Friday, November 26, 2010

The danger of HTTPS-Everywhere

There was a new release of the Firefox extension HTTPS-Everywhere a few days ago. This extension always tries to open an URL via SSL encryption. Well, that's not a bad thing at all, but most people don't know how SSL is actually working.

I had some funny conversations about it already and one came up with the thesis, that using SSL allows you to be anonymous in the net because everything is encrypted.
But that's plain wrong. The only encrypted thing is the content which is sent from server to client and the other way around. The used URL is still visible to the ISPs, the government or whoever wants to play big brother.

It is always very annoying to get links from wikipedia which are artificially blown up by HTTPS-Everywhere because WP doesn't only use https:// but https://secure.*
Why the heck are they using this extension on wikipedia? The content is clearly visible for everybody who knows the URL, and the URL is still visible even when using SSL. Big Brother just has to visit this URL to see what the content of the package was which you got from the server.

Well, there's another thing. Gentoo Forums.
I won't blame Gentoo that they don't use a SSL cert from verisign or another 'trusted' company. But my Chrome always shocks me with a bright red "THIS CERTIFICATE CANNOT BE TRUSTED!! ALARM! INTRUDER ALERT!!" when I click on a link to the forums which i got in a messenger by users of HTTPS-Everywhere. Hey, it is just a forum. Nothing top secret on it. The content is even supposed to be visible for everybody. And again, No, you aren't anonymous there just because you're using HTTPS-Everywhere.

If you really want to be anonymous on the net, get a private proxy which doesn't log the traffic, doesn't forward your IP and which is owned by people you don't know and who don't know you either. Also use a fresh installed Windows XP with IE7 and only standard fonts or you won't be able to hide in the crowd.
But please, don't use HTTPS-Everywhere for anonymity. That doesn't work. You're still trackable. Big Brother will know what you did.

Pulseaudio v0.9.22 released

My nightly world update came up with a new version of Pulseaudio. Yes, it's already in portage. The changelog looks quite promising and especially the patches for more smoothness are looking promising.

It's working quite well on my box and the first improvement which jumped to my ear: The crackling is a lot better if you use more than one stream.

Home of Pulseaudio

Thursday, November 11, 2010

KISC ~ Tools and Gadgets

KISC? Keep It Simple and Cute.
What's that? Hmm.. maybe a try to keep Gentoo up to date without blowing up my damn old CPU ^^

This Post should actually become a list of powerful but very lightweighted tools.
I'm always having troubles to find the best tools which aren't just lightweight and useful but look pretty and cute too.

This list will grow and change over time and suggestions for tools are very welcome. ^^

Easystrokes - Review



IDE C, C++, Python



Multimedia Images

Office PDF

sys-devel/prelink - Howto

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Some of you might know this gesture addon for Firefox which allows you to control Firefox just be using the mouse. Easystroke brings this feature to your normal desktop.

I was a little skeptical about how productive it is and if keyboard shortcuts aren't still faster than doing funny gestures with your mouse. But after a month of using it, it turns out that Easystroke is a really handy tool which adds more accessibility to your desktop. It also has a great support for Wacom tablets.

Easystroke is really easy to setup and use. It comes with a GTK+ setup tool which allows you to freely define any gesture you want either as global gesture or gestures which are bound to a single application.

There is an ebuild on the Gentoo Bug Tracker for the most recent version.
I've also put it into my overlay which can easily be added to layman. I'm trying to keep it up to date.

Easystroke on Gentoo Bug Tracker
My overlay

For all who are looking for an ebuild.. read this.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

MPD and scrobbling

Important: This HowTo is out of date since scrobby isn't in portage anymore. Use this guide for mpdscribble.

Some MPD frontends have the scrobbler built in already, but what can we do if we use a player which can't scrobble on its own?

I've started to use ncmpcpp today which can fetch several informations from but isn't able to scrobble. Not a big deal.. there are some nice tools which are able to do that job and one of them is scrobby.

Since I'm running MPD as my own user I have to start scrobby as my user too.

First of all the install:

emerge scrobby -avq

Then copying the config to your home:

mkdir -p ~/.config/scrobby
cp /etc/scrobby.conf ~/.config/scrobby/scrobby.conf

Now some edits in the config:

dedicated_user = "<your user>"
log_level = "info" (none/info/verbose)
log_file = "~/.config/scrobby/scrobby.log"
pid_file = "~/.config/scrobby/"
cache_file = "~/.config/scrobby/scrobby.cache"

lastfm_user = "<lastfm user>"
lastfm_password = "<lastfm password>"

Everything else is commented out.

Finally start scrobby:

scrobby ~/.config/scrobby/scrobby.conf

I've put this command into my Openbox so I don't have to worry about it anymore.

Some Links:
home of ncmpcpp
home of scrobby

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rosegarden in H-online

H-online recently published a nice article about Rosegarden.
Rosegarden is a pretty powerful music composition suite.

For all who missed it here's the link.

Run Pulseaudio and MPD as own user

Oh huh.. I've ran into some meany troubles when installing MPD. It just didn't want to talk to Pulseaudio if it runs as systemwide daemon.

Solutions: Start MPD as your user or the Pulseaudio daemon systemwide.
Problem: Every Howto for Pulseaudio told me how bad and very bad and very very bad it is to run it systemwide ~.~

Okey.. not a big deal. Let's just set up MPD with your own user..

First of all install MPD:

emerge mpd -avq

I'm using the following useflags for it:

aac alsa avahi bzip2 curl ffmpeg fifo flac id3 ipv6 jack lame lastfmradio libsamplerate mad mikmod network ogg pulseaudio tcpd unicode vorbis wavpack -ao -audiofile -cdio -cue -debug -doc -fluidsynth -libmms -modplug -mpg123 -musepack -oss -pipe -profile -sid -sndfile -sqlite -twolame -zip

Some of them might not be available on every system because I'm using the live version from mpd overlay. It's available in layman.

Now the /etc/mpd.conf needs to go to the right place:

mkdir -p ~/.config/mpd/
cp /etc/mpd.conf ~/.config/mpd/

And finally some edits in the config.. mine looks like this:

music_directory "/mnt/media/music/collection"
playlist_directory "/mnt/media/music/playlists"
db_file "~/.config/mpd/database"
log_file "~/.config/mpd/mpd.log"
pid_file "/var/run/mpd/"
state_file "~/.config/mpd/state"
bind_to_address "localhost"
audio_output {
type "pulse"
name "MPD"
replaygain "album"
replaygain_preamp "0"
volume_normalization "yes"

Everything else is commented out.

So far so good.. mpd should be able to run now.

mpd ~/.config/mpd/mpd.conf

I've put this line into my of Openbox. It's using really less CPU while idling so I really don't mind. Some frontends are able to start and stop it too but I'm switching the frontends sometimes for tests and silly things.

Monday, November 1, 2010

How to run two soundcards?

Here's a pretty simple setup how to bring two soundcards to work..

Build both drivers as module into your kernel and add the following to your /etc/modprobe.d/alsa.conf:

alias snd-card-0 <driver1>
alias sound-slot-0 <driver1>
alias snd-card-1 <driver2>
alias sound-slot-1 <driver2>

Replace <driver1> and <driver2> with your own soundcard modules.

I'm using pulseaudio to manage the different sinks.

Jack and Pulseaudio

I've recently found a question on the Gentoo forums about Jack and Pulse in one environment which is very well possible.
Both, Jack and Pulse, need to be build with the dbus useflag which let them communicate which each other.
As soon as you start Jack it will take over the device from Pulse and give it back to it if you close Jack again.

Jack and the LADI overlay

The LADI overlay provides a great set of tools for jack and lash. It is managing your settings in studios and let you save and load different jack settings. The important tools from the overlay are ladish and laditools.

The laditools are containing several utilities. Here's the list quoted from the blog of the ladi creator MarcO'Chapeau:

The laditools python module (no interest for the end users)
laditray : a system tray icon that allows you to start, stop and monitor JACK, as well as start some JACK related apps (log viewer, connections...)
wmladi : a controller as a Window Maker dockapp. Uses the same menu as laditray
ladilog : a JACK, LASH and a2jmidid log viewer
ladiconf : a GUI to setup JACK's configuration
g15ladi : a JACK monitor for g15 keyboards

You can add the ladi-overlay to layman:

layman -o -f -a ladi

Build the laditools:

emerge laditools -avq

There's also a rewrite of lash in the overlay called ladish. It is replacing the lashlibs but it turns out that you run into some file collision if you install ladish and a tool is pulling into lash.

Here's a small workaround to install both package to allow tools like ardour to use lash:

a) Add the useflag lash to your /etc/make.conf
b) Build lash with the oneshot emerge option:

emerge lash -1avq

c) Delete the lash libs from /usr/lib64:

rm /usr/lib64/
rm /usr/lib64/pkgconfig/lash-1.0.pc
rm /usr/lib64/
rm /usr/lib64/

d) Build ladish:

emerge ladish -avq

If you want to add laditray to your autostart add this line to ~/.config/openbox/

laditray &

But be warned it will start Jack automatically and will take control over your devices until you stop the studio. It's better to start laditray from menu if you use Pulseaudio for listening to music and systemsounds and Jack only as realtime soundserver for music composition.

Some interessting Links:
Home of LADI

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Templates? ~.~

Uh.. I'm really not happy with the templates here <.<°
It seems like I have to build some own css classes for a nice format of code and stuff. The quote tag is really unusable for some proper posts about settings and commands o.O


I've run into some troubles a while ago when I looked for a nice way to use two soundcards at the same time.
I've tried a plain alsa install but I wasn't happy with the results. It was just too limited and some tools couldn't be configured like i wanted to do it.
Especially flash and media in the web gave me some headache because I couldn't choose the output device on fly and had troubles with devices kept busy until i closed the browser and such.

The only solution which is really working for me like i want it is Pulseaudio.
It let me switch the devices on fly, to mute them separately, dublex is working and it saves the settings for each tool.
I'm still not happy with it though. The sound is cranky sometimes and it's a bit slow, funny shock moments included. The volume is usually turned up to max if a tool is starting to play sound and it takes a second or two before Pulse toggles the volume if the system is under heavy load.

The good thing.. it's running almost out of the box.

Here's what i did to get sound in every tool, also in browser and flash:

Editing /etc/make.conf and adding pulseaudio useflag:

USE=" [.. snip ..]
mplayer webkit gimp imagemagick ffmpeg jack lash lame \
libsamplerate jpeg2k real wavpack theora pulseaudio gstreamer"

Emerging world with the new useflag:

emerge world -NDavq

Adding my user to the pulseaudio and plugdev group:

usermod -a -G pulseaudio plugdev <user>

Forcing alsa to use Pulseaudio as output build the alsa plugins:

emerge alsa-plugins -avq

And add the following into ~/.asoundrc:

pcm.pulse {
type pulse

ctl.pulse {
type pulse

pcm.!default {
type pulse

ctl.!default {
type pulse

And I finally emerged a useful tool to control the Pulseaudio:

emerge pavucontrol -avq

There's no need to add Pulseaudio to a runlevel. It's starting as soon as an application wants to send something to your soundcard.

Don't forget to relog into your account to activate your new group settings. Though the savest way to get all tools running with Pulseaudio would be a restart of your box. Yes.. a restart is sometimes easier.. even with Linux <.<°

Some Links for further infos:

What's going on here?

I've decided to write a small blog about Gentoo Linux to keep track of my settings and workarounds I figure out and to collect them at a public place for everyone else who might run into the same troubles i'm often running into.

I'm focused on a mix of desktop and server box with a lightweighted windowmanager for multimedia and webserver environment for some webdevelopment.

The troubles, I'm working on at the moment, are to find the best sound setup and to build a nice sandbox for starting programming in python.

So far so good.. Let's see if google is nice and let me save my first real post here <.<°

Yeb.. Testpost

does it do it?

ookey.. i have my troubles to get along with this blog o.O
very less options, quoting is really bad, and the design needs some work
well.. let's see if i'll become used to it ~.~