Piero V.

Linux cryptsetup and rEFInd

TL; DR: create a /boot/refind_linux.conf file with the following content:

"Boot with standard options"  "root=UUID=uuid-of-unencrypted-root-partition ro cryptdevice=UUID=uuid-of-luks-partition:volume-name:allow-discards quiet"
"Boot to single-user mode"    "root=UUID=uuid-of-unencrypted-root-partition ro cryptdevice=UUID=uuid-of-luks-partition:volume-name:allow-discards quiet single"
"Boot with minimal options"   "root=UUID=uuid-of-unencrypted-root-partition ro cryptdevice=UUID=uuid-of-luks-partition:volume-name:allow-discards"

The rest of the article is a nice story about why I needed this 😄️.

More fast storage!

I built my current desktop two years ago with the first money I earned during my internship. So, I was on a budget, and cheapening on the storage is always a way to save some bucks.

Therefore, I bought a WD Black 250GB SSD to dual boot my systems and a 2TB hard disk for the data.

Recently I changed job, and now I use my personal desktop to work. And I need more fast storage.

So, since I was already upgrading, I finally switched to full-disk encryption and btrfs. … [Leggi il resto]

Thunderbird 78+ and OpenPGP secrets

I have used OpenPGP for a while now, usually with GPG. I use it, especially with my password manager on my Debian box. The GNOME folks did a great job with password prompts for it and for the SSH agent.

Recently, I started using encryption and digital signatures also for emails.

I use Thunderbird as a client. With version 78, its authors deprecated the old plugin APIs. Enigmail, the addon that provided OpenPGP with a GPG integration, became incompatible. However, they also decided to support this feature natively.

While most of Thunderbird’s source code is released under MPL, GPG is released under the GNU GPL 3.0 or later. Therefore, they preferred using another library. And so, they also waived the great integrations that GPG already has.

Thunderbird's prompt for the key passphrase

So, what is different in this screenshot from the usual Thunderbird password prompts? … [Leggi il resto]

OpenCV and time lapses

After buying my Pixel 4a, I decided to take a picture of a poplar near my home every day. I did this for one year, and I created a time lapse. But I will not publish it here because it would reveal where my home is 😜️.

Methodical is not enough

With time lapses, you usually keep your camera still, but this was not an option in my case. Therefore, I tried to be methodical in taking the various pictures.

I used a sewer cover as a point to shoot the photo and a telephone pole as a reference (its tip is close to the upper-left corner in every picture).

Still, the results were varied, but luckily OpenCV came to the rescue.

Homography matrices

We could say that my scenario is like capturing the same scene with different cameras. Therefore, we can compute the homography matrix to reproject one image to the previous one.

And OpenCV has a very handful function to do so: findHomography. It takes the coordinates of corresponding points as inputs, and it returns a 3-by-3 matrix as output.

If you are using Python, you must pass the points as two NumPy matrices. Both must have the same shapes: a row for each pair and two columns with the coordinates. The point at the ith row of the first array must correspond to the point at the ith row of the second array. … [Leggi il resto]

Which successor for my TD-W8970?

I have been using TP-Link TD-W8970 as my primary router since 2014.

Then, a pair of weeks ago, its modem died because of a storm. Also, the connected Ethernet ports ceased working. Luckily, the lightning did not propagate over the LAN; otherwise, damages would have been thousands of euros.

The hell of DSL users

The TD-W8970 was one of the few devices based on the Lantiq platform, the only one whose xDSL modem is supported by OpenWrt.

Most of the home networking appliances are based on the Broadcom platform. Their modem employs proprietary drivers that work only with ancient and insecure Linux kernels. And in many cases, with OpenWrt, you also lose some WiFi features.

The usual workaround is to rely on two routers. One in bridge mode, i.e., as a pure modem, connected with another one running OpenWrt. I have never liked it because it is much less clean: more devices, more heat, more power consumption, less integrated, etc… But now, I surrendered to it. … [Leggi il resto]

My experience with variable fonts

Variable fonts are a brilliant idea. They embed in a single file the many styles they can have. In this way, the resulting size is much smaller, and they provide increased versatility. For example, you are not limited to regular, bold, light, condensed, expanded stretches, etc. Instead, you can specify numeric values with higher granularity.

They are quite recent: they started being supported by operating systems and libraries around 2017.

Later, also web browsers started supporting them. But, at the moment of writing, the support has not been standardized yet. In other words: use at your own risk 🤐️.

And I tried to. Six months ago, I switched to variable fonts. Lately, however, I have noticed some nasty problems.

Chrome and the faux italic

I love the Inconsolata font. I have been using it as my system-wide monospace and for my site for the latest years. It has only a defect: it does not have an italic variant.

But this is not a real issue because browsers can fake it by slanting the font… or can they?

Sure, if you are using Firefox. But if you are using Chrome, it will not do it. And this includes Chrome on desktop, mobile, and all the browsers based on Android’s WebView. … [Leggi il resto]