It’s been nearly ten months since my last package for Calibre. What’s Calibre again I hear you ask? It is the highly popular E-book library management program with support for any E-Reader you can think of. I doubt that anyone who tried Calibre will ever switch back to one of the proprietary library management programs that commonly ship with E-Reader devices because Calibre transfers your E-books to and from your E-Reader device with ease. Calibre also contains an excellent E-book reader program for your desktop – even an EPUB editor comparable to Sigil. It will let you convert E-books from one format to another and allows you to subscribe to lots of news sites.
Last year august, the Calibre software switched from Qt4 to Qt5 for its user interface, and I was not yet prepared to follow suit. Running up to that month I had been working long and hard on the new KDE 5 preview and that was my first encounter with Qt5 – I decided to wait a bit for the new Calibre to mature and also I wanted to wait with adding Qt5 to my slackbuilds repository (the qt5 in ‘ktown_testing’ was just that, for testing KDE 5 and nothing production-ready).
During the previous couple of weeks I enjoyed several long weekends due to national holidays, and so it happened that I could spend some time re-visiting the calibre.SlackBuild and updating it so that it was able to compile a package for Calibre 2.x.
I wanted as few external dependencies as possible. The exception would be Qt5 which should be a proper package in its own right – it is too big to become a mere part of a calibre package. I ended up with just “podofo” and “qt5” as dependencies and I am now in the process of uploading the qt5 packages for slackware-current… something I forgot earlier this week. I borrowed them from my ktown_testing repository in order to compile Calibre.
But I also want to keep the older Qt4 version of Calibre (the 1.x releases) around for those who like that better or do not want the big Qt5 on their computer. So I renamed my SlackBuild for the 1.x version to “calibre1.SlackBuild“. I then recompiled calibre-1.48.0 for Slackware-current because the previous build of the package was broken after the recent big update and I still needed to address that issue. That is why you will find a “calibre” as well as a “calibre1” package in the repositories for Slackware 14.1 and -current. Take your pick.
Enjoy a shiny new Calibre 2.28.0 on Slackware (14.1 and -current)!
I have not been updating this blog for a couple of days, but that did not mean I was sitting on hy hands.
These are the package updates which landed in my various repositories during the last few days:
Nearly every week I have been updating my Calibre packages whenever Kovid Goyal released a new version. Especially the last couple of releases are really exciting. Perhaps you noticed (if you are an ebook lover or even an ebook writer) that the Sigil EPUB editor’s progress had stalled, in fact the software’s development is dead. I did not really care because Sigil had switched its Qt dependency from 4 to 5 and Slackware does not contain Qt5, so new Slackware packages were out of the question anyway. Now, Calibre has been enhanced with an ebook editor. Visually and functionally the Calibre ebook editor application shows similarities to Sigil, however it is a completely different program, and it integrates perfectly into the Calibre GUI. You can invoke it directly by running “ebook-edit” from a terminal or using the “Edit E-book” menu item in your Desktop Environment.
Calibre can also run as a Web Server with an OPDS interface, ideal for when you have an ebook reader with a Wireless network interface – you can download books directly from your library without the need for a USB cable. But it needs to be hidden behind an Apache reverse proxy to make it safe enough to use on the Internet. I recently installed COPS however, which is built from the ground up to be a replacement Calibre OPDS PHP Server. After some discussion with the developer, I talked him into adding an online web-based EPUB reader which is based on Monocle, so that I can read my ebooks directly on my ChromeBook without the need for downloads or browser plugins.
I already posted about my gripes with building the new LibreOffice 4.2.0. Well, I finally managed to make it work, and the resulting packages (for Slackware 14.1 and -current) are available. A significant bug was rapidly discovered in Calc when using a non-english language pack. It seems that other people suffered from this in earlier releases even, and not just on Slackware. Still, this is a release with many improvements. Read more about the new features and fixes on the announcement page. Interesting tidbit: LibreOffice 4.2 offers a new Start screen, with a cleaner layout that makes better use of the available space – even on small screens – and shows a preview of the last documents you opened.
Focus for the 4.2 cycle is performance and interoperability (yeah, when is it not) with MS Office.
Note that I ship my LibreOffice 4.1 and 4.2 packages with additional “libreoffice-dict-<language>” packages, containing dictionary and spellchecker support! If you are still running Slackware 13.37 there’s LibreOffice 3.6.7 for which I also have packages, and users of Slackware 14.0 are served well with LibreOffice 4.1.4.
Another update to Chrome/Chromium brings this open source version of Chrome to 32.0.1700.107, and interestingly enough (but I disregarded this) another update appeared one day later which “upgrades” Chromium to 32.0.1700.103. A comment to that blog announcement questions the effective downgrade but there is no answer yet from the developers.
This is another maintenance release of the “Rincewind” release, “fixing numerous bugs, and improves decoders, notably for the new formats (HEVC and VP9). Important fixes involve Audio and Video output management on most platforms“. 2.1.3 also “improves the demuxer and decoders for most formats, and the various interfaces“.
Rsync acccess is offered by the mirror server: rsync://taper.alienbase.nl/mirrors/people/alien/restricted_slackbuilds/vlc/ .
My usual warning about patents: versions that can not only DEcode but also ENcode mp3 and aac audio can be found in my alternative repository where I keep the packages containing code that might violate stupid US software patents.
Adobe’s Flash Player plugin
There was a minor version number update today, for Adobe’s Flash Player Plugin for web browsers. The update is accompanied by a security bulletin “apsb14-04”
Packages for Mozilla compatible browsers are here (and the update to pepperflash plugin for Chromium should follow shortly):
A new release of the web browser plugin for OpenJDK is available since today. Version 1.4.2 finally makes Oracle’s Java version tester page work again (remember that you now have to explicitly allow the plugin to start inside your Firefox or Chromium browser):
The latest KDE Sofware Compilation is 4.12.2 which is available now and it accompanied by Plasma Workspaces 4.11.6. Mostly bug fix release, you should have no issues upgrading.
Contrary to what I had told before, I have built these packages on Slackware 14.1. I am running them on all my Slackware-current boxes without issues. The difference between Slackware 14.1 and -current is not so big yet, which is the rationale behind my decision to use Slackware 14.1 as the compilation platform this one time (for maximum compatibility). You will find all the installation/upgrade instructions that you need in the accompanying README file. That README also contains basic information for KDE recompilation using the provided SlackBuild script.
You are strongly advised to read and follow these installation/upgrade instructions!
My packages can be found in the ‘ktown’ repository which I maintain for KDE packages:
I am fully occupied this week and the next with training my new helpdesk team, so it took me a bit by surprise when Willy Sudiarto Raharjo tweeted that there was a version 1.0 of Calibre since this morning. Kovid Goyal, developer of Calibre, published the news in a blog post. It’s nearly seven years since Kovid started with Calibre – this was the time when the first E-ink based ereader device, SONY PRS-500, hit the market. At first, Calibre was merely a library which was able to convert e-book formats into Sony’s LRF format. It got ‘upgraded’ with a graphical user interface to manage Kovid’s growing ebook library.
There have been 44 increments in the 0.9.x series of Calibre. During that period of development, the program got powered by a new optimized database engine, you can now sub-divide your library into smaller virtual collections, and many improvements have been made to the importing, converting, polishing and exportering of digital book formats (including the .docx file format).
I try to maintain an up-to-date version of my custom-built Calibre package (and a fairly successful package it is!). Calibre is invaluable to anyone in the possession of an E-Reader or even just a collection of E-Books. I use it every day – one of Calibre’s many functions is to download my daily (paid) newspaper in EPUB format, so that I can access the newspaper (today’s and all previous days’editions) anywhere I have an internet connection.
I realize that the Calibre web site urges you to download the developer’s own distro-agnostic installer – it is the only binary version of Calibre he will support – but to me the calibre.SlackBuild has been a learning experience akin to developing my SlackBuild script for VLC, only this time for a Python-based program. Been lots of fun! Also, a proper Slackware package is a more appropriate way of installing software in Slackware.
I hope you give the new Calibre 1.0 package a spin. I made packages available for Slackware releases 13.37, 14.0 and -current. While the Slackware 13.37 package is pretty much self-contained (you only need podofo and icu4c installed additionally), the package for newer Slackware releases is a lot smaller, but has many external dependencies: BeautifulSoup, dnspython, podofo, pycrypto, pysetuptools, python-apsw, python-cssselect, python-cssutils, python-dateutil, python-imaging, python-lxml, python-mechanize, python-netifaces and python-psutil (note: python-apsw is a new dependency since the previous version). All of these packages can be found in my repository as well, of course.
Yes, I finally got rid of the flu – but it took a week. I lost some weight (and I am not overweight so I am looking starved now), I still have a bad cough and my lower back muscles are strained and painful because of the continuous coughing. Otherwise I am fine.
I had a bit of a Slackware backlog which I am getting rid of now, thanks to my automated build scripts (creating these packages took time, not effort).
The Libre Office developers had published their 3.6.5 release last week, and I finally felt good enough to build packages. I did a quick examination and it appears that the opening/saving of password-protected files is finally working! Other bugfixes are documented in the release notes. That shows a fairly long list, let’s hope 3.6.5 is going to be rock stable for everyone. It is the last 3.x release before moving on to 4.0.0 in February.
These LibreOffice 3.6.5 packages have been built on Slackware 13.37. They can be installed on Slackware 14 as well, but there seem to be some dynamic linking errors, so I assume that some functionality is broken. I have not yet found where that happens, though. If you find any issues on Slackware 14 please tell me.
The next series, 4.x ,will be compiled on Slackware 14.0 and that will be the end of the library errors in any case. Modifying the libreoffice.SlackBuild script for the 4.x release required real effort! I am running LibreOffice 4.0.0_RC2 here on the desktop machine and it will be worth it, I promise. I will wait with making my new packages public until the official stable 4.0.0 release, so be patient for now please… Those who are still on Slackware 13.37 will have a good fallback choice with LibreOffice 3.6.5.
I also updated my steamclient package with a re-packaging of Valve’s latest binary release (a debian package for Ubuntu actually): 184.108.40.206. I am going to write a separate blog entry about Steam this weekend so I am not lingering here too long. Rest assured that the new package will rid you of the annoying “outdated client” errors and works like a charm (mostly).
Calibre Ebook Management
And I am again in line with the weekly updates of Kovid Goyal, developer of Calibre. I still maintain an up-to-date version of my custom-built package because I think it is an important tool for anyone with an E-Reader who does not want to tie his hands to a commercial ebook management & library system. Calibre acts as my family’s library and using OPDS protocol, I do not even need a cable to download new books onto the reader. I just use the wireless network.
The Event Horizon!
The blog’s subject hinted that more is coming.. Indeed I already have my packages ready for KDE 4.10.0 but I am not yet releasing them yet… I am waiting for the official announcement next week (and maybe other packagers will find bugs in the meantime). It is looking cool and I am running it here with no issues. In fact I played several hours of Half-Life Deathmatch against my son (there’s a Linux Beta of that too, since this week on Steam – well worth the 10 bucks), and neither the new KDE nor Steam nor Half-life crashed. Also imminent is a new release of IcedTea, the build framework for OpenJDK which I use. That means, there will be a Slackware package for OpenJDK “7u12” or somewhat like that, very soon.
You surely noticed a bit of silence on this blog. Well, there was not much to say – I am not the twittering kind of guy who updates his readers where he’ll go out every night… I think I can lift the lid a little anyway.
I have been working on several larger packaging projects during the past weeks. LibreOffice is the one that took most of my time unfortunately. The new release 3.4.0 has been announced today, and that means I can finally test my revised SlackBuild script when building Slackware packages for you. My old way of compiling LibreOffice no longer works! It has been “deprecated” by the developers, which is a shame because it forces me to do a lot more work. Anyway, expect packages for Slackware 13.37 sometime this weekend.
I will probably not create Slackware 13.1 packages for this new LibreOffice release. What I do consider is to build the upcoming maintenance release for LibreOffice 3.3 (which will be 3.3.3) for Slackware 13.1.
KDE. How to begin? There are some stirrings in the KDE camp.
We are nearing the end of the KDE 4.6 series. Two more updates will see the light: 4.6.4 should be available in a few days and 4.6.5 is the final update, expected in early july. But considering the fact that the previous 4.6.3 experienced delays, it may take a little longer before I can start on packaging 4.6.4.
The new series 4.7.x proves to be a bigger challenge for Slackware. We saw that the 4.6. series moved away from HAL and instead requires udisks/upower (which was the reason for sticking with 4.5.5 in Slackware 13.37). The KDE developers have now finalized their move from CVS to GIT as the source control and version management system. The result is less than optimally arranged for packagers. The old “monolithic” source tarballs are now being split into many additional tarballs for individual applications. This means we have rewrite our scripts and possibly add a lot of packages. While this may be advantageous for some other distros with dedicated packaging teams, for us Slackware people it is a time for decisions.
After talking to Pat Volkerding, I announced on the KDE packager mailing list that we are considering the same solution as was chosen for GNOME in the past: remove KDE from Slackware if it proves to become a maintenance burden. I can not yet say anything final about this. For the time being, I have decided not to create Slackware packages for the KDE Software Compilation 4.7.x.
And then VLC…I have been waiting for a 1.2 release for so long that I almost do not believe it will ever arrive. I have a SlackBuild for it, but I will likely wait a bit longer before releasing a package for ths development version of VLC media player. It appears like there is a 1.1.10 release around the corner which is what I’ll build for Slackware 13.1 as well as 13.37.
Looking ahead, I think that creating VLC versions for Android is going to be considered more important. There is a whole new audience there, and I may very well be one of its users. There is also the fact that the developer team is almost always short of smart and motivated people. This showed last year when it was almost impossible to release a MS Windows version. Jean-Baptiste Kempf feels responsible for this so he made it happen, but I doubt that it is making him very happy.
And finally, Calibre E-book Management. This piece of software is indispensible if you are in the possession of an E-reader. Calibre manages your e-book collection, converts e-books between various formats (interesting for you Kindle users out there!) and allows you to upload books to your E-reader device. Calibre usually works a lot better than the software you get with your E-reader. And since I am buying a Sony PRS650 for my wife I needed to have a working verison of Calibre for my Slackware box.
I have a Slackware package for Calibre in my repository but I have not been able to update it for a while, because it requires python 2.7. Unfortunately, Slackware 13.37 is still at python version 2.6.6. So I spent a lot of time to find a way around this and decided to take the same approach as with VLC and FFMPEG: that is, to compile all the requirements into the package itself and not depend on Slackware. I think I have succeeded in this, and am currently testing the results. Stay tuned…
Happy hacking! Eric
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