Emulating Cherry MX Blue Mechanical Keyboard Sounds on Linux

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For people nostalgic for the era of tactile and audible feedback from typing on a mechanical keyboard, Cherrybuckle allow simulating the sounds of a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Blue key switches.

Cherrybuckle operates as a background process within a computer system, capturing and emitting a sound for each key pressed and released. It is a fork of the Bucklespring project that adds Cherry MX sounds to the default Bucklespring keyboard sounds.

Installing dependencies

The dependencies can be installed on a Debian or Ubuntu system using the following commands:

sudo apt-get install build-essential git
sudo apt-get install libalure-dev libx11-dev libxtst-dev pkg-configCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Compiling and running Cherrybuckle on Debian/Ubuntu

Retrieve the project source code for the Git repository:

git clone https://github.com/jamescherti/cherrybuckleCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Change the current working directory to “cherrybuckle”:

cd cherrybuckleCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Compile the source code into an executable program:

makeCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Finally, execute Cherrybuckle:

./cherrybuckleCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Creating and Restoring a Gzip Compressed Disk Image with dd on UNIX/Linux

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Creating and restoring disk images are essential tasks for developers, system administrators, and users who want to safeguard their data or replicate systems efficiently. One useful tool for this purpose is dd, which allows for low-level copying of data. In this article, we will explore how to clone and restore a partition from a compressed disk image in a UNIX/Linux operating system.

IMPORTANT: There is a risk of data loss if a mistake is made. The dd command can be dangerous if not used carefully. Specifying the wrong input or output device can result in data loss. Users should exercise caution and double-check their commands before executing them.

Cloning a Partition into a Compressed Disk Image

To clone a partition into a compressed disk image, you can use the dd and gzip commands:

dd if=/dev/SOURCE conv=sync bs=64K | gzip --stdout > /path/to/file.gzCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

This command copies the content of the block device /dev/SOURCE to the compressed file /path/to/file.gz, 64 kilobytes at a time.

Restoring a Partition from a Compressed Disk Image

To restore a partition from a file containing a compressed disk image, use the following command:

gunzip --stdout /path/to/file.gz | dd of=/dev/DESTINATION conv=sync bs=64K
Code language: plaintext (plaintext)

This command decompresses the content of the compressed file located at /path/to/file.gz and copies it to the block device /dev/DESTINATION, 64 kilobytes at a time.

More information about the dd command options

Here are additional details about the dd command options:

  • The status=progress option makes dd display transfer statistics progressively.
  • The conv=noerror option instructs dd to persist despite encountering errors. However, ignoring errors might result in data corruption in the copied image. The image could be incomplete or corrupted, especially if errors occur in critical parts of the data. This option can be added to the conv option as follows: conv=sync,noerror
  • The conv=sync option makes dd wait for both the data and the metadata to be physically written to the storage media before proceeding to the next operation. In situations where data integrity is less critical, using conv=sync can help restore as much data as possible, even from a source with occasional errors.
  • Finally, the bs=64K option instructs dd to read or write up to the specified bytes at a time (in this case, 64 kilobytes). The default value is 512 bytes, which is relatively small. It is advisable to consider using 64K or even the larger 128K. However, it’s important to note that while a larger block size speeds up the transfer, a smaller block size enhances transfer reliability.

Ensuring Data Integrity

Although the dd command automatically verifies that the input and output block sizes match during each block copy operation, it is prudent to further confirm the integrity of the copied data after completing the dd operation.

To achieve this, follow these steps:

Generate the md5sum of the source block device:

dd if=/dev/SOURCE | md5sumCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Next, generate the md5sum of the gzip-compressed file:

gunzip --stdout /path/to/file.gz | md5sumCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Ensure that the two md5sum fingerprints are equal. This additional verification step adds an extra layer of assurance regarding the accuracy and integrity of the copied data.

Installing Debian from another Linux Distribution such as Gentoo or Arch Linux

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There are various scenarios in which one might need to install a Debian-based system (e.g., Debian, Ubuntu, etc.) from another distribution (e.g., Arch Linux, Gentoo, etc.). One common reason is when a user wants to set up a Debian-based system alongside an existing distribution. This could be for the purpose of testing software compatibility, development, or simply to have a dual-boot.

A Debian-based distribution can be installed from any other distribution (e.g. Arch Linux, Gentoo…) using debootstrap. The debootstrap command-line tool allows installing a Debian or Ubuntu base system within a subdirectory of an existing, installed system. Unlike traditional installation methods using a CD or a USB Key, debootstrap only requires access to a Debian repository.

Step 1: Create a new LVM partition, format it, and mount it

# Create the root LVM partition
lvcreate  -L 20G -n debian_root VOL_NAME

# Format the partition
mkfs.ext4 /dev/VOL_NAME/debian_root

# Mount the partition
mkdir /mnt/debian_root
mount /dev/VOL_NAME/debian_root /mnt/debian_rootCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Step 2: Install the debootstrap command-line tool

On Arch Linux, debootstrap can be installed using:

sudo pacman -Sy debian-archive-keyring debootstrapCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

On Gentoo, it can be installed using:

sudo emerge -a dev-util/debootstrapCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Step 3: Install the Debian base system

Use the debootstrap command to install Debian into the target directory:

debootstrap  --arch=amd64 stable /mnt/debian_root http://deb.debian.org/debianCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

You can replace stable with another Debian release like testing or unstable if desired. You can also add the flag --force-check-gpg to force checking Release file signatures.

In the above example, it will install the Debian-based system from the repository http://deb.debian.org/debian into the local directory /mnt/debian_root.

Step 4: Chroot into the Debian system

Since you are installing a Debian-based system inside another distribution (Arch Linux, Gentoo, etc.), you’ll need to ensure that the directory where the Debian system is mounted is ready. You can achieve this by mounting certain directories and chrooting into the Debian system:

sudo mount --bind /dev /mnt/debian_root/dev
sudo mount --bind /proc /mnt/debian_root/proc
sudo mount --bind /sys /mnt/debian_root/sys
sudo mount --bind /boot /mnt/debian_root/boot
sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/debian_root/etc/resolv.conf
sudo cp /etc/fstab /mnt/debian_root/etc/fstab
sudo chroot /mnt/debian_root /bin/bash -lCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

The chroot command will open a new shell in the Debian environment.

Step 5: Configure the Debian-based system

Now that you’re inside the Debian-based system, you can configure it as desired. You can install packages, modify configurations, set up users, etc.

Here is an example:

apt-get update

# Install the Linux Kernel
apt-get install linux-image-amd64 firmware-linux-free firmware-misc-nonfree 

# Install cryptsetup if you are using a LUKS encrypted partition
apt-get install cryptsetup cryptsetup-initramfs

# Install misc packages
apt-get install console-setup vim lvm2 sudo

# Reconfigure locales
dpkg-reconfigure locales

# Configure the host name and the time zone
echo yourhostname > /etc/hostname
ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/New_York /etc/localtime
Code language: plaintext (plaintext)

Do not forget to:

  • Modify /mnt/debian_root/etc/fstab (The mount point “/” has to point to the Debian system)
  • Modify /mnt/debian_root/etc/crypttab (If you are using a LUKS encrypted partition)
  • Configure the bootloader (Grub, Syslinux, etc.).

Congratulations! You have successfully installed a Debian-based system using debootstrap from another distribution such as Arch Linux, Gentoo, etc.

Gentoo: How to Speed Up emerge ‐‐sync


Synchronizing with the Gentoo Portage ebuild repository using emerge --sync can be slow when utilizing the rsync protocol. However, an effective solution exists that can greatly improve the synchronization speed: Configuring emerge --sync to synchronize using Git instead.

In this article, we will explore how to set up emerge to synchronize from the official Gentoo ebuild Git repository and save valuable time during the synchronizing process.

Step 1: Install Git using the following command:

sudo emerge -a dev-vcs/gitCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Step 2: Remove any file from the directory /etc/portage/repos.conf/ that configures the emerge command to use rsync.

Step 3: Create the file /etc/portage/repos.conf/gentoo.conf containing:

main-repo = gentoo


# The sync-depth=1 option speeds up initial pull by fetching 
# only the latest Git commit and its immediate ancestors, 
# reducing the amount of downloaded Git history.
sync-depth = 1

sync-type = git
auto-sync = yes
location = /var/db/repos/gentoo
sync-git-verify-commit-signature = yes
sync-openpgp-key-path = /usr/share/openpgp-keys/gentoo-release.asc
sync-uri = https://github.com/gentoo-mirror/gentoo.gitCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Step 4: Finally, run the following command to synchronize with the Gentoo ebuild repository using Git:

sudo emerge --sync

The initial download of the entire Git repository will cause the first emerge --sync command to take some time. However, subsequent synchronizations will be significantly quicker, taking only a few seconds.

Using Git can be a great way to speed up synchronization with the Gentoo ebuild repository. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can clone the Portage repository to your local machine and keep it up-to-date with the latest changes using Git. This can save you a lot of time when syncing your local repository.

Arch Linux: Preserving the kernel modules of the currently running kernel during and after an upgrade


One potential issue when upgrading the Arch Linux kernel is that the modules of the currently running kernel may be deleted. This can lead to a number of problems, including unexpected behavior, system crashes, or the inability to mount certain file systems (e.g. the kernel fails to mount a vfat file system due to the unavailability of the vfat kernel module).

The Arch Linux package linux-keep-modules (also available on AUR: linux-keep-modules @AUR), written by James Cherti, provides a solution to ensure that the modules of the currently running Linux kernel remain available until the operating system is restarted. Additionally, after a system restart, the script automatically removes any unnecessary kernel modules that might have been left behind by previous upgrades (e.g. the kernel modules that are not owned by any Arch Linux package and are not required by the currently running kernel).

The linux-keep-modules package keeps your system running smoothly and maintains stability even during major Linux kernel upgrades.

Make and install the linux-keep-modules package

Clone the repository and change the current directory to ‘archlinux-linux-keep-modules/’:

$ git clone https://github.com/jamescherti/archlinux-linux-keep-modules.git
$ cd archlinux-linux-keep-modules/Code language: plaintext (plaintext)

Use makepkg to make linux-keep-modules package:

$ makepkg -fCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Install the linux-keep-modules package:

$ sudo pacman -U linux-keep-modules-*-any.pkg.tar.*Code language: plaintext (plaintext)

Finally, enable the cleanup-linux-modules service:

$ sudo systemctl enable cleanup-linux-modulesCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

(The cleanup-linux-modules service will delete the Linux kernel modules that are not owned by any a package at boot time)

The linux-keep-modules Arch Linux package offers a solution to preserve kernel modules during and after upgrades, ensuring that the necessary modules for the currently running kernel remain present in the system even after the kernel is upgraded. This solution keeps your system running smoothly and maintains stability even during major upgrades.

Links related to the pacman package linux-keep-modules

Helper script to upgrade Arch Linux easily and efficiently

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In this article, we will be sharing a Python script, written by James Cherti, that can be used to upgrade Arch Linux. It is designed to make the process of upgrading the Arch Linux system as easy and efficient as possible.

The helper script to upgrade Arch Linux can:

  • Delete the ‘/var/lib/pacman/db.lck’ when pacman is not running,
  • upgrade archlinux-keyring,
  • upgrade specific packages,
  • download packages,
  • upgrade all packages,
  • remove from the cache the pacman packages that are no longer installed.

The script provides a variety of options and is perfect for those who want to automate the process of upgrading their Arch Linux system (e.g. execute it from cron) and ensure that their system is always up to date.

Requirements: psutil
Python script name: archlinux-update.py

#!/usr/bin/env python
# Author: James Cherti
# License: MIT
# URL: https://www.jamescherti.com/script-update-arch-linux/
"""Helper script to upgrade Arch Linux."""

import argparse
import logging
import os
import re
import subprocess
import sys
import time

import psutil

class ArchUpgrade:
    """Upgrade Arch Linux."""

    def __init__(self, no_refresh: bool):
        self._download_package_db = no_refresh
        self._keyring_and_pacman_upgraded = False

    def _delete_pacman_db_lck():
        """Delete '/var/lib/pacman/db.lck' when pacman is not running."""
        pacman_running = False
        for pid in psutil.pids():
                process = psutil.Process(pid)
                if process.name() == "pacman":
                    pacman_running = True
            except psutil.Error:

        if pacman_running:
            print("Error: pacman is already running.", file=sys.stderr)

        lockfile = "/var/lib/pacman/db.lck"
        if os.path.isfile(lockfile):

    def upgrade_specific_packages(self, package_list: list) -> list:
        """Upgrade the packages that are in 'package_list'."""
        outdated_packages = self._outdated_packages(package_list)
        if outdated_packages:
            cmd = ["pacman", "--noconfirm", "-S"] + outdated_packages

        return outdated_packages

    def _outdated_packages(self, package_list: list) -> list:
        """Return the 'package_list' packages that are outdated."""
        outdated_packages = []
            output = subprocess.check_output(["pacman", "-Qu"])
        except subprocess.CalledProcessError:
            output = b""

        for line in output.splitlines():
            line = line.strip()
            pkg_match = re.match(r"^([^\s]*)\s", line.decode())
            if not pkg_match:

            pkg_name = pkg_match.group(1)
            if pkg_name in package_list:
                outdated_packages += [pkg_name]

        return outdated_packages

    def upgrade_all_packages():
        """Upgrade all packages."""
        ArchUpgrade.run(["pacman", "--noconfirm", "-Su"])

    def download_all_packages(self):
        """Download all packages."""
        self.run(["pacman", "--noconfirm", "-Suw"])

    def download_package_db(self):
        """Download the package database."""
        if self._download_package_db:

        print("[INFO] Download the package database...")
        ArchUpgrade.run(["pacman", "--noconfirm", "-Sy"])
        self._download_package_db = True

    def upgrade_keyring_and_pacman(self):

        if not self._keyring_and_pacman_upgraded:
            self._keyring_and_pacman_upgraded = True

    def clean_package_cache(self):
        """Remove packages that are no longer installed from the cache."""
        self.run(["pacman", "--noconfirm", "-Scc"])

    def run(cmd, *args, print_command=True, **kwargs):
        """Execute the command 'cmd'."""
        if print_command:
            print("[RUN] " + subprocess.list2cmdline(cmd))


    def wait_download_package_db(self):
        """Wait until the package database is downloaded."""
        successful = False
        minutes = 60
        hours = 60 * 60
        seconds_between_tests = 15 * minutes
        for _ in range(int((10 * hours) / seconds_between_tests)):
            except subprocess.CalledProcessError:
                minutes = int(seconds_between_tests / 60)
                    f"[INFO] Waiting {minutes} minutes before downloading "
                    "the package database...",
                successful = True

        if not successful:
            print("Error: failed to download the package database...",

def parse_args():
    """Parse the command-line arguments."""
    usage = "%(prog)s [--option] [args]"
    parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description=__doc__.splitlines()[0],
                        help="Upgrade specific packages.")

        help="Upgrade all packages.",

        help="Download the packages that need to be upgraded.",

        help=("Remove packages that are no longer installed from "
              "the cache."),

        help=("Do not download the package database (pacman -Sy)."),

        help=("Wait for a successful download of the package database "
              "(pacman -Sy)."),

    return parser.parse_args()

def command_line_interface():
    """The command-line interface."""
    logging.basicConfig(level=logging.INFO, stream=sys.stdout,
                        format="%(asctime)s %(name)s: %(message)s")

    if os.getuid() != 0:
        print("Error: you cannot perform this operation unless you are root.",

    nothing_to_do = True
    args = parse_args()
    upgrade = ArchUpgrade(no_refresh=args.no_refresh)

    if args.wait_refresh:
        nothing_to_do = False

    if args.packages:
        print("[INFO] Upgrade the packages:", ", ".join(args.packages))
        if not upgrade.upgrade_specific_packages(args.packages):
            print("[INFO] The following packages are already up-to-date:",
                  ", ".join(args.packages))
        nothing_to_do = False

    if args.download_packages:
        print("[INFO] Download all packages...")
        nothing_to_do = False

    if args.upgrade_packages:
        print("[INFO] Upgrade all packages...")

        nothing_to_do = False

    if args.clean:
        print("[INFO] Remove packages that are no longer installed "
              "from the cache...")
        nothing_to_do = False

    if nothing_to_do:
        print("Nothing to do.")


def main():
    except subprocess.CalledProcessError as err:
        print(f"[ERROR] Error {err.returncode} returned by the command: "

if __name__ == '__main__':
    main()Code language: Python (python)

Gentoo Linux: Unlocking a LUKS Encrypted LVM Root Partition at Boot Time using a Key File stored on an External USB Drive


Gentoo can be configured to use a key file stored on an external USB drive to unlock a LUKS encrypted LVM root partition.

We will explore in this article the general steps involved in configuring Gentoo to use an external USB drive as a key file to unlock a LUKS encrypted LVM root partition.

1. Create a key file on the USB stick and add it to the LUKS encrypted partition

Generate a key file on a mounted ext4 or vfat partition of a USB stick, which will be used by initramfs to unlock the LUKS partition:

dd if=/dev/urandom of=/PATH/TO/USBSTICK/keyfile bs=1024 count=4Code language: plaintext (plaintext)

Ensure that the partition on the USB drive has a label, as the initramfs will use this label to find where the key file is located.

Afterward, add the key file to the LUKS partition to enable decryption of the partition using that key file:

cryptsetup luksAddKey /dev/PART1 /PATH/TO/USBSTICK/keyfile

In this example, “/dev/PART1” is the partition where the LUKS encryption is enabled, and “/PATH/TO/USBSTICK/keyfile” is the location of the keyfile.

2 – Find the UUID of the encrypted partition and the label of the USB drive

Use the lsblk command to find the UUID of the encrypted partition and the label of the USB drive:

lsblk -o +UUID,LABEL

3. Configure the boot loader (such as Systemd-boot, GRUB, Syslinux…)

Add to the boot loader configuration the following initramfs kernel parameters:

  • crypt_root=UUID=A1111111-A1AA-11A1-AAAA-111AA11A1111
  • root=/dev/LVMVOLUME/root
  • root_keydev=/dev/disk/by-label/LABELNAME
  • root_key=keyfile

Here is an example for Systemd-boot:

options dolvm crypt_root=UUID=A1111111-A1AA-11A1-AAAA-111AA11A1111 root=/dev/LVMVOLUME/root root_keydev=/dev/disk/by-label/LABELNAME root_key=keyfileCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

To ensure proper setup:

  • Customize the initramfs options for LVMVOLUME, LABELNAME, and UUID=A1111111-A1AA-11A1-AAAA-111AA11A1111 to match your specific case.
  • Verify that the ext4 or vfat partition of the USB drive that is labeled “LABELNAME” contains a file named “keyfile”.
  • Make sure that the modules “dm_mod” and “usb_storage” are included in the initramfs.

This method offers a convenient way to unlock a LUKS encrypted root LVM partition. The implementation process is well-documented, making it a suitable choice for those looking to secure their Gentoo Linux systems.

Gentoo Linux: Printer driver for the Brother QL-1110NWB

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Installing the printer driver for the Brother QL-1110NWB on Gentoo Linux can be a bit tricky, but thanks to a helpful ebuild written by James Cherti, the process becomes a breeze. The ebuild automates the whole process of downloading and installing the appropriate driver for the Brother QL-1110NWB on Gentoo Linux.

Brother QL-111NWB Driver installation on Gentoo

Create the file /etc/portage/repos.conf/motley-overlay.conf containing:

location = /usr/local/portage/motley-overlay
sync-type = git
sync-uri = https://github.com/jamescherti/motley-overlay
priority = 9999Code language: plaintext (plaintext)

Update the repository:

emerge --sync motley-overlayCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

Install the Brother QL-1110NWB printer driver:

emerge -av net-print/brother-ql1110nwb-binCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

The ebuild will automatically download the necessary driver package from Brother and install it on your system.

Finally, restart CUPS with:

systemctl restart cupsCode language: plaintext (plaintext)

You can now register your new printer using the web interface at: http://localhost:631/

(Please add a star to the Git repository jamescherti/motley-overlay to support the project!)