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Web Browser Add-Ons to boost your productivity

I’m using Mozilla Firefox as my primary web browser, this is the application where I spend a large portion of my working day on.

While it comes with a nice set of features out of the box and is under constant development, there’s also a great ecosystem of add-ons and extensions that make my daily life easier.

Here are some of the add-ons that I can highly recommend (and many of them are available for other browsers like Google Chrome / Chromium as well):

  • Copy PlainText – a tiny extension that removes the formatting from the selection before copying/pasting to/from the Clipboard. This is very useful when pasting text into rich-text editors.
  • Link Text and Location Copier – this extension helps you creating links right from the context menu. It copies a link’s text and location, the page title and URL, or selected text and page URL as either plain text, HTML, Markdown, BB Code, rich text or any custom format you want to define. This is a life saver if you often need to share links in other documents or via instant messengers.
  • Video Speed Controller – Speed up, slow down, advance and rewind any HTML5 video with quick shortcuts. This is useful on video platforms that don’t support changing the playback speed and you want to reduce the time you need to spend on watching a video.
  • Linkificator – this add-on parses text parts of HTML pages to match hypertext patterns not correctly encoded (i.e. not part of an anchor) and add an anchor to enable a standard mouse click to access the target as specified by the hypertext. If you’ve ever been annoyed by non-clickable URLs in a document, this add-on comes to the rescue!
  • Neat URL – this extension cleans URLs, removing parameters such as Google Analytics’ utm parameters. This is handy for sharing URLs without having to manually remove the tracking crap.
  • Tab Mover – a Firefox Addon for quickly moving tabs between windows via the context menu. It can move tabs between two normal windows, two windows in incognito mode and from a normal window to an window in incognito mode. Since it is not possible to directly move tabs between normal windows and windows in incognito mode, Tab Mover can perform the equivalent of moving a tab by closing and reopening such tabs in another window.
  • Tabby – a Window and Tab Manager that helps you easily manage a lot of windows and tabs. It can help you open, close, pin, and do many other things on tabs and windows quickly. You can also drag around tabs to move it, open last used tab/window by using some simple keyboard shortcuts, and much more!

This is just a subset of all the add-ons that I use, but I hope you find these useful! What other add-ons can you recommend?

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Printing with a Brother MFC-7460DN laser printer on Fedora Linux 33

This is a follow-up to my previous post Configuring a Brother MFC-7460DN Laser Printer/Scanner on Fedora 23 (64-bit), as things have fortunately changed to the better in the meanwhile.

As described in this post, setting up this printer in CUPS on Fedora has become quite an ordeal, as Brother no longer updates the printer drivers for these old models and they don’t provide 64 bit binaries.

As I had to switch laptops a few weeks ago, I had to reinstall Linux from scratch and needed to reconfigure my printer settings as well. As I did not want to go through the same hoops again, I did some research and was happy to learn that Peter De Wachter has been working on an open source version of CUPS printer drivers for a wide range of Brother laser printers, which include the MFC-7460DN as well!

Sadly, the printer-driver-brlaser package is not part of the Fedora Linux distribution (yet), so I again had to go out and scour the usual places for a suitable RPM package. Luckily, an RPM package is available from the openSUSE Build Service! There’s no dedicated Fedora package, but downloading and installing the driver package for the openSUSE Tumbleweed distribution worked flawlessly.

To set up the printer, first download and install the RPM package directly from the build service repo:

$ sudo dnf install https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/Printing/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/x86_64/printer-driver-brlaser-6+git20200420.9d7ddda-21.4.x86_64.rpm

The actual URL may vary if the package version is updated, so check the download page for the latest version if the download fails.

Now you can set up the printer using the usual CUPS printer configuration tools. In the printer driver selection box, choose “Brother MFC-7460DN, using brlaser v6” and you’re all set!

BTW, this works on Ubuntu Linux as well, they actually include the driver in their core distribution. However, the MFC-7460DN model is not listed explicitly in the driver selection, but choosing any other brlaser device just works.

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Ceph Octopus Tech Talk Video now online

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join Josh Durgin in a Ceph Tech Talk “What’s new in Octopus”, where we spoke about the key features and changes in the Ceph Octopus release (released in March). I took over the Ceph Dashboard part and gave a quick overview about the key highlights (starting at 5:48).

If you missed the live stream, the session has been recorded and is now available on YouTube. Enjoy!

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Slides and Video of my Ceph Dashboard talk at FrOSCon 14

Last weekend, I attended FrOSCon 14 in St. Augustin, Germany. I gave a presentation about “Managing and Monitoring Ceph with the Ceph Dashboard”, where I gave an overview and update about our work on the Ceph Dashboard, including a live demo.

Sadly, my poor little laptop ran out of resources near the end of the demo, so I could not fully conclude my presentation. But I hope the session was still worthwhile!

If you haven’t been able to attend it, I just uploaded the slides and the video recording is also available already. I’d like to say a very big “Thank You” to the video crew that performs the video recordings and post-processing, I was very impressed by how quickly they published them! Enjoy!

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Enabling scroll wheel emulation for the Logitech Trackman Marble using Wayland and GNOME 3

For ergonomical reasons, I’ve been a long-time user of Trackballs as pointing devices instead of using regular mice. For several years now, I have been using a Logitech Trackman Marble together with a libinput tweak to use the trackball for scrolling by holding down one of the buttons while spinning the ball.

This worked well until some distributions decided to switch to using Wayland as a replacement for X.org. In the past, I have been reverting back to using X.org (by setting WaylandEnable=True in /etc/gdm/custom.conf), as Wayland does not support the required libinput configurations. I found a workaround that creates a shared library that can be preloaded to implement this, but that looked somewhat hacky to me.

But as Wayland seems to be the way forward and my latest distribution upgrade caused some weird X.org issues (my dual-screen setup did not longer work properly), I caved in and switched to Wayland again. At least all of my screens were properly detected afterwards, but scroll wheel emulation was broken. I did some research if the libinput support in Wayland had improved in that regard in the meanwhile, but it seems it doesn’t.

However, I found a solution for enabling mouse wheel emulation in Wayland/GNOME3 on the Arch Linux Wiki: simply run the following command in a terminal window:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.peripherals.trackball scroll-wheel-emulation-button 8

Now button 8 (the small button above the left button) acts both as a “back” button (e.g. when browsing web pages) as well as the modifier that turns the trackball into a scroll wheel, just like before. Nifty!

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Pictures from FOSDEM 2019

I finally got around to uploading my pictures from this year’s FOSDEM 2019 conference in Brussels, Belgium.

I spent most of my time in the Software-defined Storage DevRoom, where I also spoke about the latest developments in the Ceph Dashboard. I also collected all Ceph-related FOSDEM talks on the Ceph blog.

Enjoy!

FOSDEM 2019-02, Brussels

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Using Delta Chat with email sub-addresses

I recently added Delta Chat to my ever-growing collection of instant messaging applications. What intrigued me was the simplicity and the use of well-established protocols like IMAP and SMTP – chat messages are sent and stored like email messages, with built-in encryption (based on Autocrypt, which is supported by Enigmail already as well). This allows me to send messages to everyone having an email address, and they don’t actually need to install the DeltaChat client to reply!

The concept of “chat over email” seems to be gaining some traction; from what I have gathered, the Delta Chat implementation may become the reference implementation for the Chat Over IMAP (COI) protocol that the Open-Xchange folks are working on for their own OX Talk application.

As I use mailbox.org as my private email provider, I wanted to make use of a nifty feature they support: email sub-addresses (sometimes also called “plus addresses”), which allows me to append a custom string at the end of the local part, e.g. firstname.lastname+foo@mailbox.org. This makes it possible to have a dedicated email address for chat messages and being able to filter them right into the DeltaChat IMAP folder that the chat client creates.

Setting this up in the Delta Chat Android app is fairly simple. As a plus address cannot be used for the server login, you need to open Delta Chat’s advanced server settings and use the email address without the plus extension as the login name for both the Inbox and Outbox settings.

Delta Chat Server Settings

That’s all you need to do on the client side. In order to enable server-side filtering in mailbox.org, log into their web interface and go to Settings -> Mail -> Filter Rules and click Add new rule. Now create two conditions:

  • Header: Exists, Name: “Chat-Version”
  • Any recipient: Contains: “<your plus address>”

This rule should apply if any condition is met, the action should be to file the message into the “DeltaChat” folder.

Using these settings, incoming chat messages sent from other DeltaChat users will not clutter up your Inbox anymore. In fact, you can disable the monitoring of your Inbox in the Delta Chat app now: Settings -> Advanced -> Watch Inbox folder (disabled)

Disabled “Watch Inbox folder” setting in Delta Chat
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List of FLOSS events in 2019

Spotted at FOSDEM; this is a quite an exhaustive list of conferences and events about free and open source software: https://floss.events/2019/events.html

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Here’s another Ceph Manager Dashboard screencast showcasing how…

Here’s another Ceph Manager Dashboard screencast, showcasing how the dashboard displays and reacts to ongoing changes in the Ceph cluster, e.g. when OSDs go down. Enjoy!

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I created a short overview screencast of the…

I created a short overview screencast of the Ceph Manager Dashboard, to give you an impression of what to expect in the upcoming Nautilus release. Enjoy!