Firefox 32 – a Test in Slackware

Slackware64 14.1 runs the Firefox 24.x ESR (Extended Support Release) out of the box. Over at Scot’s Newsletter Forums, I commented about how I got a chance to see FF 32 in Win 7 on my cousin’s laptop that I was working on earlier this evening. It looked identical to Chromium/Chrome.

Well, I found a SlackBuild script and the source for FF 32 in the Slackware Current repos. COOL! I’m compiling now…

Whew! We’re burning up some CPU cycles in all four cores to compile this baby. It’s been going for over 30 minutes now. It better not error out on me after all this time.

Still building…

Well, that was some compile. On this relatively fast quad core machine it took 1.5 hours to build this app from source. Wow!

Anyway, it’s built and installed in my Slackware now. I’m not so sure I like it. In appearance, it’s a lot like Chromium/Chrome. However, in leanness and efficiency, it’s a totally different beast. Sadly, the old-fashioned extension methods in FF are a bit primitive compared to the slick Chrome Store addon process. Also, the old FF Sync does not work. You have to create a new FF Sync account to use it with FF-32.

I set this new FF up to be quite close to my Chromium/Chrome browsers. I used the very same or similar extensions. I also used my mini-custom dial home page. I have the preferences set up in a similar fashion. There’s still some work to do. I’ll play around with it a bit more tomorrow, maybe. Here’s a look…

Sadly, like I said… it looks like Chromium/Chrome, but it ain’t them. Looks are deceiving.

If you run Slackware and want to try this baby out, a word of advice… you’ll need a good bit of free RAM and a fast processor to compile this from source. The slower your processor, the longer it will take. Be patient.

You can get the FF-32 source tarball and the SlackBuild script in the Current repos on your favorite server. Here’s the server I used…

ftp://slackware.oregonstate.edu/pub/slackware/

You’ll find it in: /pub/slackware/slackware64-current/source/xap/mozilla-firefox/ – 64bit or
/pub/slackware/slackware-current/source/xap/mozilla-firefox/ – 32bit

You know the SlackBuild routine by now, but just in case:

  1. add source tarball and the SlackBuild script to a temp build directory
  2. make the script executable – #chmod +x {script name}
  3. run the script – #sh {script name}
  4. once it’s built (it’ll take some time – go have a smoke, eat some dinner, walk the dog), you’ll find the .txz in the /tmp directory.
  5. to install – #installpkg {package name}.txz

That’s it. Have fun! :)

Later…

~Eric


Disabling Your Touchpad In Slackware (KDE)

Every been typing along somewhere and have your cursor jump across the page because your thumb hit the touchpad on your laptop accidentally?

Well, on some of those high priced commercial operating systems like Windows or MacOS there might actually be a setting or a keyboard shortcut that disables your touchpad. Us Slackware users are made of stronger stuff than most. We don’t want no silly buttons and keyboard shortcuts. We want scripts and command line stuff, right? We like to do things down at the nitty-gritty level of computing.

So, with that in mind, if you’re running Slackware/KDE, you can make yourself a nice little script that will disable your laptop’s touchpad and you’ll never have to cuss again when that cursor goes zooming across the screen while you’re typing that flaming post on USENET to that know-it-all Ubuntu dev.

Here’s what you do…

First check to see if you have a /home/<username>/.kde/env directory. If you don’t, create it:

you@your_system ~:$ cd .kde

you@your_system ~:$ mkdir env

You can also do this graphically, if you prefer, but we know you hardcore Slackers don’t do things graphically now, do you? ;)

Anyway, once you’ve determined that you have the directory or have created one, you can now create the simple little script to place in there that will KILL that annoying touchpad.

Using vi, vim, or whatever editor you like, create this small file:

#!/bin/bash

synclient TouchpadOff=1

Save the file as “myenv.sh” in your /home/username/.kde/env directory. Make sure it is executable:

you@your_system ~:$ chmod 755 myenv.sh

Log out of your current KDE session and log back in. The touchpad from HELL is now as dead as weird uncle Bob’s hairpiece. WOO-HOO!

For those of you who occasionally use your laptop sans an external mouse, you can always revive the touchpad by changing the permissions on the myenv.sh file or just renaming it to myenv.inop. Since “inop” is an extension that the operating system does not recognize, it just ignores it. I’ve used “inop” to kill executables since way back in my Windoze daze. It works fine.

Anywho, I hope this little trick will make your Slackware/KDE computering that much more enjoyable. Oh, and I cannot take credit for this at all. A member of the kde.org forums called google01103 posted this tip in a thread over there about disabling that pesky touchpad. Credit where credit is due. That’s my motto.

Have fun…

~Eric

Image credits: toilet laptop user – source/ownership unknown = If you own this image, please contact me regarding permissions/copyrights. ~Eric


What You’ve Been Waiting For…

Slackware 14.1 released…

Yes, it is that time again!  After well over a year of planning,
development, and testing, the Slackware Linux Project is proud to
announce the latest stable release of the longest running distribution
of the Linux operating system, Slackware version 14.1!

We are sure you’ll enjoy the many improvements.  We’ve done our best to bring the latest technology to Slackware while still maintaining the stability and security that you have come to expect.  Slackware is well known for its simplicity and the fact that we try to bring software to you in the condition that the authors intended.

Slackware 14.1 brings many updates and enhancements, among which you’ll find two of the most advanced desktop environments available today: Xfce 4.10.1, a fast and lightweight but visually appealing and easy to use desktop environment, and KDE 4.10.5, a recent stable release of the 4.10.x series of the award-winning KDE desktop environment. These desktops utilize udev, udisks, and udisks2, and many of the specifications from freedesktop.org which allow the system administrator to grant use of various hardware devices according to users’ group membership so that they will be able to use items such as USB flash sticks, USB cameras that appear like USB storage, portable hard drives, CD and DVD media, MP3 players, and more, all without requiring sudo, the mount or umount command.  Just plug and play.  Slackware’s desktop should be suitable for any level of Linux experience.

Slackware uses the 3.10.17 kernel bringing you advanced performance features such as journaling filesystems, SCSI and ATA RAID volume support, SATA support, Software RAID, LVM (the Logical Volume Manager), and encrypted filesystems.  Kernel support for X DRI (the Direct Rendering Interface) brings high-speed hardware accelerated 3D graphics to Linux.

There are two kinds of kernels in Slackware.  First there are the huge kernels, which contain support for just about every driver in the Linux kernel. These are primarily intended to be used for installation, but there’s no real reason that you couldn’t continue to run them after you have installed.  The other type of kernel is the generic kernel, in which nearly every driver is built as a module.  To use a generic kernel you’ll need to build an initrd to load your filesystem module and possibly your drive controller or other drivers needed at boot time, configure LILO to load the initrd at boot, and reinstall LILO.  See the docs in /boot after installing for more information.  Slackware’s Linux kernels come in both SMP and non-SMP types now.  The SMP kernel supports multiple processors, multi-core CPUs, HyperThreading, and about every other optimization available.  In our own testing this kernel has proven to be fast, stable, and reliable.  We recommend using the SMP kernel even on single processor machines if it will run on them.  Note that on x86_64 (64-bit), all the kernels are SMP capable.

Here are some of the advanced features of Slackware 14.1:

- Runs the 3.10.17 version of the Linux kernel from ftp.kernel.org.
The 3.10.x series is well-tested, offers good performance, and will be
getting long term support from kernel.org.  For people interested in
running the previous long term support kernel series, we’ve provided
sample configuration files for Linux 3.4.66 under the /testing directory.
And, to make it easier for people who want to compile the latest Linux
kernel, we’ve also put configuration files for Linux 3.12 in /testing.

- System binaries are linked with the GNU C Library, version 2.17.
This version of glibc also has excellent compatibility with
existing binaries.

- X11 based on the X.Org Foundation’s modular X Window System.
This is X11R7.7, a new release, with many improvements in terms of
performance and hardware support.

- Installs gcc-4.8.2 as the default C, C++, Objective-C,
Fortran-77/95/2003/2008, and Ada 95/2005/2012 compiler.

- Also includes LLVM and Clang, an alternate compiler for C, C++,
Objective-C and Objective-C++.

- The x86_64 version of Slackware 14.1 supports installation and booting
on machines using UEFI firmware.

- Support for NetworkManager for simple configuration of wired and
wireless network connections, including mobile broadband, IPv6, VPN,
and more.  Roam seamlessly between known networks, and quickly set
up new connections.  We’ve retained full support for the traditional
Slackware networking scripts and for the wicd network manager,
offering choice and flexibility to all levels of users.

- Support for fully encrypted network connections with OpenSSL,
OpenSSH, OpenVPN, and GnuPG.

- Apache (httpd) 2.4.6 web server with Dynamic Shared Object
support, SSL, and PHP 5.4.20.

- USB, IEEE 1394 (FireWire), and ACPI support, as well as legacy PCMCIA
and Cardbus support.  This makes Slackware a great operating system
for your laptop.

- The udev dynamic device management system for Linux 3.x.
This locates and configures most hardware automatically as it
is added (or removed) from the system, loading kernel modules
as needed.  It works along with the kernel’s devtmpfs filesystem
to create access nodes in the /dev directory.

- New development tools, including Perl 5.18.1, Python 2.7.5,
Ruby 1.9.3-p448, Subversion 1.7.13, git-1.8.4, mercurial-2.7.2,
graphical tools like Qt designer and KDevelop, and much more.

- Updated versions of the Slackware package management tools make it
easy to add, remove, upgrade, and make your own Slackware packages.
Package tracking makes it easy to upgrade from Slackware 14.0 to
Slackware 14.1 (see UPGRADE.TXT and CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT).
The slackpkg tool can also help update from an older version of
Slackware to a newer one, and keep your Slackware system up to date.
In addition, the slacktrack utility will help you build and maintain
your own packages.

- Web browsers galore!  Includes KDE’s Konqueror 4.10.5, SeaMonkey 2.21
(this is the replacement for the Mozilla Suite), Mozilla Firefox ESR 24.1,
as well as the Thunderbird 24.1 email and news client with advanced
junk mail filtering.  A script is also available in /extra to repackage
Google Chrome as a native Slackware package.

- The KDE Software Compilation 4.10.5, a complete desktop environment.
This includes the Calligra productivity suite (previously known as
KOffice), networking tools, GUI development with KDevelop, multimedia
tools (including the Amarok music player and K3B disc burning software),
the Konqueror web browser and file manager, dozens of games and utilities,
international language support, and more.

- A collection of GTK+ based applications including pidgin-2.10.7,
gimp-2.8.6 (with many improvements including a single window mode),
gkrellm-2.3.5, xchat-2.8.8, xsane-0.998, and pan-0.139.

- A repository of extra software packages compiled and ready to run
in the /extra directory.

- Many more improved and upgraded packages than we can list here.  For
a complete list of core packages in Slackware 14.1, see this file:

ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/slackware-14.1/PACKAGES.TXT

Downloading Slackware 14.1:
—————————

The full version of Slackware Linux 14.1 is available for download from the central Slackware FTP site hosted by our friends at osuosl.org:

ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/slackware-14.1/

If the sites are busy, see the list of official mirror sites here:

http://mirrors.slackware.com

We will be setting up BitTorrent downloads for the official ISO images.  Stay tuned to http://slackware.com for the latest updates.

Instructions for burning the Slackware tree onto install discs may be found in the isolinux directory.

Purchasing Slackware on CD-ROM or DVD:
————————————–

Or, please consider purchasing the Slackware Linux 14.1 six CD-ROM set or deluxe dual-sided DVD release directly from Slackware Linux, and you’ll be helping to support the continued development of Slackware Linux!

The DVD release has the 32-bit x86 Slackware 14.1 release on one side, and the 64-bit x86_64 Slackware 14.1 release on the other.  Both sides are bootable for easy installation, and includes everything from both releases of Slackware 14.1, including the complete source code trees.

The 6 CD-ROM release of Slackware 14.1 is the 32-bit x86 edition. It includes a bootable first CD-ROM for easy installation.  The 6 CD-ROMs are labeled for easy reference.

The Slackware 14.1 x86 6 CD-ROM set is $49.95 plus shipping, or choose the Slackware 14.1 x86/x86_64 dual-sided DVD (also $49.95 plus shipping).

Slackware Linux is also available by subscription.  When we release a new version of Slackware (which is normally once or twice a year) we ship it to you and bill your credit card for a reduced subscription price ($32.99 for the CD-ROM set, or $39.95 for the DVD) plus shipping.

For shipping options, see the Slackware store website.  Before ordering express shipping, you may wish to check that we have the product in stock. We make releases to the net at the same time as disc production begins, so there is a lag between the online release and the shipping of media. But, even if you download now you can still buy the official media later. You’ll feel good, be helping the project, and have a great decorative item perfect for any computer room shelf.

Ordering Information:
———————

You can order online at the Slackware Linux store:

http://store.slackware.com

Other Slackware items like t-shirts, caps, pins, and stickers can also be found here.  These will help you find and identify yourself to your fellow Slackware users.

Order inquiries (including questions about becoming a Slackware reseller) may be directed to this address:  info@slackware.com

Have fun! :^)  I hope you find Slackware to be useful, and thanks
very much for your support of this project over the years.


Patrick J. Volkerding    <volkerdi@slackware.com>

Visit us on the web at:  http://slackware.com

Thanks to Pat V., the Slackware Linux team, and everyone who has contributed to and supported Slackware throughout the years!

Don’t forget to share your knowledge and gain some knowledge at the Slackware Documentation Project.

Later…

~Eric

Sources: quoted announcement from the Slackware release Announcement.


New Slackware Linux Documentation Project

A recent posting at Jeremy’s LinuxQuestions.org really lit a fire under some hardcore Slackware users.

There is so much Slackware information spread out over the Net in the form of private blogs, forums, websites, etc. All that wonderful information is so spread out, though. A new initiative has been launched recently to gather all Slackware information together in one location. A wiki-based format is being used with Arch Linux’s outstanding wiki as inspiration.

Eric Hameleers (Alien Bob) and many others from LinuxQuestions.org have spearheaded this new initiative. We even seem to have the blessing of Slackware’s BDFL – Pat V. This is a community thing. All interested people are invited to come join in making this project a successful thing. The oldest living GNU/Linux distribution deserves this.

C’mon over and lend a hand. All assistance is appreciated. Community is what makes GNU/LInux and Open Source the awesome thing that it is.

Regards,

~Eric

Links:

- the LQ.org conversation

- the Slackware Documentation Wiki

- the project discussion mailing list


Slackware Current Goes Beta – And I Upgrade Now

Alright. Enough about that Arch Linux for a while. Let me return to my first love… Slackware, baby! :)

A few days ago, Pat V. announced that the Current branch of Slackware has now gone beta. Well, let me tell you how I do things. Ever since I started running Slack as my primary OS back around 10.1 or so, I always upgrade to Current from stable once it goes beta. Up until this time around, I’ve always used the standard UPGRADE.TXT method found on the servers along with an in depth perusal of the CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT. I guess you could say that’s the “Slacker Way” of doing it.

I have three production systems running Slackware as the main operating system; my main system, my home office laptop, and my workshop system out back. They were all running fully updated 13.37 at the time I started this project. Normally, I would have started with the system that was lowest priority and easiest to restore should I do something stupid… that would normally be the shop system. However, it was awfully hot out there this week. I decided to sit in the AC and upgrade the home office laptop first.

Backup. Backup. Backup.

I wasn’t worried about my separate /home partition, although I did back it up anyway. However, it was that all-important /etc directory that I really wanted to make sure I kept intact. I made a backup which later turned out to be usable with difficulties. I copied it as my user into a user-mounted partition. Ooops! All ownership/permissions went to hell. I had to manually edit to get them back the way they’re supposed to be. And why did I need to do this?

Well, because for the first time ever, an upgrade did not go to well for me. But hey… Current is beta after all, right? Besides, I think it was me that boogered it up by overwriting critical config files without thinking. I did not have enough coffee that day, I don’t think. Long story short, I had to reinstall 13.37 on the laptop and restore the edited /etc to get things back to normal again. Once I did that, it was time to try again.

This time, however, I was convinced by friend chrisretusn from my private board, an old Slacker from way back, that I should try his somewhat custom version of upgrading using the slackpkg package manager. Now, to be honest, I was skeptical. I’ve heard a few horror stories about attempting slackpkg upgrades in Slack. His plan looked good, though, and it had worked for him. I figured, myeh… what the hell. I can always install 13.37 again.

Here’s how I did the upgrade using Chris’ slackpkg method:

  • Since I don’t use KDE on my systems (any system, ever, any time ;)), I needed to edit my /etc/slackpkg/blacklist to add the kde and kdei directories.
    • This is easy enough to do… just open your favorite editor (vim for me) and edit the file to add:

#

# Blacklist KDE components

#

kde

kdei

  • Now that I have KDE blacklisted and don’t have to worry about getting tons of KDE stuff dumped on my system, I can now edit my /etc/slackpkg/mirrors file to change to my Current server from the 13.37 one previously used.
    • Also simple to do. I just opened my editor again and commented out (added #) the old 13.37 mirror and then removed the hash (#) from my new Current mirror.
  • Next, using slackpkg, I upgraded the critical packages first, then the rest:
    • # slackpkg update
    • # slackpkg upgrade glibc findutils pkgtools slackpkg tar xz
    • # slackpkg update
    • # slackpkg install-new
      • determine what you want to do with your new configs (keep, overwrite, merge, etc). For me, it’s a per file decision, so I chose “p” for Prompt and pay close attention to each config using the “d” option to see the differences before making that final choice. You don’t want to bork up your configs.
    • # slackpkg upgrade-all
      • this took a while for me. Your mileage may vary depending on your hardware and connection speeds.
      • again, I needed to consider how to handle new config files.
  • Now we’re getting to the final stretch… I needed to create an initrd for my newly installed generic kernel.
    • Using the README.initrd that you can always find in /boot, I did the following to create my new initrd:
      • mkinitrd -c -k 3.2.23 -m ext3 -f ext3 -r /dev/sda2 (your partition will be different, possibly)
    • I then ran “lilo” from the command line to update the bootloader.
  • Lastly, I ran #slackpkg clean-system
    • and selectively chose what detritus to remove from my system. Older Xfce4 installations, for example. Be careful to NOT remove apps you’ve manually installed via SlackBuilds and such.

Cross fingers, toes, eyes, etc.. reboot.

WOO-HOO! We have bootup, Houston!

Now, there were some bugaboos here and there. I basically followed this same procedure above and upgraded my shop system, and finally, my main system; in front of which I’m sitting right now typing this mess. ;) All three systems had the same issues. I spent the last two or three days debugging. I think I’m stabilized for the moment. If you want to see the “blow-by-blow”, you can read this thread over at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux.

It’s been fun, lemme tell ya’! :)

I’m having a couple issues that are really aggravating, though. One is that Thunar (Xfce’s file manager) is displaying all my unmounted partitions and “network” in the treeview on the left pain. Here’s a screenie:

I knew this was coming because I had the same issue in Arch when they went to Xfce 4.10 a while back. It’s annoying. I resolved it in Arch by converting to a pure systemd installation and installing gvfs and python2-udiskie (for auto-mounting). Can’t do that in Slack, though, not at the moment; so my quick fix to get rid of the unmounted volumes and get auto-mounting (almost) working again was to install Xfe (X File Explorer) via SlackBuild. Here’s a look at it:

It’s not as pretty as Thunar, but it has some neat features, including 1-click mounting of removable media. Pretty cool little file manager. Of course, if all these GUI apps keep aggravating me, I’ll just go back to Midnight Commander. ;)

It’s been a learning experience. No, I didn’t upgrade the “Slacker Way” this time, but this way seems to have worked nearly as well. Now to just sit back and read the daily change logs till the final release. Thanks to Patrick Volkerding and all the other contributors, helpers, de-buggers, etc. who make this all possible. My life would be ever so much more boring without my beloved Slackware.

Have FUN with it!

Later…

~Eric

Addenda 1: By the way, about that saving permissions when copying folders/files… the proper way to do that is to use the -p or –preserve switches with cp in the command line. So, to properly copy my /etc to a backup location, I needed to do this:

# cp -rp /etc <desination directory>

It works a lot better that way. :)

Addenda 2: Spent the day today debugging system issues. All systems are working 100% as of now. Here’s an updated log of what I did –> vtel57-github document


LinuxQuestions.org’s Jeremy Interviews Slackware BDFL Patrick Volkerding… a MUST Read!

Earlier today, I received an email from Jeremy @ LinuxQuestions.org alerting me to his recent interview of Pat V.

It is absolutely outstanding. I enjoyed it very much. You should give it a looksee…

Interview with Patrick Volkerding of Slackware

Enjoy!

~Eric


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