Posted tagged ‘Linux’

Repackaged CryptoRF/LibNFC Example Code

March 30, 2013

Earlier, I tried to build the “NFC-CryptoRF” example code from the LibNFC Wiki, without success against LibNFC 1.7.0-rc4-9-g3584338, under Ubuntu 12.10.

Unsurprisingly, thanks to the LibNFC developers constantly changing their public APIs (for good reasons, I’m sure), said example code has succumbed to bit-rot, and only builds against obsolete versions of LibNFC.

Therefore, it seems that the only immediately obvious way for this code to be useful is to either downgrade the installed library version, or attempt to fix the hacky code to compensate for changes.

Luckily, after temporarily uninstalling my trunk version; downloading, and installing a LibNFC 1.3.4 source archive, applying the patch from a member of the LibNFC Forums to the example code, and attempting to rebuild everything, it seems that the example code works as it should.

After reinstating my modern LibNFC version; configuring 1.3.4’s build process to install to a temporary directory, copying the resulting ancient shared object file to “” in the example code directory, and creating a wrapper shell (“crf134“) script based upon the arguments passing technique mentioned here, it seems that I can now enjoy being able to use this tool, alongside more modern, “global” versions of LibNFC…

Anyway, to save others the hassle, I’ve uploaded the resulting product to Google Code.

As proof of peaceful co-existence with a more modern version of LibNFC:

Finally, in order to satisfy the terms of the (L)GPL, I have also included the original, uncompressed LibNFC 1.3.4 archive, the patched example source code, a copy of the patch, and the unpacked LibNFC directory containing both source, and 32-bit Linux binaries.

Workaround for VMAlloc errors from Linux-ZFS under Ubuntu 11.10

October 13, 2012

Earlier on, today, I decided to stress-test the “ZFS on Linux” project’s drivers under my Ubuntu VirtualBox VM, by creating a new ZPool spanning two virtual SATA hard disks, and trying to extract a Wireshark SVN source archive within it.

However, after my initial attempt at extracting the archive seemingly stalled, and discovering that the kernel logs were full of “vmap allocation for size 4198400 failed: use vmalloc=<size> to increase size” errors, I ended up reading a page on the MythTV Wiki detailing a similar problem.

Unfortunately, the suggestions provided there weren’t entirely up-to-date with the configuration of GRUB in that version of Ubuntu – although they provided some useful recommendations for identifying a remedy for this issue.

Finally, after searching for “3.0.0-14-generic” within “/boot/grub/grub.cfg”, appending “vmalloc=400M” to the line beginning with “linux /boot/vmlinuz-3.0.0-14-generic“, and rebooting the VM, I was able to successfully unpack the archive, and build the software itself.

Obviously, this is just a temporary method that will probably get broken when upgrading the GRUB, or Linux kernel versions – but I thought that I’d quickly share this workaround, for future reference.

Let’s Try RTL-SDR! – Part 1

July 26, 2012

Recently, I received a device that was originally marketed as a USB DAB/DVB/FM receiver, containing a chipset compatible with the utilities from the RTL-SDR project.

It cost £17.50 (roughly €22.42/2159円/US$27.45, according to WolframAlpha) including free shipping from the US.

What’s in the kit?

The receiver that I ordered was supplied with only a remote control, and a stubby antenna with a magnetic base. No CD-ROMs, or user manuals were included.

About the hardware

The eBay listing page claims that it contains an Elonics E4000 tuner IC, and a RealTek RTL2832U DVB-T demodulator IC.

lsusb -v Reports:

Installing RTL-SDR, and associated utilities

Download and run the build-gnuradio script, as recommended by Andrew Back:

At this stage, the script will request elevated privileges, in order to search for prerequisite packages using the system package management utilities.

Since the disclaimer warns that the process may take a long time, I’d recommend obtaining one’s favourite beverage; ensuring that the PC used has a sufficient amount of free disk space, and is well-ventilated (if using a laptop), to prevent it from potentially overheating, and unexpectedly shutting down; and searching for something else to do in the meantime…

For some reason, the Checking for package python-gtk2 step seems to take an unusually long time on my laptop; and temporarily stopping the script yielded:

It seems that despite my best efforts to prepare things in advance, I ran out of disk space at that stage:

Eventually, I resorted to running apt-get clean && apt-get autoclean, and moving some large files to an external disk, in order to free 1.5GB of 9.4GB; and re-ran the script, with more successful results:

It seems that on a 64-bit Ubuntu installation, a full instance of the script’s working directory (containing all source code, and binaries) is about 520MB in size.

Notes on AirProbe installation

For readers wishing to install AirProbe using the instructions on the project’s Website, I recommend running sudo ln -s /usr/local/include/gruel/swig/gruel_common.i /usr/local/include/gnuradio/swig/ && ldconfig, after installing GNURadio, in order to avoid some frustrating bugs in various build scripts related to missing “Gruel”, and “SWIG”-related files.

Testing the result

Since this post is becoming rather long, and I’m unsatisfied with the content that I planned for this section, I’ll follow up with a second post related to testing the software post-installation, soon.

Attempting to install MOST4Linux 1.0.0 under Ubuntu – Part 1

May 24, 2012

Earlier on today, I decided to see if I could build the Media-Oriented Systems Transport protocol stack from the MOST4Linux project under Ubuntu 11.04.

However, it was originally designed for earlier versions of the Linux kernel than 2.6.38; and is no longer actively maintained by its developers – which makes compiling, and using it a challenge.

When I initially attempted to build the code, after downloading and extracting the most recent source code archive, the build process failed with:

By making a number of modifications to the source code and build scripts, I was eventually able to reach this stage:

Unfortunately, I’m unsure of the best way to continue – so I’ve decided to dump my modified code on BitBucket.

Those curious about my modifications to achieve the aforementioned result can deduce them from the “reversed” difference list – which was created by adding my modified version of the code into a special branch in a new Mercurial repository (“Initial_Ubuntu_Port_Attempt“), and then retroactively importing the original version of the code into yet another branch (“Original_Code“).

When I get the chance, I’ll probably document how I arrived at that conclusion, and share some resources that I discovered along the way.

Thoughts on Process Invocation with Qt and PoCo

June 9, 2011

Since late 2010, I’ve enjoyed developing C++-based applications with the Qt framework. Overall, I find it to be intuitive, fairly well-designed, and well-documented.

However, one area of the framework that I’ve found unsatisfactory (or at least struggled with, despite my best efforts) is the QProcess class. Ideally, I’d like to be able to instantiate it once, on a per-method (or per-class) basis with the appropriate executable path and CLI arguments, and then dump its output directly into a QString for use elsewhere.

I vaguely recall successfully resolving ~90% of the problem in Stroma (although that project’s architecture is currently rather monolithic) – but I never managed to solve the rest of it (actually dumping the output of the invoked process into a QString/multi-line text box widget).

After taking a break from that project for a while, I found myself encountering a similar problem in another project; and after reading various forum/mailing list posts and pieces of documentation, sought to find alternative means of resolution.

The most promising initial candidate was Boost::Process, although it appears that development is still ongoing – therefore, it isn’t an “official” Boost component yet.

With that I mind, I decided to install and investigate Poco::Process, after seeing a mention of it on StackOverflow, last night.

Installation under Fedora was trivial (involved running “sudo yum -y install poco-devel poco-doc” from a shell), and the appropriate header files were conveniently located in /usr/include/Poco for later perusal.

That said, I was sceptical about the quality and usability of the PoCo library itself, since the documentation and sample code felt relatively terse and incomplete; not to mention that guesswork (aided by this post) was necessary, when it came to actually integrating it into the build system.

However, once those hurdles are dealt with, basic integration with the Qt project build system simply involves appending the following to the project file:

#Headers for PoCo
HEADERS += /usr/include/Poco/Pipe.h /usr/include/Poco/Process.h \
/usr/include/Poco/PipeStream.h \

#Libraries for PoCo
LIBS += -lPocoFoundation

Once the project file is configured, adding the following to your class header file (modulo existing references, of course) should work :

#include <QApplication>
#include <QString>
#include <QDebug>

#include <string>
#include <cstring>
#include <cstdio>
#include <iostream>
#include <Poco/Process.h>
#include <Poco/Pipe.h>
#include <Poco/PipeStream.h>
#include <Poco/StreamCopier.h>

using namespace Poco;
using Poco::Process;
using Poco::Pipe;
using Poco::PipeInputStream;
using Poco::PipeOutputStream;
using Poco::ProcessHandle;

Some of the aforementioned header files are unnecessary – although their presence doesn’t seem to cause any obvious problems at compilation or application execution time.

My method in question (a rather rudimentary/brute-force mechanism for returning the MIME type of a file as a QString object, based upon sample code from a presentation slide), looks like: 
QString FileTypeHandler::GetMimeType(QString aFileName) {

    qDebug() << "Inside FileTypeHandler::GetMimeType";
    qDebug() << "Have text: " << aFileName;

    std::string mimeCommand("/usr/bin/file");
    std::vector<std::string> mimeArgs;
    Poco::Pipe mimeOutput;
    ProcessHandle mimeHandle = Process::launch(mimeCommand, mimeArgs, 0, &mimeOutput, 0);
    Poco::PipeInputStream mimeInput(mimeOutput);

    std::string mimeData;

    mimeInput >> mimeData;

    qDebug() << QString::fromStdString(mimeData);

    return QString::fromStdString(mimeData);


Theoretically/in essence, it accepts a file name as its argument, invokes the file -i command to (hopefully) look up its MIME type, stores it in a standard ANSI C++ string, and finally returns it as a QString for consumption by UI widgets.

In reality, it pretty much does just that – with the caveat that it doesn’t quite return the correct output. (It returns “/dev/null:” instead of “/dev/null: application/x-character-device; charset=binary“, for example).

Still, I hope that these notes are useful for others who are facing the same problem…

Maybe others can chime in with a better alternative, or other suggestions?

An ISI/PhoNet-over-USB dissector for Wireshark

December 25, 2010

Whilst working on Project Iris, I have found Sebastian Reichel‘s Wireshark dissector plug-in invaluable for identifying the content of ISI packets generated by my handset.

However, it relies upon the ability to use the Linux PhoNet stack – which isn’t always possible under certain circumstances.

For example, the stack may not be available at all under the running Linux kernel version; or the USB device generating ISI traffic may be connected to a virtual machine running a Windows-based application – which is obviously invisible to the host’s network stack.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to release a modified version of the aforementioned plug-in on BitBucket (in source code form only, at present), and I’ve uploaded a sample trace file to test it against, here.

Rough instructions for building it against an SVN release version of Wireshark under Fedora are provided in the repository; as are a copy of my colouring rules for working with USB and ISI traffic.

At present, the dissector has the following features:

  • Basic support for dissection of ISI/PhoNet packets encapsulated in USB framing (AKA “CDC PhoNet”) – for USB CDC_DATA class packets
  • Basic support for dissecting ISI GPS and SIM Authentication packets (inherited from the original version of the dissector)
  • Basic support for identifying specific types of CDC_DATA packets (works for ISI, PPP and AT/Hayes commands)

However, there are also a number of limitations and bugs – especially when compared to the original version:

  • ISI packets encapsulated in Linux Cooked framing are currently unsupported
  • Due to lack of heuristics, this dissector will override the PPP dissector (and the ISO/IEC 13818-1 dissector) when working with USB trace files
  • The length indicator may not always be accurate – although a lot of effort was spent on attempting to make it work

When working with this dissector, I recommend either using the isi.usbtype == 0x1b display filter, or individually filtering out various other types of USB packets, in order to avoid confusion.

For curious folks, a screenshot of the dissector in action is provided:

I hope that others find this useful for something.

That aside, I’d like to thank the following:

  • Chris Maynard for his USB patches (especially the CDC Ethernet one), which were useful for figuring out how to integrate with the USB dissector
  • Sebastian for providing the initial version of the dissector
  • William Roberts for providing the Nokia N73 that’s serving me well as my primary handset (and its USB cable, of course), and for persisting with me whilst I grappled with various stupid mistakes during learning C and C++

I wish readers a happy Christmas, and all of the best for 2011! 🙂

Project Iris: Affordable, Instant Connectivity for Syborg/QEMU

November 1, 2010

Apologies for not updating here as often as I wanted – although in order to keep things concise, I won’t detail the reasons for my hiatus in this post.

That aside, whilst I can remember the details, I’d like to share a proposal for a novel (in my humble opinion – but I’m prepared to be corrected) method of potentially using unmodified, off-the-shelf Nokia handsets as a modem under Symbian OS running on QEMU.

Please note that I have so far been unable to implement this, or test certain individual components (e.g. the Linux PhoNet stack); although I believe from the research that I’ve done that individual components should work in isolation.

Additionally, this isn’t intended to be a competitor to the excellent Wild Ducks project, or the ad-hoc efforts surrounding getting regular modems utilising Hayes/AT commands to work, either. (It’s for folks who for whatever reason either can’t afford to acquire a fully fledged Wild Ducks set-up, don’t want to commit themselves for the long-term, or just want a quick-‘n’-dirty way to test stuff that requires network connectivity).

With that in mind, I’ll introduce the architecture diagram, and hopefully try to provide further details – because a picture is apparently worth a thousand words:

Click to view full size

The system itself consists of the following components, in no specific order:

  • A version of QEMU with customisations specific to the Symbian Platform, as detailed in my ancient post on the Symbian Blog – and a few others, since then!
  • Two brand new components, which will be described in further detail later (the TI SSI bus “pseudo-modem” and the raw PhoNet-to-SSI bridge)
  • The Linux PhoNet protocol stack, which was contributed to the mainline Linux kernel by Nokia on behalf of members of what was once known as the “Maemo Computers” department (if memory serves correct)
  • Your favourite Nokia device, providing that it supports USB connectivity and the “PC Suite” profile – since that’s how we can access certain baseband services via PhoNet! (A well-kept secret, so it seems)…
  • The Symbian Platform (which consists of the Symbian OS, UI framework, middleware and other components) and the baseport – Syborg, in the case of Project Iris
  • Nokia’s baseband “TSY” (telephony support plug-in), which should work in conjunction with a well-designed TI SSI bus “pseudo-modem” and the raw PhoNet-to-SSI bridge to simulate the presence of a real Nokia baseband by proxy 🙂

The most interesting components are the TI SSI bus “pseudo-modem” and the raw PhoNet-to-SSI bridge, which are pivotal to making this thing work.

The raw PhoNet-to-SSI bridge can potentially either be integrated into QEMU, or left standalone –  although designing the IPC mechanism for the latter use-case is left as an exercise for the reader.

Communication with the device could occur via either a /dev/phonet0 device node (if such a thing existed, but according to this IRC log, it seems that it doesn’t under certain circumstances), or directly bound low-level datagram/pipe sockets to communicate with the user’s handset via raw PhoNet/ISI packets encapsulated in USB frames.

Obviously, the raw PhoNet-to-SSI bridge will encapsulate and decapsulate PhoNet packets that are transmitted/received by the handset into Texas Instruments-proprietary SSI frames for consumption by the “pseudo-modem”.

The “pseudo-modem” works in conjunction with the Nokia TSY (as mentioned earlier) and the raw PhoNet-to-SSI bridge; and will be a brand new, integral component of QEMU. It has minimal state of its own; and other than creating the illusion of a genuine Nokia/TI modem’s presence, it serves solely to transport packets between the bridge and the TSY.

Finally, the interaction between the TSY, network and telephony stacks and other parts of Symbian OS are extensively documented elsewhere.

For those curious about the title, the “instant” bit refers to the fact that as of recent versions of the Linux kernel and NetLink stuff, things should Just Work™ when a PhoNet device is connected (according to this page and this presentation from 2009), and that limited hardware knowledge is necessary to use one – just plug it in and switch it on.

The “affordable” bit refers to the fact that Nokia devices are relatively low-cost, easy to obtain, and plentiful (unlike specialist hardware such as the BeagleBoard and standalone GSM modems – as great as they are, for example).