New Chromium browser for you!
The release earlier this week of Chromium 76 came with a total of 43 security fixes but this new major version of course also sports some real usability changes.
Most notably: Flash is now disabled by default. It’s no longer sufficient to click an “allow Flash on this page” popup but you need to go into the Chromium settings and override the default. And click in on the Flash element to make it start playing. Even then, the changes you make will not survive the restart of the browser. Google is apparently stepping up its efforts in convincing website developers to switch to HTML5 instead. In 2020 Adobe will stop with Flash anyway, so remaining Flash-powered sites will not survive long.
Another big behavioral change is that it is no longer possible for web sites to detect that you are browsing in ‘anonymous mode‘. This will make it a lot harder for sites with a ‘pay-wall‘ to block you from accessing their paid content though trial subscriptions.
And another positive change is that hitting the ‘Esc‘ key to stop a page from loading, is no longer treated as user activation. Meaning that malicious web sites will have more trouble messing with your browser because your ‘Esc‘ keypress is no longer passed to the remote web site.
I uploaded packages for the new Chromium 76.0.3809.87 today. That should have happened days earlier, but unfortunately I had to spend several nights to track down the cause of an inability to compile a 32bit package for the new version.
You may (or may not) know that my chromium.SlackBuild downloads and compiles a custom version of the clang compiler which is then used to compile Chromium. Compiling Chromium with gcc is not fully supported by Google, and Slackware’s own version of clang is too old to be used for Chromium.
So what happened…. some developer determined that no one should run 32bit Linux software anymore and hard-coded a 64bit architecture in the clang build script that is part of the Chromium source. Attempts at compiling a 64bit clang on 32bit Slackware results in weird errors, and of course compiling the Chromium sources was out of the question then. That fuck-up took me a while to find dammit!
After I wrote a patch to fix this for my Slackware package, I inspected the Chromium source repository and was happy to find that this ‘improvement’ had been applied nine weeks ago and that other people had already felt the resulting pain – and that the offending commit has already been reverted.
The next release of Chromium should again compile without issues… fingers crossed.
Wait no more and grab that package (for Slackware 14.2 and -current) from my site or any mirror.
There was an update to Chromium browser code this week as announced a few days ago by Google. I built new Slackware packages for Chromium 74.0.3729.169 and uploaded them earlier this week to slackware.com and slackware.nl (or you can use any mirror site of course).
There were two intermediate updates to Chromium 74 which I did not compile & package. Both versions address a couple of security issues (CVE’s), but at the time I was unable to work a computer. It’s therefore a good idea to upgrade to this new package.
Also this week, the Document Foundation released version 6.2.4 of their office suite LibreOffice. I have built and uploaded sets of packages for Slackware 14.2 and also for -current, 32bits and 64bits.
I had some issues with the visibility of LibreOffice icons in its toolbar recently (last couple of versions of LibreOffice that I built actually).
I am using LibreOffice on Slackare-current with Plasma5 and in the profile script “/etc/profile.d/libreoffice.sh” I have uncommented this line because the GTK+3 widget set usually gives the best possible interface for LO in a Plasma5 desktop:
However, icons would not show unless you moved the mouse across them, or sometimes even that would not work. In other words, it made working with LO impossible unless I switched the widget support to “generic’ by uncommenting “export SAL_USE_VCLPLUGIN=gen” in aformentioned profile script instead. But that results in a butt-ugly interface.
By chance I found out that this is caused by a setting in LibreOffice itself. Go to “Tools > Options > Libreoffice > View > Icon Style” and I noticed that the style was set to “Automatic (Breeze)”. I selected “Elementary” instead and voila, I had a working toolbar with visible icons again. For some reason, the integration of GTK+3 applications in Plasma5′ QT5 based interface using the ‘breeze-gtk” package is not fully compatible with the LibreOffice icon handling.
Just so you know.
And finally, there were fresh security updates on the Adobe website for their Flash player plugin. The new version 184.108.40.206 which was released last week (but I missed it) was announced in a security bulletin. I built the packages for the Chromium-compatible and Mozilla-compatible browsers so that you can visit Flash-based web sites safely again (or of course you abandon the use of Flash entirely).
Who is still using these Flash plugin packages?
Where to find my packages? In any case, on these three sites. And slackware.nl as well as slackware.uk also offer rsync access:
The Chromium 74 sources were released a few days ago by Google, and it comes with a long list of fixes for security issues.
I spent almost two months to investigate why the 32bit package could no longer be built (which is one of the reasons why there were so few updates in march and april – I only have a few hours every day that I can spend on Slackware these days) and had finally managed to compile a 32bit package for Chromium 73 in a 32bit chroot environment on a 64bit Slackware OS, and that package was online for one day…. and now I tried compiling the new release on a regular 32bit Slackware OS and that worked! No idea whether this is because of my modifications of the SlackBuild.
The packages for chromium-74.0.3729.108 are now ready for download from slackware.com or slackware.nl, or any other mirror.
I verified that the Widevine CDM (for Netflix movie streaming) is still working.
Last week the Chrome (and Chromium) update to release 69 was in the news. The UI changed significantly, sporting more of Google’s material design elements. Also the password manager has been improved: it will suggest random passwords in cases where you have to create a Web account and will offer to remember the random password in its vault so you don’t have to write it down or remember it (you’ll have to be signed into your Google account to be able to use this feature though).
The ‘omnibox‘ (the area where you type your URLS and search queries) is more powerful now, showing many more related results while you are typing.
My package for Chromium supports direct playback of H.265/HEVC video by the way, and has done so for the past releases. Check it out for instance on https://www.h265files.com/embed-h265-video.php . Not many other browsers (even other distros’ Chromium browsers) will do that.
Not just UI changes/improvements in version 69.0.3497.81 but also many (some severe) bugs were addressed in this release. Read all about that in the Google blog post.
A package for Slackware 14.2 (32bit) took a bit of time because I kept having segafaults in clang++ but an update to the latest patches for Slackware 14.2 put an end to these segfaults. Packages for Slackware 14.2 and -current are awaiting your download.
FYI: Just today an update was posted and a new version 69.0.3497.92 of the Chromium source code was released. I will see when I can compile packages for that, but it will probably not be this week.
And then there was a new release of the VideoLAN media player, VLC, last month. I took a while to reserve some time on the build box to create packages for Slackware 14.2 and -current, but they are done now. The release 3.0.4 did not get any attention on the VideoLAN news page (yet?), but there are plenty of fixes that are relevant for Linux users.
Remember that this VLC depends on Qt5 – you’ll need libxkbcommon, qt5 and qt5-webkit packages, and on Slackware 14.2 additionally libinput and libwacom (those two are already part of -current).
You know where to download the packages, don’t you? The new versions of Chromium and VLC are also present on the latest Plasma5 Live ISO image for Slackware.
The new release of the Chromium sources gives us version 64 of Google’s browser. I have created Slackware packages for you, but that was not entirely trivial.
The Chromium compilation on my 32bit Slackware OS kept failing on the embedded ffmpeg. I am afraid the fact that some of the bigger distros are dropping 32bit variants starts showing and things are coming apart at the seams.
When you are a developer and there’s no 32bit release of your favorite OS, this makes it quite difficult to test the validity of code paths when you only compile and test your code on a 64bit platform. This is what’s happening with Google’s Chromium code and it will probably only get worse.
For now, I could get away by disabling assembly code in the 32bit avcodec library, but in order to get that going I had to study the Chromium code carefully – Google does not use the standard autotools or cmake configurations that the Average Joe would employ when compiling ffmpeg, instead they re-invent the wheel every so often to keep everyone on edge. First it was Gyp, but that did not work out too well and the current fad is called GN (as Google state themselves “GN is a meta-build system that generates Ninja build files so that you can build Chromium with Ninja“).
Some time soon, I need to dissect Chromium’s embedded ffmpeg code, to see if I can get assembly code compiling again on 32bit. Else it may be more prudent to start depending on an external (system-wide) ffmpeg installation, which I can compile without any pain on 32bit Slackware.
We’re fine for now, at least. Let’s hope it does not get worse.
Get your chromium 64 packages for Slackware 14.2 and -current: