Category Archives: How-to’s

Tutorials and step-by-step instructions.

Building a More Complete & Full Featured CKEditor5

CKEditor 5 is a WYSIWYG text editor that can be used for a variety of purposes, from creating your own Google Docs type of site to creating your own WordPress knock-off platform.

I recently wanted to use this editor, but was disappointed with the lack of features in the default builds. It doesn’t even have underlining. Evidently the official stance of the developers is that you should build your own and they won’t provide a full build anymore like they did for CKEditor 4.

CKEditor provides some detailed build instructions on their documentation, but as someone who is not a Javascript developer and has never used Node before, I found the process a bit intimidating at first. So I am writing this guide up for my own future reference when I need to update my build, and also to hopefully help someone else who is in the same situation by explaining what I feel isn’t well explained to someone who’s completely new to NPM.

The Basics – Starting Your Build

First you will need NPM installed as well as Yarn. For me on Debian 10 the package name for Yarn was not immediately intuitive and the command was different than just “yarn”.

On Debian 10 my dependencies were:
# apt-get install npm yarnpkg git

Once these are installed you can simply clone the Git repository. I didn’t plan on keeping this server long term so I’m just doing it the lazy way on to a temporary VM I am going to delete when I have my final build. This isn’t the best way if you are developing your own stuff, but if you are like me and you just want a build that CKEditor won’t provide, you can just use a temp environment on a throwaway VM like I did. I had no desire to junk up my live server or even my desktop with all this NPM stuff I will not likely use again anytime soon.

For the purposes of this project I am starting with a “Classic” editor as that’s closest to what I want.

# git clone -b stable
# cd ckeditor5-build-classic
# git remote add upstream

Finding The Plugins You Want

The plugins you want can all be located on this page of the official documentation. I simply went through each option on the sidebar to see which plugins I might want.

Some of these are already included in the build, which you can discern by reading the build file located in src/ckeditor.js on your VM.

For the purposes of my build, I am adding Alignment, Strikethrough, Underline, Subscript, Superscript, Code, Highlight, HorizontalLine, RemoveFormat, Base64UploadAdapter, and ImageResize.

Installing Plugins

To install your desired plugin, there are 3 steps.

  1. Install the NPM package. The directions for this are provided on the plugin page on the documentation. Here are the NPM installs I ran to install the plugins I wanted:

# npm install --save @ckeditor/ckeditor5-alignment
# npm install --save @ckeditor/ckeditor5-highlight
# npm install --save @ckeditor/ckeditor5-horizontal-line
# npm install --save @ckeditor/ckeditor5-remove-format
# npm install --save @ckeditor/ckeditor5-upload

At a glance, you might notice these plugins do not match what I stated I wanted to add above. This is because you may see that some plugins contain several features, not all of which must be imported. For example, Base64UploadAdapter is one feature of ckeditor5-upload, there are other features which I haven’t imported such as SimpleUploadAdapter.

You can discern which features are part of which plugin from the plugin’s documentation page. Each one has a link to a page containing more information about the feature.

  1. Edit src/ckeditor.js to contain an import line for each plugin feature that you wish to import. For the purposes of my build, I added these import lines below the default ones.

import Alignment from '@ckeditor/ckeditor5-alignment/src/alignment'
import Strikethrough from '@ckeditor/ckeditor5-basic-styles/src/strikethrough';
import Underline from '@ckeditor/ckeditor5-basic-styles/src/underline';
import Subscript from '@ckeditor/ckeditor5-basic-styles/src/subscript';
import Superscript from '@ckeditor/ckeditor5-basic-styles/src/superscript';
import Code from '@ckeditor/ckeditor5-basic-styles/src/code';
import Highlight from '@ckeditor/ckeditor5-highlight/src/highlight';
import HorizontalLine from '@ckeditor/ckeditor5-horizontal-line/src/horizontalline';
import RemoveFormat from '@ckeditor/ckeditor5-remove-format/src/removeformat';
import Base64UploadAdapter from '@ckeditor/ckeditor5-upload/src/adapters/base64uploadadapter';
import ImageResize from '@ckeditor/ckeditor5-image/src/imageresize';

As a newbie to NPM, I wasn’t 100% sure how to determine exactly what should go here at first. Since I for example ran “npm install –save @ckeditor/ckeditor5-upload” how do I determine the remainder of the string to import the feature?

The best way I found is to click through to the GitHub page for the plugin, and navigate into the “src” folder. There, you will see .js files, and you simply need to put the path to the .js file, minus the extension.

  1. Add a line for each plugin in the ClassicEditor.builtinPlugins section of src/ckeditor.js. Unless you do this the plugin won’t actually be built into your build, which afterall is the goal.

Once again, I came across some ambiguity here. Where do the names of the plugins come from and how can I make sure I have the capitazliation correct and everything?

I copied the exact name as displayed on the documentation page for the plugin, it seemed to work correctly 100% of the time.

Some caution is needed here as some plugins contain dashes in the NPM package but the plugin itself doesn’t contain a dash. For example “@ckeditor/ckeditor5-horizontal-line” the plugin name is “HorizontalLine”.

On the Horizontal Line page of documentation, it says “See the Horizontal line feature guide and the HorizontalLine plugin documentation.” This is where I was sourcing my exact spellings and it was working reliably.

Here’s what my additional lines looked like:

  1. Add your desired plugin to the “toolbar:” section of the ClassicEditor.defaultConfig in src/ckeditor.js.

Once again some ambiguity here. I used the lowercase version of the plugin name from the section above in step 3. This seemed to work 100% of the time.

By the way, you can use the pipe ‘|’, in the toolbar section to add spacers to the toolbar.

I moved some stuff around so here is what my whole toolbar section ended up looking like:

        toolbar: {
                items: [

A Note About Some Dumb (In My Opinion) Defaults

CKEditor comes bundled with a few things which I removed for the purposes of my build.

Firstly it comes bundled with CKFinder and its associated UploadAdapter. Are far as I can tell, this does not function without a server side script I don’t care to invest time investigating, so I’m removing these from my build.

Additionally I am removing EasyImage because I have no plans to use cloud services.

To remove these items, I’m simply commenting the imports out and the plugin declarations in builtinPlugins in my src/ckeditor.js before finishing my build.

Out of the box, the image upload features of the editor do not work unless you put in some elbow grease. For now I am implementing Base64 image uploading so I don’t have to mess with a server side handler and filesystem permissions issues that can come along with uploading files. We’ll see how this works for me in my use case long term, I may switch to the Simple Upload Adapter and write a server side handler in the future.

I personally think CK Editor should just include the Base64 uploader by default so that the features work out of the box instead of this CKFinder plugin that doesn’t work without additional dependencies.

Finishing Your Build

Once you have added all of the customizations to your build, you can compile it with the Yarn tool you installed.

Although the official documentation suggests the command is “yarn”, on my Debian 10 system, it was “yarnpkg”.

So to finish my build I ran:

# yarnpkg build

Once it’s finished, the completed file is located in build/ckeditor.js. This file can be used as a drop-in replacement for any other downloadable build direct from CKEditor, and it should contain your new features.

I found I could run this build over and over as I refined my source file and I didn’t have any problems, it just overwrote my build file with a new one.

There ya go! I hope this guide simplifies someone’s project. ūüôā

Adaptec 6805T Troubleshooting Experience

I recently started building out my third file server, and picked up some Adaptec 6805T RAID cards on eBay to interface with my multiple drive trays. Having built similar servers and also working with numerous Adaptec product lines in my day to day datacenter work, I consider myself to be a subject matter expert, but this experience seemed interesting enough to write a post about since the issue had me scratching my head for a bit, hopefully this will help someone who is in my shoes in the future.

An Unusual Error

One of the cards out of the batch was producing an unusual error.

One or more drives are either missing or not responding.
Please check if the drives are connected and powered on.
<< Correct the problem and Reboot the system >>

On the surface, this error makes a lot of sense, it’s simply warning that the hard drives from the previous configuration are gone. Since I bought this card on eBay, and there’s no telling what the previous owner’s configuration was, this makes perfect sense.

What doesn’t make sense is this error message halting the boot process, and the lack of ability to accept this new configuration state. Normally, you would be prompted to accept or reject the new configuration when drives are removed.

What makes even LESS sense is the complete absence of any documentation or other posts online containing the text of this error. My Google searches returned nothing of use. No mention of this on any Adaptec resources I could find. No one on /r/homelab able to provide a helpful response to my post.

Troubleshooting Efforts

Troubleshooting this problem was difficult, because my computer would not boot with the PCIe card installed. This error message completely halted the boot process. Since PCIe isn’t hot plug, it’s not as if I could turn the computer on and then slide the card in.

I remembered that I have a few server boards which allow me the capability of disabling the PCIe option ROMs on a per-port basis, so my hope was that I could disable the oprom on the card and boot into Linux, then do further troubleshooting with arcconf.

So, I popped the card in and went to go into the BIOS, but of course, thanks to this error, I couldn’t even open the BIOS. The ROM initialization happened before the BIOS opened and thus locked up my system and I wasn’t able to proceed further.

I decided to put a working 6805T card in, disable the option ROM, then swap the card for the non-working one and hope that the ROM would stay disabled in the BIOS.

This worked, and I was able to get booted into Linux!

Trial & Error

Poking around arcconf I had a few ideas.

I tried resetting the controller to factory defaults:
arcconf setconfig 1 default

Curiously, this alone did NOT fix the problem.

Reading the docs, I came across this command, and I was VERY hopeful:
arcconf setbiosparams 1 BIOSHALTONMISSINGDRIVECOUNT <count>

But unfortunately, apparently my controller doesn’t “support” changing this setting?
Setting the BIOS parameters in not supported on this controller.
This was definitely a letdown, as this seemed like the setting I wanted to change.

What Ended Up Working

I decided, since the firmware on the controller was outdated, I would update the firmware, try to reset as much as possible, and then test it.

So I downloaded the latest BIOS ROM image from Adaptec and proceeded:

arcconf romupdate 1 as680T01.ufi
arcconf setconfig 1 default
arcconf resetstatisticscounters 1

This worked! I was now able to boot into the Adaptec BIOS with the CTRL+A prompt, after moving the card to a PCIe slot where the option ROM was enabled.

Curiously, even after resetting everything, I STILL had to “accept” the new configuration the first time. But, after this, everything was working normally! ūüôā

Monitoring & Graphing Eldewrito Server Statistics In LibreNMS

LibreNMS is a fantastic open source NMS which I have been using for some time to monitor statistics on my network devices and servers.  The SNMP-based monitoring it offers is very simple to set up and provides fantastic insights into a variety of devices.

I recently spun up some Halo Online \ Eldewrito servers and wanted to keep track of the performance of the servers, so I could know the capacity of my VM hypervisor which I dedicated to the project.¬† My first step was configuring LibreNMS and monitoring the basic server statistics, but I really wanted to take this a step further, and correlate that data to the player count on the server.¬† Since Eldewrito is a community based game, a lot of tools are very limited, so tools such as GameTracker aren’t supportive of the game.

Fortunately, Eldewrito has a very simple query port usage and returns simple JSON data, so I was off to figuring out how to get this done.

The Approach
After consulting with some LibreNMS community members on their Discord, it was pointed out to me that LibreNMS supports Nagios plugins, so I got to work writing my own.

My Nagios Plugin
I have published the code for my Nagios plugin on Github.  The repository can be found here, and a direct link to the plugin file here.

If you are setting this up, download the plugin file, and proceed with this article.

LibreNMS Nagios Plugin Setup
LibreNMS provides excellent documentation on how to set up Nagios plugin support, you can find it here.¬† I am not going to cover this entire setup here, only the parts necessary to get this plugin working.¬† If you aren’t going to use other Nagios plugins, you don’t need to follow the rest of their guide’s steps either, but it’s there for your reference if the configuration steps change down the road.

The only steps which were required for the setup I wanted were:

  • Update the LibreNMS config.php, add the following lines:
$config['show_services']           = 1;
$config['nagios_plugins']   = "/usr/lib/nagios/plugins";
  • Create the Nagios plugins directory:
mkdir -p /usr/lib/nagios/plugins/
  • Place my plugin file (found in the above section) in this directory.
  • Make the plugin file executable:
chmod +x /usr/lib/nagios/plugins/check_eldewrito
  • Your LibreNMS cron in /etc/cron.d/librenms needs a line which is checking the services.¬† Mine had this line already, so I didn’t need to change anything.¬† If yours doesn’t, you could try adding mine or consult the LibreNMS documentation above.
*/5  *    * * *   librenms    /opt/librenms/check-services.php >> /dev/null 2>&1

Set Up Your Monitor!
Now that you’ve done the above, LibreNMS should display a Services tab at the top.¬† Navigate there to add a new service monitor.

On this tab, your next step is filling in the details for the plugin to work.

You will need to know the IP address of your Eldewrito server, as well as the query port.  The default query port is 11775.

Enter the following options:

  • Device –¬†Choose the server which you are hosting the Eldewrito server on.
  • Type¬† –¬†Select check_eldewrito to use our script.¬† This should be the filename of the file you put in your plugins folder, if you changed it.
  • Description –¬†Enter whatever you please here, I don’t care. ūüôā
  • IP Address –¬†Can be left blank and LibreNMS will autofill the device’s IP, or you can type the device’s IP if you enjoy verbosity like I do.
  • Parameters –¬†Just enter the query port of the Eldewrito server here, default is 11775.

Locating The Graph & Data
Once you’ve set up your first service monitor, go grab a cup of coffee or some dinner.¬† Allow at least 5-10 minutes for the graphing to start.

The graph is located under the Services tab, you can either click on the device and go to its services tab, or you can go to the services tab on the top and click “All Services”.¬† You’ll need to toggle the tab from Basic to Detailed as well to see the graph.

Unfortunately on my version of LibreNMS there are some styling issues, the last check time overlaps the plugin check name a bit.  Maybe they will correct this in a future update, it is mostly a cosmetic issue anyway.

There you have it!¬† You can add this plugin on multiple server devices in LibreNMS, or use it on the same server several times across multiple ports.¬† The possibilities are quite endless!¬† It’s possible to extend the plugin to gather other statistics from the server as well, but for the moment, player count was of the most interest to me.

Please feel free to leave a comment here or open an issue on the Github if you run into any questions or problems with the plugin, and I’ll be happy to take a look.

Reinstall GRUB When Your System Isn’t Bootable

From time to time, I have encountered a system where due to some conditions the GRUB installation has become corrupted.  It is a fairly simple matter to reinstall GRUB, and sometimes this can quickly salvage a broken installation.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide, but is a compilation of information I found online ([1], [2]) that was useful to me in repairing a few problematic GRUB loaders.  Please feel free to contribute in the comments section if you have something to add.

Setting Up The Environment
The first thing you will want to do is locate a live CD as close to the version of Linux you have installed as possible.  Boot into the Live CD.

You need to set up a functional chroot.  For the purposes of this guide, I will assume /dev/sda1 is your / partition on your installation.  We will make a chroot in /mnt/chroot/.

mkdir /mnt/chroot/
mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/chroot/

Next, you need to bind the directories that GRUB needs to access.

mount --bind /dev /mnt/chroot/dev
mount --bind /dev/pts /mnt/chroot/dev/pts
mount --bind /proc /mnt/chroot/proc
mount --bind /sys /mnt/chroot/sys

Finally, chroot to your environment.

chroot /mnt/chroot/

Reinstalling GRUB Automatically
You can try a simple reinstall of GRUB automatically first, see if any insightful errors are produced.

grub-install /dev/sda

Failing that, try the following which will rescan the BIOS drives and update information in the GRUB configuration.

grub-install --recheck /dev/sda

Reinstalling GRUB Manually
If the automatic reinstall does not work for you, try reinstalling via the GRUB shell.

grub> root(hd0,0)
grub> setup(hd0)
grub> quit

How To Easily Create A DVD From Just About Any Video Format (Linux CLI)

Encoding DVDs seems to be a task which is often overcomplicated.  If you have a video file you would like to convert into a DVD, it turns out it is very easy to do it from the Linux command line.

I was looking for a quick way to encode video to DVD, and I found this fantastic post by vmiimu on the ffmpeg forum. His post was fantastic and gave me the basis to create this guide, so props to vmiimu!  I thought the post was a bit crowded and might be difficult for some people to follow, so I have distilled its essence into this post.

This guide will allow you to convert a wide variety of common video formats into a video DVD.  The scope of this guide is to encode 1 video to 1 DVD with no menu.   The source file can be much larger than a DVD, it will be reduced in size automatically.

For this guide, you will need the following programs \ commands available. ¬†You may need to install the package from your distribution’s package library.

  • ffmpeg (usually available as a package called ‘ffmpeg‘).
  • dvdauthor (usually available as the package ‘dvdauthor‘)
  • genisoimage (usually available as the package ‘genisoimage‘)
  • growisofs (usually available in the package ‘dvd+rw-tools‘)

Installing these programs is beyond the scope of this guide.  You are assumed to already have them installed.

Hint: If you are using a Red Hat based distro, you may need EPEL and NUX Desktop.

Filenames & Paths Used In This Guide
For ease of understanding, I will be using the following filenames in this guide.  Please substitute your own filenames as you choose.
source.mkv РThe original source video file you want to burn to DVD.  This is the only file you must supply, the rest will be created.
temp.mpg РThe mpeg encoded video file which will be actually burned to DVD.
dvdmovie РThe directory which will store your DVD files during encoding (AUDIO_TS, VIDEO_TS)
dvd.iso РThe final .ISO image which you will burn to your DVD.
/dev/dvd – The device path for your DVD burner.

The Process:
Convert the source video to an MPEG video file <4.7GB.
(This may take a long time, and is the most CPU intensive part of the process.)

For videos with 4:3 aspect ratio, use this command:

ffmpeg -i source.mkv -filter:v "scale='if(gt(a,720/480),720,-1)':'if(gt(a,720/480),-1,480)',pad=w=720:h=480:x=(ow-iw)/2:y=(oh-ih)/2" -target ntsc-dvd temp.mpg

For videos with 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio, use this command:

ffmpeg -i source.mkv -filter:v "scale='if(gt(a,720/480),720,-1)':'if(gt(a,720/480),-1,480)',pad=w=720:h=480:x=(ow-iw)/2:y=(oh-ih)/2" -aspect 16:9 -target ntsc-dvd temp.mpg

Assemble a DVD file structure.

dvdauthor --title -o dvdmovie -f temp.mpg
dvdauthor -T -o dvdmovie

Generate an ISO image file.

genisoimage -dvd-video -o dvd.iso dvdmovie

Burn the ISO to a DVD disk.
Now would be a good time to insert your blank DVD.

growisofs -dvd-compat -Z /dev/dvd=dvd.iso

That’s It!
Hopefully that went smoothly for you.  Please feel free to post in the comments section if you have any questions or suggestions for improvement of this guide.