My thoughts on Slackware, life and everything

Tag: ARM (Page 2 of 2)

New Libreoffice 3.5.6, and Slackware 14 RC2

 I uploaded Slackware packages for the latest version of the LibreOffice 3.5.x series. LibreOffice 3.5.6 was released yesterday. I know (like I explained in my previous LibreOffice post) that there is a 3.6.0 release (and I even saw a 3.6.1 tag already) but I decided to hold off for a while and offer stability first on Slackware 13.37. Downloads at the usual locations:


 But do not despair. Slackware 14 is almost upon us. We are currently at Release Candidate 2 after most of the bug reports have been addressed. Some more tweaks are likely to follow but those should be minor. When Slackware 14 is finalized, I intend to build LibreOffice packages on the new platform – for version 3.6.x. Perhaps this version solves the landscape printing problems people are complaining about on LinuxQuestions (it’s not a Slackware problem by the way- all distros have this printing problem).


 And an activity I hope to pick up where I left it in april, is my own ARM port. After any Slackware release, there usually is a bit of quiet. That should allow me to build the remaining packages (and rebuild all those that were updated since april… a total of more than 900 I think) and get it running on some yet-to-decide ARM computer besides my own TrimSlice. I have been putting this off because I am a bit stuck at writing the installer and a proper kernel package. ARMedslack has a quite convoluted process for this and I want to see if I can simplify this. But… there is always something else to do instead of the boring stuff. I do have a working cross-compiler (I can create a new cross-compiler and “mini-root” for any Slackware release using just two commands) and a half-assed distributed compilation setup using distcc. I don’t want to use the ARMedslack x-toolchain here because it is a nice learning experience for me in cross-compiling.

Let’s hope I get so bored that I will jump into this again.


My (first) Raspberry Pi arrived in the post

 At last…

I ordered a Raspberry Pi on May 11, 2012 and Farnell/Element14 delivered it to my home while I was on vacation. Go figure. The postman did not find us home of course, and rang our neighbors’ doorbell. He left the package there, and luckily that neighbor brought me the package the moment he saw our car parked in front of the house.

The little computer came wrapped in a Raspberry Pi T-shirt (with Element14 written all over the front as well) but hey – the T-shirt was free and it served well as wrapping instead of bubble plastic


Planning-wise, the Raspberry Pi arrived at an awkward moment. I had not expected delivery until well into august, and intended to pick up my own ARM port of Slackware after my return from France (targeting more recent CPUs than the Raspberry Pi, i.e. an ARM port of Slackware which will be incompatible with the Raspberry Pi). Having the computer in my hands, I could not put it aside, and proceeded with gathering everything needed to make it run Stuart Winter’s ARMedSlack.

The work I intended to do when I wrote my original blog post about the Raspberry Pi (back in November 2011) has been done already. Using ARMedslack as the base distro, David Spencer setup a web space where he writes in great detail how to install ARMedslack on the RasPi. He has created a bootable install image – to be copied onto a SD card – and maintains all his packaging and scripting work on Github.

So I bought a SD card – a Raspberry Pi does not have any internal storage – and dd-ed the installer image to the card. Inserted the card into the Raspi, connected a HDMI cable to my television, attached a USB keyboard with built-in TrackPoint mouse, plugged in a LAN ethernet cable and finally used my phone charger (micro USB) to power it up.

First, a fancy display of colours is visible on the television screen, probably the GPU’s bootloader showing off, and then a Linux kernel with the image of good old Tux replaced by a Raspberry was booting up. The long and boring process follows… formatting the root partition takes ages (which is actually expected behaviour, considering the hardware) and installing the packages is still ongoing while I am typing this:

I guess I will have to be patient. In the meantime I can think of good uses for a second device which should be delivered next week. Will it be good for an XBMC based media streamer? Will I put the semi-official Debian image on that one to see how the two distros differ? I have no idea yet. But just holding a 30 euro computer knowing that it will be running Slackware tomorrow brings a smile to my face.

When I have more to tell you, I will write another post. Now it is time to go to sleep, in the hope that the installation has finished by tomorrow morning so that I can bring the Raspberry Pi along when driving to the office.

Cheers, Eric

Raspberry Pi deserves Slackware

Some time ago I ran into this website promoting a very cheap computer the size of a credit card. The Raspberry Pi is being created by a charitable foundation. It is designed to “plug into a TV or be combined with a touch screen for a low cost tablet“. Typically its target is “teaching computer programming to children“, but such a cheap computing device will certainly have “many other applications both in the developed and the developing world“.

You have to see the device to believe it, I guess. The videos and photos look very promising. It’s not in production yet but according to the developer team’s schedule first shipments should commence before the end of the year.

Its specifications are not stellar (256 MB of RAM will likely rule out the top-heavy desktop environments like KDE) but hey! it only costs 35 euros! And the ARM processor, a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC with a ARM1176JZF-S core seems to have good support in the Linux kernel (a patch that adds support to linux-3.0.4 is fairly trivial). Check out this video which shows the Raspberry Pi running Quake III in 1920×1080 resolution with 4x antialiasing.

There is a thread on LinuxQuestions which shows that it may in fact not be hard to boot Slackware – or rather, ARMedslack. Using the latest QEMU which supports the Broadcom’s ARM version, and a recent kernel compiled for ARM (see above), QEMU can successfully boot one of ARMedslack’s “mini rootfs” filesystem images.

So, I think that the Raspberry Pi deserves Slackware. If we are going to bring Slackware to the masses, this ARM device would be a nice vehicle. I am going to get myself one or two of them. Stuart Winter (ARMedslack developer) promised to help me with the nasty bits. We will see how this ends up – either incorporated into ARMedslack, or as a separate development tree hosted by me, or (nicest option but not a very realistic one perhaps) folded into the main Slackware tree. It would be cool to have the main tree expand to support a third architecture besides x86 and x86_64.

Cool, another project for my evergrowing TODO list! Oh my… I can’t even find the time to spend on another project that is itching at the back of my mind… I guess should at least make an effort to upload all of the OCR related packages I created a month ago.


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