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(

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!

openfire: fix “there was an error one importing private key and signed certificate”

This took me frustratingly long to find out.

When importing a signed SSL certificate on my openfire server, the web interface would always show me this error:

there was an error one importing private key and signed certificate

Typo aside, that’s some pretty obscure error.

Users have come up with detailed guides on how to convert certificates to other formats, setting system properties to make them work once imported back, but… Nothing helped, in my case.

The solution to my problem was: when you import your certificates (using the form in the Server Settings/Server Certificates section), just… type something on the Pass Phrase used for creating Private Key. Even if you never set a password, type something, anything will do. Just don’t leave it empty.

I’m talking about this guy:


That’s it, you can restart your server. Meh.

Chrome for Android freezes when scrolling

On my phone, scrolling web pages on Chrome recently became unbearably ugly. Every few seconds when scrolling Chrome will freeze completely, apparently no longer reacting to touch input, only to come back to life a split second later.

I haven’t seen this suggestion around, and it’s the only workaround that actually worked on my Samsung Galaxy Note III Neo.

Open chrome, and type chrome://flags in the address bar.

Look for the “Touch Scrolling Mode” setting (#touch-scrolling-mode), and set it to touchcancel.

On my phone, that fixed the scrolling problem completely, and the only drawback seems to be that I don’t have that fancy decelerated animation anymore. He, it never was that smooth to begin with, so I guess I’ll live with that 🙂

Hope it helps!

Fix out of sync subtitles with Python!

This is an update of my old post from a couple of years ago.

[Edit – October 2015]: I created an in-browser version of subslider, called subslider.js. Just visit this page and follow the instructions, or read this blog post if you want to know more about it!

After using that script quite a few times, and loving it, I decided to give it a facelift and add the one feature that I’ve been wishing it had for all this time: the option to just tell it the timestamp of the first dialog without performing any math 🙂

Yeah, it’s simple math, but having to use base 60 means more brain CPU time wasted (and above all, it means more time separating me from my movie!).

I also moved the code to GitHub, so you can find it here: SubSlider. And this is the direct link to the python script, for the impatient.

The old way of specifying offsets using +/- has been replaced my a more argparse-standard system of flags. Also, the new feature I mentioned above can be used by running the script like this:

python -s 1:23,450

assuming your subtitles file is called and assuming that the first dialog in the movie takes place at 1:23,450. This time, there’s an “interactive” dialog that asks you to choose the first line among the first 10 lines in the .srt file. I added it because sometimes you get the equivalent of opening titles in the .srt, and that doesn’t help when you’re synchronizing.

If you want to get a different number of lines, you can simply change the LINES_TO_SHOW variable at line 43 to whatever number you prefer.

As always, feel free to contribute 🙂

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! 🙂

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.

# Copyright 2014 Michele Bonazza
# 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
# 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 <>.

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

while true; do
  # 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

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

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

Save it as, make it executable

chmod +x

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


Click “Add”, use whatever name you want and browse to the 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 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! 🙂

Create a list of movies to watch with Python and Urlist

I usually like to keep lists of movies to watch, books to read, games to play on Google Keep, mainly because it comes with a widget that looks nice on my phone. Its sharing capabilities though are, well, nonexistent. Yes, you can email a list with a bullet point for each entry but it ends there.

Since I wanted to share a list of movies to watch with my wife, I resorted to Urlist. It’s a neat, straight-to-the-point tool that’s good for sharing links with friends, collaborators, anybody.

I wish they had an API available, so that this post could have been about a tool that automatically creates lists for you (heck, I could even write a simple chrome extension!), but so far there’s none.

Our list is going to have, for every entry, the vote that the movie got on IMDB, a brief summary of its plot and cast. If any of them attracts your SO’s attention, (s)he can just click to see further info about the movie 🙂

The script requires BeautifulSoup and Requests, 2 awesome libraries to scrape the web.

To install them, you can use either pip:

sudo pip install beautifulsoup4 requests

or easy_install:

sudo easy_install beautifulsoup4 requests

Create the list on Urlist, launch the script:


and for every movie you want to add:

  1. search it on IMDB
  2. copy the URL
  3. paste the URL on Urlist to add an entry
  4. paste the URL on the console where the script is running
  5. copy the output of the script
  6. back to Urlist, hit edit and paste what you copied

Here’s the script (you can download it from pastebin):

from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
import requests

done = False

while not done:
    url = raw_input("IMDB URL: ")

    # get the IMDB page
    r = requests.get(url)
    data = r.text

    # and parse it with BeautifulSoup
    soup = BeautifulSoup(data)

    # the td containing what we're looking for
    td = soup.find('td', {'id': 'overview-top'})
    rating = td.find('div', {'class': 'star-box-giga-star'}).string
    plot = td.find('p', {'itemprop': 'description'}).string
    # the div containing the main actors in the cast
    actors = td.find('div', {'itemprop': 'actors'})
    stars = ', '.join([actor.string for actor in actors.find_all('span', {'class': 'itemprop', 'itemprop': 'name'})])

    print '*%s* - %s. %s' % (rating.strip(), stars, plot)
  except KeyboardInterrupt:
    done = True
print 'bye!'

It’s super simple! It gets the page, finds the HTML source for what we’re looking for, and prints it out as formatted text that’s good for Urlist.

The way you find items with BeautifulSoup is relatively similar to what you do with jQuery: you look for elements in the DOM that contain what you’re looking for (to find what they are, just use your browser’s inspector… on Chrome, right click on the text and choose “Inspect element…” to see where it is in the DOM), and manipulate them as strings or arrays of strings.

Easy enough!