Alexander Leidinger

Just another weblog


Gain­ing space on Android after ART->Dalvik switch (root access required)

I (still) use a Nexus S phone. I am using Cyanogen­mod on it. After an arti­cle in a com­puter mag­a­zine I decided to give the ART-runtime a try instead of the default Dalvic-runtime. Unfor­tu­nately I do not have enough free space free (and all what I can is moved to the USB stor­age already) to really use the ART-runtime.

After switch­ing back to the Dalvic-runtime, I had only 2/3 of the pre­vi­ously avail­able space free. After a lit­tle bit of look­ing around I found /data/dalvik-cache. I deleted with a file man­ager the con­tent of the direc­tory (you will get some “app crashed/died” mes­sages) and rebooted the phone (this is not the same as for­mat­ting the cache par­ti­tion in the recov­ery system).

Dur­ing boot it pop­u­lated the direc­tory again and now I have more than 4/3 of free space on the inter­nal storage.

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Lin­ux­u­la­tor explained: How to cre­ate Linux bina­ries on FreeBSD

There may by cases where you want to gen­er­ate a Linux binary on a FreeBSD machine. This is not a prob­lem with the lin­ux­u­la­tor, but not with the default linux_base port.

As you may know, the linux_base port is designed to deliver an inte­grated expe­ri­ence with FreeBSD native pro­grams. As such some parts of the native FreeBSD infra­struc­ture is used. If you would try to use a Linux–com­piler to gen­er­ate Linux–bina­ries, you would run into the prob­lem that by default the FreeBSD includes are used.


To have a fully fea­tured and non-integrated Linux envi­ron­ment on your FreeBSD sys­tem either mount an exist­ing (and com­pat­i­ble) Linux instal­la­tion some­where into your FreeBSD sys­tem, or install a linux_dist port. This can be done addi­tion­ally to an already installed linux_base port.


When you have a com­plete Linux envi­ron­ment avail­able, you need to mount the FreeBSD devfs to /path/to/complete_linux/dev, lin­procfs to /path/to/complete_linux/proc and lin­sysfs to /path/to/complete_linux/sys to have a com­plete setup.

Use it

Now you just need to chroot into this  /path/to/complete_linux and you configure/make/install or what­ever you need to do to gen­er­ate your desired Linux binary.

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Cal­cu­lat­ing the tar­get size of H264 videos

From time to time I con­vert videos to H264. When I do this I want to get the best qual­ity out of a give file­size. This means I cre­ate VBR videos. The ques­tion here is, how big the tar­get video file shall be.

After search­ing around a lit­tle bit in the net I found a for­mula which is sup­posed to give a hint about the tar­get file­size. Nat­u­rally this depends on the encoder (or even the encoder-version), the encoder set­tings and even the video.

The for­mula is at least a good hint for my use, so I wrote a script which cal­cu­lates sev­eral file­size val­ues for a given video (based upon the out­put of medi­ainfo, which the scripts expects in a file with the file­name as an argu­ment to the script). It cal­cu­lates a CBR and a VBR value for a given video based upon the width, height and dura­tion. It should work on all sys­tem with a POSIX com­pat­i­ble shell.

Exam­ple out­put for a video from my HD-ready cam, orig­i­nal file­size 1.8 GB:

Width: 1280, Height: 720, FPS: 50.000, Time: 1424, Motion: 2
Per sec­ond: 6451200.000 bps / 6300 Kibps
Total CBR: 1148313600 bytes / 1121400 KiB / 1095 MiB
Total VBR: 861235200 bytes / 841050 KiB / 821 MiB
Width: 1280, Height: 720, FPS: 50.000, Time: 1424, Motion: 3
Per sec­ond: 9676800.000 bps / 9450 Kibps
Total CBR: 1722470400 bytes / 1682100 KiB / 1642 MiB
Total VBR: 1291852800 bytes / 1261575 KiB / 1232 MiB
Width: 1280, Height: 720, FPS: 50.000, Time: 1424, Motion: 4
Per sec­ond: 12902400.000 bps / 12600 Kibps
Total CBR: 2296627200 bytes / 2242800 KiB / 2190 MiB
Total VBR: 1722470400 bytes / 1682100 KiB / 1642 MiB

There are 3 sec­tions, the dif­fer­ence is the “motion” value. It is a kind of mul­ti­pli­ca­tor depend­ing on the amount of motion in the video. For the videos I made myself (fam­ily videos, and even some videos of vol­ley ball games), the first sec­tion seems to be just fine. So I reduced the orig­i­nal MP4 file to about 50% (not vis­i­ble here is the audio size, nor­mally I copy the orig­i­nal audio unmodified).

For the curi­ous ones, the for­mula is

width_in_pixels * height_in_pixels * fps * motion_value * 0.07

for the bps value. The CBR value is

bps * playtime_in_seconds / 8

and the VBR value is

3 / 4 * CBR_value.

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Which crypto card to use with FreeBSD (ssh/gpg)

The recent secu­rity inci­dent trig­gered a dis­cus­sion how to secure ssh/gpg keys.

One way I want to focus on here (because it is the way I want to use at home), is to store the keys on a crypto card. I did some research for suit­able crypto cards and found one which is called Feit­ian PKI Smart­card, and one which is called OpenPGP card. The OpenPGP card also exists in a USB ver­sion (basi­cally a small ver­sion of the card is already inte­grated into a small USB card reader).

The Feit­ian card is reported to be able to han­dle RSA keys upto 2048 bits. They do not seem to han­dle DSA (or ECDSA) keys. The smart­card quick starter guide they have  (the Tun­ing smart­card file sys­tem part) tells how to change the para­me­ters of the card to store upto 9 keys on it.

The spec of the OpenPGP card tells that it sup­ports RSA keys upto 3072 bits, but there are reports that it is able to han­dle RSA keys upto 4096 bits (you need to have at least GPG 2.0.18 to han­dle that big keys on the crypto card). It looks to me like the card is not han­dle DSA (or ECDSA) cards. There are only slots for upto 3 keys on it.

If I go this way, I would also need a card reader. It seems a class 3 one (hard­ware PIN pad and dis­play) would be the most “future-proof” way to go ahead. I found a Reiner SCT cyber­Jack sec­oder card reader, which is believed to be sup­ported by OpenSC and seems to be a good bal­ance between cost and fea­tures of the Reiner SCT card readers.

If any­one read­ing this can sug­gest a bet­ter crypto card (keys upto 4096 bits, more than 3 slots, and/or DSA/ECDSA  sup­port), or a bet­ter card reader, or has any prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence with any of those com­po­nents on FreeBSD, please add a comment.

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Free DLNA server which works good with my Sony BRAVIA TV

In sev­eral pre­vi­ous posts I wrote about my quest for the right source for­mat to stream video to my Sony BRAVIA TV (build in 2009). The last week-end I finally found some­thing which sat­is­fies me.

What I found was serviio, a free UPnP-AV (DLNA) server. It is writ­ten in java and runs on Win­dows, Linux and FreeBSD (it is not listed on the web­site, but we have an not-so-up-to-date ver­sion in the ports tree). If nec­es­sary it transcodes the input to an appro­pri­ate for­mat for the DLNA ren­derer (in my case the TV).

I tested it with my slow Net­book, so that I was able to see with which input for­mat it will just remux the input con­tainer to a MPEG trans­port stream, and which input for­mat would be really re-encoded to a for­mat the TV understands.

The bot­tom line of the tests is, that I just need to use a sup­ported con­tainer (like MKV or MP4 or AVI) with H.264-encoded video (e.g. encoded by x264) and AC3 audio.

The TV is able to chose between sev­eral audio streams, but I have not tested if serviio is able to serve files with mul­ti­ple audio streams (my wife has a dif­fer­ent mother lan­guage than me, so it is inter­est­ing for us to have mul­ti­ple audio streams for a movie), and I do not know if DLNA sup­ports some­thing like this.

Now I just have to replace minidlna (which only works good with my TV for MP3s and Pic­tures) with serviio on my FreeBSD file server and we can for­get about the disk-juggling.

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