Tag Archives: Debian

Fixing the Func KB-460 ‘-key

Func KB-460 keyboardI use a Func KB-460 keyboard with Nordic layout - that basically means it is a qwerty design with the Nordic keys for "åäö" on the right side as shown on the picture above. (yeah yeah Swedish has those letters fairly prominent in the language, don't mock me now)

The most annoying part with this keyboard has been that the key repeat on the apostrophe key has been sort of broken. If you pressed it and then another key, it would immediately generate another (or more than one) apostrophe. I've sort of learned to work around it with some muscle memory and treating the key with care but it hasn't been ideal.

This problem is apparently only happening on Linux someone told me (I've never used it on anything else) and what do you know? Here's how to fix it on a recent Debian machine that happens to run and use systemd so your mileage will vary if you have something else:

1. Edit the file "/lib/udev/hwdb.d/60-keyboard.hwdb". It contains keyboard mappings of scan codes to key codes for various keyboards. We will add a special line for a single scan code and for this particular keyboard model only. The line includes the USB vendor and product IDs in uppercase and you can verify that it is correct with lsusb -v and check your own keyboard.

So, add something like this at the end of the file:

# func KB-460
keyboard:usb:v195Dp2030*
KEYBOARD_KEY_70031=reserved

2. Now update the database:

$ udevadm hwdb --update

3. ... and finally reload the tweaks:

$ udevadm trigger

4. Now you should have a better working key and life has improved!

With a slightly older Debian without systemd, the instructions I got that I have not tested myself but I include here for the world:

1. Find the relevant input for the device by "cat /proc/bus/input/devices"

2. Make a very simple keymap. Make a file with only a single line like this:

$ cat /lib/udev/keymaps/func
0x70031 reserved

3 Map the key with 'keymap':

$ sudo /lib/udev/keymap -i /dev/input/eventX /lib/udev/keymaps/func

where X is the event number you figured out in step 1.

The related kernel issue.

Say hello to Moo

I decided it was about time to upgrade my main development machine to something modern and snappy. It is 5.5 years ago since I bought my current work horse, a dual-core AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ (2.8GHz) equipped thing.Fractal Design I'm using my machine primarily for development. I never game. I decided to go for the higher end of what's available to get me something to live with for several years to come.

Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-M. Micro-ATX. Intel Z77 chipset.

CPU: Intel Core i7 3770K 3,5Ghz Socket 1155. This is a 22nm monster featuring 8 MB L3-cache

Memory: TridentX DDR3 PC19200/2400MHz CL10 2x8GB. 16GB of ram.

HDD: Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 64MB 3TB.

Chassi: Fractal Design Define R3 USB3. See picture. Rather big and fits a lot more drives and stuff than what I have now...

SSD: OCZ Vertex 4 256GB

CPU cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 412S

Graphics: ASUS Radeon HD5450 512MB (very simple and cheap thing but supports 2560x1600 which the MB doesn't do)

PSU: Plexgear PS-500 500W

(a prisjakt list with the full setup)

All in all, this has two 120mm chassi fans, one 135mm fan on the big CPU cooler and there's one fan in the PSU. I hope they won't be causing too much noise or problems for me. The rather low-end graphics should keep the total power consumption (and thus heat production) at a decent level. ASUS p8z77-m

I purchased all the individual parts separately as I dislike how I can't get an as optimized machine prebuilt from anywhere - I basically have to pay around 50% more, and then I still wouldn't get the exact set of pieces I'd like. This way I also avoid the highly disturbing Microsoft tax prebuilt systems come with.

Unfortunately I got some bad luck included too, as when I first put everything together and pressed the power button nothing happened. Well, a single led was turned on but nothing else happened. It took me a while and some sweat to figure out where the problem lied and once I replaced the broken motherboard it would start properly and then I could proceed and install it.gskill TridentX ddr3

Once my new machine (which now goes under the name Moo) gets settled, my old box will become my daughter's new machine as hers existing tired old PIII machine isn't really fun to do a lot with.

s/Firefox/Chrome/g

Google Chrome BallA few weeks ago I decided to give Chrome a good ride on my main machine, a Debian Linux unstable. I use it a lot, every day, and I of course use my browser during a large portion of my time in front of it. I'm a long time Firefox fan and when I've heard and read other people converting I've always thought it'd be hard for me due to my heavy use of certain plugins, old habits and so on.

(Of course, in Debian lingo the browsers are actually called Chromium and Iceweasel, but I've decided to ignore that fact in this post.)

Here's the story on how it went, what's good with Chrome and what's lacking in comparison to Firefox. As compared on my Linux box here.

Obvious benefints:

  • Less wasted window/screen estate. The tabs up in the window title is brilliant.
  • Faster. It's generally faster in almost every aspect, but what's most noticeable is when starting it.
  • Less memory hungy. At times I've found my Firefox installation to spend an annoying amount of my precious RAM (I have 4GB installed) and even though I would expect Chrome's a process-per-tab concept to be more expensive memory wise, I've had less such problems with it.
  • The unified address/search bar, back to how Firefox once had it, is only sensible.
  • In my Firefox I've had two minor quirks for a while that have annoyed me: 1) when I start to search for something, I get a few seconds "freeze" immediately after I've started searching. Like I enter a few letters, waaaaaaait, then I can continue. This is certainly nothing life-threatening or something I can't live through but it is annoying. 2) I occasionally get problems with flash video playbacks that the video pause or studder, most often a few seconds into it. Chrome has not given me these quirks.
  • Mailman! I administrate more than 20 mailing lists on the same host (cool.haxx.se) using mailman. Each list has iFirefox Ballts own URL and its own password. But Firefox just cannot remember them separately!!! These are pages I visit several times each day to ack or reject posts etc. Chrome remembers the passwords excellently for all the individual lists. This makes me a much happier person.

Problems I didn't get:

  • The adblock version for Chrome is as good. I'm not sure exactly how well they compare but I haven't noticed anything that's given me reason to get annoyed.
  • The resizeable text edit areas in Chrome is excellent and removes the need for some of the fancier edit plugins in Firefox.

Things still nicer in Firefox:

  • I love the plugin to force unknown content-types to still be displayed by the browser. Far too many resources are still done using the wrong one and Chrome's only option is to save it locally and then force me to run a local tool to display the file. Sure, it works fine but when I want to do that on many files it gets tedious.
  • In general Chrome, is a bit worse at handing content it doesn't know about. I've managed to fiddle with my /etc/mozpluggerrc so that at least PDFs are now saved instead of saying "missing plug-in" but so far I've failed to get evince to display them directly. Even if it still is possible to make it happen, it is certainly a bit quirky to have to manually edit a text file to make it happen...

Conclusion

I'll be running Chrome here now for a while!

Java apps froze my Iceweasel

I've noticed for quite some time that java apps haven't seemed to work on my computer when I try to use them with my browser. Whenever I've started most java apps, my entire browser has just frozen and gone completely unresponsive and I've been forced to kill and restart it.

I run Debian Linux on just about all my machines so of course I do that on my primary desktop as well. And Iceweasel is my browser.

I've not really bothered much about the problem as java applets are a bit of yesterday's technology and I rarely face anything in java that I need. Until today, when I had to login to a customer's site and use an applet for some work related to my job. There was no decent way to avoid it (apart from perhaps logging in using another machine/browser or similar), so I decided to bite the bullet and finally fix my issue.

I searched around and I tried uninstalling all openjdk stuff and more. I restarted Iceweasel countless times to no avail.

Finally I stumbled over this post by user "almatic" and voila, it fixed my problem. As I just wasted like an hour on this, I'll help out to make the world a little better by providing the answer here as well:

open file /etc/sysctl.d/bindv6only.conf and set net.ipv6.bindv6only=0, then restart the procfs with invoke-rc.d procps restart

here are the corresponding bugs

http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=560238
http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=560056

roffit lives!

Many moons ago I created a little tool I named roffit. It is just a tiny perl script that converts a man page written in the nroff format to good-looking HTML. I should perhaps also add that I didn't find any decent alternatives then so I wrote up my own version. I've been using it since in projects such as curl, c-ares and libssh2 to produce web versions of the docs.

It has just done its job and I haven't had any needs to fiddle with it. The project page lists it as last modified in 2004, even though I actually moved it to a sourceforge CVS repo back in 2007.

Just a few days ago, I got emailed and was notified that Debian has it included as a package in the distribution and someone was annoyed on some particular flaws.

This resulted in a bunch of bugs getting submitted to the Debian bug tracker, I started up the brand new roffit-devel mailing list to easier host roffit discussions and I switched over the CVS repo to a git one on github.

If you like seeing man pages turned into web pages, consider joining up and help us improve this thing!

The Swedish BankID curse and Debian

Lots of bank, tax and insurance related stuff in Sweden these days switch to using BankID for secure logins on web sites.

That system used to be a java-thing so as long as your browser supported running java applets, you'd be fine. Even us strange guys who prefer Linux. While I'm not a huge fan of java, this seemed to be a rather fine example of where using a java-applet was actually a pretty good idea to achieve functionality on a wide variety of platforms without too much work.

They ditched the java applet a while ago and switched to a browser plugin and native application instead, which then suddenly made them forced to write platform-specific code to achieve the same magic. And not too surprisingly, the Linux version was poorly made and is not supported and is left with a really complicated way to install it which no doubt will prevent every Linux-newbie out there from using BankID on Linux. Annoying and rude if you ask me.

Now, my bank (Skandiabanken) is about to switch to use BankID completely for their regular logins and I thought it was about time for me to start the fight with this under Linux and see what I will learn.

The install.sh script is written for Ubuntu (very poorly) and doesn't work. Shame on you Nexus for that crap. I poked it and with some manual hands-on I could install the stuff properly. I can now head over to the official BankID site and it verifies that my installation works fine. Somehow it does however not allow me to "sign" anything because of some failure and here's the "fun" part:

The only help and contact there is about BankID says "contact your bank" for support. My bank says they have no support and just drops the ball there.

I'm willing to offer my fixed version of the install script that will work better on more distros. I'm willing to work a bit on my own to fix this for Linux uses such as myself. But how the hack can I even fix the problems when nobody can answer any questions or provide any details on this system?

My Debian Black-out – the price of bleeding edge

Ok, I admit it. I run Debian Unstable so I know I deserve to get hit really bad at times when things turn really ugly. It is called unstable for a reason.

The other day I decided it was about time I did a dist-upgrade. When I did that, I got a remark that I better restart my gnome session as otherwise apps would crash. So I logged out and... I couldn't login again. In fact, neither my keyboard nor mouse (both on USB) worked anymore! I sighed, and rebooted (for the first time in many months) only to find out that 1) it didn't fix the problem, both input devices were still non-functional and perhaps even more important 2) the wifi network didn't work either so I couldn't login to it from one of my other computers either!

Related to this story is the fact that I've been running an older kernel, 2.6.26, since that was the last version that built my madwifi drivers correctly and kernels after that I was supposed to use ath5k for my Atheros card, but I've not been very successful with ath5k and thus remained using the latest kernel I had a fine madwifi for.

I rebooted again and tried a more recent kernel (2.6.30). Yeah, then the keyboard and mouse worked again, but the ath5k didn't get the wifi up properly. I think I basically was just lacking the proper tools to check the wifi network and set the desired ssid etc, but without network that's a bit of a pain. Also, when I logged in on my normal gnome setup, it mentioned a panel something being broken and logged me out again! 🙁

Grrr. Of course I could switch to my backup - my laptop - but it was still highly annoying to end up being locked out from your computer.

Today I bought myself 20 meter cat5e cable and made my desktop wired so I can reach the network with the existing setup, I dist-upgraded again (now at kernel 2.6.31) and when I tried to login it just worked. Phew. Back in business. I think I'll leave myself with the cable connected now that I've done the job on that already.

The lesson? Eeeh... when things break, fix them!

Debian Unstable – yes Unstable

For the last few years I've been running Debian systems for most of my home machines and the handful of servers I admin. I tend to run Debian Unstable on my desktops and development machines and Debian Testing on the servers.

I have no idea what Debian release names these corresponds to and I really really don't care. People sometimes ask me or tell me about their Sid or Lenny or whatever the names are and I can just never learn them and I really don't need to know them.

I dist-upgrade most of my machines frequently so I'm really not on any of Sid or Lenny or similar. I'm truly on Testing and Unstable, and even if I think Unstable possibly is a rather unfortunate name I think they are more describing as they are mere labels on very moving targets and remain the same over the years independent of Debian doing releases or not. Which is just a reason for me to just not care at all if Debian does infrequent releases or not, as long as packages go into these repos without too much lag.

Download (Yester)Day

I won't be joining the attempted world record of Firefox downloads on the release day June 17th 2008 since I dist-upgraded my Debian unstable just a few days ago and I got my Firef... eh Iceweasel version 3 then.

Of course, others have also noted that Firefox will miss a few Linux users downloading that version as Linux users all over will prefer to get it using their distros' ordinary means of getting packages and updates...

Firefox 3

Blaming Debian packaging

I happened to read the blog post called Open-Source Security Idiots which really is having a go at the poor Debian maintainer of OpenSSL for causing the recent much debated OpenSSL security problem in Debian and Debian-based distros.

While I think the author Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is mostly correct about his criticism, I think he's being far too specific and trying to pinpoint Debian and claiming that to be a single specific bad distro (and his additional confused complaint on Firefox vs Iceweasel just made the article lose focus).

As someone who's involved in a bunch of projects that are being packed by a range of Linux distros, I can't but to disagree. This habit of changing packages without passing the changes upstream is wide-spread and not limited to changes done by maintainers since it also includes mere bug reports. It is something that just about every distro is doing to at least some extent. It varies from package to package and over time, but given an overview I honestly can't say that there's a single specific distro that is worse than the others. It is a disease that follows the distros and we must all help out to exterminate it.

Of course, the upstream projects also need to be aware of this and help pushing packagers of their software to behave.