Category Archives: Linux

Bulk Image Resize using Conditional Width

I am currently working on a project in which we have lots of images from an old CMS waiting to be migrated into a new layout. Of course there are restrictions so it should not happen that certain image types exceed a certain max. width.

OK, we have many many images… So I took a closer look at ImageMagick (also take a look at the usage examples). And I have to say: Awsome!

You can install ImageMagick on Ubuntu or Debian with a simple
# apt-get install imagemagick

In combination with a bit conditional scripting I came up with the following solution:

Console doing bulk resize.

Console doing bulk resize.

I wanted to have a shell script that, given a directory containing all our images, checks the width of each image and resizes it if it exceeded a certain width. Simple, but powerful.


$ ./ ../../brand_logos

And you are done with thousands of images in a minute. Do not forget to make a backup if designers change the desired width later…

You can download the shell scripts with example images ready to test:

Upgrade PHP5 with an alternative sources.list on Debian etch

I was having trouble with a server running Debian 4.0 (etch). Using the standard sources in the /etc/apt/sources.list the supported PHP5 version was 5.2.0-8+etch13 which contained a very annoying bug for my application.

A daily running script – let’s call it the Importer – regularly exited randomly with a “Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 12320768) (tried to allocate 2851436 bytes) in …” and I had to restart it manually nearly every morning. I had…

  • …checked my application for memory wasting operations and loops and fixed them,
  • …used ini_set(‘memory_limit’, ’64M’); at runtime, and
  • …finally increased memory_limit = 64M in my php.ini.

But all this did not change the bahaviour of the Importer!

So I took a look at the PHP5 Changelog to find potentially fixed bugs in newer releases. Bug #39438 described exactly my problem. So a simple upgrade would help me. But it did not work with ‘apt-get upgrade’ or ‘apt-get install php5=5.2.8′ since the highest version in the apt source I used was the one that I already had: 5.2.0-8+etch13, issued in November 2006… (pretty ancient)

Finally it was this page that had the information we needed: an alternative apt source

deb etch all
deb-src etch all

After getting an impression whether dotdeb was a trustworthy source, we first tried it on our dev-system with ‘apt-get update; apt-get upgrade;’. At this point I was once more glad to have written so many UnitTests. They all passed and everything looked good.

Thanks Kim for your help!

Subversion Repository on Samba Share

I use a Subversion repository which sits on a Samba share in our LAN. Most of the times I used it from Windows machines where I simply assigned a drive letter (N:) to the filesystem of the network share (//TERASTATION2/share) hosting the repository. A SVN checkout including URL looked like this:

  • svn co file://N:/_repos/projectname/trunk .

Now I have my new Ubuntu/Linux notebook and asked myself how I could use the repository from there too. I tried using smb://terastation2/share/_repos/myproject/trunk – but this did not work in combination with file://.

The solution looks like this:

  • Create a dir to mount the share to: $ sudo mkdir /mnt/terastation2;
  • Mount the filesystem: $ sudo smbmount //TERASTATION2/share /mnt/terastation2 -o lfs;
    (You can create a launcher to do that for you in the future)
  • Then you can do your desired operations: $ svn co file:///mnt/terastation2/_repos/projectname/trunk .;

Using the O2 USB Surf Stick under Ubuntu

I have an o2 surf stick to provide me with connectivity on the go via UMTS. It worked fine so far under Windows and it worked also my MacBook. Now I wanted to use it also from my new Ubuntu (Intrepid Ibex) laptop. The first thing I tried was to start it with wine. But this did not work out… The solution was brought to me through the following links:

The receipe of my setup was:

  • install dependent libraries
  • $ sudo apt-get -f install gcom libusb-dev
  • download usb_modeswitch sources
  • $ tar xjvf usb_modeswitch-0.9.5.tar.bz2
  • $ cd usb_modeswitch-0.9.5/
  • $ ./
  • copy the built binary into my bin dir
  • $ sudo cp usb_modeswitch /usr/bin/
  • copy the default config to /etc and uncomment the right device
  • $ sudo cp usb_modeswitch.conf /etc/usb_modeswitch.conf
  • I guessed and uncommented the area with the many ‘Huawei’ device entries
  • now comes what you will have every time you want connect
  • $ sudo usb_modeswitch
  • $ sudo usbmon &
  • starts the small GUI application, enter you PIN and select ‘connect’

Useful Linux Commands 10/2008

(1) Finds files in generated documentation, containing <span class=”field”>webservice:</span> and writes a file containing a clickable list of links to those pages:
~/sites/html/phpdoc_all_global$ find -type f -print0 | xargs -0 grep -li ‘<span class=”field”>webservice:</span>’ | while read in; do echo “<a href=”$in”>$in</a>”; done > clickable_list_page.html

(2) A for-loop on the commandline. The * equals all files and dirs in current directory (try “echo *”). Of course you can replace the ‘echo $dir’ with whatever command you like using $dir as loop-variable.:
for dir in *; do echo $dir; done

(Thanks Alexander)

(3) A simlpe piped grep, which displays the files (-l) containing the string “<FormularObjectGenerator”. And since I was searching recureively (-r) in a svn working copy, I did not want to see all the double filepaths containing “.svn” I filtered by excluding (-v) this pattern from the output.

grep -lr “<FormularObjectGenerator” ./ | grep -v “.svn”

Useful Linux Commands 08/2008

Inspired by the book “The Productive Programmer” I was paying attention more and more on how I actually get things done and how I could better exploit existing shortcuts or faster paths.

Please do not ask why, but I had the following problem: One my PHP-Apps had scattered syntax errors. The question was, how I could locate them in the application. The first attempt was to let Zend Studio analyse the project… This was very slow and contained a lot of information which I actually did not want to see.

So I came up with the following solution:

find -name ‘*.php’ | xargs -i php -l {} | grep ‘Parser error:’

There are 3 parts piped together:

  1. find: Lists all .php files in your project.
  2. xargs: Executes one command for each of the lines coming from standard input. The -i flag replaces one line from STDIN with the {}. The php-executalbe has a flag -l (=lowercase L), which lets php check for correct syntax only.
  3. grep: Filters the output (lots of output like ‘No syntax errors detected in ./includes/’) to the actual information I liked to see: The files which had syntax errors.

From this experience I learned the following:

  • Pay attention to flags of commandline tools, even if they do not appear useful at first sight – like the ‘php -l script.php’. They might be very useful when combined via pipe with other commands.
  • I understood one more time the power of the commandline and will more often visit man pages of commands.