inside today’s Slackware-current mirrors. However, you can use liveslak’s “upslak.sh” script to easily upgrade the kernel on your persistent USB Live if you want.
It’ll be interesting to see how it improves real-time performance on the DAW Live platform.

The new ISOs for the Slackware Live Edition can be obtained at download.liveslak.org .

Note that a new “DAW” ISO variant is missing for the moment.

Update 28-Oct:
I have uploaded a DAW ISO to the ‘latest‘ folder. It is based on liveslak-1.4.0.1 using kernel 5.14.15 and with full preemption enabled out of the box.

The upgrade in Slackware of Python to version 3.10 forces me to do a lot of re-compilations or upgrades of the software that has a Python3 dependency and unfortunately in the DAW package set, that’s quite many of them.
Give me a couple of days and the new DAW ISO will appear on the above URL. I’ll try and make a liveslak-1.4.0.1 release that supports the preemptive kernel in ‘testing’ and enables the full preemption model on boot of the DAW Live.
In the meantime, you can still obtain a DAW ISO from a month or so ago in the “1.3.10” directory.

I refreshed he ‘bonus‘ section as well with updated live modules for the binary Nvidia driver (already contained in the CINNAMON, DAW and MATE ISOs by the way), the Broadcom STA driver (wl) and an uptodate multilib package collection.

Hghlight for liveslak-1.4.0 is the extended syntax for the ‘persistence’ boot parameter. You can now point your Live OS to a persistence directory or container which is located in a subdirectory below the filesystem root.
Additionally, you can specify the partition containing the filesystem on which the persistence is located, or simply specify ‘scandev’, to request that liveslak tries to find the partition for you:

persistence=/dev/sdX:/path/to/mypersistence
persistence=scandev:/path/to/mypersistence

In addition, a UUID or LABEL value of the filesystem is accepted:

persistence=cd68b6f5-5b5a-4d27-9649-7827489f94a5:/path/to/mypersistence

This creates opportunities for PXE boot where persistence was not possible; the live modules will get mounted from a NFS export and the overlay filesystem does not support writing to a NFS layer. Storing your persistent data on a local hard drive or even a USB stick that you plug into the PXE client computer will solve that predicament.

Have fun! Eric

liveslak-1.3.10 and new ISO images for Slackware Live Edition

The previous batch of ISOs for Slackware Live Edition is already a few months old, so I decided to generate new images.
The ISO files are based on Slackware-current of “Wed Sep 8 18:07:38 UTC 2021” and using the liveslak-1.3.10 scripts, where passwordless login is a new feature.

Slackware-current has the label “15.0 Release Candidate 1” since August 16th but considering the amount of non-trivial updates since that date, I wonder whether the phrase “release candidate” has any relevance here. No sign that we are anywhere nearer to a final 15.0 release.

Let’s hope for the best, and in the meantime fresh ISOs for the Slackware Live Edition can be obtained at download.liveslak.org .

I refreshed he ‘bonus‘ section as well. There you find several squashfs modules you can use with your persistent liveslak USB stick. Copy these module into the ‘addons’ directory on the USB drive. They expand the functionality of the Live OS and allow me to keep the ISO file size within reasonable bounds.
Among these you’ll find the binary nvidia driver (already contained in the CINNAMON, DAW and MATE ISOs by the way); Wine 6.12, multilib, the DAW package collection, and a set from my own repository (chromium, libreoffice, veracrypt, vlc etc).

To end this post, I have a question for you regarding liveslak functionality.
At boot you can add any number of parameters to the kernel commandline, and some of these are used by the liveslak initialization. A subset of these parameters cause modifications of files in the live filesystem. For instance, “livepw=” will update /etc/shadow and /etc/passwd to update the password for the ‘live’ user. You can specify a domain name, custom hostname and a lot more which will cause modifications of files in the live filesystem.
Now the crux of the issue: if you have a persistent Live USB stick, do you want these parameters to make permanent changes to your Live filesystem? Or do you want them to be ignored if you are booting a persistent USB stick?
I can see good reasons for a limitation of the scope of these parameters, to just the non-persistent Slackware Live (i.e. when booting from a DVD). I also realize that it would be a functional change that can impact the way some of you work with a liveslak medium.

Let me know (in the comments section below) if you would like liveslak to ignore certain boot parameters if you boot a persistent medium.

Have fun! Eric

Liveslak new features, DAW Live, OBS Studio, logo contest

I wanted to update you about a couple of my projects that I was able to spend time on, now that I took some time off of work. I need to distance myself from my day job every so often to prevent a burn-out and this time I am dangerously close.
I baked bread for the first time in years and it was well-received in the family. The result was a tasty sourdough bread using the wild yeast culture that I am keeping healthy for many years now, even if I had not used it for making bread for a long time. Although a while ago I did share some of the sourdough culture with a friend who is also into baking bread. Even a tiny bit of “starter” can jumpstart your career of baking 🙂 It’s a tedious task to raise a healthy culture of wild yeast and suitable bacteria that create good bread.

But I would like to focus more on liveslak, on my Digital Audio Workstation spin, and some new software for which I created packages.

The liveslak project received some interesting new features.
Most importantly, the hard disk installer of the Slackware Live Edition – called “setup2hd” – was expanded. In the past, it used to allow only the installation of the Live OS to your hard drive. But I received requests to also make it possible for setup2hd to install regular Slackware like the official installer does. It sounded like a good idea, and starting with liveslak release 1.3.7 the “setup2hd” program will let you choose from more package SOURCES than just the Live OS. In addition to the Live OS, you can now choose to install regular Slackware from a NFS, HTTP, FTP or Samba server. In other words, Slackware’s network install feature was added.
Why is this different from the setup program on the official Slackware ISO? Well, the most obvious improvement is that you are working in a graphical desktop environment (the Live OS). You can run the setup2hd hard disk installation in an X terminal while you keep doing other stuff like reading online materials or watching a video to pass the time. Moreover, you can install stable Slackware 14.2 from the Live OS. That means MMC and NVMe drives are supported during installation (which is something the official Slackware 14.2 installer does not provide for).
And to top it off, I am now also adding “setup2hd” to the small XFCE ISOs. Word of caution: the XFCE ISOs do not contain a “huge” kernel which means if you want to install the stripped-down XFCE OS to your hard drive, you will have to do a manual “chroot” after installation completes and before you reboot, to edit /etc/lilo.conf and add a section for the “generic” kernel. and then run the “lilo” command to make it stick. Hopefully the “liloconfig” command will learn how to do that for you, sometime soon. You can always perform a Slackware network installation from the XFCE Live OS of course!

The second new feature is the ability of liveslak to configure a custom background image for Plasma5-based Live OS. The custom image is used when generating the Live ISO, as the background for the SDDM login greeter, your desktop wallpaper, and for the lock-screen backdrop.
What I still want to achieve is adding similar functionality to the XFCE and Gnome based Live variants. The snag is that the configuration needs to be scriptable, i.e. when the “live” user logs in everything must already be in place and pre-configured. For Plasma5 that was not trivial to work out, and I have zero Gnome and XFCE scripted desktop configuration knowledge. Suggestions and code snippets are welcome.

My Digital Audio Workstation project, called Slackware Live DAW, received some updates as well. The blog article I link to describes the generic process to tune and tweak Slackware for use as a real-time audio workstation, but I used that knowledge together with a whole lot of useful audio and music software to create a Slackware “spin-off” if you want – building on a lean Slackware package set plus the core of KDE Plasma5.
Since Slackware Live DAW  is based on liveslak, it profited from improvements in that area too. Most notably the DAW Live ISO now comes with a nice dark black & white themed background – which is better on the eyes if you work on your musical project in a room with low ambient light intensity.

Created with GIMP

The other improvement, or enhancement if you will, is that I have collected all the DAW specific programs in their own submenu “Applications > Multimedia > Slackware Live DAW” and removed them from the “Multimedia” menu. This lets you focus on the audio workstation purpose of this Live OS by having all your tools in one place.
And of course, the “setup2hd” program allows you to install the Live OS to your hard drive. One caveat though: the installation will be pristine, meaning you will get all the packages but not the “liveslak” customizations installed. What you won’t get is: the nice wallpaper, the “Slackware Live DAV” submenu, the real-time tweaks to the Operating System and the pre-configured JackQtl. On my TODO is to create a way (perhaps a package) to apply all of these customizations easily afterwards. For now, best is to run the Live OS directly from a persistent USB stick. If you have a bit of patience and at least 8 GB of RAM, you can load the whole Live OS into RAM when it boots up, and use the USB persistence to write your updates to the USB stick while you work, using the liveslak boot parameter “toram=os“. Loading into RAM will take a few minutes but then you have a lightning fast DAW OS that runs completely in memory.

I created a short video to show the boot sequence, the wallpaper and the new submenu:

Now that I am writing about my DAW project, I also want to use the opportunity to ask you – my readers – to participate in a small contest. I am not good with graphical tools, but I would really like a couple of graphics:

  • a logo for Slackware DAW Live. Higher up on this page I used a generic “tux with headphones” image but I want something special for the project. A SVG file would be best but I will settle for a nice PNG.
  • a user icon for the live account. Currently all Slackware Live editions use the purple Slackware “S” icon , but I want an icon that reflects both Slackware and making music.

I welcome your submissions and will create an overview page with all of the graphics I receive. Ultimately I will select the ones I like most and use then in the liveslak project. So please do  not share copyrighted material.
I came up with the wallpaper image myself, and I asked a friend of mine, who is also a producer and a dee-jay, to supply some of his own black & white photography as wallpapers for Slackware Live DAW.

Some of the packages I created or updated lately

I usually update the blog when I have something to share about my high-profile packages like chromium, libreoffice, openjdk, vlc and the likes. But I add stuff to the repository from time to time that serves a specific purpose – either because someone I know requested a new package, or because I expand the list of available software for my DAW Live project. Here are a couple that I did not mention yet.

OBS Studio (formerly known as Open Broadcaster Software) is video recording and streaming software. It is sometimes referenced by people when they email me with requests to create a package for it. Working out the dependencies and packaging those is not trivial. I realized that I could use this myself (to create the above video of booting DAW Live), and have added it to my slackbuilds repository along with a dependency that was not in there yet: mbedtls. The other dependencies for OBS Studio were already in my repository: jack2, vlc  and x264.
I chose not to add “luajit” as yet another dependency. Luajit meant to add Lua scripting support, but OBS Studio already supports scripts via Python3. If anyone needs Lua as well, let me know. I also did not add the suggested “fdk-aac” encoder dependency for AAC audio since Slackware’s ffmpeg package also has an AAC encoder and OBS Studio will use that instead.
I realize that Patrick recently added Simple Screen Recorder (ssr) to Slackware-current but OBS Studio is more powerful and has a lot of features which make it particularly suited for people who stream their video recordings directly to sites like Twitch or Youtube.

Geonkick is “a synthesizer that can synthesize elements of percussion. The most basic examples are: kicks, snares, hit-hats, shakers, claps”. Unfa has a video up on Youtube in which he shows a bit of the interface and the percussion sounds you can create. I added this one to my DAW package list so you can use its functionality as a plugin in Ardour or as a standalone app.

 

QTractor? My DAW package list already contains Ardour and Audacity to use as your main application to record, mix and process music. They serve different purposes and audiences – Audacity is a multi-track recorder with nice post-processing capabilities, and for some people that is all they need when Ardour has a long learning curve.
Qtractor is yet another digital audio workstation tool. It is a multi-track sequencer for audio and MIDI, with a nice QT5 interface and extensive plugin support. I guess it is comparable to Ardour but less complex and therefore suited for somewhat less experienced musicians and producers.

And here is MuseE, another audio and MIDI multi-track sequencer with an interesting feature list and a QT5 interface. Similar to QTractor you can use MusE as a your DAW studio interface or use it to pre-process your MIDI tracks before importing them into Ardour, as shown in this video tutorial sequence by LibreMusicProduction.

It will be a matter of preference which of these programs you are going to use. They are all part of Slackware DAW Live so go ahead and try them out! The Slackware DAW Live ISO image can be found at https://martin.alienbase.nl/mirrors/slackware-live/pilot/ https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/ and I recommend to copy it to a USB stick as a persistent Live OS, using the iso2usb.sh script.
If and when I manage to migrate slackware.nl to a bigger server I will be able to finally host it there along with the other liveslak stuff (Update 2020-Nov-15: I finally migrated to a new server and the old server died in the process, but not before I managed to save all important stuff).

Have fun! Eric