Category: Computers

Nvidia Control Panel Won’t Open

Had an annoying issue today. For MechWarrior Online, I use Nvidia Control Panel to span my three monitors into one virtual one. Well today I wanted to turn that off and I couldn’t open the damn thing.

Updating the driver through Geforce experience did not resolve it. I had to uninstall the driver within Device Manager and let Windows automatically get it again and that reset the displays back to default and also actually solved the inability to launch the Nvidia Control Panel.

x11 logo

x11 logo

Persistent Server VNC

I have a home server I call a NAS but it also does some other stuff. Occasionally I find the need to do some GUI things, and I don’t want to be bothered with a physical keyboard and mouse as that’s quite inconvenient due to the physical setup. I require use of the real graphics card for this, so, using virtual desktops is not an option, so to that end I will use x11vnc since it shares existing X displays.

I suppose there is a more elegant solution to this problem but this is fine for me. I am running Debian 10, with the LXDE desktop environment. Bog standard Debian desktop install.

I’m going to make lightdm log me in my non-root user automatically:

[email protected]:~# nano /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf

Add your user under Seat:*

autologin-user= MadRush

~/.xsessionrc runs stuff as soon as you are logged in to X. It’s a perfect spot to make x11vnc start up:

[email protected]:~$ cat .xsessionrc 
/usr/bin/x11vnc -forever -display :0 -auth guess -rfbauth /home/MadRush/.vnc/passwd & disown

Okay so next time you log in, x11vnc will be started. And -forever means it will stay open after you disconnect. Going forward lightdm will automatically log you in, et voila, there’s your persistent x11vnc session. Restart lightdm:

[email protected]:~# systemctl restart lightdm

Good to go! Now I can log in at the physical console if I want, and then pick up where I left off should I want to use VNC instead.


Foxit PDF Read on Linux with Wine

I don’t very much like Evince or other FOSS PDF readers on Linux. I do however like using Foxit on windows. They do actually provide packages for Linux packages but there is a long standing rendering bug where everything is super stretched out vertically. There does not seem to be an solution to the bug in sight. However, while perusing the support forums someone mentioned they had good success using the Windows version in Wine. Ok! Fine.

I want this to be separate from the Wine root in my home directory so it is self contained and can be copied from one machine to another. I’m lazy.

mkdir -p /opt/foxitwine/wineroot
cd /opt/foxitwine/
<wget your foxit installer .exe in here>
WINEPREFIX=/opt/foxitwine/wineroot wine FoxitReader97_Setup_Prom_IS.exe

Now install Foxit Reader, I put it in c:\FoxitReader for brevity.

Thing is, you want this to integrate nicely with your Linux desktop, so, here’s a FoxitReaderWine.desktop file:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Foxit Reader Wine
Comment=View pdf documents
Exec=/usr/bin/env bash -c "printf 'z:%%q\\n' %F | WINEPREFIX='/opt/foxitwine/wineroot' xargs wine 'C:\\FoxitReader\\FoxitReader.exe'"

I was having an issue with getting the file argument successfully passed to wine so I mined this discussion for a handy solution.

mv FoxitReaderWine.desktop /usr/share/applications/

All done.


Firewall script without service

Sometimes on Linux systems for one reason or another it is not practical to use the built-in iptables-services or iptables-persistent to handle your firewall rules. For example, cPanel/WHM manages its own firewall rule set and does not care what is in the normal iptables rules file.

A very straight forward solution to this is run a script in cron to check if your rules exist presently and if not, add them.

# This script is run with cron to make sure iptables rules to block Portmap are present

function addrules {
  iptables -I INPUT -m tcp -p tcp --dport 111 -j DROP -m comment --comment "Portmapper Vulnerability"
  iptables -I INPUT -m udp -p udp --dport 111 -j DROP -m comment --comment "Portmapper Vulnerability"

numrulesfound=$(iptables -nL |grep -c "Portmapper Vulnerability")

if [ $numrulesfound -eq 0 ]; then
  echo "Portmapper iptables rules NOT found, adding"
elif [ $numrulesfound -gt 0 ]; then
  echo "$numrulesfound Portmapper iptables rules found, exiting"

And some kind of cron to run it periodically:

0 * * * * /root/ > /dev/null 2>&1
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Disable password in Windows 10

Run netplwiz and uncheck “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer”


It will ask you for your current password, then you are done.

Automatically sign in

Now to prevent Windows from asking for a password when you come back from suspend, search for ‘sign-in’ > set “If you’ve been away, when should Windows require you to sign in again?” to ‘Never’

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MariaDB logo

MariaDB logo

Moving MariaDB Data Drama

For those of you who work with MySQL on CentOS or RedHat servers on a regular basis, running out of room for large MySQL databases on the root partition is pretty common.  The default options in the OS installer suggest a 30GB root partition which has probably been the default value for at least ten years.  Normally, this is easy to remedy. However, I was trying this on a server with MariaDB …

Trying this both via editing my.cnf and by simply a symlink produces failure:

Sep 14 16:49:06 mysqld[22796]: 2017-09-14 16:49:06 140313610287360 [Note] /usr/sbin/mysqld (mysqld 10.1.26-MariaDB) starting as process 22796 …
Sep 14 16:49:06 mysqld[22796]: 2017-09-14 16:49:06 140313610287360 [Warning] Can’t create test file /var/lib/mysql/id27131.lower-test64 ID=15680 PROTO=UDP SPT=53 DPT=60246 LEN=192 UID=25 GID=25

Looks like it may be due to a bug with mariadb!

A tutorial on DO says you need to specify the socket for the MySQL client.. i didnt even try that as mysqld fails to start!
Seems like this would have to be done by changing  the variable basedir not datadir, I have yet to try that.

Chicony Close Up

Chicony Close Up

Ergodox Scavenge Build

I bought my first ErgoDox from a coworker. Bringing a keyboard back and forth to work is a pain in the ass, so I built another one.

I used to have what I am pretty sure was a Chicony 5581.

Chicony 5581 Keyboard

Chicony 5581 Keyboard

For whatever reason some years back, during the height of my take-shit-apart-without-a-concrete-goal-in-mind phase, I lost the top half of the case, some components of the track ball, and some keycaps. Well, turns out this sucker used Cherry MX Blue switches. They feel quite a bit different from the low mile switches in my aluminum-acrylic-sandwich bodied ErgoDox I use at work. I’m not sure if the MX blues from ’88 are equivalent to modern days ones. Anyway I figured I would put those to use eventually.

Naked Chicony Keyboard

Naked Chicony Keyboard

Chicony Controller

Chicony Controller

Chicony Close Up

Chicony Close Up

Chicony Printed Circuit Board Back

Chicony Printed Circuit Board Back

Chicony Printed Circuit Board Back Detail

Chicony Printed Circuit Board Back Detail

Weller Soldering Iron

Weller Soldering Iron

There have been several ways to order ErgoDox keyboards either completely assembled or as a kit.  Currently you can get an assembled ErgoDox from but starting at $270 its awfully expensive. Well, I have these key switches just waiting for a purpose, and key switches make up a large amount of the price of any mechanical keyboard.  Also, I already had a set of keycaps which aren’t included in kits anyway, so, instead of a kit I went ahead and ordered a pair of PCBs from, a teensy from PJRC and other miscellaneous bits from DigiKey.

It took a while and more than a little elbow grease to harvest the switches.  If you have not done something like this it involves jamming a screw driver under the switch while alternating between which leads you hit with a soldering iron.  The trusty ol’ Weller I inherited from my dad’s days of television repair got the job done, love that thing.

ErgoDox Printed Circuit Board

ErgoDox Printed Circuit Board

While the keycaps from the Chicony are doubleshot, they do not suit the ErgoDox well as they are sculpted, not flat DSA, which does not facilitate customizing your layout.  I did end up using a different set of non-DSA keycaps for the alpha which looked better matched with blank DSA caps I had for the modifier keys.


ErgoDox Teensy Controller

ErgoDox Teensy Controller

ErgoDox 3D Printed Assembly in Progress 1

ErgoDox 3D Printed Assembly in Progress 1

ErgoDox 3D Printed Assembly in Progress Close Up

ErgoDox 3D Printed Assembly in Progress Close Up

ErgoDox 3D Printed Assembled 2

ErgoDox 3D Printed Assembled 2

ErgoDox 3D Printed Assembled 4

ErgoDox 3D Printed Assembled 4

ErgoDox 3D Printed Assembled 3

ErgoDox 3D Printed Assembled 3


Less Syntax Highlighting on Ubuntu 16.04 and Debian 8

Looking at shell scripts or just about anything without highlighting is painful. I use less a lot to page through long stuff, so why not have some color?

sudo apt install source-highlight

then add the following to your .bashrc:

export LESSOPEN="| /usr/share/source-highlight/ %s"
export LESS=" -R "

This is modified from a script on GitHub. That script is specific to CentOS

Select from multiple Java versions

Select from multiple Java versions

Pick from different Java Versions when launching JNLP

Extenuating circumstances require me to run more than one version of Java JRE for work. Instead of using packages from the distro, I got the .tar.gz’s right from Oracle. I had to manually add the plugin to Firefox. Then, I extracted both JRE into /opt/java, added /opt/java to my path and made symlinks:

[email protected]:/opt/java$ ls -l
total 8
lrwxrwxrwx 1 carl carl 20 Jul 1 15:01 java -> jre1.7.0_80/bin/java
lrwxrwxrwx 1 carl carl 20 Jul 7 16:05 java7-java -> jre1.7.0_80/bin/java
lrwxrwxrwx 1 carl carl 22 Jul 7 16:49 java7-javaws -> jre1.7.0_80/bin/javaws
lrwxrwxrwx 1 carl carl 20 Jul 19 14:52 java8-java -> jre1.8.0_92/bin/java
lrwxrwxrwx 1 carl carl 22 Jul 7 16:06 java8-javaws -> jre1.8.0_92/bin/javaws
drwxr-xr-x 6 carl carl 4096 Apr 10 2015 jre1.7.0_80
drwxr-xr-x 6 carl carl 4096 Apr 1 00:17 jre1.8.0_92

I wrote a little helper script which I use as the default application in Firefox for this, using zenity (actually I use Palemoon, but same difference).

command=$(zenity --list --text "Is helpful?" --radiolist \
--column "Pick" --column "Opinion" TRUE /opt/java/java8-javaws FALSE /opt/java/java7-javaws );
$command $1

Java Selector

Java Selector

Password Safe logo

Password Safe logo

Password safe and GnuPG on Ubuntu 14.04

Once again here is how to verify and install Password safe. This is an update of an earlier post. Considering this software is guarding some of your most important secrets I see it worthwhile to verify the GnuPG signature. OS this time is Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr (Linux Mint 17.2 Rafaela).

Password safe

To verify the signature we need GnuPG.

  1. install gnupg

    $ sudo apt-get install gnupg

  2. import project administrator’s signing key (RSA)
    i. We’re going to import Rony Shapiro’s Password Safe Signing key. Go to click the link for “this public key”.
    ii. Save the page it gives you as pwsafe.key and strip out the HTML tags.
    iii. import the key

    $ gpg –import pwsafe.key
    gpg: key 5CCF8BB3: public key “Rony Shapiro (PasswordSafe Signing Key) <[email protected]>” imported
    gpg: Total number processed: 1
    gpg: imported: 1 (RSA: 1)
    gpg: no ultimately trusted keys found

    iiii. verify the key fingerprint against what is listed at the bottom of

    $ gpg –fingerprint
    pub 2048R/5CCF8BB3 2011-02-10
    Key fingerprint = A703 C132 8EAB C7B2 0175 3BA3 9194 6451 5CCF 8BB3
    uid Rony Shapiro (PasswordSafe Signing Key) <[email protected]>
    sub 2048R/04B638E7 2011-02-10

  3. Download the package
    i. SourceForge (bleh) is the only place the .deb package is available. Don’t be fooled, SourceForge lists 0.94BETA as the newest release, actually 0.97BETA is the newest as of the time of writing this article. In my case, passwordsafe-ubuntu-0.97BETA.amd64.deb. There are also .debs specific to debian, RPMs and source packages available.
    ii. Download the pakage signature. In my case, passwordsafe-ubuntu-0.97BETA.amd64.deb.sig
  4. Verify the Password Safe .deb package
    You need to have the .deb and the .sig file in the same directory.

    $ gpg –verify passwordsafe-ubuntu-0.97BETA.amd64.deb.sig gpg: Signature made Fri 09 Oct 2015 05:21:50 AM EDT using RSA key ID 5CCF8BB3
    gpg: Good signature from “Rony Shapiro (PasswordSafe Signing Key) <[email protected]>”
    gpg: WARNING: This key is not certified with a trusted signature!
    gpg: There is no indication that the signature belongs to the owner.
    Primary key fingerprint: A703 C132 8EAB C7B2 0175 3BA3 9194 6451 5CCF 8BB3

    Notice the fingerprint matches the one we verified earlier listed on — ok good!

  5. Go ahead and install

    $ sudo dpkg -i passwordsafe-ubuntu-0.97BETA.amd64.deb

  6. It will complain about dependencies for libwxgtk3.0-0, libxerces-c3.1, and libykpers-1-1. So, install your dependencies

    $ sudo apt-get -f install

Done! To verify your .deb has been installed:

$ dpkg –get-selections | grep passwordsafe
passwordsafe install

You can launch the password safe gui either by

$ pwsafe &

or by finding ‘Password Safe’ it in your launcher menu.