The return of Slackware ARM as a 32-bit hard float port

As of Wednesday, August 24, 2016, Slackware ARM is out of retirement and ready to power your modern ARM devices. The Slackware ARM maintainer has made the decision to pick up development again and go ahead with a hard float port. It was announced three months ago that a hard float port was in the works, and today it’s powering my Raspberry Pi 2. Unfortunately the hard float release has been mostly ignored by the mainstream teach sites, but it’s definitely on top of my list. Get up to date with the latest development at arm.slackware.com.

Slackware ARM hard float
Slackware ARM hard float on the RPi2

I’ve only had a few days of experience with the Slackware ARM -current hard float port, but it has delivered on everything I’ve come to expect from Slackware. I’m currently running Xfce on the RPi2 and performance has been pretty impressive. Not even Firefox was able to grind the system to a halt the way it used to. Anyhow, compiling software on the RPi2 is still painful (think WebKit), but installing and upgrading stock packages feels much snappier.

I used the Slackware miniroot + raspbian boot installation method. Instructions are available at docs.slackware.com. Post installation, you might find that you need the libidn package, and you probably also want gnupg for slackpg before installing the package series. Get the additional packages by searching PACKAGES.TXT.

Watch a quick demo of the Slackware ARM -current hard float port on the RPi2 here.

The Windows 10 Anniversary update didn’t wipe my Linux partitions

After reading the latest horror stories depicting the Windows 10 anniversary update as a merciless destroyer of everything Linux, I was somewhat concerned before applying the latest and greatest from Redmond. Sure, it would make absolutely no sense if Microsoft was actually deleting data from their customers devices, but mistakes do happen so I made sure to back everything up before upgrading.

First up was my primary Windows 10 / Slackware 14.2 based notebook, an ASUS G771JM with 256GB SSD and 1 TB HDD running under UEFI/GPT with secure boot disabled.

Partition layout and block devices:

Disk /dev/sda: 238.5 GiB
Disklabel type: gpt

Device     Size  Type
/dev/sda1  100M  EFI System
/dev/sda2  128M  Microsoft reserved
/dev/sda3  95.4G Microsoft basic data
/dev/sda4  80.9G Microsoft basic data
/dev/sda5  12G   Windows recovery environment
/dev/sda6  50G   Linux filesystem

Disk /dev/sdb: 931.5 GiB
Disklabel type: gpt

Device     Size   Type
/dev/sdb1  465.8G Microsoft basic data
/dev/sdb2  455.8G Linux filesystem
/dev/sdb3  6G     Linux filesystem
/dev/sdb4  4G     Linux swap

NAME     SIZE FSTYPE LABEL    MOUNTPOINT
sda    238.5G
├─sda1   100M vfat   SYSTEM   /boot/efi
├─sda2   128M
├─sda3  95.4G ntfs   OS
├─sda4  80.9G ntfs   Data
├─sda5    12G ntfs   Recovery
└─sda6    50G ext4            /
sdb    931.5G
├─sdb1 465.8G ntfs   Data1
├─sdb2 455.8G ext4            /home
├─sdb3     6G ext4            /var
└─sdb4     4G swap            [SWAP]

After the upgrade I could successfully verify that there had been no removal of partitions or loss of data. Next up was my Windows 10 / Gentoo based notebook, an aging Asus G73SW with a single 500GB HDD running traditional BIOS/MBR.

Partition layout and block devices:

Disk /dev/sda: 465.8 GiB
Disklabel type: dos

Device     Size   Type
/dev/sda1  21.5G  Hidden W95 FAT32 (LBA)
/dev/sda2  116G   HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda3  450M   Hidden NTFS WinRE
/dev/sda4  327.9G Extended
/dev/sda5  128M   Linux
/dev/sda6  4G     Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda7  25G    Linux
/dev/sda8  298.7G Linux

NAME     SIZE FSTYPE  LABEL    MOUNTPOINT
sda    465.8G                  
├─sda1  21.5G vfat    RECOVERY 
├─sda2   116G ntfs-3g OS       
├─sda3   450M ntfs-3g          
├─sda4     1K                  
├─sda5   128M ext2             /boot
├─sda6     4G swap             [SWAP]
├─sda7    25G ext4             /
└─sda8 298.7G ext4             /home

After completing the upgrade the result was the same, no missing partitions or data loss. Even so, keep in mind that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, so always keep recent backups before major updates.

But in all fairness, the most exciting thing about the Windows 10 anniversary update is in fact Linux. It’s 2016 and we have Ubuntu’s userspace natively with Windows 10. Where are you now Steve Ballmer!

Ubuntu Userspace for Windows Developers
Windows 10 – Where do you want to go today?

A quick update regarding my Slackware ARM on the Raspberry Pi 3 project

After four months of hosting this WordPress blog on a RPi3 I have yet to experience a single issue. No filesystem errors, no kernel oops’s and no hard freezes. Definitely an enjoyable change of pace from the preceding twelve months of hosting this site on a Raspberry Pi 2.

I’ve not been doing any overclocking whatsoever on this device and I believe that to be the decisive factor when it comes to improved stability. My old RPi2 is pretty much useless at this point and I’m guessing it simply got burned out before its time. As for storage, I’m still using a SanDisk MicroSDHC Ultra UHS-I 32GB card.

Slackware 14.2
Slackware Linux 14.2

I have also (at least for now) halted the process of moving this website to a cloud based VPS after learning that Slackware ARM is moving ahead with a hard float port.

Nor is there currently any indication that the support for Slackware ARM 14.2 (soft float) will be dropped any time soon.