Tag Archives: liveslak

Uploading 15 GB of new Slackware Live Edition ISO images

I finished generating ISO images for Slackware Live Edition 1.3.0.2. These ISOs are all based on Slackware-current “Thu Jan 17 04:52:06 UTC 2019” which means it will boot a Linux 4.19.16 kernel.

Available variants are:

  • Slackware (unaltered complete) in 32bit and 64bit flavors, ~3.5 GB in size
  • XFCE (minimalistic Slackware) in 32bit and 64bit flavors, ~700 MB in size
  • MATE (Slackware without KDE4 but with MATE added) is a 64bit ISO of 2.4 GB
  • PLASMA5 (Slackware without KDE4 but with KDE Plasma5 and a lot of other goodies added) comes in a 64bit flavor at 4.3 GB

The squashfs modules in the XFCE ISOs are compressed with ‘xz’ to keep them as small as possible (so they will fit on a CDROM medium). All of the other ISOs are compressed with ‘zstd’ which gives the Live OS a speed boost of ~20% at the cost of 10% increase in the ISO size.

There’s 15 GB to upload to slackware.nl so it will take a while to get there… even with 3 MB/sec upload speed. Rsync download is possible via rsync://slackware.nl/mirrors/slackware-live/ … you just have to be a wee bit patient.

In the meantime, if you feel bored, you can look at the development history in its git repository. If you want to read about what the Slackware Live Edition can do for you, check out https://alien.slackbook.org/blog/slackware-live-edition/ or any of the articles on this blog that followed.

Extensive documentation on how to use and develop Slackware Live Edition can be found in the Slackware Documentation Project Wiki.

Have fun!

KDE Plasma5 – Jan ’19 release for Slackware

KDE time!
Here is your monthly refresh for the best Desktop Environment you will find for Linux. I just uploaded “KDE-5_19.01” to the ‘ktown‘ repository. As always, these packages are meant to be installed on a Slackware-current which has had its KDE4 removed first. These packages will not work on Slackware 14.2.

It looks like Slackware is not going to be blessed with Plasma5 any time soon, so I will no longer put an artificial limitation on the dependencies I think are required for a solid Plasma5 desktop experience. If Pat ever decides that Plasma5 has a place in the Slackware distro, he will have to make a judgement call on what KDE functionality can stay and what needs to go.

What’s new for January 2019

This new January 2019 release of KDE Plasma5 for Slackware contains the KDE Frameworks 5.54.0, Plasma 5.14.5 and Applications 18.12.1. All this on top of Qt 5.11.3.

Deps:
There’s a new dependency to ‘OpenAL’: ‘SDL_sound’. And I finally decided to add ‘freecell-solver’ in order to be able to compile the KDE ‘kpat’ package. The ‘freecell-solver’ package needs ‘python3-random2’, ‘perl-path-tiny’ and ‘perl-template-toolkit’ to compile, so these were also added as packages.
I added ‘drumstick’ so that I could compile the KDE ‘minuet’ package.
And finally, I upgraded ‘phonon’ and ‘phonon-vlc’ and rebuilt ‘phonon-gstreamer’.

Frameworks:
Frameworks 5.54.0 is an incremental stability release, see: https://www.kde.org/announcements/kde-frameworks-5.54.0.php

Plasma:
Plasma 5.14.5 is an incremental upgrade in the Plasma Desktop 5.14 release cycle, bringing stability and performance fixes. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.14.5.php . You may want to read about all the new features in Plasma 5.14 here: https://www.kde.org/announcements/plasma-5.14.0.php

Plasma-extra:
In plasma-extra I have upgraded ‘wacomtablet’.

Applications;
Applications 18.12.1 is the first stability and bugfix update for the 18.12 release cycle. I did not package 18.12.0 so this is actually the first opportunity to test the latest KDE Applications on Slackware. See https://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-applications-18.12.1.php and if you want more detail about the 18.12 cycle you should also read https://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-applications-18.12.0.php .
And since I added the required dependencies, there are two new packages in Applications: ‘kpat’ (a suite of Patience card games) and ‘minuet’ (music education using MIDI).

Applications-extra:
In applications-extra I have upgraded ‘kdevelop’, ‘kdev-php’, ‘kdev-python’, ‘kstars’ and ‘okteta’.

Go get it

Download the KDE-5_19.01 from the usual location at https://slackware.nl/alien-kde/current/latest/ . Check out the README file in the root of the repository for detailed installation or upgrade instructions.

I will upload a new Plasma5 Live ISO soon. You will find it in https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/

Have fun! Eric

KDE Plasma 5 for Slackware – end of the year edition

There has been a bit of a hiatus in my Slackware related activities and a relative silence on this blog, It’s mostly related to my new job which proved to be a bit more time-consuming than I anticipated. I also have to fulfill my old job role until that vacancy is filled. Actually, February 1st is when the successor for my old job will start in my new team. A little less than two months to go, meaning that the hard work continues. But, I get to visit the US of A in January, just booked the flights and hotels today. Wilton and San Diego will be my ‘targets’ but a sunday stroll in New York will certainly be an option, unless there’s a meter of snow of course.

Here is some Slackware related news for you.

I just uploaded a whole new batch of packages containing KDE Plasma5 for Slackware. The previous batch, KDE 5_18.10 is already two months old and has some library compatibility issues. The new KDE 5_18.12 for Slackware consists of KDE Frameworks 5.53.0, Plasma 5.14.4 and Applications 18.08.3. All this on top of Qt 5.11.3.
Compiled on the latest Slackware -current, it’s running smoothly here on my laptop.
I decided against upgrading to QT 5.12.0. This is a new LTS release, but I will wait for the other distros to find bugs in this new software. Next week, KDE will release KDE Applications 18.12.0 and that too is something I want to check a bit before releasing Slackware packages. Therefore it’s likely that a new batch of packages containing Qt 5.12 and KDE Applications 18.12 will see the light shortly after the New Year.

I updated some of the other packages in the periphery of the KDE software collection. In plasma-extra there’s new versions of kdeconnect-framework and wacomtablet. And in applications-extra I updated kdevelop, kdev-php, kdev-python and kmymoney to their latest versions.

There’s also a package removal. The kde-wallpapers package in plasma-extra originates in the old KDE4 era, and the new Plasma5 has its own wallpapers in the package plasma-workspace-wallpapers.

As always, the ‘ktown’ repository https://slackware.nl/alien-kde/ (rsync://slackware.nl/mirrors/alien-kde/) is the master for the KDE Plasma5 packages for Slackware-current. A fast mirror is http://slackware.uk/people/alien-kde/ (rsync://slackware.uk/people/alien-kde/).
The source code history for the ‘ktown’ package build framework can be found in git: https://git.slackware.nl/ktown/ . I will create a new “5_18.12” tag there today.

A fresh Plasma5 variant of the Slackware Live Edition based on liveslak is in the making and will be uploaded to https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/ once it is ready and I have tested it properly. Check the ISO timestamp somewhere later this week.

Have fun! Eric

liveslak-1.3.0 with speed improvements

blueSW-64pxThere was no August release of a Plasma5 Live ISO as you will probably have noticed. The reason was that around the time when I released the August update of Plasma5 for Slackware, I was working on new liveslak functionality and wanted to finish that before releasing new ISOs. The testing took some more time than I anticipated due to increased work load in my day job. But I finished what I wanted to have in a new liveslak release, and today I want to write a post about the new stuff.

To accompany the new liveslak-1.3.0 I have uploaded fresh ISO images for the Slackware Live Edition. They are based on the latest Slackware-current dated “Fri Sep 7 23:00:06 UTC 2018″.
The available ISO variants on https://slackware.nl/slackware-live/latest/ are:

  • Full unmodified Slackware (64bit).
  • Stripped-down XFCE (32bit as well as 64bit), this ISO will fit on a CDROM medium.
  • Slackware with MATE 1.20 instead of KDE4 (64bit). Thanks to Willy Sudiarto Raharjo for the packaging.
  • Slackware with Plasma 5 instead of KDE4 (64bit) to showcase the KDE Plasma 5_18.09 desktop. This ISO also contains Calibre 3.30.0, Chromium 69, LibreOffice 6.1.0, and VLC 3.0.4 among many others.

The new liveslak version 1.3.0 has several memorable updates:

  • Support for a new compression tool ‘zstd’ that will increase the speed of extracting squashfs modules greatly (and ‘paying’ for the increased decompression speed with an increase of compressed size with around 10%). The “make_slackware_live.sh” script was enhanced with a new commandline parameter “-c” with which you can indicate a non-default compressor (xz being the default and zstd, gzip, lzo as the alternatives).
    Raw decompression speed is up to 5 times faster using zstd compared with an xz-compressed squashfs modules, but due to the nature of the storage medium, OS kernel and program execution times, the observed speed gains for the actual Slackware Live Edition vary from 20% to 80%. Largest speed gains are found when you boot a Live ISO in a virtual machine; the smallest speed gains will be found when you boot Slackware Live from a USB medium where the medium’s read speed is the limiting factor.
  • During ISO creation you can now specify your own custom default country/language. The script default is still “us” but you can select any of the other languages that are supported on boot, for instance to have a Live OS that boots into German localization and language settings without any input.
    A new commandline parameter “-l” to the “make_slackware_live.sh” script enables you to specify the ISO default language.
  • Due to changes in package lists (mostly adding new packages introduced in slackware-current) make it hard to keep the XFCE ISO below 700 MB. That was not different this time. Continuous pruning in the filesystem is unavoidable. But I think I have reached the limit of what I can cut away in relation to unneeded libraries and stuff. The ever growing footprint of Slackware-current’s applications demands that eventually I may have to start removing complete packages from the XFCE live ISO. Any thoughts as to what you find least relevant in a small ISO? Is it the GCC compiler? Is it the Asian TrueType fonts? Is it Firefox, ImageMagick, …? To me all of those are equally important and yet I may have to decide on their removal eventually.

Compression of the ISOs

I have used ‘zstd’ compression for the SLACKWARE, PLASMA5, MATE ISO images. You will notice substantially reduced boot-up times.
The XFCE images are still compressed with ‘xz’ but as a curious test, I have re-compressed the “min” module of the 64bit XFCE ISO with zstd. That increased its size with 21 MB but it’s still below CDROM size. There is a noticeable speed increase even by just using zstd on the “min” module – I get a 10% faster bootup of the XFCE Live OS in a virtual machine.

In order to keep the PLASMA5 ISO fitting on a DVD, I had to take the multilib module out. If you need multilib in a Slackware Live Edition and you are running it off a USB stick, you can simply download the module from the ‘bonus‘ directory on the mirrror server, and copy it to the “/liveslak/addons/” directory on the Linux partition of the USB stick so that it will load automatically when the Live OS boots.

Wayland?

The ‘testing’ branch in my ‘kown’ repository is currently identical to the ‘latest’ branch, so there is no Wayland support in it now. For a future ‘testing’ release I’ll most likely re-visit Wayland but I want Patrick to add Plasma 5 to Slackware first so I can do my own stuff in just the ‘latest’ branch again and use ‘testing’ for actual tests.

Where to get the ISOs

Some download locations (mirrors may need 24 hours to catch up) for the Live ISOs are:

A copy of the liveslak sources and scripts can be found here:

You can follow the liveslak development in git: https://git.slackware.nl/liveslak/

The use of zstd

The ISO images which I created with zstd compression are all using Slackware-current. Because zstd support for squashfs was added to the Linux 4.14 kernel and Slackware is using these kernels. no modifications were required for the Live ISOs to work with this new compression type. A package for ‘zstd’ or a recompilation of ‘squashfs-tools’ to add zstd support is only needed when creating the ISO. When the Live OS boots, the Linux kernel  takes care of the compressed squashfs filesystem transparently.

In order to extract data from a zstd-compressed squashfs module you will of course need a squashfs-tools package with support for zstd. Therefore I have both a ‘zstd‘ and a ‘squashfs-tools‘ package for Slackware-current in my repository. I am not providing these for Slackware 14.2 because its older kernel (4.4.x) is not supporting zstd anyway.

Refreshing your USB stick instead of re-formatting

If you already use a Slackware Live USB stick that you do not want to re-format, you should use the “-r” parameter to the “iso2usb.sh” script. The “-r” or refresh parameter allows you to refresh the liveslak files on your USB stick without touching your custom content. If you want to modify other parameters of your USB stick, use the script “upslak.sh“. It’s main feature is that it can update the kernel on the USB stick, but it also can replace the Live init script. As with most (if not all) of my scripts, use the “-h” parameter to get help on its functionality.

Historical info on liveslak

More detail about the features of Slackware Live Edition can be found in previous posts here on the blog.

Have fun!

KDE 5_18.07 for Slackware, includes Plasma 5.13.3 and Qt 5.11.1

Last week, Slackware-current updated its poppler package . The ‘ktown’ repository for Plasma5 contains a custom built ‘poppler’ package, one that includes Qt5 support. That means that the ‘ktown’ version needs to be kept in sync with the Slackware version to prevent breakage in your Slackware installation. Therefore I recompiled my ‘poppler’ and at the same time, I used the opportunity to grab all the latest sources from the KDE download server and built a whole new and fresh Plasma5 experience for Slackware.

Important to know is that I have bridged the ‘latest’ repository to the ‘testing’ repository. Meaning: I have said goodbye to the LTS (Long Term Support) versions of Qt5 (5.9.6) and Plasma (5.12) and will focus again on the bleeding edge of KDE’s development.
I did this after talking to Patrick to see what his ideas are about Plasma5 and whether he would adopt LTS releases of the software, or perhaps stick with the latest and greatest. Based on discussions in the LinuxQuestions.org forum it was clear that the latest Qt (5.11) combined with the latest Plasma Desktop (5.13) gets rid of bugs that have been annoying Slackware users who have been installing my ‘ktown’ packages. So that settled it, and the difference between ‘latest’ and ‘testing’ is gone again. In future I will probably use the ‘testing’ repository to test Wayland usability in Slackware, like I did in the past. For that reason, it’s best if you point your package manager (slackpkg+ comes to mind) to the ‘latest‘ URL instead of using the ‘testing‘ URL.

What’s new

If you had not yet installed the Plasma 5.13 from my ‘testing’ repository then you will see a fresh new Plasma Desktop with a lot of visual and under-the-hood changes. Read more about those in the official releasenotes. Highlights:

  • browser integration: you need to install a browser extension from the respective browser web store, and then your Firefox, Chrome or Chromium will be tighter integrated into the desktop. Plasma media playback controls will operate on browser tabs; etcetera.
  • re-designed System Settings
  • re-designed login and lock screens
  • fall-back to software rendering if the OpenGL drivers fail
  • plugging in a new monitor will cause a configuration window to popup

Apart from the new Plasma 5.13.3, the other updated components are Frameworks 5.48.0 and Applications 18.04.3. There’s also some updates in the ‘extras’ section for Applications: I rebuilt ‘calligra’ and ‘kile’ because of the newer poppler library incompatibility and updated ‘krita’ and ‘okteta’ to their latest versions.

Go get it

The KDE-5_18.07 is running smooth & stable here on the Lenovo T460 laptop, and I am interested to hear about your experiences. As always, the README file in the root of the repository will tell you all you need to know about installation or upgrade.

I have updated the ‘qt5’ package in my regular repository to 5.11.1 as well, to prevent surprises when you upgrade to the latest ‘ktown’ but stick with qt5-5.9 by accident, like I did today. That was a bit scary for a moment, seeing the new Desktop Environment break inexplicably on the laptop (I had already tested all of it in a virtual machine).

A new Plasma Live ISO is currently being generated, based on the latest slackware-current with kernel 4.14.59. I hope to upload that one later today so that you can check out the new Plasma Desktop without having to install it to your computer.