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Fresh unstable with kernel 3.15.4 available

July 9th, 2014 Packages and Architecture, Releases, Screenshots | Kommentieren »

I just finished building a fresh unstable using kernel 3.15.4. During the boot process no legacy map files for kernel modules are used anymore. So please tell me should booting from USB fail. A major change is that the stage03 build command and git SHA1SUM are now available in /etc/lesslinux/updater (look at the screenshot). This makes checking out corresponding sources and building modified ISOs much easier.

The version from the git tree and the build command are now accessible in /etc/lesslinux/updater.

Download lesslinux-search-and-rescue-uluru-20140707-145441.iso

Announcing “big fat full” builds + fork me on GitHub

June 20th, 2014 Howto, Packages and Architecture, Releases, Screenshots | Kommentieren »

I am proud to announce a new series. This is called “big fall full” – codenamed “Jabba”. It solves two purposes:

  1. Provide a simple way to include all packages that are built in the second stage in the live ISO
  2. Give the most simple starting point for building LessLinux and derived distributions

The second big change is that LessLinux development now takes place completely on GitHub. Scroll down to read how these two news fit together seamlessly!

Using Jabba builds

Of course you can use the Jabba builds as rescue system as well or as a nice replacement for the now defunct LFS Live CD, to start building LFS even when you do not have Linux system installed on some hard drive. Jabba builds will be released after major architectural changes or updates of core components like the used default compiler or the C library. This means mandatory releases every six to nine months and maybe convenience releases after updating kernels.

Jabba intentionally uses a really minimalistic user interface. After booting, the GUI consists of just two terminals, one with root privileges and one as normal user. You might start an XFCE- or LXQT-panel, but be warned: there might be many duplicate or non-functional entries in the menus. Thus it is easier most of the time to start needed programs by hand.

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Fresh stable Search and Rescue available

June 17th, 2014 Releases | Kommentieren »

I am proud to announce a fresh stable release of LessLinux Search and Rescue. This is basically a refinement of the May, 29th release and as such it does not pack many new features. New and untested is the inclusion of libbde, a library to access and mount Bitlocker encrypted drives (Windows Vista and above).

Download this build here: lesslinux-search-and-rescue/lesslinux-search-and-rescue-uluru-20140612-152957.iso

During the next days I will add an automatic update from the latest stable build and the build currently on PC Magazin as covermount DVD.

The next builds will move to Linux 3.15.x which starts a new unstable series. In the meantime building on the RaspberryPi progresses, so I am quite confident that in early June the first builds of LessLinux as thin client will be ready.

Let’s develop further

May 29th, 2014 Cheatcodes, Packages and Architecture, Releases, Screenshots | Kommentieren »

Here we go with a fresh development build. The build and the included software is quite stable, but menus, themes and small stuff need lots of cleanup. Xorg moved to 1.15 and Mesa to 10.1. This allowed inclusion of some games like Quadrapassel that I like to play during data rescue or forensic sessions. A few changes had to be made to be able to compile everything against Glibc 2.19 and Glib 2.40. Some old software that refused to compile against Glib 2.40 was retired, other programs were patched. The kernel used is 3.14.4. More than 150 packages have been update. Cool thing: LXQT has been added. To use it, pass


to the boot command line. It is quite usable but needs some polishing. Connman is included and totally usable if started from the command line. Unfortunately the Connman Gtk+ user interface is affected by a Gtk+. I am quite sure we can fix this for the next stable and then use Connman to replace Wicd. Everyone loves screenshots:

LXQT is now optional

And do not forget the download link: lesslinux-search-and-rescue-uluru-20140528-080923.iso

That was fast! Stable build based on kernel 3.13.2 available

February 10th, 2014 Packages and Architecture, Releases | Kommentieren »

Right at this moment I am uploading the first stable build based on Kernel 3.13.2. I am very happy that everything compiled nice with the 3.13.2 kernel headers. Besides this the changes to the 3.12 series builds are quite small:

  • Firefox got updated to 27.0
  • Thunderbird got updated to 24.3.0
  • QPhotoRec is now present with a menu entry
  • Added vshadowinfo/vshadowmount – a nice small tool to access V-Shadow Snapshots on NTFS drives
  • Fix to Adwaita theme’s look on applications run with root privileges

If you installed LessLinux Search and Rescue to a thumb drive you probably noticed an empty “partition 7″ that seemed to be without use. This partition is intended for updates. When updating a binary delta file will be downloaded. Then the content of “partition 8″ together with the binary delta will be streamed through Xdelta and saved on “partition 7″. After this, boot information will be rewritten and you are prompted to reboot. On the next update the same will be done the other way round. This build will be the first stable build fully supporting this update mechanism. This means: You have to prepare your thumbdrive once and will be prompted to update if one is available. Since the update will be streamed to the other partition, you do not have to restart programs during update, just continue to work.

And what’s next

These are some features to expect from the near future, see it primarily as a todo list for me:

  • Add a usable IceWM configuration for more conservative users
  • Further clean up nonfree packages
  • Build a “full” ISO for self containing builds
  • Update the documentation on building
  • Move to Xorg server 1.15, Mesa 10, GStreamer 1.2 and GNU make 4.0
  • Move to glibc 2.19
  • Add a BOOTIA32.EFI to boot on bay trail tablets
  • Continue to work on building full 64 bit systems
  • Continue to work on support for RaspberryPi

Download it here: lesslinux-search-and-rescue-uluru-20140209-200536.iso

Fresh stable build based on kernel 3.12.9 available

February 7th, 2014 Packages and Architecture, Releases | Kommentieren »

I just uploaded a build from three days ago. This features all the previously mentioned changes regarding moving to Gtk+ 3. The “weight penalty” by using both Gtk+ versions should be around 20MB. That’s reasonable for having a working upgrade path.

Other changes include:

  • Many fixes to VLC 2.1.2 – you want to check if the videos rescued from a failed drive are still OK
  • Added Audacious – I like to listen to MP3s when doing long annoying jobs
  • Added some casual games – customers asked me to do so
  • Added wimlib – allows creation and access of WIM files
  • Added qemu – not primarily for virtualization, but for creation of and access to image files like VDI and VMDK
  • Added multipath tools – mainly for kpartx, for convenient access of partitions in hard disk images
  • Added cabextract – to extract Windows drivers from cabinet files

Combine the last four tools in some scripts (mix in the registry editing capabilities of ntpasswd) and you get cool options for either deployment of Windows images or using LessLinux as a semi automated tool for converting Windows installations running on real hardware to virtual machine images.

However this build is just a stopgap. The update to kernel 3.13.2 seems so smooth that I think the next week will provide a first testing image based on 3.13.2.

Download here: download.lesslinux.org/releases/lesslinux-search-and-rescue/lesslinux-search-and-rescue-uluru-20140204-161107.iso

Fresh development build with kernel 3.12.6 available

January 8th, 2014 Packages and Architecture, Releases, Screenshots | Kommentieren »

I just uploaded a fresh development build that uses kernel 3.12. The biggest change however ist the move to Gtk3 for some applications.

The new desktop with some Gtk3 applications

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Major changes ahead: Moving to Gtk3

November 29th, 2013 About, Packages and Architecture | Kommentieren »

You probably noticed that LessLinux uses Gtk2 only. Even applications like Abiword, Gnumeric and some of the Gnome tools are older versions – some three years old, partially taken from Gnome 2.32. The background of this decision was to provide a persistent look and feel as well as to keep the size smaller.

This is not suitable anymore.

I had to decide between moving to the Mate libs or to Gtk 3. Mate is a fork of the last stable Gnome. This move would probably have given me some updated utilities and libraries but it would not have an provided newer applications like Brasero, Abiword or Gnumeric. So I decided to move to Gtk3. I already moved the easier to move applications like Zenity, Brasero, Abiword, Gnumeric and Evince. Wireshark and the likes will follow soon. Then I will provide images for testing. Afterwards, I will move Ruby-Gnome and the WX based apps like FileZilla and TrueCrypt to Gtk3. However, some Gtk2 programs will stay for a while: Firefox will keep Gtk2 as default for a while and XFCE will not move to Gtk3 in the upcoming version 4.12. At least a version of LessLinux Search and Rescue will be possible that uses Nautilus, Openbox and Midori that will be Gtk3 only.

New stable build with kernel 3.11.7 available

November 14th, 2013 Releases | Kommentieren »

Nothing spectacular here. Just a fresh stable build. It uses kernel 3.11.7, still sticks with Glibc 2.17 and re-enables the rtl8192se driver. Zswap is enabled which is a great thing for live CDs without swap space.

I am now moving on to kernel 3.12 together with Glbic 2.18 and GCC 4.8.2, but if necessary, another build based on 3.11.8 will follow.

Download this build here:

Fresh development build with kernel 3.11.5 available

October 17th, 2013 Releases | Kommentieren »

I am proud to announce a fresh development build. This one targets some minor issues in older builds and adds the new kernel from the 3.11 family. However glibc is still 2.17 since I had problems with my cross compilers build with 2.18. The issues adressed are:

  • Workaround for sound devices with too strict permissions
  • The USB installer now also creates an encrypted swap partition: The swap partition is re-initialized at each boot with a key that is thrown away afterwards
  • Gummiboot is updated to 36 to work around keyboard issues on some UEFI implementations
  • The layout of the DVD is much friendlier for remastering (kernels are now in /boot/kernel, not in /boot/isolinux anymore)
  • A new mechanism for loading to memory just loads to memory if the system is started from optical media an the main memory is larger than size of the ISO plus 1GB – so the DVD burner can be used to backup important data – when used from thumb drive the system is not loaded to main memory

The Realtek WiFi driver rtl8192se that stopped working in linux 3.10 works again with 3.11. However I left it blacklisted for this build. Load it manually with “modprobe -v rtl8192se” if you have an affected card. I also did make some major improvements for speeding up builds. Large parts of the system can now be built distributed with distcc. This together with some fresh tests of self contained builds will be covered in an upcoming post.

Download the test build here: lesslinux-search-and-rescue-uluru-20131017-082921.iso