Tag Archives: current

Patrick, next Slackware and moving forward with KDE Plasma5

I assume that many of you will have been reading the recent Linux Questions thread “Donating to Slackware” and in particular Patrick Volkerding’s reply where he explains that the Slackware Store (an entity independent of Slackware with which he has a business arrangement involving a percentage of sales profit and medical insurance) has not been paying him any money for the last two years and that most likely all the PayPal donations through the Store have gone into the pockets of the Store owners. Read that thread if you have not done so yet.
Basically Pat is broke. That thread lists a PayPal address which Pat eventually shared and where donations can be sent directly to him, so that he can fix his roof, his airco, his crashing server and his wife’s car. That would be a start.

That LQ thread is also perused to discuss possible ways forward for Pat (setting up a Patreon account, or a business PayPal account, etc) so that he can support his family and continue working on Slackware. To me it looks like the Store will be a thing of the past unless they change their attitude. Switching from a business model where revenue is generated from optical media sales, to a model where supporters set up a recurring payment in exchange for the prolonged existence of their favorite distro, and possibly get Pat to write up some hands-on stories as a reward, may ultimately benefit Pat, and Slackware, more than the way things are handled at the moment. If you are doubting the financial impact of a recurring payment through Patreon or PayPal, look at it this way: if you donate one euro per month, you will probably not even notice that the money is shifted out. But with 2000 people donating one euro per month, Pat would have a basic income (pre-tax) already. Not a lot, but it’s a start. The 2000 people is a rough estimate of the people who ordered a DVD or CD through the store: the owners told Pat that the earnings of the 14.2 release were 100K (and Pat got 15K out of that, go figure!). Divide that through ~50 euro per DVD, results in 2000 people. Then there’s all these people who donated money through the Store or bought shirts, caps and stickers. I think the amounts of money even a small community (like us Slackware users) can contribute should enable Pat to shed his financial worries. The fact that the Slackware Store basically has been ripping off the hand that feeds them is enraging and inexcusable.
This is all about a community standing up to provide support for what (or who) bonds us together.

Very important to take from Pat’s reply is that he’s “never really been in this for the money” but without income, Slackware’s development is ultimately affected too. I hesitated writing this article, even after Patrick’s LQ post, because it is Patrick’s life and I won’t decide for him how to live it. But I am passionate about Slackware, and care a great deal for Pat, Andrea and Briah, and wish them nothing but the best.

So, in that LQ thread and in private talks, I guess that there will be a lot of discussions as well about the shape and form of a future Slackware. Should it shrink to a “core distro” on which others can build their repositories, for instance offering Plasma5, MATE, Cinnamon desktop environments? How to integrate these external repositories so that a new install could effortlessly be expanded with extra functionality? Should Plasma5 be included? Should PAM be included? And so forth. Lots of exciting developments in stock!

As for KDE Plasma5, I talked with Pat about the way forward and what his plans are with regard to Slackware and Plasma5. Pat indicated that he would at this moment be in favor of going with the latest and greatest instead of adopting LTS (Long Term Support) releases of KDE, because of the reports from several Slackware Plasma5 users that several usability bugs have been solved in the latest releases (part of those improvements can be attributed to the newer Qt5). If Pat decides not to adopt Plasma5 into Slackware, then as long as he provides a solid base in Slackware 15.0 I can keep providing Plasma5 as an add-on through my ‘ktown’ repository. That “solid base” would at least have to be Qt5, its supporting libraries, and recompiled/upgraded phonon, poppler, harfbuzz etc packages to add Qt5 support so that I can cut my “deps” section substantially and no longer have to provide alternate versions of packages that are also part of Slackware but lack required functionality.

And that is why my next update of ‘ktown‘ will see the removal of the LTS software versions in the ‘latest‘ sub-repository and at the same time, the bleeding edge ‘testing‘ sub-repository will be promoted to the ‘latest‘. The ‘testing’ and ‘latest’ will then contain the same packages, so that everyone will upgrade to the same July ’18 packages.
I still need to start collecting the new KDE source archives, sync my virtual machines to latest -current and start compiling. Don’t expect packages before the weekend…

Eric

Tracking development of slackware in git

Something had been nagging me for a long time, and I finally had enough of that itch and decided to deal with it.

As you know, there’s a private and a public side to Slackware’s development. The discussions and decisions are handled internally among the members of ‘the team’ and are not shared with the public at large until an update is done to the ‘slackware-current’ tree which can be found on every Internet mirror.
Thus you have access to the latest state of development always. But for some people it is a compelling idea to be able to access the development updates in a public repository like git – where you can track the changes over time.

A recent discussion on LinuxQuestions brought up the topic of SlackBuild scripts in Slackware-current. The scripts you can find in the -current directory tree on the Slackware mirrors are always the latest version. Sometimes there’s a good reason to want to go back in time and fetch an earlier version. In the thread post with the appropriate number “1337” it is ponce (Matteo Bernardini) who replies with a link to a git repository maintained by Adrien Nader which already has been tracking the development in -current for nearly 8 years!. So it’s quite a convenient way to retrieve a historical version of any script.

Me being me, it’s the existence of that repository which has been nagging me for a couple of years. Why? Because I wondered how it was done. And if I question an issue long enough, I will eventually create my own solution – as a learning exercise of course, but also to give back to the community.

And so, today arrived. I was pondering – if I were to create a git repository for tracking the developments in -current, what would I want in there? Exactly the same as Adrien’s? The answer has been “no” for a while. The most important capability that is missing from Adrien’s repo is that it contains a lot of compressed files that are impossible to read. Think of patches and doinst.sh scripts, and more. So I gave myself the task to implement a git repository with uncompressed files, as an improvement on the original effort. Also, it should track all relevant files in the complete tree, not just in the “./source/” subdirectory. In particular the documentation files (various .TXT files).

The result is a script, maintain_current_git.sh, and a repository, https://git.slackware.nl/current/ .
The repository just had its first commit. For those who want to check out a commit in order to compile a package from there, the maintain_current_git.sh script generates another script called ‘recompress.sh‘ and stores that script in the root directory of the repository. When you run this recompress script in the root directory of the repository, it will re-compress all the files that had been un-compressed before committing them to git. That way, a SlackBuild script will find the correct files and will function as intended. Note that you would still have to download the source tarballs from somewhere, because this repository of mine will only track the Slackware-specific files.

I decided that it is prudent and more respectful to not import Adrien’s work into my own repository. The two are similar but different and I think everyone of you can choose which repository suits your needs better.

I have scheduled the above script to run twice a day and update the git repository when new updates become available.
As with all my scripts, this one has a “-h” parameter to explain its usage. Let me know if it – and the git repository – are useful to you.
This particular script may be a bit messy because I have not spent a lot of time polishing it. I hope that’s OK 😉

Have fun!

VLC rebuilt for -current, Chromium and Palemoon updated

Browser updates: both Google Chromium (66.0.3359.181) and Palemoon (27.9.2) released new versions last week which I packaged for Slackware 14.2 and -current. The Palemoon update contains CVE-tagged security fixes. You are advised to upgrade.

The VLC 3.0.2 player was broken in slackware-current after the recent update of the libidn package. I rebuilt the vlc package for -current and at the same time updated some of its internal support libraries (asdcp, dca, dsm, dvbpsi, x265). The recompile was not trivial because another recent update in -current (the openssl move to 1.1.x) caused some issues for which I had to find patches. Eventually, there’s a working VLC in the repository again.

Get the packages here:

The VLC package with AAC encoder and DVD decryption capability which therefore cannot be hosted in the US can be found in https://slackware.nl/people/alien/restricted_slackbuilds/ (rsync://slackware.nl/mirrors/people/alien/restricted_slackbuilds/) as always.

Have fun! Eric

Fun and games in -current when ABIs break

Oh my.
It was not an April Fools joke when the ChangeLog.txt of slackware-current mentioned the following (I left out the non-relevant package updates):

 

+--------------------------+
Sun Apr 1 02:53:26 UTC 2018
...
l/icu4c-61.1-x86_64-1.txz: Upgraded.
 Shared library .so-version bump.
...
l/poppler-0.63.0-x86_64-1.txz: Upgraded.
 Shared library .so-version bump.

All of us  who follow Slackware’s development know that “shared library version bump” means ABI breakage. I.e. a lot of 3rd-party binaries will suddenly not find required library versions anymore. In particular icu4c and poppler are nasty beasts. Slackware’s own packages had been carefully updated and recompiled where needed of course, so there was no breakage in the distro itself. But many people do not run a bare Slackware installation… a lot of software is usually installed on top. And that is the software which will be affected by an incompatible change like this one on April 1st.

What’s this  version bump all about? How is it possible that it affects your computer so deeply?

Most programs depend on other programs. Software developers hate to re-invent the wheel if they can avoid it. Lots of lower-level or widely used functionality has been put into software libraries. Think of network access functionality, text rendering, encryption etc – smart people have created useful, efficient and robust software and stuffed that code into libraries. Your own program can link against these libraries at run-time and access the functionality they have to offer and your program needs.
If many programs link to the same libraries, that reduces the memory footprint because a library has to be loaded into memory only once even if many programs are using it. These libraries are therefore called ‘shared libraries‘ or ‘shared objects‘ (hence the extension ‘.so‘) or also dynamic libraries. For this dynamic linking to work, programs use binary interfaces at runtime that were established when the program was compiled and linked.
A shared library version only needs to change if the Application Binary Interface (ABI) changes. When that happens, all binaries that depend on the library need to be recompiled to adjust to the new ABI.
Among others, an ABI depends on the machine architecture, and on the toolchain (compiler, linker) used to generate the binary code from its sources. An ABI guarantees binary compatibility: the program will work on every machine with the same ABI, without a need for recompilation.

When will an ABI usually change?

One case is when the library’s API (Application Programming Interface, i.e. the way in which access to the library routines is defined in its source code) changes. This mostly occurs in software that is not yet stable and where its programmers add new functionality or revise the methods of calling the library’s functionality. Mature software on the other hand has a well-defined API which is rarely subject to change.

Another case is when the toolchain is updated. Slackware’s toolchain has been very stable and ABI changes have seldomly been introduced. As an example, Patrick talks about the a.out to ELF migration and the libc5 to glibc migration in a 2012 interview.

So why does well-established software like icu4c and poppler change their ABI almost on every minor release, thereby pissing off a really large crowd? You tell me. Arrogance or sloppiness, but let’s attribute it to bad project management. Because it probably could have been avoided in many if not all cases.

Anyway, some of you upgraded first to this new batch of updates in -current, then found out that some 3rd party packages stopped working, and then started looking for a cause.
Folks: if you are running slackware-current, you always check the ChangeLog.txt first. And if you spot a “shared library version bump” you stop right there and assess the situation. Some friends on LinuxQuestions were a bit more vocal about the way they had found themselves at a dead Plasma5 screen… others understood the situation better and and realized they had to wait for 3rd party packagers to update their repositories instead of assuming ill will.
If you are unable to cope with this kind of occasional breakage, use a stable Slackware release. That’s what all of us have been telling you all along.

My packages have been affected as well:

  • Plasma 5 stopped working,
    The fix is to recompile several packages among which a number of big ones: qt5, qt5-webkit and calligra. That means, you will have to have patience. The 64bit repository has been updated in the meantime. After upgrading from my ‘ktown’ repository your Plasma5 will again be fully functional. The 32bit repository updates will hopefully follow tomorrow have been uploaded now. I had to restart the 32bit qt5 compilation because of an internal compiler error halfway.
    The updated Plasma5 will even have some new functionality – since i slipped in the KMymoney program which otherwise would have been introduced at the April update of ‘ktown‘.
  • LibreOffice stopped working.
    The 64bit packages have been recompiled. They have been updated actually since there was a micro source version bump from 6.0.3.1 to 6.0.3.2 yesterday – my luck! The 32bit packages have to wait until after ‘ktown‘ updates have been completed and then I will upload them. New libreoffice packages for -current are now available.
  • Pale Moon stopped working.
    I was able to recompile the packages inbetween the Plasma5 compilation because it only takes little time. The updated palemoon packages are already in my repository.
  • Calibre stopped working.
    This will have to wait until after all the other updates New calibre packages for -current are now available..

And probably other stuff is broken too but I have not yet spotted that. If you find breakage, please report it so that I can recompile the package.

KDE 5_17.02 for Slackware-current is available

I am happy to announce my February 2017 release of the ‘ktown’ packages: KDE 5_17.02. What you get in this new release is: KDE Frameworks 5.31.0, Plasma 5.9.2 and Applications 16.12.2. All built on top of Qt 5.7.1.
Soon, I will compile this version of Plasma 5 on Slackware 14.2 (only 64bit) as well, but I gave priority last few days to the new LibreOffice packages and a new PLASMA5 Live image. The packages that I am releasing today are for Slackware-current only (both 32bit and 64bit). As stated in my previous post, I will no longer be releasing Plasma 5 packages for 32bit Slackware 14.2.

What you also need to know is that I removed all packages and sources from my ‘ktown‘ repository that it still contained for Slackware 13.37 and 14.1. These were using up disk space that I needed on my ‘bear’ server. People who want the latest & greatest in KDE should upgrade to Slackware 14.2 or -current.

I also emptied the ‘testing’ area of the ‘ktown‘ repository. The packages in there were outdated and no longer gave you a working desktop environment. I plan to re-add some packages for testing there, once I have rebuilt the mesa / xorg-server / qt5 stack against Wayland so I can again check out the status on Slackware of the Wayland compositor in the Plasma Window Manager (kwin). But that is for another time.

What’s new in KDE 5_17.02?

  • Frameworks 5.31.0 is an enhancement release. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/kde-frameworks-5.31.0.php
  • Plasma 5.9.2 is the second iteration of the 5.9 series with small fixes only. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.9.2.php . I am not sticking with the long term support (LTS) releases of Plasma 5.8, as I think LTS should be targeting stable Slackware. If you want to know more about the long term support plans, go read: https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.8.0.php .
    This is my first release with Plasma 5.9 so it is worth mentioning some of the changes:

    • You will experience various visual and usability improvements all across the board.
    • A new network configurator was added to System Settings.
    • Global menus have finally been implemented in Plasma. This means that the application menus can be separated from the application windows: the menu can now be shown either in a Plasma widget or via a handle tucked into the window bar.
  • Applications 16.12.2 is an incremental fix-release in the 16.12 series. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-applications-16.12.2.php .
  • The ‘deps’ section has four updated packages: OpenAL, libxkbcommon, phonon, wayland; and one recompiled package: qt5. I will not upgrade qt5 to 5.8.0 until the KWin developer gives it the green light.
  • Also worth mentioning: the KF5 ports of calligra, krita, ktorrent, partitionmanager, skanlite and the KDE Development Suite can be found in “kde/applications-extra” subdirectory. Packages for kjots (previously contained in KDEPIM) and kuser (which has been orphaned) have been moved into “kde/applications-extra” as well.

This upgrade should be relatively straightforward if you already have Plasma 5 installed. See below for install/upgrade instructions. For users who are running slackware-current, the most crucial part is making sure that you end up with Slackware’s packages for ‘libinput‘ and ‘libwacom‘. Failing to do so, may render your input devices (mouse and keyboard) inoperative in X.Org.

You may want to check out the new Plasma 5 before installing. For this purpose, I have generated a new Live ISO for the PLASMA5 variant based on an intermediate liveslak-1.1.6.2 release. Look for that ISO on http://bear.alienbase.nl/mirrors/slackware-live/latest/ . The timestamp of the “slackware64-live-plasma5-current.iso” file should be Feb 26 16, 2017.

Multilib considerations

If you install a 32bit program on a 64bit Slackware computer with multilib and that program needs legacy system tray support (think of Skype for instance), you will have to grab the 32-bit version of Slackware’s ‘libdbusmenu-qt’ and my ktown-deps package ‘sni-qt’, and run the ‘convertpkg-compat32 -i‘ command on them to create ‘compat32’ versions of these packages. Then install both ‘libdbusmenu-qt-compat32‘ and ‘sni-qt-compat32‘.
Those two are mandatory addons for displaying system tray icons of 32bit binaries in 64bit multilib Plasma5.

Installing or upgrading Frameworks 5, Plasma 5 and Applications

You can skip the remainder of the article if you already have my Plasma 5 installed and are familiar with the upgrade process. Otherwise, stay with me and read the rest.

As always, the accompanying README file contains full installation & upgrade instructions. Note that the packages are available in several subdirectories below “kde”, instead of directly in “kde”. This makes it easier for me to do partial updates of packages. The subdirectories are “kde4“, “kde4-extragear“, “frameworks“, “kdepim“, “plasma“, “plasma-extra“, “applications“, “applications-extra” and “telepathy“.

Upgrading to this KDE 5 is not difficult, especially if you already are running KDE 5_17.01. You will have to remove old KDE 4 packages manually. If you do not have KDE 4 installed at all, you will have to install some of Slackware’s own KDE 4 packages manually.

What I usually do is: download all the ‘ktown’ packages for the new release to a local disk. Then run “upgrade –install-new” on all these packages. Then I check the status of my Slackware-current, upgrading the stock packages where needed. The slackpkg tool is invaluable during this process of syncing the package installation status to the releases.

Note:

If you are using slackpkg+, have already moved to KDE 5_17.01 and are adventurous, you can try upgrading using the following set of commands. This should “mostly” work but you still need to check the package lists displayed by slackpkg to verify that you are upgrading all the right packages. Feel free to send me improved instructions if needed. In below example I am assuming that you tagged my KDE 5 repository with the name “ktown” in the configuration file “/etc/slackpkg/slackpkgplus.conf“):
# slackpkg update
# slackpkg install ktown (to get the newly added packages from my repo)
# slackpkg install-new (to get the new official Slackware packages that were part of my deps previously)
# slackpkg upgrade ktown (upgrade all existing packages to their latest versions)
# slackpkg upgrade-all (upgrade the remaining dependencies that were part of my repo previously)

And doublecheck that you have not inadvertently blacklisted my packages in “/etc/slackpkg/blacklist“! Check for the existence of a line in that blacklist file that looks like “[0-9]+alien” and remove it if you find it!

Recommended reading material

There have been several posts now about KDE 5 for Slackware-current. All of them contain useful information, tips and gotchas. If you want to read them, here they are: http://alien.slackbook.org/blog/tag/kde5/

A note on Frameworks

The KDE Frameworks are extensions on top of Qt 5.x and their usability is not limited to the KDE Software Collection. There are other projects such as LXQT which rely (in part) on the KDE Frameworks, and if you are looking for a proper Frameworks repository which is compatible with Slackware package managers such as slackpkg+, then you can use these URL’s to assure yourself of the latest Frameworks packages for Slackware-current (indeed, this is a sub-tree of my KDE 5 repository):

The same goes for Frameworks for Slackware 14.2 (change ‘current’ to ‘14.2’ in the above URLs).

Where to get the new packages for Plasma 5

Download locations are listed below (you will find the sources in ./source/5/ and packages in /current/5/ and  /14.2/5/ subdirectories). If you are interested in the development of KDE 5 for Slackware, you can peek at my git repository too.

Using a mirror is preferred because you get more bandwidth from a mirror and it’s friendlier to the owners of the master server!

Have fun! Eric