Build a simple kitchen terminal out of an old laptop screen and Raspberry Pi

On some occasion, it is practical to have a terminal in the kitchen, mainly to check on recipes. While a phone screen is not that great, a tablet would do. I do not have any tablet and I am not that fond of systems readily available on tablets. But I do have a few old laptops around plus a Raspberry Pi B+.


The following RasPi.TV‘s video explains it all:

Quite straightforward, you unmount and identify your screen. So for my Dell Latitude C640, I got a Samsung LTN141X8-L02 14,1″ screen for which I easily found a controller board kit on ebay for 21,5 €.IMG_20170122_115114.jpg

Here’s the back of the said screen, with the original inverter board still attached. The kit will include another one.

Once acquired, there is not much to think about, everything just have to be plugged where it belongs according to the seller docs:


Obviously, you need to buy also a HDMI cable and a power adapter power adapter (12V, 4A).


Obviously, as it is no tablet, it requires peripherals. I opted for a slim USB wireless keyboard with trackpad and some USB powered stereo speaker. These devices will be powered by the Raspberry Pi (a phone charger can be plugged to the keyboard to recharge it).

Finally, the charger and the Raspberry are plugged onto a power socket with 5V USB. It will be used to put on/off the whole.

Afterwards, I put the screen within a cheap photo frame and fixed the rest on some board.

That frame looks too fragile, though, I would recommend to build a proper one instead.


1/ Raspbian desktop

I first tried some default Raspbian. Epiphany web browser is as bad as you cannot even set a default webpage without editing the .desktop files. And once it is done, it crashes on mediawiki standard page layout. Raspbian also fails to properly open videos (OMX sprout error messages, even with lot of memory attributed). Not convincing.

2/ Kodi media player

Afterwards, I went for LibreElec along with Kodi. Surprisingly, it loads movies with no problem, the interface is quite neat in general and the control with a distant web browser (port 8080 by default) is a plus. As media player, it would be nice.


But it is not perfect: Kodi does not provide any proper web browser, even lacking features. They only provide some cheezy sort of said text web browser. Sort of because it is no lynx/links/elinks, it is just a strange graphical interface with low HTML layout capabilities – but, kudos, it does not crash on mediawiki, yay! Nonetheless, that is quite a blocker issue for me. Even a media player, in my opinion, should have integrated web browser. It is not a challenge to reuse gecko/khtml, whatever, to make so.


3/ (tiger) VNC on top of Raspbian

So I went back on Raspbian. I found out that netsurf works fine to browse mediawiki. So just that satisfies the first requirement.

Instead of expecting to be able to finely setup Raspbian for video website, etc, I decided it might just be smarter to really think of this as terminal and so, to show some window from another computer session.

On an Devuan desktop, it is just enough to get tigervnc-scraping-server, generate a host file (for IP based control):

mkdir .vnc
echo "+IP_OF_YOUR_RASPBIAN" > .vnc/hosts

then to start it whenever you want to share your screen:

x0vncserver -HostsFile=$HOME/.vnc/hosts -SecurityTypes=None

Windows version is configured in a similar fashion.

Raspbian provides a VNC viewer graphical interface that will allow you to connect and you’ll immediately notice that TigerVNC is damned efficient and play with no problem youtube video, etc.

Ok, but VNC, while much more convenient than RDP to setup, does not care to sound forwarding.

I give some tries to PulseAudio RTP capabilities: it fails with errors like [alsa-sink-bcm2835 ALSA] module-rtp-recv.c: Sample rates too different, not adjusting (44100 vs. 90522) and when I tried to document myself about it, I found that this PulseAudio feature was bugged, flooding the network with UDP packets, a bug found in 2009 and still existing in 2017. Gosh, a feature bugged since near to a decade: back to why I try to keep away from systemd and anything made by the same crowd.

I ended up streaming audio with vlc,

cvlc -vvv pulse://`pactl list | grep "Monitor Source" | cut --delimiter ":" -f 2 | tr -d [:blank:]` --sout "#transcode{acodec=mp3,ab=128,channels=2}:standard{access=http,dst=}" &

simply played on the Raspbian with:

mpg123 http://hostname:9999/pc.mp3

I has been summarized in a script to be run on the distant host side. I considered stream both audio and video with vlc but it  is convenient to be able to move around with VNC. This will require further testing.

Add proportional label/watermark to images with ImageMagick

There is nothing exceptional here, there are many documented ways to achieve this.

Still, follows the most efficient way I found to do so on any images within a directory, after testing quite a few: I wanted to be able to add a small tag on top, size being propertional to the image (that excluded many solutions based on -pointsize), on static images as well as animated ones.

rm -f *marked*

for pic in *.jpg *.png *.gif; do
   # identify is messed up with gif (give width per frame), use convert
   # instead
   width=$(convert $pic -print "%w" /dev/null)
   height=$(expr 5 \* $width \/ 100)

   # first build a watermark so we can easily manipulate it is size afterwards
   convert -size ${width}x${height} -gravity NorthEast -stroke "#454545" -fill "#c8c8c8" -background transparent -strokewidth 1 -font LiberationSerif-Bold.ttf label:"$pic" ${pic//.$ext}-mark.png
   # then add it
   convert $pic -coalesce -gravity NorthEast null: ${pic//.$ext}-mark.png -layers composite -layers optimize ${pic//.$ext}-marked.$ext

   rm ${pic//.$ext}-mark.png

Within a perl script, it would be something like (beware, most variables we’re set earlier in the script):

    # build watermark (for now minimal checks, assume files are regular) 
    my ($watermark_h, $watermark) = tempfile(SUFFIX => ".png", 
					     UNLINK => $unlink_temp);
    my $watermark_width = $$image_info{"ImageWidth"};
    my $watermark_height = $watermark_proportion * $watermark_width / 100;
	   "-size", $watermark_width."x".$watermark_height,
	   "-gravity", "NorthEast",
	   "-stroke", "#454545",
	   "-fill", "#c8c8c8",
	   "-background", "transparent",
	   "-strokewidth", "1",
	   "-font", $watermark_font,

    # add watermark
	   "-gravity", "NorthEast",
	   "-layers", "composite",
	   "-layers", "optimize",

Yeah, so that does mean that my script managing a tumblr posts-queue locally with #Tags was updated to add these #Tags as watermark/label. Note that it won’t alter the original file, only the one posted.

New options can be added in ~/.tumblrrc:

# no watermark/label

# specific font

Note that it requires ImageMagick to be installed.

Sharing graphs of multiple Munin (master) instances

Munin is a convenient monitoring tool. Even if it gets old, it is easy to set up and agrement with custom scripts.

It works with the notion of having a master munin process that will grab data from nodes (a device within the network), store it in Round-robin databases (RRD) and process the data  to generate static images and HTML pages. These sequences are split in several scripts: munin-update, munin-limits, munin-graph, munin-html.

It’s fine -overkill?- for a small local network, despite the fact RRD is a bit I/O consuming to the point it may be require to use a caching daemon like rrdcached.

It’s a different story if you want to monitor several small networks that are connected through the internet at once. Why would you? First because it might be convenient to get graphs from different networks side by side. Also because if one network disappear from the internet, data from munin might actually be meaningful, provided you can still access it.


Problem is munin updates are synchronous: any disconnect between the two would cause the data to be inconsistent. It leads  to many issues that munin-async can help with. But even though you might be able to use munin-async, one of your servers will lack a munin master: the setup will works only when both are up.

So I’m actually much more interested in having a master munin process, for each network.

How to achieve that? It is not an option to share RRD via NFS over the web. I’m also not fan of the notion of having both master munin process read through all RRD and generate graphs in parallel, re-generating exactly the same data with no value added.

I went for an alternative approach with a modified version of the script. We do not merge RRD trees. We simply synchronize the db files to merge and the generated graphs. So if there are graphs from another munin master process to include in the HTML output, they’ll be there. But munin master process will go undisturbed by any other process unavailability and wont have more RRD to process, more graphs to produce.

Graphs and db files replication:

On both (master munin process) hosts, you need an user dedicated to replication: here.

adduser SYNCUSER munin

This user need ssh access from one host to the other (private/public key sharing, whatever).

Directories setup:

mkdir -p /var/lib/munin-mergedb/
chown munin:munin -R /var/lib/munin-mergedb/
# the +s is very important so directory group ownership is preserved
chmod g+rws -R /var/lib/munin-mergedb/
chmod g+rws /var/lib/munin/
chmod g+rws -R /var/www/html/munin/

On one host (the one allowed to connect through ssh), synchronized two way with unison HTML files:

su - SYNCUSER --shell=/bin/bash



# step one, get directories
unison -batch -auto -ignore="Name *.html" -ignore="Name *.png" "$LOCAL_HTML" "ssh://$DISTANT_HOST:$DISTANT_PORT/$DISTANT_HTML"
# step two, get directories img content 
cd "$LOCAL_HTML" && for DIR in *; do [ -d "$DIR" ] && unison -batch -auto -ignore="Name *.html" "$LOCAL_HTML/$DIR" "ssh://$DISTANT_HOST:$DISTANT_PORT/$DISTANT_HTML/$DIR"; done

On one host (the same), synchronized one way with rsync database files:


# push our db (one way action, easier with rsync)
rsync -a --include='datafile*' --include='limits*' --exclude='*' -e "ssh -p $DISTANT_PORT" "$LOCAL_DB/" "$DISTANT_HOST:$DISTANT_LOCAL_DB/"
# get theirs (one way action, easier with rsync)
rsync -a --include='datafile*' --include='limits*' --exclude='*' -e "ssh -p $DISTANT_PORT" "$DISTANT_HOST:$LOCAL_DB/" "$LOCAL_DISTANT_DB/"

If it works fine, set up /etc/cron.d/munin-sync:

# supposed to assist




# m h dom mon dow user command
# every 5 hour update dir list
01 */5 * * *  SYNCUSER unison -batch -auto -silent -log=false -ignore="Name *.html" -ignore="Name *.png" "$LOCAL_HTML/$DIR" "ssh://$DISTANT_HOST:$DISTANT_PORT/$DISTANT_HTML/$DIR" 2>/dev/null

#  update content twice per hour
*/28 * * * *  SYNCUSER cd "$LOCAL_HTML" && for DIR in *; do [ -d "$DIR" ] && unison -batch -auto -silent -log=false -ignore="Name *.html" "$LOCAL_HTML/$DIR" "ssh://$DISTANT_HOST:$DISTANT_PORT/$DISTANT_HTML/$DIR" 2>/dev/null; done && rsync -a --include='datafile*' --include='limits*' --exclude='*' -e "ssh -p $DISTANT_PORT" "$LOCAL_DB/" "$DISTANT_HOST:$DISTANT_LOCAL_DB/" 2>/dev/null && rsync -a --include='datafile*' --include='limits*' --exclude='*' -e "ssh -p $DISTANT_PORT" "$DISTANT_HOST:$LOCAL_DB/" "$LOCAL_DISTANT_DB/"2>/dev/null

Updated scripts:

Once data there, you will need munin-mergedb script to handle them, use a munin-cron script like my instead of munin-cron so it actually calls Plus you’ll need a fixed version of munin-graph so –host arguments are not blattlanly ignored (lacking RRD, it would fail to actually write graph for distant munin master process, but it would nonetheless delete existing graphs).

(Where these files go depends on your munin installation packaging. I have the munin processes in /usr/local/share/munin  and in /usr/local/bin – it reflects the fact that original similar files are either in /usr/share/munin or /usr/bin. Beware, if you change the name of any munin process, update log rotation files otherwise you may easily fill up a disk drive, since it is kind of noisy especially when issues arise)

As conveniency, you can download these with my -utils-munin debian/devuan packages:

dpkg -i
apt-get update
apt-get install stalag13-utils-munin

Once everything set up, you can test/debug it by typing:

su - munin --shell=/bin/bash


What next?

Actually I’d welcome improvements since it extract –host information in the most barbaric way. I am sure it can be done cleanly using Munin::Master::Config/else.

Then I’d welcome any insight about why munin-graph’s –host option does not works the way I’d like it. Maybe I misunderstand it’s exact purpose. The help reads:

 --host  Limit graphed hosts to . Multiple --host options
               may be supplied.

To me, it really means that it should not do anything at all to any files of hosts excluded this way. If it meant something else, maybe this should be explained.

Removing car’s error messages with an ELM327 device and AndrOBD

Removing car’s error message: am I insane? Well, indeed, in a perfect world where no faulty design exist, I would be. Fixing an error message, that would really mean fixing not even a symptom but a warning and that can only be wrong.

But in the world of french automobile, it is not so (I cannot tell for expensive german or asian cars, I don’t own any). Namely, with Peugeot-Citroën HDI (and strangely not so much with similar Fiat’s JTD and Ford’s TDCi), you easily end up with the infamous Anti Pollution Fault error code after firing the engine. Sometimes it really means something is very wrong, often it only means that a probe is faulty. Sometimes some car shop do not replace/fix the probe but just reset it, so the problem stops only for time. And later it would pop-up and cause the engine to work in degraded mode, stuck to less than 2500 RPM or so – not great. On my HDI-based car, the mechanic decided to completely deactivate the probe, faulty when the car was only a few years old and with less than 50000km, considering it is not worth being changed to a new one that may die early as the original part anyway. Since then, the engine works nicely but on startup there is this Anti Pollution Fault error code that stays on. Not really dramatic but it causes you to pay actually less attention to any error message.

So all modern cars are electronics or even computer-based. But it is unlikely that you’ll manage to access to any code running. For your security they might say. Convenient to fake gaz emission tests, nonetheless.

Still, these days, you can get for cheap some OBD-II devices, OBD standing for on-board diagnostics. It is quite limited in scope and a capabilities, still, it can be used to set off error codes.

I tested a few (libre) software and cheap hardware. What worked for me (Peugeot car with HDI engine) is a bluetooth ELM327  (10 €) device along with AndrOBD (available through F-Droid). It provides data seemingly accurate and reset error code actually works (when the contact is on but engine is off).

I also tried an WiFi ELM327 device, the dedicated software failed to connect or was not providing any usable info. I’d be interested in any other option (for instance with a GNU/Linux laptop instead of F-Droid phone).


Fixing black screen during boot caused by LVDS-panel presence assumption by GMA 3650 drivers

On a Intel DN2800MT-based system, so having Graphics Media Accelerator 3650 integrated processor graphic card, your screen turn to black/off during the boot process, exactly starting when the system switch to framebuffer if you connect a VGA screen (no problem so far with HDMI).

Passing nomodeset or any similar option is of no help.

You cannot invent it, apparently GMA 3600 kernel DRM driver always assumes there is a LVDS panel, as it would on laptop but probably not on home servers, and defaults to a 1920×1080 panel.

So you need to add to the grub kernel line:


Or, in /etc/default/grub :


And run update-grub afterwards.

Using same soundcard among users with PulseAudio not in system mode

Sound on GNU/Linux never have been convenient. Right now, de facto standard is PulseAudio: yeah, made by the same people that does this nightmare of systemd. When it works it is better than just ALSA  (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture). When it doesn’t, you’re in for a headache.

Anyway, I had this situation where I wanted user whatever to be able to use the soundcard. But the soundcard was blocked and reserved by PulseAudio started by my regular user account.

First option is to make PulseAudio work as a system daemon. UNIX-style option. Quite obviously, that would be too easy to implement for these systemd people. So they implemented the option altogether advising not to use it. I did not care about the advice, though, so I tried. And then I understood why, while advising not to use it, they said they would not be accountable for problems using it. Because it is utter trash, unreliable, giving out error endless messages and, in the end, not working at all.

 So the system mode is a no-go, in the short run and definitely not in the long run either.

Alternate option is to open PulseAudio through the loopback network device. To do so, in /etc/pulse/ add the TCP module with

load-module module-native-protocol-tcp auth-ip-acl=

Obviously, by default tcpwrapper will refuse access, so you have also to add the relevant counterpart in /etc/hosts.allow :


From now on, after restarting PulseAudio, you should be able to access it through any user (in audio group).

Update: some comments on reddit made me think there has been a misunderstanding on the scope of this post. It is not to describe inner workings of audio on common GNU/Linux systems with PulseAudio. The following does and almost perfectly explain why I did not bother get specific on the topic :


Improving Qualys SSL server test results regarding weak Diffie-Hellman and Logjam attack

Followup on earlier Improving Qualys SSL server test results regarding Poodle attack and SHA1, the following should secure servers I use (openssh/nginx/exim/dovecot on Debian/Devuan) against Logjam attack on TLS protocol tied to weak Diffie-Hellman.

OpenSSH shell server

Run the following and look for the line KEX algorithms. It is fine unless diffie-hellman-group1-sha1 shows up.

ssh -vvv serverhostname

Debian default is ok.

Nginx HTTPs server

cd /etc/ssl
openssl dhparam -out dhparams.pem 2048

Edit /etc/nginx/nginx.conf:

# SSL Settings

ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2; # Dropping SSLv3, ref: POODLE
ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;
ssl_dhparam /etc/ssl/dhparams.pem;


invoke-rc.d nginx restart

Dovecot IMAPs server

Edit /etc/dovecot/conf.d/10-ssl.conf:

# How often to regenerate the SSL parameters file. Generation is quite CPU      
# intensive operation. The value is in hours, 0 disables regeneration           
# entirely.                                                                     
ssl_parameters_regenerate = 168h
ssl_dh_parameters_length = 2048

# SSL protocols to use                                                          
ssl_protocols = !SSLv2 !SSLv3

# SSL ciphers to use                                                            


invoke-rc.d dovecot restart

Exim SMTPs server

In my case, the relevant file /etc/exim4/conf.d/main/00_stalag13-config_0ssl is managed by my -exim package.

# deactivate outdated SSLv3 (compiled with TLS)
# deactivate weak diffie-hellman
tls_require_ciphers = NORMAL:!DHE-RSA:!DHE-DSS:!DHE-PSK:!ANON-DH:!MD5:!SRP:!PSK:!VERS-SSL3.0


invoke-rc.d exim restart

This should gives a A rating as of today, except regarding possibly self-signed certificate. There is a convenient tool to check Logjam vulnerability at