My thoughts on Slackware, life and everything

Tag: dokuwiki

I switched the Wiki theme as well

Last week I told you about the change of theme which I applied to my personal blog. It seems that I was not done then.
On a different server I host the SlackDocs Wiki ( and a lot more than that Wiki actually; is the same host which also provides you with the mirrors. This host is a physical server running in a datacenter on Slackware64 15.0 – nice and stable.

For an unrelated service I decided to upgrade the stock PHP 7.x to the 8.x version you can find in the ./extra directory because that is a version which offered better support and speed for that particular service.
Only the next day I found out that the PHP upgrade broke the Dokuwiki software which is what SlackDocs Wiki is actually based on. I could not use the Wiki’s admin interface to repair what got broken (afterwards I assumed I may have been thwarted by old cached PHP code; Dokuwiki obtains its rendering speed by caching the compiled PHP code so that it does not have to retrieve the script code all the time). Anyway, on the commandline I was able to upgrade the Dokuwiki to its latest version and along with that, all the plugins that I installed to extend the Wiki syntax or providing community editing capabilities.

So far so good, but the Wiki was still not rendering correctly with persistent errors in the browser and in the Apache httpd logs. They turned out to be caused by the Wiki theme (in Dokuwiki it is actually called a ‘template‘ not a ‘theme‘ like the blog). For SlackDocs I have been using the “MonoBook” template since its inception. The MonoBook template for Dokuwiki is inspired by the look and feel of the original MonoBookskin‘ for MediaWiki (the wiki engine powering Wikipedia) which was replaced by the Vector skin in 2010.
This MonoBook template has not been updated since 2014 and is no longer supported by the latest Dokuwiki. Eventually I was able to fix the ‘bad code’ in the template and now the Wiki renders just fine using it.
But it got me thinking that it might be wise to switch to a supported theme. That sounds trivial, but I chose MonoBook for a reason: it supports Discussion pages. When you open a SlackDocs page, you will find a couple of tabs above the article, called “Article“, Discussion“, “Read“, “Edit“, “Old revisions” and “PDF export“. The Discussion tab allows anyone to comment on the actual article and thus hopefully spark a discussion – with the author or with other readers.
So I needed another template with that same Discussion capability. That was not so hard in the end; the same person responsible for the MonoBook template is also maintaining a Dokuwiki port of Mediawiki’s Vector skin. And even though it has not been updated either since 2014, Vector is fully supported by the latest Dokuwiki – no errors in its code.

I have ported the SlackDocs configuration for MonoBook to Vector and enabled it. The result can be seen on the current instance of SlackDocs Wiki. Most notable  change is that the search entry field is now located at the top right of the page instead of halfway the left sidebar. Well, and it looks subtly different than MonoBook of course.

I hope you like it… but it’s not that I would go back to MonoBook if you don’t.

Enjoy! Eric


OS upgrade for taper mirror aka docs wiki

Last night I upgraded the Operating System of my taper mirror (which also hosts the Wiki for to Slackware 13.37 plus patches. It has been running Slackware 13.1 reliably for two years now, but I do not want my public servers to be more than one OS release behind the most recent version.

With Slackware 14 around the corner this was the perfect opportunity to spend a sleepless night on an upgrade. Using slackpkg, I basically followed the procedure which I recently added to SlackDocs: using my own local package mirror.

No issues were encountered. I kept all services running, as long as they were in RAM they would not be affected by the package’s binaries being replaced on disk.

The upgrade to 13.37 was also a requirement for any future upgrade to the Dokuwiki software which I use for the Wiki. The pcre package in Slackware 13.1 lacks proper unicode support and that breaks the search function in the new beta of Dokuwiki. This is what you should see (and Slackware 13.37 does it right):

$ pcretest -C | grep -i unicode
Unicode properties support
\R matches all Unicode newlines

Nobody has noticed that I upgraded the OS 🙂 The server did not go down except for a reboot into the new kernel… all in all, the server was unavailable for 30 seconds. A Slackware system upgrade works flawlessly, which distro can beat that?!?


Slackware documentation project

In a recently started thread at LinuxQuestions, a discussion is flourishing about what the community can do to provide Slackware users with an up-to-date set of documentation for the distro, much like a community site as provides up-to-date and high-quality SlackBuild scripts.

The Slackware documentation we currently have is generally of good quality (lots of it is part of the Slackware DVD) but it is scattered all over the internet in sites like the SlackBookslackbasics-i18n , SlackWiki , the LinuxQuestions wiki, and several small wiki’s and blogs maintained by volunteers. Having a centralized source of documentation much like the ArchWiki would be very beneficial to Slackware and its community.

The idea would be to start implementing a series of first steps (copied from one of my posts in the LQ thread):

  1. the wiki must be hosted somewhere with shell access to at least the admin team and with the possibility of managing a MySQL database as well as the apache webserver
  2. if that hosting costs money, some sponsor would have to be found since a monthly donation model will not work (look at all the sites asking for new money in order to survive)
  3. a team of site admins / editors would have to be assembled. The site admins do not necessarily have to be the editors – but we will need many more site editors than site admins
  4. the site must have a long-term purpose. The admins/editors will decide on that. Will the site be the definitive guide to Slackware? Will it replace the Slack Book? Do you want any affiliation with Slackware developers or will it be a 100% pure community effort? Will spin-off distros be covered and/or encouraged to participate?
  5. A high level structure of the Wiki will have to be erected ASAP. A style guide will have to be written so that the site will have a visual identity which permeates all articles. Think of article templates and a set of example pages as a demonstration of what a good article looks like
  6. decide on a license for the material. ArchWiki uses the GNU Free Documentation License, while I use the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) license for my own Wiki.

A post by Woodsman (an experienced documentalist) added further concepts for keeping the participation barrier low:

Rather than use a style guide approach, consider a simple check list for editorial helpers:

  • Focus on basic grammar, but let people write as they are able.
  • Eliminate slang and colloquialisms that non English readers likely will not understand.
  • Ensure all acronyms and jargon are explained with the first usage.
  • Use a “bite-size” approach: encourage contributors to use subheadings to reduce an article into smaller sections.
  • The goal of an editorial review is to help the writer, not hinder or control the writer.

Kikinovak already reserved the domain while Patrick Volkerding kindly agreed to the use of if the site would want to be affiliated with the distro.

I went ahead and erected a Dokuwiki instance on my taper server – .

That URL is now depracated. The wiki is using the new domain name (since 21 august):

It is open for anyone who registers an account there. After you register an account there (click on the “login” at the top right and follow instructions), you can get a feel of the dokuwiki syntax by creating new pages below the playground namespace, so as not to disturb the real wiki content. Just create a new page by replacing the second “playground” with a name of your own liking, such as . The wiki will comment that the page does not exist yet and that you can click “create this page”.

A Dokuwiki site may or may not be the end product but it never hurts to start off with a bit of practicing. Note that the Wiki supports multiple languages. So, even though we would start with english articles, these could be translated and become part of the same Wiki.

I also registered the #slackdocs channel at Freenode for those who want to communicate more directly than through blog and forum postings.

Have fun! I really like feedback!


My dokuwiki got an update

Today, I updated the Dokuwiki software that I use for my Wiki to the latest version, and installed a new version of the Monobook template as well. Also, no thanks to the spambots that were messing up the Wiki’s discussion pages, I installed a “captcha” plugin. You are now required to enter a few “hard to read characters” before you are allowed to edit any page. If the characters are indeed hard to read, you can playback an audio version (a voice reads the characters out loud one by one).

I believe that the upgrade worked well, but if any of you find something weird on the pages that you think should not be there, please drop me an email or reply to this post, and I will fix it.


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