[Short Tip] Workaround MIT-SHM error when starting QT/KDE apps with SUDO

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Starting GUI programs as root usually is not a problem. In worst case, sudo inside a terminal should do the trick.

However, recently I had to start a QT application as sudo from within GNOME. It was the yubikey configuration GUI, a third party tool thus not part of any desktop environment. Executing the app failed, it only showed a gray window and multiple errors in the command line:

$ sudo /usr/bin/yubikey-personalization-gui 
X Error: BadAccess (attempt to access private resource denied) 10
  Extension:    130 (MIT-SHM)
  Minor opcode: 1 (X_ShmAttach)
  Resource id:  0x142
X Error: BadShmSeg (invalid shared segment parameter) 128
  Extension:    130 (MIT-SHM)
  Minor opcode: 5 (X_ShmCreatePixmap)
  Resource id:  0xfa
X Error: BadDrawable (invalid Pixmap or Window parameter) 9
  Major opcode: 62 (X_CopyArea)
  Resource id:  0x2800015

Workarounds like pkexec and adding a policykit rule didn’t help, either. The error indicates that there is a problem with the MIT Shared Memory Extension of X.

A good workaround is to deactivate the usage of the extension on command line:

$ sudo QT_X11_NO_MITSHM=1 /usr/bin/yubikey-personalization-gui

It works like a charm.

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[Short Tip] Splitting and merging PDF files

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I recently had to modify quite a stack of PDF files. Many of them where scanned documents, and sometimes I only needed certain pages, or had to re-arrange parts of some files in new documents. A set of handy tools to perform such low level tasks quick and easy comes along in the package poppler-utils. The package is available via the default package managers on Fedora, RHEL/CentOS, Ubuntu, Debian and others.

The command pdfseparate can be used to extract certain pages of large PDFs – in this example all pages from the third up to the fifth are separated into single page PDFs:

$ pdfseparate -f 3 -l 5 Scanned-Document.pdf Separated%d.pdf
$ ls
Scanned-Document.pdf  Separated3.pdf  Separated4.pdf  Separated5.pdf

If you want to combine for example the fifth and the third page in that order in one single, new PDF you can use pdfunite:

$ pdfunite Separated5.pdf Separated3.pdf NewDocument.pdf

Note that there is usually no output on the shell as long as everything works out fine. You can check the results with the PDF viewer of your choice, like Okular on KDE or Evince on Gnome.

[Howto] Using D-BUS to query status information from NetworkManager (or others)

920839987_135ba34fffMost of the current Linux installations rely on the inter process communication framework D-Bus. D-Bbus can be used to gather quite some information about the system – however the usage can be a bit troublesome. This howto sheds some light on the usage of D-Bus by the example of querying the NetworkManagaer interface.

Background

D-BUS enables tools and programs to talk to each other. For example tools like NetworkManager, systemd or firewalld all provide methods and information via D-Bus to query their information and change their configuration or trigger some specific behavior. And of course all these operations can also be performed on the command line. This can be handy in case you want to include it in some bash scripts or for example in your monitoring setup. It also helps understanding the basic principles behind D-Bus in case you want to use it in more complex scripts and programs.

First steps: qdbus

For this example I use qdbus which is shipped with Qt. There are corresponding tools like gdbus and others available in case you don’t want to install qt on your machine for whatever reason.

When you first launch qdbus it shows you a list of strange names which roughly remind you of the apps currently running on your desktop/user session. The point is that you are asking your own user environment – but in case of NetworkManager or other system tools you need to query the system D-Bus:

$ qdbus --system
...
 org.freedesktop.NetworkManager
...

This outputs show a list of all available services, or better said, interfaces. You can connect to these and can get a list of the objects the have:

$ qdbus --system org.freedesktop.NetworkManager
...
/org
/org/freedesktop
/org/freedesktop/NetworkManager
/org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/AccessPoint
/org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/AccessPoint/0
...

Each object has a path which identifies, well, the path to the object. That’s how you call it and everything which is connected to it.

Querying objects

Now that we have a list of objects, we can check which members belong to an object. Members can be actions which can be triggered, or information about a current state, signals, etc. – when we have access to the members things get interesting. In this case we query the object NetworkManager itself, not one of its sub-objects:

$ qdbus --system org.freedesktop.NetworkManager /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager
...
method QDBusVariant org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties.Get(QString interface, QString propname)
method QVariantMap org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties.GetAll(QString interface)
...
property read QList<QDBusObjectPath> org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.ActiveConnections
...

The output shows a list of various members. In the above given code snippet I highlighted the methods to get information – and a property which is called org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.ActiveConnections. Guess what, that property holds the information of the current active connections (there can be more than one!) of the NetworkManager. And we can ask this information (using the --literal because otherwise the output is not possible):

$ qdbus --system --literal org.freedesktop.NetworkManager /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties.Get org.freedesktop.NetworkManager ActiveConnections
[Variant: [Argument: ao {[ObjectPath: /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/ActiveConnection/0]}]]

Please note that as arguments we gave not the entire property as a whole, but we separated at the last dot. Formally we asked for the content of the property ActiveConnections at the interface org.freedesktop.NetworkManager. The interface and the property are merged in the output, but the query always needs to have them separated by a space. I’m not sure why…
But well, now we know that our active connection is actually a NetworkManager object with the path given above. We can again query that object to get a list of all members:

$ qdbus --system --literal org.freedesktop.NetworkManager /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/ActiveConnection/0
...
method QDBusVariant org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties.Get(QString interface, QString propname)
...
property read QDBusObjectPath org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.Connection.Active.Ip4Config
...

There is again a member to get properties – and the interesting property again is an object path:

$ qdbus --system --literal org.freedesktop.NetworkManager /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/ActiveConnection/0 org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties.Get org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.Connection.Active Ip4Config
[Variant: [ObjectPath: /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/IP4Config/1]]

We query again that given object path and see rather promising members:

$ qdbus --system --literal org.freedesktop.NetworkManager /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/IP4Config/1
property read QDBusRawType::aau org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.IP4Config.Addresses
property read QStringList org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.IP4Config.Domains
property read QString org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.IP4Config.Gateway
...

And indeed: if we now query these members, we get for example the current Gateway:

$ qdbus --system --literal org.freedesktop.NetworkManager /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/IP4Config/1 org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties.Get org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.IP4Config Gateway
[Variant(QString): "192.168.178.1"]

That’s it. Now you know the gateway I have configured right now. If you do not want to query each member individually, you can simply call all given members of an interface:

$ qdbus --system --literal org.freedesktop.NetworkManager /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/IP4Config/1 org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties.GetAll org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.IP4Config|sed 's/, /\n/g'
[Argument: a{sv} {"Gateway" = [Variant(QString): "192.168.178.1"]
"Addresses" = [Variant: [Argument: aau {[Argument: au {565356736
24
28485824}]}]]
"Routes" = [Variant: [Argument: aau {}]]
"Nameservers" = [Variant: [Argument: au {28485824}]]
"Domains" = [Variant(QStringList): {"example.com"}]
"Searches" = [Variant(QStringList): {}]
"WinsServers" = [Variant: [Argument: au {}]]}]

As you see the ipv4 addresses are encoded in reverse decimal notation. I am sure there is reason for that. A good one. Surely. But well, that’s just a stupid encoding problem, nothing else. In the end, the queries worked: the current gateway was successfully identified via D-Bus.

Methods: calling panic mode in firewalld

As mentioned above there are also methods which influence the behavior of an application. One simple example I came across is to kill all networking by calling the firewalld panic mode. For that you need the interface org.fedoraproject.FirewallD1, the object /org/fedoraproject/FirewallD1 and the method org.fedoraproject.FirewallD1.enablePanicMode:

$ qdbus --system --literal org.fedoraproject.FirewallD1 /org/fedoraproject/FirewallD1 org.fedoraproject.FirewallD1.enablePanicMode
[]

And your internet connection is gone. It comes back by disabling the panic mode again:

$ qdbus --system --literal org.fedoraproject.FirewallD1 /org/fedoraproject/FirewallD1 org.fedoraproject.FirewallD1.disablePanicMode
[]

Rights

You should also be aware that there is a rights management embedded in D-Bus – not every user is allowed to do anything. For example, as a normal user you cannot simply query all configured chains. If you call the following method:

$ qdbus --system --literal org.fedoraproject.FirewallD1 /org/fedoraproject/FirewallD1 org.fedoraproject.FirewallD1.direct.getAllChains
[Argument: a(sss) {}]

you are greeted with a password dialog before the command is executed.

Summary

D-Bus is used for inter process communication and thus can help when various programs are supposed to work together. It can also used on the shell to query information or to call specific methods as long as they are provided via the D-Bus interface. That might come in handy – some applications have rather strange ways to provide data or procedures via their user interfaces, and D-Bus offers a very generic way to interact without the need to respect any user interfaces.

KPrinter available for KDE 4

KDE logoOne of the missing features of KDE 4 compared to KDE 3 was the not longer available KPrinter, a tool to print Postscript documents even out of non-KDE programs.

In KDE 3 KPrinter was responsible for printing of KDE applications, but other programs used it as well: if they had no own printing configuration but the possibility to add a generic command (like lp/lpr) they were often configured to print against the KPrinter command. KPrinter took the printed file and provided the the user a modern and flexible graphical user interface dialog to pick the preferred printer, change the printer configuration and so on.

With the transition to KDE 4 KPrinter vanished in favor of the Qt print dialog options, which worked only for Qt/KDE programs. All other programs outside Qt/KDE which relied on KPrinter as a drop-in command line tool were at a loss.

Now Marco Nelles – a co-worker of mine here at credativ – published KPrinter for KDE 4. As the (German) blog post shows the new Kprinter provides what we already know from the KDE 3 times: a drop in replacement for other command line printing tools but with the usability and flexibility of the KDE printing dialog. The two screenshots of the post give you an idea of the new interface. For example, the new KPrinter offers to scale the pages to various sizes and even print posters.

This development is incredibly useful if you have legacy software or software which does not offer for example a cups interface. It also helps in case you need to print Postscript files with your own applications but do not want to hook on to Cups yourself.

As the blog post mentions, the future of the kprinter code, hosted at Github, is open for everyone to participate. It might be worth a thought for example to extend the code to also process PDFs. If you want to track the development of kprinter you also might want to follow kprinter’s kde-apps page.

[Howto] Share Ethernet via Wifi with NetworkManager in KDE

KDE logoI recently was taking part in a training at a place which had poor cellular reception, no wifi and only one single ethernet connection. Thus we had to the ethernet via wifi. I tried to do just that with my laptop via NetworkManager – and it worked out of the box.

The basic situation is rather common: you have one single network connection, and want to share it to other people or devices via wifi. If you want to do that manually you have to set up the wifi network on your own, including encryption, need to bring up a dhcp server, configure the routing and NATing, and so on. That can take quite some time, and is nothing you want to do during some precious training hours.

Thus I simply tried to bring up a shared wifi via the NetworkManager applet in KDE:
Share-Wireless
After providing a SSID name and configuring some security credentials the process was already done, and I was notified that the network was set up and ready. It was also shown in the plasma applet besides the ethernet connection:
Plasma-Connection-Established
Plasma-Applet-Conncetions

And that was it already: everyone was able to connect to the network without any problems – and it didn’t even took me a minute to bring it all up. Since I know how much trouble it can be to bring such a connection up manually I was really impressed!

In case you want to give it a try, make sure that your wifi hardware and thus the appropriate driver; do support Access Point (AP) mode which is needed to bring up the wifi. If it says “for some devices only” you have no choice but give it a try.

By the way, in case you wonder about DNS and DHCP: both is done via dnsmasq as a local server, offering both. The DNS queries are forwarded to the DNS servers you got via DHCP from the ethernet connection (or, presumably the one you configured in NetworkManager).
However, I was not able to find any temporary configuration in /run or /var/ which showed the actual DNS servers – I had to call nm-tool to figure that one out:

$ nm-tool
- Device: eth0  [Standard-Ethernet] --------------------------------------------
[...]

  IPv4 Settings:
    Address:         192.168.3.27
    Prefix:          24 (255.255.255.0)
    Gateway:         192.168.3.1

    DNS:             192.168.2.4
    DNS:             192.168.2.3

If you know of any other way to find out these information, or even better simply the entire configuration of dnsmasq for that purpose please let me know =)

Besides, while the Plasma applet gave me the option to shut down the shared wifi network, I wasn’t able to bring it up again. There simply is no option in the network overview to fire up again such a network, thus I filled a bug report.

But, besides these two smaller issues, the plasma-nm applet and thus NetworkManager did a great job making sharing networks very easy.

[Howto] Using sks key server pool for managing GPG signatures

920839987_135ba34fffGPG/PGP needs key servers to work properly. However, some of the servers announced on the web only react slowly – or not at all. The solution is to access a pool of servers which maintains itself.

GPG/PGP works within a web of trust: you trust people you know by signing their keys. If you meet someone you don’t know, you can check if someone you trusted signed the key of the unknown person.

To look up such signatures you however need the infrastructure of such a web of trust: key servers, which store and deliver keys and signatures.

However, many key servers are really slow or do not work properly although they are still listed in programs like KDE’s kgpg. The solution is to use a round robin based pool of servers like the sks key servers. The advantage of such a pool is that even if one server does not respond, next time you query the pool another server will respond most likely. Also, the pool checks itself if the servers are working and removes them from the pool if not. One new child of the family of pool servers is by the way a server provided by the Fedora Project.

The sks pool can be used just like any other key server, for example on the command line:

$ gpg --keyserver keys.fedoraproject.org --recv-keys 449FA3AB
gpg: requesting key 449FA3AB from hkp server keys.fedoraproject.org
gpg: key 449FA3AB: public key "Linus Torvalds <torvalds@transmeta.com>" imported
gpg: 3 marginal(s) needed, 1 complete(s) needed, PGP trust model
gpg: depth: 0  valid:   2  signed:  12  trust: 0-, 0q, 0n, 0m, 0f, 2u
gpg: depth: 1  valid:  12  signed: 123  trust: 6-, 0q, 0n, 0m, 6f, 0u
gpg: depth: 2  valid: 122  signed: 177  trust: 119-, 0q, 0n, 0m, 3f, 0u
gpg: depth: 3  valid:  63  signed: 113  trust: 63-, 0q, 0n, 0m, 0f, 0u
gpg: next trustdb check due at 2014-05-10
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg:               imported: 1

You can also add the key server to GUI programs like kgpg, or add it as default server to your ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf:

$ grep keyserver .gnupg/gpg.conf
keyserver  hkp://pool.sks-keyservers.net

[Howto] Remapping buttons with xbindkeys and xte

TuxSometimes you buy devices like a mouse or a keyboard which provide additional buttons for special functions. Or which have buttons which do not behave as expected. In such cases the button actions can be mapped to other functions, or even to other buttons.

I recently bought a Logitech M705 mouse which works almost perfectly. However, there is one nagging bug: the middle mouse button does not trigger the usual event “mouseclick two” which is interpreted as pressing the middle button, the scroll wheel which is crucial for example browsing the web. Nothing happens.

In such cases the first step is to see if the operating system receives any input at all. Fire up a shell and start the program xev. It opens a small, white window where you can move your cursor to. As soon as the cursor enters the window, you will see a lot of log data on the shell: xev shows you all X events, thus all data you enter via keyboard or mouse.

In my case I pressed the middle button, and saw:

ButtonPress event, serial 40, synthetic NO, window 0x5800001,
    root 0xc7, subw 0x5800002, time 19610234, (46,38), root:(1784,61),
    state 0x10, button 6, same_screen YES
[...]
ButtonRelease event, serial 40, synthetic NO, window 0x5800001,
    root 0xc7, subw 0x5800002, time 19610234, (46,38), root:(1784,61),
    state 0x210, button 6, same_screen YES

The interesting part is that the button was not interpreted as “button 2” as I would have expected, but as “button 6”. That’s not what I expected, and thus the button must be remapped to the event “button 2”.

Mapping of keys and buttons can be done via xbindkeys: in case of KDE I created a symlink to start the program at each startup:

ls -la ~/.kde/env/xbindkeys 
lrwxrwxrwx 1 liquidat users 18 Aug  1 10:56 .kde/env/xbindkeys -> /usr/bin/xbindkeys

xbindkeys reads its configuration from ~/.xbindkeysrc, so that’s the place where we need to configure the actual mapping. The syntax is:

#    "command to start"
#       associated key

The most interesting part of the mapping is: how to trigger the action “button 2”? That is done by the program xte which generates fake input. Thus the final configuration is:

"xte 'mouseclick 2'"                                                                                                                                                                                           
  b:6  

And you are done. Pressing the mouse button 6 on the Logitech M705 now launches the mouseclick 2.

However, as stated correctly by the comments below, this is just an intermediate solution! A long time solution is to fix the mapping in evdev, the Linux input handling.