Command Line

GNAT 2012 for Debian Wheezy

For purposes known mostly within our company, I’ve created a magic makefile that takes care of most of the work involved with getting a GNAT 2012 (and up-to-date various support tools) up and running on a Debian.

The makefile requires you to download some files manually, but that’s okay, as it gives you a great opportunity to visit AdaCore’s libre webpage. The readme file explains it in more detail.

At this point, the makefile will build (and/or install) the following projects.

  • GNAT 2012 – binary
  • GNATCOLL (Gnatlib) – SVN build
  • AWS (Ada Web Server) – Git build
  • Florist GPL 2012 release
  • XML-Ada 4.3 (release)
  • Yolk (AWS support library)
In time, the makefile will be expanded to support more libraries and projects.

The makefile can be found at GitHub, hope you find it useful or want to contribute.

Thinkfan on a Lenovo T420

Warning: tampering with the fan control on you laptop is potentially dangerous, and I will not take any responsibility if anything happens to your machine. With that being said; I have used Thinkfan for various Thinkpads (7 I think) with no problems at all. Just be warned.

A lovely Lenovo T420 has recently dropped into my possession – not the worst thing that can happen. Well, actually it is a company laptop – but enough with the chit-chat.

Linux support on this machine is far from perfect, but one of the most annoying things about it, is the fan noise. It is constantly on at ~3500rpm and very noticeable (read: annoying).

First, install Thinkfan. (I owe my sanity to these developers!)

$ sudo aptitude install thinkfan

To enable fan control, the kernel acpi module must be enabled with explicit support.

$ sudo su -c "echo \"options thinkpad_acpi fan_control=1\" > /etc/modprobe.d/thinkfan.conf"

And reload the module.

$ sudo modprobe -rv thinkpad_acpi && sudo modprobe -v thinkpad_acpi

We also need the coretemp module, which is not autoloaded.

$ sudo modprobe -v coretemp

To make it autoload, append it to /etc/modules.

sudo su -c "echo \"coretemp\" >> /etc/modules"

Now, edit /etc/default/thinkfan to enable the thinkfan service to start. There are a lot of precautions here ūüėź


Then, the following to /etc/thinkfan.conf, just after the comments – before the threshold declarations.

sensor /sys/devices/platform/coretemp.0/temp1_input
sensor /sys/devices/platform/coretemp.0/temp2_input
sensor /sys/devices/virtual/hwmon/hwmon0/temp1_input

Finally, start Thinkfan.

sudo /etc/init.d/thinkfan start

And.. Enjoy the silence :-)

Heads up for the people who led me to the solution:


Yet another goodbye

For those who are about to halt -p, we salute you.

I’m moving out – of my first vserver that is.

I have had the server running for, well

lucretia:~# uptime 
 19:19:59 up 700 days, 22:51,  2 users,  load average: 0.02, 0.06, 0.02

Wow.. Time flies.

I have been migrating the services running in the machine to another, server. Not is the time to do the inevitable.

Sorry old chap, better you than me.

lucretia:~# halt -p

Broadcast message from root@lucretia (pts/1) (Fri Sep 30 19:23:24 2011):

The system is going down for system halt NOW!
lucretia:~# Connection to closed by remote host.
Connection to closed.

Of course, prior to this, I made sure to make a complete copy of the file system like so. Isn’t rsync the best tool?

rsync --progress -poazuHK -e ssh --delete --exclude /proc --exclude sys --exclude dev /

Migrating Dovecot 1.2 Maildir to Dovecot 2.0 dbox

I am in the process of migrating to a new mail server. Therefore I need to, as painlessly as possible, move users. The details about the setup is another story for another day – promise.

This guide is targeted for Debian systems, but the concepts apply for all other systems as well.

Dovecot 2.0 comes with a nice tool called dsync which eases migration by a great deal. Unfortunately, my current mail server runs Dovecot 1.2 and therefore does not have the tool.

What to do, then.

Basically I have thought up three options for migrating.

  1. Using dsync on both sides
  2. Using rsync, then dsync
  3. Using dsync over sshfs

This post will serve as documentation for my experiments with mailbox migration.

If you are in a hurry, you can skip to the conclusion.

Using dsync on both sides

Being that I run Dovecot 1.2 and thus do no have dsync available I will need to pull down the sources and compile them myself. (I do not want to use dpkg’s as they may intervene with the existing installation.)

I got as far as getting the source compiled, but have not investigated further. Some paths were wrong – I cowardly quitted.

Later experiments with the two other approaches have shown that this, most likely, will not prove successful.

Using rsync then dsync

Next solution was to create a two step migration solution. First I used rsync to copy my Maildir mailboxes to the new server.

rsync -poazuHK -e ssh \ 
     root@oldmailserver.tld:/var/spool/postfix/virtual/ \ 

You can log in as root here, as the -o (preserve ownership) maps the uname to the uid on the target system. Clever :-)

Then, run dsync for each user in order to import the new emails.

dsync -R -u myaddress@mydomain.tld backup \

Mirroring does not really make sense here as we have a local copy of the mailbox

This approach is by far the fastest and easiest.

Using dsync over sshfs

Notice: This only works with backup and not mirror.

Why? Dovecot2 log format is incompatible with Dovecot1’s that will timeout with a message about an unknown record type (0x8000) after a mirror operation.

# apt-get install sshfs
sshfs -o uid=`id -u vmail` -o allow_other \
vmail@oldmailserver:/var/spool/postfix/virtual/ \

Remember the -o allow_other or the dsync will fail because the vmail user will not have access to the mount point.

Then, run dsync for each user in order to import the new emails.

dsync -R -u myaddress@mydomain.tld backup \

Ownerships is of the essence here. Do not use root as this user will take ownership of dovecot metadata files causing your source mail server to coredump or just stall.
vmail is not the best option either – but I was lazy. You should take advantage of the fact that the vmail folders are (usually) gid vmail. Putting a migration user in this group and chmodding will probably be preferred, security-wise.

This approach works well when refined (eg. usíng the right uid on both sides), but is pretty slow Рabout 100kb/s sync. This not really acceptable for 1GB+ mailboxes. But as always, your milage may vary.

Your remote Dovecot will keep on running as nothing has happened – if you get the permissions correct. Unfortunately there are problems with the dovecot transaction log resulting in problems with uid of the Mailbox being inconsistent, resulting in something like this:

Error: Corrupted transaction log file /var/vmail/domain.tld/username/dbox/mailboxes/INBOX/dbox-Mails/dovecot.index.log seq 4: indexid changed 1313910265 -> 1313868319 (sync_offset=0)


My previous attempts have lead me to one conclusion: I need to move the mailbox once.

I chose the rsync+dsync approach and then did the following:

  1. Migrated all users to the new server
  2. Updated DNS
  3. rsync’ed first time
  4. Stopped the Dovecot and Postfix service on the old server
  5. rsync’ed second time
  6. dsync’ed the mailboxes
  7. Turned virtual_mailbox_maps and domains into relay_recipient_maps and domains respectively

If you decrease the TTL for you domain up until the move, you can minimize downtime. If you maintain a local DNS – even better.

This is not the fancy minimal down-time approach I had hoped for, but it has been sufficient for my needs. Feel free to contribute feedback.


I got a:

dsync(root): Fatal: Mail locations must use the same virtual mailbox
hierarchy separator (specify separator for the default namespace)

Some google-ing revealed that I needed to setup a namespace separator. The technical explanation for this left to the more Dovecot-savy.

In short, add the following to /etc/dovecot/conf.d/10-mail.conf (or uncomment the relevant ones).

namespace {
  separator = /
  inbox = yes

An now it works. migration is just a matter of setting up a cron job now, lower the TTL on the domain and move in day or two.

I got some

Error: Can't rename mailbox INBOX to
Renaming INBOX isn't supported.

Using rsync->dsync which I haven’t been able to solve yet. Maybe shutting down the Dovecot service on the remote side would help. Race conditions are likely to occur.

Buffalo WLI-U2-KG54L on Debian

The dongle under treatment

I have a Buffalo WLI-U2-KG54L USB wifi dongle. It very convenient as my router and access point is placed in the basement, and I sometimes have computers on the main floor that do not have built-in wifi.

The dongle works out-of-the-box‚ĄĘ on Ubuntu, but as debian are more restrictive, it need a bit more work.

You can find the instructions here:

And instructions on how to activate it here: The part about wpa_supplicant is most relevant, as network manager just works when the device works.

Proftpd and LDAP on Debian Squeeze

This is a short howto (hopefully) providing enough information to install Proftpd and use LDAP as user database.


I have become obsessed with LDAP – at least for the time being. It seem to be the answer to my redundancy and distribution plans.

A production server is in the process of being converted (migrated actually) to have a single SSO LDAP structure.

A virtualization host crash (thank you Linode) forced me to move a couple of sites onto this new fancy LDAP server. Shortly after, a user prompted me about the lack of FTP on the new webhost.

Now the shoe needs to fit.

Installing the required packages

This is the easy part.

# apt-get install proftpd-mod-ldap

The LDAP module will depend on the proftpd server so this is really the only thing you need to install.

Requirements for the LDAP server

The LDAP module for Proftpd is hard coded to lookup only users of objectClass: posixUsers which in my opinion is less intuitive than having a specified schema for proftpd.

An example .ldif is shown below. I have added objectClass: domain, which is unnecessary.

The uidNumber and the gidNumber maps the uid and gid on the system. 115 is proftfd user and 65534 is group nobody. From a ftp client owner will appear as domain.tld or whatever you specify as uid.

version: 1

dn: dc=domain.tld,ou=webhosting,dc=example,dc=com
objectClass: domain
objectClass: top
objectClass: posixAccount
cn: domain.tld
dc: domain.tld
gidNumber: 65534
homeDirectory: /var/www/domain.tld/www
uid: domain.tld
uidNumber: 115
loginShell: /bin/false

Configuring the authentication

First you need to edit /etc/proftpd/ldap.conf to match you LDAP setup. Somthing like this is appropriate.

<IfModule mod_ldap.c>
  LDAPServer ldap://
  LDAPDNInfo "cn=proftpd,dc=example,dc=com" "password"
  LDAPDoAuth on "ou=webhosting,dc=example,dc=com"

notice the ??sub after the ldap. This is very important as it specifies the search scope. The configuration parameter LDAPSearchScope is apparently ignored.

Again, a sour comment; the bind should have been done as the user logging in, and not as a dedicated user. Admin is a bad choice – create a dedicated user. Besides, the /etc/proftpd/ldap.conf is world readable!

Next you have to tell proftpd to load the module.
Uncomment the line

LoadModule mod_ldap.c

in /etc/proftpd/modules.conf.

Now you have to uncomment the line.

Include /etc/proftpd/ldap.conf

in /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf to load the Ldap configuration.


While editing proftpd.conf you should also lift the RequireValidShell restriction (or give the user a valid loginShell parameter. If do not do this, you will not be able to log in.

Now is the time to take a look at the standard proftpd configuration and make sure that anonymous login is disabled and ditto /etc/passwd users.

HD time-lapse movies with Motion and Linux

NSLU2 with webcam
The system


I have previously experimented with time lapse videos, but wanted a more dedicated platform which could be set up, and run pretty much anywhere.

This is the first iteration, where the the purpose is to get the system up and running with headless operation.


The original idea was to use a PC Engines alix1d system board in a box1c enclosure, but unfortunately the board I had was running very unstable – so I brought in an old friend of mine:

The Linksys NSLU2 aka. “slug”. The one I had ran Debian 5.0 Lenny, but had to be upgraded in order to get the webcam to work.

I recklessly tried doing a dist-upgrade, but ended up with bricked slug. Guess a fresh installation was the right answer indeed.

Debian Squeeze on a NSLU2

Due to a required proprietary firmware, the official Debian 6.0 installer does not ship with support for the on board Ethernet controller Рwhich is bad because this is the only way of communicating the the device. Well, technically you can use the serial pin header or an USB Ethernet device, but I think I have burned the circuit for the serial port in a previous modding attempt :-\

There is a few guides that  give you directions on how to add the proprietary firmware to the installer image, and after about 5 reflashes I finally had one that worked.

Before starting the installation, I checked around for known installation errors. The installation takes about 5 hours, so you really want to get i right the first time.

I learned that others had experienced out of memory errors during the installation. Though luck.

To the rescue came Martin Michlmayr. He has the answer to all my quarrels; a compiled guide, with a complete Debian 6 userspace and kernel. This saved me a lot of time.

 Install and configure Motion

You can install motion by

apt-get install motion

as root or via sudo.

On Debian (Squeeze in my case), Motion is disabled by default – as many other services. Enable it, as mentioned in the notice:

Not starting motion daemon, disabled via /etc/default/motion ... (warning).

Setting the value start_motion_daemon to yes in /etc/default/motion as such:



The trick to disable motion detection in Motion, is to set the threshold to 0 in the config file:

threshold 0

Enabling time-lapse by setting the following in /etc/motion/motion.conf:

# Use ffmpeg to encode a timelapse movie
# Default value 0 = off - else save frame every Nth second
ffmpeg_timelapse 10

In this case, I take a pictures every ten seconds.

You should also adjust the width and height parameters, and the target_dir.

You can also get a copy of my preconfigured motion.conf by running the following set of commands

/etc/init.d/motion stop
mv /etc/motion/motion.conf /etc/motion/motion.conf.orig
wget -O /etc/motion/motion.conf
mkdir /home/motion
chown motion:motion /home/motion
chown root:motion /etc/motion/motion.conf
chmod g+r /etc/motion/motion.conf
/etc/init.d/motion start

An example can be seen here:

EXIF Manipulation on the Linux commandline

I use jhead for manipulating EXIF data, renaming files and mogrify for
compressing the JPEG’s

the following command will rename all .jpg files in the current folder
to their corresponding ‚Äúdate taken‚ÄĚ stamp in the format YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS

jhead -n%Y%m%d-%H%M%S *.jpg

Sometimes you have multiple cameras at a happy occasion, and wish to
collect all the images. But alas, one or more of the cameras have
their clock set to UTC, daylight savings time (winter when it is summer)
or similar. This will create annoyance as the images will not appear
fortunately you kan find the ‚Äúsinner‚ÄĚ and adjust the time with jhead
in a this way:

jhead *.jpg | grep "IXUS 700" -b4 | \
grep "File name" | sed "s/.*: //" | xargs jhead -ta+1

WARNING: This step is optional, just because I cannot tell the difference
between compressed and uncompressed images, maybe you can. A backup is
therefore recommended

The compression on digital cameras are not very efficient, and this
leads to large JPEG image files on your harddisk.
Fortunately you can use ‚Äúmogrify‚ÄĚ to cut JPEG‚Äôs down in size with

jhead -cmd "mogrify -quality 80 &i" *.jpg

How to install LabVIEW on a Debian Machine

Labview ships prepackaged to install on rpm based Linux machines (Redhat, Mandrake and so on). But it is quite simple to convert and install it on a Debian machine instead.

The machine I will be using is a Thinkpad T40 with Debian Lenny installed, it should be the same for the current stable (Etch) but this is yet to be confirmed.

First we need to install alien

# aptitude install alien

The conversion process is quite simple, all you have to is to type

# alien -d *.rpm

And after some time (about 15 minutes or so on my laptop) you should be left with a bunch of .deb files.

You might have guessed it.. to install:

# dpkg -i *.deb

Now for the hacking part, when you try to run Labview all you get is this error:

/usr/local/natinst/LabVIEW-8.2/labview: symbol lookup error: /usr/local/natinst/LabVIEW-8.2/linux/ undefined symbol: _glapi_add_entrypoint

To work around this you need to install libosmesa (of current writing libosmesa6)

# aptitude install libosmesa6

and relink

# (cd /usr/local/natinst/LabVIEW-8.2/linux; rm; ln -s /usr/lib/

And it works! If you feel like it, you can also put a little icon on your desktop or in your Applications menu (this part is for gnome), this is the contents of the labview.desktop file with my corrections. It originates from /usr/local/natinst/LabVIEW-8.2/linux/gnome/gnome/apps/Applications/labview82.desktop and there is a similar file for KDE in the /usr/local/natinst/LabVIEW-8.2/linux/kde folder for those who want to make a KDE shortcut.
Contents of labview82.desktop

[Desktop Entry]
Name=LabVIEW 8.2
Comment=LabVIEW Graphical Dataflow Programming Environment

This file can be placed either in ~/.local/share/applications/ or in /usr/share/applications