Awasu » Search Results » music
Saturday 26th March 2005 1:30 PM [General]

This (Flash, but definitely worth it!) is just way too cool!

Saturday 16th August 2003 11:14 AM [General]

This is an interesting service. Enter the name of the musician or band you want to track into this (extremely minimalist :-)) Rolling Stone search form and get an RSS feed back!

Sunday 15th May 2016 7:24 PM [General]

Those of you who have been here for a while might remember that I used to run a music bar in Thailand a while back. One night, I was doing my one-man show, when a guy in a cowboy hat wandered in and sat down to listen. During the break, I went over and had a chat with him, and found out that, he too, was a musician.

I didn't know it at the time, but he was David LaMotte, and is one of the bigger names in the U.S. folk scene. He was in town to give a show at one of the universities, and was staying at a hotel around the corner.

We got on pretty well, one beer led to another, and we somehow ended up with him performing a special show at the bar, and it was definitely one of the most memorable shows we ever had. I did a lot of recording at the bar, and while this show[1]There is also video available here, although the video quality is less than stellar ๐Ÿ˜ was one of the earlier ones I did, and so the sound engineering is less sophisticated than if I did it again today, it's not bad and (hopefully) catches the warmth of his performance. Folk is not something that I'm really into, but his songs are very accessible, and have a warmth and honesty that's quite amazing.

He has been on a musical hiatus for the past ten years, instead doing things like helping build and fund schools in Guatemala, travelling the world, speaking on how each of us can effect change, and helping select Nobel Peace Prize candidates (!)

However, the time has come and he's back in the studio, putting down a new CD in what sounds like a fascinating project, with a menagerie of musicians from every continent.

Being the cynical, grumpy old fart I am these days, it's not often I see someone who I would call inspirational, but this guy is definitely one of them. Check out his music, then put a few dineros in his jar to help make the CD happen. I have.

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1. There is also video available here, although the video quality is less than stellar ๐Ÿ˜
Monday 5th October 2015 12:39 AM [Tutorial]

I've been a big fan of NAS's for many years, that is, a small file server that sits on my network and serves up music, movies, provides space for backups, etc. In the past, I've had Synology and QNAP units, and while they were both nice, they were both were relatively expensive, loaded with features I never used. They also both only lasted a few years, and rebuilding a NAS with 5-6 TB of data is a painfully long process ๐Ÿ™

So for the next one, the plan was to grab an old laptop, load it up with FreeNAS, and then just hang a few disks off it. If and when the laptop dies, I can just set up a new one and the external disks, with all the data on them, should just plug straight in.

However, this is a bit of clunky solution, so when the Raspberry Pi came out, I got very interested in the idea of using that. Unfortunately, the rPi has one big drawback that makes it unsuitable for use as a file server: it only has 10/100 Mbps ethernet. All the computers on my network have gigabit ethernet, and since I'm moving 100's of GB's of data every night for backups, my file server also needs to have gigabit ethernet.

Enter the Banana Pi. Released in late 2014 by LeMaker in China, it's slightly more expensive but significantly more powerful, notably with gigabit ethernet and a SATA port. Add in a case, and I'll be able to build my own future-proof NAS for well under a hundred bucks, plus the cost of the disks.

There are quite a few tutorials floating around that explain how to set up a Banana Pi as a NAS, but they invariably only talk about how to set up the factory image of Open Media Vault[1]This is the successor to FreeNAS, written by one of the FreeNAS guys, that runs on Linux instead of FreeBSD. (which is relatively easy to do), but this series of tutorials will also talk about the many things you need to do after that to get a usable system.

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1. This is the successor to FreeNAS, written by one of the FreeNAS guys, that runs on Linux instead of FreeBSD.
Sunday 4th October 2015 6:40 PM []

While some people like to connect their NAS to the internet so that they can, for example, stream their music to their phones even while they're out of the house[1]Admittedly, this is kinda cool ๐Ÿ˜Ž , I really don't like the idea of having all my files available on the big bad internet, no matter how tightly I might have locked things down.


My home network looks something like the diagram to the right.

KANGA and TIGGER are online, but both the BanaNAS and OWL server are on a separate network, isolated from the internet. However, the bPi does have access to KANGA, so if it wants to do something that requires a connection, it can ask KANGA to do it e.g.


« Managing permissions in Open Media Vault

Tutorial index

Installing software on a Banana Pi without an internet connection »

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1. Admittedly, this is kinda cool ๐Ÿ˜Ž
Sunday 4th October 2015 6:39 PM []

Managing file permissions, to control access to files on the NAS, is probably the trickiest thing to understand about OMV. The definitive articles on the subject are this one and this one, but they're fairly dense and a bit difficult to grok, even if you're a techie.

The TL;DR is this: files on the NAS can be accessed in 2 different ways:

  • Access is made via OMV i.e. using Samba, FTP or AFP[1]Apple Filing Protocol..
    Users have to pass two levels of security, firstly OMV permissions, then the Linux file-system permissions on the files themselves (discussed below).

  • OMV is bypassed i.e. via NFS[2]The Network Filing System is how Linux computers usually access files over a network. or by logging into the bPi and managing files from the console.
    Access is controlled solely via the Linux file-system permissions[3]Since we're accessing the files directly, bypassing OMV, it has no chance to check for permissions..

Accessing files via OMV

The first case is straight-forward to manage; we saw in the previous tutorial how to set permissions on the top-level shared folders in the web admin interface.

I set all my shared folders to be read-only, then applied ACL's to give the special taka-w user write access.

As long as we always manage files via OMV, it will take care of setting the underlying Linux file-system permissions so that everything works properly.

Accessing files outside of OMV

On the other hand, problems will arise if we create files outside of OMV, because the file permissions will be set incorrectly.

First, a quick explanation of how file permissions work under Linux. There are 3 types of permission - read, write and execute - and these can be set individually for 3 classes of user:

  • the owner (typically, the user who created the file)
  • the file's group[4]An administrator can create groups of users, then set file permissions that apply to anyone in that group.
  • everyone else


This is a fairly coarse-grained method of assigning permissions, so many file systems also allow ACL[5]Access Control List's to be applied, which allow very precise permissions to additionally be set for a file e.g.

  • joe has write permission
  • everyone in the managers group has also write permission
  • fred has no access whatsoever
  • everyone else has read permission


Now, let's say we log in to the bPi as the root super-user and create a file in a shared folder that is normally readable by everyone - we won't be able to access that file from another machine, even though it's in a folder that everyone has read access to.

This is because while OMV's Samba and shared folders permissions might say we're allowed to read the file, we also have to pass the file-system security, and the permissions on the file say that only root is allowed access[6]Because root created the file., and so we will be denied access. This can be quite confusing for a user, since they think they should have read access to everything in the folder, and they can read everything in that folder, except for this one particular file.

Fixing up file permissions

There isn't really any way of avoiding the problem described above - if you create files outside of the OMV framework, it's almost inevitable that you're going to do it incorrectly (in OMV's mind), thus causing problems. To work-around this, I wrote a script[7]This script assumes that symlinks have been set up in the /shares/ directory. that resets the permissions on everything in a folder:

#!/bin/bash

# We need this script to fix up permissions for files that have been uploaded
# outside the normal framework e.g. upload to a public share, then moved to
# a protected share via the console, or files that have been scp'ed up.

# parse the arguments
if [ $# -eq 0 ]; then
    shares="music movies backups public" # <== change these to your shared folders
else
    shares=$*
fi

# fix permissions for the specified shares
for share in $shares; do
    echo "`date "+%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S"` | Fixing permissions for `echo $share | tr "[:lower:]" "[:upper:]"`..."
    dir=`readlink -e /shares/$share`
    chmod g+s "$dir"
    chown -R root:users "$dir"
    if [ "$share" == "public" ]; then
        chmod -R 770 "$dir"
    else
        chmod -R 750 "$dir"
        setfacl --recursive --modify user:taka-w:rwx --modify mask:rwx "$dir"
    fi
done
echo "`date "+%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S"` | All done."
echo

This script does the following:

  • sets the sticky bit on the top-level shared folder, so that all files and directories underneath it inherit the group owner of the folder i.e. users.
  • sets the owner of every file and directory to root, and the group to users. This locks down access to files if OMV is being bypassed (since they are owned by root), but OMV can still apply its own permissions to them (since every user create in the web admin interface is added to the users group).
  • for the public share, everything is set to have 770 permissions i.e. root and the users group both have read/write/execute permissions.
  • for every other share, everything is set to have 750 permissions i.e. root has read/write/execute permissions, the users group (i.e. all OMV users) have write/execute permissions.
  • for every other share, we also set an ACL on everything that gives our special taka-w user read/write/execute permissions.

The net effect is:

  • all users have read access to everything, except the public share, which everyone can also write to.
  • the special taka-w user has write access to everything.
  • everything is owned by the root super-user, to lock things down if OMV is bypassed[8]Although if you log in to a console using an OMV account, you will have the normal read-only access..

Making sure file permissions stay fixed

We can now get OMV to run this script on a regular basis by scheduling a job in the System/Scheduled Jobs tab of the web admin interface.

I've configured my job to run 15 minutes past every hour. It also logs any output to a file.

Now, if I create files or directories from the console, the permissions will be wrong but some time in the next hour, the script will be run to fix everything up. Not great, but acceptable.

« Configuring Open Media Vault

Tutorial index

Managing a Banana Pi without an internet connection »

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1. Apple Filing Protocol.
2. The Network Filing System is how Linux computers usually access files over a network.
3. Since we're accessing the files directly, bypassing OMV, it has no chance to check for permissions.
4. An administrator can create groups of users, then set file permissions that apply to anyone in that group.
5. Access Control List
6. Because root created the file.
7. This script assumes that symlinks have been set up in the /shares/ directory.
8. Although if you log in to a console using an OMV account, you will have the normal read-only access.
Sunday 4th October 2015 6:38 PM []

Now we've added a hard disk to our system, we can start configuring OMV, but before we dive in, there's one thing we must do first: set the system time.

Unfortunately, the bPi doesn't have a battery-backed clock, so when you turn it on, it will have no idea what time it is. For now, we'll set the time in the System/Date & Time page of the web admin interface, and we'll address later the issue of how to do this automatically when the bPi boots up.

Adding users

I added a taka user account earlier and this will have read-only access to the NAS, but I also want another special user account that will have write access.

So, I create a taka-w user in the same way as before, and we'll give it write access in the next section.

Creating shared folders

Let's now create a shared folder, to keep our files in.

Go to the Access Rights Management/Shared Folders tab in the web admin interface and click on the Add button. Give the new shared folder a name, choose where you want it to live, then set the permissions[1]How OMV permissions work is described in more detail here. as follows:

  • Administrator = read/write
  • Users = read-only
  • Others = no access


This gives OMV users read-only access to the shared folder, so in order to give the taka-w user write access, click on the ACL[2]An "Access Control List" is a more precise set of user permissions that can be set on a file. button and configure things as follows:

  • In the User/Group permissions section:
    • Find the taka-w user and give it Read/Write access.
  • In the Extra options section[3]You might think that because I'm just storing music in this folder, I won't need Execute permissions, which is correct for files, but in Linux, you need Execute permissions on a directory to be able to look into it. If you don't assign Execute permissions here, you won't be able to open any directories!:
    • The Owner should be root, and have Read/Write/Execute access.
    • The Group should be users, and have Read/Execute access.
    • Others should have no access (i.e. None).

Make sure Replace all existing permissions and Apply permissions to files and subfolders[4]This is not strictly necessary right now, since we just created the folder and so it's empty, but if you do this later, you will want these permissions to be applied to everything in the folder. are ticked, then click on Apply.

We now have a shared folder that can be read by the taka user (and any other user you add to OMV), and can be written to by taka-w. If we take a look at our drive, we can see OMV has created the folder at the top of our file system:

Creating convenience symlinks

It's a bit tedious having to use the really long folder name in /media/ every time you want to access your files (even with auto-completion), so, while not strictly necessary, I like to set up symlinks that give me more convenient access:

I can now access the new music shared folder via the more convenient /shares/music/.

Configuring Samba

If we want access to our new shared folder from a Windows computer, we need to enable Samba[5]This is a system service that lets Windows access files on a Linux computer..

First, enable the Samba service in the Services/SMB/CIFS section of the web admin interface.

Then, in the Shares tab, add the shared folder.

I can now access the shared folder from Windows:


Uploading files to the NAS

In the previous section, I gained access to the shared folder from Windows, but if I try to drag a file into it, I get a "You need permission to perform this action" error. This is because I'm logged in as taka[6]My Windows account is called "taka", and so by default, I will connect to Samba using the same name., which only has read access to the folder. To be able to upload files, I need to connect to Samba using the special taka-w account.

To do this from Explorer:

  • Right-click on the folder and choose Map network drive...
  • Tick Connect using different credentials.


Or you can do it from the console:


I'm now connected to Samba via Q: drive, as the taka-w user, and can upload, change or delete files.

Windows does not allow multiple connections to the same server using different accounts, so to work around this, I normally access the bPi (using the taka account) via its server name (e.g. \\BanaNAS), but use its IP address (e.g. \\10.0.0.2) when I want to connect using the taka-w account.

When you're done, close the connection by right-clicking on the folder and choosing "Disconnect", or from the console:

    net use q: /d
« Adding a new hard disk to Open Media Vault

Tutorial index

Managing permissions in Open Media Vault »

   [ + ]

1. How OMV permissions work is described in more detail here.
2. An "Access Control List" is a more precise set of user permissions that can be set on a file.
3. You might think that because I'm just storing music in this folder, I won't need Execute permissions, which is correct for files, but in Linux, you need Execute permissions on a directory to be able to look into it. If you don't assign Execute permissions here, you won't be able to open any directories!
4. This is not strictly necessary right now, since we just created the folder and so it's empty, but if you do this later, you will want these permissions to be applied to everything in the folder.
5. This is a system service that lets Windows access files on a Linux computer.
6. My Windows account is called "taka", and so by default, I will connect to Samba using the same name.
Sunday 4th October 2015 6:35 PM []

The Banana Pi is a system-on-a-chip released by Le Maker in late 2014, and is well-suited for building a NAS[1]Network Attached Storage i.e. a file system that is accessible over a network. (even if for no other reason than the cool name you can give it: BanaNAS ::-): )

While the Raspberry Pi is more well-known and slightly cheaper, it has one significant drawback that makes it a poor choice for a file server: it only has 10/100 Mbps ethernet. If you are moving a lot of data around your network[2]For example, I backup many hundreds of gigabytes of data every night., gigabit ethernet is a must-have. The bPi also has a SATA port (if you want fast access to an external hard disk), and a dual-core processor (which makes it responsive, even when it's working hard).

The only downside is that it only has 2 USB ports (to the rPi's 4), but with consumer hard drives available in sizes of 8 or even 10 terabytes, this is unlikely to be a problem[3]If you have multiple hard disks, you can also use a USB hub, or SATA port multiplier..

Requirements

The requirements for my NAS are:

  • Most access will be from Windows, with some access from Linux.
  • Most access will be read-only (e.g. playing movies or music), with the occasional write (e.g. when adding new content).
  • However, I also need space that everyone can write to (e.g. for moving files between computers).
  • It must be usable without internet access (for security).
  • I must be able to use the hard disks on another computer[4]If the bPi dies, I can set up something new and plug the disks in. Copying terabytes of data to rebuild a NAS can take many days!

Tutorial index

This series of tutorials will walk through the processing of setting up and configuring Open Media Vault on a Banana Pi:

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1. Network Attached Storage i.e. a file system that is accessible over a network.
2. For example, I backup many hundreds of gigabytes of data every night.
3. If you have multiple hard disks, you can also use a USB hub, or SATA port multiplier.
4. If the bPi dies, I can set up something new and plug the disks in. Copying terabytes of data to rebuild a NAS can take many days!
Friday 23rd May 2014 8:03 AM [Awasu News]

So, I'm finally back in the land of the connected and quite happy to be here[1]. People will tell you that Cuba is amazing, enthralling, insanely frustrating, all at the same time, and they'd be absolutely right. It was an intriguing trip, and one well worth making, if you ever have the chance.

Harris Kupperman recently posted a bunch of articles about his recent trip there, and his experiences were pretty similar to mine.

Having lived in Miami for the past decade, I have met plenty of Cubans and heard the disheartening tales of Cuba and the Castro brothers. I expected to find the worldโ€™s largest tropical gulag. Instead, I found a cheerful country, full of warm friendly people, some of whom seem to genuinely admire the governmentโ€”despite its arcane rules and habitual dysfunction.

...

I expected to find an island mired in misery with chronic scarcity of basic goods. Instead, I found a place that was remarkably devoid of extreme povertyโ€”a true anomaly in Latin America. Given the inevitable failings of a purely socialist state, I expected much worse. If you remove the top few percent of wealthy Argentines, the average Cuban is roughly on par with the average Argentine in terms of standard of living and Cubaโ€™s infrastructure is a good deal ahead of Argentinaโ€™sโ€”something I certainly did not expect to find.

Having grown up in Australia, I didn't know much about Cuba other than Fidel and Che, cigars and the music, so it was interesting to read his take on things - Americans seem to have a (ahem) interesting view on socialist countries, and Cuba in particular ๐Ÿ™‚ But like him, I saw hardly any poverty at all, and even then only in Havana, and while people didn't have a whole lot of money, they seemed to be well-fed, healthy and generally happy.

Internet access is woeful, and the only place I can think of that could possibly be more locked down would be North Korea ๐Ÿ˜ Virtually the only place you can get online is at an office of the national telecommunications company, and there would usually only be one in each town, which maybe offered internet access. Most of the time, you have to queue up to get in[2], maybe 15 or 20 minutes in the scorching heat, and once inside, you have to queue up again to buy an access card, which is logged against your passport. "Queue" is a general term here; there's no numbering system, so people would be milling around all over the office and you have to figure out who's last. Then, of course, you have to queue again for a terminal. Once online, it wasn't too bad, but it was definitely a chore getting there.

So, apologies to all those people who were getting slow email replies from me during this time, but there was a reason for that. Sigh... ๐Ÿ™

Anyway, enough moaning from me, on to the good stuff. The first alpha for 3.0.2 has been released and it's a good one ๐Ÿ™‚ 3.0.2 will be a bugfix-and-enhancements release, but don't let the relatively short change-list fool you, there's been a huge amount of work done for this release.

Awasu has always been a bit slow opening channels, but I accepted it since it's doing an enormous amount of work generating the HTML page[3], especially if there's a lot of content. However, this release includes a bunch of optimizations for this process and opening channels is now, I believe the technical term is, stupid fast ๐Ÿ˜€ Awasu is now a whole lot more fun to use :clap:

Due to my recent circumstances, there has also been a pile of work done on the offline parts of Awasu :), including the search engine, which works much better now. And while only having access to really old archived content because you haven't updated your channels for a month is not a particularly common use-case :roll:, it did turn up a few bugs, which have now been fixed.

Finally, this is a bit of a silly thing to say, but I'm going to say it anyway[4]. I still play a bit of Counter Strike, albeit pretty badly, and while I never really liked the Havana map much, it is kinda cool playing it when you're actually in Havana ๐Ÿ™‚ It really does look like that! Still waiting to get to Rapture, though...

Anyway, take the new release for a spin and see what ya think! And BTW, the upgrade policy has now been changed permanently - if you have a paid version of Awasu, you are now entitled to free upgrades for 2 years (instead of 1).


[1] Although the 3000 or so emails waiting for me wasn't so cool ๐Ÿ™
[2] Because that's what Cubans do, they have to queue for everything.
[3] In particular, processing the templates and stripping unsafe content.
[4] Not like that's ever stopped me before ๐Ÿ™„


Sunday 30th March 2014 8:54 AM [General]

Yup, it's official. Just in case there was any, you know, doubt ๐Ÿ™„

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know that I like to travel. The first time I hit the road was in '93 and while I didn't really know where I wanted to go, I just had a hankering to go somewhere. I eventually decided on Montreal in Canada - the whole French/English thing sounded intriguing, it's got a great music scene, the food's good, what's not to like? I got a ticket from Oz to Vancouver, with the plan of travelling across Canada by train until I got to Montreal.

It was winter in North America at the time, and my guide book told me that temperatures could drop to -20°C or lower, and me, being fairly young and stupid, thought "oh, that won't be a problem, I'll just pack an extra sweater and she'll be right" ๐Ÿ™„

Once in Vancouver, a Canadian guy who had worked in central Canada during the winter explained to me the realities of extremely cold weather, so I decided to head south and travel through America instead. It was a great trip, but I never made it to Montreal and it's been a source of amusement to me that, for all the travel I've done in the intervening 20 years, I still haven't been there.

As part of my quest to visit places before they radically change :), I'm going to Cuba next month. I was supposed to play at a blues festival in Thailand next week, but that got cancelled, and I messed up the flight times for my transit through Toronto, so I ended up having to change my ticket and if I had to do that, I figured I might as well spend a few days in Montreal. Woo hoo! :clap:

I checked what the weather was going to be like, and it's spring, so it'll be max'ing out at about 5°C, maybe -10°C at night, and of course, I said to myself "oh, that won't be a problem, I'll just pack an extra sweater and she'll be right" :wall:

And after rebooking my flights and hotels, I found out that the east coast of Canada is being mauled by the worst storm in a decade, sinking ships and closing airports. It's far enough east to apparently not be affecting Montreal, but you never know - I'm this close to making it to City of Saints, so I'm sure the gods will be conspiring to make sure I don't actually get there :drevil:

Anyway, -10°C isn't that bad, and I've got myself a nice warm sweater :), so hopefully it'll all be good. We'll see...

Update: it's gratifying to see that you can still go up against the gods, and win ๐Ÿ™‚ First, Air Canada told me that flights that day from Toronto to Montreal were maybe being cancelled, due to weather in Montreal. Then, they didn't want to honor my ticket, although in all fairness, I used an Australian credit card, in Thailand, to purchase a flight in Canada, so it's understandable they were a bit iffy abut it. However, they made me stand in line for 2 hours to repurchase the same ticket, using the same credit card ๐Ÿ™ There were only 3 people in the queue but - and I swear on little green onions, I'm not making this up - they were taking 45-60 minutes to process each person :bigshock: Then the flight almost didn't take off because of mechanical problems.

Note to self: never fly Air Canada again. I've been on flights where there were goats on board that were better organized than these guys ๐Ÿ™„

Finally made it, though. I had to laugh when I got to Montreal airport - my backpack came out on the conveyor belt with ice on it, and walking out onto the street, I realized how long it had been since I had seen snow. And -10°C is not that bad; cold has never really bothered me, although I'm very glad I brought my new sweater... ๐Ÿ™‚