Qubes-OS 3.2: USB printer (and other devices)

Below you will find the commands we used to enable the sys-usb VM (on an installation of Qubes 3.2 where it was not enabled by default nor was the task of handling USB devices assigned to sys-net).

On dom0 terminal emulator, we executed the following first to enable sys-usb.

sudo qubesctl top.enable qvm.sys-usb;
sudo qubesctl state.highstate;

Then we modified the configuration files for the mouse (/etc/qubes-rpc/policy/qubes.InputMouse) and keyboard (/etc/qubes-rpc/policy/qubes.InputKeyboard) so that they will automatically be granted to dom0 without prompting the used each time.

We modified the content /etc/qubes-rpc/policy/qubes.InputMouse and /etc/qubes-rpc/policy/qubes.InputKeyboard to be as below:

sys-usb dom0 allow,user=root
$anyvm $anyvm deny

Qubes-OS 3.2 GNU/ Linux: Temporarily enable second language for keyboard

Recently we started using Qubes OS 3.2, at some point we needed to enable the Greek language keyboard for a Fedora 23 based VM.

To avoid making permanent change to the VM we used the following command that enables the US and GR keyboard layouts while switching is made available by pressing the two shift buttons at the same time.

setxkbmap -layout "us,gr" -option "grp:shifts_toggle";

ffmpeg: Create a video countdown

The code below was used to generate the video countdown timers that are available in the following playlist using ffmpeg:

#This example will create a 3 second video, with 100 frames per second and it will print the elapsed and remaining times using a two second accuracy.
ffmpeg -loop 1 -i ~/Pictures/Black-Background.png -c:v libx264 -r $fps -t $seconds -pix_fmt yuv420p -vf "fps=$fps,drawtext=fontfile='/usr/share/fonts/urw-base35/C059-Bold.otf':fontcolor=yellow:fontsize=$upperFont:x=(w-text_w)/2:y=(h-text_h)/2:text='%{eif\:($seconds-t)\:d}.%{eif\:(mod($seconds-t, 1)*pow(10,$mantissaDigits))\:d\:$mantissaDigits}',drawtext=fontfile='/usr/share/fonts/urw-base35/C059-Bold.otf':fontcolor=yellow:fontsize=$lowerFont:x=(w-text_w)/2:y=((h-text_h)/2)+$upperFont:text='Elapsed\: %{eif\:(t)\:d}.%{eif\:(mod(t, 1)*pow(10,$mantissaDigits))\:d\:$mantissaDigits}'" "$seconds seconds countdown timer.mp4";


  • We used a single black frame for the background that defined the size of the video frame as well.
  • Using the fps variable we defined the number of Frames per Second for the video.
  • The seconds variable defined the number of seconds the duration of the video should be.
  • The mantissaDigits variable defines how many decimal digits should be shown after the dot.
  • upperFont and lowerFont define the size of the fonts in the upper row and the lower one respectively.
  • We used the drawtext directive twice to write to the frames.

Notes on the first drawtext:

  • fontfile='/usr/share/fonts/urw-base35/C059-Bold.otf' defines the font to be used for the text.
  • fontcolor=yellow defines the color of the font of the text.
  • fontsize=$upperFont defines the size of the font of the text.
  • x=(w-text_w)/2 defines the X-coordinate of the location for the text on the frame, here we center the text horizontally on the frame.
  • y=(h-text_h)/2 defines the Y-coordinate of the location for the text on the frame, here we center the text vertically on the frame.
  • text='%{eif\:($seconds-t)\:d}.%{eif\:(mod($seconds-t, 1)*pow(10,$mantissaDigits))\:d\:$mantissaDigits}' We print the remaining seconds for the video to finish with specific decimal digit accuracy.

Notes on the second drawtext:

  • drawtext=fontfile='/usr/share/fonts/urw-base35/C059-Bold.otf' defines the font to be used for the text.
  • fontcolor=yellow defines the color of the font of the text.
  • fontsize=$lowerFont defines the size of the font of the text.
  • x=(w-text_w)/2 defines the X-coordinate of the location for the text on the frame, here we center the text horizontally on the frame.
  • y=((h-text_h)/2)+$upperFont defines the Y-coordinate of the location for the text on the frame, here shift the text from the vertical center  of the frame.
  • text='Elapsed\: %{eif\:(t)\:d}.%{eif\:(mod(t, 1)*pow(10,$mantissaDigits))\:d\:$mantissaDigits}' We print the elapsed seconds since the video started with specific decimal digit accuracy.

Qubes OS 3.2: Resize fedora-23 TemplateVM Root Image 1

Recently, we needed to increase the size of the root image for the fedora-23 TemplateVM.
We had to do this as we wanted to install in /opt a few IDEs, including android-studio which takes a lot of space when accompanied by the Android SDK.

Following the excellent guide at, we did the following:

  1. Made sure that the fedora-23 TemplateVM and all VMs based on that template were shut down.
    This included stopping the sys-firewall and sys-net VMs as well (in this order).
  2. Then, in the VM Settings window at the Basic tab for the fedora-23 TemplateVM, we disabled the networking by selecting none on the NetVM: drop-down list and pressed OK to apply the settings changes.
  3. Following, in dom0 Terminal Emulator we run the following command:
    truncate -s 40G /var/lib/qubes/vm-templates/fedora-23/root.img;
  4. Afterwards we started the fedora-23 TemplateVM and run the following in the terminal:
    sudo resize2fs /dev/mapper/dmroot;
    Please note that if your output is Nothing to do! then most likely you forgot a VM that is based on the fedora-23 TemplateVM running. Normally your screen should print something along the lines of Resizing the filesystem...
  5. Next, we shut down the fedora-23 TemplateVM, and went to the VM Settings window to enable networking by selecting whatever we had there before (for us it was default (sys-firewall)).
  6. Finally, we could start using our VMs, their root.img were of the new extended size.

How we accidentally fixed the black screen issue of OBS studio on Fedora 27 x64 1

As mentioned in a previous post, we installed OBS studio on our machine in order to make some desktop recordings.
What that post did not mention are two issues that we had:

  1. when recording using the Screen Capture (XSHM) source, the recording would only show a black screen and it would actually record the mouse only!
  2. when trying to record a LibreOffice application like Calc through the Window Capture (XComposite) source, Calc would not show in the properties dialog under the Window dropdown menu

The way we fixed these issues is not something that is always guaranteed to work but it is worth a try!
Initially we thought it would be a good idea to install the NVidia driver since we had a GeForce GTX 660M on the machine.
We hoped that the OBS studio black screen issue was a driver issue so we decided to follow the RPM Fusion guide on installing NVidia drivers.

We installed the NVidia driver, added the CUDA support and updated the system using these two commands:

dnf install xorg-x11-drv-nvidia akmod-nvidia xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-cuda;
dnf update -y;

and then we did a full reboot of the machine.

After the machine booted and the graphical interface came up, we noticed that the machine was too slow and there was 100% CPU utilization for over 15 minutes.
After some very efficient Google-Fu, we realised that this was some bug that we were not willing to deal with and so we had to remove the newly installed NVidia driver.
Again following the RPM Fusion guide, we executed the following command to remove the driver from our system:

dnf remove xorg-x11-drv-nvidia\*

Please note that we DID NOT execute the last step of the guide on how to Recover from NVIDIA installer.
As it is mentioned in the guide: the NVidia binary driver installer overwrites some configuration and libraries.
Since having a clean state did not work for us, we decided to give a go of this hybrid setup that we had.
Following another full restart we were able to see that OBS Studio was working as expected and it the black screen issue was no more!!
Also, we could choose LibreOffice from the Window dropdown and we could record that as well!

As implied, this guide is a hack, it could work for you as well or not.
Our opinion is that, it is worth to give it a go!
As a synopsis, what we did was to install the NVidia driver and uninstall it, the libraries that got overwritten by this process fixed the black screen issue of OBS studio.

Bonus: to find the model of your graphics card, execute the following

lspci |grep -E "VGA|3D";

In our machine we got the following output: 01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation GK107M [GeForce GTX 660M] (rev a1)

Qubes OS: Connect to Wi-Fi or Ethernet or another network

A couple of days ago we decided to give Qubes OS a go and see what it could do for a regular user. The installation was easy as it uses the same installer as Fedora, so we just created a live USB and formatted a laptop that had built in Wi-Fi.

To our surprise, we could not figure out how to change the network settings and activate an internet connection! Going to the NetworkManager (nm), even with root, would show us all fields as disabled when trying to create any new connection!

Some time passed before we realized that the NetworkManager of XFCE4 was not the way to go. After inspecting the Virtual Machines on the Qubes VM Manager, we saw that the sys-net VM was the only one that had in its hardware settings to access the Ethernet and Wi-Fi modules. So we got the hint, we needed to modify sys-net in order to connect the entire OS with its VMs to the network.

To modify the settings of the sys-net VM we needed access to the Settings Application, which was not available in the application menu. So the first thing we did, was to use the sys-net: Add more shortcuts... option under the group ServiceVM: sys-net to enable the Settings application shortcut.

In the [Dom0] Settings: sys-net window, we went to the Applications tab, on the left list we scrolled down to find the Settings option.

After selecting the Settings option, we clicked on the > button to move the Settings option to the right list.

Then we clicked on the OK button to apply the changes.

Going back to the application menu and the group ServiceVM: sys-net we could see the new option for sys-net: Settings.

Clicking on the sys-net: Settings showed us the usual settings manager for Gnome.

From there on, our job was easy, we just clicked on the Network option that gave us the window to modify all network settings. Then we selected the Wi-Fi network that we wanted to connect to, which worked without a hitch!

Finally, we had to test if the configuration was working as expected. From the application menu, under the group Domain: personal, we selected the option personal: Firefox to start the Firefox application on the personal VM.

Once Firefox started we could see that internet connection was active and everything was working as expected!

Perform diff on two folders

To perform a recursive diff on all the files of two folders we just need to add the -r (or --recursive) parameter that recursively compares any subdirectories found.

To avoid needless messages from the tool, we can also use the -q (or --brief) parameter that reports only when files differ.

Example of performing diff on two folders recursively while preventing needless messages.

diff -rq aFolder someOtherFolder;

Compiling gr-gsm on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Below are the steps that we followed to compile gr-gsm on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

sudo apt-get update;
sudo apt-get install build-essential python-dev git python-pip;
sudo pip install PyBOMBS;
sudo pybombs prefix init /usr/local -a default_prx;
sudo pybombs config default_prefix default_prx;
sudo pybombs recipes add gr-recipes git+;
sudo pybombs recipes add gr-etcetera git+;
sudo pybombs install gr-gsm;
sudo ldconfig;

How to find lines that contain only lowercase characters

To print all lines that contain only lower case characters, we used the following regular expression in grep:

egrep '^[[:lower:]]+$' <file>;
#If you do not have egrep, use
grep -e '^[[:lower:]]+$' <file>;

Breakdown of the above regular expression:

  • ^ instructs the regular expression parser that the pattern should always start with the beginning of the line
  • [[:lower:]] this special instruction informs us that only lower case characters can match it
  • + the plus sign causes the preceding token to be matched one or more times
  • $ signifies the end of the line