I’ve just custom-compiled ‘Aqsis’.

To give some context to this proclamation, I had written an earlier posting, about adapting the non-packaged software named ‘Ayam‘ to Debian / Stretch, that had worked just fine under Debian / Jessie. This is a GUI which constructs complex ‘Renderman‘-Compliant rendering instructions, in this case in the form of .RIB-Files, which in turn, ‘Aqsis’ can turn into 2D perspective views of 3D scenes, that have been software-rendered. OTOH, Ayam itself uses OpenGL and H/W rendering, for its GUI.

What I had found before, was that Ayam did not seem stable anymore under Debian / Stretch. I apologize for this assessment. Under close scrutiny, my computer has revealed, that it was really Aqsis giving the problems, not Ayam. Aqsis is a text-based tool in effect.

Ayam does not specifically need to be used with Aqsis to do its rendering. It can be set up to use other rendering-engines, most of which are quite expensive. Aqsis just happens to be the best Open-Source rendering-engine, whose language Ayam speaks. And at this point I’d say that Ayam is still quite stable, after all, under Debian / Stretch.

As is often the case with such troubles, I next sought to custom-compile Aqsis, to see whether doing so could get rid of its quirks. What were its quirks?

Finally, the only problem with Aqsis was and remains, that it cannot produce a real-time preview of the scene being edited, which it used to provide using a component-program named ‘piqsl’. And the reason why the packaged version of Aqsis does not have ‘piqsl’ under Debian / Stretch, is because this distribution of Linux has a very new ‘Boost’ library ( v1.62 ) , and the visual component to Aqsis, that could produce a display, still relies on the Qt4 libraries and their API, which have begun to bit-rot. The Qt4-specific code of Aqsis cannot parse the newest usage of the Boost libraries, and Debian maintainers have long since discovered this. They are shunning the use of ‘libqt4-dev’ and of ‘libqt4-opengl-dev’ to build any of their packages. So they were effectively forced to package a version of Aqsis, which was missing some important components.

(Updated 12/12/2017 … )

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UDF-Capable Disk Burning with K3b and Debian / Stretch

According to This earlier posting, I was using a Debian / Jessie laptop, the first part of which is also known as Debian 8, to burn UDF-Capable Blu-ray Disks, given an external Blu-ray burner, and that version of Linux required help. Specifically, I needed to modify the way K3b behaves, by uninstalling the package ‘wodim’, which provides ‘cdrkit’, and by custom-compiling ‘cdrtools’, which is meant to act as a drop-in replacement for ‘cdrkit’, except for the fact that for the moment, ‘cdrtools’ was more powerful than ‘cdrkit’.

Under Debian / Stretch, which is also known as Debian 9, ‘wodim’ is not suggested by ‘K3b’ anymore, but rather a required dependency, for which reason to uninstall ‘wodim’, would also uninstall K3b. And so I needed to know, whether the package-provided version of K3b, and all its dependencies, could still burn Blu-rays via the GUI.

And the short answer is that Indeed, under Debian / Stretch, the packaged software has the required capabilities, so that to try to modify the behavior of K3b ( v2.0.3 ) is not only a bit risky, but totally unnecessary.

I created a Data-DVD Project – which we would also do for Blu-rays, and then burned that onto a DVD+R with 3 sets of options:

  1. File System = “Linux+Windows”, back-end = ‘growsiofs’
  2. File System = “UDF”, back-end = ‘growisofs’
  3. File-System = “UDF”, back-end = ‘cdrecord’

What I next did, was to run the command ‘df -T /dev/sr0′ , after mounting each disk via the GUI, both actions as a regular user. I found that options (2) and (3) both showed up as a “udf” file-system, while option (1) showed up as an “iso9660″ file-system.

This is as much, as custom-compiling ‘cdrtools’ could do for the user. Also, when going into the Programs settings of K3b, the full range of supported back-ends shows up as being available. Using burning-options (3) above, starts out the dialog with “Using Wodim” in the GUI, but all 3 settings still show me in the K3b GUI, “Burning ISO9660 File System”.

(Updated 10/23/2017 :


If this is to be used seriously for burning Blu-rays, then there is something which the user should further know.

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I just Kiboshed my Last Remaining Windows Computer…

As it last stood, I still possessed one remaining Windows computer, which was a 64-bit Octa-Core (threaded as 4) running Windows 7, a tower-computer which has 12GB of RAM, and which I had named ‘Mithral’.

I finally completed my conversion, kicked Windows off that computer, and installed an up-to-date Linux desktop onto it.

The distribution which I chose to start with, was ‘Kanotix‘, which I have been subscribing to for decades now. However, I cannot name this installation a direct Kanotix installation. The reason for this is the fact that the last Kanotix version which their team distributed a ‘KDE’-based version of, was called “Kanotix Spitfire”, and was based on Debian / Jessie, which is also known as Debian 8, and which is not state-of-the-art. Kanotix has been offering a leaner version of all their distributions, which use ‘LXDE’ as their desktop manager, for some time now, starting with ‘Spitfire’. Their latest distribution is called “Kanotix Steelfire”, is based on Debian / Stretch, aka Debian 9, but is only offered from their site as an LXDE-based version.

LXDE stands for ‘Lightweight X Desktop Environment’, and what was ‘KDE version 4′, has been replaced with ‘Plasma 5′, although the last time I checked, there was still no official Plasma 5 -based ‘Kanotix Steelfire’ version.

And so what I did, was to install their LXDE-based version of ‘Steelfire’, and then to use the Debian package-manager to click together an arbitrary Plasma 5 Desktop Manager, which I was also able to actualize as my new Desktop Manager.


Right now I don’t have much installed on it, except for Plasma 5, but more software is to come. The screen-shot above, also prominently shows the ‘gkrellm’ widget, that gives me real-time usage-data, that all my Linux-based systems have, except for the one tablet.

When I install a whole new O/S, I also change the name of the computer in question. The one I’m writing about is now named ‘Plato’. ‘Mithral’ is no longer with us.

It’s not necessarily a good practice for novice users, ‘just to click together’ a Desktop Manager in this way, because there may be compatibility issues which specific users are not aware of. For example, the new Kanotix version, just like all of Debian / Stretch, no longer uses ‘kdm’ to start and stop sessions, as a starting-point for causing Plasma 5 sessions to run. I found that I was able to overcome the hurdles, but then the Plasma 5 version Kanotix is about to recommend in the future, may not be an exact match of the one I ‘created’. In fact, it most-probably won’t be.

But what I have works.

(Edit 10/17/2017 : )

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