Apr 16, 2018

Emacs EMMS backend for long-running mpv processes

EMMS is the best music player out there (at least if you use emacs), as it allows full power and convenience of proper $EDITOR for music playlists and such.

All mpv backends for it that I'm aware of were restarting player binary for every track though, which is simple, good compatibility-wise, but also suboptimal in many ways.

For one thing, stuff like audio visualization is pita if it's in a constantly created/destroyed transient window, it adds significant gaps between played tracks (gapless+crossfade? forget it!), and - more due to why player starts/exit (know when playback ends) - feedback/control over it are very limited, since clearly no good APIs are used there, if wrapper relies on process exit as "playback ended" event.

Rewritten emms-player-mpv.el (also in "mpv-json-ipc" branch of emms git atm) fixes all that.

What's curious is that I didn't see almost all of these interesting use-cases, which using the tool in the sane way allows for, and only wrote new wrapper to get nice "playback position" feedback and out of petty pedantry over how lazy simple implementation seem to be.

Having separate persistent player window allows OSD config or lua to display any kind of metadata or infographics (with full power of lua + mpv + ffmpeg) about current tracks or playlist stuff there (esp. for online streams), enables subs/lyrics display, and getting stream of metadata update events from mpv allows to update any "now playing" meta stuff in emacs/emms too.

What seemed like a petty and almost pointless project to have fun with lisp, turned out to be actually useful, which seem to often be the case once you take a deep-dive into things, and not just blindly assume stuff about them (fire hot, water wet, etc).

Hopefully might get merged upstream after EMMS 5.0 and get a few more features and interesting uses like that along the way.

(though I'd suggest not waiting and just adding anything that comes to mind in ~/.emacs via emms-mpv-event-connect-hook, emms-mpv-event-functions and emms-mpv-ipc-req-send - should be really easy now)

Apr 12, 2018

mpv audio visualization

Didn't know mpv could do that until dropping into raw mpv for music playback yesterday, while adding its json api support into emms (emacs music player).

One option in mpv that I found essential over time - especially as playback from network sources via youtube-dl (youtube, twitch and such) became more common - is --force-window=immediate (via config), so that you can just run "mpv URL" in whatever console and don't have to wait until video buffers enough for mpv window to pop-up.

This saves a few-to-dozen seconds of annoyance as otherwise you can't do anything during ytdl init and buffering phase is done, as that's when window will pop-up randomly and interrupt whatever you're doing, plus maybe get affected by stuff being typed at the moment (and close, skip, seek or get all messed-up otherwise).

It's easy to disable this unnecessary window for audio-only files via lua, but other option that came to mind when looking at that black square is to send it to aux display with some nice visualization running.

Which is not really an mpv feature, but one of the many things that ffmpeg can render with its filters, enabled via --lavfi-complex audio/video filtering option.

E.g. mpv --lavfi-complex="[aid1]asplit[ao][a]; [a]showcqt[vo]" file.mp3 will process a copy of --aid=1 audio stream (one copy goes straight to "ao" - audio output) via ffmpeg showcqt filter and send resulting visualization to "vo" (video output).

As ffmpeg is designed to allow many complex multi-layered processing pipelines, extending on that simple example can produce really fancy stuff, like any blend of images, text and procedurally-generated video streams.

Some nice examples of those can be found at ffmpeg wiki FancyFilteringExamples page.

It's much easier to build, control and tweak that stuff from lua though, e.g. to only enable such vis if there is a blank forced window without a video stream, and to split those long pipelines into more sensible chunks of parameters, for example:

local filter_bg = lavfi_filter_string{
  'firequalizer', {
    gain = "'20/log(10)*log(1.4884e8"
      .."* f/(f*f + 424.36)"
      .."* f/(f*f + 1.4884e8)"
      .."* f/sqrt(f*f + 25122.25) )'",
    accuracy = 1000,
    zero_phase = 'on' },
  'showcqt', {
    fps = 30,
    size = '960x768',
    count = 2,
    bar_g = 2,
    sono_g = 4,
    bar_v = 9,
    sono_v = 17,
    font = "'Luxi Sans,Liberation Sans,Sans|bold'",
    fontcolor = "'st(0, (midi(f)-53.5)/12);"
      .."st(1, 0.5 - 0.5 * cos(PI*ld(0))); r(1-ld(1)) + b(ld(1))'",
    tc = '0.33',
    tlength = "'st(0,0.17);"
      .." + 384*tc/(tc*f/ld(0)+384/(1-ld(0)))'" } }
local filter_fg = lavfi_filter_string{ 'avectorscope',
  { mode='lissajous_xy', size='960x200',
    rate=30, scale='cbrt', draw='dot', zoom=1.5 } }

local overlay = lavfi_filter_string{'overlay', {format='yuv420'}}
local lavfi =
  '[aid1] asplit=3 [ao][a1][a2];'

mp.set_property('options/lavfi-complex', lavfi)

Much easier than writing something like this down into one line.

("lavfi_filter_string" there concatenates all passed options with comma/colon separators, as per ffmpeg syntax)

Complete lua script that I ended-up writing for this: fg.lavfi-audio-vis.lua

With some grand space-ambient electronic score, showcqt waterfall can move in super-trippy ways, very much representative of the glacial underlying audio rythms:

mpv ffmpeg visualization snapshot

(track in question is "Primordial Star Clouds" [45] from EVE Online soundtrack)

Script won't kick-in with --vo=null, --force-window not enabled, or if "vo-configured" won't be set by mpv for whatever other reason (e.g. some video output error), otherwise will be there with more pretty colors to brighten your day :)

Apr 10, 2018

Linux X desktop "clipboard" keys via exclip tool

It's been a mystery to me for a while how X terminal emulators (from xterm to Terminology) manage to copy long bits of strings spanning multiple lines without actually splitting them with \n chars, given that there's always something like "screen" or "tmux" or even "mosh" running in there.

All these use ncurses which shouldn't output "long lines of text" but rather knows width/height of a terminal and flips specific characters there when last output differs from its internal "how it should be" state/buffer.

Regardless of how this works, terminals definitely get confused sometimes, making copy-paste of long paths and commands from them into a minefield, where you never know if it'll insert full path/command or just run random parts of it instead by emitting newlines here and there.

Easy fix: bind a key combo in a WM to always "copy stuff as a single line".
Bonus points - also strip spaces from start/end, demanding no select-precision.
Even better - have it expose result as both primary and clipboard, to paste anywhere.

For a while used a trivial bash script for that, which did "xclip -in" from primary selection, some string-mangling in bash and two "xclip -out" to put result back into primary and clipboard.

It's a surprisingly difficult and suboptimal task for bash though, as - to my knowledge - you can't even replace \n chars in it without running something like "tr" or "sed".

And running xclip itself a few times is bad enough, but with a few extra binaries and under CPU load, such "clipboard keys" become unreliable due to lag from that script.

Hence finally got fed up by it and rewritten whole thing in C as a small and fast 300-liner exclip tool, largely based on xclip code.

Build like this: gcc -O2 -lX11 -lXmu exclip.c -o exclip && strip exclip

Found something like it bound to a key (e.g. Win+V for verbatim copy, and variants like Win+Shift+V for stripping spaces/newlines) to be super-useful when using terminals and text-based apps, apps that mix primary/clipboard selections, etc - all without needing to touch the mouse.

Tool is still non-trivial due to how selections and interaction with X work - code has to be event-based, negotiate content type that it wants to get, can have large buffers sent in incremental events, and then have to hold these (in a forked subprocess) and negotiate sending to other apps - i.e. not just stuff N bytes from buffer somewhere server-side and exit ("cut buffers" can work like that in X, but limited and never used).

Looking at all these was a really fun dive into how such deceptively-simple (but ancient and not in fact simple at all) things like "clipboard" work.

E.g. consider how one'd hold/send/expose stuff from huge GIMP image selection and paste it into an entirely different app (xclip -out -t TARGETS can give a hint), especially with X11 and its network transparency.

Though then again, maybe humble string manipulation in C is just as fascinating, given all the pointer juggling and tricks one'd usually have to do for that.

Nov 27, 2017

Checking/waiting-on linux network parameters from the scripts

It's one thing that's non-trivial to get right with simple scripts.

I.e. how to check address on an interface? How to wait for it to be assigned? How to check gateway address? Etc.

Few common places to look for these things:


Has easily-accessible list of interfaces and a MAC for each in e.g. /sys/class/net/enp1s0/address (useful as a machine id sometimes).

Pros: easy/reliable to access from any scripts.
Cons: very little useful info there.


As systemd-networkd is a common go-to network management tool these days, this one complements it very nicely.

Allows to wait until some specific interface(s) (or all of them) get fully setup, has built-in timeout option too.

E.g. just run systemd-networkd-wait-online -i enp1s0 from any script or even ExecStartPre= of a unit file and you have it waiting for net to be available reliably, no need to check for specific IP or other details.

Pros: super-easy to use from anywhere, even ExecStartPre= of unit files.
Cons: for one very specific (but very common) all-or-nothing use-case.

Doesn't always work for interfaces that need complicated setup by an extra daemon, e.g. wifi, batman-adv or some tunnels.

Also, undocumented caveat: use ExecStartPre=-/.../systemd-networkd-wait-online ... ("=-" is the important bit) for anything that should start regardless of network issues, as thing can exit with non-0 sometimes when there's no network for a while (which does look like a bug, and might be fixed in future versions).

iproute2 json output

If iproute2 is recent enough (4.13.0-4.14.0 and above), then GOOD NEWS!
ip-address and ip-link there have -json output.
(as well as "tc", stat-commands, and probably many other things in later releases)

Parsing ip -json addr or ip -json link output is trivial anywhere except for sh scripts, so it's a very good option if required parts of "ip" are jsonified already.

Pros: easy to parse, will be available everywhere in the near future.
Cons: still very recent, so quite patchy and not ubiquitous yet, not for sh scripts.

Scraping iproute2 (e.g. "ip" and "ss" tools) non-json outputs

Explicitly discouraged by iproute2 docs and a really hacky solution.

Such outputs there are quirky, don't line-up nicely, and clearly not made for this purpose, plus can break at any point, as suggested by the docs repeatedly.

But for terrible sh hacks, sometimes it works, and "ip monitor" even allows to react to netlink events as soon as they appear, e.g.:

Before=network.target systemd-networkd.service

ExecStart=/usr/bin/bash -c "\
  exec 2>/dev/null; trap 'pkill -g 0' EXIT; trap exit TERM;\
  awk '/^([0-9]+:\s+'$$dev')?\s+inet\s/ {chk=1; exit} END {exit !chk}'\
  < <( ip addr show dev $$dev;\
    stdbuf -oL ip monitor address dev $$dev &\
    sleep 1 ; ip addr show dev $$dev ; wait )\
  && ip link set $$dev mtu 1280"


That's example of how ugly it can get with events though - two extra checks around ip-monitor are there for a reason (easy to miss event otherwise).

(this specific hack is a workaround for systemd-networkd failing to set mtu in some cases where it has to be done only after other things)

"ip -brief" output is somewhat of an exception, more suitable for sh scripts, but only works for ip-address and ip-link parts and still mixes-up columns occasionally (e.g. ip -br link for tun interfaces).

Pros: allows to access all net parameters and monitor events, easier for sh than json.
Cons: gets ugly fast, hard to get right, brittle and explicitly discouraged.

APIs of running network manager daemons

E.g. NetworkManager has nice-ish DBus API (see two polkit rules/pkla snippets here for how to enable it for regular users), same for wpa_supplicant/hostapd (see wifi-client-match or wpa-systemd-wrapper scripts), dhcpcd has hooks.

systemd-networkd will probably get DBus API too at some point in the near future, beyond simple up/down one that systemd-networkd-wait-online already uses.

Pros: best place to get such info from, can allow some configuration.
Cons: not always there, can be somewhat limited or hard to access.

Bunch of extra modules/tools

Especially for python and such, there's plenty of tools like pyroute2 and netifaces, with occasional things making it into stdlib - e.g. socket.if_* calls (py 3.3+) or ipaddress module (py 3.3+).

Can make things easier in larger projects, where dragging along a bunch of few extra third-party modules isn't too much of a hassle.

Not a great option for drop-in self-contained scripts though, regardless of how good python packaging gets.

Pros: there's a module/lib for everything.
Cons: extra dependencies, with all the api/packaging/breakage/security hassle.

libc and getifaddrs() - low-level way

Same python has ctypes, so why bother with all the heavy/fragile deps and crap, when it can use libc API directly?

Drop-in snippet to grab all the IPv4/IPv6/MAC addresses (py2/py3):

import os, socket, ctypes as ct

class sockaddr_in(ct.Structure):
  _fields_ = [('sin_family', ct.c_short), ('sin_port', ct.c_ushort), ('sin_addr', ct.c_byte*4)]

class sockaddr_in6(ct.Structure):
  _fields_ = [ ('sin6_family', ct.c_short), ('sin6_port', ct.c_ushort),
    ('sin6_flowinfo', ct.c_uint32), ('sin6_addr', ct.c_byte * 16) ]

class sockaddr_ll(ct.Structure):
  _fields_ = [ ('sll_family', ct.c_ushort), ('sll_protocol', ct.c_ushort),
    ('sll_ifindex', ct.c_int), ('sll_hatype', ct.c_ushort), ('sll_pkttype', ct.c_uint8),
    ('sll_halen', ct.c_uint8), ('sll_addr', ct.c_uint8 * 8) ]

class sockaddr(ct.Structure):
  _fields_ = [('sa_family', ct.c_ushort)]

class ifaddrs(ct.Structure): pass
ifaddrs._fields_ = [ # recursive
  ('ifa_next', ct.POINTER(ifaddrs)), ('ifa_name', ct.c_char_p),
  ('ifa_flags', ct.c_uint), ('ifa_addr', ct.POINTER(sockaddr)) ]

def get_iface_addrs(ipv4=False, ipv6=False, mac=False, ifindex=False):
  if not (ipv4 or ipv6 or mac or ifindex): ipv4 = ipv6 = True
  libc = ct.CDLL('libc.so.6', use_errno=True)
  libc.getifaddrs.restype = ct.c_int
  ifaddr_p = head = ct.pointer(ifaddrs())
  ifaces, err = dict(), libc.getifaddrs(ct.pointer(ifaddr_p))
  if err != 0:
    err = ct.get_errno()
    raise OSError(err, os.strerror(err), 'getifaddrs()')
  while ifaddr_p:
    addrs = ifaces.setdefault(ifaddr_p.contents.ifa_name.decode(), list())
    addr = ifaddr_p.contents.ifa_addr
    if addr:
      af = addr.contents.sa_family
      if ipv4 and af == socket.AF_INET:
        ac = ct.cast(addr, ct.POINTER(sockaddr_in)).contents
        addrs.append(socket.inet_ntop(af, ac.sin_addr))
      elif ipv6 and af == socket.AF_INET6:
        ac = ct.cast(addr, ct.POINTER(sockaddr_in6)).contents
        addrs.append(socket.inet_ntop(af, ac.sin6_addr))
      elif (mac or ifindex) and af == socket.AF_PACKET:
        ac = ct.cast(addr, ct.POINTER(sockaddr_ll)).contents
        if mac:
          addrs.append('mac-' + ':'.join(
            map('{:02x}'.format, ac.sll_addr[:ac.sll_halen]) ))
        if ifindex: addrs.append(ac.sll_ifindex)
    ifaddr_p = ifaddr_p.contents.ifa_next
  return ifaces


Result is a dict of iface-addrs (presented as yaml here):

  - fc65::19
  - fe80::c646:19ff:fe64:632f
  - fe80::1ebd:b9ff:fe86:f439
  - ::1
ve: []

Or to get IPv6+MAC+ifindex only - get_iface_addrs(ipv6=True, mac=True, ifindex=True):

  - mac-c4:46:19:64:63:2f
  - 2
  - fc65::19
  - fe80::c646:19ff:fe64:632f
  - mac-1c:bd:b9:86:f4:39
  - 3
  - fe80::1ebd:b9ff:fe86:f439
  - mac-00:00:00:00:00:00
  - 1
  - ::1
  - mac-36:65:67:f7:99:dc
  - 5
wg: []

Tend to use this as a drop-in boilerplate/snippet in python scripts that need IP address info, instead of adding extra deps - libc API should be way more stable/reliable than these anyway.

Same can be done in any other full-featured scripts, of course, not just python, but bash scripts are sorely out of luck.

Pros: first-hand address info, stable/reliable/efficient, no extra deps.
Cons: not for 10-liner sh scripts, not much info, bunch of boilerplate code.

libmnl - same way as iproute2 does it

libc.getifaddrs() doesn't provide much info beyond very basic ip/mac addrs and iface indexes, and the rest should be fetched from kernel via netlink sockets.

libmnl wraps those, and is used by iproute2, so comes out of the box on any modern linux, so its API can be used in the same way as libc above from full-featured scripts like python:

import os, socket, resource, struct, time, ctypes as ct

class nlmsghdr(ct.Structure):
  _fields_ = [
    ('len', ct.c_uint32),
    ('type', ct.c_uint16), ('flags', ct.c_uint16),
    ('seq', ct.c_uint32), ('pid', ct.c_uint32) ]

class nlattr(ct.Structure):
  _fields_ = [('len', ct.c_uint16), ('type', ct.c_uint16)]

class rtmsg(ct.Structure):
  _fields_ = ( list( (k, ct.c_uint8) for k in
      'family dst_len src_len tos table protocol scope type'.split() )
    + [('flags', ct.c_int)] )

class mnl_socket(ct.Structure):
  _fields_ = [('fd', ct.c_int), ('sockaddr_nl', ct.c_int)]

def get_route_gw(addr=''):
  libmnl = ct.CDLL('libmnl.so.0.2.0', use_errno=True)
  def _check(chk=lambda v: bool(v)):
    def _check(res, func=None, args=None):
      if not chk(res):
        errno_ = ct.get_errno()
        raise OSError(errno_, os.strerror(errno_))
      return res
    return _check
  libmnl.mnl_nlmsg_put_header.restype = ct.POINTER(nlmsghdr)
  libmnl.mnl_nlmsg_put_extra_header.restype = ct.POINTER(rtmsg)
  libmnl.mnl_attr_put_u32.argtypes = [ct.POINTER(nlmsghdr), ct.c_uint16, ct.c_uint32]
  libmnl.mnl_socket_open.restype = mnl_socket
  libmnl.mnl_socket_open.errcheck = _check()
  libmnl.mnl_socket_bind.argtypes = [mnl_socket, ct.c_uint, ct.c_int32]
  libmnl.mnl_socket_bind.errcheck = _check(lambda v: v >= 0)
  libmnl.mnl_socket_get_portid.restype = ct.c_uint
  libmnl.mnl_socket_get_portid.argtypes = [mnl_socket]
  libmnl.mnl_socket_sendto.restype = ct.c_ssize_t
  libmnl.mnl_socket_sendto.argtypes = [mnl_socket, ct.POINTER(nlmsghdr), ct.c_size_t]
  libmnl.mnl_socket_sendto.errcheck = _check(lambda v: v >= 0)
  libmnl.mnl_socket_recvfrom.restype = ct.c_ssize_t
  libmnl.mnl_nlmsg_get_payload.restype = ct.POINTER(rtmsg)
  libmnl.mnl_attr_validate.errcheck = _check(lambda v: v >= 0)
  libmnl.mnl_attr_get_payload.restype = ct.POINTER(ct.c_uint32)

  if '/' in addr: addr, cidr = addr.rsplit('/', 1)
  else: cidr = 32

  buf = ct.create_string_buffer(min(resource.getpagesize(), 8192))
  nlh = libmnl.mnl_nlmsg_put_header(buf)
  nlh.contents.type = 26 # RTM_GETROUTE
  nlh.contents.flags = 1 # NLM_F_REQUEST
  # nlh.contents.flags = 1 | (0x100|0x200) # NLM_F_REQUEST | NLM_F_DUMP
  nlh.contents.seq = seq = int(time.time())
  rtm = libmnl.mnl_nlmsg_put_extra_header(nlh, ct.sizeof(rtmsg))
  rtm.contents.family = socket.AF_INET

  addr, = struct.unpack('=I', socket.inet_aton(addr))
  libmnl.mnl_attr_put_u32(nlh, 1, addr) # 1=RTA_DST
  rtm.contents.dst_len = int(cidr)

  nl = libmnl.mnl_socket_open(0) # NETLINK_ROUTE
  libmnl.mnl_socket_bind(nl, 0, 0) # nl, 0, 0=MNL_SOCKET_AUTOPID
  port_id = libmnl.mnl_socket_get_portid(nl)
  libmnl.mnl_socket_sendto(nl, nlh, nlh.contents.len)

  addr_gw = None

  @ct.CFUNCTYPE(ct.c_int, ct.POINTER(nlattr), ct.c_void_p)
  def data_ipv4_attr_cb(attr, data):
    nonlocal addr_gw
    if attr.contents.type == 5: # RTA_GATEWAY
      libmnl.mnl_attr_validate(attr, 3) # MNL_TYPE_U32
      addr = libmnl.mnl_attr_get_payload(attr)
      addr_gw = socket.inet_ntoa(struct.pack('=I', addr[0]))
    return 1 # MNL_CB_OK

  @ct.CFUNCTYPE(ct.c_int, ct.POINTER(nlmsghdr), ct.c_void_p)
  def data_cb(nlh, data):
    rtm = libmnl.mnl_nlmsg_get_payload(nlh).contents
    if rtm.family == socket.AF_INET and rtm.type == 1: # RTN_UNICAST
      libmnl.mnl_attr_parse(nlh, ct.sizeof(rtm), data_ipv4_attr_cb, None)
    return 1 # MNL_CB_OK

  while True:
    ret = libmnl.mnl_socket_recvfrom(nl, buf, ct.sizeof(buf))
    if ret <= 0: break
    ret = libmnl.mnl_cb_run(buf, ret, seq, port_id, data_cb, None)
    if ret <= 0: break # 0=MNL_CB_STOP
    break # MNL_CB_OK for NLM_F_REQUEST, don't use with NLM_F_DUMP!!!
  if ret == -1: raise OSError(ct.get_errno(), os.strerror(ct.get_errno()))

  return addr_gw


This specific boilerplate will fetch the gateway IP address to (i.e. to the internet), used it in systemd-watchdog script recently.

It might look a bit too complex for such apparently simple task at this point, but allows to do absolutely anything network-related - everything "ip" (iproute2) does, including configuration (addresses, routes), creating/setting-up new interfaces ("ip link add ..."), all the querying (ip-route, ip-neighbor, ss/netstat, etc), waiting and async monitoring (ip-monitor, conntrack), etc etc...

Pros: can do absolutely anything, directly, stable/reliable/efficient, no extra deps.
Cons: definitely not for 10-liner sh scripts, boilerplate code.


iproute2 with -json output flag should be good enough for most cases where systemd-networkd-wait-online is not sufficient, esp. if more commands there (like ip-route and ip-monitor) will support it in the future (thanks to Julien Fortin and all other people working on this!).

For more advanced needs, it's usually best to query/control whatever network management daemon or go to libc/libmnl directly.

Oct 11, 2017

Force-enable HDMI to specific mode in linux framebuffer console

Bumped into this issue when running latest mainline kernel (4.13) on ODROID-C2 - default fb console for HDMI output have to be configured differently there (and also needs a dtb patch to hook it up).

Old vendor kernels for that have/use a bunch of cmdline options for HDMI - hdmimode, hdmitx (cecconfig), vout (hdmi/dvi/auto), overscan_*, etc - all custom and non-mainline.

With mainline DRM (as in Direct Rendering Manager) and framebuffer modules, video= option seem to be the way to set/force specific output and resolution instead.

When display is connected on boot, it can work without that if stars align correctly, but that's not always the case as it turns out - only 1 out of 3 worked that way.

But even if display works on boot, plugging HDMI after boot never works anyway, and that's the most (only) useful thing for it (debug issues, see logs or kernel panic backtrace there, etc)!

DRM module (meson_dw_hdmi in case of C2) has its HDMI output info in /sys/class/drm/card0-HDMI-A-1/, which is where one can check on connected display, dump its EDID blob (info, supported modes), etc.

cmdline option to force this output to be used with specific (1080p60) mode:


More info on this spec is in Documentation/fb/modedb.txt, but the gist is "<ouput>:<WxH>@<rate><flags>" with "e" flag at the end is "force the display to be enabled", to avoid all that hotplug jank.

Should set mode for console (see e.g. fbset --info), but at least with meson_dw_hdmi this is insufficient, which it's happy to tell why when loading with extra drm.debug=0xf cmdline option - doesn't have any supported modes, returns MODE_BAD for all non-CEA-861 modes that are default in fb-modedb.

Such modelines are usually supplied from EDID blobs by the display, but if there isn't one connected, blob should be loaded from somewhere else (and iirc there are ways to define these via cmdline).

Luckily, kernel has built-in standard EDID blobs, so there's no need to put anything to /lib/firmware, initramfs or whatever:

drm_kms_helper.edid_firmware=edid/1920x1080.bin video=HDMI-A-1:1920x1080@60e

And that finally works.

Not very straightforward, and doesn't seem to be documented in one place anywhere with examples (ArchWiki page on KMS probably comes closest).

Jun 09, 2017

acme-cert-tool for easy end-to-end https cert management

Tend to mention random trivial tools I write here, but somehow forgot about this one - acme-cert-tool.

Implemented it a few months back when setting-up TLS on, and wasn't satisfied by any existing things for ACME / Let's Encrypt cert management.

Wanted to find some simple python3 script that's a bit less hacky than acme-tiny, not a bloated framework with dozens of useless deps like certbot and has ECC certs covered, but came up empty.

acme-cert-tool has all that in a single script with just one dep on a standard py crypto toolbox (cryptography.io), and does everything through a single command, e.g. something like:

% ./acme-cert-tool.py --debug -gk le-staging.acc.key cert-issue \
  -d /srv/www/.well-known/acme-challenge le-staging.cert.pem mydomain.com

...to get signed cert for mydomain.com, doing all the generation, registration and authorization stuff as necessary, and caching that stuff in "le-staging.acc.key" too, not doing any extra work there either.

Add && systemctl reload nginx to that, put into crontab or .timer and done.

There are bunch of other commands mostly to play with accounts and such, plus options for all kinds of cert and account settings, e.g. ... -e myemail@mydomain.com -c rsa-2048 -c ec-384 to also have cert with rsa key generated for random outdated clients and add email for notifications (if not added already).

README on acme-cert-tool github page and -h/--help output should have more details:

Jun 02, 2017

Upgrading ssh to mosh with UDP hole punching to connect to a host behind NAT

There are way more tools that happily forward TCP ports than ones for UDP.

Case in point - it's usually easy to forward ssh port through a bunch of hosts and NATs, with direct and reverse ssh tunnels, ProxyCommand stuff, tools like pwnat, etc, but for mosh UDP connection it's not that trivial.

Which sucks, because its performance and input prediction stuff is exactly what's lacking in super-laggy multi-hop ssh connections forwarded back-and-forth between continents through such tunnels.

There are quite a few long-standing discussions on how to solve it properly in mosh, which didn't get any traction so far, unfortunately:

One obvious way to make it work, is to make some tunnel (like OpenVPN or wireguard) from destination host (server) to a client, and use mosh over that.

But that's some extra tools and configuration to keep around on both sides, and there is much easier way that works perfectly for most cases - knowing both server and client IPs, pre-pick ports for mosh-server and mosh-client, then punch hole in the NAT for these before starting both.

How it works:

  • Pick some UDP ports that server and client will be using, e.g. 34700 for server and 34701 for client.
  • Send UDP packet from server:34700 to client:34701.
  • Start mosh-server, listening on server:34700.
  • Connect to that with mosh-client, using client:34701 as a UDP source port.

NAT on the router(s) in-between the two will see this exchange as a server establishing "udp connection" to a client, and will allow packets in both directions to flow through between these two ports.

Once mosh-client establishes the connection and keepalive packets will start bouncing there all the time, it will be up indefinitely.

mosh is generally well-suited for running manually from an existing console, so all that's needed to connect in a simple case is:

server% mosh-server new

client% MOSH_KEY=NN07GbGqQya1bqM+ZNY+eA mosh-client <server-ip> 60001

With hole-punching, two additional wrappers are required with the current mosh version (1.3.0):

  • One for mosh-server to send UDP packet to the client IP, using same port on which server will then be started: mosh-nat
  • And a wrapper for mosh-client to force its socket to bind to specified local UDP port, which was used as a dst by mosh-server wrapper above: mosh-nat-bind.c

Making connection using these two is as easy as with stock mosh above:

server% ./mosh-nat
mosh-client command:
  MNB_PORT=34730 LD_PRELOAD=./mnb.so
    MOSH_KEY=rYt2QFJapgKN5GUqKJH2NQ mosh-client <server-addr> 34730

client% MNB_PORT=34730 LD_PRELOAD=./mnb.so \
  MOSH_KEY=rYt2QFJapgKN5GUqKJH2NQ mosh-client 34730

(with server at, client at and using port 34730 on both ends in this example)

Extra notes:

  • "mnb.so" used with LD_PRELOAD is that mosh-nat-bind.c wrapper, which can be compiled using: gcc -nostartfiles -fpic -shared -ldl -D_GNU_SOURCE mosh-nat-bind.c -o mnb.so
  • Both mnb.so and mosh-nat only work with IPv4, IPv6 shouldn't use NAT anyway.
  • 34730 is the default port for -c/--client-port and -s/--server-port opts in mosh-nat script.
  • Started mosh-server waits for 60s (default) for mosh-client to connect.
  • Continous operation relies on mosh keepalive packets without interruption, as mentioned, and should break on (long enough) net hiccups, unlike direct mosh connections established to server that has no NAT in front of it (or with a dedicated port forwarding).
  • No roaming of any kind is possible here, again, unlike with original mosh - if src IP/port changes, connection will break.
  • New MOSH_KEY is generated by mosh-server on every run, and is only good for one connection, as server should rotate it after connection gets established, so is pretty safe/easy to use.
  • If client is behind NAT as well, its visible IP should be used, not internal one.
  • Should only work when NAT on either side doesn't rewrite source ports.

Last point can be a bummer with some "Carrier-grade" NATs, which do rewrite src ports out of necessity, but can be still worked around if it's only on the server side by checking src port of the hole-punching packet in tcpdump and using that instead of whatever it was supposed to be originally.

Requires just python to run wrapper script on the server and no additional configuration of any kind.

Both linked wrappers are from here:

May 15, 2017

Emacs slow font rendering fail

Mostly use unorthodox variable-width font for coding, but do need monospace sometimes, e.g. for jagged YAML files or .rst.

Had weird issue with my emacs for a while, where switching to monospace font will slow window/frame rendering significantly, to a noticeable degree, having stuff blink and lag, making e.g. holding key to move cursor impossible, etc.

Usual profiling showed that it's an actual rendering via C code, so kinda hoped that it'd go away in one of minor releases, but nope - turned out to be the dumbest thing in ~/.emacs:

(set-face-font 'fixed-pitch "DejaVu Sans Mono-7.5")

That one line is what slows stuff down to a crawl in monospace ("fixed-pitch") configuration, just due to non-integer font size, apparently.

Probably not emacs' fault either, just xft or some other lower-level rendering lib, and a surprising little quirk that can affect high-level app experience a lot.

Changing font size there to 8 or 9 gets rid of the issue. Oh well...

May 14, 2017

ssh reverse tunnel ("ssh -R") caveats and tricks

"ssh -R" a is kinda obvious way to setup reverse access tunnel from something remote that one'd need to access, e.g. raspberry pi booted from supplied img file somewhere behind the router on the other side of the world.

Being part of OpenSSH, it's available on any base linux system, and trivial to automate on startup via loop in a shell script, crontab or a systemd unit, e.g.:


ExecStart=/usr/bin/ssh -oControlPath=none -oControlMaster=no \
  -oServerAliveInterval=6 -oServerAliveCountMax=10 -oConnectTimeout=180 \
  -oPasswordAuthentication=no -oNumberOfPasswordPrompts=0 \
  -NnT -R "1234:localhost:22" tun-user@tun-host


On the other side, ideally in a dedicated container or VM, there'll be sshd "tun-user" with an access like this (as a single line):

command="echo >&2 'No shell access!'; exit 1",
  no-X11-forwarding,no-agent-forwarding,no-pty ssh-ed25519 ...

Or have sshd_config section with same restrictions and only keys in authorized_keys, e.g.:

Match User tun-*
 # GatewayPorts yes
 X11Forwarding no
 AllowAgentForwarding no
 PermitTTY no
 ForceCommand echo 'no shell access!'; exit 1

And that's it, right?

No additional stuff needed, "ssh -R" will connect reliably on boot, keep restarting and reconnecting in case of any errors, even with keepalives to detect dead connections and restart asap.


There's a bunch of common pitfalls listed below.

  • Problem 1:

    When device with a tunnel suddenly dies for whatever reason - power or network issues, kernel panic, stray "kill -9" or what have you - connection on sshd machine will hang around for a while, as keepalive options are only used by the client.

    Along with (dead) connection, listening port will stay open as well, and "ssh -R" from e.g. power-cycled device will not be able to bind it, and that client won't treat it as a fatal error either!

    Result: reverse-tunnels don't survive any kind of non-clean reconnects.


    • TCPKeepAlive in sshd_config - to detect dead connections there faster, though probably still not fast enough for e.g. emergency reboot.
    • Detect and kill sshd pids without listening socket, forcing "ssh -R" to reconnect until it can actually bind one.
    • If TCPKeepAlive is not good or reliable enough, kill all sshd pids associated with listening sockets that don't produce the usual "SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_7.4" greeting line.
  • Problem 2:

    Running sshd on any reasonably modern linux, you get systemd session for each connection, and killing sshd pids as suggested above will leave logind sessions from these, potentially creating hundreds or thousands of them over time.


    • "UsePAM no" to disable pam_systemd.so along with the rest of the PAM.
    • Dedicated PAM setup for ssh tunnel logins on this dedicated system, not using pam_systemd.
    • Occasional cleanup via loginctl list-sessions/terminate-session for ones that are in "closing"/"abandoned" state.

    Killing sshd pids might be hard to avoid on fast non-clean reconnect, since reconnected "ssh -R" will hang around without a listening port forever, as mentioned.

  • Problem 3:

    If these tunnels are not configured on per-system basis, but shipped in some img file to use with multiple devices, they'll all try to bind same listening port for reverse-tunnels, so only one of these will work.


    • More complex script to generate listening port for "ssh -R" based on machine id, i.e. serial, MAC, local IP address, etc.

    • Get free port to bind to out-of-band from the server somehow.

      Can be through same ssh connection, by checking ss/netstat output or /proc/net/tcp there, if commands are allowed there (probably a bad idea for random remote devices).

  • Problem 4:

    Device identification in the same "mutliple devices" scenario.

    I.e. when someone sets up 5 RPi boards on the other end, how to tell which tunnel leads to each specific board?

    Can usually be solved by:

    • Knowing/checking quirks specific to each board, like dhcp hostname, IP address, connected hardware, stored files, power-on/off timing, etc.
    • Blinking LEDs via /sys/class/leds, ethtool --identify or GPIO pins.
    • Output on connected display - just "wall" some unique number (e.g. reverse-tunnel port) or put it to whatever graphical desktop.
  • Problem 5:

    Round-trip through some third-party VPS can add significant console lag, making it rather hard to use.

    More general problem than with just "ssh -R", but when doing e.g. "EU -> US -> RU" trip and back, console becomes quite unusable without something like mosh, which can't be used over that forwarded tcp port anyway!

    Kinda defeats the purpose of the whole thing, though laggy console (with an option to upgrade it, once connected) is still better than nothing.

Not an exhaustive or universally applicable list, of course, but hopefully shows that it's actually more hassle than "just run ssh -R on boot" to have something robust here.

So choice of ubiquitous / out-of-the-box "ssh -R" over installing some dedicated tunneling thing like OpenVPN (or, wireguard - much better choice on linux) is not as clear-cut in favor of the former as it would seem, taking all such quirks (handled well by dedicated tunneling apps) into consideration.

As I've bumped into all of these by now, addressed them by:

  • ssh-tunnels-cleanup script to (optionally) do three things, in order:

    • Find/kill sshd pids without associated listening socket ("ssh -R" that re-connected quickly and couldn't bind one).
    • Probe all sshd listening sockets with ncat (nc that comes with nmap) and make sure there's an "SSH-2.0-..." banner there, otherwise kill.
    • Cleanup all dead loginctl sessions, if any.

    Only affects/checks sshd pids for specific user prefix (e.g. "tun-"), to avoid touching anything but dedicated tunnels.

  • ssh-reverse-mux-server / ssh-reverse-mux-client scripts.

    For listening port negotiation with ssh server, using bunch of (authenticated) UDP packets.

    Essentially a wrapper for "ssh -R" on the client, to also pass all the required options, replacing ExecStart= line in above systemd example with e.g.:

    ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/ssh-reverse-mux-client \
      --mux-port=2200 --ident-rpi -s pkt-mac-key.aGPwhpya tun-user@tun-host

    ssh-reverse-mux-server on the other side will keep .db file of --ident strings (--ident-rpi uses hash of RPi board serial from /proc/cpuinfo) and allocate persistent port number (from specified range) to each one, which client will use with actual ssh command.

    Simple symmetric key (not very secret) is used to put MAC into packets and ignore any noise traffic on either side that way.


  • Hook in ssh-reverse-mux-client above to blink bits of allocated port on some available LED.

    Sample script to do the morse-code-like bit-blinking:

    And additional hook option for command above:

    ... -c 'sudo -n led-blink-arg -f -l led0 -n 2/4-2200'

    (with last arg-num / bits - decrement spec there to blink only last 4 bits of the second passed argument, which is listening port, e.g. "1011" for "2213")

Given how much OpenSSH does already, having all this functionality there (or even some hooks for that) would probably be too much to ask.

...at least until it gets rewritten as some systemd-accessd component :P

Apr 27, 2017

WiFi hostapd configuration for 802.11ac networks

Running Wireless AP on linux is pretty much always done through handy hostapd tool, which sets the necessary driver parameters and handles authentication and key management aspects of an infrastructure mode access point operation.

Its configuration file has plenty of options, which get initialized to a rather conserative defaults, resulting in suboptimal bendwidth with anything from this decade, e.g. 802.11n or 802.11ac cards/dongles.

Furthermore, it seem to assume decent amount of familiarity with IEEE standards on WiFi protocols, which are mostly paywalled (though can easily be pirated ofc, just use google).

Specifically, channel selection for VHT (802.11ac) there is a bit of a nightmare, as hostapd code not only has (undocumented afaict) whitelist for these, but also needs more than one parameter to set them.

I'm not an expert on wireless links and wifi specifically, just had to setup one recently (and even then, without going into STBC, Beamforming and such), so don't take this info as some kind of authoritative "how it must be done" guide - just my 2c and nothing more.

Anyway, first of all, to get VHT ("Very High Throughput") aka 802.11ac mode at all, following hostapd config can be used as a baseline:

# https://w1.fi/cgit/hostap/plain/hostapd/hostapd.conf


# ieee80211d=1
# ieee80211h=1






There, important bits are obviously stuff at the top - ssid and wpa_passphrase.

But also country_code, as it will apply all kinds of restrictions on 5G channels that one can use.

ieee80211d/ieee80211h are related to these country_code restrictions, and are probably necessary for some places and when/if DFS (dynamic frequency selection) is used, but more on that later.

If that config doesn't work (started with e.g. hostapd myap.conf), and not just due to some channel conflict or regulatory domain (i.e. country_code) error, probably worth running hostapd command with -d option and seeing where it fails exactly, though most likely after nl80211: Set freq ... (ht_enabled=1, vht_enabled=1, bandwidth=..., cf1=..., cf2=...) log line (and list of options following it), with some "Failed to set X: Invalid argument" error from kernel driver.

When that's the case, if it's not just bogus channel (see below), probably worth to stop right here and see why driver rejects this basic stuff - could be that it doesn't actually supports running AP and/or VHT mode (esp. for proprietary ones) or something, which should obviously be addressed first.

VHT (Very High Throughput mode, aka 802.11ac, page 214 in 802.11ac-2013.pdf) is extension of HT (High Throughput aka 802.11n) mode and can use 20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz, 160 MHz and 80+80 MHz channel widths, which basically set following caps on bandwidth:

  • 20 MHz - 54 Mbits/s
  • 40 MHz - 150-300 Mbits/s
  • 80 MHz - 300+ Mbits/s
  • 160 MHz or 80+80 MHz (two non-contiguous 80MHz chans) - moar!!!

Most notably, 802.11ac requires to support only up to 80MHz-wide chans, with 160 and 80+80 being optional, so pretty much guaranteed to be not supported by 95% of cheap-ish dongles, even if they advertise "full 802.11ac support!", "USB 3.0!!!" or whatever - forget it.

"vht_oper_chwidth" parameter sets channel width to use, so "vht_oper_chwidth=1" (80 MHz) is probably safe choice for ac here.

Unless ACS - Automatic Channel Selection - is being used (which is maybe a good idea, but not described here at all), both "channel" and "vht_oper_centr_freq_seg0_idx" parameters must be set (and also "vht_oper_centr_freq_seg1_idx" for 80+80 vht_oper_chwidth=3 mode).

"vht_oper_centr_freq_seg0_idx" is "dot11CurrentChannelCenterFrequencyIndex0" from 802.11ac-2013.pdf ( on page 248 and 22.3.14 on page 296), while "channel" option is "dot11CurrentPrimaryChannel".

Relation between these for 80MHz channels is the following one:

vht_oper_centr_freq_seg0_idx = channel + 6

Where "channel" can only be picked from the following list (see hw_features_common.c in hostapd sources):

36 44 52 60 100 108 116 124 132 140 149 157 184 192

And vht_oper_centr_freq_seg0_idx can only be one of:

42 58 106 122 138 155

Furthermore, picking anything but 36/42 and 149/155 is probably restricted by DFS and/or driver, and if you have any other 5G APs around, can also be restricted by conflicts with these, as detected/reported by hostapd on start.

Which is kinda crazy - you've got your fancy 802.11ac hardware and maybe can't even use it because hostapd refuses to use any channels if there's other 5G AP or two around.

BSS conflicts (with other APs) are detected on start only and are easy to patch-out with hostapd-2.6-no-bss-conflicts.patch - just 4 lines to hw_features.c and hw_features_common.c there, should be trivial to adopt for any newer hostpad version.

But that still leaves all the DFS/no-IR and whatever regdb-special channels locked, which is safe for legal reasons, but also easy to patch-out in crda (loader tool for regdb) and wireless-regdb (info on regulatory domains, e.g. US and such) packages, e.g.:

crda patch is needed to disable signature check on loaded db.txt file, and alternatively different public key can be used there, but it's less hassle this way.

Note that using DFS/no-IR-marked frequencies with these patches is probably breaking the law, though no idea if and where these are actually enforced.

Also, if crda/regdb is not installed or country_code not picked, "00" regulatory domain is used by the kernel, which is the most restrictive subset (to be ok to use anywhere), and is probably never a good idea.

All these tweaks combined should already provide ~300 Mbits/s (half-duplex) on a single 80 MHz channel (any from the lists above).

Beyond that, I think "vht_capab" set should be tweaked to enable STBC/LDPC (space-time block coding) capabilities - i.e. using multiple RX/TX antennas - which are all disabled by default, and beamforming stuff.

These are all documented in hostapd.conf, but dongles and/or rtl8812au driver I've been using didn't have support for any of that, so didn't go there myself.

There's also bunch of wmm_* and tx_queue_* parameters, which seem to be for QoS (prioritizing some packets over others when at 100% capacity). Tinkering with these doesn't affect iperf3 resutls obviously, and maybe should be done in linux QoS subsystem ("tc" tool) instead anyway. Plenty of snippets for tweaking them are available on mailing lists and such, but should probably be adjusted for specific traffic/setup.

One last important bandwidth optimization for both AP and any clients (stations) is disabling all the power saving stuff with iw dev wlan0 set power_save off.

Failing to do that can completely wreck performance, and can usually be done via kernel module parameter in /etc/modprobe.d/ instead of running "iw".

No patches or extra configuration for wpa_supplicant (tool for infra-mode "station" client) are necessary - it will connect just fine to anything and pick whatever is advertised, if hw supports all that stuff.

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