FreeSlack – Redux


UPDATE: (April 9, 2016 && July 11, 2016)

There is now a cleaner way to get the FreeSlack system installed. You can skip the stock Slackware installation entirely and use the recently updated FreeSlack Install DVD

To obtain the iso file, you have your choice of direct download , the torrent file, or magnet link .

On the HP Pavilion, the installation was other than butter-smooth. I resorted to a full re-installation of the same system described in the first - three - phases. No matter what I did to build a new kernel with firmware, headers, and modules, the system somehow still depended on the kernel-firmware package that came with the stock system. Every attempt to remove it would break some basic functionality. So, I had the idea that if I could get a libre system installed from scratch, then there would be no nonfree binary firmware blobs to remove in the first place!

The installation itself went smoothy. I skipped the disk encryption to just test out the new iso. After the installation was finished, I was able to boot to a command line with no errors. Then, however, I could not startx. Not as root, not as a new user, not on a different terminal, not anyhow. It was complaining about the raedon driver, which was no big surprise, given that I’ve not been able to reboot reliably or suspend this machine at all since flashing the coreboot rom. My best guess is that it’s a framebuffer issue. Sometimes reboot works, but usually it does not. Suspend never seems to work, nor does hibernate. Things would get worse when I would remove the kernel-firmware package. I would lose the ability to control screen darkness, and my sensors would go blank.

Even though I could not start X, I was able to hook up to the Internet and download/build a fresh kernel. After a quick lilo configuration and a reboot, I was able to boot into a working X session, no problems. This means I am now running a fully libre system that has never seen any nonfree software at all (unless you count the two or three binary blobs that are built into the coreboot rom, unavoidable with this hardware at the moment).

The cool thing about installing FreeSlack from scratch is that it is configured to pull packages from the sanitized FreeSlack repo, so no worries of nonfree packages creeping in unnoticed.

Next, I downloaded and installed manually from xmission salix repo the following packages and their respective md5sum textfiles:

all of which are GNU GPL licensed in some way.

Then I added the slacky, the alien, the slackonly, the freeslack, and the slack-n-free repos into Gslapt. Only the last two are guaranteed to be entirely libre, fyi. I will pull packages from the other repos on a case-by-case basis after searching for their license compatibility. Good resources for this task that I’ve found include the Arch Linux Package Directory as well as the Free Software Directory.

Now that I know I can get that far without any nonfree contamination whatsoever, I can start over and do the full disk encryption this time. So, I’m basically back on Phase II, without having to remove any non-libre kernels or firmware. Cool! Hooray for FreeSlack! Now time for some more 'Frop !


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  8. Comparative System Benchmarking for the Home Network
  9. Freeing the HP Pavilion M6 1035dx - Phase III : Software Selection
  10. Freeing the HP Pavilion M6 1035dx - Phase II : Encrypted FreeSlack
  11. Freeing the HP Pavilion M6 1035dx - Phase I : Coreboot & Flashrom