Slax RC2 and weekly update #11

written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

I've been mostly fixing and improving the RC1 version of Slax. I would like to thank to everybody who tested it and provided valuable feedback. Thanks to you, Slax can be always better than before.

Download current Slax release

  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 32bit ISO - 183MB (for CD/DVD)
  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 32bit ZIP - 183MB (for USB)
  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 64bit ISO - 189MB (for CD/DVD)
  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 64bit ZIP - 189MB (for USB)
  • Changelog:

    The boot installer script has been fixed and updated. One of the most common problem (as it seems to me) nowadays is the strange behavior of some automounting programs, such as udisks, which mount FAT filesystem with showexec parameter. Due to that, only files with windows extensions (BAT, COM, EXE) are treated as executable. To make it simpler, I managed to write bootinst.bat script so it executes in both Linux and Windows. This should make things easier.

    I've added ModemManager and related dependencies, including broadband provider info data, so it should be now easier to connect to the internet using a modem. This was heavily requested by the users, I didn't realize how many people use modem internet connection.

    KDE desktop was updated to the latest stable version 4.9.3.

    When Slax reboots or shuts down, it now automatically ejects CD (in case it was actually started from it), so the user can remove the medium before the actual shutdown. Busybox's eject command has probably no support for newer CDROM devices or the SATA interface, I don't really know. So I had to statically compile 'eject' command as external binary from sources, and this eject works just fine. If you're running Slax from USB drive then it doesn't (shouldn't!) eject any CD, of course :)

    Finally, some of the missing or broken dependencies were fixed, so Flash Player now works in FireFox (missing libcurl and libldap was added), KDE can mount Windows shares (missing libsmbclient was added), and FireFox is no longer missing libnotify.

      106 new

    Android app sources

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    There were several requests for the source code of the android application Slax Installer. I've published the source code on github, feel free to submit any patches which could improve the application. By the way, I don't even know how to compile the whole thing, so introducing an INSTALL or HOWTO-COMPILE file would be helpful as well :) If you wish to become maintainer of the github code, let me know, since I'm not skilled/interested enough to check the code or approve/deny the patches.

      8 new

    Slax Android app on Google Play

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    If you're interested in running Slax from your android phone, you may find this Android app useful. It just downloads the latest version of Slax (32bit) to your phone's SD card and prints instructions what you should do further in order to make it bootable. Unfortunately this part can't be set up by the application itself since it would require root privileges.

    You can get the application from Google Play, simply search for 'slax installer'. No ads, no bullshit. Enjoy! :)

    I have to say that it's not a simple task to make the application available in google's market, the application must provide versioning information, it has to be compiled for release, self signed, zip aligned, and who knows what else... and finally google takes $25 as a welcome fee.

    Yet it seems to be still simple enough for some evil people to publish evil applications at low cost. I thought that there will be some review process by google, but that didn't happen, as far as I can tell. By default google forbids the user to install application from unknown sources, but this security seems almost unnecessary, since from my point of view the google market is the same unknown source as any other, potentially filled by dangerous apps. Slax installer should be safe, yet I didn't write it myself (it was a paid job) so feel free to try it and report any damage! :)

      17 new

    Bootinst script improvements

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    I noticed that some Linuxes (including Slax itself) mount USB devices with 'showexec' parameter. What this mount option does is that it makes files executable on FAT filesystem only based on filename. For example, bootinst.bat is executable (since it ends with .BAT), but is not, and it's impossible to change file attributes with chmod. If an USB drive is mounted with showexec, as it is in Slax due to udisks settings, it ignores chmod at all.

    So the bootinst.bat script is the only one which is always set executable. Keeping this in mind, I've simply added two lines at the beginning of the bat file, so the user can run it even in Linux, and it will properly execute shell script even if its file permissions are not set correctly. You can still run the bat script in Windows, it will simply ignore the added lines.

    Furthermore, I've renamed the statically compiled extlinux to extlinux.exe. It won't work in Windows though :) but it ensures it's executable on systems which mount the USB drive with showexec. Without it, the boot installer wouldn't work at all.

    The mentioned improvements will be available in Slax 7.0 RC2

      5 new

    CD autoeject

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    There was a problem with autoejecting Slax CD (if you started it from CD actually). It should eject the CD at the shutdown, but that didn't work at all. Busybox's eject command is somehow not working. I'm not sure what is the reason for that, maybe the fact that SCSI (sata) devices need some different command to be sent to the drive, or I don't really know.

    Anyway, finally I managed to compile 'eject' statically (it's a 100KB binary in initrd), and this way it works as expected. CD/DVD is ejected on Slax shutdown, and user has 6 seconds to remove the CD, then the tray is automatically closed again.

    The mentioned improvements will be available in Slax 7.0 RC2

      3 new

    Slax RC1 updates

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    I'd like to thank you all for your feedback regarding the latest Slax release. I received a lot of suggestions and bug reports. I've updated Slax now and you can download todays build from the links below.

    Download current Slax release:
  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 32bit ISO - 184MB (for CD/DVD)
  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 32bit ZIP - 184MB (for USB)
  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 64bit ISO - 189MB (for CD/DVD)
  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 64bit ZIP - 189MB (for USB)

  • Changelog includes:

    - fixed (typo in realpath call)
    - added ModemManager
    - updated KDE and all apps to version 4.9.3
    - added support for mounting Windows shares (samba) in KDE

    I've also updated links in the previous RC1 post in order to let people download this new release since there are lots of websites linking to that older post. Furthermore I've replaced TAR by ZIP, since that's probably easier for some people to extract. In Linux, simply use unzip.

      82 new

    Slax 7 release candidate 1

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    I'm releasing the newest Slax 7 build as a release candidate 1. It has KDE4 with many applications from kde network, kde multimedia, kde games, pidgin IM, FireFox, MPlayer and more, the entire system fits 183MB for the 32bit and 188MB for the 64bit variant, and runs perfectly fine on boxes with 256MB of RAM and more. This is most likely the version which contains all the programs for final Slax release. Development tools are still missing though.

    Wait, there is more!

    Before I show you the download links, I'd like to remind you about the opportunity to get Slax on a cool USB device when it is released. If you wish to support Slax or just give a cool present to some of your friends, get Slax 7 on the most stylish USB Flash Drive available nowadays: Kingston DataTraveler SE9.

  • Stylish metal casing
  • Small form factor
  • Easily attaches to your keys
  • High durability
  • Slax 7 preinstalled, ready to go
  • PDF manual explaining Slax internals
  • Device capacity 16GB

  • The price is set to only $25 including worldwide shipping, fair enough.
    Shipping will start at the beginning of December, so estimated delivery time is December 15, should be soon enough before Christmas.

    If you are interested in getting such awesome device with such awesome OS on it, fill in your email address below. You're not going to pay anything yet, you'll just join google group called "slax-preorder" so I could send you instructions how to actually make your order later, probably at the beginning of December.

    Preorder Slax today, enter your email:

    Please join the group only if you are really interested in purchasing the device with Slax, so I could see a rough estimate of actual demand, to be able to prepare for it.

    Download current Slax release

  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 32bit ISO - 184MB (for CD/DVD) *
  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 32bit ZIP - 184MB (for USB) *
  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 64bit ISO - 189MB (for CD/DVD) *
  • Slax 7 - KDE 4 - 64bit ZIP - 189MB (for USB) *

  • * links updated on 2012-11-08

    Thank you very much for using Slax!

      102 new

    Weekly update #10

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    It has been 10 weeks now since I started Slax 7 development. What has been made during the last days?

    First of all, I was almost 'forced' to include Network Manager (NM) in Slax, in order to be able to use KDE's user interface for management of current network setup. It wasn't my initial plan to put NM there as I'm trying to avoid all unnecessary services (daemons), but it showed itself that KDE refuses to work properly with anything else. I've considered wicd instead of NM, but it has huge python dependencies so that made my decision. Anyway, the Network Manager interface should bring some advantages too, for example the GUI to configure wireless network devices, if there is appropriate firmware available.

    Later, I was finalizing multimedia support for Slax. The main problem is that Phonon (the central multimedia API in KDE) with gstreamer backend is not ready for video playback (libav) yet. On the other hand, Phonon's MPlayer backend, which should handle both video and audio, is outdated and doesn't work at all. Due to that, I had to keep both gstreamer and MPlayer in Slax, the former for all audio output through Phonon and the later as a separate video player. I hope that the situation will improve in the future, as soon as KDE developers release Phonon-gstreamer-backend for gstreamer's version 1.0.2. Anyway, even if the current solution is not perfect, it actually works and the user can play music and videos just fine.

    Finally, I've been tracking down kde caching mechanisms, reading the source codes of kdelibs and trying to find out how to disable the cache at all. I didn't find a proper solution yet but found a workaround, which actually makes KDE unable to create the icon/plasma cache files. The main point is that we're going to save more than 90MB of RAM by disabling the caches (if Slax is started from CD) or 90MB of writes to the USB device if Slax runs from a flash drive, which speeds up Slax startup.

    Next week, I should have international support ready and I'll start rewriting the website

      2 new

    Getting rid of kdecache

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    KDE is wonderful piece of software. But at the same time it is mad in some aspects. For example, it introduces some kind of icon cache and plasma objects cache, which is later reused (for what?). The problem is that it creates 90MB of redundant data on each boot, which slows down KDE startup significantly and consumes lots of RAM.

    The cache resides in /var/tmp/kdecache-root/, namely in files icon-cache.kcache (10MB!) and plasma_theme_default.kdecache (82MB!). I'm not sure actually what are the caches used for, really, but KDE works just fine without them. So what I did in Slax is to make there a directory instead of file, so KDE can't use it.

    And since it works this way just fine, speeds up Slax startup by about 30 seconds or more on slower USB devices, and saves 90MB of valuable RAM when running from CD, I'm going to leave it this way, unless I hear a reasonable explanation why to keep the caches active.

      5 new

    Flash drives arrived already

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    There are already 60 users who decided to order Slax on a cool USB device, so I've already purchased 100 Flash Drives (Kingston DataTraveler SE9) to get them on time. Surprisingly, they arrived just the next day :) Investment of about $1500, which fits instde a small paper box :)

    Despite the claimed capacity (written on the paper cover and even on the device itself), it's not trully 16GB, but only 15'512'174'592 bytes. Just mentioning that here in the hope that this is the last surprise :)

    If you like to support Slax, then make sure to check out the older blog bost explaining how to preorder Slax on this cool USB device.

      3 new

    Multimedia backend for Phonon

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    In KDE, all multimedia is to be handled by Phonon. Phonon is the multimedia API provided by Qt and is the standard abstraction for handling multimedia streams within KDE4. It's main purpose is to provide a stable API for KDE 4's lifetime.

    Phonon itself doesn't play multimedia itself. For that task, phonon has so called backends. There is a xine backend (deprecated), mplayer backend (deprecated), vlc backend and gstreamer backend. If a KDE application requests phonon to play sound or video, phonon translates the request to its backend to do that.

    Which of the phonon's backends should I use for Slax? Actually that is a bit problem at the moment since none of the backends is perfect. Xine backend has bugs in playing audio files (tried mp3 and ogg). Mplayer backend doesn't work at all. VLC backend requires VLC (which is too big so I didn't even try that). And the preferred gstreamer backend is outdated. The current version of phonon-gstreamer works perfectly with sound, but it's not possible to compile the new version with libav (ffmpeg), thus video is missing at all.

    For now, I'll use gstreamer backend in Slax, to handle 100% of the audio tasks. Furthermore I'll use MPlayer (not the -phonon backend, but just the player) with smplayer GUI as a vodeo player, so user can play videos in Slax too. As soon as phonon's gstreamer backend is ready for the version of gstreamer 1.0.* then I'll update it, to make sure both video and audio goes through phonon in the future.

      14 new

    Window sizes in KDE

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    By default, each application in KDE has a file named rc, which is used to store basic configuration. For example konsole has konsolerc, dolphin has dolphinrc, and so on. The config files are stored in /root/.kde/share/config/

    Every application saves to this file its width and height, so if you resize the application window then it remembers the dimensions for the next time. Strangely enough, the setting was dependant on current screen resolution. For example, using screen resolution 1024x768, a window of width 100 and height 200 had the following entries in the rc file:

    Width 1024=100
    Height 1024=200

    If the screen resolution changes, all application windows are predisposed to automatically ignore your previous settings, since there is no "Width 800=100" entry for example, if the new resolution is 800x600. That's odd. Some of the applications have rather strange default window sizes, so I'm presetting these for Slax, to make the application more usable even during the first start. But it wasn't working for people whose screen resolution is different than the screen resolution in which I set the size, which is 99% of people out there.

    So I decided to patch KDElibs for this. It is actually a very tiny patch for kdelibs/kdeui/widgets/kmainwindow.cpp ... After applying (and recompiling kdelibs), all applications will save width and height as I would expect:


    This way, I can pre-set dimensions of all application windows for Slax so the apps actually open in a size more usable than the default one.

      16 new

    Adding NetworkManager just for the icon

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    If the end user wishes to use Slax on a computer which is connected to network (my rough estimate is 99.9% of users), then he she absolutely needs a state icon in system tray. While it seems straightforward, it required me to find out what KDE desktop actually needs to provide such icon.

    During LinuxDays conference last week, I was (mostly accidentally) present on a talk (in English) with some of the OpenSUSE developers. They've developed a thing called Network Manager. Honestly, I didn't actually get the main idea why a daemon is need at all to manage network connections since in my opinion everybody is just connected once, but it seems others understand it better and KDE heavily depends on it. Actually it provides network configuration interface only if NetworkManager is installed (and running!).

    OK, so be it.

    Here is the actual icon screenshot. You can see there (in the order): kmix, krandrtray, networkmanagement. Clock. :)

      3 new

    How to quickly find dependencies with AWK

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    When a Slackware package is to be installed in Slax, there are usually some missing dependencies. For example, if you install Pidgin to Slax, and then you try to run /usr/bin/pidgin, you get "error while loading shared libraries", complaining what shared library is required. How to quickly find which other Slackware's package contains it?

    In the past I opened MANIFEST.bz2 file in a text editor and searched for the given library name. When found, it was necessary to scroll up many pages to find out which package contains it. But later I learned a bit of awk.

    Awk is a language for processing text files. It goes through the text file, line by line, and each time a condition matches, it makes some action. As an example, lets say we're searching for a package which contains A simple one-line awk will give us exactly what we need:

    bzcat MANIFEST.bz2 | \
    awk '/Package:/ {pkg=$3} / {print pkg}'

    What it does is pretty simple. It goes through the file reads line by line. If a line contains "Package:", it remembers the third field of the line (which is currently the package name we're looking for) and then it reads on. As soon as it finds a line which contains '', it prints the last remembered package in variable 'pkg'. The output is simply what we need:


    That's it :)

      13 new

    Weekly update #9

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    As like every Tuesday, I'm going to summarize current progress of Slax development. What happened during the last 7 days? Read on...

    First of all, I've reduced the size of Slax desktop release to fit even 148MB, by removing unused stuff from the build, such as some of the icons, themes, unused data files, localizations and such. It seems final Slax could be somewhere around 210-220MB including Development module, web browser, and many applications.

    Next, I went through selection of external firmware drivers for default Slax release. There is an existing repository with hundreds of fw drivers at website. These drivers are not official part of Linux Kernel, however they are still publicly available. I couldn't include all of them due to the big size, so I had to go one by one and find out what device is it used for and how probably will be the firmware needed by average Slax user. Finally I selected about 200 drivers, mostly for WIFI adapters. Adding those to Slax should make more people happy since their wifi cards will work out of the box. However, I'm not yet sure if this should be included in final Slax or not. It has 9MB compressed, and still it doesn't cover all possible firmwares, for example my own notebook's wifi doesn't work even with the additional firmwares.

    Finally, I fixed libflashplayer loading (by tracking down what missing library caused it to misbehave) and also I fixed SSL certificates, since there were not properly generated symlinks in /etc/ssl/certs making konqueror (and all other kde networking parts) complain that each website has invalid certificate.

    Next week, I'm going to finalize multimedia integration into KDE, and prepare for multilanguage support. I should also be able to release a RC1 (release candidate 1) of Slax in two weeks, since everything seems to be almost in order.

      16 new

    Preorder Slax 7 on USB Drive

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    Final version of Slax 7 will be released during December 2012. If you wish to support Slax or just give a cool present to some of your friends, get Slax 7 on the most stylish USB Flash Drive available nowadays: Kingston DataTraveler SE9.


  • Stylish metal casing
  • Small form factor
  • Easily attaches to your keys
  • High durability
  • Slax 7 preinstalled, ready to go
  • PDF manual explaining Slax internals
  • Device capacity 16GB

  • The price is set to only $25 including worldwide shipping, fair enough.
    Shipping will start at the beginning of December, so estimated delivery time is December 15, should be soon enough before Christmas.

    If you are interested in getting such awesome device with such awesome OS on it, fill in your email address below. You're not going to pay anything yet, you'll just join google group called "slax-preorder" so I could send you instructions how to actually make your order later, probably at the beginning of December.

    Your Email:

    Please join the group only if you are really interested in purchasing the device with Slax, so I could see a rough estimate of actual demand, to be able to prepare for it.

    Thank you very much for your support.

      15 new

    Troubles with flashplayer

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    I was trying to use Adobe Flash in Slax and noticed it doesn't work at all. The plugin was loaded, but a bunch of strange errors appeared on stdout and the flash animations simply didn't work.

    The errors were like this:

    (plugin-container:8821): Gtk-CRITICAL **: IA__gtk_widget_get_visual: assertion `GTK_IS_WIDGET (widget)' failed
    (plugin-container:8821): Gdk-CRITICAL **: IA__gdk_colormap_new: assertion `GDK_IS_VISUAL (visual)' failed
    (plugin-container:8821): Gdk-CRITICAL **: IA__gdk_colormap_alloc_colors: assertion `GDK_IS_COLORMAP (colormap)' failed
    (plugin-container:8821): Gtk-CRITICAL **: IA__gtk_widget_modify_bg: assertion `GTK_IS_WIDGET (widget)' failed
    (plugin-container:8821): Gtk-CRITICAL **: IA__gtk_widget_get_visual: assertion `GTK_IS_WIDGET (widget)' failed

    I'm posting it here so google can possibly index it and provide solution to someone else who will face the same problem.

    The solution is pretty tricky, and I do not understand why is that at all. The flashplayer plugin needs libsasl2 to work. Slackware provides bunch of shared libraries in aaa_elflibs, but libsasl2 is missing there (for a reason I do not understand). After installing cyrus-sasl, the whole problem vanishes, and flash starts to work properly in all browsers (tried Chromium and Firefox in Slax). It's really strange since ldd won't show as a dependency of the at all...

    I'm going to email upstream (to Patrick, Slackware's author) to let him know he is missing* in aaa_elflibs. If there is a package aaa_elflibs, then it should absolutely have libsasl2 included.

      7 new

    Konqueror unable to load SSL sites

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    I noticed that konqueror in Slax is not able to load SSL sites. It complains about invalid certificates. The same happens if you try to get some KDE themes, since it uses https as well. The reason for this was a mystery for me, I even recompiled QT once more to assure there is openSSL properly linked but still nothing.

    So, what was wrong? Basically every time when a SSL website is loaded, konueror (or any browser in general) needs to check root certificates to confirm if the certificate of the given website is valid. Even if I installed ca-certificates package to Slax it was not working. The reason is that Slackware's install script updates /etc/ssl/certs even if you install the package to different root (which is the way how Slax is built).

    Thus I just have to re-run update-ca-certs using chroot during Slax creation, to be sure it properly updates SLAXROOT/etc/ssl/certs directory. Since that is done, SSL (HTTPS) websites work in konqueror and in KDE in general.

      4 new

    Kernel firmware

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    Thanks to several comments on this blog I finally discovered the reason why Slackware ships a distinct package kernel-firmware instead of using the firmware from vanila kernel. Basically it is because the vanila kernel has only very small set of drivers, about 2MB of data, while Slackware uses this git tree as a source, which provides about 40MB of additional firmwares from different sources. Compressed Slax bundle with all the firmware drivers is 20MB, that's huge.

    I'm now facing a decision. Should I include this in Slax? It will surely make a lot of users more happy since their devices will start working out of the box. Is Slax intended for such uses? Yes it is, it should run on as much hardware as possible. But still it's so huge...

    If there could be at least some description what firmware is for what device, that could help us delete firmwares which are very rarely needed, for example if some fw is only used on some special router boxes, then most likely no Slax user will need those at all... and so on. But I didn't find any such description of the files anywhere.

    For now, the decision is not made.

      33 new

    Slax with KDE even smaller

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    As I promised, I'm uploading Slax with base kde desktop even more stripped down. I've removed all unnecessary files, such as screenshots, unused images, too big icons, and such. The ISO has only 148MB (the 32bit version). Let me know please if you are missing something! :) (I mean, compared to previous version).

    I noticed the sound is not working at all. There may be a problem with phonon (that's a new name for artsd). I will work on fixing this later.

    This release will be available here once it is uploaded:

    32bit ISO (148 MB)
    32bit TAR (148 MB)
    64bit ISO (155 MB)
    64bit TAR (155 MB)

      32 new

    Weekly update #8

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    It's the time again to summarize recent progress on Slax development. This time it is relatively simple, since the only (but yet big) news is KDE desktop environment for Slax.

    The main goal was to get rid of most of the dependencies, which are not essentially necessary for KDE to run, yet to keep those which provide valuable features or are required. I've recompiled QT at first, those libraries are the core of KDE. Later, I managed to put together basic KDE desktop components such as kdelibs, kde-workspace and kde-runtime, which together provide a consistent desktop with all the features one would expect (taskbar, system tray, menu, icons, window decorations, and so on). The entire Slax system fits now into 177MB.

    Lately I've compiled extlinux statically so even users who do not have it isstalled on their system can actually make Slax bootable from their USB drives.

    That is basically all what happened last week.

    Next week I'll focus on adding applications which I feel might be useful for average Slax user, and I'll try to reduce the size by removing more unnecessary stuff.

      7 new

    Static extlinux

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    Several people reported that it's not easy for them to install Slax boot loader from within their existing Linux OS due to the fact they don't have extlinux installed (while the boot installer uses it). On some Linuxes, extlinux is not necessarily even a part of the syslinux package, making it hard for some users to even install it.

    I'm happy I finally managed to compile extlinux statically against uclibc. It's just 110KB binary, doesn't depend on any system libraries whatsoever and runs fine on both 32bit and 64bit architectures, so I'm including it in the /slax/boot directory and will use this binary to install Slax to USB device. Suggested by Ady, thank you!

      7 new

    KDE in 177MB? The answer is Slax

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    So here it is. Small lightweight KDE, recompiled with as less dependencies as possible.

    I'm attending LinuxDays tomorrow (sunday). I'll be interviewed by Petr Krcmar, he should ask (I hope) regarding my progress on Slax. I'm happy I have something to show them :)

    I've partially completed my battle with KDE desktop environment. There is a lot of work waiting in the queue, since there are yet no applications except Konsole, however it is ready for wide public testing. I am convinced it was worth the effort. Both 32bit and 64bit versions are ready for testing. The 32bit version is 176MB big, that's really too much, I have yet to remove a lot of stuff.

    Anyway, I've configured 4 workspaces. Try to switch between them using your mouse - simply move your mouse pointer to the very top left of the screen. No clicking needed. You should see the effect. Very nice :)

    Find below several screenshots.

    1) This is how I compiled QT+KDE:

    2) KDE desktop default view:

    3) The desktop effect I was talking about above

  • Slax 7.0 KDE preview 32bit: ISO (177MB), TAR (177MB)
  • Slax 7.0 KDE preview 64bit: ISO (183MB), TAR (183MB)

      37 new

    Slax with KDE4 - test preview

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    So here it is. Slax with KDE4. It's just empty KDE, no apps there, nothing. Just pure KDE desktop with 3d effects (if you video card supports it). Furthermore there is some strange message displayed on startup if you run it in vmware, it's related to power management somehow, I'll get rid of it later. I didn't test it much, so use at your own risk :) Even xterm is somehow broken, so actually you can't do almost anything there, just try to activate some of the effects ;)

    Slax 7.0 KDE4 test (32bit): ISO or TAR

    By the way, I've implemented rootcopy for Linux Live kit and it's already active here since it is easier for me to test KDE configurations by using rootcopy.

      20 new

    Slax with KDE almost ready

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    Years ago when I started with Slax I used a compaq notebook for all the development. Recompilation of KDE took about two days, but it was a great platform to test the OS since when Slax was fast enough on it, then it was fast enough everywhere :)

    Nowadays I'm developing Slax on my 6-core AMD Phenom computer in vmware. It's much more convenient than to reboot the machine physically 20 times a day. However, it may have drawbacks, as I could see today. I was compiling KDE core components the whole day, putting little pieces of this and that together, to find out what dependencies can be omitted to make KDE desktop as small as possible. After all the work was done (yes it was finished!) I moved all the results to one virtual machine where I store my results, and suddenly the entire vmware crap freezed and (to make the story short) I lost everything. I mean, everything. The vmware disk drive rolled back for some strange reason, losing all recent changes. Silly me, next time I'll keep backups on several places.

    Anyway, since all the information was pretty fresh in my head, I could reconstruct it within a hour, and I'm now preparing Slax with KDE desktop for initial testing release. Should be ready tomorrow. There will be no software at all in that release, just the KDE desktop. It seems it will be a bit oversized too, but don't worry, there are always some files which can be removed :)

      9 new

    First results with QT

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    In the process of including KDE in Slax, I have to put there QT libraries first, since KDE won't work without it. I was shocked when I discovered that Slackware's QT package is 160MB big (compressed!), that is way more than I would want. Fortunately most of the data can be safely removed. If we get rid of documentation, demos, examples and test files, unused translations and all such stuff, we're down somewhere at 26MB (compressed).

    I was playing with QT few days already and I'm able to reduce its size to 22MB without any functionality loss, just by tweaking compiler optimization settings. Compare that with the original package size! :) It is even possible to delete a lot more stuff from the QT package which is not needed in Slax at all, that way we are somewhere under 18MB. Yet I'll try to reduce it even further.

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    Weekly update #7

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    It's Tuesday again and that's the day I publish a weekly update for the last 7 days. The most interesting stuff is summarized below.

    I was able to finish my work on DynFileFS, a dynamic-sized one-file filesystem. What is it useful for? It allows Slax to save persistent changes into a single file (named changes.dat). Technically the file contains a loopback filesystem. The advantage is that DynFileFS can store the changes to a file on any other filesystem, so it works even on FAT or NTFS. It is a replacement for posixovl, which was used in old Slax versions for similar task, but had disadvantages (required lots of files to be created, and worked somehow slow over NTFS-3G).

    Later, Slax kernel has been updated to the latest available version 3.6.2. As a little addition I've patched the framebuffer boot image to display Slax logo instead of the old (but yet still very nice) tux. Branding is always important, I would say.

    Finally, a new cheatcode 'from=' has been implemented to Linux Live kit (and thus to Slax). Thanks to it, user can overwrite default directory name for Slax, so Slax data can be stored in a different directory than /slax/. That's particularly useful for users who want to keep several Slax versions on one USB drive or who wish to accompany Slax with other live distributions. This has been made due to large amount of requests from current beta testers.

    The Android application (to put Slax on your android phone's SD card) is almost finished, yet it needs some polishing before it is released. I hope it will happen in the next days.

    The work on KDE integration has been already started (I'm now digging around QT libs, which are the core of KDE 4; qt is really too big and it needs reduction), however there is yet nothing to show. Next week, I should have first KDE desktop version working (with just some core apps). KDE software compilation 4 introduces a lot of dependencies so we will see the final size of the whole thing. My goal is to get under 199MB for the entire Slax system, not sure if this can be achieved but I'm definitely trying! :)

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    Reintroducing cheatcode "from="

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    I didn't realize how important was this feature of Slax until I get many comments requesting it. What is it all about? When Slax starts, it searches for its boot device. A device is recognized as boot device if it contains a directory /slax/ and some .sb files inside. This way Slax can boot from any device, since it tries the search on all devices in given computer.

    People sometimes want to run several distros from one device, and they complained they can't (for example) load Slax from /distros/slax7/ directory (while they have another distro in /distros/otherlinux/ as well). Now it is possible, simply pass following cheatcode (boot parameter) to Slax kernel commandline:

    This feature could be also used to speed up Slax loading if you have slow CD for example, you simply copy Slax data to your hard drive to c:\slax7\ directory and then boot from the CD and use cheatcode

    How to use the cheatcode? (info for beginners): When Slax boots, you'll see a boot screen with logo and timer. You have actually 4 seconds to press Esc to cancel the timer and enter the boot menu. There, hit Tab. You'll see a commandline, so type the cheatcode at the end, don't forget to start with a blank character (space) as a separator.

    Only the mentioned syntax is supported. In old Slax it was even possible to use from=/dev/sda1/slax/ but this is not supported at the moment since I don't think it would bring any advantage. If you really want to be sure to load Slax from a particular drive, then simply rename the directory to something unique, like /Slax007/ or such, and use from=/slax007/. It will work only if the given directory contains at least one compressed slax bundle (.sb)

    Download test version (only TAR 64bit)

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    Slax with kernel 3.6.2

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    Linux kernel 3.6. has been released two weeks ago, yet I've been waiting for AUFS to update. That happened yesterday and I've tweaked build scripts for Slax kernel to work for 3.6. As usual, you can find source codes for Slax kernel at (only http access). You can also get precompiled kernel for both the architectures (32bit and 64bit) here.

    You can download latest test version of Slax with 3.6.2 kernel here:
    Slax 7.0 Xorg 32bit ISO kernel 3.6.2
    Slax 7.0 Xorg 32bit TAR kernel 3.6.2
    Slax 7.0 Xorg 64bit ISO kernel 3.6.2
    Slax 7.0 Xorg 64bit TAR kernel 3.6.2

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    Cleanup script updates

    written by Tomas M. 6 years ago

    Since you are root in Slax, and since Slax uses AUFS (which is a masterpiece of union-mounting software), you can do all the nasty stuff like using losetup. The problem is (was) that if you did that (as I did), and forgot to detach the loop device before you rebooted Slax (as I did), the entire union couldn't be unmounted since it was busy. That's no problem if you're using Slax without persistent changes, but with it one needs the union to be unmounted cleanly in order to shutdown the underlying filesystem (fat,ntfs,etc) to unmount cleanly as well.

    So I've updated cleanup script to look for all attached loop devices and to free them before attempting to unmount union. I am wondering why distributions do not have such check in their shutdown scripts, since you essentially can't unmount any filesystem if a loop device is attached on it. They're probably expecting the user to understand that if he manually uses losetup then he needs to free it before shutdown. I'll suggest this upstream, we will see the reaction :)

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