Slax 9.4 final released

written by Tomas M. 59 days ago

After a short testing with no problems reported, I feel it is now the right time to release next version of Slax Linux - a minimalistic, fully modular operating system.

This version incorporates all upstream improvements from Debian stable, adds several default applications and fixes several known bugs. File manager now understands file types, so it is easier for users to open files like images, pdf documents, and so on.

On top of all that, Slax now includes one-click-to-install launchers, to offer additional software to users while keeping Slax size small. If the current approach proves useful, Slax could contain lots of icons for additional programs, which will be simply installed (automatically) when launched for the first time.

Check the full list of changes

You can download Slax from the project's home page.

Enjoy! :)




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Slax 9.4 rc1

written by Tomas M. 61 days ago

Hello everybody, you can download Slax 9.4 64bit rc1 here. For list of changes, see here. I do not expect any more changes in the final release, which should be available on 26th of March.

Most noticable change is addition of launchers for not-installed applications - the app will download and install on the first run. Feel free to suggest your preferred applications which you like to have included by default. You can see at the screenshot below icons for VLC (video player) and VoteCoin (anonymous crypto currency wallet), those apps are not included in Slax, but clicking the icons will auto-install them (before the first run).

By the way, VoteCoin is my other creation, if you are interested in getting more info, see https://www.votecoin.site





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Work in progress on next version

written by Tomas M. 64 days ago

I've started working on next version of Slax. You can track the roadmap here, and you can suggest changes for the next version here.

A few users requested a possibility to purchase Slax preinstalled on an USB drive, so I'll offer such possibility after the new version is released. If you like, you can support Slax by buying such USB device directly from this website. And if you don't like, you can simply download it for free as usual :)

More to come hopefully soon. I expect new release to be ready in few days.

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Slax 9.3 is here

written by Tomas M. 151 days ago

Most of you celebrate something today, so here is a little gift for you :) I've released Slax 9.3 just few minutes ago and I have to say that I am happy with the progress we are making.



Lets recap all the changes since previous stable version:

First of all, I've added lots of firmware drivers to support various WIFI devices. It is around 40MB compressed, so Slax is a bit bigger now due to this, but I fully understand that a computer without network connection is completely useless, so this had to happen. :)

I spent some time testing Slax to boot from many different filesystems and I was able to identify some problems, which are now fixed. Most importantly this includes NTFS and ext4 support, so Slax is now capable of booting from them as well.

If you boot from a writable media, the Persistent Changes feature is enabled by default now. Note that you may need to erase your changes.dat file if it was created by beta/beta2.

Other news include:


- added pcmanfm as file manager for GUI
- added wicd as wifi network manager
- xLunch now auto updates, to see newly installed apps
- hard drives are mounted on boot and bookmarks added to pcmanfm
- keyboard layout stays persistent
- screen resolution change is reimplemented to make it work better
- syslinux updated to newest version


Download Slax 9.3 here

And since it is 24th of December: Happy whatever holidays you celebrate, based on whatever irrational beliefs you may have! :-)



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Slax 9.3 beta 2

written by Tomas M. 158 days ago

Since there were some bugs in the initial beta release, I'm publishing beta2 now. Shouldn't it be gama? :)

  • Slax 9.3 beta2 64bit (256MB)
  • Slax 9.3 beta2 32bit (266MB)


  • There is nothing new, just few bugs fixed to make things actually work as advertised. Please read changelog on previous beta release for more.

    Enjoy! :]

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    Slax 9.3 beta 1 ready for download

    written by Tomas M. 160 days ago

    I am almost ready to release the next Slax version. But before I do so, I would like to get some feedback on the current progress. So I've prepared a beta release, you can download Slax 9.3 beta from here:

  • Slax 9.3 beta 64bit (256MB)
  • Slax 9.3 beta 32bit (266MB)


  • In order to better organize feedback from users, lets use google groups. It is a mailing list, everybody should be able to send a message to it, and if you join the group, you'll also get answers from other users.

    Get in touch here:

    slax-users@googlegroups.com



    You can of course post a comment in this blog as well, but using the mailing list should be more beneficial for everybody. Lets see how it goes :)

    This beta release includes the following changes:

  • Persistent changes is now default if you boot Slax from a writable media
  • Newly installed applications have their icons added to xLunch screen automatically
  • Added File Manager (pcmanfm), set to show drives in the left sidebar
  • Fixed Slax booting from NTFS and EXT4 filesystems.
  • Added lots of wifi-related firmware drivers and wicd as network manager.
  • Testing is needed, please test if you can. Thank you!


  • Enjoy the beta release!
    If everything goes smoothly, we should have next Slax in a week.


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    Next Slax soon

    written by Tomas M. 163 days ago

    I noticed that Debian has updated to 9.3.0 so it's time to update Slax too. I plan to release update with each minor Debian release, if there are any bugfixes or changes (in Slax) at that moment. I will update this blog post as I progress through my todo list.

    Currently I've implemented these changes:


    - add nicer filesystem icons to pcmanfm
    - make xlunch refresh on start to see newly installed apps
    - mount hard drives on boot and add bookmarks to pcmanfm
    - add @ntfs-3g support, add ext4 support for bootable device
    - make persistent changes default when booting from writable media
    (and offer "fresh start" in boot menu instead)
    - make keyboard layout persistent
    - fb keys: OnDesktop Mouse1 :MacroCmd {WindowMenu} {HideMenus}
    - reimplement xrandr screen resolution change, use --mode somehow
    - add pcmanfm as file manager for GUI
    - add wicd as wifi configurator
    - update syslinux to newest version
    - added wireless tools
    - added firmware (free and nonfree)
    - added contrib and nonfree repositories
    - fixed apt-get alias parameters handling


    and this is the todo list for this release:


    - write documentation
    - inform users that there is a google group
    (mailing list) for slax at slax-users@googlegroups.com



    I should be able to release next Slax in few days, so this is your last change, if you desperately require something which is not yet on the TODO list then feel free to post comment :)


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    Survey

    written by Tomas M. 179 days ago









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    Is there malware in Chromium in Slax?

    written by Tomas M. 185 days ago

    Several people complained that I've added malware to chromium in Slax, and similar shit :) So, lets take a look at it.

    The chromium module in Slax is created using this method:
    1) boot fresh Slax
    2) apt install chromium
    3) savechanges /04-chromium.sb

    That is all. Well, the procedure is indeed a little bit more complicated since I want to remove some unneded files after apt install, and I need to provide a 'chromium' script which logins as guest user and starts the chromium binary, because chromium refuses to run as root, but other than that, I make no changes. Especially I add no chromium extensions etc. You can review the build script here

    If you start chromium in Slax and check out chrome://extensions URL, you will indeed see three extensions. Those cannot be disabled or uninstalled through the settings interface. What are those extensions? Well I have no idea what they do, but you can gues by their names:

    - bookmark manager
    - pdf viewer
    - cryptoTokenExtension

    To be honest, I didn't know that chromium installed with apt install has such extensions. I am not sure if all of them are really needed. But as I mentioned, I am not adding these, if you install fresh Debian and you install chromium the way I did, you'll get those extensions too. I believe that Debian developers know what they are doing, and I doubt those extensions would be any harmful.

    I can assure you that if I was to add malware to chromium in Slax, I would definitely add it in a way that you could never notice. Adding malware this way makes no sense :-)


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    vesamenu.c32 boot problem

    written by Tomas M. 186 days ago

    Several people reported they have problem booting Slax from USB device, with the following error message displayed:

    failed to load com32 file /slax/boot/vesamenu.c32
    I am not able to replicate this error, so I need your help to find out what particular change fixes it. So, if you are experiencing these troubles, please try the following and let me know what helps:

    1) download latest syslinux
    2) unzip
    3) find file ./bios/com32/menu/vesamenu.c32
    4) copy the vesamenu.c32 to your USB disk with Slax and try to boot Slax again.

    If this helps to resolve your problem, please reply here that vesamenu.c32 is the only file which needs update. However, it is possible that some more files need to be added, so if only vesamenu.c32 won't help to fix your problem, try to copy also ./bios/com32/libutil/libutil.c32, ./bios/com32/libcom/libcom.c32, and maybe some others from the ./bios/com32 directory. I don't think that those are needed, but you can test.

    I cannot solve this alone, since it doesn't fail on my computer. Thank you very much for your time playing with this.



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    Some examples for Persistent Changes

    written by Tomas M. 187 days ago

    In a reply to several questions about persistence, I'd like to put here few hints. Remember that this all works after reboot only if you select "Keep changes persistent" in the boot menu, and only if you are running Slax from a writable media such as USB disk.

    1) how to make sshd server start automatically?

    You can start ssh server manually by running service ssh start. If you run it the first time, it creates some keys in /etc/ssh/ directory, so the first start is a little bit longer. But even after the keys are created, sshd won't autostart on reboot. It's because I manually disabled it in Slax, because root's password is well known. So, make sure to change your root's password (and password of the guest user) to something new. When done, run systemctl enable ssh. It will basically create a symlink to ssh.service in multi-user.target.wants (which is in /etc/systemd/system directory). This ensures sshd will be started on boot.

    2) How to make keyboard layout persistent?

    I forgot to implement such functionality. So keyboard layout needs to be set from the fluxbox menu each time and there is no config file to change. You can make it persistent by editing /root/.fluxbox/startup ... add there a line such as setxkbmap fr for french keyboard layout, etc. Make sure it is somewhere on top of the file. I will probably fix the persistence of keyboard layout in next Slax release, so if you set it this way, you may need to remove it from the startup file again at some point later, when Slax fixes this.

    3) how to disable autostart of Xorg?

    Similarly like enabling ssh server, you may disable autostarting of X by the following command: systemctl disable xorg. This will remove display-manager.service symlink from /etc/systemd/system and you will get only text-mode console on next boot. You can still start X manually with the startx command after login, though.


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    Wifi in Slax

    written by Tomas M. 188 days ago

    Apparently I forgot to include some wifi support in Slax. I don't have any device with wifi here at the moment, so I can't test, but there should be few things to consider. First of all, you will probably need some firmware for your wifi adapter. I'm not sure which packages to install, some of them may not be in official debian repository. Hopefully somebody in the comments will suggest something. Second, you will probably need some software to manage your wifi connections. Some people suggested wpa_supplicant, this can be installed with apt install wpasupplicant. This is a commandline utility, as far as I can tell. If you are looking for a GUI to configure your wifi network, you may try

    apt install network-manager-gnome
    nm-applet &


    Or better (half download, only 50MB):
    apt install wicd
    wicd-gtk -t &



    This will put an icon in system tray, which you can use to access network settings using GUI.

    Hope this helps a bit.


    22 comments
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    Proper release announcement

    written by Tomas M. 189 days ago

    After several years of inactivity Slax project has been brought to life again in new version 9.2.1. For those who did not hear about it yet, Slax is a little distribution of GNU/Linux (in 200 MB), which runs on your computer without installing, and makes no changes to it (unless you tell it to do so).

    This time, Slax uses Debian stretch as its base, and thus it can offer all the wonders of the mighty 'apt' command. If you are missing any software in Slax, use 'apt install SOFTWARENAME' to get it in an instant. I've decided to go for Debian because it made my life much easier and I believe that it will make yours too.

    Graphical desktop uses FluxBox window manager and xLunch, which was written especially for Slax and with Slax needs in mind. Furthermore the development of xLunch continues independently.

    There are only few applications included, Chromium is used as a web browser and video player, and there is also leafpad and calculator, just for the sake of completeness :]

    You can consider Slax as a simple and minimalistic base Linux system, which you can carry in your pocket.


    60 comments
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    Slax 9 has been released

    written by Tomas M. 189 days ago

    I am happy to announce that after a month of development, the next generation Slax Linux has been released. Proper release announcement will follow in few hours, I'm kinda busy at the moment :)



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    Tray icon for shutdown

    written by Tomas M. 191 days ago

    FluxBox is somehow limited in the way how to customize its look. No icons on desktop, no shutdown buttons... So I hired a programmer who wrote the best application on the world - SysTray Icon Launcher. It is like 50 lines of code, and what it does is pretty simple. Put an icon to system tray and execute a command when it is clicked. Thanks to it, we now have an awesome power button in about 20KB or so :) Hell I love this wallpaper, all screenshots are so cool!



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    Applications included in Slax

    written by Tomas M. 191 days ago

    I am finishing last few bits of the next gen Slax release. I think the biggest difference for the end user will be lack of applications. People were probably used to a rich collection of apps in Slax, including GUI file manager, video player, instant messaging program, card games, remote desktop app, more card games, ... :-) None of this will be included in the next Slax release. I may prepare, in the future, a bigger and more feature rich version, but for now, i am sticking with the only necessary software: xterm and web browser (chromium).

    There is also leafpad as text editor and qalculate as a calculator, those apps were like 200KB in total, so I added them. But other than that, only browser and terminal. I believe that everything (and I mean really EVERYTHING) is moving to the web. In most cases, web browser is the only software you need nowadays for various tasks. Spreadsheeds? online. Video player? Online. And thanks to apt-get (now included in Slax), most of the available software is online as well.

    So for now, four icons will be fully sufficient.



    7 comments
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    Slax screenshots

    written by Tomas M. 195 days ago

    Here are some first Slax screenshots. The wallpaper was created specially for Slax.

    Empty desktop:



    Running some programs:



    Logout dialog:



    8 comments
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    Clean shutdown with systemd

    written by Tomas M. 195 days ago

    Warning, technical post, for advanced users and developers only :) (and for me, because I will surely forget this soon)

    If you were used to access files in /mnt/live/* in Slax, then you will have to change your habits (and scripts) because that is now available in a different path: /run/initramfs/* ... Explanation why this change was necessary follows.

    When Slax was based on Slackware, I had to manually patch the rc scripts for shutdown, to return control back to initramfs which could safely unmount all devices and reboot. But after changing to Debian base, there are no such rc scripts (due to systemd). Systemd has some hardcoded logic on what it tries to unmount. I had to digg into systemd source codes to find out what it actually does during reboot, and I was happy to find a solution.

    Previous Slax puts the initramfs-root-filesystem in /mnt/live/ by calling pivot_root. But systemd has no idea this directory is special, and it tries to unmount it (including all submounts) on shutdown, making Debian report lots of red warnings. As it shows up, there is no possibility to exclude certain mountpoints from unmounting when the system is ending, however systemd has several exclude-paths hardcoded. It is / (root directory, obviously), /run/initramfs and /usr. So, instead of pivoting the root to /mnt/live, I had to modify linux-live-kit to pivot into /run/initramfs, in order for all systemd-based distros to ignore unmounting of initrd-based mounts, resulting in shutdown without errors. In order to unmount those properly, systemd executes /run/initramfs/shutdown.

    One problem appeared immediately - Debian overmounts /run on boot with tmpfs, which made the /run/initramfs inaccessible (even mount --bind /run /somewhere couldn't help). So I had to make a little change in the initial startup - mount the 'run/' directory first with tmpfs, then create run/initramfs/, and then pivot root. Debian recognizes that /run is areadly mounted and doesn't overmount it again, leaving /run/initramfs accessible. Bingo.


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    Slax and systemd

    written by Tomas M. 198 days ago

    During the past days I've received lots of feedback for the upcoming release of Slax, by email, blog, and other channels. Some of the users welcome Debian, some of them hate it, some don't care :) I think I've explained my reasons why I choosed Debian in my previous post, so I won't repeat that here. But some users are concerned about systemd and would like to know my views of it. So I'd like to mention few things here.

    To understand it better, we need to look at how your computer starts. When your computer is turned on, it checks bootable disks or CDs and loads a 'bootloader' first. This is a little software, which is located on your hard drive's first sector, and once executed, its only purpose is to find Linux kernel, load it to memory and execute it (plus pass some parameters to it).

    Linux kernel is much bigger binary, it is the core of evey Linux system. After Linux kernel is loaded and executed, it takes over your computer, and provides functions for all of your software to interact with your computer's hardware.

    Once the kernel initializes everything and is ready to manage everything, it calls the init. In Slax, things are more complicated due to another added layer, but lets ignore this now. So kernel finds the 'init' file on your disk, usually in /sbin/init, and executes it. So, init is the first process which gets always executed, and which takes care of the rest of the boot procedure.

    This init may have different forms. It may be a simple statically compiled program, which does not require any other libraries, and which goes through /etc/rc.d/ directory and runs all scripts stored there sequentially, to perform some initial tasks (like mounting partitions, starting daemons, etc.) before you get your login prompt. The init may be also a more complicated program, which does something more advanced. Or, the init can do a hell a lot of complicated stuff, as like in the case of systemd, in order to provide some "advanced functionality", before the login prompt is displayed to the user. Systemd is not a single binary to execute, it depends on functionality provided by additional libraries such as dbus, pam, notify, and lots of others.

    From my point of view in Slax, I don't really need to know what kind of init is used at all. Slax adds a layer in between the kernel and the distribution (be it Debian or Slackware or anything else) to provide a way to run Linux from a read-only media as like as it was writable. After this layer is set up, then the init of the underlaying distro is executed and continues normally, and it doesn't matter for Slax what the init is or does.

    To sum it up, I don't really care if the init is systemd or something else. It does not affect me at all.

    I am not sure what is the most important concern of some users who do not like systemd. I believe that there are two factors. First may be the complexity of systemd, which surely makes it hard to maintain its code, and goes against the phylosophy of Linux in general (kiss = keep it simple, stupid). By the way, is this really the phylosophy of Linux? :) Anyway, the other factor may be that the adoption of systemd seemed like it was forced to the end users, because once your distro uses systemd, lots of things start depending on it and there is really big problem for package maintainers, they would have to release many packages twice - once for systemd-enabled systems, and once for non-systemd ones, so it is easier for them to stick just with systemd and ignore the rest, which leaves no possibility for the end users to switch to different init they like.

    I may agree with these arguments, but as long as somebody else prepares things up for me (by packaging it), and as long as it works and makes my life easier, I am not affected by that (as a developer of Slax!) in any negative way. And I believe that the end users of Slax are even less affected by systemd. I didn't notice any single place where systemd would affect the end user's experience (expect the fact that the system boots up faster). So after all, I don't mind using systemd in Slax. I am not pro- or against- it, my position is best described as neutral :-)

    If you have faced any issues as the end user, I welcome your comments. Thank you!


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    New Slax is comming

    written by Tomas M. 202 days ago

    It has been long time ago when I released latest Slax version. The time has come to ressurect the project again. Why? Just for the fun :)

    The main decision I had to make is to abandon Slackware. Yes it's true, next Slax is not going to be based on Slackware. Sorry Slack fans. The reason is simple: lazyness. I am too lazy, reall, really lazy. When I prepared Slax from Slackware, I had to patch kernel with aufs, configure, recompile, etc. etc. Then compile other software from sources, fight dependencies, and so on. I enjoyed doing that in the past, but now I'm not in the mood anymore. So, I've selected a different base for Slax. And it is, prepare youself, hold on, hold on, ... Debian.

    I had to learn few new things with Debian, but other than that, it is the same as Slackware. I mean, all Linux distros are the same anyway, ... it's all Linux. Debian has the advantage of 'apt-get install aufs-dkms'. This simple command helps me add aufs to the kernel in an instant, and it's the main reason why I selected Debian. Another good reason is the database of packages for Debian, there is hell a lot of them.

    So what is it going to look like? When is it going to be released? Well, I have it almost ready! :) I'm going to use fluxbox for window manager, compton for compositing (fading effects, transparency), xlunch as app launcher, xterm for terminal and chromium as web browser. That's it. All of this in a 800 KB download ISO image. Yes, you read it right, 800 KB, that's true, I'm not kidding :-) Standard ISO size is going to be like 210 MB, but there will be also a ~800 KB version which will simply boot everything over network. It will mount the big iso from web and download only the parts which are actually accessed. It can also work peer to peer, so all slax users who boot from network may connect to others to get Slax data (verified by checksum using official server).

    If I am in the mood, I will maybe prepare a 1 GB version with some software collection. But at the moment I don't feel that's necessary, you can simply add anything you want using 'apt-get install' (and make a permanent module using 'savechanges' script), and there is no need for many software applications nowadays, since everything is moving to the web.

    You'll probably want to see some amazing screenshots. Well, can't show you any yet, since I don't have the most important part for Slax - the right wallpaper ;-) As soon as I select one, I'll show you. Next Slax should be available in about a week or two.

    More news to come ... :) Stay tuned, and take care.


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    Application launcher for X under 25KB

    written by Tomas M. 1 year ago

    I've developed my first program for X. It's called xlunch, and it's a Graphical app launcher, using pure Xlib and Imlib2. It allows you to run a program by clicking its icon. Alternatively you can just type any command using your keyboard. UTF8 is supported. The Run commandline also works as a filter for the icons, as long as the title or command matches, icon is visible.

    Size after compiling is 25KB. This is the first step for the next minimalistic Slax, if that ever happens :)

    I will be happy if you try it and possibly let me know what you think about it, bug fixes or patches in general are very welcome. I have already few ideas how to improve it, which I have covered in github's issues. Feel free to submit your own issue, feature request, or comment.

    Project page: http://xlunch.org/

    Thank you!
    And here is a screenshot:



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    Virtual private servers at vpsFree

    written by Tomas M. 1 year ago

    I'm using vpsFree service to host Slax website and also for the build server, and I have to say that I'm quite happy with it. If you consider getting a virtual private server (VPS), be sure to check them out. Their name (vpsFree) may seem a bit misleading indeed, since the service itself is not free of charge. The word "free" means freedom here, they don't do it for money, they do it because they love the technology. Everything, that is going on, is discussed publicly on the mailing lists, you can see into it all and if you like, you can join in and participate too.

    For something around $10 per month each user gets 4GB of RAM, 120GB storage and 8 CPU cores. If you compare this with other commercial VPS providers, you will surely realize this is a pretty good deal.

    I got the service completely free of charge, since the guys behind vpsFree are supporting Slax this way, to keep the website live. So I decided to write a blog post about it here, to provide some advertisement in return, as a thank-you :)

    So, make sure to check them out! Thanks for your attention :)

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    Questionnaire results

    written by Tomas M. 1 year ago

    After getting over 1250 responses to the Questionnaire published month ago, I should be able to make some conclusions. I'll describe them here.

    1. Slax language translations

    More than 65% of users prefer to use Slax in English only. Some users reported they voted for non-english support only because of their need to use non-US keyboard layout, which seems reasonable. So as a conclusion, taking into consideration the fact that creating and distributing 40 language mutations is a headache, I've decided that if there is a new Slax release, it will support non-US keyboard layouts, but will not provide localized translations - those should be available only as modules.

    2. Slax base - keeping Slackware?

    Almost 84% of all respondents do not care if Slax is based on Slackware. This means that I can do practically anything when selecting the base for Slax. To be honest I didn't decide yet if I want to switch. The problem with Slackware is that there is no way to get extra software easily. I am considering Debian and Gentoo at the moment.

    3. Slax size

    Only 5% of users prefer Slax to keep <200MB size. And 63% of users can accept size over 500MB. So I think targetting to ~500MB or ~700MB (to fit a regular CD) may be the best decision. I think 700MB is not such a deal nowadays. If I can put more data on file, it will mean less work for me optimizing the size.

    4. Graphical desktop

    Only 4% of Slax users prefer console-only OS, so graphical desktop will remain included. Only 10% of users would appreciate Gnome3. The rest of users is divided almost equally to three groups, one requesting very lightweight desktop like OpenBox, another one liking KDE, and third one appreciating desktop like XFCE. This basically mean that whatever I do, I'll piss of most users :) and it also means I can do whatever I like :) I did not decide yet. So I think that I'll select something lightweight which looks like KDE :)

    5. Slax Architecture

    Keeping Slax in several architectures is lots of work. I suggested a solution in one of the previous blog posts, I was thinking about the possibility to include both 32bit and 64bit kernels (appropriate kernel would load automatically) while providing only 32bit userspace binaries. This looks to me like the easiest way to make Slax working on all x86 architectures without any drawbacks. So for now I like this idea.

    6. Applications in Slax and Download Format

    Those questions were mostly informative for me, so I could see what's most important for users.

    7. Modules

    Modules are core of Slax. Only 17% of users do not care about modules, other users need them, either to create their own stuff or to (at least) download stuff built by others. I think the number would decrease if Slax was built on, say, Debian, since people could apt-get instead of downloading modules from the repository. In all cases, I see I have to keep the modularity.

    48 comments
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    Combined architecture 32/64bit

    written by Tomas M. 2 years ago

    There appears to be a very interesting possibility, which I never considered before. It is actually possible to detect - during the boot time - if you are booting the OS on a 64bit system or not, and thanks to this, the boot loader can automatically choose the right Linux Kernel image - 32bit one on a 32bit computer, and 64bit one on a 64bit computer. Furthermore, as I tested already, a pure 32bit operating system (binaries and libraries) can run without any problem on a 64bit computer while even the running kernel is 64bit (!) too. (The 64bit kernel is necessary when you want to access more than 4GB of total RAM).

    To sum it up, it is actually possible to package a 32bit operating system, with two kernels (one 32bit and one 64bit) and then boot this OS in a way that it will automatically select appropriate kernel for the given machine it runs on, while all the userland processes (programs) will be 32bit (thus smaller, and loading faster, when running from CD or a flash drive).

    Smaller and faster. That sounds great. What are disadvantages?

    Disadvantage of having a 32bit-only system is that any process can not allocate more than a few gigabytes of RAM (if I understand this properly). For a Live OS such as Slax, we don't really need to allocate more than that for any particular process. If you do then you'll probably use some other OS anyway.

    Another disadvantage may be that when the software (programs) is compiled for 32bit processors, it will not use some newer (and probably more optimal) instructions, which were added only to the newer 64bit processors and are not available for, say, i486 instruction set, thus there can be some performance penalty. I assume this will not be any significant problem for a Live OS such as Slax again, since if user really needs to gain the extra few percentages of performance, he or she will probably be using some other OS anyway.

    Having only one Slax version (32bit OS, with extra 64bit kernel included, which adds only around 20MB to the total OS size), would save me around 40% of the development time needed to package and distribute two variants 32+64, so I'm definitely open to try this out. It also simplifies decision for users, who do not need to care about the architecture, and they can safely use single Slax on all their machines.

    Let me know please your thoughts on this. Thank you


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    Build server was down

    written by Tomas M. 2 years ago

    Build server machine (where slax modules are compiled) is down since I'm reducing costs. From now on, I will be running the module builds only locally in virtual machine, occasionally, manually, few times per week. If you feel you do not like to wait, or if I forget to run it for many days, drop me a message when you want me to run it at any particular moment. Thanks for your patience :)

    Update 9th May: Guys from vpsFree.cz offered a free server for Slax, and it works very well. So from now on, all buildscripts will be compiled automatically as usual. Thanks guys! :]

    3 comments
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    Please provide your feedback

    written by Tomas M. 2 years ago

    Hello everybody. It was long time ago when I posted something here. I am considering to get my hands back on Slax again, but before I do so, I would like to hear your feedback. I would like to kindly ask you to fill the questionnaire which I have prepared. It should load right under this text. If it does not, you can click here. When finished, you will be able to see summary of responses. Thank you for your time!




    9 comments
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    Quantum OS now renamed to Papyros

    written by Tomas M. 3 years ago

    Some time ago I wrote a post about Quantum OS, an operating system designed to follow Material Design guidelines. It has been renamed for the second time now and it's name is now Papyros.



    If this works, I'm going to release new Slax with this desktop instead of KDE. This is very exciting. There is no ETA of course, it can take many months, but I think it's worth to wait.

    37 comments
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    Introducing Material Design to Linux

    written by Tomas M. 3 years ago

    Michael Spencer has decided to build his own operating system, called Quantum OS. What's going to be special about it? Michael decided to base the desktop design of Quantum OS on Material Design, which was introduced by Google in Android 5.0 Lollipop.



    The distribution itself will be based on Arch or Ubuntu (my personal guess is Arch, but as far as I know it has not been decided yet), and the desktop framework is aiming to be built on top of the QtCompositor API, which provides a Qt framework for building a Wayland compositor.

    What is the best on Michael's effort is that he's going to make Quantum Desktop in a way that it works on every Linux distribution which supports Wayland. I think that this is very good idea and I'm very excited to try to integrate it into Slax instead of KDE.

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    Interview with Slax's author

    written by Tomas M. 4 years ago

    I was just recently interviewed for Czech Republic's most famous linux website root.cz. Here is a shortened (and slightly modified) version translated into English. The text is free to use at your website, if you feel the need.

    The live distribution called Slax is developed by Tomas Matejicek since the year 2002. The developmend has stopped few years ago, however an article at root.cz initiated a new discussions and lead to successful restart thanks to two sponsoring companies. Now, one year later, it looks like the development is stuck again. We've asked Tomas for the current status, and plans for the future.

    Just one year ago, the development of Slax has been restarted, but now it looks like it's stuck again. What happened?

    I have to admit that the development is now slowed down. The reason for that is simple - the software used in Slax (mostly the KDE desktop) doesn't show any significant progress towards better usage. I'd say the opposite is rather true - with every new bugfix release of KDE, I'm finding it more and more difficult to integrate it into Slax properly. As an example, the device notifier appears on strange places during KDE startup, the task bar is not properly resized to full screen width sometimes, and so on. Furthermore I am concerned about the startup time of KDE, which is significantly faster in Slax than anywhere else, but still too slow in my opinion.

    In general, KDE desktop or KDE SC (software compilation) is no longer looking like a good candidate for fast, simple and elegant desktop. It's the best time to choose something else, smaller, faster and nicer. Unfortunately I'm not a desktop programmer, I'm just putting existing things together to make Slax, things which were made by other programmers, so I'm reliant to waiting and trying, until something suitable is found. Fortunately Slax investors are not forcing me to make any hasty decisions.

    How are you fulfilling the financial plan? Does Slax make any income?

    The investors got already more than a half of their investment in return, so I think it's safe to assume that their investment will be fully repaid in a long term, which was the primary goal. I'd like to introduce the paid-wallpaper business model I was talking about few times, but before this is done, I prefer to rebuild Slax once more again and replace KDE by something else. Slax uses Slackware as a base, which is a great advantage on one hand (the system is clean), but may be a night mare on the other hand, since there's nothing like package pool in debian, so if you need to make any software for Slackware/Slax, you usually have to compile it from scratch by hand, while you also have to find all the dependencies, which usually depend on other dependencies, which is sometimes even recursive. Yet I'm sticking with Slackware and I have no plans to switch to any other distro. I think it makes my life a bit harder, but I'm gaining a feeling of uniqueness, since there are not much Slackware-based distributions out there. At least not as much as of those *buntu clones.



    What could replace KDE in Slax?

    That's a good question, but I don't have any answer for that yet. There are lots of Desktop environments, but many of those "innovative" or "progressive" ones are somehow tied to the distribution they're running on. I thought for a short time that a good replacement for KDE could be Cinnamon (Gnome's fork from Linux Mint). It was available only for Mint, but just got separated recently, however I think I don't like it any longer.



    Another possible candidate for KDE replacement is Pantheon desktop, which is officially released only for Elementary OS (Ubuntu's fork). If I could make Pantheon work on Slackware with minimum of dependencies, it could be it. First attempt of integration to Slax has failed though. Today it's probably the best option to wait for Ubuntu's LTS version release, which is scheduled to April 2014, since new Elementary OS version should be released after it. The new Pantheon could have most of the components enhanced for easier integration in other Linux distributions.



    What's your ideal desktop environment?

    Ideal desktop environment starts within few seconds (I mean TWO) and gives the user a simple way to run programs and switch between them. That's it, it's nothing special at all. The old well known start menu can be replaced by a bubble with icons (as like slingshot in Elementary OS), taskbar doesn't necessarily have to show all the long window names (plank, used in Elementary OS, is mac-ish but otherwise very elegant), system tray at the top black line as we know it from Gnome or Ubuntu looks like a good idea as well.



    In general, the technologies used in Elementary OS look inspiring. I'm convinced that the end user doesn't need anything else at all. I'm not any big fan of Activities in KDE, similarly I don't understand why whould anybody need gadgets or similar things in the base Slax.



    It is essential that all the desktop components are well designed. And here, by Design, I mean the design how things work, what appears where and how, and such (for example the feature that two running terminal windows can be recognized by two dots under the terminal icon), yet it has of course have a nice design (in the meaning of "nice look" - those two dots in our example have to be "nice" somehow). Desktop effects like cube desktop or wobbly windows are awesome, but as we could see, they are not widely used anywhere, because the added value is not so significant. Sometimes less means more.

    Why don't you use Xfce, Enlightenment or OpenBox?

    OpenBox is mostly just a window manager, not a desktop. XFce was nice few years ago, when the last version has been released, but it's too outdated for today. (Well the whole KDE4 look a bit outdated already). Gnome 3 brought a new way of managing multiple desktops and applications, I was really excited by that, but there were some other problems, such us ugly icon of current application in top black bar, really big window decorations, or the entirely reworked app switching through the Activities menu.

    Anyway, regardless of which desktop could be choosen for Slax, it will mean putting it there instead of KDE, which will also mean getting rid of most of the other KDE SC applicastions which are used in Slax today. At least of those parts from KDE SC - software compilation. Those would have to be replaced too, by some simpler and smaller equivalents using GTK.

    I think it will need some time, but I believe that sooner or later something usable for Slax could be found. When that happens, it will be the best to release that as Slax version 8. Any similarity with Windows versions is purely coincidental :)

    87 comments
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    Bitcoins for life

    written by Tomas M. 4 years ago

    It looks like BitCoin is getting huge popularity nowadays. This virtual currency is now traded at around $970 per 1 BTC. I'm experimenting with bitcoins myself too. Do you have some spare bitcoins? Are you willing to donate a fraction of BTC? If so, I will be very grateful so I could experiment more :)

    My address is: 1cJNsBVMy9rFYEBaTh3iK1PEo3f1xkJQn (click to see the transactions log, if any)

    QR code:


    Thank you very much! :)

    38 comments
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