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Documentation for ultra-secure web browsing

December 10, 2019 — BarryK

In preparation for major releases of EasyOS, expected to be Buster 2.2 and Pyro 1.3, I am embarking on adding to the documentation. Here is a start:

For maximum security with this "Copy session to RAM & disable drives", you will need to be using the 5.4.x kernel. Right now, that means Buster and Pyro 

Tags: easy

Sound fix for 5.4 kernel on Apollo Lake

December 10, 2019 — BarryK

I have posted about sound being broken on my Acer Aspire 1 laptop, model A114-31-C014. Booting EasyOS with the 5.4.1 or 5.4.2, the kernel reports no sound devices:

There was a fix reported on an Arch Linux forum, however that was a different problem:

Many days have been spent trying to fix this, but I got up this morning determined to give it another go. I examined the kernel modules loaded by the 5.2.21 kernel, compared with the 5.4.2 kernel, and began a process of elimination.

I found a module that is loading and breaking sound, 'snd_soc_skl':

# lspci -nnk
00:0e.0 Audio device [0403]: Intel Corporation Atom/Celeron/Pentium Processor N4200/N3350/E3900 Series Audio Cluster [8086:5a98] (rev 0b)
Subsystem: Acer Incorporated [ALI] Atom/Celeron/Pentium Processor N4200/N3350/E3900 Series Audio Cluster [1025:1195]
Kernel driver in use: snd_soc_skl
Kernel modules: snd_soc_skl, snd_hda_intel

'snd_soc_skl' is for the Sky Lake CPU, it should not be loading for my Apollo Lake N3450 CPU.

After removing that module, running 'depmod' and rebooting:

00:0e.0 Audio device [0403]: Intel Corporation Atom/Celeron/Pentium Processor N4200/N3350/E3900 Series Audio Cluster [8086:5a98] (rev 0b)
Subsystem: Acer Incorporated [ALI] Atom/Celeron/Pentium Processor N4200/N3350/E3900 Series Audio Cluster [1025:1195]
Kernel driver in use: snd_hda_intel
Kernel modules: snd_hda_intel

...and sound works. Now I need to find where to report this... 

EDIT 2019-12-17:
As you can see above, there are two contending modules to control sound, 'snd_soc_skl' and 'snd_hda_intel'. Running "lsmod" shows that the former loads first, so has precedence. The solution, for my laptop anyway, is to change order of loading. I created /etc/modprobe.d/intel-snd-fix.conf with this in it:

softdep snd_soc_skl pre: snd_hda_intel

I have also contacted some of the guys who do commits to Intel Sky Lake sound driver, and got this reply from Pierre:

This snd-soc-skl driver is only recommended on APL for Chromebooks.
The automatic detection we added in 5.4 should not select the snd-soc-skl driver, please provide a full dmesg log with dynamic debug enabled for all intel code.

I presume that "dynamic debug" will have to be enabled in the configuration when compile the kernel. Don't know if or when I will do that. It has fallen down on my priority list as I have a fix, for my laptop anyway. 

Tags: easy

Easy Pyro versions 1.2.9 and released

December 09, 2019 — BarryK

EasyOS Pyro is the "old" series, superseded by the Buster series, however Pyro is still receiving updates that match those of Buster releases. The latest Easy Buster is 2.1.9 and, announced earlier today:

Easy Pyro is built with packages compiled from source in 'oe-qky-src', my port of OpenEmbedded, and the first releases were for Quirky Linux, mid-2017. Since then, there have been some package upgrades, such as for Qt5 and Xorg, later in 2018 and early 2019, however the core packages are mostly 2017 vintage.

Although many of the packages are getting a bit "long in the tooth", the Pyro series still works great. Although the Buster series is intended to be the replacement, many users like Pyro, me included, so it is still getting updates.

Please read the above link for the Buster announcement, as the features also apply to Pyro. Except, of course, Pyro is not built with DEBs.

Here is the primary download site:

Mirrored here:

As for Buster, there are two versions, 1.2.9 has the 5.2.21 kernel, has the 5.4.1 kernel.

Release notes:

Feedback is welcome here: 

Tags: easy

Easy Buster 2.1.9 and released

December 09, 2019 — BarryK
Another release of EasyOS Buster series, versions 2.1.9 and The reason for the two version numbers, is the 2.1.9 build is with the 5.2.21 kernel, and is with the 5.4.2 kernel.

And the reason for building with two different kernels, is that audio does not work on some hardware with the 5.4.x kernel (so far, 5.4, 5.4.1 and 5.4.2).

Here is the primary download site, courtesy of

...the German and French builds are 2.1.9 only, as is the ISO file. I have only uploaded the English build of

Thanks to NLUUG, the files are mirrored here:

The reason that I am keen to use the 5.4.x kernel is due to the new "lockdown" feature. This is used in the "Copy session to RAM & disabled drives" kernel boot option, which takes security to a new high. This boot option runs Easy entirely in RAM, with no access to the drives, except for ones that you plugin after bootup. Kernel lockdown decreases the risk, however small, of someone figuring out some very clever way to make PC drives accessable.

Try, if audio does not work you will have to fall back to 2.1.9.

There are release notes here:

If you need help with writing the downloaded file to a USB-stick, or anything else with installing and booting, read this:

The next release of Easy Pyro, the older series of EasyOS, but still being updated, is expected to be uploaded in a couple of days.

Feedback is welcome: 

Tags: easy

Audio fix for 5.4.x kernel

December 08, 2019 — BarryK

Oh joy, a fix! Feodor sent me an email, with these links:

The last 4-5 days have been frustrating. I tried various processes of elimination, trying to fix sound. Finally, gave up and compiled older kernels for the next releases of Easy Buster and Easy Pyro.

Blog post a few days ago:

Logged into gmail this morning, and there was the email from Feodor.

Looks like we are back in business with 5.4.x. OK, I will now compile the 5.4.2 kernel, for Buster and for Pyro, with SND_HDA_INTEL_DETECT_DMIC disabled. 

Oh... bother. I found that this is already disabled:

# HD-Audio
# CONFIG_SND_HDA_CODEC_CA0132_DSP is not set
# end of HD-Audio

So, that was a fix for others, but not for my laptop. 

Tags: easy

Kernel 5.4.1 audio broken on Aspire1 laptop

December 05, 2019 — BarryK

So frustrating! Booting easy Pyro with 5.4.1 kernel on my Aspire1 laptop, the kernel reports that there are no audio devices. Different sound configuration, different firmware?, can't find any cause. The kernel just cannot find the audio device, even though it is a Intel audio chip. The laptop has the Apollo Lake series CPU.

There is another problem on that laptop. The mouse is a wired-USB type, plugged into a USB2 socket, and every now and again the mouse freezes, fixed by replugging the mouse.

The thing is, this mouse-freezing problem was not there before, with older kernels. Easy Pyro used to have 4.14.x kernels, then upgraded to 5.1.x, 5.2.x -- don't know when the freezing problem came in.

I am going to try an experiment. Have compiled the latest in the 4.14.x series, 4.14.157, and will try that.

I am now running Easy Pyro with 4.14.157 kernel, and audio works. However, the mouse still freezes. I get about half an hour of usage before the freeze. using it now, about another half hour, it hasn't frozen again.

In earlier tests, with later kernels (5.2.21 and 5.4.1) in most cases it is OK after the first freeze, but sometimes got the freezing happening more than once.

So it looks like a backport that has been applied to one of the 4.14.x series is the cause, but I am not going to try and find out which one. I have been down that road before, it is a very time-consuming process, to try and narrow it down to the commit that caused the problem. 

Tags: easy

Kernel 5.4.x has exFAT driver

December 02, 2019 — BarryK

I posted yesterday about compiling the 5.4.1 kernel with the new "lockdown" feature, and aufs patch, for both Easy Buster and Easy Pyro:

But I forgot something: the 5.4 kernel also has an exFAT driver! So, right now recompiling with this driver built as a module:

Device drivers -> Staging drivers
    <m> exFAT fs support (CONFIG_EXFAT_FS)
Lookin' good! 

Tags: easy

Convert user-installed apps into containers

December 01, 2019 — BarryK

The utility GUI Easy Containers is in the Filesystem menu. It is for creation and management of containers. One thing that it does is allow any app on the main desktop to be converted to a container.

However, the mechanism is only for inbuilt apps, that is, those in 'easy.sfs'. There have been a couple of requests in the forum to free this up. Now, Easy Containers allows choice of user-installed apps to be converted to run in a container.

If you used the PETget package manager, which is the traditional package manager, known to Puppy Linux users as the "PPM", you can install apps from whatever package repositories the PPM accesses. In the case of Easy Buster, that will be the Debian DEB repositories, plus some PET packages in the 'pet-noarch' and 'pet-buster' repositories.

These packages installed via the PPM are only installed on the main desktop. Though do note, the PPM works inside the "buster" and "pyro" containers (complete desktop in a container). If you installed an app to the main desktop, either via the PPM or you compiled it yourself from source, or whatever, if you would prefer to run the app in a container, Easy Containers will now do so, as long as it has a .desktop file in /usr/share/applications.

If you installed a big app via the PPM, after having converted it to run in a container, you could then uninstall it and its dependencies from the main desktop.

The modified script is /usr/local/easy_containers/easy-containers, and a fix was also required for /usr/local/easy_containers/ec-chroot. 

One usage detail. The .desktop file will have a line in it that looks like this:


Where "solvespace" is an example, the app to be executed. The Exec line must not have any prefixed path, if it does it will be rejected. 

Tags: easy