Tag Archives: Linux

PyGTK 3, great and embarassing…

So, working to get away from WX as my main GUI source and using GTK as I’ve been an Ubnutu, then Mint user with Gnome for years. Building windows in Glade3 was not too bad and the rapid prototyping with Python makes it a great tool. Sadly, the documentation for PyGTK 3 does not exist. There are differences yet the examples that are found are all for PyGTK 2. Don’t believe me? Try finding information on drawing to a window. Most notable difference is the use of Cairo instead of GDK but it just starts there. Anyhow, just venting on what should be a great set up which is made difficult by the lack of documentation.

Installing OpenCV

So tinkering with OpenCV the past day has been fun.  This past summer, a co-worker and I made an application to crop images and resize them automatically to speed up booking at the jail we work at.

The first problem was face detection.  To create a method, we first invert the image.  Then run a line from left to right until the background color changes.  Do the same thing from right to left and then find the center.  Do that several times through the picture would lead us to a good center location for the face.

The second problem was that we did all this with Windows API/GDI.  These methods were very low level and difficult to run simple methods on.

For some reason, we never found OpenCV until reading a slashdot article last night.  This library is awesome for face detection and other visual work.  I use a Linux box at home and the work computers use Windows, so I like that code can be compiled with only changes to the compiler going between each computer.


The install in linux was very easy.  Ubuntu has great documentation for installing anything with apt.  Since I’m using Mint 12 (gotta get away from Gnome 3!), I was able to follow this guide.

For Windows, it was a bit more tricky.  I read guides walking me through CMake and such.  Fortunately, I found that OpenCV 2.0’s installer does not need to be compiled, just extracted.  Using this guide I was able to get it work.  To simplify things, I’ve put two zips on my server for anyone to use.

  1. OpenCV_INSTALL.zip has the installer for OpenCV 2.0, CMake guide for those using Visual C++, and a sample codeblocks project.
  2. OpenCV_DONE.zip includes the extracted source and a sample codeblocks project.

Let me know if you have any issues.  Remember, for the codeblocks project to compile, you’ll have to sent compiler search directory to [src]/include/opencv and the linker search directory to [src]/lib


Netflix on Linux.

Netflix is a great resource for watching videos, particularly the ‘Watch Now’ feature for instant streaming.  Unfortunately, for Linux users, Netflix uses a Microsoft PlayReady, Silverlight plugin for this feature.  This is to protect the content from piracy (arrgh, pirates!!) so they have no problems with copyright.  Too bad for Linux, as this feature is not available in any way, shape, or form.  There is no way to develop a fix for to use this in Linux either, as PlayReady is proprietary.  If this angers you as much as it should any Linux user, that the only work around is to use Windows, then please visit and sign this petition.

#! Statler – b43 driver fix.

This week I switched to #! (Crunchbang) because my Ubuntu was getting slow.  I love the speed and was very happy with the wifi because it had the b43 driver working by default.  Except, I could not get on my network after the most recent upgrade, but I found a work-around after a day of reading forums.  Surprisingly, it’s not too complicated!  You just need to create a conf file for b43 to use PIO and it will not through a DMA error anymore… my hardware is: Broadcom Corporation BCM4312 802.11b/g LP-PHY [14e4:4315] (rev 01).  This is the only line you should need.

sudo echo "options b43 pio=0 qos=0" > /etc/modprobe.d/b43.conf

Reference: This article from Ubuntu Forums.

Minesweeper Guide

So the classic game of Minesweeper is a great waste of my time.  I’ve found though, the secret to being successful is understanding the 2’s.  I’ll demonstrate with a series of screenshots.  I’ll remind my readers that the Minesweeper I use is Linux based, and Windows’ Minesweeper is somewhat different.  For example, the version I’m using will always have the upper left corner free and there is always a solution through logic.  Unfortunately, in Windows, there are times when no logic will fix it.

Now, I’ve created a program to solve the puzzles, but it’s no where near as fun.  For the cheat program (for Windows XP version) check out my tutorial.  It’s a good read on using C in Windows to pull information about a program, or hooking, as it is better known.

The key for all the graphics is:

  • RED = MINE

The first three graphics will show a common pattern with a 5 and some a row including 2’s.  When 2’s are in a row, you can start eliminating.

EDIT: I plan to continue updating this, but for now I’ll post as is.

Fern Screensaver : Part 2

For those interested, here is roughly the same code in C for use with SDL. This first block are standard variables that are not by default when CodeBlocks produces an SDL template.

#include <time.h>
#include <unistd.h>


    float mat[4][7] = {
    // constant sets
    float xa = -5.5;
    float xb = 6.5;
    float ya = -0.5;
    float yb = 10.5;
    // x and y to be altered
    float x = 0.0;
    float y = 0.0;
    // screen/image size
    int imgx = 512;
    int imgy = 512;
    // floats for math fulction
    float p = 0.0;
    float x0 = 0;
    float jx = 0;
    float jy = 0;
    // variables to control function
    int i = 0;
    int k = 1;
    int end = imgx*imgy;

    // dot rect
    SDL_Rect dot;
    dot.x = screen->w/2;
    dot.y = screen->h/2;
    dot.h = 1;
    dot.w = 1;

This next block is the heart of the program. You’ll see this is very close to the Python code, but be aware that in C, you’re needing to be careful about your defined types.


        // random number
        p = (float) rand()/RAND_MAX;
        // find random i
        if(p <= mat[0][6])
            i = 0;
        else if(p <= (mat[0][6] + mat[1][6]))
            i = 1;
        else if(p <= (mat[0][6] + mat[1][6] + mat[2][6]))
            i = 2;
            i = 3;
        // super math function
        x0 = ((x*mat[i][0])+(y*mat[i][1])+mat[i][4]);
        y = (x*mat[i][2]+y*mat[i][3]+mat[i][5]);
        x = x0;
        jx = ((x-xa)/(xb-xa)*(imgx-1));
        jy = (imgy-1)-(y-ya)/(yb-ya)*imgy-1;
        // set dot
        dot.x = (int) jx;
        dot.y = (int) jy;
        // draw bitmap
        SDL_FillRect(screen, &dot, SDL_MapRGB(screen->format, 255, 255, 255));


Finally, we control the program flow. I found that it looks like nothing is happend once the drawing is a quarter complete. So instead of running through every pixel, we’ll just do a quarter of them. This speeds up the program a bit. I’m thinking I may let them go but start a new one when each is a quarter done.

        // CLEANUP
        if(k == end) {
            k = 0;
            printf("Out of dots.\n");
            SDL_FillRect(screen, 0, SDL_MapRGB(screen->format, 0, 0, 0));
        } else {
            k += 1;
            printf("\r%i out of %i",k,end);


Edit: For Windows users, you’ll need to have #include <Windows.h> and change sleep() to Sleep().

To the authors of Hamster.

I found your project listed on this blog (which is a great read for Linux users)!  I will not rewrite that author’s excellent post, if you’re curious what Hamster is, go read the blog!  This tool is great for anyone obsessed with data and time tracking.  Essentially, it will show you what you do during the day.  For those who are bad at time management (me), then this tool can help increase performance.  But in using it, I found that I wanted something more.  Specifically, I didn’t want to tell it what I was doing.  I mean, I switched from coding my wardriver to blogging five minutes ago and I still haven’t updated.  Even worse, what happens when I’m multitasking between work, programming, army, etc.  I would like this application to update what is happening as I change it, rather than take the five seconds to update my current task.  I know, I’m lazy.

So what do I think should happen?  Well, I’ve commented on the post that I found this program that I would like it to be automated.  Take a ‘picture’ every minute of active processes and then use that data to associate that program with your current activity!  For example, the browser is open (you can even catch the website name) and you have a setting that associates that program/page with an activity, Hamster then updates what you are doing.  You could even go so far as to use what window is in front, the next behind, the next behind, etc to rank the amount of work you are doing with that task.

With my Army project done, my wardriver being worked on at a steady pace, I think this would be a fun program.  Anyone else interested in this?  Let me know through your comments…

Garmin Wardriver – Part 2

I’m very happy to say, this is a simple project, to get working in its most basic form.  Note, I said it’s most basic form so no hate mail on the fact that this is nothing more than a quick script!  There are plans to actually go deeper, make this open to more than my device, not use already existing programs, etc.  But for the basic concept and starter, I’ve made this program use gpsbabel to get the gps information and iwlist to get the network information.  I had started with pywifi but found this to be a problem because there was an overbound error.  This bug will be reported, it seems it has a problem with converting an integer to a float on a 64bit machine.

So with no futher ado, here is the script:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import os, re, time

def die(msg):
	print ' [*] ERROR: %s' % msg

def checkroot():
	if os.getuid() != 0:
		die('Run this program as root.')

def getessid(dev):
	nets = os.popen('iwlist %s scan' % dev).read()
	pat  = re.compile(r'ESSID:".*"')
	mess = re.findall(pat, nets)
	found= []
	for find in mess:
	return found

def getposition(dev):
	pos = os.popen('gpsbabel -i garmin,get_posn -f %s' % dev).read()
	pos = pos.splitlines()[1].split(' ')
	return [pos[1],pos[2]]

def main():
	found = getessid('eth1')
	pos   = getposition('/dev/ttyUSB0')
	for find in found:
		print 'ESSID: %s @ %s | %s' % (find,pos[0],pos[1])

if __name__ == '__main__':

So what you see here is that I’m using os.popen() to call my programs to draw data.  Unfortunately, iwlist is painfully slow, to the point there’d be a five second delay on some slower machines between the call and having the data ready.  This is why I want to develop the application to not be dependent on other programs, but for the time being, this works as proof of concept in the data gathering stage.  It’s now just a matter of adjusting the code to run this constantly and load data to an overlay when entering and leaving an ESSID’s area.

Any comments for improvements?  Don’t forget, you can join this project any time on SourceForge!

Garmin Wardriver

For my birthday, my wife got me a GPS (Garmin Venture HC).  I have been disappointed in it’s integration with Linux, most particularly it’s ability to communicate with gpsd (usb input, not serial).  I had high hopes of doing some wardriving and kismet does not gather any of the data despite it’s configuration.  I can get gpsd to get some cryptic messages from the device but I found that this command: `gpsbabel -T -t garmin -f /dev/ttyUSB0` will generate the current coordinates.  So instead of getting frustrated, I’ve decided to open my first SourceForge project.  You can find it listed as Garmin Wardriver.

The concept seems simple enough, generate location through direct communication with the GPS device or through the gpsbabel command above and then gather a list of local ESSID’s with their strength.  With this data, updated each second, one could generate a location for entering an ESSID’s area, it’s strength as you move through and when out.  Output this to an overlay for a program such as Google Earth and that is a wardriver!  I can see this branching to more advanced uses but for the basic proof of concept, a command line program should suffice.  This will be written in Python and I’ve looked into utilizing the pygarmin and pywifi modules instead of generating information from preexisting programs.

Approaching the final hours!

The project is due tomorrow!  I have a lot of work to do, but it finally appears possible to have this all done.  Thank you to my team member who contributed the code to correct the xml.dom.minidom’s output to be read correctly by PureEdge and Lotus Forms Viewer.  This will enable me to save, although I’m a bit sad that I spent so much time  this week working on that.  At this point, I need to complete the parsing scheme, develop a function to save the data to forms per the CSV file and then send back those files in a zipped archive.  All small steps, and assuming no road blocks, able to get done today.  A quick bit of documentation and packaging and this barely beta, functional web application will be ready for submission.  This may require an all-nighter and it’s down to the wire, but I think it will work.  Keep your eyes on the XFDL Loader as it will be updated through the day!

XFDL Viewer – Good and Bad.

I used to think of myself as a decent coder, but this XFDL project is a monster.  Particularly with the parsing schemes.  Let alone the May 15th suspense on the project!!  Oh well, if it doesn’t get done, I’m still working on it…  So I broke apart the XML and just to give a taste of the parsing for this, here’s my notes:

Mind you, I’m skipping the globals but here what needs to be parsed from there:

  • Title
  • Version
  • Fontinfo
  • Bgcolor
  • Print Settings
  • Bindings

This first block is the “field” form.  This is the main part to parse because this is where all values except checks and signatures will go.

<field sid="TO"> --> sid == div id
			<ae>absolute</ae> -- style='position:absolute'
			<ae>extent</ae> -- dimensions
		<value>THIS IS WHAT NEEDS EDITTING!</value> - input, no border
		<broderwidth>0</broderwidth> --> style
		<fontinfo> --> style
		<justify>center</justify> --> style
		<next>TO</next> -> form taborder
		<previous>DATE_A</previous> -> form taborder
		<acclabel>lorum ipsum</acclabel>
			<ae>string</ae> --> set form input type
			<ae>optional</ae> --> validation check
				<ae>0</ae> vert
				<ae>18</ae> horiz

Next part, check boxes.  Nothing too scary here.  Much the same as above.

<check sid=""> same
	<itemlocation></itemlocation> same
	<fontinfo></fontinfo> same
	<next></next> same
	<previous></previous> same
	<acclabel></acclabel> same

Here we get complicated.  Nothing bad about the labels, except there form uses labels for definitions at the end and you’ll see it later where it is reused for a new purpose.  This could pose a good challenge!

<label sid=""> same
	<itemlocation></itemlocation> same
	<linespacing>1</linespacing> OPITONAL
	<fontinfo></fontinfo> same
	<format></format> same

Lines, not too bad… will just be a simple parsing the xml to putting them on the page.

<line sid=""> same

Buttons!  These would be easy but they will associate with signatures.

<button sid=""> same
	<itemlocation></itemlocation> same
	<value compute="">FROM CERT</value>
	<printvisible compute="">on|off</printvisible>
	<signature>FOR BINDINGS</signature>
	<signer>FROM CERT</signer>
	<format></format> same
	<previous></previous> same
	<next></next> same
	<image>FROM CERT?</image>
	<signatureimage>FROM CERT?</signatureimage>

Not even touching signatures until I get the parsing scheme in place!


Data will be easy enough, just needs to be decoded and displayed.  Whew… may need to save the files to the server to display but I think HTML can handle an image from data.

<data sid=""> relates to signatures & images
	<filename></filename> -- image (optional)
	<mimedata encoding="base64-gzip"></mimedata>

Do I really need the toolbar if I’m not using it’s functions?

<toolbar sid="TOOLBAR">

Is IBM so dense they can’t find a new name for the toolbar tags instead of reusing label?

<label sid="TOP">
	<imagemode>clip</imagemode> -- style

I won’t complain about this one!  Seems pretty simple, just like lines…

<spacer sid=""> same
	<itemlocation></itemlocation> same

So keep watching the blog… I’ll post more when I figure out how to handle all this data.  And this all needs to be cycled per page to output to the browser… yuck.

Ubuntu 10.04 – Fixing Title Bar Buttons (Place on the right)

After downloading Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx, I noticed that the biggest user interface change is the title bar buttons.  Unlike Windows or Mac, the buttons are located on the left side.  This is not too bad if you can get used to it, but I found several complaints online.  So, for those who are not used to gconf-editor, here are instructions to fixing the title bar.

  1. Open a terminal or use Alt+F2 and type ‘gconf-editor’.
  2. In the tree menu on the left side go to: apps -> metacity -> general
  3. On the options menu (right side of the editor) find the option midway down for ‘button_layout’.
  4. Editing these options can let you customize the menu, here’s how:
    • The colon ‘ : ‘ sets the middle, so anything on the left of the colon is on the left of the title bar.
    • Settings are comma separated values of menu, minimize, maximize, close, separator
      • Duplicates and unknown values are silently ignored.
    • Example #1: menu:minimize,maximize,close
    • Example #2: close,minimize,maximize:
    • Example #3: minimize,maximize,close:

See, one of the great things with Linux is that these configurations are available.  If you take a moment to look around your gconf-editor, you’ll see how powerful this tool is to your user interface customization.  Feel free to contact me or comment here with questions regarding this process.

XFDL in Linux :: Update

So, after talking with the Army’s G6 (essential the IT Department), the competition I’m entering (which because I’m not an active duty Reservist, I cannot receive prize money) is focused on web applications, not desktop applications.  The changes you can expect to see in my coding is that there will be quite a bit of php, perl and python that I’ll be using rather than the application side.  At the same time though, I’ll take what I do in this web application and use it for developing a desktop application and a Microsoft Office plugin that can be used to batch load files.  Just figured I’d acknowledge the reason for changes.  On the plus side of all of this, perl has a specific Mime module and php has a great and simple interface to xml parsing, so this may end up easier as a web application.

Python Curses – Custom Menu

Continuing on the same project as the previous post, I came to wanting to make a custom menu with curses in Python.  Realizing that there are functions to create menus in curses already, I wanted to build this fro m the bottom up.  The concept was to produce a menu that would highlight the selection change on the arrow keys or direct input, and then on a press of the Enter key the menu would return that selection.

Now, while writing this, you’ll see in my code that I took probable the least efficient way of building this menu, but it helps in making itself explanatory for the person learning curses.  As for the context of this coding, I built it as a function in my XFDL viewer, so there are 5 options in the menu.  I used win.keypad(0) to enable the use of the arrow keys but for some reason, the curses.KEY_UP was not being detected so the arrow key up and arrow key down are 259 and 258, respectively.  This does work though, I also have the menu catch numbers 1-5 and set the highlighted line accordingly.

def menu():
    curses.init_pair(1,curses.COLOR_RED, curses.COLOR_WHITE)
    pos = 1
    x = None
    # I'm going to be lazy and save some typing here.
    h = curses.color_pair(1)
    n = curses.A_NORMAL
    while x != ord('\n'):
        # Gotta reset the screen from the root or lose the border, window, etc.
        screen.addstr(2,2, "XFDL VIEWER", curses.A_STANDOUT)
        screen.addstr(4,2, "Please select an option...", curses.A_BOLD)
        # Detect what is highlighted by the 'pos' variable.
        if pos == 1:
            screen.addstr(5,4, "1 - XFDL -> XML",h)
            screen.addstr(5,4, "1 - XFDL -> XML",n)
        if pos == 2:
            screen.addstr(6,4, "2 - XML  -> XFDL",h)
            screen.addstr(6,4, "2 - XML  -> XFDL",n)
        if pos == 3:
            screen.addstr(7,4, "3 - Show XML",h)
            screen.addstr(7,4, "3 - Show XML",n)
        if pos == 4:
            screen.addstr(8,4, "4 - Exit",h)
            screen.addstr(8,4, "4 - Exit",n)
        if pos == 5:
            screen.addstr(9,4, "5 - DEBUG", h)
            screen.addstr(9,4, "5 - DEBUG", n)
        x = screen.getch()
        # Is 'x' 1-5 or arrow up, arrow down?
        if x == ord('1'):
            pos = 1
        elif x == ord('2'):
            pos = 2
        elif x == ord('3'):
            pos = 3
        elif x == ord('4'):
            pos = 4
        elif x == ord('5'):
            pos = 5
        # It was a pain in the ass trying to get the arrows working.
        elif x == 258:
            if pos < 5:
                pos += 1
                pos = 1
        # Since the curses.KEY_* did not work, I used the raw return value.
        elif x == 259:
            if pos > 1:
                pos += -1
                pos = 5
        elif x != ord('\n'):
            # show_error() is my custom function for displaying a message:
            # show_error(str:message, int:line#, int:seconds_to_display)
            show_error('Invalid Key',11,1)

    return ord(str(pos))

I’ve highlighted the lines pertaining to my work around for the key pad.  This function will return the menu option and then that is processed for a reaction.  Reminder: the ‘screen’ object for my curses window is a global variable. I’m quite thrilled at the simplicity of this and the curses library, although I am disappointed in the lack of tutorials on the web deeper than typical ‘Hello World’ tutorials, but I hope these posts go to help others exploring this library!

Here’s a nice picture of the library in action:

Customize menu in action...
Be sure to comment on these tutorials and let me know if there is more detail needed or if they are helpful!!

Python Curses – Custom Progress Bar

Custom Progress BarIn making a visual editor for my XFDL project, I’ve decided to do the basic start in curses.  This is a module of python/library of C that I have not been able to utilize much at this point despite interest.  Unfortunately, there seems to be limiteexid documentation beyond the standard ‘Hello World’ type of program.  I’ll write this short tutorial with the assumption you can get through those tutorials and utilize this object.

The concept here is to create a progress bar in curses.  This example does not have any data but a basic understanding of python would allow you to create the refreshes on percentage of completion rather than time based as I have here.

def show_progress():
    #Create a window object.
    win = curses.newwin(3,32,14,10)
    # Add the Border
    # Current text: Progress
    win.addstr(1,1,"Progress ")
    # This is to move the progress bar per iteration.
    pos = 10
    # Random number I chose for demonstration.
    for i in range(15):
        # Add '.' for each iteration.
        # Refresh or we'll never see it.
        # Here is where you can customize for data/percentage.
        # Need to move up or we'll just redraw the same cell!
        pos += 1
    # Current text: Progress ............... Done!
    # Gotta show our changes.
    # Without this the bar fades too quickly for this example.

See, nothing to it.  The first line creates a new window object for and the next line adds its border.  I mapped out the relative positions for text, and you’ll want to customize this to what you need to use in your program, but for the sake of demonstration, it will show a period for each iteration.  As previously stated, you can customize this to be data or percentage driven in your program.  Don’t forget to call win.refresh() for each iteration you want to show on the screen!

XFDL in Linux :: Part 2

More for the ongoing series of producing an XFDL viewer in Linux.  In the previous tutorial, we decompressed an XFDL file, although I have had trouble recompressing the file.  It turns out that I need to do some experimentation and find the exact compression method used in gzip to be able to make the form readable.  That will be for the next update though.  I thought I would give a short preview of what’s next on this.

An XFDL file is an XML (xform) by IBM meant to run through their interpreter. IBM has some great documentation on this format.  PureEdge works much like a browser does to decompress the file by Mime-type and to then parse and read the file, including embedded binaries (for pictures, files, etc) and embedded coding (custom functions).  My interpreter will have a long ways to go so I’ll be happy to just be able to place my values in the correct fields.  I’m re-reading XML parsing within Python to make this an easy function, so be patient on that part.  But for those eager to see what I’m talking about, I’ve pasted a small section of XML from a decompressed XFDL.

      <field sid="NAME">
            <ae>Times New Roman</ae>
         <acclabel>d ay form 46 44-r, december 19 82.
ay p d. p e version 1.00.
edition of 1 august 19 77 is obsolete.
army reserve reenlistment data.
for use of this form, see ay r 1 40-1 11, the proponent agency is r c p ay c.
item 1. enter name using last name comma first name comma middle initial format.</acclabel>
As you can see, there is a <value> tag for these nodes.  For my next post, I’ll write some python code to break this xml to an object that can print the label and insert a value into the xml.  There is a lot of work to interpret the embedded items, code and other tags, but this will be a start!

XFDL in Linux :: Part 1

Earlier, I wrote about using PureEdge Viewer, which is Windows software from IBM on Linux through Wine. This got me thinking, do we need to use Windows software. A quick look at the file and through Google and it’s easy to see that an *.xfdl file is a gzipped, base64 encoded xml file. So this is part one of what I hope to be a tutorial into designing software on Linux using python to open, read and write xfdl files in the same way as PureEdge Viewer. It gets annoying, to say the least, to need to open Windows in VirtualBox, or an actual install to read and edit *.xfdl files. The barriers I see at this preliminary point is to convert the xml to a readable image and then to make that editable where possible.

So, in this first part, we will do the very basic converting an *.xfdl file to an *.xml file. The code should be self explanatory but if there are questions, post them through comments and I’ll do my best at getting an answer to you.

""" IMPORTS """
from base64 import *
import gzip, os, sys

""" DEATH!!! """
# Standard way to die...
def die(msg=None):
    if msg == None:
        msg = "Unknown error."
    print " [*] ERROR - %s" % msg

# No file name, then we have nothing to do!
if len(sys.argv) < 2:
    die("Did not specifiy a file name.")

""" GET FILE """
# In a more advanced version, this will check the magic value of the file as well to
# ensure it is an *.xfdl file.
filename = sys.argv[1]
print "Using %s" % filename

# Nothing tough, grab the magic number (1st line) and then store the rest as a variable.
f = open(filename,'r').read()
magic = f.splitlines()[0]
print "magic: %s" % magic
data = f.split(magic)[1]
print "Got Data."
del f

""" BASE64 DECODE """
# First we decode the base64.
f = open('temp.gz','wb')
print "Base64 Decoded."

# Yes, I know this writing to a file and then deleting it is ugly but I have not found
# a way to gunzip from a data stream.
f = gzip.open('temp.gz','rb')
gunzip_data = f.read()
print "Gunzipped Data."

# As this gets more advanced, it should be able to stay as a data stream for editing.
filename = filename.split(".")[0] + ".xml"
f = open(filename,'wb')
print "Saved to temporary file '%s'" % filename

Nothing too involved here, simply open the file, strip out the first line and the decode the rest from base64 and gunzip that data to get the xml inside.  In the next tutorial, we’ll look at the structure of that xml, once I actually understand it or find decent documentation on it!

64bit Flash for Linux

This has been a pain for a long time.  I went though and installed flash for Linux in this method but it only half worked for my 64bit distro in Ubuntu.  Too many problems coordinating with 32bit libraries and I would have flash applications that loaded fine but would not accept clicks, for example a video that I cannot pause or fast forward.  I set out to find a solution, as I realized this was a problem not with flash but with coordinating that flash with a 64bit distro.  For those interested, there is a 64 bit, Linux release and it’s installation is far more simple.  It is located on Adobe’s website, but hidden deep in some of the small text, definitely not a feature that stands out until you read through the page.  Here’s the solution:

## installFlash64.sh

function die {
	if [ "$1" == "" ]; then
		echo "[*] ERROR -- Not Specified."
		echo "[*] ERROR -- $1"
	exit 1

function check_root {
	if [ "`whoami`" != "root" ]; then
		die "You need root to install the 64bit Flash Player."

## Set root user
echo "You are root, the install will begin now."

## Download the package
echo "Downloading..."
wget http://download.macromedia.com/pub/labs/flashplayer10/libflashplayer-

## Untar the package
echo "Unpacking..."
tar xzvf libflashplayer-

## Move the file
echo "Installing..."
cp -v libflashplayer.so /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins

## Clean Up
echo "Cleaning..."
rm -rf libflashplayer.so libflashplayer-

## Done!
echo "Done!"
exit 0

Gnome Applets.

Being an avid Ubuntu user, I wanted to tinker in building for the Gnome interface.  An applet was the perfect idea but a tutorial on the internet was hard to find.  I found a few like these that are in C, which I’m fond of C but for rapid development and tinkering, Python works much better.  Besides, that is my primary programming language and kindly, Ubuntu came with all the required modules to build in this way.  Most tutorials for Python were out of date.  One of the best I found in Python was this one and my personal favorite which shows a good use of classes.

Onto the tutorial!

The first thing you need to do is build a server file.  This will go to /usr/lib/bonobo/servers with root access.  The reason for this file is for Gnome to be able find your file and set it as an applet.   The lines to pay attention to are:

Line 4:          This is the full path to your source code file.
Lines 9-10:  Name and describe your applet.
Line 20-23: These are the options you can set for the applet browser.

    <oaf_server iid="OAFIID:SampleApplet_Factory"
        <oaf_attribute name="repo_ids" type="stringv">
            <item value="IDL:Bonobo/GenericFactory:1.0"/>
            <item value="IDL:Bonobo/Unknown:1.0"/>
        <oaf_attribute name="name" type="string" value="Sample Applet Factory"/>
        <oaf_attribute name="description" type="string" value="Sample Applet's Factory that launches the applet"/>
    <oaf_server iid="OAFIID:SampleApplet"
        <oaf_attribute name="repo_ids" type="stringv">
            <item value="IDL:GNOME/Vertigo/PanelAppletShell:1.0"/>
            <item value="IDL:Bonobo/Control:1.0"/>
            <item value="IDL:Bonobo/Unknown:1.0"/>
        <oaf_attribute name="name" type="string" value="Sample Applet"/>
        <oaf_attribute name="description" type="string" value="Sample applet's description."/>
        <oaf_attribute name="panel:category" type="string" value="Utility"/>
        <oaf_attribute name="panel:icon" type="string" value="gnome-laptop.png"/>

Now with the server file in place, it’s time to build the applet. I used a picture to show my applet as a small 16×16 PNG smiley face.   As for the coding, I’ve commented what needs to be done here.

#!/usr/bin/env python
import sys
import gtk
import pygtk
import gnomeapplet


def create_menu(applet):
    xml = """
    <popup name="button3">
        <menuitem name="Item 1" verb="Networks" label="_Networks...."
            pixtype = "stock" pixname="gtk-properties"/>
        <menuitem name="Item 2" verb="Help" label="_Help"
            pixtype = "stock" pixname="gtk-help"/>
        <menuitem name="Item 3" verb="About" label="_About..."
            pixtype = "stock" pixname="gnome-stock-about"/>
    verbs = [('Networks',show_networks), ('Help',show_help), ('About',show_about)]
    applet.setup_menu(xml, verbs, None)

def show_about(*arguments):

def show_networks(*arguments):

def show_help(*arguments):

def applet_factory(applet, iid):
    im = gtk.Image()
    # SHOW IT!
    print('Factory started')
    return True

def test(*arguments):
    dia = gtk.Dialog("Message",None,gtk.DIALOG_MODAL)
    lbl = gtk.Label("this is a message")

def button_press(button, event):
    if event.button == 1:
        print "button 1"
        m = gtk.Menu()
        i = gtk.MenuItem("Hello")
        m.popup(None, None, None, event.button, event.time, None)
    elif event.button == 2:
        # DEBUG
        print "button 2"

if __name__ == '__main__':
    # DEBUG
    print('Starting factory')
    if len(sys.argv) > 1 and sys.argv[1] == '-d': #
        mainWindow = gtk.Window()
        mainWindow.set_title('Applet window')
        applet = gnomeapplet.Applet()
        applet_factory(applet, None)
            'Sample Applet', '0.1',

You can see in these pictures how the applet sits like any other in the corner.  A left click will bring up our custom coded menu with one selection, ‘Hello’ which when clicked brings up a GTK Dialog that is made in the button_press() event.  If you right click, you get the standard menu, plus our XML menu which, when in Debug (-d) mode, you will see the arguments sent by a click outputted in your terminal.  As I mentitoned, there are a handful of great resources for this that detail current Python modules with information on setting this up as I did or in a class for bigger projects.  I hope this tutorial has been helpful, and let me know what you think of these lessons with the comments interface!

VirtualBox – USB Devices

As a military member, I am issued a CAC card, which is a smart card carrying a PKI certificate for logging onto web interfaces and signing documents.  As  Linux user, I’ve been frustrated by the Windows specifics for utilizing CAC cards and have been happy to find alternatives through libcoolkey and pcsc_lite.  These work well with Firefox and I can log onto web interfaces just fine, but have not had a viable, Linux solution to signing documents.  In the military, we use an IBM product, PureEdge to utilize our forms which are *.xfdl documents.

The solution I have come to, although not purely Linux, allows me to sign documents without rebooting to another OS.  For testing purposes, I have had Windows XP running in VirtualBox so I decided to utilize that.  The problem came in that I was using virtualbox-ose and needed to not use the open source version for access to the USB devices.   The process then is relatively and well documented with simple Google searches:

  1. Set vboxuser in the user’s group.
  2. Configure your USB devices (in this case the CAC card reader) to be detected by the guest OS.
  3. Run the guest OS and install ActivClient 6.0 and Silinas ApproveIt to be able to sign *.xfdl documents.

See, simple… hmm, that sounds too close to Windows 7 add but I promise it is not!  I may be a PC but Windows 7 was NOT my idea!!

Linux bash script for wifi.

When starting with Backtrack4, I compiled and installed the Broadcom wl driver for my laptop’s wifi. The unfortunate thing was that I got very frustrated because the default connection manager, wicd was getting confused when I would go to a network other than the one I initially connected to after boot-up. Shortly after that, Ubuntu 9.10 was experiencing the same difficulty after upgrading the kernel. So to work around using a network manager, I created a quick script to use.

In this script, you can see that you can pass a variable for your network name and key in the same format as you would normally. This was a fun script as it could easily be adapted as it’s own network manager, even with a little more work, you could have it in the tray, it’s own gui, etc. It’s nothing more than the commands typically used to connect on wifi but it just automated the process. I then went and created a child script for my most used networks, and after placing these in my bin, I actually have started to prefer this method.

Here’s the script:


# die with honor
function usage() {
	echo "usage: ./connectWifi \"<essid>\" [key]"
	echo "       *key in ascii prefaces s:[key]"
	exit 1

# killed in disgrace
function die() {
	echo "   [*] ERROR: $1..."
	exit 1

# check for essid
if [[ $1 ]]; then
	# setup
	echo "Starting..."
	ifconfig eth1 down
	dhclient -r eth1 -q
	echo " -Previous connection dropped."
	ifconfig eth1 up
	iwconfig eth1 essid "$1"
	echo " -ESSID Set to $1."
	# check for key
	if [[ $2 ]]; then
		iwconfig eth1 key $2
		echo " -Key set to $2."
	# connect
	iwconfig eth1 mode Managed
	echo " -Connecting..."
	dhclient eth1
	# announce success
	if [[ $? -eq 0 ]]; then
		echo "Successfully connected to $1!"
		exit 0

	# no variables

# declare failure
die "Failed to connect to $1."

This can serve as a good example of both the commands in connecting to wifi and an introduction to bash scripting. Please comment on the code and offer any suggestions you may have!