Skype forgetting login details on Ubuntu

TLDR; Install gnome-keyring

If you are not using the default install of Ubuntu, you might not be using Gnome. This is the case for flavours such as: Kubuntu (KDE Plsama), Lubuntu (LXQt), Xubuntu (XFCE), and so on.

And if you have installed Skype using snap, then you will likely find that it will always ask you to login upon loading, even if you have it configured to automatically run at login.

The issue is that Skype installed via snap relies upon gnome-keyring, but fails to install it as a dependency.

Thankfully, one can install this dep. without bringing in the entirety of Gnome.

Open a terminal, and enter:

sudo apt install gnome-keyring

Restart (or start) Skype and login.

The application should communicate with the gnome-keyring service and securely store your login details.

Quit Skype and reload it. You should find that you are not asked for your login details again.

KDE Plasma likes, dislikes, and would be nice to haves

With each new release of Ubuntu, I’ve stuck with the default desktop environment. These have worked well for me over the years, but thought I should see what else there is.

The only way for me to do it justice is to run KDE Plasma as my only desktop environment for a minimum of 2 weeks. So both my work station and my personal laptop are use KDE Plasma installed alongside Gnome 3 Shell on Ubuntu 19.10.

If I’m unhappy after the 2 weeks, I can always go back to Gnome. Or maybe try something else, like lxde or xfce.

I started on Sunday evening, and it’s now Wednesday afternoon. The following are my findings.

This is likely to be updated as I find new things or ways to fix niggles.

Likes

  • When an application shows in the “Task Manager” bar, one can click it to minimise the active window.
  • All icons showing in the “Task Manager” bar (Autokey is a GTK application, but can’t show its icon in Gnome 3, but manages to in KDE Plasma?).
  • Simple music controls on lock screen.

Dislikes

  • Even at max mouse sensitivity, it feels slower than on Gnome 3 – not good for a 3 monitor set-up – this may be subjective and not be an issue in time.
  • No option to locate the mouse cursor by pressing [ctrl].
  • Some windows don’t respond to a mouse wheel scoll until the window is clicked – this may be an issue only with GTK applications running on KDE Plasma.
  • Being asked for my SSH key in the terminal for every action – is there a key manager like in Gnome that I need to enable? Manually resolved by running `ssh-add` against each key required. Gnome does handle this a lot better 😐
  • Scrolling in an application window does not respond while a OSN is displayed – example: Spotify changing tracks

Things I’d like to see ported from Gnome 3 Shell

  • The option to only switch the central monitor when changing between virtual desktops.
  • Change between virtual desktops using [ctrl]+[alt]+arrow keys.

Things I’d like to see in all desktop environments

  • Option to have the cursor colour to invert as it passes over other colours – Windows does this.
  • Automatic window scaling based upon the native resolution of the monitor in use. If a window is moved from one monitor to another, and the resolution changes, the scale should adapt to keep it readable – Windows does this.

Embiggen .desktop loaded applications on Ubuntu

I keep forgetting the steps required for this, so thought I should write them up in one easy to remember blog post for myself.

My desktop set-up consists of 2 x 1080 and 1 x 4k display. Making sure that applications are readable is a bit of a farce.

But as long as I ensure that certain applications only ever appear on the correct monitor, means that I can alter the launcher to set the correct DPI scaling.

Case in point is the “thunderbird.desktop” launcher. I only ever use it on the 4k display (central monitor), so I can alter the launcher to pre-set the scaling to two times normal. Making it readable without squinting (I’m nearly 40 you know).

Using “locate thunderbird.desktop” we find that it’s stored at “/usr/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop”. So raised privileges will be needed to edit it.

“sudo nano -w /usr/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop”

Using “ctrl+\” to replace text, search for “Exec=thunderbird” and replace it with “Exec=env GDK_SCALE=2 thunderbird”. Use “ctrl+x” to save and exit the editor.

Now when the Thunderbird launcher icon is clicked, the application will be rendered at twice the normal size. Making the working day a lot less squinty.

apt-upgrade

I used to use a 2 command 1 liner to update my system:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

That was easy enough to type out now and then. But over time it grew to include removing and cleaning downloaded packages as well.

Then there’s the matter of knowing if an update requires a system restart.

The lazy me put it all into one bash script and made it globally accessible and executable:

#!/bin/bash
apt update && apt full-upgrade && apt-get autoremove && apt-get autoclean
if [ -f /var/run/reboot-required ]; then echo && cat /var/run/reboot-required; fi

Placed it in /usr/local/bin/apt-upgrade  and made it executable with sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/apt-upgrade .

Now I can run sudo apt-upgrade on all of my servers and it’ll update things as well as letting me know if a reboot is required.

Most amusing spam received to date

Good morning...

Do not consider on my English, I am from Iran.I installed the virus on your system.After that I pilfered all confidential info from your OS. Furthermore I received some more compromising evidence.The most interesting evidence which I thieftend- its a record with your self-abusing.I adjusted malicious software on a porn web site and after you installed it. As soon as you picked the video and pressed play, my software immediately set up on your OS.

After loading, your web camera shoot the record with you self-abusing,  furthermore it saved precisely the video you watched. In next week my malicious software collected all your social and work contacts.

If you wish to delete  the videotape- transfer me 380 united state dollar in BTC(cryptocurrency).
I provide you my Bitcoin wallet address - [redacted]  

You have 22 hours from this moment. When I receive transfer I will destroy the evidence forever. Differently I will send the tape to all your contacts.

Sent 5 days ago to my work address, no less.

Guess I got away with it!

Unable to install sass gem on CentOS 6.9 with Ruby 2.4

Something changed recently, preventing a VM from fully provisioning. Tracking it down was a bit of a PiTA.

OS: CentOS 6.9
Ruby: 2.4 – installed from source with the gearlingguy.ruby ansible role
Gems to be installed: sass

$ sudo gem install sass
Fetching: rb-fsevent-0.10.2.gem (100%)
Successfully installed rb-fsevent-0.10.2
Fetching: ffi-1.9.21.gem (100%)
Building native extensions.  This could take a while...
ERROR:  Error installing sass:
    ERROR: Failed to build gem native extension.
    current directory: /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/2.4.0/gems/ffi-1.9.21/ext/ffi_c
/usr/local/bin/ruby -r ./siteconf20180222-18730-x7wu2n.rb extconf.rb
checking for ffi.h... no
checking for ffi.h in /usr/local/include,/usr/include/ffi... no
checking for shlwapi.h... no
checking for rb_thread_blocking_region()... no
checking for rb_thread_call_with_gvl()... yes
checking for rb_thread_call_without_gvl()... yes
creating extconf.h
creating Makefile
current directory: /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/2.4.0/gems/ffi-1.9.21/ext/ffi_c
make "DESTDIR=" clean
current directory: /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/2.4.0/gems/ffi-1.9.21/ext/ffi_c
make "DESTDIR="
Running autoreconf for libffi
autoreconf: Entering directory `.'
autoreconf: configure.ac: not using Gettext
autoreconf: running: aclocal --force -I m4
configure.ac:3: error: Autoconf version 2.68 or higher is required
configure.ac:3: the top level
autom4te: /usr/bin/m4 failed with exit status: 63
aclocal: autom4te failed with exit status: 63
autoreconf: aclocal failed with exit status: 63
make: *** ["/usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/2.4.0/gems/ffi-1.9.21/ext/ffi_c/libffi-x86_64-linux"/.libs/libffi_convenience.a] Error 63
make failed, exit code 2
Gem files will remain installed in /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/2.4.0/gems/ffi-1.9.21 for inspection.
Results logged to /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/2.4.0/extensions/x86_64-linux/2.4.0/ffi-1.9.21/gem_make.out

The issue is with the ffi ruby gem.

Looking at the releases in github, a recent release updated the required version of autoconf installed on the system. Fine for modern systems, not so much for CentOS 6.9.

The solution is to install the ffi ruby gem with the version prior to this recent change:

$ gem install ffi -v 1.9.18

This then allows sass to be installed without complaint!

Setting up an On-Premise instance of Amon

NewRelic no longer offers server monitoring for free accounts, so what are the alternatives when you’re on a skin-flint budget?

There are lots, but I’m not going to review any of them. Instead, I’ve been tasked with getting Amon running on a DigitalOcean droplet so that it might be appraised.

Amon can either be used as a SAAS, hosted by Amon themselves. Or it can be run “On-Premise” by cloning the git repo to your own server.

The On-Premise instructions didn’t work for me as-is on a fresh Ubuntu 16.04 server. So I present to you here the result of getting it going!

Assumptions:

  1. You know what you’re doing with Linux on a server.
  2. You can create your own VPS, or have dedicated hardware, that will only be used for server monitoring.
  3. MongoDB is installed from Mongo’s repo, not Ubuntu’s.
  4. Let’s Encrypt is used for the SSL certificate.
  5. The FQDN used for accessing the Amon instance matches the server’s full hostname (easy enough to change by altering FULL_HOSTNAME).
  6. Postfix is used on localhost as the MTA (alter the content of /etc/opt/amon/amon.yml if that’s not to be the case).

The following took the instructions of https://docs.amon.cx/onpremise/ and then extended/tweaked them to create a fully working server.

So the initial script I wrote turned out better suited to being a collection of scripts. And to keep them together, I’ve created a new GitHub repo to house them.

If you find it useful, great! If you would like to help make the installation provisioning system better, PRs are very welcome 🙂

https://github.com/bigcalm/amon-server

Upgrading Jenkins war file the quick and dirty way

#!/bin/bash

set -e

if [ $# -eq 0 ]; then
    echo "New Jenkins version number missing"
    exit 1
fi

VERSION=${1}

set -x

cd /usr/share/jenkins/
wget http://updates.jenkins-ci.org/download/war/${VERSION}/jenkins.war -O jenkins.war-${VERSION}
rm jenkins.war && ln -s jenkins.war-${VERSION} jenkins.war
service jenkins restart

The above bash script will download a given version of the jenkins.war file and symlink it into place before restarting the jenkins service.

Assumptions made:

  • The jenkins.war file is installed to /usr/share/jenkins
  • The server is using upstart for running services
  • User input is sane – there is no validation or sanitisation

Vagrant: sudo access and the hostsupdater plugin

Bringing up a vagrant machine is as easy as `vagrant up`.

If you’re a web developer, it would be nice if it were to add the private network IP address to `/etc/hosts` of the host machine. Thus giving you instant access to http://my-awesome-site.dev/

This doesn’t happen by default, but it is possible with the use of a plugin. The one I like to use is `vagrant-hostsupdater`.

Install thus:

vagrant plugin install vagrant-hostsupdater

When you bring up the vagrant machine, it will now automatically add the VM’s name to `/etc/hosts`.

As `/etc/hosts` is owned by `root` (and I hope you aren’t running everything as `root`), you have to provide `sudo` access to edit `/etc/hosts`.

Either you manually enter your `sudo` password every time you run `vagrant up`, or you can add some rules to `sudoers`.

This will work on Ubuntu type systems. Paths to `sh` and `sed` may be different on your own system.

Copy/paste the following into `/etc/sudoers.d/vagrant` and `chmod` the file to `0440`

# vagrant-hostsupdater plugin
Cmnd_Alias VAGRANT_HOSTS_ADD = /bin/sh -c echo "*" >> /etc/hosts
Cmnd_Alias VAGRANT_HOSTS_REMOVE = /bin/sed -i -e /*/ d /etc/hosts
%sudo ALL=(root) NOPASSWD: VAGRANT_HOSTS_ADD, VAGRANT_HOSTS_REMOVE

A similar system can be used if you want to make use of `nfs` for the file sharing with the VM.

Again, this works for Ubuntu systems, you mileage may vary.

Copy/paste the following into `/etc/sudoers.d/vagrant` and `chmod` the file to `0440`

# nfs mounting in vagrant
Cmnd_Alias VAGRANT_EXPORTS_ADD = /usr/bin/tee -a /etc/exports
Cmnd_Alias VAGRANT_EXPORTS_COPY = /bin/cp /tmp/exports /etc/exports
Cmnd_Alias VAGRANT_NFSD_CHECK = /etc/init.d/nfs-kernel-server status
Cmnd_Alias VAGRANT_NFSD_START = /etc/init.d/nfs-kernel-server start
Cmnd_Alias VAGRANT_NFSD_APPLY = /usr/sbin/exportfs -ar
Cmnd_Alias VAGRANT_EXPORTS_REMOVE = /bin/sed -r -e * d -ibak /tmp/exports
%sudo ALL=(root) NOPASSWD: VAGRANT_EXPORTS_ADD, VAGRANT_NFSD_CHECK, VAGRANT_NFSD_START, VAGRANT_NFSD_APPLY, VAGRANT_EXPORTS_REMOVE, VAGRANT_EXPORTS_COPY

You will now be able to use `nfs` without having to enter your `sudo` password on each `vagrant up` and `vagrant halt`.