Kategoriarkiv: linux

Setting up Raspberry Pi2 for a Dashboard Monitor

I have set up Raspberry Pi as a Dashboard Monitor a couple of times. Here I want to summarize my steps. In fact, it is nothing special, a raspberry pi that is used as a browser showing a web based dashboard in full screen, but there are some important configuration steps needed to make it as good as possible.

Install Raspbian

Raspbian is the best operating system for Raspberry Pi. Just stick with that.

Expand file storage

When you boot up Raspberry Pi, the first thing you should do is to expand the file storage, otherwise it is hard to install anything. To do so, run raspi-config from command line and restart your raspberry pi after that.

dashboard-rasp-002

Rename your raspberry

You are advised to change the password. In my case I usually just want to keep the default password: “raspberry”. What I want is to change the hostname from raspberrypi to some unique hostname (in my example it will be “kallerasp”), so that I can access it from my network without running risk for name conflicts. To rename your raspberry, update the /etc/hostname file:

After that restart your computer.

Install iceweasel

Iceweasel is a Firefox fork, which works just fine on the raspberry pi. Update your raspberry pi and install it:

Make sure the screen is not getting blank

To use your raspberry pi as a dashboard monitor we need to prevent the screen from getting blank (dark).

Update it so you have the following:

dashboard-rasp-001

Start dashboard page on startup

To automatically start iceweasel on startup, we need to configure autostart. To do so, run this from terminal:

In the .desktop file write following:

Previously I had chromium-browser –kiosk http://someurl, but Chromiums is no longer available, and iceweasel does not have –kiosk parameter. On the other hand, you have to activate Full Screen the first time, then after OS restart iceweasel automatically will activate Full Screen and your dashboard page from the previous session.

Trying out Visual Studio Code on Ubuntu

I am very curious about the new .NET Core, ASP.NET 5, EF 7 and Visual Studio Code for Linux, Mac and Windows. I have tried it out on an Ubuntu 15.04 machine. The installation and configuration required a few steps, so it is not an usual “Next-next-next”-installation. But, hey, it is just a beta, a preview so far, and first of all: It worked. I am sharing a couple of screenshots and the commands I ran in the terminal, mixed with comments and links:

 

Selection_003

Selection_004

Selection_005

A new Chuvash keyboard layout

The Chuvash keyboard layout has been the Russian keyboard layout with 4 Chuvash letters that are typed by pressing the right Alt button plus the base letter. Some of the arguments have been

  1. Users don’t need to switch or learn a new keyboard layout. They can keep on typing Russian texts and sometimes Chuvash texts
  2. It is easy to communicate about how the right Alt button works. The Right-Alt-technique is also used in Esperanto, Polish and other languages.
  3. The letters are placed according the labels

Recently two major events happened that made the question about the Chuvash keyboard layout important:

  1. We are working on a Chuvash keyboard for iOS. There we have less place and we have to remove rare Russian letters from the first keyboard screen. There are no physical labels. So we can rethink the whole keyboard.
  2. chuvash.org finally moved from latin equivalents with diacritic marks to Cyrillic letters (Cyrillic extended script). Therefore we need to update users’ keyboard layouts

I’ll write a separate post about the Chuvash Keyboard for iOS. One of the important things we made during that work was to find the frequency of the Chuvash letters. This was used to design the keyboard layout.

Here is the most recent version of the keyboard layout (first screen):

cv-kbd-ios

These are the principles for placing the letters:

  • The most used letters are in the middle.
  • Consonants and vocals come after each other. We tried to avoid many consonants after each other.
  • The letters are often in the same area as in the Russian keyboard layout (but it is not so important)

 

Now to the physical keyboard

When it is possible on a virtual keyboard, wouldn’t it be worth trying on a physical keyboard? Knowing the “best” layout, we can implement it for a physical keyboard. Let’s do it for xkb. xkb is a keyboard system for Linux. I wrote a few articles on that topic.

Many minority languages in Russian use the Russian keyboard layout plus their Cyrillic letters instead of numbers (Bashkir, Udmurt, Kalmyk) or Right-Alt-combinations (Chuvash, Sakha, Komi…). Two other languages have their own keyboard layouts for primary keys: Tatar and Ossetian. Ossetian language has only one extra letter. The Tatar alphabet contains a few more. Let’s look at the Tatar keyboard layout for xkb:

tatar-xkb-kbd

The Tatar keyboard layout uses their letters on the primary keys and puts the Russian letters in the Right-Alt-combinations. It allows:

  • A quicker typing in Tatar
  • And access to Russian letters, because they are part of the official Tatar alphabet, but they are only used in Russian loanwords. The placement of those rare Russian letters are the same as in the Russian layout (except that they are accessible by pressing the Right-Alt button).

Now the Chuvash keyboard layout for Linux and Windows is as follows:

chuvash-xkb-kbd

When I use it, I always press the Right-Alt, because the ӑӗҫӳ in Chuvash are very common. So the Right-Alt is not an exception, rather that a regular typing behaviour. Some Chuvash frequently used Chuvash letters (х, й, э) are placed too from the middle. Some rare letters (ф, ц, ж, о, г, щ) are too “near”.

So let’s change it. If we just take the keyboard layout designed for iOS and put the rare Russian letters “behind the Right-Alt button”, then we’ll get this:

chuvash-xkb-kbd-2015

This keyboard layout will demand some time to learn, but once learned, it will provide

  • a better and quicker typing in Chuvash,
  • less pain in the right thumb,
  • and, perhaps, less Russian loanwords caused by laziness.

Regarding the learning, it could be facilitated using keyboard stickers, printed for Chuvash keyboards. Here is how Russian stickers look like:

The xkb code for the new Chuvash keyboard layout

It is time to standardize the Chuvash Keyboard Layout

Proto-Bulgarian Runes. Wonder if they are supported in Unicode :)

Proto-Bulgarian Runes (Chuvash language is the closest language to the Proto-Bulgar language). Wonder if they are supported in Unicode :)

The Chuvash Computer Keyboard layouts have existed since 2001, but due to the lack for Unicode support we were forced to use the look-alike letters  from other latin-based keyboard layouts. On Linux The Chuvash keyboard layout was added in 2007 and Linux is still the only operating system that has a native keyboard layout for Chuvash language. On Windows we have used the Keyboard Layout Creator and distributed it as an executable file.

Today, when Windows XP is not supported anymore, the majority of users now have full support for the correct Chuvash letters from the Extended Cyrillic table. These four Chuvash letters are “additional” to the Russian alphabet: ӐӖҪ and Ӳ.

Now when new “keyboards” appear on Android, in web browser (they use the standardized letters) and hopefully in Windows and iOS, we have to consider put the correct letters into the keyboard layouts. For Linux the /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/ru file has to be updated:

Impact

This switch will have a huge impact on the Chuvash language. Much of content on forums, websites and Chuvash Wikipedia will be hardly searchable. But we have to do it, to standardize and prepare for the future. The Chuvash language Committee is not against it, despite it has not been updated the guidelines for using letters from 2009.

Edit 2014-04-30

The bug in the freedesktop bugzilla was solved very quickly. In fact, in the new Ubuntu 14.04 you’ll find a correct keyboard layout:

chuvash-keyboard-map

Here is the source code:
chuvash-keyboard-xkb