Monday 1 July 2013

Numpad stopped working [Gnome3]

Last week, all of a sudden, the numpad of my laptop stopped working. Well, it didn't really stop; numbers weren't working at all, that's right, but the "+" sign was highlighting text, and I could still use the small "Enter" and "Page up/down" keys without problems.
Apparently it happened without a reason, but I was definitely sure it was going to be quite easy to fix the problem. Until I realized that none of the solutions I found on the Net (Like this one and this one) was working for me.
A lot of forum threads suggested to check whether the problem gets solved by pressing key combinations like <CTRL><SHIFT><NUMLOCK> or <CTRL><ALT><NUMLOCK>, or something like that. None of these solutions worked for me; however in this article (which is one of those that mainly suggest the key combination) there's something written that has something to do with the solution: it's about the "Mouse keys".
After a long day feeling dumb as hell, I finally noticed that one of the switches in the Gnome3 Universal Access area was set to "on" (while I normally have all of them set otherwise). Damn, it was the Mouse Keys stuff. Meaning: I actually allowed the pointer to mess around.
Well, I have no idea why that switch was set to "on".. I probably pressed a weird combo of keys and it got activated. But I'm glad that this time it was all just about a stupid flag.

Monday 17 June 2013

Chrome issue - XMLHttpRequest cannot load file: Cross origin requests are only supported for HTTP

Lately I have been developing a very silly webpage with bare HTML and Javascript. I'm not very familiar with websites and web in general, so I just write some code and try it out through a browser, with no HTTP server running.
Everything was working just fine until I decided to use external XML files to get input from; this is the code snippet I used to get XML input (thanks
if (window.XMLHttpRequest) {
   xhttp = new XMLHttpRequest(); // for IE7+, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari
} else {
   xhttp = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP"); // for IE6, IE5
}"GET", "samplexml/externalfile.xml", false);
xmlDoc = xhttp.responseXML;
xmlChildren = xmlTree.documentElement.childNodes;
xmlChildren[0].nodeName; // prints the tag of the first node
where samplexml/externalfile.xml is the relative path to the XML file.
If you test this code (again, without any HTTP server!) on a browser like Firefox there won't be any problem: the XML file gets loaded as a charm. The problem is when you try to make it work with Chrome. The console will display a message like the following:
XMLHttpRequest cannot load file:///path/to/project/folder/samplexml/externalfile.xml. Cross origin requests are only supported for HTTP.
Basically the problem is that Chrome has strict permissions for reading files out of the local file system. The best thing to do is to use a simple HTTP server, as suggested here.
This could sound like a lot of stuff and a lot of steps to so, as well as a lot of bad words to shout throughout several days trying to make things work properly. Actually this is not the case: Python comes in handy with its SimpleHTTPServer class, a simple HTTP server which provides standard GET and HEAD request handlers; the cool thing is that it's actually super easy to set up a HTTP server with this class.
[lillo@pc-lillo ~]$ cd /path/to/project/folder
[lillo@pc-lillo project]$ python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8888
Serving HTTP on port 8888 ...
where project is your project folder. Now just open the application from Chrome (localhost):
That's it; now Chrome will not complain anymore, and you're free to read as many XML files as you wish. When you're done just Ctrl-C to exit Python.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Fedora: "[Errno 12] Timeout" problem with Yum

Today I encountered a problem while trying to check for updates with yum. It was quite a while ago that I last used the command line tool, as the super annoying PackageKit was constantly reminding me how lazy I am (though telling PackageKit not to be an old maid is extremely simple, but this is another story).
Anyhow, check-update wasn't working quite well:
 [lillo@pc-lillo ~]$ sudo yum check-update  
 [sudo] password for lillo:  
 Loaded plugins: langpacks, presto, refresh-packagekit [Errno 12] Timeout on (28, 'connect() timed out!')  
 Trying other mirror. [Errno 12] Timeout on (28, 'connect() timed out!')  
 Trying other mirror. [Errno 12] Timeout on (28, 'connect() timed out!')  
 Trying other mirror.  
 Could not retrieve mirrorlist error was  
 12: Timeout on (28, 'connect() timed out!') [Errno 12] Timeout on (28, 'connect() timed out!')  
 Trying other mirror. [Errno 12] Timeout on (28, 'connect() timed out!')  
 Trying other mirror.  
I immediately thought there was a problem with the proxy configuration for yum: at work I use the company's proxy, so settings in /etc/yum.conf are required. I just commented out all the proxy-related stuff.
 [lillo@pc-lillo ~]$ sudo gedit /etc/yum.conf
 # PUT YOUR REPOS HERE OR IN separate files named file.repo  
 # in /etc/yum.repos.d  
 # The proxy server - proxy server:port number   
 # proxy=http://PROXY_ADDRESS:PROXY_PORT  
 # The account details for yum connections   
 # proxy_username=USERNAME   
 # proxy_password=PASSWORD 
At this point I checked again for updates, but things were still not working right. After some time spent on thinking about how mediocre I am, I thought of the environment variables.
 [lillo@pc-lillo ~]$ echo $http_proxy  
 [lillo@pc-lillo ~]$ echo $https_proxy  
Damnit, the environment variables. I forgot that months ago I had put the $http_proxy and $https_proxy variables in the /etc/environment file. In my case I just had to comment-out the proxy-related lines:
 [lillo@pc-lillo ~]$ sudo gedit /etc/environment  
If yours is not the case, or if you have no /etc/environment at all, there are other ways to configure your variables. Good. Now, dear yum, would you mind?
 [lillo@pc-lillo ~]$ sudo yum check-update    
 Loaded plugins: langpacks, presto, refresh-packagekit  
 bumblebee-nonfree                           | 2.9 kB   00:00     
 google-chrome                               | 951 B    00:00     
 google-talkplugin                           | 951 B    00:00     
 rpmfusion-free-updates                      | 3.3 kB   00:00     
 rpmfusion-nonfree-updates                   | 3.3 kB   00:00     
 sublime2                                    | 1.3 kB   00:00     
 updates/17/x86_64/metalink                  | 29 kB    00:00     
 updates                                     | 4.6 kB   00:00     
 updates/primary_db                          | 8.2 MB   00:15     
 empathy.x86_64                           updates  
 kernel.x86_64                               3.8.12-100.fc17      updates  
 kernel-devel.x86_64                         3.8.12-100.fc17      updates  
 kernel-headers.x86_64                       3.8.12-100.fc17      updates  
 nspr.x86_64                                 4.9.6-1.fc17         updates  

Friday 10 May 2013

High CPU usage due to kworker

I recently solved a problem with a kworker process taking up more than 60% of one of my eight CPUs. What is kworker? Here is a simple yet good explanation. I forgot to take snapshots, but the scenario was more or less as shown in figure (source).
Before starting, please note that this is not a OS-specific issue. Read this stuff again if you're not fully convinced about it; the above links could suggest this is only a Ubuntu issue, but it's not (I'm using Fedora for example).
 $ uname -a  
 Linux pc-lillo 3.8.11-100.fc17.x86_64 #1 SMP Wed May 1 19:31:26 UTC 2013 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux  
I don't really like to say I "solved" the problem as I see the following as a workaround, but it actually works good. I just followed what I could find here and here. So, here is what you should do if you see that something is taking up too much CPU.
Make sure the offender is indeed a kworker process. Use top, or ps aux | grep kworker if you prefer.
Find out the gpe (general purpose event) that is causing all of this:
 $ grep . -r /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts  
Normally you should get a list of this kind:
 /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/sci:   162  
 /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/error:    0  
 /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/gpe00:    0  invalid  
 /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/gpe01:    0  invalid  
 /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/gpe02:    0  disabled  
 /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/gpe03:    0  enabled  
 /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/gpe04:    0  disabled  
 /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/gpe_all:   162  
 /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/ff_gbl_lock:    0  enabled  
 /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/ff_pwr_btn:    0  enabled  
 /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/ff_slp_btn:    0  invalid  
You should see a gpe with a very high value. In my case the value of gpe1B was 162, which is ok; gpe06 had instead a value of (approximately) 170.000. This is definitely NOT ok: that's the proof the problem is with ACPI interrupts.
Let's say the offender gpe is called gpe[XX] (replace the "[XX]" accordingly). Now:
 $ su  
 # cp /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/gpe[XX] /pathtobackup  
Note that some commands will be executed even without administrator rights, but the trick will not work (or at least not completely). So it's good to keep the admin rights until the end.
Now we should schedule a task through crontab. Such task should disable the offender gpe, and it must be performed every startup or reboot. To open crontab with vi:
 # crontab -e  
If you want to use another editor (e.g., gedit), just specify it:
 # env EDITOR=gedit crontab -e  
Add the following line to the crontab file:
 @reboot echo "disable" > /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/gpe[XX]  
Save, close.
To make it work even after suspend (optional):
 # touch /etc/pm/sleep.d/30_disable_gpe[XX]  
 # chmod +x /etc/pm/sleep.d/30_disable_gpe[XX]  
 # gedit /etc/pm/sleep.d/30_disable_gpe[XX]  
Copy this script in 30_disable_gpe[XX]:
 case "$1" in  
     echo disable > /sys/firmware/acpi/interrupts/gpe[XX] 2>/dev/null  
 exit $?  
Save, close, and we're done. Sweet.

Note: no luck with the cron job? Have a look at Myk's comments below...