Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Driving and monitoring your machines with emails, from Java

Here is the problem

You have your network at home, with several machines connected to it (laptops, tablets, Raspberry PIs, phones, etc). Your home network is a Local Area Network (aka LAN), the machines can see each other, but they cannot be seen from outside, from the Internet.
You may very well want to deal with those machines while away from home, to restart services, launch a new program, or even reboot.
In the configuration mentioned above, this is simple, you just cannot do it. And that is frustrating!
There is a way though. Those machines on your home LAN can send and receive emails...

Using JavaMail

JavaMail is a Java package that has been available for ever, it understands the email protocols (IMAP, POP3, SMTP, etc), and can be used to interact with email accounts programmatically.

An example

There is an example of such an interaction on this github repository.
The fastest way to get it running is to run the following commands (these are for Linux - and MacOS - on Windows, use the git shell):
$ git clone https://github.com/OlivierLD/raspberry-pi4j-samples.git
$ cd raspberry-pi4j-samples
$ cd common-utils
$ ../gradlew shadowJar
$ cp email.properties.sample email.properties
$ vi email.properties
$ # Here you modify your properties file to match your email account
$ java -cp ./build/libs/common-utils-1.0-all.jar email.examples.EmailWatcher -send:google -receive:google
The -send:google -receive:google depends on the settings in your email.properties.
Then, to the account mentioned in the email.properties, send a message like this:
Subject: execute
uname -a
Note: this example requires the content to be in plain/text.
Once the message is received by the EmailWatcher, it sends you an acknowledgement:
Then, the 3 commands are processed by the EmailWatcher, you would see in its console an output like that:
Start receiving.
uname -a

Operation: [execute], sent for processing...
lo0: flags=8049 mtu 16384
 inet netmask 0xff000000 
 inet6 ::1 prefixlen 128 
And finally, you receive an email like that:
... meaning that the commands you've sent have been executed.


This process is not synchronous, this could ba drawback... But still, it allows you to interact remotely with machines unvisible from the Internet.

Having the command

java -cp ./build/libs/common-utils-1.0-all.jar email.examples.EmailWatcher -send:google -receive:google
fired when the machine boots will allow you make sure it is waiting for your emails as soon as the machine is up.

This EmailWatcher as it is also allows you to execute scripts, attached to the email. Look into the code for details ;)
It is even possible to ssh to another machine and execute a bunch of commands stored in a script... The command you send in the email's body would be like

ssh pi@ bash -s < ~/nodepi.banner.sh
You can even sudo, if a password is required, use sshpass:
sshpass -p 'secret-password' ssh pi@ bash -s < ~/nodepi.sudo.sh
This can be dangerous, hey? With great power come great responsibilities...

Sunday, April 15, 2018

HeadsUp DIsplay

The idea here is to display a screen on a transparent support - like a wind shield.
The data are displayed on the screen, reflected on the transparent support, and nothing is preventing you from seeing through it.
(Click the image to enlarge it)

Here is above an HTML page, tweaked by some CSS classes to mirror the data (as the page is reflected on the screen, the page content has to be displayed as in a mirror, and flipped upside down.). In this case, the page is rendered on Chromium in kiosk mode, running on a Raspberry PI with a touch screen attached to it.
CSS Classes:
    .mirror {
      display: block;
      -webkit-transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0);
      -moz-transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0);
      -o-transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0);
      transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0);

    .upside-down {
      height: 100%;
      width: 100%;
      -moz-transform: rotate(180deg);
      -webkit-transform: rotate(180deg);
      -ms-transform: rotate(180deg);
      -o-transform: rotate(180deg);
      transform: rotate(180deg);

    .mirror-upside-down {
      display: block;
      -webkit-transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0) rotate(180deg);
      -moz-transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0) rotate(180deg);
      -o-transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0) rotate(180deg);
      transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0) rotate(180deg);

In the picture above, we use the class as follow:
<div id="the-div" class="mirror-upside-down big" style="padding: 0px; text-align: center;">
      <td colspan="2">GPS Data</td>
        <span>Your position:</span>
        <span>N 37° 44.93'</span>
The page on the screen (not on the wind shield) would actually look like this:

GPS Data
Your position:
N 37° 44.93'
W 122°30.42'
Your Speed:
12.34 kts

You can also work around the perspective effect on the reflected page by tweaking the CSS classes:
    .mirror-upside-down {
      display: block;
      -webkit-transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0) rotate(180deg) perspective(50em) rotateX(-40deg);
      -moz-transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0) rotate(180deg) perspective(50em) rotateX(-40deg);
      -o-transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0) rotate(180deg) perspective(50em) rotateX(-40deg);
      transform: matrix(-1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0) rotate(180deg) perspective(50em) rotateX(-40deg);

GPS Data
Your position:
N 37° 44.93'
W 122°30.42'
Your Speed:
12.34 kts
We call this the Star Wars effect. ;)

Possibilities are endless!
The full page is here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Docker on the Raspberry PI

This post intends to illustrate how Docker can work around the "But it works on my machine!.." syndrome.

Let's say you have a nodejs project you want to share with others.
The application reads GPS data through a Serial port, and feeds a WebSocket server.
The data can then be visualized through a Web interface.

To enable everything, you need to:
  1. Have a Raspberry PI
  2. Flash its SD card and connect it to a network
  3. Install build tools
  4. Install git
  5. Install NodeJS and npm
  6. Clone the right git repository
  7. Install all the required node modules
  8. Drill down into the right directory
  9. Start the node server with the right script
  10. Access the Raspberry PI from another machine on the same network, and reach the right HTML page.

This is certainly not difficult, but there are many ways to do several mistakes at each step of the process!

Docker can take care of the steps 3 to 9. It will build the image, and then run it.
The image can also be pushed to a repository, so users would not have to build it.
Just to run it after downloading it.

The only pre-requisite would be to have installed Docker on the machine (the Raspberry PI here), as explained here.
Create a Dockerfile like this (available here):
 FROM resin/raspberrypi3-debian:latest

 LABEL maintainer="Olivier LeDiouris <olivier@lediouris.net>"

 RUN echo "alias ll='ls -lisah'" >> $HOME/.bashrc

 RUN apt-get update
 RUN apt-get install sysvbanner
 RUN apt-get install -y curl git build-essential
 RUN curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_9.x | bash -
 RUN apt-get install -y nodejs
 RUN echo "banner Node-PI" >> $HOME/.bashrc
 RUN echo "git --version" >> $HOME/.bashrc
 RUN echo "echo -n 'node:' && node -v" >> $HOME/.bashrc
 RUN echo "echo -n 'npm:' && npm -v" >> $HOME/.bashrc

 RUN mkdir /workdir
 WORKDIR /workdir
 RUN git clone https://github.com/OlivierLD/node.pi.git
 WORKDIR /workdir/node.pi
 RUN npm install

 EXPOSE 9876
 CMD ["npm", "start"]

In this case, the full Docker image creation (named oliv-nodepi below) comes down to 1 line (the one in bold red):
 $ docker build -t oliv-nodepi .
Sending build context to Docker daemon  752.6kB
Step 1/20 : FROM resin/raspberrypi3-debian:latest
 ---> c542b8f7a388
Step 2/20 : MAINTAINER Olivier LeDiouris 
 ---> Using cache
 ---> b2ff0d7c489f
Step 3/20 : ADD nodepi.banner.sh /
 ---> 535733298dd1
Step 4/20 : RUN echo "alias ll='ls -lisah'" >> $HOME/.bashrc
 ---> Running in 09baf7261a55
Removing intermediate container 09baf7261a55
 ---> 71e1e4c95663
Step 5/20 : RUN apt-get update
 ---> Running in 5d817a941a14
Get:1 http://security.debian.org jessie/updates InRelease [94.4 kB]
Get:2 http://archive.raspbian.org jessie InRelease [14.9 kB]
Get:3 http://archive.raspberrypi.org jessie InRelease [22.9 kB]


npm notice created a lockfile as package-lock.json. You should commit this file.
added 166 packages in 81.166s
Removing intermediate container 13986530db28
 ---> 051eb94b8a3c
Step 19/20 : EXPOSE 9876
 ---> Running in 67b587845fe0
Removing intermediate container 67b587845fe0
 ---> 46973b7ba9ac
Step 20/20 : CMD ["npm", "start"]
 ---> Running in 153bf2ea02ad
Removing intermediate container 153bf2ea02ad
 ---> 6bf3d76d38ae
Successfully built 6bf3d76d38ae
Successfully tagged oliv-nodepi:latest

Once the step above is completed, plug in your GPS, and run
 $ docker run -p 9876:9876 -t -i --privileged -v /dev/ttyUSB0:/dev/ttyUSB0 -d oliv-nodepi:latest
Then from a machine seeing the Raspberry PI on its network (it can be the Raspberry PI itself), reach http://raspi:9876/data/demos/gps.demo.wc.html in a browser.

This shows you the position the GPS has computed, and the satellites in sight.
You can also login to the image:
 $ docker run -it oliv-nodepi:latest /bin/bash

 #     #                                 ######    ###
 ##    #   ####   #####   ######         #     #    #
 # #   #  #    #  #    #  #              #     #    #
 #  #  #  #    #  #    #  #####   #####  ######     #
 #   # #  #    #  #    #  #              #          #
 #    ##  #    #  #    #  #              #          #
 #     #   ####   #####   ######         #         ###

 git version 2.1.4

... and do whatever you like.
The build operation needs to be done once.
There is no need to do it again as long as no change in the image is required.

Quick comment
So, with Docker, you do not deliver a software, you actually deliver an image (a virtual machine), on which a software is running.
This is indeed redefining the concept of portability that made Java and other JVM-aware languages so successful.
This may very well explain the rise of languages like Golang (aka Go).
It runs on my machine? Well, here is my machine! You can download and run it. Enjoy!