Friday, September 30, 2011

Slackware-Current Hidden Activities

There hasn't been any public activities in the -Current tree. The last update committed was in September 6 and since then, there has been a lot of changes happening in the open source world. Some people might ask "Why wouldn't Slackware development tree gets updated lately?"

In the past, when i first learned about Slackware and started to follow Slackware-Current tree few years ago, i had the same feeling. The main reason why i pick Slackware-Current so that i will get the most bleeding-edge system filled with the latest version of every applications that are supported in Slackware. In fact, this is not what Slackware-Current idea is all about. Slackware-Current is the place where development of the next release of Slackware is being cooked, baked, tested by many people around the world to produce another great release of Slackware when the time come.

Even though Pat has gave a warning about using -Current as your base system, i find that -Current is as stable as the -Stable release. In fact, some fixes will be incorporated in -Current first and then in some cases it will be backported to -Stable (mostly deals with security fixes). Sometimes -Current does break some system when a faulty package being added, but it's just a special case. I only had problems with -Current when a new modular XOrg packages were introduced and since then, i never had any problems with -Current.

Back to the topic about Slackware-Current public activities. Even though the changelog doesn't show anything at all, it doesn't mean that the development of Slackware stopped. In fact, the Core team (Pat and Slackware Crews) works day to day to internally test the packages before releasing it to public to ensure that the packages won't break user's system when they try it.

Looking at the long inactivity of the -Current tree, i suspect a huge batch of updates is coming up with lots of new applications being updated to the latest version and probably some new applications will be added (for example if Pat decided to upgrade to KDE 4.7.1, then lots of new applications and libraries will need to be added into the repository). Be prepared for the big surprises by Pat.

Since i'm leaving on Monday until the next ten days for travelling with my new wife, i may not be able to post anything if the prize has been unveiled by Pat, so stay tune to the Changelogs if you want to see the big changes happening in Slackware-Current daydreaming

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kdepim Updated

For those who have a problem using KMail (included in kdepim package), which caused their email to be incorrectly deleted by KMail, a new remedy package has been released by Eric on his KTown repository. The patched package is kdepim-runtime which contains the akonadi libraries that stores the related data (your email and many other data related).

If you still use the old KDE 4.7.0, it's time to make an upgrade since this bug is introduced in KDE 4.7.0 and it will be part of the next KDE 4.7.2 monthly update, but if you are using KMail so often, probably it's better to update to the latest kdepim-runtime package as soon as possible

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Minor KDE Updates

Eric has updated his KDE packages with small changes related to virtuoso that can caused a misleading encoding information in unicode pathnames. He followed this bug report and then applied this patch to fix the problem. If you used Eric's KDE 4.7.1 packages, make sure you sync with the latest update and update your packages.

Another change in KDE packages is libbluedevil. He forgot to add alien as the suffix into this package to make it different with official Slackware package. He fixed this in the latest update along with the virtuoso package.

Update (20:29 PM): Eric has made a new post regarding this new update and it seems i missed one package which was added after i made this post. The new package is kde-workspace and it was added because there's a serious bug affecting KDE's performance when more windows are open on the desktop. Eric applied a patch from Martin Graesslin to fix the problem. This bug affects all KDE 4 version back to KDE 4.0, which is considered quite serious to KDE developers.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

KDE 4.7.1 Arrives

A month has passed since KDE 4.7.0 got released, so it's time for a monthly update for KDE 4.7.x branch providing maintenance updates and translations updates for people who have used KDE 4.7.0 releases.

Even though KDE 4.7.1 hasn't yet shipped within Slackware-Current, you can try this packages by downloading them from Eric Hameleer's KTown repository since he already announced it on his blog. He has added a warning for those who wanted to try this packages under Slackware 13.37 or older: use it on your own risk. He didn't test it outside Slackware-Current.

There were some updates in the deps/ directory compared to previous KDE 4.7.0 release and this has been mentioned by Eric as well on the README file.

One interesting package that Eric added was Quanta Plus that came as a plugin for KDevelop package. This will surely brings past memories about Quanta that was shipped under KDE 3 and many people like this tool and they surely miss this package when migrating to KDE 4. It took a long time to have this package reborn again, but i guess it's a worthed updated. Try this tool if you used it in the past.

As usual, KDE 4.7.1 packages can be downloaded from this repositories:
My repository is now complete, so you should be able to start syncing from UKDW's repository if you are located in Indonesia Evil Grin

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Security Update: Firefox, Thunderbird, Seamonkey, Apache

Slackware has released several updated packaged that are considered security update, but no advisory has been released yet (probably in the next few hours). They are Apache, Firefox, Thunderbird, and Seamonkey. The update were released in different version. For example, Slackware 12.2 only received Apache update, while Slackware 13.0 and later received Apache, Firefox (3.6.x branch) and Thunderbird.

Slackware 13.37 users can now be relieved as Pat upgraded Firefox support to 6.0.x branch. Unfortunately, the same situation doesn't happen on Thunderbird. It's still using 3.1.x branch for now.

Slackware-Current received the biggest update with Apache, Firefox (6.0.x branch), Thunderbird (6.0.x branch), Seamonkey, and there's a new upgraded package for OpenSSH 5.9 which has been released few days ago plus one new package in testing/ for Firefox 7 Beta 4.

There's still no sign of major changes happening in -Current, but we know that Pat is up to something and he plans to announce it when it has passed his thorough testing phase. I'm guesing he's aiming for KDE 4.7.x and XFCE 4.8 for the this release and he must deals with all the dependencies before uploading all the packages to the mirrors.

We will have to wait for that time to come Goodluck

Friday, September 2, 2011

New Poll

As September comes, a new poll has been released on SlackBlogs. This time, i wanted to know which email client do most people (especially Slackware users) use for their daily activities. Some of them are text-based email clients and the rest are GUI-based email clients.

Please give your votes and hopefully this poll can be used to determine whether those packages are really still needed in Slackware's default packages or not. If no one is using it, then perhaps it's time to drop it from Slackware since one of those email clients is no longer maintained nor developed by the upstream developers, even though there are some continuation project that arose to make sure it's still being developed and new features are still being delivered for the users.

Can you guess which one? Evil Grin

Poll Results

Two months has passed since the last poll and the result are here:


5uP3r C0o1  32 (59%)
 
Nothing special  13 (24%)
 
I haven't bought it yet  9 (16%)
 
It hasn't arrived yet  0 (0%)
 
Even though the new t-shirt only adds a little cosmetic on the backside, almost 60% of the voters said it was a cool one and they like it very much. I'm hoping for more items in Slackware Store so more people will be attracted to buy more items from it and they can also help the Slackware Project.

LibreOffice 3.4.3 for Slackware

Few days ago LibreOffice 3.4.3 has been released by upstream developers, The Document Foundation to tackle more bugs that was found or long-standing bugs that still are available in the previous 3.4.2 release.

As always, Eric provided a set of LibreOffice packages for Slackware 13.37 and -Current users. Please note that at this release, Eric decided to split the browser plugin into a separate plugin package called libreoffice-mozplugin. This is due to some reports on LQ which stated that a new session of LibreOffice will start when Firefox browser is closed. Personally, i have never experienced this before, but since it may come from several people, Eric decided to split them up.

You know the routine, all LibreOffice packages from Eric can be downloaded from this mirrors:
Please note that most of the mirrors described above has rsync capabilities, so you can create your own mirror if you need to setup your own local packages to be used on your organizations or departments.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

ArchLinux vs Slackware

This posting is not meant to start another flame war between these two great Linux distribution. It's just meant to be my personal opinion after trying ArchLinux for several days and compare it with the distribution i have been using for the last six years. I know it's not completely fair to compare few days experience with six years, but i will try to be as fair as possible.

Let's start with the history. Why would i try ArchLinux when i'm already comfortable with Slackware for the last few years? The answer is simple: curiousity. I had a discussion with my friend who lived in the US and he was a Slackware users as well, but migrated to ArchLinux and he said that i would like the disto as well since it's similar with Slackware. He told me lots of things about ArchLinux that i wouldn't find in Slackware. At the end, i promised him that i would someday try ArchLinux, but i didn't say when. That discussion was held in 2009/2010 (i forget the precise moment).

Since i have a one full week vacation due to national holiday in Indonesia (Eid), i decided to try ArchLinux to fulfil my promise to my friend. What a lucky me, ArchLinux has just released a new ISO few days ago that contains more up to date packages since they have migrated to the new Linux Kernel 3.0.x branch and that causes the netinstall ISO were broken, so they decided to release a new ISO. I downloaded this ISO and burnt it into a blank CD.

At first, i wanted to try it first on my Virtual Machine (I have Virtual Box and VMWare running on my machine), but that wouldn't reflect how optimum Arch is (i have read numerous article about how fast it is), so i decided to install it on my old laptop which has Fedora 14 on it. I haven't use the laptop for a while since i have a busy schedule this semester, so i think it's time to put a new Linux distro on it.

So, i installed ArchLinux on my old laptop. Most of the installation process was similar to Slackware's installation method. All you get is ncurses-based installer and since i'm already used to Slackware installation, i found no difficulties installing ArchLinux on my laptop. Everything works flawlessly. It's one of the advantage of learning to use Slackware: it will become easier to install other Linux distribution (except for some hard core Linux distribution, for example Gentoo or LFS).

Once i reboot the system, it showed a nice GRUB with ArchLinux logo on it and it simply has two entries: ArchLinux and ArchLinux Fallback (for recovery). Simple and elegant, just like Slackware with it's famous LILO boot loader covered up with a simple Slackware logo with dark background. I pushed the ENTER button on ArchLinux and i was truly amazed. I can have my login prompt in under 10s, something i can't achive with Slackware. My laptop is not a fast one. It only has Intel Pentium M 1.5 GHz as the processor and 1 GB of RAM with 60 GB of hard drive. It's an Acer TravelMate 4150L which i bought just when i was about to graduate in 2005.

Next, i create the normal username which i will use for my daily activities and start configuring the network since the ISO only contains basic packages and even NO GUI at all. It doesn't have any DE (Desktop Environment) or even XOrg packages, so i definitely need an Internet connection to grab all those packages. I plugged in my cable and start downloading some basic packages that i need to get a nice desktop, like XOrg, GNOME, and KDE. Since it was already past midnight, i went to bed while the laptop was still downloading the packages (full KDE installation requires about 600 MB alone).

In the morning, everything is already installed and i tried to login to GNOME, but it stucked. I don't know why. It doesn't give me any error messages, only a blue-stripped wallpaper and that's all. So i decided to abort it and re-login into KDE and this time, it works. After that, i start adding normal applications i use daily, such as LibreOffice, Firefox, Pidgin, xCHM, Flash Player, etc.

I tried to explore how ArchLinux works with daemon service, and in most part, it's similar to Slackware. ArchLinux also stores all it's service scripts in /etc/rc.d and we can start the service by using /etc/rc.d/httpd start for example (similar in Slackware). You can use rc.d command to start/stop service though. This is something that Slackware doesn't have.

One thing my friend told me that makes him loves ArchLinux was pacman, ArchLinux's package management tool. It works similarly like pkgtool, but it can solve dependencies as well just like apt-get used in Debian and Ubuntu. Since packages in ArchLinux are grouped, it will become easier for common users to install a full set of packages, such as kde, libreoffice, gnome, etc. You will have a choice to install them one by one, or even to all packages belong to that group. For example, i can use pacman -S kde to install all kde-related applications and libraries.

For a moment, i enjoyed pacman since it finds all the dependencies related to the application i need to install, but when i analyze it further, it also shares the problems i dislike when dealing with apt-get or any other tools that resolve dependencies: bloated system and upstream-dependency. I still prefer the Slackware method of pkgtool to handle dependency: leave it to users who has the absolute control of the system and not relying to the upstream developers.


Since ArchLinux is a rolling release, it's more likely a Slackware-Current in many ways, but the difference is the speed of updates. ArchLinux main repository is updated very often. Sometimes even once every five minutes or so. Meanwhile, Slackware-Current usually being updated on daily basis since there's only one man who does all the job on Slackware and that's Patrick himself. Rolling release means every new version of a package is being added into the main repository. Slackware-Current shares the same philosophy, but sometimes takes more traditional approach if the performance of the new version is worst than the old version. If you need a bleeding-edge systems, Arch might be suitable for you, but if you need a bleeding-edge with more stability on top of it, Slackware-Current might be the option you are looking for.

Slackware has SlackBuilds project and so does ArchLinux with it's AUR (ArchLinux User Repository). Both are user-contributed scripts which convert source codes into their native format (tgz/txz in Slackware and tar.gz in ArchLinux). If you need packages which are not yet or no longer supported in the main repository, you can try to find them on SlackBuilds or AUR project.

This conclude my initial review of ArchLinux after using it for several days. It's a great Linux distribution which challenges it's user with it's rolling release model, but for a production system that requires stability over new features, i would prefer Slackware. I myself will use ArchLinux only in my old laptop and i don't have plan to use it for my daily operational desktop/laptop until i know more about ArchLinux in the future.