After upgrading, Jenkins doesn’t start: org.xml.sax.saxparseexception: premature end of file

I recently upgraded my Jenkins installation using Debian’s package manager, and to my surprise… Jenkins wouldn’t start!

The error logged in /var/log/jenkins/jenkins.log looked like this:

WARNING: Failed startup of context w.{,file:/var/cache/jenkins/war/},/var/cache/jenkins/war
org.xml.sax.SAXParseException; lineNumber: 1; columnNumber: 1; Premature end of file.

followed by a Java stack trace. I noticed a suspicious line in that stack trace:

at org.eclipse.jetty.webapp.MetaData.setWebXml(MetaData.java:170)

interesting. It looked like something was wrong with Jenkins’ web.xml, so I checked /var/cache/jenkins/war/WEB-INF/web.xml and, surprise surprise… it was empty!

I unpacked an old jenkins.war that I had, and copied its web.xml over, restarting the service. A-ha! The logged error changed. Unfortunately, it still wouldn’t start, but it made me look for “jenkins corrupted /var/cache” which finally lead me to this bug report.

“Dang!” – I thought – “is that it?”.

Moved the old /var/cache/jenkins away, created a new empty directory, and set user jenkins as its owner:

mv /var/cache/jenkins ~/var-cache-jenkins-back
mkdir /var/cache/jenkins
chown -R jenkins:jenkins /var/cache/jenkins
service jenkins start

sonofa… it worked!

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Fix multiple launcher icon issue in Ubuntu unity

I’m so glad I found out how to fix this, because it’s an issue that just kept popping up every now and then.

The issue is this: for some applications, especially (but not necessarily) after upgrades, Unity somehow decides to spawn a new icon every time the app is launched. Thus, you end up with two identical (or in the case of upgrades, very similar) versions of the icon in the Unity launchbar, with the additional annoyance of having one work as a window switcher, and the other working as a new launcher.

Here’s how to fix that.

1. Locate your application’s .desktop file

In Ubuntu this is either inside ~/.local/share/applications or inside /usr/share/applications.

One problem you may have is that you have more than one .desktop file for the same application. If that is the case, remove one (probably the older one).

The .desktop files don’t necessarily match the application name that’s shown when you hover on the launcher (wonderful design idea, duh), so you might need to use grep to find the file.

For example, to find my PyCharm launcher, I had to execute

ls ~/.local/share/applications | grep -i charm

which returned jetbrains-pycharm.desktop, the file that I was looking for.

Removing duplicate .desktop files might be enough to solve the issue, so try launching your app to see if that fixed it. Otherwise, read on.

2. Find your application’sย WM_CLASS

This wasย the core of the issue in my case. To match a window to an application, Unity looks for the window’s WM_CLASS.

To find what your application’s WM_CLASS is, launch your app and run this in a terminal (using a small window for the terminal, leaving your app visible in the background, you’ll see why in a moment):

xprop WM_CLASS

your mouse cursor will turn into a crosshair, and you must click anywhere on your application’s window. You will find something like this in your terminal:

WM_CLASS(STRING) = "sun-awt-X11-XFramePeer", "jetbrains-pycharm-ce"

(this is the output for PyCharm Community Edition). Your WM_CLASS is the most specific string in the list (use your intuition, in this case jetbrains-pycharm-ce is obviously about PyCharm, whereas the other seems to be related to all Java apps in general).

3. Set your application’s WM_CLASS in the .desktop file

Open your .desktop file from Step 1 with a text editor, and either add (if it’s not there already) this line to the bottom, or replace its previous value with the WM_CLASS string from Step 2:

StartupWMClass=jetbrains-pycharm-ce

replacing jetbrains-pycharm-ce with your WM_CLASS, of course.

4. Profit

That’s it! Close all your application windows, and relaunch your app. This time, after you launch the app, you should only have one icon ๐Ÿ™‚

sudo asks for password even if NOPASSWD is set in /etc/sudoers

TL;DR when a script is not marked as executable and you try to run it with sudo, you don’t get the usual -bash: myScript.sh: Permission denied message, you are prompted for a password instead!

This one was very frustrating.

What I wanted to do was to make a user (let’s call him bran) able to execute a specific script (let’s call it /home/hodor/calm_down.sh) without having to provide his password, because the script will be executed by an automated tool (Jenkins).

I reached back to my earlier post about sudo, and updated the /etc/sudoers file so that its User privilege specification section looked like this:

root    ALL=(ALL) ALL
bran    ALL=(hodor)  NOPASSWD:  /home/hodor/calm_down.sh *

The last line gives user bran the ability to run /home/hodor/calm_down.sh as user hodor passing it any number of parameters (*) without having to provide his password (NOPASSWD:).

Saved it, su‘ed into bran, ran

bran@laketower:~$ sudo -u hodor /home/hodor/calm_down.sh "it's ok"

aaaaand…

[sudo] password for hodor: 

d’oh.

I checked the syntax in /etc/sudoers, and it was ok.

I checked whether any of the declarations that followed in /etc/sudoers could override the line I set for bran and hodor, none to be found.

Heck, I even put that line as the last line, so no line could override it. Nothing.

After a good hour of googling around and finding nothing, I remembered that the script is in a Git repository for which I just checked out a different branch. As it turned out, the script lost its executable bit.

So I set the executable bit again, as user hodor:

hodor@laketower:~$ chmod +x calm_down.sh
hodor@laketower:~$ logout
root@laketower:~# su - bran
bran@laketower:~$ sudo -u hodor /home/hodor/calm_down.sh "it's ok"
hodor.
bran@laketower:~$

it worked!

I’m sure there’s a legitimate security concern for this behavior, but dang! was this hard to figure out!

Another wallpaper changer for Gnome and Unity

The previous wallpaper changer that I wrote in Python served me well for the last 2 years, but sometimes it would get stuck with some wallpapers: of the 200 pictures I have in my wallpapers folder (mostly taken from the paper wall), some were definitely being shown more often than others. Has the script developed a taste? Probably! ๐Ÿ™‚

So this time I decided to put together something very quick, but that does a better job at never showing the same picture twice before all pictures in the folder have been set as desktop background.

It comes as a single bash script, there’s no configuration file to set, it picks pictures from a single folder (whereas the Python version could use several), and it moves files to a folder called shown when setting them as desktop background. Not very elegant, but it gets the job done!

Here it is; you can set your wallpapers folder and the refresh interval at the highlighted lines.

#!/bin/bash
#
# WallpaperChanger.sh
# Copyright 2014 Michele Bonazza michele@michelebonazza.com
#
# A simple script to automatically change your wallpaper in Gnome.
#
# This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
# it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
# the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
# (at your option) any later version.
#
# This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
# but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
# MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the
# GNU General Public License for more details.
#
# You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
# along with this program.  If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

WALLPAPERS_FOLDER=/home/path/to/your/wallpapers
REFRESH_INTERVAL=$((5 * 60)) # change every 5 minutes
MODE="zoom" # one between none, centered, wallpaper, scaled, stretched, zoom, spanned

# Changes the desktop background, and moves it to the "shown" folder so that it's
# not shown again before all wallpapers in the folder have been used.
# arg1 the file name of the file to be set as new background; must be in the
#      current folder
function change_wallpaper() {
  mv $1 shown
  gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri file://$WALLPAPERS_FOLDER/shown/$1
  gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-options $MODE
}

# Echoes the next wallpaper to be set, picked at random among images in the
# configured folder
function get_next_wallpaper() {
  find . -maxdepth 1 -type f -name "*.png" -o -name "*.jpg" -o -name "*.gif" -o -name "*.jpeg"| shuf -n 1
}

mkdir -p $WALLPAPERS_FOLDER/shown
cd $WALLPAPERS_FOLDER

while true; do
  NEXT_WP=$(get_next_wallpaper)
  
  # have we used all wallpapers?
  if [[ "$NEXT_WP" == "" ]]; then
    # yes, chdir to shown, and move them all back to the parent folder
    cd shown
    # move them to parent folder
    find . -maxdepth 1 -type f -name "*.png" -o -name "*.jpg" -o -name "*.gif" -o -name "*.jpeg" | xargs mv -t ..
    cd ..

    # check again
    NEXT_WP=$(get_next_wallpaper)

    if [[ "$NEXT_WP" == "" ]]; then
      echo "no wallpapers found in $WALLPAPERS_FOLDER, will check again in $REFRESH_INTERVAL seconds..."
      sleep $REFRESH_INTERVAL
      continue
    fi
  fi
  
  echo "changing background to $NEXT_WP"
  change_wallpaper $NEXT_WP
  sleep $REFRESH_INTERVAL
done

As always, I’ve also added this to my pastebin.

Save it as wallpaper_changer.sh, make it executable

chmod +x wallpaper_changer.sh

and add it to your “Startup applications” list, which can be found in Ubuntu’s main menu (the one you use to log out/shut down the computer), or can be brought up from a terminal using

gnome-session-properties

Click “Add”, use whatever name you want and browse to the wallpaper_changer.sh script (wherever you’ve saved it).

Sometimes I found that “Startup applications” doesn’t work: make sure that after having added your script and closed the window you can see an entry called wallpaper_changer.sh.desktop in the output of

ls -l ~/.config/autostart

If it’s not there, remove the entry and try again (I know, I know. The alternative is to fiddle with Upstart or init.d so if you want a GUI, that’s better than nothing!)

You can also change the effect to apply to your wallpapers at line 23 in the script.

Enjoy your new desktops! ๐Ÿ™‚

Eclipse freezes after installing LUA development tools plugin

This was an interesting one, but surprisingly very easy to solve.

After installing the LUA tools as a plugin, Eclipse mysteriously stopped working: what happened was, I would launch Eclipse from a shortcut (I’m using Docky in Ubuntu 13.04, but as it turns out, this is irrelevant), it would show me a LUA development tools splash screen (weird), then the Eclipse workbench… and stop there.

I went on to launch Eclipse from the command line to see what was going on and… I discovered that somehow the eclipse binary had been swapped with another one called LuaDevelopmentTools. Funny thing was, the latter was actually the original eclipse binary. Also, eclipse.ini had been renamed to LuaDevelopmentTools.ini.

Solution:

cd /path/to/eclipse/install/folder
mv eclipse eclipse.bak
mv LuaDevelopmentTools eclipse
mv LuaDevelopmentTools.ini eclipse.ini
mv eclipse.back LuaDevelopmentTools

restarted from the launcher, everything works.

Disable touch input for a Wacom Bamboo tablet using a Unity launcher (or a Gnome launcher)

I love my Wacom Bamboo graphics tablet, and I really appreciate the fact that it just works in Ubuntu. Palm rejection sort of works, but that “sort of” drives me crazy when I’m using the pen and trigger scrolling by resting my hand on the tablet. I couldn’t find a quick way to disable touch input, something that I can do from a nice GUI window in Mac OS.

After searching some tool to do that, I found the very powerful xsetwacom command, and wrote a very simple script that enables/disables touch.

It goes like this:

#!/bin/bash

DEVICE_ID=$(xsetwacom --list devices | grep TOUCH | egrep -o "id\: [0-9]+" | cut -d" " -f2)

if [[ "off" == $(xsetwacom get $DEVICE_ID touch) ]]; then
    xsetwacom set $DEVICE_ID touch on
else
    xsetwacom set $DEVICE_ID touch off
fi

(should have used awk @line 3, but sometimes I get lazy when writing silly scripts)

Save this file on your user’s home calling it wacom_toggle_touch and make it executable (chmod +x wacom_toggle_touch).

Everytime you run the script, it toggles touch on the tablet. Very neat. But I wanted to just have a graphical button to click, so I created a gnome launcher that just does that; here it is:

[Desktop Entry]
Encoding=UTF-8
Name=Wacom Bamboo Touch
Comment=Toggles touch on a Wacom Bamboo Tablet
Exec=/bin/bash "/home/myuser/wacom_toggle_touch"
Icon=/usr/share/icons/Faenza/devices/scalable/input-tablet.svg
Categories=Application;
Version=1.0
Type=Application
Terminal=0

Name this file wacom-toggle-touch.desktop (the .desktop part is important) and save it to either /usr/share/applications/ or ~/.local/share/applications/, depending on whether you want all users to access the script or only your current user.

I use the cool Faenza theme for my icons, so that explains the icon path @line 6. Here’s the icon if you don’t want to use the theme but you’re looking for an icon that just gets the job done. Download it to some folder and update the path accordingly in the launcher. Also, be sure to update the path to the script @line 5 (for some reason using ~ for your user’s home doesn’t work, you have to type the extended /home/your_username path).

When you’re done, drag the wacom-toggle-touch.desktop file to your Unity bar (I actually use Docky instead, it makes switching between Mac OS and Ubuntu a lot easier on my poor brain) and just click it everytime you want to toggle touch mode!

The same process should work for Gnome as well, just drag the .desktop file to wherever launcher bar you want (assuming Gnome still has launcher bars, they kind of lost me after Gnome 3 so I don’t know).