Category Archives: Slackware

Slackware specific

TrueCrypt + BTRFS

TrueCrypt is the weapon of choice for easy end-to-end filesystem encryption, and conveniently supports FAT, NTFS, and EXT2/3/4 out of the box. This means all you have to do is specify the filesystem during the creation of the encrypted volume, and it will be automatically mounted when the volume is unlocked. That’s great!

…But wait, I don’t want any Ext4, I want the latest and greatest BTRFS (ooooh copy on write…). Luckily, it’s only slightly more complicated, and requires treating a TrueCrypt volume like, well, a volume and not a filesystem: Create a volume and make it available, then interact with the filesystem on the volume outside of TrueCrypt.

truecrypt --text --create --filesystem=none /dev/sdx1

truecrypt --text --mount --filesystem=none --keyfiles= --volume-type=normal --protect-hidden=no --slot=1 /dev/sdx1

mkfs.btrfs /dev/mapper/truecrypt1

mount /dev/mapper/truecrypt1 /mnt

To dismount the filesystem and then the volume:

umount /mnt

truecrypt --text --dismount /dev/sdx1


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Encrypting a Linux home partition with Truecrypt


This post will be short (and sweet). We will secure the majority of our personal data by encrypting our home partition. This is important for users with personal or sensitive data on their laptops, as well as other mobile devices such as the Google Nexus 7 when it runs Ubuntu Linux.

General Information:

The steps to encrypt a partition with Truecrypt are probably the easiest ones compared to alternatives such as LUKS and other Linux Kernel built in tools. This involves installing Truecrypt, creating an encrypted partition, copying all the sensitive data into it, deleting the sensitive data from the unencrypted partition it was previously on, and configuring mounting and umounting of the Truecrypt volume during startup/shutdown. You will need to perform this as the root user, and you will need an empty partition which you can encrypt. The steps are generic: they assume you are encrypting a brand new home partition (and not something else), after storing your user data under the /home folder on the root partition. They have been tested on Slackware64 but will work on all Linux distributions. Please adjust the partitions, runlevel scripts and installation procedure for your Linux distribution (as an example, for Ubuntu, Truecrypt might be available via Aptitude repositories vs. a binary installation package, and the runlevels will not be in traditional BSD style).


  1. Install Truecrypt after downloading from here:
    # tar vxf ./truecrypt-7.1a-linux-x64.tar.gz
    # ./truecrypt-7.1a-setup-x64
  2. Create an encrypted Truecrypt partition. You will be asked about the partition, passwords and keyfiles to use:
    # truecrypt --text --create
  3. Mount the new encrypted volume in a temporary location and copy all sensitive data to it. This should be done as root from singleuser runlevel if operating on the /home folder:
    # telinit 1
    # mkdir /tmp/encrypted
    # /usr/bin/truecrypt --text --mount --protect-hidden=no --volume-type=normal --keyfiles= /dev/sda6 /tmp/encrypted
    # cp -aR --preserve=all /home/* /tmp/encrypted/
    # rm -rf /home/*
  4. Configure mounting/unmounting on startup/shutdown:
    Edit /etc/rc.d/rc.S and add the following line after “/sbin/mount -a …”:

    /usr/bin/truecrypt --text --mount --protect-hidden=no --volume-type=normal --keyfiles= /dev/sda6 /home

    Edit /etc/rc.d/rc.6 and add the following line before “/sbin/umount -a …”:

    /usr/bin/truecrypt --text --dismount /dev/sda6
  5. Test with a reboot!

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The Festival Speech Synthesis System with MPlayer output

This post is about setting up the Festival Speech Synthesis System to output speech through MPlayer playback. This is necessary if the built-in output modules, like ALSA or linux16audio, do not work for you. This can also help to increase the quality and performance of the synthesized audio. (For Slackware Linux, for instance, MPlayer is the best already-installed option.) Once you have built Speech Tools and Festival following the instructions in the INSTALL files, you can specify MPlayer for output in your ~/.festivalrc file by adding the following lines:

(Parameter.set 'Audio_Command "mplayer -really-quiet -noconsolecontrols -nojoystick -nolirc -nomouseinput -demuxer rawaudio -rawaudio channels=1:rate=$SR $FILE")
(Parameter.set 'Audio_Method 'Audio_Command)

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Slackware 13.37 and the ASUS PCE-N13 Wireless Adapter


The ASUS PCE-N13 is not especially pretty, but its cheap, fast, and officially supported!

If you are on the market for a wireless adapter for your Linux desktop, the best bang for the buck today seems to be the ASUS PCE-N13. Not only will ~30$ get you a/b/g/n support, 300Mbps transfer rates, 2 antennas and a PCIe bus, but it also says “Linux Support” right on the box, and not in some fine print in an obscure corner. The only card in my local shop to read that, although all of them work just fine. So this is a *moral* choice as well 😉

The card is indeed supported by the rt2860sta module. Unfortunately, with Both Slackware 13.37 and Ubuntu 10.10, the kernel module fails to bind to the card because the various rt2800 and rt2x00 modules conflict with rt2860sta. The module loads, but all attempts to initialize the card result in error messages. To remedy this, simply blacklist the other modules from loading by adding those modules to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf like this:

# Blacklist rt2800 and rt2x00 modules
# This will allow the rt2860sta module to bind to the ASUS PCE-N13 card:
blacklist rt2800lib
blacklist rt2800pci
blacklist rt2x00lib
blacklist rt2x00pci


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A Linux Tablet PC – Slackware 13 on the HP Pavilion tx2500

This post is a brief summary of how to get your Linux running on a tablet PC. We’ll be using the HP Pavilion tx2500 and Slackware13. These steps can be adapted for other tablets. They should be easier on distribution such as OpenSUSE or Ubuntu, where a lot of the system configuration is done automatically behind the scenes. Overall, you may find they all worked for you with minimal tweaking, or, that you could use one or 2 bits to help you where you got stuck.

This document will cover the ‘few’ bits that do not work out of the box with a pure GNU/Linux, mostly due to them being propriety hardware: Graphics (FGLRX), WiFi (Broadcom), Touch/Stylus (Wacom), Touchpad (Synaptics) and Sound (Intel HD). This how-to should leave you with a fully working tablet, minus a fingerprint reader.

1. ATi’s FGLRX:

ATi’s Radeon 3200 is a propriety chip-set, but the ATi drivers outweigh their open-source brother when it comes to 3D performance. Download the latest FGLRX driver from ATi, make the binary executable, and run it with the ‘–buildpkg Slackware/All’ flag. This will create a .txz package you can install with pkgtool. Run ‘aticonfig –initial’ and ‘ldconfig’ as root, and reboot. If FGLRX is not loaded, ‘modprobe fglrx’.

2. Broadcom’s WL:

Well, what can we say, Broadcom’s 4328 R3 wireless chip-set is also propriety hardware. To get your WiFi working, download the latest Linux STA 802.11 driver from Broadcom, unpack and compile with ‘make’. You must unload the ‘ssb’ module (if loaded), and you must load ‘lib80211_crypt_tkip’, before you may load the newly built wl.ko module with ‘insmod /path/to/wl.ko’.

3. Stylus/Touch and Touchpad

This part is not much different in practice, but very different in essence – we’ll be using opensource drivers from the Linux Wacom project. Download the latest LinuxWacom version from the Linux Wacom Project, and build with support. Then place the HAL and UDEV rules along with the xorg driver at their designated locations:

$ ./configure --enable-wacom
$ ./make
# ./make install
# cp src/xdrv/  /usr/lib64/Xorg/modules/drivers/
# cp src/util/10-linuxwacom.fdi /etc/hal/fdi/policy/10-linuxwacom.fdi
# cp src/util/60-wacom.rules /etc/udev/rules.d/60-wacom.rules
# cp src/2.6.27/wacom.ko /opt/

Load the new module you made:

# insmod /opt/wacom.ko

Now, we have to modify /etc/X11/xorg.conf to let it know about those new inputs by adding new ‘InputDevice’ sections and adding them to ‘ServerLayout’. This involves identifying the correct /dev/input/event# for the touch, stylus and eraser. You can do it by watching the dump from each event file while (read: at the same time as) you  send input events by dragging the pen across the screen:

# cat /dev/input/event8

If you are running into difficulties with your xorg.conf, you can use this file for refrence: HP_Pavilion_tx2500.xorg.conf

Calibrate your tablet with ‘xwacomcpl’. Download and compile CellWriter for handwriting recognition.

Screen Rotation script:

Since this is a tablet, screen rotation is pretty handy. Because we’re using Wacom modules, we will also need to change the oriantation of the wacom devices. Basicaly, xrandr can be used in conjunction with xsetwacom to rotate the tablet and the screen together. Here’s how it works – the following lines will rotate everything “right”:

# xrandr -o right
# xsetwacom set WacomTouch rotate 1
# xsetwacom set WacomStylus rotate 1
# xsetwacom set WacomEraser rotate 1

You have to match the device name to the device identifier in xorg.conf, and use the right path for xsetwacom. Instead of “right” for xrandr you may use “left” “inverted” or “normal”, and instead of “rotate 1” for xsetwacom you may use 0 for normal, 2 for left and 3 for inverted. Most people script this together into something, like the example I made here:

4. Sound

This was the easiest bit to get working. All it took, is running alsaconf, and selecting the ‘snd-hda-intel’ option.

5. Automate

The easiest way is usually to put all the stuff that is not scripted on its own into ‘/etc/rc.d/rc.local’, or for some distribution ‘/etc/rc.local’ (That would probably include loading ‘wl.ko’ and ‘wacom.ko’).

I hope you found this helpful. Leave comments, or ask for help if you crashed your Linux following these instructions 😉


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