Friday, October 30, 2009

Kiara Oscar 03... Now we're getting somewhere!

Download here

664.53 MB,
MD5 checksum 48c437535f73d8ac9240ee94caa7188a

Tiny URL for this post

Slow... but in a good way!"

Okay, let's start with known bugs.

It's slower than it ought to be, though in an innocuous way. When I try to watch Hulu, I get great response, unlike with KDE4.3 on Jaunty for example, which is kind of jerky on this box. But applications can take a long time to launch, and the first time I try to launch a desktop app after logging in is just deadly. I didn't time it, but I'm talking maybe 30 seconds! But the launch time improves considerably after that, and I'd rather have things take a long time to launch and perform well after I launch them. But I had to give you a heads up on that first launch. No doubt about it, that's a problem.

New Slacky login.

The best news is that, pretty much by accident, I feel that I've improved on the Slax login by making it more like Slackware. Unlike native Slax, Kiara doesn't launch as the X-Root, which of course, is taboo. It's all text now. As I mentioned before, I've always found Slax's habit of going where you're not supposed to go kind of perversely charming, but this is better. It started as a workaround.

Here's how you login:

You login as root at the text prompt as root. and then you type the slax default password "toor". Slax provides instructions for doing this.

And then, I inserted a dumdum script that secures the session, and also runs xconf to prepare you for running x. "secures the session" means that you establish a normal user account, and you change the password for root. (If you care the slightest whit about the security of your session, you don't want to be running with the publically known slax default "toor" as your root password.

So after your're logged in as root, you type:

And you'll be prompted for all the necessary information. Mostly, you'll be typing in passwords and hitting return. I use the same password for normal and root account. I think that's perfectly acceptable for a single home user. Be sure to hit the up arrow for additional groups, some of those addition groups, like audio, are important. The personal user data , including your real name, is completely optional, and not much point for a home user. I just hit enter.

This script was the first time I ever used the echo command. Experienced scripters won't be impressed, but I felt like I was hot shit.

When you've got a normal user account and a confidential root password that only you know, your live CD session is running just as an installed system would run. My hypothesis is that this is probably more secure than the default for one of the more popular debian-based live CDs like knoppix or sidux, that run with the normal user as sudo with root access.

There is a dedicated root Desktop with its own takin'care of business menu (no direct links to hulu, or any website for that matter) and a help file that begins "Welcome to root... now get out!" (unfortunately, that link doesn't work. It should be fixed by the next upload.)

Bug: I've been getting an error message after booting, something about hw something isn't a virtual link. It comes with a delay. It can crop up in the middle your login.

Welcome to Flux/Konqueror!

Writing Konqueror into fluxbox is one of those great ideas that you don't want to pat yourself on the back too much for. When it comes to programming and software, I'm not a smart person. But thanks to the power of free software, I'm using the work of smart people to create a very smart Desktop. You'll see.

Textual Healing

Editing your fluxbox configuration files has been greatly simplified with templates and keyboard shortcuts.

Type control + Shift + F1 to edit your menu
Type control + Shift + F2 to edit your keyboard shortcuts

As you can see, there's a ton of keyboard shortcuts already inserted, and templates for fast insertion of countless possibilities. Maybe it's these big templates that are slowing things up?

I'll have more to say about the way these shortcuts are organized, for maximum ease of memory retention.

Of course, with a live CD, you're going to have to take special steps to retain your configuration files, which are located in ~/.fluxbox

Brand spankin NEW! Firefox 3.5.4!

There isn't even a slax module for this yet, so it's located in the home directory and activated from the fluxbox menu. Apparently, I forgot about the keyboard shortcut. When you activate firefox from any other menu, from KDE for example: you get 3.5.3, which is installed in the usual way, via a slax module. To be sure you're getting the latest version, type sh firefox/firefox from the command line.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oscar 01 is uploading!

Download Server Misbehaving.
I's not me, honest! I'm going to take advantage of thos temporary disruption by making a few more changes. Back up soon.

Download here.

The first Kiara live CD release, Oscar-00 was a pretty straightford attempt to beef up Slax with paore any of this KDE folderol really started up, I attempted to release a CD that showed off Konquerors exceptional power as a file manager by integrating it into fluxbox. I called it kickbox at the time. I've developed second tckages ported from Slackware with KDE 3.5.10 as the default desktop. Oscar-01 is where it starts to get interesting. Maybe a year and a half ago, before any of this KDE folderol really started up, I attempted to release a CD that showed off Konquerors exceptional power as a file manager by integrating it into fluxbox. I called it kickbox at the time. I've developed second thoughts about the name, but not about the concept. Being able to deploy Konqueror, especially Konqueror 3, with complete precision from the desktop with fluxbox's simple text-based logic is some powerful desktop juju, and it's extremely easy to program, even for a non-programmer. Plus, I've been doing this for about five years now, maybe longer, and I've learned a lot of tricks. I can't wait to show you.
It's a little rough around the edges. The fluxbox files for the root desktop just wouldn't take, no matter what I tried, so the default appears instead when the root account is booted graphically. This is important. Oscar is based on Slax, and Slax is the only desktop that just goes barreling into the X-root when you boot it.

I sort of take a preverse pleasure in this aspect of Slax. Most experienced Linux Babies know that using X-windows as root, a practice I call X-rooting, is risky and frowned upon. When I was a newbie, I used the X-root, because I didn't want to learn how to handle permissions from the CLI, and I got into a huge brawl in my favorite linux forum about it. It went on for days and days, me against everybody. These days, I rarely X-Root (except when using Slax, of course, which takes me here whether I want to go or not.) I still haven't learned how to handle permissions from the command line, but I have learned a bunch of other tricks.

To some, Slax's habit of going straight to where it's never supposed to go is careless at best and foolhardy at worst, but I think those people are wrong. In my opinion, if you care enough to secure your live CD session by performing a couple of simple commands and typing in a couple of passwords, from a security standpoint you'll be better off without some of the elaborate schemes that other live CDs use to avoid the X-root.

But I'm moving away from my point, which is that what's mostly missing from this release is some special custom menus for the root user, so that when you find yourself dropped into the X-Root by Kiara, ( which it does because it's based on Slax, which only does what it inherited from Slackware), you've got some nice user-friendly resources for securing your system with a normal user account. Instead it's just a dumb default menu with an almost random list of applications, and no desktop background. And that's another thing. If the first thing the user sees is the Root User's graphical desktop, you want it to look good, right.

So, in spite of my high hopes, this is not ready for prime time... but it's a good solid step toward the Powerful Desktop Mojo that I promise is to come. The upload is almost completed now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kiara GNU/Linux is now available for download (I hope)

Download here.

Bit torrent from

The first release of Kiara GNU/Linux Unstable, nicknamed Oscar, just became available about five minutes ago. Kiara is a live CD, based on Slax, and completely committed to the preservation of the classic KDE 3 Desktop.

Oscar #00 is not terribly original, but it is pretty awesome, since it combines Slax, the greatest live CD ever, (sue me, Knoppix Fans!) with added packages from Slackware 12.2, including virtually all of the remaining packages from the classic KDE 3.5.10. Some of the added *.lzm packages (called "modules") were taken from, but whenever possible, the packages were ported from from the *.tgz packages in Slackware 12.2. The modules on Slax. org come from many contributors, from all over free software, and I hoped that by porting as much as possible from one place, I could create a distro that is comprehensive, stable, and provides disaffected Slackware fans a place where they can feel at home.

Please send comments and bug reports to, and let me know if you would like to be on a Kiara mailing list. (If you don't say that you want to be on the list, I won't out you on it.)

Have a lot of fun, and remember:
Kiara Is A Recursive Acronym.

October 2009

Packages Included

Slax Base:


Ported from Slackware 12.2

amarok-1.4.10-i486-3.lzmGlowing Steel

Modules from