Night Mode for ChromeOS

So, what is night-mode?  It is a mode for changing the color temperature of computer screens to be ‘warmer’ (more red-tones, less blue tones).  Why?  The strong blue tones (and whites) from most computer screens help trick your mind into thinking it is still day, and therefor you need to be awake.

I have been trying to enable night mode on all the things for a while now.  For my android phone, I use twilight for Android (IOS has something built in now), Solus Linux added it in the most recent release, Gnome has it in the later releases, and under i3, I use xflux.

However, I could not find anything for the Chromebooks….until now! has a story about the feature coming soon to ChromeOS, but they claim that you need to be on the very latest development branch called ‘Canary’.  I tend to run on the Developers branch, and did not want to switch.  I did a bit of digging, and found this reddit thread which has the feature flag to set:


Normal warnings, this can lead to breakage of your system.

I have enabled it, and it is looking good so far!

Updates to AUR packages

So, with the migration of the AUR to version 4, I looked at the 12 AUR packages I had created over the years which I have not looked at in a long, long time.

The list started out with:

In the end, I only kept xlhttp as I do not use the others anymore. Surprisingly enough, only one of the packages (chronicle) was out of date. I disowned all the others, so if you want, you can pick them up.

dd(8) with progress

I needed to write an iso image to a USB key, and the typical way is
with just dd(8), but I wanted a progress bar. A quick google later,
and I get:

pv -tpreb isoname | sudo dd of=/dev/sdd bs=1024

Which will write the iso image to the USB stick sdd, and give me a
progress bar, tell me how fast it is writing, and give me an eta when
finished. Perfect.

Clickable URL links in rxvt

So, I use rxvt as my daily interface to my computers. I also use mutt for my email reading pleasure. Sometimes, I get URLs in email and I want to read them in a browser. If I was using a GUI based mail reader, I would just click the URL to open it. Well, there is an easy way to set up rxvt to do that!

Using the fine Arch Linux wiki entry for rxvt unicode, the solution is quite easy. In the file ~/.Xdefaults, add:

URxvt.perl-ext-common: default,matcher
URxvt.url-launcher: /usr/bin/firefox
URxvt.matcher.button: 1

And either do a xrdb –merge ~/.Xdefaults or log out/log in. And start a new rxvt, and you are good to go.

An Update to ‘Window Managers?’

Way back, I wrote a quick blurb on Window Managers for running under X.

Well, a while back I switched to Ubuntu for my OS of choice. As you may know, the fine folks at Ubuntu switched to default window manager to something called Unity, which caused a stir. I tried it for a while, but decided that it was too heavy, and too mouse-centric.

So, what to do? Well, I went back to my old standby wmfs, Window Manager From Scratch. This is a modern WM with systray support, full Ximirama and Xrandr support, tiles, and is mainly driven from the keyboard. Life is good.

To install (same steps as for Fedora, RHEL, or Ubuntu), download the source, and install the needed development libraries for: X11, Xft, freetype, Xinerama, Xrandr, and Imlib2. I used the native packages from the OS. Then, simple do a

sudo make install

(you do build software as a normal user, right?)

This will install all the needed bits and configs into the correct place. Under Ubuntu 11.10, there was an entry from the login screen to let me chose wmfs.

Config is handled in $HOME/.config/wmfs/wmfsrc which you can copy from /etc/xdg/wmfs/wmfsrc.

EDIT 2016-11-30: It seems the domain is no longer active.
The wmfs website has very nice documentation as well as likes to some people’s configs with screen shots.

It runs very fast, and very lean:

 Private + Shared = RAM used Program 3.9 MiB + 310.0 KiB = 4.2 MiB wmfs

Check it out, I am sure you will like what you see.

Making life easy over flaky links

Making life easy over flaky links

I tend to work over VPN, which we know can be flaky at times, Since I work on server, I spend a lot of time ssh’ed into hosts. I was getting tired of the lost time having to restart what I was working on every time the VPN dropped (which could be as much as every 15 minutes on a bad day). While I already used screen to handle the lack of terminals (Alas, I am forced to use a Windows laptop to VPN in with), I thought there could be an easier way to do this.

The way I tend to work is that I ssh into a jump server, fire up screen, then ssh into the hosts I need to work on, and fire up screen on those hosts.

Now, this is nice, but it can get a bit tiring to do it all over
again. So, I found a tool called
autossh which will automatically restart your ssh session if it drops for any reason but a graceful disconnect. (Well, there are others, but this is basically it). Combine this with your ssh-agent, and you can re-attach with easy. I also use keychain to help manage my ssh-agent when I log in.

Now that the connection will come back, I need a way to re-attach to my screen session, or if there is not one, to start one for me. To do
that, I have this is my .bashrc file:

test -x $STY && screen -xR

This will check to make sure that we are not already inside a screen session on the local host (test -x $STY), and if we are not, then either attach to an existing screen session or start a new one (screen -xR)

I have define this function in my .bashrc to spawn a new ssh connection in a separate screen window:

function ss ()
{ screen -t $1 ssh $*

Easy stuff

Search your email!

Search your email!

One of the features that most of the pretty GUI mailers offer you is the ability to search your email. While this is not a feature I use regularly, it is one which when you need it, you really need it. I have used grepmail in the past, but it slow for me (it scans the mail files every time) and the big thing for me is that is only supports mbox files, and I use maildir since I use offlineimap.

I recently found mairix. While I have not been using it long, so far I am very impressed with it. It uses an index to speed up the search process, and it smartly adds only new or changed files to the index. The first indexing run was only a few seconds on my archive of almost 15,000 mail messages. I have it scheduled to update the index every 15 minutes, and I never notice the load this will put on the system.

To integrated mairix with mutt, I wrote a quick little script to search from within (or without) mutt:

# USAGE: ./
# DESCRIPTION: search mail stuff
# OPTIONS: ---
# BUGS: ---
# NOTES: ---
# AUTHOR: Don Harper
# COMPANY: Don Harper
# VERSION: 1.0
# CREATED: 05/25/2009 07:03:30 PM CST
rm -rf $HOME/Maildir/mfolder
echo " t::word Match word in the To: header.
 c::word Match word in the Cc: header.
 f::word Match word in the From: header.
 s::word Match word in the Subject: header.
 m::word Match word in the Message-ID: header.
 b::word Match word in the message body.
 d::[start-datespec]--[end-datespec] Match messages with Date: headers lying in the specific range.
 z::[low-size]--[high-size] Match messages whose size lies in the specified range.
 n::word Match word occurring as the name of an attachment in the message. Since attachment names are usually long, this option F::flags Match messages with particular flag settings. s meaning seen, r meaning replied f meaning flags prefixed by a - to negate its sense. The a:: search pattern is an abbreviation for tcf: Match words The word argument to the search strings can take various forms.
 ~word Match messages not containing the word. 
  word1,word2 This matches if both the words are matched in the specified message part.
  word1/word2 This matches if either of the words are matched in the specified message part.
 substring= Match any word containing substring as a substring
 substring=N Match any word containing substring, allowing up to N errors in the match.
   For example, if N is 1, a single error is allowed, where an error can be * a missing letter * an extra letter * a different letter.
 ^substring= Match any word containing substring as a substring, with the requirement that substring occurs at the beginning of the matched word.
 d::start-end Specify both start and end explicitly "
echo -n "Enter your search string: "
read string
mairix $string
mutt -f=mfolder
rm -rf $HOME/Maildir/mfolder

Then, I bound this to “S’’ from within mutt:

 macro index,pager S "!mailsearch\n" 

This will give me a reminder of the search command, run the search, and then give me the search results in a new mutt session.

wifiroamd, Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG, and Fedora

wifiroamd, Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG, and Fedora

One of the things that has annoyed me about Fedora has been the decision to switch over to using NetworkManager to manage all network connections.

Now, on the service this has a lot of advantages. A lot of work has gone into it, and it just works for a vast majority of the installations out there. They have made it so the move from wired to wireless and back can be done without the user doing anything. They have also seamlessly tied in Dial-Up Networking if you still need a modem or use a wireless modem. They even have two-click access to your VPN which is pretty cool.

All these are things which are very good for Linux users. The biggest drawback to all this? The need for a user-space program to manage the non-hardwired connections. Which means that in order to be able to have any network running besides the good old twisted-pair copper, you have to have a little applet running as you, and it has to have a systray somewhere to display. Which means you have to be a) logged into the system and b) you have to be running a window manager which supports having a system tray. Now, Fedora gives you lots of choices for the second part now days. You have Gnome, KDE, XFCE, and LXDE. All are perfectly usable window managers. But, they still require you to be logged in to X. And, I do not use any of them.

So, what is a cli-loving Fedora user to do? Well, there is this great program called wifiroamd. It will handle the same basic tasks that NetworkManager handles. It will automatically configure your wifi interface and connect to the wifi networks or the locate hardwired NIC if it cannot. You can configure it to run scripts per connection, so for example, you can change your firewall rules for different networks (shields down at home or the office, but up full at the coffee house), or you could bring up your VPN connection when you start using a given wireless network.

One tip I picked up from the author was that if you have multiple AP’s in range, an you want to select once AP over the other, is under the /etc/wifiroamd/connections directory, simply link the AP info you do not want to the one you want:

ln essid:my_home_ap essid:bad_ap

where essid:my_home_ap is your AP with the keys and other information you want, and essid:bad_ap is the one you do not want to connect to. My neighbors have some very powerful AP’s which have a habit of showing up high than mine, but I have no problem with them now.

I have been using this set up under Fedora since FC6 days, but when I upgraded to F10, this stopped working. wifiroamd would try to scan for an AP, and not find anything. The change, it turns out, is that when I switched from using the iw3945 driver to the native iwl3945, wifiroamd could no longer see the wireless NIC due to the wpa_supplicant process, but NetworkManager could. Simply stopping and disabling wp_supplicant and NetworkManager, and wifiroamd started working again! I am a happy camper again.