Automatic Screen Detection And Configuration Under Awesome WM

Recently I’m mainly interested in automating my day-to-day tasks on Linux laptop. I’ve started with automating back-up process, now come time to automate external screen detection (and configuration).

For couple of months I was struggling with ZSH history to find XRandR commands that enables and disables external screen. During that time I was almost sure that there is another way of handling this task … since eg. Gnome was doing it automatically. First idea was to find part of Gnome that is responsible for this feature and simply just integrate it with Aersome WM. But my from-time-to-time raw searches didn’t snow any interesting resources. Therefore I’ve decided that I must done it by my self … this is how screenful project was born.

What is screenful ?

It is simple extension to Awesome WM that allows you (with little knowledge of Lua and XRandR params) automatically configure connected screen. It integrates udev drm/change event with Awesome and XRandR. First of all there is udev rule that when drm/change event appears inform screenful about output change in particular card. Then screenful will “calculate” which card output was connected/disconnected, computes screen id based on EDID and finally run configured action. When configuration file doesn’t have specified configuration for this id then screenles will append commented configuration for it and run default action.

What is unique in screenful ?

Same as Awesome WM config file, the screenful config file is a Lua script! Therefore you can do anything you can imagine when external monitor is connected/disconnected. For example you can switch mplayer default audio output when you HD TV set is connected using HDMI cable then change it back when you disconnecting HDMI cable. Also you can reorganize yours tags and windows using Awesome Lua API … and more … Honestly I doubt that you can achieve similar behaviour in any different Window Manager 😉

Project is hosted on github if you encounter any issues or have ideas about new functionalities in screenful feel free to fork me, fill a bug or mail me 😉

Automatic backup in Linux

Some time ago I’ve started backing up my laptop hard drive in any case of failure. Until today I was simply connecting external back-up-drive and manually launching mount && rsync command from zsh history. But this requires that always after connecting this special device I need to go to terminal, log in as root then find this back up command and run it.

Recently I was wondering how this process could be improved or even done automatically. I had few requirements:

  • it should be fully automated
  • system should inform me that back up process was started and that it ends
  • this notification should be done as some system pop up in X windows

So I’ve come with a solution that connects udev, DBus notification and awesome wm naughty library … and it is really simple 😉

How it works ? When you connects back-up-device udev will pick up this event, create a symbolic link to /dev/backup, then launch backup script. This script will send a notification through DBus, this event will be received by naughty and displayed as a simple notification in Awesome WM. After sending notification signal the backup script will mount given device and launch rsync command. After successful synchronization backup device will be unmonted and another notification signal will be send to inform you that you can now disconnect it.

How to achieve this ?

First of all we need to figure out UUID of our back up device (I assume that /dev/sdb2 is yours back-up-partition) :

# blkid /dev/sdb2
/dev/sdb2: UUID="97377fed-edaf-407b-9e02-5c6cecd6dceb" SEC_TYPE="ext2" TYPE="ext3"

Then we need to create new udev rule in /etc/udev/rules.d we can call it 99-backup.rules:

ENV{ID_FS_UUID}=="97377fed-edaf-407b-9e02-5c6cecd6dceb", SYMLINK+="backup"
ACTION=="add", ENV{ID_FS_UUID}=="97377fed-edaf-407b-9e02-5c6cecd6dceb", RUN+="backup"

Of course you need to replace my UUID with one you get from blkid command. Those two lines are responsible for creating symbolic link called backup in /dev directory to device with given UUID; second line will launch backup script when device with given UUID is added.

Finally we need to create our backup script and put it into /lib/udev directory. Here is content of this script:

function show_notification() {
	su $USER -c "export DISPLAY=':0.0'; \
		export XAUTHORITY='/home/$USER/.Xauthority'; \
		/usr/bin/dbus-send --type=method_call --dest=org.freedesktop.Notifications \
			/org/freedesktop/Notifications  org.freedesktop.Notifications.Notify string:'' \
			uint32:0 string:'' string:'$1' string:'' array:string:'' array:string:'' int32:$MSG_TIMEOUT"
function backup() {
	show_notification "Backup process started! Do NOT disconnect backup device."
	mount /dev/backup /mnt/backup
	ionice -c 3 rsync -az --delete --exclude=/dev --exclude=/mnt --exclude=/media --exclude=/run --exclude=/proc --exclude=/tmp --exclude=/sys --exclude=/var/log --exclude=/var/run / /mnt/backup
	umount /mnt/backup
	show_notification "Backup process successed! You can disconnect backup device."
backup &

In this file you only need to change USER variable to yours UNIX user name, also you can adjust MSG_TIMEOUT to your needs (-1 means that default value will be taken). Most difficult part in this script was to figure out how to send DBus notification from root to regular user, since all window managers create and listen on theirs own session scoped buses. As you can notice we can force dbus-send command to send signal to proper bus instance by executing this command on behalf of  given user and with exported DISPLAY and XAUTHORITY variables.

Full source code is available on github. Have a nice and pleasant back up’s 😉