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KDE: Linux and Qt in Automotive, KDE Discover, Plasma5 18.01 in Slackware

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KDE
Slack
  • Linux and Qt in Automotive? Let’s meet up!

    For anyone around the Gothenburg area on Feb 1st, you are most welcome to the Automotive MeetUp held at the Pelagicore and Luxoft offices. There will be talks about Qt/QML, our embedded Linux platform PELUX and some ramblings about open source in automotive by yours truly Wink

  • What about AppImage?

    I see a lot of people asking about state of AppImage support in Discover.

    It’s non-existent, because AppImage does not require centralized software management interfaces like Discover and GNOME Software (or a command-line package manager). AppImage bundles are totally self-contained, and come straight from the developer with zero middlemen, and can be managed on the filesystem using your file manager

    This should sound awfully familiar to former Mac users (like myself), because Mac App bundles are totally self-contained, come straight from the developer with zero middlemen, and are managed using the Finder file manager.

  • What’s new for January? Plasma5 18.01, and more

    When I sat down to write a new post I noticed that I had not written a single post since the previous Plasma 5 announcement. Well, I guess the past month was a busy one. Also I bought a new e-reader (the Kobo Aura H2O 2nd edition) to replace my ageing Sony PRS-T1. That made me spend a lot of time just reading books and enjoying a proper back-lit E-ink screen. What I read? The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams, A Shadow all of Light by Fred Chappell, Persepolis Rising and several of the short stories (Drive, The Butcher of Anderson Station, The Churn and Strange Dogs) by James SA Corey and finally Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. All very much worth your time.

Slackware: SlackEX Gets a Lift, Slackware’s Plasma 5 Gets Upgrade

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Slack
  • SlackEX Build 171223 (Slackware 14.2) live dvd/usb with KDE 4.14.38, kernel 4.14.8-x86_64-efi-exton, Nvidia 384.98 and VirtualBox 5.2.4

    New features in version 171223 of SlackEX
    I have replaced kernel 4.12.9-x86_64-exton with kernel 4.14.8-x86_64-efi-exton with support for “everything”. Kernel 4.14.8 was released 171220. KDE is upgraded to version 4.14.38 (latest KDE version). All other component software is also upgraded to the latest Slackware Current version by now. I may also mention in particular GParted 0.29.0, VirtualBox 5.2.4 (latest, not in Slackware’s repositories), Google Chrome 60.0.3112 (not in Slackware’s repositories – you can download my build at SourceForge.net), Gimp 2.8.10 (installed from source), GSlapt 0.5.4b, Slackpkg 2.82.1, Firefox 57.0.2, Thunderbird 52.5.0, Samba 4.7.3 and GCC 7.2.0. Furthermore I have installed Grub2, which can be used as boot loader (if you want) after a hard drive install. Study the full package LIST. Note: I have replaced Wicd with NetworkManager. It works better in SlackEX.

  • Slackware-Based SlackEX Distro Released with Linux Kernel 4.14.8 and KDE 4.14.38

    GNU/Linux developer Arne Exton released today a new build of his Slackware-based SlackEX distro, bringing various updated applications and core components.

    The sole purpose of SlackEX is to make Slackware Linux more accessible to those who want to install a GNU/Linux distribution on their personal computers. SlackEX promises to be as easy to install and use like popular Linux Mint and Ubuntu distros.

    Based on Slackware 14.2, SlackEX Build 171223 is here with both the Slackpkg and GSlapt package management systems pre-installed to make installation of additional programs a breeze. It also includes developer's 4.14.8-x86_64-efi-exton kernel with extra hardware support.

    "Any novice can quickly learn to use Ubuntu they say. My remaster of Slackware Current (14.2), which I call SlackEX 14.2/Current 64-bit Linux Live DVD/USB, is however just as easy to use as Ubuntu and/or Linux Mint," said Arne Exton in the release announcement.

  • December packages for Slackware’s Plasma 5 – focus shift

    Jingle Bells galore! I have some goodies for you, right before Christmas. If your winter holiday starts today, there’s some nice new stuff to play with – especially if you have not dared touch slackware-current until now. Perhaps it’s time to free up a partition on your hard drive now?

    The KDE Applications 17.12 have been released by the KDE community. This set of KDE applications is completely free of the legacy KDE4 stuff (kdelibs4). The KDE developers have removed everything from their regular release cycles that is still based on kdelibs4 and/or unmaintained or broken anyway.

Slackware and New Upcoming Software Releases (Qt and darktable)

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Software
Slack
  • Welcome slackware.nl
  • VLC 2.2.8

    Last week, Robby Workman alerted me to a new release of the VLC media player by the VideoLAN team. I must confess that I had stopped following the development of my (yes, still) favorite media player. Looking a bit more closely, not only have they released version 2.2.8 without informing the world on their homepage (where they are still offering downloads for the now deprecated 2.2.6) but there’s now also a git repository called “vlc-3.0-git” and even a “vlc-4.0-dev” which seems to have been split off the 3.0 branch. I assume this is an indication – finally – that there is life beyond vlc-2.2.x and a 3.0 release is actually a possibility.

  • Qt 5.10.0 RC3 out

    We have released Qt 5.10.0 RC3 today. Delta to RC2 as an attachment.

  • Qt 5.10 RC3 Released, Qt 5.10 Now Expected This Week

    Mesa 17.3 isn't the only thing running behind schedule but also out today is Qt 5.10-RC3 after this tool-kit release failed to ship last month.

    Last week marked a late 5.10 release candidate but The Qt Company expressed hope in still shipping Qt 5.10.0 on 30 November.

  • darktable 2.4.0rc0 released

    we're proud to announce the first release candidate for the upcoming 2.4 series of darktable, 2.4.0rc0!

    the github release is here: https://github.com/darktable-org/darktable/releases/tag/release-2.4.0rc0.

    as always, please don't use the autogenerated tarball provided by github, but only our tar.xz.

  • darktable 2.4 RAW Image Editor Promises Support for Fujifilm's Compressed RAFs

    The developers of the darktable open-source and cross-platform RAW image editing software for GNU/Linux and macOS operating systems kicked off the development of the next major release, darktable 2.4.

    The biggest new features of the upcoming darktable 2.4 release is support for Microsoft Windows operating systems. That's right, you can now finally install darktable on Windows OSes, though some features are still missing, such as printing support, and there are a few limitations like the need for special drivers for tethering support.

You Can Now Run a Custom Linux 4.14.2 Kernel on Your Slackware PC, Here's How

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Slack
HowTos

Linux kernel 4.14 is not only the latest and greatest kernel available for Linux-based operating systems, but also a long-term support branch that will receive maintenance updates for the next couple of years. It brings support for new hardware and lots of performance optimizations, so it's the recommended version for all Linux PCs.

The latest release is Linux kernel 4.14.2, and you can now install it on your Slackware Current 14.2 operating system, as well as other Slackware derivatives, including Slax, Zenwalk, and Arne Exton's SlackEX distro. The custom kernel is compiled by Arne Exton with support for more hardware devices and other optimizations.

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Slax Linux Distro Gets New Release After Two Years, Drops Slackware for Debian

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Slack
Debian

Slax 9.2.1 is now available for download as the latest stable release of the Linux distro, and it's the first to be based on Debian GNU/Linux. That's right, Slax no longer lives up to its name and drops Slackware for Debian. As its version number suggests, Slax 9.2.1 is based on Debian GNU/Linux 9.2.1 "Stretch."

"After several years of inactivity Slax project has been brought to life again in new version 9.2.1," said the developer in today's release announcement. "I've decided to go for Debian because it made my life much easier and I believe that it will make yours too."

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Slax Is Planning A Return, But Will No Longer Be Slackware-Based

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Slack

Longtime Linux users will likely recall the Slax distribution from back in the day that was Slackware-based, shipped with KDE, and offered a pretty nice live OS experience while being highly modular and made it easy to re-spin derivatives. Now it's coming back in new form.

Slax creator Tomáš Matějíček has been working on a new Slax release after being on a nearly half-decade hiatus. But in this renewed Slax, Slackware is no longer being used as a base but instead Debian. Tomas said he's moving to Debian out of "laziness" with Debian offering a much better and easier starting experience than Slackware in its current state. Debian's extensive package archive is another reported reason for choosing it.

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Slackware: Netsurf and Plasma5

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  • Netsurf, a lightweight browser, works on the framebuffer too

    Someone asked me to build a package for Netsurf. I had never heard of Netsurf before. It turns out that Netsurf is a cross-platform web browser which also runs on Linux. Its rendering engine is written from scratch, therefore the browser does not share code with any of the big browsers. Netsurf is actively developed and has a healthy community. A new version was released last week – 3.7.
    Functionally speaking, this browser is not as versatile or capable as other modern browsers, but its advantage is that it is small, fast, suited for low-end hardware, and more importantly: it works on the Linux framebuffer. This means that you can have a basic graphical web browser on your server console. It looks better than “links -g”.

  • Plasma5 Wayland works on Slackware

    Last year August 2016 I experimented with Wayland, the alternative to the X Window system. My goal was to see if it is possible to run a Plasma5 desktop session on a Wayland compositor instead of using X.Org.
    There was one big showstopper at the time. Kwin_wayland has a dependency on the ‘logind’ DBus API and at that time last year, this API was only provided by systemd-logind. Luckily, someone treated the logind component of systemd similarly to its udev component. Where Slackware already uses “eudev” which is a standalone udev source extracted from the systemd source, there’s also “elogind” which is the standalone logind sourcecode, extracted from systemd sourcecode. With some difficulty I managed to create a Slackware package for elogind and everything compiled. I just could not get a working Wayland session.
    As it turns out today, that failure to get Wayland working was an omission on my side… more on that later.

KDE: KWave and Plasma in Slackware

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KDE
Slack
  • Replacing Audacity with KWave

    KWave has been developed since 1998, yet few have heard of it. I only recently heard of it myself from writer and podcaster Marcel Gagné while I was setting up to do how-to-videos. Part of the reason for its obscurity might be that, despite its name, it only recently become an official KDE project in the last release. However, the major reason for its obscurity is probably that it has been overshadowed by the better-known Audacity — which is a pity, because in most ways, KWave is every bit as useful as an audio editor.

    Why would anyone want an Audacity substitute? For one thing, while Audacity is cross-platform, it is not well-integrated into Linux. Audacity handles its own resources, as you can tell by its lengthy load time. Often, Audacity frequently gives confusing options for input and playback sources, giving several names to the same device and offering irrelevant front and back options for mono devices, so that users can only find the one they need through trial and error. Sometimes, the necessary option for a particular source can change for no apparent each time Audacity starts.

  • October updates for the Slackware Plasma5 desktop

    There’s been updates to all the major components of the KDE Software Collection (I know they stopped using that name but I think it is still fitting). So I tasked my build box to compile hundreds of new packages and today I have for you the October ’17 set of Plasma 5 packages for Slackware 14.2 and -current. KDE 5_17.10 contains: KDE Frameworks 5.39.0, Plasma 5.11.0 and Applications 17.08.2. All based on Qt 5.9.2 for Slackware-current and Qt 5.7.1 for Slackware 14.2.

Refreshed ISO’s for Slackware Live Edition, and more

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Slack

When I released new Live ISO images almost two weeks ago, a bug in the init script which became apparent with the latest Slackware initrd broke the encrypted /home feature. Therefore I am releasing an updated set of ‘liveslak‘ scripts with version 1.1.9.1 .

The latest set of Slackware Live Edition ISOs are based on liveslak 1.1.9.1 and Slackware-current dated “Fri Sep 29 22:58:54 UTC 2017“). That means, the new Live ISOs contain the updates to TexLive and Python3 (well, no texlive in the XFCE image due to its size limit of course).

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.

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Slackware-Based SlackEX Distro Updated with Linux Kernel 4.12, KDE 4.14.35 LTS

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After informing us of the release of his CruxEX 3.3 2017 GNU/Linux distribution, developer Arne Exton recently brought to our attention that his SlackEX distro got a new important update.

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Linux Kernel Development

  • New Sound Drivers Coming In Linux 4.16 Kernel
    Due to longtime SUSE developer Takashi Iwai going on holiday the next few weeks, he has already sent in the sound driver feature updates targeting the upcoming Linux 4.16 kernel cycle. The sound subsystem in Linux 4.16 sees continued changes to the ASoC code, clean-ups to the existing drivers, and a number of new drivers.
  • Varlink: a protocol for IPC
    One of the motivations behind projects like kdbus and bus1, both of which have fallen short of mainline inclusion, is to have an interprocess communication (IPC) mechanism available early in the boot process. The D-Bus IPC mechanism has a daemon that cannot be started until filesystems are mounted and the like, but what if the early boot process wants to perform IPC? A new project, varlink, was recently announced; it aims to provide IPC from early boot onward, though it does not really address the longtime D-Bus performance complaints that also served as motivation for kdbus and bus1. The announcement came from Harald Hoyer, but he credited Kay Sievers and Lars Karlitski with much of the work. At its core, varlink is simply a JSON-based protocol that can be used to exchange messages over any connection-oriented transport. No kernel "special sauce" (such as kdbus or bus1) is needed to support it as TCP or Unix-domain sockets will provide the necessary functionality. The messages can be used as a kind of remote procedure call (RPC) using an API defined in an interface file.
  • Statistics for the 4.15 kernel
    The 4.15 kernel is likely to require a relatively long development cycle as a result of the post-rc5 merge of the kernel page-table isolation patches. That said, it should be in something close to its final form, modulo some inevitable bug fixes. The development statistics for this kernel release look fairly normal, but they do reveal an unexpectedly busy cycle overall. This development cycle was supposed to be relatively calm after the anticipated rush to get work into the 4.14 long-term-support release. But, while 4.14 ended up with 13,452 non-merge changesets at release, 4.15-rc6 already has 14,226, making it one of the busiest releases in the kernel project's history. Only 4.9 (16,214 changesets) and 4.12 (14,570) brought in more work, and 4.15 may exceed 4.12 by the time it is finished. So far, 1,707 developers have contributed to this kernel; they added 725,000 lines of code while removing 407,000, for a net growth of 318,000 lines of code.
  • A new kernel polling interface
    Polling a set of file descriptors to see which ones can perform I/O without blocking is a useful thing to do — so useful that the kernel provides three different system calls (select(), poll(), and epoll_wait() — plus some variants) to perform it. But sometimes three is not enough; there is now a proposal circulating for a fourth kernel polling interface. As is usually the case, the motivation for this change is performance. On January 4, Christoph Hellwig posted a new polling API based on the asynchronous I/O (AIO) mechanism. This may come as a surprise to some, since AIO is not the most loved of kernel interfaces and it tends not to get a lot of attention. AIO allows for the submission of I/O operations without waiting for their completion; that waiting can be done at some other time if need be. The kernel has had AIO support since the 2.5 days, but it has always been somewhat incomplete. Direct file I/O (the original use case) works well, as does network I/O. Many other types of I/O are not supported for asynchronous use, though; attempts to use the AIO interface with them will yield synchronous behavior. In a sense, polling is a natural addition to AIO; the whole point of polling is usually to avoid waiting for operations to complete.

Security: OpenSSL, IoT, and LWN Coverage of 'Intelpocalypse'

  • Another Face to Face: Email Changes and Crypto Policy
    The OpenSSL OMC met last month for a two-day face-to-face meeting in London, and like previous F2F meetings, most of the team was present and we addressed a great many issues. This blog posts talks about some of them, and most of the others will get their own blog posts, or notices, later. Red Hat graciously hosted us for the two days, and both Red Hat and Cryptsoft covered the costs of their employees who attended. One of the overall threads of the meeting was about increasing the transparency of the project. By default, everything should be done in public. We decided to try some major changes to email and such.
  • Some Basic Rules for Securing Your IoT Stuff

    Throughout 2016 and 2017, attacks from massive botnets made up entirely of hacked [sic] IoT devices had many experts warning of a dire outlook for Internet security. But the future of IoT doesn’t have to be so bleak. Here’s a primer on minimizing the chances that your IoT things become a security liability for you or for the Internet at large.

  • A look at the handling of Meltdown and Spectre
    The Meltdown/Spectre debacle has, deservedly, reached the mainstream press and, likely, most of the public that has even a remote interest in computers and security. It only took a day or so from the accelerated disclosure date of January 3—it was originally scheduled for January 9—before the bugs were making big headlines. But Spectre has been known for at least six months and Meltdown for nearly as long—at least to some in the industry. Others that were affected were completely blindsided by the announcements and have joined the scramble to mitigate these hardware bugs before they bite users. Whatever else can be said about Meltdown and Spectre, the handling (or, in truth, mishandling) of this whole incident has been a horrific failure. For those just tuning in, Meltdown and Spectre are two types of hardware bugs that affect most modern CPUs. They allow attackers to cause the CPU to do speculative execution of code, while timing memory accesses to deduce what has or has not been cached, to disclose the contents of memory. These disclosures can span various security boundaries such as between user space and the kernel or between guest operating systems running in virtual machines. For more information, see the LWN article on the flaws and the blog post by Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton that well describes modern CPU architectures and speculative execution to explain why the Raspberry Pi is not affected.
  • Addressing Meltdown and Spectre in the kernel
    When the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities were disclosed on January 3, attention quickly turned to mitigations. There was already a clear defense against Meltdown in the form of kernel page-table isolation (KPTI), but the defenses against the two Spectre variants had not been developed in public and still do not exist in the mainline kernel. Initial versions of proposed defenses have now been disclosed. The resulting picture shows what has been done to fend off Spectre-based attacks in the near future, but the situation remains chaotic, to put it lightly. First, a couple of notes with regard to Meltdown. KPTI has been merged for the 4.15 release, followed by a steady trickle of fixes that is undoubtedly not yet finished. The X86_BUG_CPU_INSECURE processor bit is being renamed to X86_BUG_CPU_MELTDOWN now that the details are public; there will be bug flags for the other two variants added in the near future. 4.9.75 and 4.4.110 have been released with their own KPTI variants. The older kernels do not have mainline KPTI, though; instead, they have a backport of the older KAISER patches that more closely matches what distributors shipped. Those backports have not fully stabilized yet either. KPTI patches for ARM are circulating, but have not yet been merged.
  • Is it time for open processors?
    The disclosure of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities has brought a new level of attention to the security bugs that can lurk at the hardware level. Massive amounts of work have gone into improving the (still poor) security of our software, but all of that is in vain if the hardware gives away the game. The CPUs that we run in our systems are highly proprietary and have been shown to contain unpleasant surprises (the Intel management engine, for example). It is thus natural to wonder whether it is time to make a move to open-source hardware, much like we have done with our software. Such a move may well be possible, and it would certainly offer some benefits, but it would be no panacea. Given the complexity of modern CPUs and the fierceness of the market in which they are sold, it might be surprising to think that they could be developed in an open manner. But there are serious initiatives working in this area; the idea of an open CPU design is not pure fantasy. A quick look around turns up several efforts; the following list is necessarily incomplete.
  • Notes from the Intelpocalypse
    Rumors of an undisclosed CPU security issue have been circulating since before LWN first covered the kernel page-table isolation patch set in November 2017. Now, finally, the information is out — and the problem is even worse than had been expected. Read on for a summary of these issues and what has to be done to respond to them in the kernel. All three disclosed vulnerabilities take advantage of the CPU's speculative execution mechanism. In a simple view, a CPU is a deterministic machine executing a set of instructions in sequence in a predictable manner. Real-world CPUs are more complex, and that complexity has opened the door to some unpleasant attacks. A CPU is typically working on the execution of multiple instructions at once, for performance reasons. Executing instructions in parallel allows the processor to keep more of its subunits busy at once, which speeds things up. But parallel execution is also driven by the slowness of access to main memory. A cache miss requiring a fetch from RAM can stall the execution of an instruction for hundreds of processor cycles, with a clear impact on performance. To minimize the amount of time it spends waiting for data, the CPU will, to the extent it can, execute instructions after the stalled one, essentially reordering the code in the program. That reordering is often invisible, but it occasionally leads to the sort of fun that caused Documentation/memory-barriers.txt to be written.

US Sanctions Against Chinese Android Phones, LWN Report on Eelo

  • A new bill would ban the US government from using Huawei and ZTE phones
    US lawmakers have long worried about the security risks posed the alleged ties between Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE and the country’s government. To that end, Texas Representative Mike Conaway introduced a bill last week called Defending U.S. Government Communications Act, which aims to ban US government agencies from using phones and equipment from the companies. Conaway’s bill would prohibit the US government from purchasing and using “telecommunications equipment and/or services,” from Huawei and ZTE. In a statement on his site, he says that technology coming from the country poses a threat to national security, and that use of this equipment “would be inviting Chinese surveillance into all aspects of our lives,” and cites US Intelligence and counterintelligence officials who say that Huawei has shared information with state leaders, and that the its business in the US is growing, representing a further security risk.
  • U.S. lawmakers urge AT&T to cut commercial ties with Huawei - sources
    U.S. lawmakers are urging AT&T Inc, the No. 2 wireless carrier, to cut commercial ties to Chinese phone maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and oppose plans by telecom operator China Mobile Ltd to enter the U.S. market because of national security concerns, two congressional aides said. The warning comes after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump took a harder line on policies initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama on issues ranging from Beijing’s role in restraining North Korea to Chinese efforts to acquire U.S. strategic industries. Earlier this month, AT&T was forced to scrap a plan to offer its customers Huawei [HWT.UL] handsets after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators, sources told Reuters.
  • Eelo seeks to make a privacy-focused phone
    A focus on privacy is a key feature being touted by a number of different projects these days—from KDE to Tails to Nextcloud. One of the biggest privacy leaks for most people is their phone, so it is no surprise that there are projects looking to address that as well. A new entrant in that category is eelo, which is a non-profit project aimed at producing not only a phone, but also a suite of web services. All of that could potentially replace the Google or Apple mothership, which tend to collect as much personal data as possible.

today's howtos