Repair grub2 boot after OpenSuse 12.3 update messed it up

September 19, 2014 at 01:20 PM | categories: OpenSuse, grub2, linux | View Comments

After my OpenSuse 12.3 installation ran an automatic update on a few packages I wasn't able to boot the system anymore. Instead I ended up in a minimal grub2 shell without any clue what to do next in order to reboot my system again.

Browsing around the internet from another computer I found that things are getting more difficult as I had my root partition encrypted in a LUKS container. But - there is always hope and so I eventually collected enough information from various blogs and news groups to get my system up and running again.

Here are the instructions that have worked for me.

Boot with OpenSuse 12.3 installation DVD

In order to be able to do anything I started up the installation DVD. Since I needed to get access to my encrypted root file system the smartest way is to choose "Installation" when the DVD provides the initial menu. Don't worry, nothing is installed yet, and it won't, because we will jump out in time.

After choosing "Installation" the system asks to confirm the EULA. Click 'Accept' to continue. Next it will find your LUKS partition - and asks you whether you want to provide the passphrase for decrypting it. So yes, choose decryption and enter your password.

Wait until the decryption is done and the installer is waiting for new input from you. At this point the magic stuff starts. Click Ctrl-Alt-F2 to switch to a text console. You will be already logged in as root (the #-prompt is your friend!).

Mount your system partitions

Type the following command to see your partition setup:

# fdisk -l
[... some output omitted ...]
Device Boot         Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1            2048    87472127    43735040    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda2   *    87472128    87795711      161792   83  Linux
/dev/sda3        87795712   488396799   200300544   8e  Linux LVM

In my case partition 2 contains my boot system, partition 3 my encrypted root and home partitions.

Type another command to look into the encrypted (only accessible because we did the decryption step above):

# lvscan
ACTIVE            '/dev/system/home' [100.00 GiB] inherit
ACTIVE            '/dev/system/root' [25.00 GiB] inherit
ACTIVE            '/dev/system/swap' [4.00 GiB] inherit

Now lets glue together the original system with some mount commands, using the information above:

# mount /dev/system/root /mnt
# mount /dev/sda2 /mnt/boot
# mount --bind /dev /mnt/dev
# mount -o bind /sys /mnt/sys
# mount -t proc /proc /mnt/proc
# cp /proc/mounts /mnt/etc/mtab

Change the root directory into the mounted filesystem and run grub

# sudo chroot /mnt /bin/bash
# grub2-install /dev/sda

The update-grub command mentioaned in some other blogs does not exist any longer, so use grub2-mkconfig instead to finally generate a new grub.cfg file:

# grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

This should print a list of added partitions to your screen.

Quit the chroot environment with ctrl-d and reboot your system (reboot or ctrl-alt-del). Hopefully it boots up again as before.


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EuroPython 2014 pyRserve-slides now available online

September 19, 2014 at 11:50 AM | categories: Python, R, pyRserve | View Comments

After our well-attended Python Meetup last Wednesday in Heidelberg about "Connecting Python to other programming languages for scientific computing" I had been approached to publish the slides of my pyRserve talk (which has been the same as the one I've given at EuroPython in Berlin, for those who are interested). These are now online, so feel free to download them.

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pyRserve 0.8.1 released

July 18, 2014 at 10:20 AM | categories: Python, R, pyRserve | View Comments

Just in time for EuroPython in Berlin a new version of pyRserve just got released yesterday. If you happen to come to the conference there will be an intoductory talk on pyRserve on Fri 25h of July titled "Combining the powerful worlds of Python and R". Would be great to see you there.

About pyRserve

pyRserve is a (pure python) client for connecting Python to an R process on a remote server via TCP-IP (using Rserve). R is one of the most important and most widely spread open source statistic packages available.

Through such a pyRserve connection the full power of R is available on the Python side without programming in R. From Python variables can get set in and retrieved from R, and R-functions can be created and called remotely. No R-related libraries need to be installed on the client side, pip install pyRserve is all that needs to be done.

Sample code

This code assumes that Rserve (the part that connects the R engine to the network) already is running. Details can be found in the pyRserve docs.

>>> import pyRserve
>>> conn = pyRserve.connect('')
>>> conn.eval('sum( c(1.5, 4) )') # direct evaluation of a statement in R
>>> conn.r.myList = [1, 2, 3] # bind a Python list in R to variable 'myList'

>>> conn.voidEval('func1 <- function(v) { v*2 }')  # create a function in R
>>> conn.r.func1(4)                                # call the function in R

Most important changes in V 0.8.x

  • Support for out-of-bound messages (allows for callbacks from R to Python) (contrib. by Philip. A.)
  • Rserve can now be shutdown remotely (contrib. by Uwe Schmitt)
  • Fixed bug when passing R functions as parameters to R functions
  • Documentation errors have been fixed

Documentation and Support

The documentation for pyRserve is available at

The corresponding Google news group can be found at

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Changing selenium's default tmp directory

June 22, 2014 at 03:22 PM | categories: Java, Selenium | View Comments

Changing selenium's default tmp directory

Whenever Selenium fires up Firefox (we are still running Selenium in RC mode) a new Firefox profile directory will be create at every startup. Usually this directory will be created in /tmp - which is for various reasons not always the desired location.

Selenium RC itself has no configuration option to change this location as it relies on the default value provided by java. Fortunately java provides a command line option allowing to specify a new tmp directory.

So change your startup call of Selenium RC to

java -jar selenium-server.jar

and you're all set.

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Publish-Subscribe with web sockets in Python and Firefox

July 22, 2012 at 04:20 PM | categories: Python, Web | View Comments

WebSockets provide a way to communicate through a bi-directional channel on a single TCP connection. This technology is especially interesting since it allows a web server to push data to a browser (client) without having the client to constantly poll for it. In contrast to normal HTTP requests where a new TCP connection gets opened and closed for each request web socket connections are kept open until one party closes them. This allows for communication in both directions, and calls can be made multiple times on the same connection.

In this little article I basically combine what I found on Sylvain Hellegouarch's documentation for ws4py (a WebSocket client and server library for Python) and the article HTML5 Web Socket in Essence by Wayne Ye.

More specifically the examples below shows how multiple clients subscribe via websockets to a cherrypy server through a web socket connection. The first of the two clients in the example below is a very lightweight client based solely on the ws4py package, the other (javascript) implementation is supposed to run in Firefox.

The server

This example provides a minimal publishing engine implemented with cherrypy. An instance of class WebSocketTool is hooked up into cherrypy as a so-called cherrypy tool, and a web socket handler (the Publisher-class) is bound to this tool as a handler for calls to the path /ws:

import cherrypy
from ws4py.server.cherrypyserver import WebSocketPlugin, WebSocketTool
from ws4py.websocket import WebSocket

cherrypy.config.update({'server.socket_port': 9000})
WebSocketPlugin(cherrypy.engine).subscribe() = WebSocketTool()


class Publisher(WebSocket):
    def __init__(self, *args, **kw):
        WebSocket.__init__(self, *args, **kw)

    def closed(self, code, reason=None):

class Root(object):
    def index(self):
        return open('ws_browser.html').read()

    def ws(self):
        "Method must exist to serve as a exposed hook for the websocket"

    def notify(self, msg):
        for conn in SUBSCRIBERS:

cherrypy.quickstart(Root(), '/', 
    config={'/ws': {'tools.websocket.on': True,
                    'tools.websocket.handler_cls': Publisher}})

The only purpose of the is to make this method available under /ws in the web server through the cherrypy.expose decorator. Whenever a websocket client makes a request to /ws an instance of class Publisher is created, which registers itself to the global SUBSCRIBERS set on __init__(). When the server goes down, or the client disconnects, its closed() method is called.

The only packages needed for this example are cherrypy and ws4py. Both can be easily installed via easy_install or pip. Save the code above as and start it with


Now the server is ready to accept client connections through the web socket protocol. As soon as one of the clients described below has subscribed to this server messages can be published by calling the Root.notify() method. Since it is exposed it is possible to call it from the command line with

curl localhost:9000/notify?msg=HelloWorld

Of course wget works as well.

A pure Python client

The Python client's code is quite short. ws4py provides three sample client implementations, the threaded one has been chosen for this example. The others are using gevent or Tornado.

from ws4py.client.threadedclient import WebSocketClient

class Subscriber(WebSocketClient):
    def handshake_ok(self):

    def received_message(self, m):
        print "=> %d %s" % (len(m), str(m))

if __name__ == '__main__':
    ws = Subscriber('ws://localhost:9000/ws')

The method handshake_ok() has been overridden to keep the thread stored in self._th running continuously (the original implementation quits after one second). After the Subscriber-class has been instantiated it connects to the cherrypy server. Whenever the server sends a message it will be delegated to the method received_message() where it gets printed to stdout.

Just store this code into a file, e.g. and start it in from a new shell. The cherrypy server should print a message to the console that it received a web socket connection.

Now again call the notify-method in the server:

curl localhost:9000/notify?msg=HelloWorld

and the python client should print your message to the screen.

A web socket client in Firefox

This browser client uses the web socket protocol built into Firefox. The example below works for me in FF14, it failed for FF8. I'm not sure which version of Firefox starts to support it. Safari version 5.0 also fails. IE has not been tested.

      var websocket = new WebSocket('ws://localhost:9000/ws');
      websocket.onopen    = function (evt) { console.log("Connected to WebSocket server."); };
      websocket.onclose   = function (evt) { console.log("Disconnected"); };
      websocket.onmessage = function (evt) { document.getElementById('msg').innerHTML =; };
      websocket.onerror   = function (evt) { console.log('Error occured: ' +; };
    <h1>Websocket demo</h1>
    Message: <span id="msg" />

At load time a Websocket-instance is created and event handlers are installed. The interesting one is the onMessage-handler: it is called for each message received, it copies the message into the SPAN element and thus makes it visible.

Make sure to store this html page in the same directory as the above since we are going to open it through cherrypy's index method. For this to work it has to be named ws_browser.html. Now open Firefox and direct it to http://localhost:9000. You should immediately see this page. The SPAN element should be empty.

Again repeat the curl or wget command in your shell and both the python client (if it is still running) and the SPAN element should display your "HelloWorld" message.

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