Microblog : A very long article Wikipedia article on the orientation of toilet paper [7 jun à 22:52] [R]

Mercredi, 7 juin 2017


Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Third part of my DNS setup notes: changing the DNSSEC config from NSEC to NSEC3. This has be on my TODO list for over a year now, and despite the tutorial at the ISC Knowledge Base, the ride was a bit bumpy.

Generating new keys

The previous keys were using the default RSASHA1 algorithm (number 5), and we need new keys using RSASHA256 (number 8).

Generating those keys was easy. On a machine with enough available entropy in /dev/random (such as a Raspberry Pi with its hardware random number generator) run:
dnssec-keygen -a RSASHA256 -b 2048 -3 example.com
dnssec-keygen -a RSASHA256 -b 2048 -3 -fk example.com

Transfer the keys to the server where Bind is running, into the directory where Bind is looking for them.

Loading the keys

The documentation says to load the keys with
rndc loadkeys example.net
but that ended with a cryptic message in the logs:
NSEC only DNSKEYs and NSEC3 chains not allowed

Apparently, the algorithm of the old keys does not allow to use NSEC3 (which I knew) so Bind refuses to load these keys (which I didn't anticipate). I eventually resorted to stopping Bind completely, moving away the old keys, deleting the *.signed and *.signed.jnl files in /var/cache/bind/ and restarting Bind. The new keys got then automatically loaded, and the zone was re-signed using NSEC.

NSEC3 at last

I could then resume with the tutorial.

First, generate a random salt:

openssl rand -hex 4
(let's assume the result of that operation was “d8add234”).

Then tell Bind the parameters it needs to create NSEC3 records:
rndc signing -nsec3param 1 0 10 d8add234 example.com.
Then check that the zone is signed with
rndc signing -list example.com

Linking the zones

Since the keys have changed, you need to update your domain's DS record in your parent domains DNS, using the tool provided to you by your registrar. This step is the same as in the “Linking the zones” of the previous part of this tutorial.

[ Posté le 7 juin 2017 à 23:15 | pas de commentaire | ]

Dimanche, 5 février 2017

SSH access to a Buffalo LS210 NAS

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

My old NAS that I use for backups is now over 10 years old, and while it still works and faithfully backs-up my files every night, it has an always increasing probability to fail.

I decided to replace it with a Buffalo Linkstation 210, that offers 2 TB of space for 140 EUR, making it cheaper than building my own device, at the risk of not being able to use it the way I want it, being a commercial device that wasn't designed with my needs in mind.

The way I want to use the NAS is that it boots automatically at a given time, after which the backup script on the desktop starts, transfers the needed files, and puts the NAS to sleep mode again. That last feature was available on my previous device, but not anymore on the LS210. Hence the need to make it do my bidding.

Moreover, the Web UI for administrating the LS210 is horribly slow on my desktop due to bad Javascript code, so the less I have to use it, the better.

The device

The way to gain SSH access seems to vary depending on the exact version of the device and the firmware. Mine is precisely a LS210D0201-EU device with firmware version 1.63-0.04, bought in January 2017.

Initial setup

I found instructions on the nas-central.com forum. It relies on a Java tool called ACP_COMMANDER that apparently uses a backdoor of the device that is used for firmware updates and whatnots, but can apparently be used for running any kind of shell command on the device, as root, using the device's admin user's password.

Let's assume $IP is the IP address of the device and "password" is the password of the admin user on the device (it's the default password).

You can test that ACP_COMMANDER works with the following command that runs uname -a on the device:
java -jar acp_commander.jar -t $IP -ip $IP -pw password -c "uname -a"
It will output some amount of information (including a weird message about changing the IP and a wrong password ), but if you find the following in the middle of it, it means that it worked:
>uname -a
Linux LS210D 3.3.4 #1 Thu Sep 17 22:55:58 JST 2015 armv7l GNU/Linux

Starting the SSH server is then a matter of

  • enabling the SSH feature (which, on this cheap model, is disabled by default),
  • starting the SSH server,
  • changing root's password to "root" so that we can login (the password can be changed to something more secure later).
This is achieved through the following commands:
java -jar acp_commander.jar -t $IP -ip $IP -pw password -c "sed -i 's/SUPPORT_SFTP=0/SUPPORT_SFTP=1/g' /etc/nas_feature"
java -jar acp_commander.jar -t $IP -ip $IP -pw password -c "/etc/init.d/sshd.sh start"
java -jar acp_commander.jar -t $IP -ip $IP -pw password -c "(echo root;echo root)|passwd"

On some older version of the firmware, root login was disabled in SSH, and needed to be allowed with

java -jar acp_commander.jar -t $IP -ip $IP -pw password -c "sed -i 's/#PermitRootLogin/PermitRootLogin/g' /etc/sshd_config"
but that is not the case on my device.

Once this is done, I can run
ssh root@$IP

and login with password "root" (which was set earlier).

One nasty feature of the device is that the /etc/nas_feature file gets rewritten on each boot through the initrd. One last step is then to edit /etc/init.d/sshd.sh and to comment out near the beginning of the file the few lines that check for the SSH/SFTP support and exit in case SSH is not supported:
 #if [ "${SUPPORT_SFTP}" = "0" ] ; then
 #        echo "Not support sftp on this model." > /dev/console
 #        exit 0                                               

According to a comment on the nas-central forum,

“The /etc/nas_feature is restored on each reboot, so sshd does not run on boot. Even if you change the init script.”

but I found this not to be true.

I checked that this setup really resists reboots, by logging in as root and typing reboot. SSH access was still possible after the device had restarted.

Going further

It was then possible to setup SSH access using keys; RSA and ECDSA are supported but not ED25519.

One missing feature is the sudo command, but I can live without it I guess.

I have then setup the device to wake up at a given time (through the “Sleep timer” feature in the administration Web UI). It is then possible to put the device to sleep by running as root
PowerSave.sh standby
The command is located in /usr/local/sbin, and this path is not available for non-interactive logins, so I wrote the following wrapper script to shutdown the device:
ssh root@$IP 'bash -l -c "PowerSave.sh standby"'

After having been put into standby, the device will then start automatically on the set time, or when the “function” button on the back is pressed.

[ Posté le 5 février 2017 à 12:52 | pas de commentaire | ]

Mercredi, 3 août 2016

Patching a Debian Package

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

I finally found a tutorial that explains how to patch existing Debian packages. I just did that for wmweather that stopped working after NOAA changed the URL where the METAR data is published.

In a nutshell, and in case the original web page disappears, it goes like that:

apt-get source wmweather
cd wmweather-2.4.5
dch --nmu
mkdir debian/patches # because it didn't exist
quilt new update-url.patch
quilt edit src/wmweather.c
quilt refresh
debuild -us -uc

After that I could simply install the new package that had been created.

[ Posté le 3 août 2016 à 22:10 | pas de commentaire | ]

Mercredi, 27 avril 2016


Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Second part of my DNS setup notes, this time about DNSSEC. The following notes assumes there is already a running instance of Bind 9 on a Debian Jessie system for an imaginary domain example.com, served by a name server named ns.example.com.

The version of Bind 9 (9.9.5) on Debian Jessie supports "inline signing" of the zones, meaning that the setup is much easier than in the tutorials mentioning dnssec-tools or opendnssec.

Again these notes are mostly based on the example from the ISC Knowledge Base.

Setting up a signed zone

If you have a delegated zone (like home.example.com from the first part), do the following for both example.com and home.example.com.

Generate the keys
On a machine with enough available entropy in /dev/random (such as a Raspberry Pi with its hardware random number generator ) run
dnssec-keygen example.com
dnssec-keygen -fk example.com

(you can add the -r /dev/urandom option to the command if you dare, if /dev/random is too slow. It can literaly take hours to generate those keys otherwise).

Transfer the keys to the server where Bind is running.

Configure Bind

Create a /etc/bind/keys directory where to put the keys. Ensure the .private files belong to root, are readable by the group bind and not by other users.

In named.conf.options add to the options block:
options {
        dnssec-enable yes;
        dnssec-validation auto;
        dnssec-lookaside auto;

Create in /var/cache/bind a symbolic link to /etc/bind/db.example.com.

In named.conf.local, in the zone "example.com" block, add
zone "example.com" {
        #file "/etc/bind/db.example.com";
        file "/var/cache/bind/db.example.com";
        key-directory "/etc/bind/keys";
        auto-dnssec maintain;
        inline-signing yes;

Note that the db file must point to a file in /var/cache/bind, not in /etc/bind. This is because bind will create a db.example.com.signed file (among other related journal files), constructed from the path of the "file" entry in the zone declaration, and it will fail doing so if the file is in /etc/bind, because Bind would attempt to create the .signed file in this read-only directory.

Then reload the configuration with
rndc reconfig
Then check that the zone is signed with
rndc signing -list example.com

Linking the zones

Your registrar should provide a tool (most probably Web based) where to put DS records for your domain.

On the DNS server, generate a DS record with
dig @localhost dnskey example.com | /usr/sbin/dnssec-dsfromkey -f - example.com
Copy and paste these lines in the registrar's tool. After a little while, you should be able to query the DS record with
dig @localhost -t ds example.org
If you have a delegated zone such as home.example.com, generate a DS record for that zone with
dig @localhost dnskey home.example.com | /usr/sbin/dnssec-dsfromkey -f - home.example.com
and place these lines in db.example.com (i.e., the db file for the parent zone). Change the serial number of the zone in the same file and run
rndc reload
You should then be able to query the DS record with
dig @localhost -t ds home.example.org

You can use Verisign's DNS debugging tool to check that the signatures are valid and DNSViz to view the chain of signatures from the TLD DNS down to your DNS. This also helped me figure out that my zone delegation was incorrect and caused discrepancies between my primary DNS server and the secondary server.

[ Posté le 27 avril 2016 à 19:21 | 1 commentaire | ]

DNS 1: Dynamic DNS

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Now that I have my own server, I can finally have my own DNS server and my own domain name for my home computer that has a (single) dynamic IP address.

The following notes assumes there is already a running instance of Bind 9 on a Debian Jessie system for an imaginary domain example.com, served by a name server named ns.example.com and you want to dynamically update the DNS records for home.example.com. This is largely based on the Debian tutorial on the subject, solving the problem that bind cannot modify files in /etc/bind.

On the server

Create a shared key that will allow to remotely update the dynamic zone:
dnssec-keygen -a HMAC-MD5 -b 128 -r /dev/urandom -n USER DDNS_UPDATE
This creates a pair of files (.key and .private) with names starting with Kddns_update.+157+. Look for the value of Key: entry in the .private file and put that value in a file named /etc/bind/ddns.key with the following content (surrounding it with double quotes):
        algorithm HMAC-MD5.SIG-ALG.REG.INT;
        secret "THIS IS WHERE YOU PUT THE KEY";

You can then delete the two Kddns_update.+157+ files. Ensure that /etc/bind/ddns.key belongs to "root" and to the "bind" group, and is not readable by other users.

Then in named.conf.local, include the key file and declare a new zone:

include "/etc/bind/ddns.key";

zone "home.example.com" { type master; file "/var/cache/bind/db.home.example.com"; allow-update { key DDNS_UPDATE; }; journal "/var/cache/bind/db.home.example.com.jnl"; };

In /var/cache/bind create the file db.home.example.com by copying /etc/bind/db.empty and adapting it to your needs. For convinience, create a db.home.example.com symbolic link in /etc/bind pointing to /var/cache/bind/db.home.example.com.

In db.example.com (that is, the parent zone), add a NS entry to delegate the name home.example.com to the DNS server of the parent zone:
home.example.com NS ns.example.com

You can now reload the bind service to apply the configuration changes.

I also found examples of how to test the dynamic zone with nsupdate.

On the home computer

I decided to use ddclient 3.8.3 because it supports dynamic dns updates using the nsupdate tool. I backported that version of ddclient manually from a Debian Testing package; it's written in Perl and the backporting is trivial.

Copy /etc/bind/ddns.key from the server to /etc/ddns.key on the home computer (the one running ddclient), ensuring only root can read it. Then add the following to /etc/ddclient.conf (be careful with the commas, there is no comma at the end of the second last line):
protocol=nsupdate, \
zone=home.example.com, \
ttl=600, \
password=/etc/ddns.key \

You can then try out the new setup.

[ Posté le 27 avril 2016 à 18:15 | 1 commentaire | ]

Mercredi, 13 avril 2016

Minimum Password Entropy

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

What is the minimum entropy for my home computer's password?

In recent (post-2007) Debian (and probably other) Linux distributions, the passwords are stored in /etc/shadow using the sha512crypt algorithm. According to Per Thorsheim, with 2012 hardware, a single Nvidia GTX 580 could make 11,400 attempts at brute-force cracking such a password. This means that a log2 11,400 = 13.5 bit password could be cracked in 1 second.

To have a password that would resist a year to such a brute-force attack, one must multiply the password complexity by 86,400×365 (seconds per year) i.e., add 24.5 bits to the password for a total of 38 bits.

But this password is guaranteed to be cracked in a year. To make the probability of cracking such a password much lower, let's say less than 0.01, one must increase the password's complexity by a hundred times i.e., add 6.7 bits. We now have a minimum of 44.7 bits.

If one does not want to change the password for the next 10 years (because one is lazy), one must again increase the complexity tenfold (that's another 3.3 bits for a total of 48 bits) and account for the increase in processing power in the coming years. Between 2002 and 2011, CPU and GPU computing power has been multiplied by 10 and 100 respectively i.e., +0.37 and +0.74 bits/year. That means that the password's complexity must be increased by 0.74 ×10 = 7.4 bits. We have now reached 55.4 bits.

Now we need to guess who are the password crackers. How many such GPU will they put together? Titan has 18,688 GPUs (add another 14.2 bits to stay ahead of it), and the (more affordable) machine that cracked LinkedIn leaked passwords had 25 GPUs (requiring to add only extra 4.6 bits).

Assuming the crackers have a 25-GPU setup and not a gigantic cluster, 60 bits should be perfectly safe. If they are a government agency with huge resources and your data is worth spending the entirety of that cluster's energy for 10 years, 70 bits is still enough.

The same article also mentions an Intel i7, 6-core CPU would make 1,800 attempts per second i.e., 10.8 bits. For a password that must resist for 10 years, that would mean 49 bits. Titan has 300,000 CPU cores (50,000 times more than the i7), so that makes an extra 15.6 bits for a total of 64.6 bits. The Tianhe-2 has 3,120,000 cores, adding 19 bits to the original 49 bits, leading to 68 bits total.

In summary, 70 bits is enough. If you are lazy and not paranoid, 60 bits are still enough. If you think the crackers will not use more than 32 i7 CPUs for a month to try and break your password (adding 2.4 + 21.3 bits to the original 10.2 bits), 48.5 bits are still enough.

[ Posté le 13 avril 2016 à 19:20 | pas de commentaire | ]

Samedi, 12 mars 2016

Nouveau serveur

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Le blog (et le reste de mes pages Web) a déménagé sur un nouveau serveur (une machine virtuelle hébergée chez shellit.org. Après longue réflexion et tergiversations, et afin de continuer la série des machines dont le nom se termine en « kone », j'ai décidé de l'appeler « lentokone », koska se on kone joka on pilvissä.

J'en ai profité pour recommencer à jouer les administrateurs système et j'ai installé des serveurs DNS, SMTP, IMAP, HTTP pour gérer mon domaine moi-même.

[ Posté le 12 mars 2016 à 15:30 | pas de commentaire | ]

Mercredi, 9 décembre 2015


Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Au bout de 6 semaines, j'arrive à taper lentement en aveugle (ou alors vite en faisant énormément de fautes). J'ai tendace à confondre mains droite/gauche et majeur/annulaire. Si je me concentre ça va, mais c'est vite fatigant.

Sur le Typematrix du boulot ça va plus ou moins, mais le clavier normal (donc tordu) de la maison est une plaie, les doigts tombent systématiquement entre les touches du quart droit.

[ Posté le 9 décembre 2015 à 22:18 | pas de commentaire | ]

Samedi, 31 octobre 2015


Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Après 8 jours, ça commence à venir, mais pas vite. Taper en aveugle demande beaucoup de concentration.

BÉPO en disposition par défaut (tout du moins jusqu'au prochain redémarrage du serveur X), Scroll Lock permettant de basculer vers la disposition fi :

setxkbmap "fr,fi" "bepo,classic" "grp:sclk_toggle"

[ Posté le 31 octobre 2015 à 12:12 | pas de commentaire | ]

Dimanche, 25 octobre 2015

Bépo 1

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Vendredi (il y a 2 jours), je me suis mis au BÉPO. C'est dur et je ne tape pas vite. Je fais des exercices.

[ Posté le 25 octobre 2015 à 11:18 | pas de commentaire | ]

Vendredi, 6 mars 2015

It will be URxvt after all...

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

I just switched from using Xterm to using evilvte but then I noticed that evilvte cannot be resize smaller. It can become bigger, but there is no way back. Then I learned that URxvt does everything I want (it even uses the same font as Xterm by default) with a bit of configuration. And it's much more lightweight than evilvte (it doesn't use GTK, that helps).

This is my .Xresources (everything you need to know is in the man page).
*VT100*foreground: black
*VT100*background: white
URxvt.scrollBar: false
URxvt.secondaryScreen: 1
URxvt.secondaryScroll: 0
URxvt.perl-ext-common: default,matcher
! old keyword
URxvt.urlLauncher: firefox
! new keyword
URxvt.url-launcher: firefox
URxvt.matcher.button: 1
URxvt.keysym.C-Up: \033[1;5A
URxvt.keysym.C-Down: \033[1;5B
URxvt.keysym.C-Left: \033[1;5D
URxvt.keysym.C-Right: \033[1;5C
URxvt.keysym.C-Page_Up: \033[5;5 
URxvt.keysym.C-Page_Down: \033[6;5 
You need to merge it with X's resource database
xrdb -merge .Xresources

and then you can run the terminal.

And Firefox just restored the --remote option, so wmnetselect should even work again (until next time, anyway). Let's say it was an opportunity to learn about stuff…

[ Posté le 6 mars 2015 à 19:09 | pas de commentaire | ]

Jeudi, 5 mars 2015

Local Debian Repository

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Since I built a customized Debian package I could as well have my own repository. I started from this tutorial but it's a bit out of date and has a dead link to the reprepro short-howto, so here's a record of what I did.

First, you will need to install the reprepro package.

Then, choose a place where to put your repository (I chose my $HOME). Origin, Label and Description are free-form fields. Codename is the same as my current Debian version, and Architectures matches the architectures I'm using. Then run:
mkdir -p packages/debian/conf
cd packages/debian
cat <<EOF > conf/distributions
Origin: Matthieu
Label: Mathieu's Personal Debs
Codename: wheezy
Architectures: i386 amd64 source
Components: main
Description: Matthieu's Personal Debian Repository
SignWith: yes
DebOverride: override.wheezy
DscOverride: override.wheezy
cat <<EOF > conf/options
basedir .
touch conf/override.wheezy
Now's the time to add the packages. Since SignWith was set to yes in the conf/distributions file, your GPG key will be used for signing the manifest files.
reprepro -Vb . includedeb wheezy  /src/evilvte_0.5.1-1+custom_amd64.deb
reprepro -Vb . includedsc wheezy  /src/evilvte_0.5.1-1+custom.dsc
Next configure your system to use the newly created repository by adding to your /etc/apt/sources.list (replace $HOME with the actual path to your repository):
deb file:$HOME/packages/debian/ wheezy main
deb-src file:$HOME/packages/debian/ wheezy main
Add your GPG key to apt's keyring (replacing KEY-ID with the one of the GPG key that was used when adding the packages earlier):
gpg -a  – export KEY-ID | sudo apt-key add -
You can now run apt-get update and it should pick the content of your local repository. You can check that it is indeed the case:
apt-cache showpkg evilvte
Package: evilvte
0.5.1-1+custom …
0.5.1-1 …

[ Posté le 5 mars 2015 à 23:19 | pas de commentaire | ]

Bitmap Fonts for my Terminal

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Since I started with Linux, back in 1997, my xterm have been using always the same font: a bitmap, fixed font which produces 6x13 pixels glyphs. I'm convinced that a bitmap font is the best possible choice for not-so-high resolution LCD monitors (I have a 17" 1280x1024 monitor which results in a 96 dpi resolution) where any vector font would inevitably produce aliased or fuzzy glyphs. My bitmap font is crisp and has no rainbow edges (who in his right mind could imagine that subpixel antialiasig is a good idea?).

With the xterm, I could simply specify the font as 6x13 and it would use it. That was simple, because it was meant for it.

Today I switched from pure X11 xterm to GTK-based evilvte and while evilvte is apparently a great tool, it didn't want to use my beloved 6x13 bitmap font. It would use 6x12 or 7x13, but not the one in the middle. The font is however available on the system through fontconfig, since I could find it with fc-match:
$ fc-match Fixed-10:style=semicondensed
6x13-ISO8859-1.pcf.gz: "Fixed" "SemiCondensed"
But evilvte, while showing "SemiCondensed" as an option in its font dialog, just seemed to ignore it. The fontconfig documentation mentions that one can trigger debug output by setting an environment variable FC_DEBUG=1. With it, I could see how Pango (GTK's font managemnt system) was interacting with fontconfig:
fc-match Fixed-10:semicondensed
Match Pattern has 19 elts (size 32)
	family: "Fixed"(s) …
	style: "semicondensed"(s)
	slant: 0(i)(s)
	weight: 100(i)(s)
	width: 100(i)(s)
Pattern has 18 elts (size 18)
	family: "Fixed"(w)
	style: "SemiCondensed"(w)
	slant: 0(i)(w)
	weight: 100(i)(w)
	width: 87(i)(w)
	file: "/usr/share/fonts/X11/misc/6x13-ISO8859-1.pcf.gz"(w)

That's the right font file.

While Pango:
python mygtk.py "Fixed SemiCondensed 10"
Match Pattern has 20 elts (size 32)
	family: "Fixed"(s)  …
	slant: 0(i)(s)
	weight: 80(i)(s)
	width: 87(i)(s)
Pattern has 18 elts (size 18)
	family: "Fixed"(w)
	style: "Regular"(w)
	slant: 0(i)(w)
	weight: 80(i)(w)
	width: 100(i)(w)
	file: "/usr/share/fonts/X11/misc/7x13-ISO8859-1.pcf.gz"(w)

And that's not the right font file…

Notice the important difference: fc-match asks for a weight of 100 (and style SemiCondensed) while Pango asks for weight 80 and width 87 (which is apparently equivalent to semi-condensed). Since my font had a weight of 100, it was never selected. However, when requesting a bold version (fc-match Fixed-10:semicondensed:bold or python mygtk.py "Fixed SemiCondensed Bold 10") the same font is found (6x13B-ISO8859-1.pcf.gz, which is the bold counterpart of my font). That took me several hours to find out.

Since the root of the problem seemd to be the weight, I needed to find out how to make Pango tell fontconfig to use a different weight, since there is apparently nothing between “Regular” (Pango 400, fontconfig 80) and “Bold” (Pango 700, fontconfig 200). And then, completely by accident, I found out there is actually a middle value: “Medium” (Pango 500, fontconfig 100), which is exactly what I neeed. But the outdated PyGTK documentation and the well-hidden man page (and very little help from Google and DuckDuckGo in finding a decent documentation for Pango, I must say) didn't make this any easy.

So finally, the magic font description I put in evilvte's config is “Fixed Medium SemiCondensed 10”. With it, Pango selects the font I want:
$ python mygtk.py "Fixed Medium SemiCondensed 10"
Match Pattern has 20 elts (size 32)
	family: "Fixed"(s) …
	slant: 0(i)(s)
	weight: 100(i)(s)
	width: 87(i)(s)
Pattern has 18 elts (size 18)
	family: "Fixed"(w)
	style: "SemiCondensed"(w)
	slant: 0(i)(w)
	weight: 100(i)(w)
	width: 87(i)(w)
file: "/usr/share/fonts/X11/misc/6x13-ISO8859-1.pcf.gz"(w)


The mygtk.py script is a simple GTK tool I wrote for the purpose of using a specific Pango font description and producing the fontconfig debug output. This is the script:
import gtk
import pango
import gobject
import sys
window = gtk.Window(gtk.WINDOW_TOPLEVEL)
tv = gtk.Label("Hello World")
gobject.timeout_add(100, gtk.main_quit)

[ Posté le 5 mars 2015 à 22:14 | pas de commentaire | ]

Customized Debian Package

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Today I switched from using xterm (which I had been using for the past 15 years at least) to using evilvte. The reason is that evilvte allows to click on URLs and opens a new tab in Firefox, while xterm does not. Since Firefox removed the --remote option, wmnetselect did not anymore allow me to open a copied URL. Since wmnetselect has no been updated since forever and has even been removed from Debian, I thought it was time for a radical change (yes, I changed my terminal emulator because of the Web browser. I know).

Evilvte is one of those simplistic tools that you configure by editing the source code (the config.h, really), so I thought that after having done that, I may as well make my own custom Debian package. It wasn't too hard, but since I don't plan to do this regularly, here's the process.

Get the Debianized sources:
apt-get source evilvte
Enter the directory
cd evilvte-0.5.1

Edit the config file (or whatever you want to do for your own package), save it in the right place. In my case, the package contained a debian/config.h customized by the package's maintainer, so I needed to modify this one rather than the src/config.h one. During the building of the package, src/config.h is overwritten by debian/config.h.

Then edit debian/changelog and add a new entry. By doing that, you need to choose a new version number. I wanted to keep the original version number of the package (0.5.1-1) but make it known that it was slightly newer than 0.5.1-1: I decided to go for 0.5.1-1+custom (after discovering that my first choice, 0.5.1-1~custom, means that the package is slightly older than 0.5.1-1 and would therefore have been replaced during the next apt-get dist-upgrade) by 0.5.1-1 . The description of the change is simply “Custom configuration”. For the rest, follow the example of the existing entries in the changelog. Be careful, there are two spaces between the author and the date.

If you have changed the upstream source code instead of only Debia-specific files, the package building helpers will record a patch for your and let you write some comments in the patch file, based on the new entry in the changelog.

Then you just need to build the package:
It will probably ask you for your GPG passphrase (when signing the package), and after that, you're done. The newly created package is in the parent directory, and ready to be installed.
cd ..
sudo dpkg -i evilvte_0.5.1-1+custom_amd64.deb

That's it!

[ Posté le 5 mars 2015 à 21:14 | 3 commentaires | ]

Jeudi, 6 février 2014

Changing GRUB from EFI to BIOS

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

My new computer has a UEFI firmware. I installed Debian Wheezy, which in turn installed the EFI variant of GRUB. For that purpose, the Debian installer made the first partition on the hard disk drive of type VFAT and mounted in /boot/efi.

My problem is that GRUB tends to freeze, either just before booting the kernel (showing forever “Loading initial ramdisk”) or just after the welcome message (“Welcome to Grub!”). Pressing the computer's reset button allowed to reboot the computer, and everying went then fine. It seems to be possible to reproduce the bug at will by switching off the power supply, waiting 15 seconds for the capacitors to get empty and then reboot the computer. Booting however also hangs quite often after powering the computer off in software (where the power supply still provides some power to the motherboard).

I read here and there that EFI GRUB was quite buggy, so I decided to switch to PC GRUB (the variant for booting with the Legacy firmware, aka BIOS).

In a first attempt, I configured the motherboard's firmware to use “Legacy ROM only” instead of “UEFI only”. Debian continued to boot normally with the still installed EFI GRUB, and the freeze when rebooting after having switched off the power supply seemed to have disappeared. It howerver froze again today and so I decided to change from EFI GRUB to BIOS GRUB.

I first ran apt-get install grub-pc, which complained that
/usr/sbin/grub-setup: warn: This GPT partition label has no BIOS Boot
 Partition; embedding won't be possible!.
/usr/sbin/grub-setup: warn: Embedding is not possible.
 GRUB can only be installed in this setup by using blocklists.
 However, blocklists are UNRELIABLE and their use is discouraged..

After a bit of research on the Web, I found someone's advice to change the flag of the FAT partition to bios_grub. I then forced the reinstallation of grub-pc with apt-get install --reinstall grub-pc, which didn't complain anymore.

On the next reboot however, the startup script indicated that “fsck died with status 6”. I found out that it tried to check the VFAT partition, but since GRUB is now installed there, it is not anymore recognized as a VFAT partition, and fsck was legitimately skipping it. parted confirmed that fact, and blkid does not list the VFAT partition anymore either. I therefore commented it out in /etc/fstab and now the boot does not fail anymore.

[ Posté le 6 février 2014 à 19:23 | pas de commentaire | ]

Dimanche, 15 septembre 2013

Instantiating Many Objects in Python

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

I have a list of files in a text file, and I want to load this list into some kind of data structure. The list is quite long, and requires to instantiate 100,000 objects in Python, all of the same type. I found out that depending on what kind of object is used, the time it takes to instantiate all these can vary greatly. Essentially, each line of the file is composed of tab-separated fields, which are split into a list with Python's str.split() method. The question therefore is: what should I do with that list?

The object must hold a few values, so basically a list or a tuple would be enough. However, I need to perform various operations on those values, so additional methods would be handy and justify the use of a more complex object.

The Contenders

These are the objects I compared:

A simple list, as returned by str.split(). It is not very handy, but will serve as a reference.

A simple tuple, no more handy than the list, but it may exhibit better performance (or not).

A class named List that inherits from list:
class List(list):
  def a(self): return self[0]
  def b(self): return self[1]
  def c(self): return self[2]
A class named Tuple that inherits from tuple:
class Tuple(tuple):
  def a(self): return self[0]
  def b(self): return self[1]
  def c(self): return self[2]
A class named ListCustomInitList that inherits from List and adds a custom __init__() method:
class ListCustomInitList(List):
  def __init__(self, *args): List.__init__(self, args)
A class named TupleCustomInitTuple that inherits from Tuple and adds a custom __init__() method:
class TupleCustomInitTuple(Tuple):
  def __init__(self, *args): Tuple.__init__(self)
A class named ListCustomInit that inherits from the list basic type but has the same features as ListCustomInitList instead of inheriting them from the custom List:
class ListCustomInit(list):
  def __init__(self, *args): list.__init__(self, args)
  def a(self): return self[0]
  def b(self): return self[1]
  def c(self): return self[2]
A class named TupleCustomInit that inherits from tuple basic type but has the same features as TupleCustomInitTuple instead of inheriting them from the custom Tuple:
class TupleCustomInit(tuple):
  def __init__(self, *args): tuple.__init__(self)
  def a(self): return self[0]
  def b(self): return self[1]
  def c(self): return self[2]
A class named NamedTuple that is made from the namedtuple type in the collections module:
NamedTuple = namedtuple("NamedTuple", ("a", "b", "c"))
A very basic class named Class and that inherits from object:
class Class(object):
  def __init__(self, args):
    self.a = args[0]
    self.b = args[1]
    self.c = args[2]
A variant of the previous that uses the __slots__ feature:
class Slots(object):
  __slots__ = ("a", "b", "c")
  def __init__(self, args):
    self.a = args[0]
    self.b = args[1]
    self.c = args[2]
A old-style class, named OldClass, that does not inherit from object:
class OldClass:
  def __init__(self, args):
    self.a = args[0]
    self.b = args[1]
    self.c = args[2]

The Benchmark

Each class is instantiated 100,000 times in a loop, with the same, constant input data: ["a", "b", "c"]; the newly created object is then appended to a list. This process it timed by calling time.clock() before and after it and retaining the difference between the two values. The time.clock() method has quite a poor resolution, but is immune to the process being set to sleep by the operating systems's scheduler.

This is then repeated 10 times, and the smallest of these 10 values is retained as the performance of the process.

The Results

The results from the benchmark are shown relatively the speed of using a simple list. As expected, the use of a simple list is the fastest, since it requires not additional object instantiation. Below are the results:

  • 1.000 list
  • 2.455 tuple
  • 3.273 Tuple
  • 3.455 List
  • 4.636 Slots
  • 5.818 NamedTuple
  • 6.364 OldClass
  • 6.455 Class
  • 6.909 TupleCustomInit
  • 7.091 TupleCustomInitTuple
  • 7.545 ListCustomInit
  • 7.818 ListCustomInitList


One can draw several conclusions from this experiment:

  • Not instantiating anything is much faster, even instantiating a simple tuple out of the original list increases the run time by 150%
  • The slots feature makes object instantiation 28% faster compared to a regular class
  • Deriving a class from a basic type and adding a custom __init__() method that calls the parent's __init__() adds a lot of overhead (instantiation is 7 to 8 times slower)

[ Posté le 15 septembre 2013 à 15:13 | pas de commentaire | ]

Jeudi, 21 mars 2013

Password Strength

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Passwords are difficult to generate and to remember, and once you finally know how to type yours quicky, you don't want to change it. That's usually the time when someone is forcing you to change it… Here is a synthesis of what I've found out about how to generate secure passwords.

Entropy as a measure of password strengh

The strength of a password is usually expressed as its entropy, measured in bits. In a nutshell, it expresses the total number of different passwords that can be created (given some construction rules), represented as the base 2 logarithm of that total number. For example, if you know that a password is composed of a single character which may be a letter (uppercase or lowercase), a digit, a white space or a period (which conveniently makes 64 different symbols: 26 lower case letters, plus 26 uppercase letters plus 10 digits plus 2 punctuation symbols), the entropy of that password is 6 bits (because 26 = 64). Non-integer entropy values are valid, so for example a single lowercase letter has an entropy of approximately 4.7 (because 24.7 ≈ 26). The addition of one bit of entropy multiplies the total number of different possible passwords by 2; a password made of 2 characters (64 symbols: upper/lowercase letters, digits and 2 punctuation signs) has therefore an entropy of 12 bits and a password made of 8 lowercase letters has an entropy of 37.6 bits.

The human factor

The above entropy measurement is true only if the password is truly randomly generated, and that each symbol has an equal probability of being selected. Humans seem to be rather bad at generating random passwords, and in Special Publication 800-63, the entropy of a human-generated password of length 8 is estimated to have an entropy of 18 bits.

Moreover, if the password is a word from a natural language, the number of possible different passwords is equal to the size of the vocabulary in that language; for English language this is estimated to be between 250,000 words. The entropy of a password made of a single English word is therefore approximately 17.9 bits.

Forcing more entropy

To increase the entropy of human-generated passwords, it is quite common to enforce rules, such as a minimum length, the use of more symbols than just the 26 lowercase letters and forbidding the use of common words. The NIST report above estimates that the additional symbols add 6 bits of entropy and the dictionary check adds 5 bits. An 8 character password following all the rules above is therefore estimated to have an entropy of 30 bits. For comparison, a randonly-generated password of 8 character chosen amongst the most common symbols on a computer keyword (80 symbols) has an entropy of 50.6 bits

Such password become however difficult to remember, especially if you have to memorize several of them and are forced to change them every few months.

And they are still pretty insecure.

Cracking passwords

There are two different methods for cracking a password.

The first method consists in connecting to the service asking for the password, and trying passwords until the right one is found. This method is slow, one can expect to test at most a few dozen of passwords per second (let's say 100 passwords per second). Using the entropy to measure the strength of the attack, that represents 6.6 bits per second, or 23.0 bits/day, or 27.9 bits/month, or 31.5 bits/year.

This gives the following times:

  • 18 bits password: at most 45 minutes
  • 30 bits password: at most 128 days
  • 50.6 bits password: at most 560,000 years

The thing here is that reasonnably secure services will not allow that many trials.

The second method for cracking passwords requires a list of encrypted passwords e.g., stolen from a badly secured service. Depending on the encryption algorithm used with those passwords and the hardware at hand, one can expect an attacker to try between 2,000 and 15,500,000,000 passwords per second (between 11 and 33.8 bits/s) with a standard desktop computer (equipped with a modern GPU).

This gives the following times:

  • 18 bits password: at best 128 seconds, at worst a few microseconds
  • 30 bits password: at best 6 days, at worst less than a second
  • 50.6 bits password: at best 274 years, at worst 32 hours.

How many bits are needed?

The times indicated above represent the maximum time needed for cracking the password. There is a 50% chance of cracking it in half that time, and a 10% chance of cracking it in a tenth of that time.

So if a password needs to be safe for at least 1 year, the time needed for cracking it needs to be at least a year i.e., 33.8 + 24.9 = 58.7 bits (entropy of the number of passwords tested per second plus the “entropy” of the number of seconds per year). There is however a chance that the password will be cracked in less time. Adding 1 bit of entropy will reduce the attacker's chance of finding the password in a given time by half, and adding 10 bits reduces it to 1 chance out of 1024 to crack it in that time. 7 bits would reduce it to 1 chance out of 128, which may be sufficient as well.

How to generate such a password?

A 68.7 bits password means 15 lowercase letters, or 11 common-keyboard-symbols. These have to be selected by a true random process, such as dice rolls, nuclear desintegration or electronic thermal noise. 6-sided dice are easy to come by, and the Diceware method is probably the easiest one for generating secure and easy-to-remember passwords. A rolls of 5 dice allows to select one word in a list of 7,776, providing 12.9 bits of entropy. The strenght of the password therefore depends on the number of words that are selected (by repeatedly rolling 5 dice):

  • 1 word: 12.9 bits, cracked in less than a microsecond
  • 2 words: 25.8 bits, cracked in less than 4 milliseconds
  • 3 words: 38.3 bits, cracked in less than 30 seconds
  • 4 words: 51.6 bits, cracked in less than 2 days
  • 5 words: 64.5 bits, cracked in less than 55 years
  • 6 words: 77.4 bits, cracked in less than 423,000 years
  • 7 words: 90.3 bits, cracked in less than 3231 million years

The Diceware method also allows to add a random non-letter symbol to the password, adding about 9.5 bits of entropy for a 20 character password (about 5 words). Therefore a 5-word password with one random symbol can be considered secure for at least a few years.

How long will the password be safe?

Between 2002 and 2011, CPU and GPU computing power has been multiplied by 10 and 100 respectively i.e., +0.37 and +0.74 bits/year regarding password cracking. The rate of growth will probably not remain that high, but if one wants to keep a password for more than a year or two, it should be taken into consideration. For example, if a password must remain safe for the 4 next years, add 3 bits. The 5-word password with one random symbol will therefore be safe for the next 7 years.

One must also consider that computer clusters become affordable, and that a 25-GPU computer has been built exactly for the purpose of cracking passwords. This type of machine adds about 4 bits to capacity of cracking encrypted password (the “second method” above). That makes the 5-word diceware passphrase safe for barely over a year. Finally, cloud computing and parasitic computing using cloud-based browsers may reduce the safety period even further.


The only truly secure passwords are long and truly random; any other method for generating passwords will lead to easily crackable passwords, and is therefore giving a false sense of security. Long enough passwords need to be changed, but not too often; 3 years is a reasonnable lifetime. The Diceware method allows to generate such password in a simple way.

Finally, memorizing a lot of passwords is difficult and induces people to reuse the same passwords. There is a simple solution to that, promoted by Bruce Schneier: write down your password and keep it in your wallet.

[ Posté le 21 mars 2013 à 22:50 | pas de commentaire | ]

Lundi, 10 décembre 2012

Ugly Ruby

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

A few months ago, I started to use ruby for work. Twice I burnt my fingers on the following behaviour in Ruby:

def foo
puts "foo = #{foo.inspect}"
if foo.nil?
  foo = "quux"
  puts "Not coming here"
puts "foo = #{foo.inspect}"
The method foo returns the string "bar", which is therefore not nil. The result any sane coder expects would be
foo = "bar"
foo = "bar"
What actually comes out when you run this snippet is
foo = "bar"
foo = nil

I remember reading that in order to decide whether foo is a call to the foo method or the use of the local variable foo, Ruby checks the code before for any assignment to foo. As it happens, the local variable foo gets assigned inside the if clause, but the statement is never executed. My guess is that Ruby then decides that the local variable foo is put to use after the if clause, but is never actually assigned to, and therefore its value is nil. As it happens, the foo method still exists and returns "bar", as expected, when called as foo().

[ Posté le 10 décembre 2012 à 22:30 | pas de commentaire | ]

Mardi, 15 mai 2012

E-mail Git Patches

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique/Git ]

This is, in a nutshell, how to send commits to the (single) maintainer of a project by e-mail.

Add the maintainer's e-mail address to the repository's config:
git config --set sendemail.to "John Smith <john.smith@example.com>"
Make a set of patches from the commits e.g.,
git format-patch HEADˆ
git format-patch origin/master..master

Send the patches by e-mail:

git send-email *.patch
(this sends one e-mail per patch).

On the receiving side, the maintainer can then feed the content of each e-mail into git am to apply the patches and record new commits.

The git send-email command is packaged separately in Debian, the package git-email needs to be installed.

This post is based on this page from the Chromium project.

[ Posté le 15 mai 2012 à 19:47 | pas de commentaire | ]

Lundi, 14 mai 2012

More Git Recipes

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique/Git ]

Resolve a binary file conflict with Git

Found on lostechies.com

In case of conflict with a binary file during a merge, you have two choices for resolving it:

  • Use your own version:
    git add thefile
  • Use the other version:
    git checkout --theirs -- thefile; git add thefile

Then commit the changes.

Show the content of a deleted file

Found on stackoverflow.com

git show commitid:path/to/file

The trick here is that one must use the full path to the file (relatively to the repository's root)

Restore a deleted file in a Git repo

Found on stackoverflow.com

Find the last commit where the file was deleted:
git rev-list -n 1 HEAD -- thefile
Then checkout the file from the commit before that:
git checkout commitid -- thefile

[ Posté le 14 mai 2012 à 13:39 | pas de commentaire | ]

Samedi, 24 mars 2012

Task-Based JeeNode Communication

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Bricolage/Arduino | Informatique ]

For my car heater controller I decided to use Alan Burlison's scheduler. I like it, because it leaves the main program file reasonnably short and allows to separate the code into multiple objects. I don't know if it makes the software more or less easy to write/maintain, but I find it fun to do it this way, and that's all that counts.

To implement 2-way communication between the JeeLink (master) and the JeeNode (slave) using Jean-Claude Wippler's RF12 library, I created a Listener object and a Speaker object that deal with receiving data and sending data respectively, while the Protocol object implements the higher-level protocol.

Here' how the slave's .pde file looks like. Notice how it contains only definitions and a bit of initialization, but no big mess of code?

#define NB_ELEMENTS(a) sizeof(a) / sizeof(a[0])
Speaker speaker;
Protocol protocol(&speaker);
Listener listener(&protocol);
Task * tasks[] = { &listener, &speaker };
TaskScheduler scheduler(tasks, NB_ELEMENTS(tasks));
void setup() {
  rf12_initialize(SLAVE_ID, RF12_868MHZ, HEATER_GROUP);
void loop() {
  scheduler.run(); // infinite loop
Here's a sample of the slave's Listener.
class Listener: public Task { // Task from Alan Burlison's scheduler
    Listener(Protocol * protocol):
    bool canRun(uint32_t now); // Taks's interface
    void run(uint32_t now);    // Task's interface
    Protocol * protocol;    // higher-level protocol handler
    uint8_t recv_buffer[BUFFER_LEN];
    uint8_t recv_buffer_len;
bool Listener::canRun(uint32_t now) {
  if (rf12_recvDone())
    return (rf12_crc == 0 &&  rf12_len <= BUFFER_LEN);
  return false;
void Listener::run(uint32_t now) {
  recv_buffer_len = rf12_len;
  memcpy((void *)recv_buffer, (void *)rf12_data, recv_buffer_len);
  if (rf12_hdr == (RF12_HDR_CTL | (MASTER_ID & RF12_HDR_MASK)))
  else {
    if (RF12_WANTS_ACK) {
      rf12_sendStart(RF12_ACK_REPLY, 0, 0);
    protocol->handle(recv_buffer, recv_buffer_len);

And there's the slave's Speaker. Note that the Spaker tries to send data only if its buffer_len is greater than zero. This prevents calling rf12_canSend() when it's not necessary (according to the RF12 driver, you must not call rf12_canSend() only if you intend to send data immediately after calling it). When the Protocol wants to send something, it needs to get the Speaker's buffer with get_buffer(), fill the buffer with data, and then call send(). Also, I implemented a retry mechanism in case no ACK has been received from the master.

class Speaker: public Task { // Task from Alan Burlison's scheduler
    uint8_t* get_buffer();
    void send(uint8_t len, bool ack);
    void got_ack(); // called by the Protocol when it gets an ACK
    bool canRun(uint32_t now);  // Task interface
    void run(uint32_t now);     // Task interface
    uint8_t buffer[BUFFER_LEN];
    uint8_t buffer_len;
    bool with_ack;
    uint8_t retry_count;
    unsigned long next_retry_millis;
bool Speaker::canRun(uint32_t now) {
  if (buffer_len > 0 && retry_count > 0
                     && millis() > next_retry_millis)
    return rf12_canSend();
  return false;
void Speaker::run(uint32_t now) {
  if (with_ack && retry_count == 1) {
    buffer_len = 0;
  uint8_t header = (with_ack ? RF12_HDR_ACK : 0)
                  | RF12_HDR_DST | MASTER_ID;
  rf12_sendStart(header, buffer, buffer_len);
  if (with_ack) {
    retry_count  – ;
    next_retry_millis = millis() + SEND_RETRY_TIMEOUT;
    buffer_len = 0;
void Speaker::send(uint8_t len, bool ack) {
  with_ack = ack;
  buffer_len = len;
  retry_count = SEND_RETRY_COUNT + 1;
  next_retry_millis = millis();
void Speaker::got_ack() {
  buffer_len = 0;

The master's code is very similar, you can check it there.

[ Posté le 24 mars 2012 à 16:17 | pas de commentaire | ]

Lundi, 13 février 2012

Git Status in Shell Prompt

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique/Git ]

I thought it would be very convenient to see from the shell's prompt what branch I am currently working on. Of course, someone had got that idea well before me, and I found this implementation and this variant (the second adds space between the name of the branch and the symbols indicating the state of the branch relative to the remote branch it is tracking).

[ Posté le 13 février 2012 à 15:30 | pas de commentaire | ]

Vendredi, 11 novembre 2011

Traffic Shaping

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

I have an asymetrical ADSL connecion (1024 kbps downstream, 512 kbps upstream) and when I'm downloading a large file, SSH connections become unresponsive. After a bit of reading, I found one traffic shaping script that allows to keep responsive interactive SSH connections, at the cost of a slightly limited download speed. The explanations are from the Linux advanced routing and traffic control howto, in the cookbook chapter.

The explanations goes like this:

“ISPs know that they are benchmarked solely on how fast people can download. Besides available bandwidth, download speed is influenced heavily by packet loss, which seriously hampers TCP/IP performance. Large queues can help prevent packet loss, and speed up downloads. So ISPs configure large queues.

These large queues however damage interactivity. A keystroke must first travel the upstream queue, which may be seconds (!) long and go to your remote host. It is then displayed, which leads to a packet coming back, which must then traverse the downstream queue, located at your ISP, before it appears on your screen.

This HOWTO teaches you how to mangle and process the queue in many ways, but sadly, not all queues are accessible to us. The queue over at the ISP is completely off-limits, whereas the upstream queue probably lives inside your cable modem or DSL device. You may or may not be able to configure it. Most probably not.

So, what next? As we can't control either of those queues, they must be eliminated, and moved to your Linux router. Luckily this is possible.

Limit upload speed By limiting our upload speed to slightly less than the truly available rate, no queues are built up in our modem. The queue is now moved to Linux.

Limit download speed This is slightly trickier as we can't really influence how fast the internet ships us data. We can however drop packets that are coming in too fast, which causes TCP/IP to slow down to just the rate we want. Because we don't want to drop traffic unnecessarily, we configure a 'burst' size we allow at higher speed.”

It really does wonders, on the condition that you set the DOWNLINK speed to 800 kbps (80% of my downlink) and the UPLINK to 440 kbps (85% of my uplink). I tried with 900 kpbs instead of 800, and it didn't work. One day, I will take the time to think about the why, but for now I'm just happy that it works properly.

Next step: try to get this to work on the ADSL modem/router (luckily running linux and accessible with ssh) instead of the desktop.

[ Posté le 11 novembre 2011 à 22:09 | pas de commentaire | ]

Mercredi, 2 novembre 2011

Git in a (Very Small) Nutshell

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique/Git ]

When I started to use git and read the man pages, I was sorely missing a brief description of how Git's features and concepts relate. Now that I finally understand (at least, I think) how Git works, I wrote this document. It's not a tutorial (the existing ones are good enough that I don't need to write another one), but rather a summary of how Git's main features relate to the jargon used in the man pages.

Saving your changes

Let's say you have a set of files in your working tree. Git works by saving a full copy (snapshot) of this set; this is called a commit. When you want to make a new commit using Git, you first need to tell Git which files are going to be part of this commit. You do this with the git add my_file command. The files are then added to the index, which is the list of files that are going to compose the commit. You then run git commit, which creates a new commit based on the files listed in the index. You are also prompted for a message that describes the commit. The message is structured with a heading (the first line of the message) separated by an empty line, from the body of the message. Lines starting with a hash symbol are comments and are not recorded into the message.

Adding a new file to the index and creating a commit containing this file has the side effect of letting Git track this file. If you want to create a commit composed of all the tracked files, you can run git commit -a, which implicitely adds all the tracked files to the index before creating a new commit.

A commit is identified by a SHA1 hash of its content, e.g, cdf18108b03386e1b755c1f3a3feaa30f9529390. Any non-ambiguous prefix of that hash can be used as a commit ID e.g., cdf1810.

The add/commit mechanism allows to split a set of changes into multiple commits (you create a commit for a subset of your files, then you create another commit for the rest of your files).

Creating a new repository

For a new project

The command git init creates a repository in the current directory (a .git directory that holds all the data necessary for Git to work). You can then add the files you need to have under version control (using git add, wildcards such as '*' are accepted) and create the initial commit with git commit.

Copying an existing repository

To copy an existing repository, use the git clone command. Most services that offer source code as Git repositories indicate the necessary Git command line to run.

Finding a commit

To view a summary of the changes that have happened in the repository, you can use git log; the top of the list is the most recent commit. To view the succession of changes (as diffs) that were made, use git log -p.

Git does its best not to lose anything you have recorded. The command git reflog shows a log of how the tip of branches have been updated, even if you have done acrobatic things.


When you make changes to your working tree and create a new commit, Git links the new commit to the commit that represents the state of the working directory before the changes (called in this context the parent of the new commit). The chain composed of the new commit, its parent, its parent's parent and so on, is called a branch. The name of the default branch is “master”. The most recent commit in a branch is called its HEAD.

A branch is nothing more than a name and the commit identifier of its tip; this is called a ref. For example refs/heads/master is the ref for the master branch. Finding the commits that compose the branch is a simple matter of following the tip's parent, and the parent's parent, and so on.

If you can decide to fork your work at some point, create a new branch by running git branch new_branch. This command creates the branch, but does not switch to that branch (changes and commits will still be appended to the current branch). To effectively change branch, you need to checkout the HEAD of the new branch by running git checkout new_branch. From this point on, changes and commits will be appended to the new branch.


If at some point it is necessary to merge the content of e.g., the new branch into the “master” branch, you need to checkout “master” and then run git merge new_branch.

If Git doesn't know how to merge two branches, it complains about conflicts and lets the user edit the incriminated files by hand. This is done by choosing, in sections of these files indicated with <<<<<< and >>>>>>> markers, which variant is to be retained. Once the editing has been made, the changes need to be committed (with git commit -a).

Checking out

You can checkout any commit with git checkout and thus have your working directory reflect the state of the repository at any point in time. When you do that, you are not on any branch anymore, which will cause various warning messages (such as “You are in 'detached HEAD' state”) and cause Git to behave in a way you may not expect (that is, if you don't understand properly yet how Git works). To go back to a “normal” situation, just run git branch master (or any other branch that exists). To prevent going into detached HEAD state, use git checkout -b new_branch to create a new branch that starts at <commit>.

If you have made local changes, Git won't let you checkout another branch. You must either commit them or reset the working tree before being allowed to do the checkout.


The command git reset allows to do multiple things. One of its most common use (git reset --hard) is to cancel all changes you have made to the working tree since the last commit.

If you specify a commit ID after git reset, it will move the HEAD of the current branch back to that commit, which becomes the new HEAD; all commits after this point are removed from the branch (but not from the repository! You can always restore the old HEAD by finding its commit ID with git reflog).

Working with remote repositories

Pull (and Fetch)

Some time after you have cloned a public repository, you may want to update your local copy so that it mathtches the latest version available at the original repository. This update is done with with git pull. When the repository was cloned, Git had created a remote (a link to the source repository) called by default “origin”. Below the hood, git pull calls git fetch to retrieve the commits from all the relevant branches on “origin”, and then calls git merge to merge those changes with the local current branch.

Note that refs/remotes/origin/master is the ref to the master branch at “origin”, but it is actually a branch stored locally that reflects the “master” branch on the “origin” repository. This kind of ref is used for specifying what remote branch is tracked by what local branch when using git fetch. Typically, +refs/heads/:refs/remotes/origin/ indicates that e.g., the local branch “master” tracks the remote branch “origin/master” (“*” represents a wildcard).


If you have writing permissions on the remote repository, you can send your changes using git push (it defaults to the “origin” remote). Note that the HEAD of the branch to which you push changes must be the parent of your changes. If this is not the case, the push will fail and you will be asked to first pull from the remote repository to get the latest version, fix potential conflicts and only then push your changes.

It is also important to remember that you cannot normally push to a repository that has a working tree. The remote repository must have been created with the git init --bare command.

[ Posté le 2 novembre 2011 à 08:36 | pas de commentaire | ]

Dimanche, 23 octobre 2011

Git Recipes

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique/Git ]

Here are a few recipes I use with git.

Using git log

Show which files have been modified by the commits: git log --name-status

View the successive changes for a given file: git log -p -- my_file (latest change first)

View the changes at word-level instead of line-level: git log --color-words

Make --color-words more readable with LaTeX files: add *.tex diff=tex to the repository's .git/info/attributes or to your $HOME/.gitattributes (read man gitattributes for more info on this, it supports other languages too)

Browseable Web Repository

To make an online, browsable web repository on a web server (I assume you have ssh access to it).

On the server, run:
$ mkdir some_directory
$ cd some_directory
$ git init
$ git config receive.denyCurrentBranch ignore
$ cat > .git/hooks/post-receive <<EOF
GIT_WORK_TREE=.. git checkout -f
GIT_WORK_TREE=.. git update-server-info --force
$ chmod a+x .git/hooks/post-receive
The in the source repository, run:
$ git remote add web username@my.web.server:path/to/some_directory/.git
$ git push web master

(“username”, “my.web.server” and “path/to/” are exactly what you think they are.) Note the “.git” at the end of the path, it has to be there because git push is going to send its data into that directory.

When you run git push web master to upload the content of the source repository to the web repository, the post-receive hook checks out the latest version. The next time, you don't need to specify the “master” branch any more, simply running git push web is enough.

[ Posté le 23 octobre 2011 à 15:57 | pas de commentaire | ]

Mercredi, 12 octobre 2011


Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

Autofs allows to automatically mount a filesystem when changing directory to the mounting point. The process is frozen while the file system is being mounted, and then the chdir() completes and enters the root of newly mounted filesystem.

I have been using autofs for several years, at first for mounting USB sticks, but now also for SMB shares and SSHFS. It is meant to be used for command-line users, I don't doubt that modern desktop environments provide the same features for GUI users.

The following describes my setup on a Debian Squeeze; there may be a more modern way of doing things (the original setup was on a Debian Sarge). I assume that you know how to administrate a Debian system (in other words, I won't be held responsible for damaging your system if you follow those instructions without understanding what they mean).


The first step is to install the autofs, bsdutils, coreutils, lockfile-progs, gawk (or mawk), sed and the util-linux packages (most of those are probably installed already). The wget package (and command) allows me to write concise commands below, but feel free to use any other tool to download the necessary files from my web page.

USB Automounter

This setup allows to mount automatically any USB Mass Storage device, without the need to manually configure anything (as is the case in this Debian tutorial).

Edit as root the /etc/auto.master and add the following line:

/media  /etc/auto.usb  --timeout=3

Then run the following as root:

# mkdir -p /media
# mkdir -p /var/run/usbautomount
# mkdir -p /etc/usbautomount
# wget -O /etc/usbautomount/usbautomount http://weber.fi.eu.org/software/autofs/usbautomount
# chmod 755 /etc/usbautomount/usbautomount
# wget -O /etc/udev/usbautomount.rules http://weber.fi.eu.org/software/autofs/usbautomount.rules
# cd /etc/udev/rules.d
# ln -s ../usbautomount.rules z60_usbautomount.rules
# /etc/init.d/autofs restart

You then need to edit /etc/usbautomount/usbautomount to change references to mweber to your own username, and possibly change the mounting options (see line 142 of the script). I still use latin1 as a character encoding, so I want filenames to be automatically translated into latin1 for VFAT filesystems. Other filesystems are mounted without particular options.

The idea here is that when you plug a USB Mass Storage device into the computer, udev runs the usbautomount script that creates a name based on the USB device's vendor, model, instance (in the case the physical device contains more than one USB Mass Storage device, such as multi-card readers or smartphones with internal and removable flash memory) and partition number, creates a symlink in /var/run/usbautomount that points to a directory of the same name in /media. When you access the symlink, automount creates the directory in /media and mounts the file system from the USB device to that directory.

If you chdir() out of that directory, after 3 seconds automount unmounts the filesystem. If you chdir() into the directory again, automount mounts it again. The short timeout for automatic unmounting allows to unplug the device almost immediately after cd-ing out of the mount point (provided that there is no data to be written onto the device anymore). When you unplug the device, a script (generated by usbautomount when the device was plugged in) is run to remove the symlink from /var/run/usbautomount.

The cherry on the cake of this setup is the following:

$ mkdir $HOME/mnt
$ ln -s /var/run/usbautomount $HOME/mnt/USB

This way, $HOME/mnt/USB is automatically populated with links to the devices that you plug to your computer.

SMB/CIFS shares

The smbclient and cifs-utils packages need to be installed.

Run as root:

# mkdir -p /mnt/smb

Edit as root the /etc/auto.master and add the following line:

/mnt/smb  /etc/auto.smb  --timeout=10

(/etc/auto.smb comes with the autofs package).

Run this as your regular user:

$ ln -s /mnt/smb $HOME/mnt/smb

If you have an SMB/CIFS server named "foo" containing shares called "bar" and "quux", then going into /mnt/smb/foo will mount "bar" and "quux" in /mnt/smb/foo/bar and /mnt/smb/foo/quux. Automatic unmounting will happen 10 seconds after leaving /mnt/smb/foo.

If "foo" requires credentials (login and password), you can put them in /etc/auto.smb.foo as follows:

username = my_username
password = my_password


SSHFS itself requires some amount of setup. I will assume in the following that the client computer is called "local" and it accesses using SSH and SSHFS a remote computer called "remote" with user "user".

First, install the sshfs package. Then you need to create an SSH key for root@client, and authorize this key for user@remote. In the end, root@local must be able to log into user@remote using an SSH key instead of a password.

Once this is working, run as root:

# mkdir -p /mnt/ssh

Then edit /etc/auto.master as root and add the line:

/mnt/ssh  /etc/auto.ssh  --timeout=10,--ghost

Then create /etc/auto.ssh and add a line that looks like this (change the "user", and "remote" as needed):

remote -fstype=fuse,rw,nodev,nonempty,noatime,allow_other,max_read=65536 :sshfs\#user@remote\:

By default, SSHFS will mount the home directory of "user@remote" into /mnt/ssh/remote. If you need to acces another directory (e.g., /tmp), just append this path to the end of the line in /etc/auto.ssh:

remote-tmp -fstype=fuse,rw,nodev,nonempty,noatime,allow_other,max_read=65536 :sshfs\#user@remote\:/tmp

Finally, run this as your regular user:

$ ln -s /mnt/ssh $HOME/mnt/ssh


It just came to my mind the other day that I could automount CD and DVD as well, but I haven't thought about the details yet. I remember the feature to be very annoying in Solaris twelve years ago, where the system was mounting the CD in a directory named after the label of the CD's filesystem, and never removing this directory. After mounting a few discs, the automount directory was filled with various directories with abtruse names, and you had to guess which one contained your data (I suppose mount would have told me what I wanted to know, I don't remeber if I tried that).

[ Posté le 12 octobre 2011 à 11:49 | 3 commentaires | ]

Dimanche, 18 septembre 2011

Tréma manuel en LaTeX

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

La fonte Stork Bill ne possède pas de caractère accentué du tout. Pour fignoler le livret de règles du Decktet, il me fallait un “ä” et un “ö” pour écrire “Quäsenbö” (le titre d'un jeu). J'ai donc bricolé un tréma à la main à partir de deux points:

\@tempdima -.5\wd\@tempboxa
\@tempdimb 1.1\ht\@tempboxa
\advance\@tempdima -.5\wd\@tempboxa

La commande s'utilise de cette manière:


Le résultat est potable pour la fonte en question, qui en tant que fonte décorative n'a pas besoin d'être parfaitement régulière, mais ne donne rien de bon avec par exemple lmodern (qui n'en a pas besoin de toutes façons puisque cette dernière contient déjà les caractères accentués idoines).

[ Posté le 18 septembre 2011 à 15:52 | pas de commentaire | ]

Jeudi, 8 septembre 2011

Autofs and CD drive

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

After yesterday's tutorial on Autofs, I gave some thought on using Autofs to automatically mount a CD/DVD. Here's the result (read the previous tutorial first for complete information).

Run as root:

# mkdir -p /mnt/cdrom

Then edit /etc/auto.master as root and add the line:

/mnt/cdrom  /etc/auto.cdrom  --timeout=10

Then create /etc/auto.cdrom and add a line that looks like this (change /dev/cdrom to the proper device if needed):

cd1   -fstype=iso9660,ro,nosuid,nodev :/dev/cdrom

(shamelessly copied from the supplied /etc/auto.misc). Finally, run this as your regular user:

$ ln -s /mnt/cdrom/cd1 $HOME/mnt/cdrom

This setup is a bit crooked, because autofs is designed to watch one directory (/mnt/cdrom in this case) and create different subdirectories for different devices. In this case howerver we have only one device, that we mount always to the same point. On the brighter side, if you have more than one CD/DVD/floppy/zip drive, you can rename references to cdrom as removable, and add multiple lines to /etc/auto.removable, one for each drive. See /etc/auto.misc (that file comes by default with the autofs package) for extra possibilities of configuration.

[ Posté le 8 septembre 2011 à 15:59 | pas de commentaire | ]

Mardi, 23 août 2011

Dieharder Test

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]


It took about a week to generate a bit over 100 MB of random data with the arduino-based hardware random number generator. I used the JeeLink-based one, and the last chunk of random data (50 MB) was generated at a speed of 1562 bits/s.

And now for some statistical tests.

Fourmilab's ent test returns:

Entropy = 7.999998 bits per byte.
Optimum compression would reduce the size
of this 106315776 byte file by 0 percent.
Chi square distribution for 106315776 samples is 240.83, and randomly
would exceed this value 72.90 percent of the times.
Arithmetic mean value of data bytes is 127.4987 (127.5 = random).
Monte Carlo value for Pi is 3.140987091 (error 0.02 percent).
Serial correlation coefficient is 0.000165 (totally uncorrelated = 0.0).

I also ran the Dieharder test suite, which ran 40 tests on the data. Out of those, I got:

  • 34 PASSED
  • 1 POOR (1 RGB Bit Distribution Test out of 12 instances of the test)
  • 2 POSSIBLY WEAK (Diehard OPSO and Diehard Squeeze Test)
  • 3 FAILED (Diehard Sums Test and two instances of Marsaglia and Tsang GCD Test)

At the end of the series of tests, the software indicates that “The file file_input_raw was rewound 181 times”, meaning that I should get a lot more random data than 100 MB (ideally 18 GB, which means running the generator for 3.5 years) not to have the rewind the file for any of the tests.

The important question is however: 34 passed out of 40, is it good enough or not?

[ Posté le 23 août 2011 à 10:48 | 2 commentaires | ]

Jeudi, 18 août 2011

A More Complicated PasswordCard!

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]


Angela Bartoli

To protect the password card from theft, there is one possibility. First, randomly generate and memorize a secret key composed of 12 numbers between 0 and 35 (one for each line of the card). Then for each letter of the mnemonic, shift this letter to the right (looping around the end of the line back to its beginning if needed) by the amount indicated by this line's secret key's digit before reading the symbol.

For an 8-symbol mnemonic, the entropy of this secret key is 41.4 bits, which gives a reasonnable amount of protection to the card even if it is stolen.

One obvious drawback is of course the strain it puts on the brain (although some may say it's good for the organ's health to work it out this way) and the time it takes to read one password. Another drawback is that the secret key is hard to remember, and if you forget it, you loose all your passwords.

Translating the secret key into letters and digits might make it easier to remember.

[ Posté le 18 août 2011 à 17:24 | pas de commentaire | ]

Mardi, 16 août 2011

A Better PasswordCard?

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]


The PasswordCard sounds like a good idea (and it actually may be in practice), but I don't like it so much for three reasons:

  • The entropy is too low (64 bits spread over 232 symbols) and generated from an unknown source of entropy.
  • You have to memorize a cryptic symbol and a color for each password, which makes it easy to forget which symbol/color pair is associated with what password.
  • I didn't invent it :)

My current idea is to generate a similar card using a hardware random number generator so that each symbol on the card has an entropy of 6 bits (2592 bits in total on he card). I also would like to get rid of the method that consists in choosng one spot on the card and reading in one direction, and instead use the card as a lookup table for a substitution cipher: you choose a cleartext mnemonic for a given website with a length corresponding to the length of the password you want to generate (e.g., “EXAMPLEC” for an 8-symbol password to be used on example.com), and you generate the corresponding password by looking up the symbol corresponding to “E” on the first row of the card, then the one corresponding to “X” on the second row, “A” on the third, “M” on the fourth, and so on.

The drawbacks are numerous:

  • Reading a password this way is very slow and error-prone (the alternating gray and white areas and the repeated header lines make it only slightly less painful).
  • Generating two passwords from the same card is fine as long as the two mnemonics don't share the same characters in the same positions (e.g., “EXAMPLEC” and “EXNIHILO” share “EX” in positions 1 and 2) (if this is the case, the entropy of those particular symbols will be divided by the number of passwords sharing them).
  • The mnemonics are meant to be easy to remember, and therefore easy to guess by the thief of the card (that's howerver only slightly worse than the case of the stolen PasswordCard).
  • It requires a computer to generate a card that is readable in a small format, so the random bits are temporarily stored on a system that may be compromised (if the physical size of the card does not matter, you can generate such a card by rolling a pair of 6-sided dice about 729 times and writing the symbols down by hand).

There is one benefit though: the card looks very geeky :)

As usual, any comment/idea/criticism is welcome.

[ Posté le 16 août 2011 à 23:14 | 1 commentaire | ]

Lundi, 15 août 2011

Hardware Random Number Generator

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Bricolage/Arduino | Informatique ]


Software random number generators are usually so-called pseudo-random number generators, because they produce a deterministic sequence of numbers that have some of the properties of true random numbers. Obtaining genuinly random numbers howerver requires a non-deterministic processus as the source of randomness. Thermal noise in electronics or radioactive decay have been used, usually requiring an external device to be built and plugged to the computer.

Peter Knight's TrueRandom generates random bits by using the Arduino's ADC (with nothing connected to the analog input pin) to measure electronic noise. It flips the pin's internal pull-up resistor while the measure takes place to increase the amount of noise. The software then keeps only the least significant bit of the result, filters it using Von Neumann's whitening algorithm (read pairs of bits until they are of different values and return 0 (respectively 1) on a 01 (respectively 10) transition). There are several functions that generate different types of numbers based on those random bits.

I reused that code, modified it to allow using another pin than the Arduino's Analog0 and I made my own random number generator. I also wrote a Python script that reads the bits from the serial port, uses the SHA-1 hashing algorithm to distil the data (the raw data has about 6 bit of entropy per byte, distillation produces data with 7.999 bits of entropy per byte; based on the work of Jeff Connelly on IMOTP) and writes them to the standard output or into a file. On my Duemilanove, it can output about 1500 bits/s, while it outputs 1300 bits/s on a JeeLink. The latter makes it an easy-to-transport device that is reasonnably sturdy and fits in the pocket, even if its features (it contains a radio transceiver) are a bit overkill for the job (not to mention expensive).

I also adapted the core of the TrueRandom software to run on my ButtonBox (which is conveniently always connected to my desktop computer). There the output rate is a mere 300 bps, but it's still reasonnably fast for generating a few random numbers when needed (for example for generating one's own PasswordCard). The access to the ButtonBox is shared among multiple clients using button_box_server.py, so a modified Python script was used for obtaining the stream of random bits through the button_box_server.

I haven't had the patience to generate a few megabytes of random data to test the generator with the DieHarder test suite, but the output of Fourmilab's ent test tool looks reasonnable.

[ Posté le 15 août 2011 à 11:08 | 2 commentaires | ]

Vendredi, 12 août 2011

Password Management with the PasswordCard

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

It all started a few days ago with this Xkcd strip. Someone pointed it out passwordcard.com to me, and it made me wonder how safe are the passwords generated with that tool. Those passwords are meant to be used on all those websites that require you to create a user account with a password. Using a single password for all those web sites means that when the attacker of one of those websites gets your password, he can access your account on every other website where you have an account.

Beware that I'm no mathematician, and neither am I a specialist in cryptography or information theory, but here are my thoughts on this system.

The generator is based on what looks like a 64-bit key, so in theory, the entropy is 64 bits, which is reasonnably much (it would take 6x108 years to break at 1000 attempts per second). However, since you need to feed the key to an unknown web server, the practical entropy is much less, since someone else than you knows the key. But let's assume you can generate the card yourself on a secure computer.

The symbols on the card are upper- and lower-case letters, and digits, which makes overall 62 possible combinations. This gives 5.95 bits of entropy per such symbol, if the symbol is randomly generated. Since the card is generated from 64 bits of entropy, you can take up to 10.7 symbols to generate one or more passwords without loosing any entropy. That is, a password made of one symbol will have 5.95 bits of entropy, a password made of two symbols will have twice that (11.9 bits), three symbols will be 17.9 bits and so on. If you take more than 10.7 symbols, the entropy of each symbol will be reduced, so that the entropy of the symbols in all your passwords altogether will never exceed 64 bits. For example, if you take 16 symbols to make 2 passwords of 8 symbols each, the entropy of each password will be 32 bits instead of the 47.6 bits of a single, 8-symbol password. A 32-bits-of-entropy password takes 50 days to break (at the example rate above) against about 7000 years for the 47.7-bit-of-entropy password.

Here are a few examples of password types and strengths:

  • 1 password of 6 symbols: 35.7 bits of entropy, cracked in 1.8 years
  • 1 password of 7 symbols: 41.7 bits of entropy, cracked in 112 years
  • 1 password of 8 symbols: 47.7 bits of entropy, cracked in 7000 years
  • 2 passwords of 6 symbols each: 32 bits of entropy, cracked in 50 days
  • 2 passwords of 7 symbols each: 32 bits of entropy, cracked in 50 days

However, if the card is stolen, the thief only has to test a few tens of thousands combinations to find a password made of 4-8 symbols (29 x 8 symbols, 8 reading directions and 5 possible password-lengths is 55680), which represent 15.8 bits of entropy and takes less than a minute to crack. Loosing the card is therefore a bad move.

As a conclusion, the password card is fine on the following three conditions:

  • Use a real random number for the key (e.g., by rolling 25 times a 6-sided die) or a hardware random number generator (there will be a post on that soon).
  • Use the card for passwords totalizing no more than 10 symbols (best to use only one password of 8, 9 or 10 symbols).
  • Do not lose your PasswordCard.

Disclaimer: once again, I'm no specialist in cryptography or information theory, but the above is based on how I understand those things. It may be completely wrong.

[ Posté le 12 août 2011 à 21:52 | 2 commentaires | ]

Samedi, 9 juillet 2011


Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

I followed my dream, and I wrote the Automatic Transparent Syntax HIghlighting software.

I have files (mainly source code) put as-is on my web site. Those files can be browsed with a regular web browser, and Apache's internal file indexing is used for accessing the directory structure. When the user requests a (source code) file of a known type, it would be nice to highlight the syntax. atshi.php does just that, automatically (no need for the webmaster to manipulate the files) and transparently (the user doesn't know a PHP program is being executed).

You can view the code, highlighted by itself of course (recursive computing is fun). It expects to be called as /path/to/atshi.php/path/to/example.pl and uses the PATH_INFO variable to find the path to the file to be displayed (in the example above, example.pl). It uses the GeSHi library for the actual syntax coloring (which is therefore a dependency), and theoretically supports any file format/programming language supported by GeSHi. In practice however, ATSHi detects the files that it should highlight (source code must be highlighted, but .tar.gz or .jpg must not) by checking first the filename's extension, or, if the file doesn't have one, checking the “magic header” (the one starting with #!) followed by the name of the interpreter. It also recognizes the filename Makefile. If it's unable to recognize the file, it simply sends its content (with proper Content-Type header) to the browser and lets the latter deal with it. Finally, the highlighted version also provides a link at the top of the page for downloading the raw file (atshi.php sends the raw file instead of the highlighted version when you append “?src” to the URL).

But this was all quite a simple job, and even if it was my first PHP program, it was quite simple (PHP is an horrible language, but the doc is good, which helped a lot). The real problem was getting Apache doing my bidding. Here's a sample of the .htaccess I use:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ˆlatex/latex.css - [L]
RewriteRule ˆpoppikone/poppikone.css - [L]
RewriteCond /home/mweber/weber.fi.eu.org/www/$1 -f
RewriteRule ˆ((software|leffakone|poppikone|latex)/.*)$ /atshi/atshi.php/$1

The two top RewriteRule (with the L flag) prevent ATSHi from highlighting the stylesheets used in the corresponding directories (those stylesheets must be sent as-is to the browser). The bottom RewriteRule actually catches specific paths and rewrite the URL using atshi.php. Finally, the RewriteCond just above allows rewriting only if the path (identified as $1 when the regexp in the RewriteRule below is evaluated) is a regular file (highlighting directories doesn't make sense, does it?); note that you must put an absolute path in the condition.

The difficult part here was not really to get the URL rewriting properly written (although mentioning the absolute path trick in Apache's doc would have been nice). The really difficult part was to find out that the bloody Firefox always looks in its cache instead of asking the server if something has changed. So after making a change, Firefox still didn't show what was supposed to be showing… Erasing the cache before every test is therefore a must.

[ Posté le 9 juillet 2011 à 20:01 | 2 commentaires | ]

Mercredi, 6 juillet 2011

Syntax Coloring

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

I had a dream last night, where I added automatic syntax coloring to the source code files that can be found on my website. These are currenty simply put in directories and accessible through the web server, and colors would make them more readable (I'm not sure anyone is reading those, but who cares).

The idea would be to use Apache's URL rewrite engine to serve a CGI/PHP/something page that reads the source code and spits out an HTML version with colors and whatnot.

I just found GeSHi, a tool written in PHP that does exactly that. It shouldn't be too difficult to implement.

[ Posté le 6 juillet 2011 à 13:18 | 1 commentaire | ]

Samedi, 5 mars 2011

Comparaison: Ordinateur

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

«  Alors tu vois, le processeur c'est comme le moteur de ta voiture. Et le clavier c'est comme le volant… – Et le système d'exploitation c'est comme l'essence alors ? – Euh…  »

C'est n'importe quoi hein ? La comparaison avec la voiture ne vaut pas tripette, parce que la voiture n'est pas un automate programmable (enfin, pas encore). Voila une comparaison qui me paraît plus correcte (arrêtez-moi si je me trompe): le restaurant. Dans un restaurant et dans le désordre, on trouve:

  • Le cuisinier : c'est lui qui fait (presque) tout le travail, comme le processeur.
  • Le cuisinier lit des recettes et les exécute : ce sont les programmes.
  • Les recettes sont composées de gestes à effectuer qui indiquent au cuisinier comme agir: ce sont les instructions.
  • Les recettes indiquent comment transformer des ingrédients crus (viande, légumes…) : ce sont les données fournies en entrée au programme.
  • Ces ingrédients sont transformés en plats : ce sont les données fournies en sortie par le programme.
  • Les ingrédients et les plats doivent être posés quelque part à un moment donné, par exemple sur des plans de travail : ces derniers servent de mémoire centrale.
  • Certains ingrédients crus doivent être stockés pendant un certain temps, par exemple dans des réfrigérateurs : ce sont les mémoires de masse.
  • Il existe un certain nombre d'opérations qui sont souvent répétées et que le cuisinier a appris à effectuer lors de sa formation professionnelle (émincer, fouetter, incorporer, ciseler…): ces instructions sont l'équivalent du noyau du système d'exploitation.
  • Il existe aussi des recettes de base qui sont souvent répétées et qui entrent dans la composition des plats (roux, bouillon, pain…) : elles forment l'interface de programmation qui sert de base à tous les programmes. Certaines de ces recettes peuvent être commandées directement par le client (le pain par exemple), et représentent les logiciels utilitaire (ou commandes de base) fournies avec le système d'exploiatation.
  • Le restaurant a des clients : ce sont les utilisateurs.
  • Les client s'addressent à un serveur : ce dernier joue le rôle de l'interface utilisateur.
  • Le client peut choisir dans un menu ce qu'il désire manger, et donc les recettes que le cuisinier va executer : ce menu est la liste des programmes que l'utilisateur peut lancer, qui sont parfois regroupées dans un menu (déroulant ou non).
  • dans les restaurants, le cuisinier est rarement seul, il est aidé par le boulanger, le patissier, le saucier: ce sont des coprocesseurs, spécialisés dans l'exécution de certaines tâches.

Enfin, on peut considérer que les casseroles sont comme les registres du processeur, elles servent de stockage temporaire pour les opérations élémentaires.

Après, la comparaison a ses limites: on peut copier des données, mais on ne copie pas un gateau au chocolat…

Aussi, il manque la possibilité au client de donner des ingrédients à la cuisine, c'est à dire à l'utilisateur d'entrer des données dans l'ordinateur.

[ Posté le 5 mars 2011 à 22:00 | 2 commentaires | ]

Samedi, 19 février 2011

Arduino with Vim

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Bricolage/Arduino | Informatique ]

If you are used to Vim as a text editor, the Arduino IDE is terrible to use. After a little bit of fiddling, here are my tips to program an Arduino using Vim.


To compile the Arduino software, I found the Makefile by Alan Burlison and I modified it to suit my needs. You can get the modified version and use it at your own risks.

It has been modified as follows:

  • Support for arduino 0022 only (but you can change the version number in the Makefile). Versions prior to 0018 are not supported.
  • Binaries are located in /usr/bin.
  • The board is by default atmega328.
  • The programming protocol is stk500v1 and the speed is 57600 bauds.
  • The terminal emulator is xterm and the serial communication software is picocom.
  • The serial port is /dev/ttyUSB0.

All these default values can be changed in the Makefile.master file. Moreover, the following changes have been made:

  • After killing the serial communication software, sleep for 1 second
  • Before starting the programmer, the DTR signal is triggered with stty to reset the board (programming would otherwise not be possible)
  • Warnings remain warnings (GCC's -Werror flag has been removed, because I had a weird warning that I don't know how to fix)
  • The sketch's .pde file is hardlinked into the build directory, and is #included in sketchname_pde.cpp instead of copied into it. This allows GCC to report the errors on the proper line of the .pde file as well as report the proper path for this file in its error messages (when compiling sketchname_pde.cpp, GCC is in the build directory; since it would include ../sketch.pde, the error messages relative to this file would point to a file name starting with ../, but since Vim is in the parent directory, the path to sketch.pde would be wrong and Vim's QuickFix fails to find the file).
  • Linking is made by gcc instead of g++ because of a bug in linking to libm (which is needed if you want to do floating point computations, so it links against it by default).
  • A vim: line has been appended to make Vim recognize the file as a Makefile

To use this Makefile, put Makefile.master into your sketchbook directory, and create in your sketch's directory a Makefile which contains include ../Makefile.master. If you want to add extra libraries (here RF12, GLCDlib and Ports), it looks like this:

LIBS = RF12 GLCDlib Ports
LIB_DIRS = $(addprefix ../libraries/,$(LIBS))
include ../Makefile.master

Typing make inside the directory where the Makefile resides builds the sketch. make upload uploads it, make monitor starts the serial communication software on the serial port and make upload_monitor does both sequentially. Finally, make clean cleans up the build directory created when buidling the sketch.

Arduino Syntax File for Vim

Get arduino.vim by Johannes Hoff and put it in your ˜/.vim/syntax/ directory. It will let Vim recognize .pde files are as arduino, turning on C++ syntax highlighting plus Arduino-specific keywords.


Vim allows to open multiple tabs: run vim -p *.* in your sketch's directory, and it opens all the files (except the Makefile) in separate tabs. Use Ctrl-PgUp and Ctrl-PgDown to switch between tabs.

To close all tabs at once, you can use :tabd q, but this is tedious, so I made a shortcut: Add command Q tabd q to your .vimrc and you can close all the tabs at once using :Q. You can do the same with :w, :wq and :x if you want.

Type :help tab to learn more about tabs (especially, :tabe xyz opens file xyz in a new tab. I thought you'd be glad to know).


You can call make from within Vim by typing :make but that's tedious also. I added the following mappings to my .vimrc:
imap <F9> <ESC>:make<CR>
map <F9> :make<CR>

This lets F9 calls :make (whether you're in command mode or in insert mode). You may want to add set autowrite in your .vimrc so that your files are automatically written when you call make.

Now, at least in Debian, after the call to :make has completed, when you return to your file's screen Vim redirects you to the file that contains the first error in make's output. In my setup, this is a warning in a file belonging to Arduino's core, which I don't want to modify. I could of course press Ctrl-O to return to the file I was editing just before running :make, but that's too much work. What I wanted is to be able to let Vim jump to the files containing warnings and errors, but to force it to ignore system files. The solution is then to add to your ˜/.vimrc the following (all in one line, without spaces after the equal sign):

autocmd Filetype arduino set errorformatˆ=\%-G../libraries\%.\%#,\%-G../../libraries\%.\%#,%-G/space/mweber/tmp/arduino-0022\%.\%#

It requires some tuning, because your Arduino directory is probably not in /space/mweber/tmp/arduino-0022, but since you're smart, you have already understood how to adapt it to your setup.

Please note that to get this setup to work properly, you need to append // vim:ft=arduino to all of the .pde, .cpp and .h files belonging to your sketches, otherwise the Vim will not do the ignoring above. And for this to work, modelines must be enabled by adding set modeline to your ˜/.vimrc.

Finally, since you opened all your files in tabs already, tell Vim not to open the file containing a warning/error in the current tab, but rather in the tab that already contains the file. You do this by adding set switchbuf=usetab in your ˜/.vimrc.

In short, your ˜/.vimrc has now these extra lines:

command Q tabd q
command W tabd w
set modeline
set autowrite
set switchbuf=usetab
imap <F9> <ESC>:make<CR>
map <F9> :make<CR>
autocmd Filetype arduino set errorformatˆ=\%-G../libraries\%.\%#,\%-G../../libraries\%.\%#,%-G/space/mweber/tmp/arduino-0022\%.\%#

[ Posté le 19 février 2011 à 19:22 | 2 commentaires | ]

Jeudi, 2 décembre 2010

Linux Tablet Comparison

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

I currently found 3 tablet computers running Linux (all have Bluetooth and WiFi, options are between parentheses):

First line reads: screen size, resolution, weight, autonomy, OS, price.


10.6", 1024x600, 800g, 3 – 5 hours, Ångström, 500 EUR

ARM FreeScale i.MX-37, 256 MB RAM, 4 GB Flash, Ethernet, (3G), SDHC reader, 1 USB host, 2MPx camera

Hacking: root access with ssh by default


11.6", 1366x768, 1000g, 6 hours, Meego, 450(570) EUR

Intel Atom N450, 1 GB RAM, 16(32) GB Flash, (3G+GPS), SDHC reader, 2 USB host, 1.3 MPx camera

Hacking: ?


10.1", 1024x600, 480g, 10 hours, Android+Ångström, 300(350) EUR

ARM Cortex A8, 256 MB RAM, 8(16) GB Flash, Micro SDHC reader, 1 USB host + 1 slave, 0.3 MPx camera

Hacking: replace Android with Ångström

[ Posté le 2 décembre 2010 à 11:12 | pas de commentaire | ]

Vendredi, 10 septembre 2010

My Own Maemo Repository

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

I built my own maemo repository to distribute my small and insignificant applications. The APT source is deb http://users.jyu.fi/~mweber/maemo/ fremantle main and the two currently available apps have their own .install files: pointscounter.install and maemo-dict.install.

[ Posté le 10 septembre 2010 à 10:49 | pas de commentaire | ]

Mercredi, 25 août 2010

QR Code Generator for WiFi Configuration

Traduction: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Catégories : [ Informatique ]

http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/ generates a QR Code that contains SSID, key and encryption type of a WiFi access point. This can be displayed on screen or printed on paper and used for automatically configuring a mobile device for connecting to the wireless network (provided the phone has a camera and can read the barcode).

[ Posté le 25 août 2010 à 21:59 | 2 commentaires | ]