My thoughts on Slackware, life and everything

Last week’s harvest

I was a bit too busy and tired to write something on my blog during the past week, but now that it is weekend again, there is room for some updates.

Flash Player Plugin

There was yet another security update for Adobe’s Flashplayer Plugin. I updated my package to the latest version. Note that if you are using my Steam Client package, you will probably have installed the flashplayer-plugin in order to see all the news in the Steam Store. If you are on a 64-bit Slackware platform with multilib, you should not just update the 64-bit flashplayer-plugin but also convert the 32-bit package into a “compat32” version and upgrade the 32-bit package you will already have installed for Steam:

# convertpkg-compat32 -i flashplayer-plugin-
# upgradepkg --install-new /tmp/flashplayer-plugin-compat32-


The kdelibs package in my ktown repository (KDE 4.10.3) has been patched to prevent application crashes. Coincidentally this patch has also been applied to the kdelibs package in slackware-current.

Slackware Dependencies

A nice and fast tool to discover and query dependencies between Slackware packages is sbbdep which stands for “Slack Build Binary Dependencies”. Its author, a4z, released version 0.2.0 last week. I use this tool to assist me when determining the build order of packages for my ARM port.

ARM Port

Speaking of which, there is an interesting thread going on on LinuxQuestions, regarding ARMedslack and the Raspberry Pi. Someone who goes by the nick “Ahau” and comments on my blog from time to time, is working on a hard-float port to the armv6 hardware platform – the heart of the Raspberry Pi. He is using my ARM source tree for this, has given me good feedback which resulted in bug fixes, and his ultimate goal is to create a new ARM version of Porteus. The most recent part of the LQ discussion centered around my decision to split the libtinfo library (terminfo) out of the libncurses(w) library. This is the ncurses developers’ intention for the future, however it causes issues when compiling software which is not querying the system properly and assuming that only libncurses(w) is required for linking.

I had nearly decided to revert my decision and integrate libtinfo again into libncurses(w) when ponce pointed out a patch which I had already seen in Fedora’s ncurses package source. Perhaps I will apply that patch to my ncurses package because it seems to resolve all the linking issues we have been running into lately.

LibreOffice ARM?

And more good news – it took two days of compiling because I forgot to enable distcc, but I managed to create LibreOffice packages for my ARM port, using the SlackBuild script with which I already compiled LibreOffice 4.0.3 for x86 and x86_64 platforms last week (I needed one additional patch to work around the newer boost-1.53 which I have in my ARM tree). I have not had the chance to install the packages and run the LO Writer to see if I created working binaries… but the build log did not show errors which is promising!

Desktop Environments other than KDE or XFCE

Long ago, I created a package for razor-qt which is a minimal (lightweight may be the better word) desktop environment based on Qt. In other words, it looks beautiful (by not using GTK) and does not have the sluggishness people complain about when they run that other Qt based desktop environment (KDE). I was thinking about what I would have to add to a filesystem image for the ARM ChromeBook which I should finally get ready and distribute… I do have KDE packages, but KDE felt like just a bit overweight for the ChromeBook. I do not really like XFCE (don’t get me wrong, technically and functionally it’s not bad at all, but GTK does not have any visual appeal to me) and therefore I felt compelled to re-visit razor-qt.

Razor-qt does not come with its own window manager, instead it allows you to pick one of the available window managers it finds on your computer when it starts for the first time. Razor-qt will work well with KDE’s window manager KWin, but it works best with OpenBox. And since that is not part of Slackware, I added an openbox package as well to my repository (which was the moment that I found out I had never released my original razor-qt package… no idea how I could have forgotten that).

I decided that I am going to build armv7hl packages for razor-qt and openbox so that the ChromeBook has a nice and fast, good-looking desktop environment next to XFCE. They will be uploaded to my separate “alien” subdirectory of the ARM package tree, where I will upload the LibreOffice packages as well.

KDE Display Manager

The KDE Desktop Environment is transitioning to Plasma Workspaces 2. Two changes are worth mentioning because they will have a big impact: Many “user-interface centric” applications will be re-written in QML (Qt Modeling Language). More importantly, the X.Org display server of old will be abandoned for the Wayland protocol server. Wayland gives you a 3D-enabled display server from the start, instead of the current practice of running a 3D compositor (KWin, compiz) as an extension under the 2D X.Org display server. Future support of Wayland requires a rewrite of KWin (KDE’s window manager) but also forced a decision to say goodbye to the KDE Display Manager (KDM) which is the graphical login program which greets you when you boot Slackware in Runlevel 4. A blog post by Aaron Seigo gives a lot of insight in the process that preceeded this decision.

It looks like SDDM (Simple Desktop Display Manager) is a contender for replacing KDM in a future release of KDE. Initially, SDDM had a hard dependency on PAM, but thankfully the developer is friendly towards Slackware. After a short discussion on Google+ he created a preliminary “pam-less” version which I tested. Those tests went OK and the changes were added to the main source. So it is with pleasure that I announce the package which I added to my repository. You can already try it out, if you just add a couple of lines to Slackware’s “/etc/rc.d/rc.4” script. Directly below the line that says:

echo "Starting up X11 session manager..."

you add:

# ----8<----------------------------------------------------------------
# Use Simple Display Desktop Manager
 if [ -x /usr/bin/sddm ]; then
 exec /usr/bin/sddm
# ----8<----------------------------------------------------------------




  1. Janis

    Reading comments on PW2 I noticed one about plasmoids and the reaction on it:
    “mutlu says:
    First of all, I don’t know what you are doing to your desktop setup, but none of the plasmoids you mention (NM, Alt-Tab, etc.) feel or look “wobbly,” “blink” or are unresponsive.”

    I still do not have Alt-Tab working (or working a bit more often than 1 in 20 attempts) on my desktop computer. And that – after 2 clean re-installs and latest KDE. KDE has internal problems they are not going to recognize even in face of Holy Inquisition.

  2. LoneStar

    way to go! a big bunch of positive news, in the end! 🙂

  3. alienbob

    I tested the LibreOffice packages for ARM this evening. They work perfectly on my Chromebook, the startup speed and the user interface handling feel the same as on my “normal” desktop. Very responsive.
    I have uploaded the packages to the server.


  4. Ahau

    Hey Eric, thanks for the shout-out! When I have time, I’ll grab your sources for razorqt and libreoffice and see about getting them built for armv6. I’ve been busy over the last week preparing some x86 packages for the next release of Porteus. As part of that, I’ve converted my slackbuilds for LXDE to use machine.conf so it should be a snap to build it on ARM. I’ll add it to my source repo as well, so you could build it for armv7 if there’s any demand.


  5. rosencrantz

    Hi Eric, thanks for sddm. Have tested it in Vbox last week and did not work (compiled with PAM). Now is working, but to get my KDE desktop back I had to create kde.desktop file in /usr/share/xsessions. There are also wrong path in /usr/share/apps/sddm/scripts/Xsession. Also init 3 can’t kill sddm daeomon. Xauth can’t find A:0-***** file in /var/run/xauth. File does exist when desktop is running. Regards.

  6. alienbob

    Hi rosencrantz

    Bug reports for sddm should go to the developer. Could you create new reports in for the issues you are encountering?


  7. rosencrantz

    Hi Eric,
    there must be first time. I will report bug. Thank you for link. Actually only init 3 I would consider as a bug. Wrong path I mentioned in /usr/share/apps/sddm/scripts/Xsession seem to be a influence of ubuntucentric world we live in. Folders /etc/X11/xinit/xinit.d and etc/X11/Xresources does not exist in my Slackware tree. Also you could not find $HOME/.Xresources file.
    In my search of light desktop for Slackware I have tested Razor-qt for several weeks and found it not mature enough. I would recommend for your ARM desktop LXDE with lxdm. Works out of the box, all scripts in and seems to be more stable with more configuration options. I have fixed nasty GTK look with oxygen icons, oxygen-gtk2 theme and oxygen theme for openbox. Looks very Qt-ish now. Pcmanfm is ported to Qt already.
    Kind regards.


  8. cwizardone

    Re: Razor-qt.
    Like it. Nice looking. Thanks for the package. BTW, what is the country of origin?
    Thanks, again.

  9. Jerome Pinot

    For your ARM project, you should give a try to E17, it works very well even on a Raspberry Pi with no specific optimizations:

  10. alienbob

    Hi Jerome

    I will certainly look into alaternative light-weight Desktop Environments. I have set LXDE asa goal but E17 would be a nice offering as well. It would at least make this port stand out from the standard Slackware package set.


  11. Isaque Galdino

    Libreoffice worked like a charm in my Chromebook.

  12. BrZ

    Hi Eric. I was building sddm today and it failed with:
    — Release build
    — Found PkgConfig: /usr/bin/pkg-config (found version “0.25”)
    — checking for module ‘xcb’
    — found xcb, version 1.9.1
    — Found XCB: /usr/lib64/
    — checking for module ‘xcb-xkb’
    — package ‘xcb-xkb’ not found
    CMake Error at /usr/share/cmake-2.8/Modules/FindPackageHandleStandardArgs.cmake:108 (message):
    Could NOT find XKB (missing: LIBXKB_LIBRARIES)
    Call Stack (most recent call first):
    /usr/share/cmake-2.8/Modules/FindPackageHandleStandardArgs.cmake:315 (_FPHSA_FAILURE_MESSAGE)
    CMakeLists.txt:41 (find_package)

    I used your script (thanks!) and got todays master zip, but needed to recompile libxcb with “–enable-xinput and –enable-xkb” to get Can you look at it and see if future xcb builds will need the switches enabled by default?

    Thanks again.

  13. Thiago Silvino

    Hello Bob. I tried the razor-qt desktop and it looks great. Now I see that the razor-qt is merging with LXDE-qt and the two teams will work together. It means that we will have more one good QT based desktop in the near future.

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