Open letter to the Linux World by Christopher Barry

This posting sent to the Linux Kernel mailing list by Christopher Barry is a MUST READ for anyone concerned about the future of Linux or their own favorite distribution and supporting software. 

From his summary paragraph:

===

systemd is a trojan. systemd is a medusa. systemd is Substance D.
systemd is scary - not just because it's tools suck, or because it's
a massive fucking hairball - but because architecturally it has way
too much concentrated power. We all need to collectively expel it from
our midst because it will own Linux, and by extension us and our
freedoms. systemd will *be* Linux. Sit idly by and ignore this fact at
all of our collective peril.

OneLinux == zero-choice*

===

*Above emphasis mine. ~Eric

You’ve got to read this; not only for its message, but for its author’s eloquent style of rant. Outstanding. I couldn’t have said it better if I’d tried.

Date Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:38:12 -0400
From Christopher Barry <>
Subject OT: Open letter to the Linux World

While you’re at it, read Slackware dev Eric Hameleers’ take on this. Don’t forget to read the comments. :)

Alien Pastures – On LKML: an open letter to the Linux World

Later…

~Eric


Pale Moon Browser – a Review

I’ve been married to Mozilla Firefox (and Thunderbird) since I came to GNU/Linux full-time nearly 8 years ago.

I’ve tried other browsers: Epiphany, Midori, IceSkunk — er… I mean Weasel (in Debian), Konqueror (an old fav), etc. I never could get them to do the things that I wanted my browser to do. I used to heavily customize my FF, even using userChrome scripts to manipulate things under the hood. However, lately I’ve gotten FF pretty much just the way I want it. It’s not too bloated. It’s not to graphics intensive to display. It’s just right, in other words.

Unfortunately, sometime in the past few months, FF has developed some CPU cycle hogging tendencies that really are beginning to aggravate me. It usually happens when I first open the browser. Now I clear-all when closing my browser, so I’m starting it back up with minimal overhead. Still, for the first few minutes of operation each day, it gobbles CPU cycles to the point where it actually freezes up while trying to load two or three websites in tabs.

I’ve done all the usual: make sure extensions/plugins are all up-to-date, start in Safe Mode, start with a fresh profile, etc. FF still displays this annoying habit of jamming up CPU cycles when you first start it up. Oh, well… I almost suspect Adobe Flash, but can’t blame everything on them. ;) When this happened to me first thing this morning, it got me motivated to maybe find a browser alternative to FF for a while.

I already had Opera installed on my Slackware, so I updated it. I then installed Chromium (not Chrome, but close enough) from a SlackBuild from Alien Bob’s (Eric Hameleers) repository. You’ll be getting a substantial donation, Eric, if I can ever get my personal finances in order again. Anyway, I played around with both Opera and Chromium for a while. I’m just daunted by the amount of work involved to get them to do what my FF already does so well. It’s going to be tough to break away from FF, I thought…

Well, Fran (Li’l Bambi @ Scot’s Newsletter Forums) mentioned an alternative that I had heard of, but had forgotten all about up until I saw her posting today. She mentioned The Pale Moon Project. I immediately went over to their site to have a looksee. I was impressed with what I saw there. What really had me jumping for joy was the fact that Pale Moon would work with existing FF profiles. That would save me a lot of work when it comes to setting up. So, I figured I’d give it a try.

A screenie thumbnail of my Pale Moon browser

Since I’ve run Slackware as my primary operating system on all my machines for almost 8 years now, I knew that I’d probably have to compile this on my own from source code that I downloaded from the Pale Moon folks. Well, surprise! Their little tar.bz2 package actually has a minimal install script included. It worked like a champ in Slackware. No muss, no fuss. I had the browser installed in less than a minute. All I had to do after that was copy my default FF profile into the Pale Moon directory and change the profile.ini to point to it.

Whammo! I’m using Pale Moon right away. It opens the very first time looking and functioning 99.9% like my FF; Bookmarks, extensions, addons, plugins all working right off. Impressive! I’ve been using this browser all afternoon today. It hasn’t burped once. The only time I see any significant CPU usage is when scrolling on highly graphic intensive pages, like Bing Image Search or similar, but nowhere near the CPU usage that FF was displaying. It also seems to be a bit faster to respond, but that could just be my imagination.

Of course, I haven’t tested thoroughly, but after the few hours that I have been using Pale Moon, I’d have to say it’s a solid little app. I would definitely recommend it to folks who love their FF, but want something just a wee bit lighter. Pale Moon is based on FF 24.5 ESR, which is perfect for me because that’s exactly the version that Slackware 14.1 is using right now; 100% profile compatibility.

I like it. You might, too. Give it a shot. And if it turns out you do like it, click that little donation button on the Pale Moon website. $5 or so wont put you in the poor house. :)

Have fun…

~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


A New Init System for Debian?

Say it ain’t so, Joe! Debian going to systemd? Nah!

Debian Linux has had a long-standing reputation of being staid and pragmatic in their decision-making.  Even their software release management policy is on the long side when compared with other Distros.  A typical 2-year software cycle just doesn’t cut it in today’s Internet World operating at the ‘speed of light’.

Software release management policy on the “long side”? That’s an understatement. Of course, Debian’s legendary stability depends on tried and true versions of the applications used in the operating system. I mean c’mon… even Iceweasel is based on an antique version of Firefox.

The concern is that Debian’s pragmatism may work against them and cause a backlog queue of software development issues.  So, acting in a timely fashion in today’s world is vital to remaining competitive for any Linux Distribution.

Competitive? What’s this? Competing with whom? I thought GNU/Linux was a free and open source operating system that is specifically NOT pressured by the usual competitive need to devour a market as the commercial products do. Debian will always be one of the best GNU/Linux operating systems out there, regardless of the fact that you’re never going to find fancy-schmancy bleeding edge apps in their repos.

Systemd and other more modernized init systems are fine and dandy for distros like Arch or Fedora, but Debian don’t need it. My Slackware works perfectly fine with Sysvinit. I don’t have anything against systemd. I was one of the first on my block to use it in Arch. I converted long before it was part of the stable repos. It’s a fine init system. I never had any major issues with it in Arch.

Anyway, read more of the interesting article about this at Linux Advocates – The Debian Init System Deba{te|cle}.

I’m out…

~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.


Apache OpenOffice 4 Released

YAY! The new v4 OpenOffice is out there just waiting for you to download it.

I’d have to admit that I’ve been using LibreOffice since the Big To-do a few years back with OpenOffice/Oracle. However, since Apache has it now, I thought I’d give it a shot again. I run Slackware, though, which means I’ll have to build it myself. I may cheat a bit and download the RPM and use rpm2tgz to install it. That’s probably going to be a bit time consuming; not as bad as building from source, though. Also, I know that OpenOffice requires Java for some features. I’ll need to see what works and what doesn’t without Java present. I don’t have Java installed on my Slackware systems anymore. I just got tired of having to update it every other damned day or so because of security patches issued by Oracle to putty up all the holes in that software.

Once I overcome my current laziness (I’m in battery save mode) enough to give this a try, I’ll post about my results. Until then, you can read more about the new version of OpenOffice by clicking the link below:

AOO 4.0 Release Notes

Later…

~Eric

P.S. If someone more energetic than myself has built a SlackBuild for AOO, let me know. :)

P.P.S. What? Don’t like Apache OpenOffice for whatever reasons? If you’re lucky enough to be running Slackware, you can download Master Slacker Alien Bob’s (Eric Hameleers) SlackBuild for LibreOffice 4.0.2 instead. I just did. It installs and runs flawlessly.


Porteus – Another Excellent Choice for the Thumb Drive Toolbox

A few years ago, I wrote a little article called My Thumb Drive Toolbox for Linux.com.

In that article, I explain how to install Slax on a thumb drive. I also mention Puppy Linux as being usable for that purpose also. It’s very useful to have a full-featured Linux OS on a thumb drive, particularly when repairing corrupted MS Windows systems, as I did earlier this evening for a client.

Over at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux, a topic came up regarding the porteus.org website possibly being down. Hamza from porteus.org dropped in to respond to the issue. After we resolved the issue, I went to the porteus.org website to snoop around a bit. I was, of course, already familiar with Porteus, but I had not visited the new site nor had I used the distribution recently.

My old (ancient, really) version of Slax on my thumb drive toolbox was still functioning, but I had been wanting to update to the newest version of Slax for a while. I’d been waiting for v7.0 for a while. I decided to kill two birds and all that…

I downloaded and installed both Slax and Porteus earlier this afternoon. I’ve had the chance to evaluate them both this evening. Slax is very nice, even with KDE 4. ;) However, this article is about Porteus, which I installed with my favorite desktop environment –> Xfce. I first burned the .iso to a CD (directions on Porteus’ download page) and then booted that CD to use the Porteus Installer app to install it to my thumb drive. It worked wonderfully.

I specifically chose to use the 32 bit version because many of the systems that I would need to boot it from are older 32 bit machines. It’s best to have a diagnostic Linux distribution on a thumb drive that is functional with older machines if you’re in the fix-windows-for-family-and-friends business. HA! :)

Visit the website, snoop around the forums, then give Porteus a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. This is a quality portable media distribution, with a good documentation and support network. You know I’m going to like Porteus. It’s only natural…

from the Porteus forums:

Porteus is a light-weight, highly configurable and flexible live distribution based on Slackware

Oh, and don’t forget… if you have the resources available, run it from RAM. It’s GREASED LIGHTING FAST!

Have fun!

~Eric


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