So a few days ago, Slackware 13.0 was released. Unfortunately, Patrick Volkerding greatly deviated from the basic philosophy to which he’s faithfully adhered for years with nearly every release — one of stability, simplicity, and only including elements in the distro that are thoroughly tested and functional — and replaced the highly stable, robust, and fully tested KDE 3.5.10 with the much less stable, buggy, half-baked and in fact barely usable KDE 4.2.4.
I wrote the other day that I considered this a minimum of a year or so premature, and had decided sight unseen that this was a bad decision, based on my extensive attempts at using KDE 4 releases as recent as 4.3 (on OpenSUSE 11.1).
Turns out I was right. KDE 4.2.4 on Slackware 13 is a disaster. I did a full install of Slackware 13 last night on VirtualBox and found KDE 4.2.4 to be just as unusable on Slackware as I had found it to be in Kubuntu when I tried it out a couple of months ago. Not surprising, since I didn’t expect that Patrick would have been fixing the massive usability issues intrinsic to KDE 4 just by including it in a Slackware release; that just isn’t a realistic expectation. Still, I had to get a baseline, and that baseline was about what I had expected.
Then, I set about finding a way to upgrade KDE 4.2.4 to KDE 3.5.10 on Slackware 13. I was successful in this today, and here is my writeup of how I did it.
Step one: Install Slackware 13.0 WITHOUT KDE or Qt4
I basically approached this as a normal Slackware install, but I did a
menu install, which allowed me to select individual packages to install.
In this process, I excluded all KDE packages, and any that I found that had anything to do with Qt (the development platform on which KDE 4 is built). This doesn’t affect anything in Slackware, other than the applications that depend on those elements, but we don’t want those anyway, since we’ll be replacing them with the KDE 3.5.10 versions. The rest is just a normal Slackware installation, so do what you would normally do, just without the KDE or Qt components.
Step two: Get what you need from Slackware 12.2
Slackware 12.2 is the last release that packaged a decent version of KDE, so if you don’t have a copy already, you’ll want to get a copy of it. I downloaded mine — the ISO for the DVD — from here.
From there, you can either mount the ISO (by logging in as root and typing
mount -o loop /path/to/slackware-12.2-install-dvd.iso /path/to/mountpoint) or burn the ISO to a blank DVD and mounting that.
The Slackware 12.2 DVD will contain everything you need to make this work. Open up the DVD either with a terminal or your favorite file manager (as long as it’s not Konqueror, since that’s not installed yet!), and go to the
slackware directory and copy the contents of the entire
kde folder you find there.
Then go to the
slackware/l folder and copy a few other things you’ll need.
Just to be complete, here is a list of all the files you’ll be needing.
Put all of these packages in a single folder on your Slackware 13 machine in preparation for the next step.
Step three: Use
pkgtool to install KDE 3.5.10
From a command line, on your Slackware 13 box,
su to root and then
cd to the folder in which you copied all of those packages from step two.
Once you are there, type
pkgtool and select the
current directory when it asks you from where to install packages.
It will then start installing them, one by one, and it will prompt you for each and every one of them. Once this process is finished, reboot just for good measure.
Step four: Set KDE as your default window manager
This one’s easy. Once you’ve got your Slackware 13 machine back up from rebooting,
su to root again, and then type
xwmconfig to bring up the X-Windows management screen. Select KDE from the list (it should be the one right at the top if everything in step three installed correctly) and hit enter.
I did all of this on a virtualized Slackware 13 machine, with limited resources, and so far in my testing, everything works. I haven’t tested K3b yet, as I’ve decided not to push my luck and attempt CD/DVD burning from a virtual machine (that just sounds problematic no matter how I think about it, so I figure it probably isn’t a valid test), so let me know if any of you have this set up on real hardware and get K3b to work.
But everything else I’ve tested is functional… Konqueror, Kontact, Amarok, KOffice, sound, it all seems to function perfectly!
I’m kind of itching to test this out on real hardware; once I do, I’ll do a quick blurb to let everyone know what worked and what didn’t, but I’m optimistic about this for the first time in days. There IS an upgrade path from Slackware 12.2 to Slackware 13.0 without losing the last decent KDE release… it just takes a little work.