Foobar2000 alternatives for Linux

I am a big fan of foobar2000 because it’s one of the most terse yet flexible package for playing music. I tried using RhythmBox that came with Linux Mint, but it’s annoying as hell. When you double click an audio file, it’ll adds to a default playlist and after it finished playing, it’ll go and play other songs you’ve previously clicked (because they were accumulated on the playlist).

Out of frustration, I tried to stick with my favorite, I found foobar2000 has a wine port available on Snap package manager. Downloaded it and realized it has a lot of work to do to make it work on linux:

  • Fonts do not scale. It’s always that tiny and not all the UI controls looks odd
  • The paths assumed windows drive letters. Sometimes if I drag and drop files from a bitlocker drive (mounted with dislocker), it’ll assume the file came from some complicated path under Z:\. WTF

Ended up downloading Clementine. It at least let me remove songs from the playlist by pressing “Del” button. But I’m not happy that it doesn’t have CDDB.

Turns out there are better options the Clementine. I found this StackExchange while searching for FreeDB options:

Turns out DeaDBeeF (a hex pun) looks like a watered down version of foobar2000. So, Clementine, Foobar2000-Wine and RhythmBox is out.

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Modifying mutable (like bytearray) arguments’ data in Python functions Use slice assignment x[:] = ... to replace the entire contents. Dynamically typed language lets you shadow input arguments with a local variable!

I’d like to write a function to selectively modify lines read from a file handle and write it back. By default, lines are read as byte()  objects that are immutable, so I converted it to bytearray() instead so it can be modified because only a few lines meeting certain criteria needs to be changed.

When I try to refactor similar operation into a function, I was hoping to pass the mutable bytearray() as an argument and directly modify the caller’s content like in C++, given Python variables works LIKE reference binding.

I know bytearray.replace() does not modify the data in place, but instead outputs the modified line to a new variable. Normally, I can simply do this:

line = line.replace(b'\tCLASS', b'')

and the code will work. However, it doesn’t do anything when I try to pass it as an argument to a Python function (unless I return line as output). Although I am well aware that Python variables assignments to existing variables means orphaning the old data and re-purposing the label, the variable assignment behavior in Python requires careful thought when used in non-idiomatic situation.

In other words, I want this function to have side effects on the variable ‘line‘, but I wasn’t doing it right. This is a tempting mistake for people with a C/C++ background: in C/C++, it is not possible to shadow an input parameter even if we were to explicitly declare it, so the innocent assignment I did above has to modify the object in the caller (passed as a reference to the function) in C/C++, as if I did this directly in the caller.

However, in Python, variables do not need to be declared (aka, dynamically typed). This opens up the possibility of unwittingly shadowing the input parameters, which is what happened here. Mutable arguments on the stack still can be modified through the function, but when you assign a variable using ‘=’ operator, a new local variable with the name on the LHS is created, which shadows the input parameter.

This means the connection to the caller objects is lost during shadowing.

The correct way to do this is use slice assignment (which the logic/concept is very different despite the syntax is similar) to replace all the contents of the input variable with the output of bytearray.replace():

def remove_from_header_token_CLASS(tokens, line):
     # line is expected to be byte array (mutable)    
        column_CLASS = tokens.index(b'CLASS')
        column_CLASS = None
        line[:] = line.replace(b'\tCLASS', b'')  
    return column_CLASS

Since Python has a clear distinct concept of parameter variable (from local variable), trying to apply nonlocal keyword over it (in hopes to broaden the scope) will not parse/compile.

This is actually the same behavior as in MATLAB (dynamic typing) for the same reason that variables does not have to be declared like in C/C++ (static typing). In MATLAB, if you choose to have a handle object (which works like references), you can shadow the input argument by creating a local variable of the same name:

classdef DemoHandleClass < handle
        x = 3;

function demo_shadowing()
    C = DemoHandleClass();

function f(C)
    C = DemoHandleClass();  // Shadowing
    C.x = 14;

The above MATLAB program will display 14 without shadowing and 3 with shadowing (C became a new local variable that has nothing to do with the input argument C). MATLAB users rarely run into this because the language design heavily discourage side-effects: we are supposed to return the changed local variable to the caller. The only way to do side-effects in MATLAB is through handles (which you need to establish a class, which is clumsy). Technically you can write the data to external resources (e.g. file) and read it back. But guess what? Resources are accessed through handles, so there’s no escape.

Of course, there’s a better way to do so (MATLAB’s preferred way): return the modified object back to the caller as if they are immutable:

def remove_from_header_token_CLASS(tokens, line):
        column_CLASS = tokens.index(b'CLASS')
        column_CLASS = None
        line = line.replace(b'\tCLASS', b'')  
    return column_CLASS, line

This is what I ultimately used (so I ended up not converting the byte lines to bytearray), given that Python’s tuple syntax make it easy to return multiple outputs like MATLAB. The call ended up looking like this:

column_SPL_CLASS, line = remove_from_header_token_CLASS(tokens, line)                

Nonetheless, I think there’s an important lesson to be learned for doing side-effects in dynamically typed languages. Maybe I’ll need this one day if I get an excuse to do something more complicated that genuinely requires side-effects.

In summary, variable assignments in most dynamically typed languages will shadow the input argument with a newly generated local variable instead of modifying the data in the original input argument. This implies that there function side-effects cannot be carried out through variable assignment.

The most common implication is: do not (equality) assign to a input variable to modify its contents in a dynamically typed language.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Charge and USB-OTG simultaneously

I’d like to charge my phone and use USB devices at the same time, but it seems like it requires a 64.9kOhm resistor from sensor ID pin (micro USB) to ground. Instead of melting a USB-OTG cable, I bought this adapter (schematics here)

micro USB3.0 Type B Male to USB3.0 Type A Female adapter

so that I can have direct access to the ID pin. This is a USB 3.0 give that I have a Galaxy Note 3. The same principles apply to the USB 2.0 versions for Galaxy Note 4.

According to this website, fsa9480_i2c.h has the table for the resistor ID values. Turns out 64.9kOhm is the one for both charging (slowly) and using USB devices (like mouse, network adapter, etc.).

RID_USB_OTG_MODE,	/* 0 0 0 0 0 	GND


RID_AUD_SEND_END_BTN,	/* 0 0 0 0 1 	2K		Audio Send_End Button*/
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S1_BTN,	/* 0 0 0 1 0 	2.604K		Audio Remote S1 Button */
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S2_BTN,	/* 0 0 0 1 1 	3.208K		Audio Remote S2 Button                         */
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S3_BTN,	/* 0 0 1 0 0 	4.014K		Audio Remote S3 Button */
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S4_BTN,	/* 0 0 1 0 1 	4.82K		Audio Remote S4 Button */
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S5_BTN,	/* 0 0 1 1 0 	6.03K		Audio Remote S5 Button */
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S6_BTN,	/* 0 0 1 1 1 	8.03K		Audio Remote S6 Button */
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S7_BTN,	/* 0 1 0 0 0 	10.03K		Audio Remote S7 Button */
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S8_BTN,	/* 0 1 0 0 1 	12.03K		Audio Remote S8 Button */
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S9_BTN,	/* 0 1 0 1 0 	14.46K		Audio Remote S9 Button */
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S10_BTN,	/* 0 1 0 1 1 	17.26K		Audio Remote S10 Button */
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S11_BTN,	/* 0 1 1 0 0 	20.5K		Audio Remote S11 Button */
RID_AUD_REMOTE_S12_BTN,	/* 0 1 1 0 1 	24.07K		Audio Remote S12 Button */
RID_RESERVED_1,		/* 0 1 1 1 0 	28.7K		Reserved Accessory #1 */
RID_RESERVED_2,		/* 0 1 1 1 1 	34K 		Reserved Accessory #2 */
RID_RESERVED_3,		/* 1 0 0 0 0 	40.2K		Reserved Accessory #3 */
RID_RESERVED_4,		/* 1 0 0 0 1 	49.9K		Reserved Accessory #4 */
RID_RESERVED_5,		/* 1 0 0 1 0 	64.9K		Reserved Accessory #5 */
RID_AUD_DEV_TY_2,	/* 1 0 0 1 1 	80.07K		Audio Device Type 2 */
RID_PHONE_PWD_DEV,	/* 1 0 1 0 0 	102K		Phone Powered Device */
RID_TTY_CONVERTER,	/* 1 0 1 0 1 	121K		TTY Converter */
RID_UART_CABLE,		/* 1 0 1 1 0 	150K		UART Cable */
RID_CEA936A_TY_1,	/* 1 0 1 1 1 	200K		CEA936A Type-1 Charger(1) */
RID_FM_BOOT_OFF_USB,	/* 1 1 0 0 0 	255K		Factory Mode Boot OFF-USB */
RID_FM_BOOT_ON_USB,	/* 1 1 0 0 1 	301K		Factory Mode Boot ON-USB */
RID_AUD_VDO_CABLE,	/* 1 1 0 1 0 	365K		Audio/Video Cable */
RID_CEA936A_TY_2,	/* 1 1 0 1 1 	442K		CEA936A Type-2 Charger(1) */
RID_FM_BOOT_OFF_UART,	/* 1 1 1 0 0 	523K		Factory Mode Boot OFF-UART */
RID_FM_BOOT_ON_UART,	/* 1 1 1 0 1 	619K		Factory Mode Boot ON-UART */
RID_AUD_DEV_TY_1_REMOTE,	/* 1 1 1 1 0 	1000.07K	Audio Device Type 1 with Remote(1) */
RID_AUD_DEV_TY_1_SEND = RID_AUD_DEV_TY_1_REMOTE ,		/* 1 1 1 1 0 	1002K		Audio Device Type 1 / Only Send-End(2) */
RID_USB_MODE,		/* 1 1 1 1 1 	Open		USB Mode, Dedicated Charger or Accessory Detach */


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Windows path length limit

Windows has a path length limit that are typically at the order of 250 (260 for Windows 10) that’s a pain in the butt when moving files. Despite you can override it, it’s no fun when you copy a jillion files just to find out a few can’t make it because the path is too long and you have to find out which ones are not copied!

There’s a short command to check if the path exceed certain number of characters, which I recommend testing for 240 character so you can at least have a 10+ character folder on the root folder to put the files in:

powershell: cmd /c dir /s /b |? {$_.length -gt 240}

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Dual-booting: Linux and Windows fight for the system clock

Turns out it’s a common problem when dual-booting Windows and Linux, they keep changing the hardware system clock on each other (unless you live in GMT+0 zone) because Windows assume the system time is the one at the set timezone while Linux think the system time is the UTC+0 time (and offset it afterwards).

Linux updates the time through NTP server blindly while Windows 7 check if the current time is within 1hr from the NTP server to avoid unintended time changes (I have to give Microsoft credit for that). EDIT: Windows 10 blindly updates the time like Linux too.

The easy solution is to have Linux follow Windows’ suit:

timedatectl set-local-rtc 1 --adjust-system-clock

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X11VNC for Linux setup notes

x11vnc is a relatively smooth experience, but there are quite a few common use cases that would have been automated away if it’s a Windows program, namely have it start as a service on boot (before logging in)

It’s from babelmonk’s solution on StackExchange. Paraphrased here to make it easier to understand:

After installation, create the password file with -storepasswd switch AND specify the where you want the password saved as an optional argument, and I prefer /etc/x11vnc.pass:

sudo x11vnc -storepasswd {your password goes here} /etc/x11vnc.pass

which will be read by -rfbauth switch for the x11vnc program.

Build your own (systemctl) service by creating /etc/systemd/system/x11vnc.service:


ExecStart=/usr/bin/x11vnc -xkb -noxrecord -noxfixes -noxdamage -display :0 -auth guess -rfbauth /etc/x11vnc.pass
ExecStop=/usr/bin/killall x11vnc


Then, start with:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl start x11vnc

Enable the service (if not already done by previous commands) so it will start on boot

sudo systemctl enable x11vnc

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Acrobat reader on Linux

Adobe gave up supporting Acrobat reader for Linux long time ago, so it’s stuck at the old 32-bit version (9.5.5):

The tutorial websites tells you to use wget, but sometimes you might run into authentication problems. You can simply use the links above and double-click the .deb file to install.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t work right out of the box in modern 64-bit Linux. You’ll run into a missing library


on run because you didn’t install the 32-bit version of it. Enable i386 (x86 or 32-bit) packages first then get the 32-bit library:

dpkg --add-architecture i386
apt-get install libxml2:i386 ia32-libs

There are some GTK complaints if you run it on a command line, but it doesn’t affect the uses so you can safely ignore them

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systemd-resolved DNS resolution nightmare

Linux Mint 19 does not resolve local hostsnames (nothing to do with SMB, which does not rely exclusively on DNS) out of the box! Damn. MX Linux does.

systemd-resolve, which act as a local DNS server on, despite it points to the DNS server assigned by the router’s DHCP (aka, the router’s IP address itself), managed not to resolve the local hostnames out of the box!

Time to disable this mofo (no need to mess with /etc/nsswitch.conf and install Winbind to use WINS):

Disable and stop the systemd-resolved service:

sudo systemctl disable systemd-resolved.service
sudo systemctl stop systemd-resolved

Then put the following line in the [main] section of your /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf:


Delete the symlink /etc/resolv.conf

sudo rm /etc/resolv.conf

Restart NetworkManager

sudo systemctl restart NetworkManager

I know it has good reasons to exist (like breaking VPN ties), but if Linux Mint decide to have it on as out-of-the-box defaults, at least tell the users that local network DNS resolution won’t work by default!

This is a choice that caters the 5% elite at the expense of frustrating 95% of the target audience!

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Windscribe Linux breaks internet (messed up DNS resolution) on first use

I lost the internet (actually just DNS not resolving correctly) after installing Winscribe for Linux and disconnecting the session. WTF windscribe! I know it’s beta version, but at least you should check if it bricks people’s internet after a fresh install and first use!

Turns out that on first connection, it re-binds /etc/resolv.conf to /run/resolvconf/resolv.conf which has this line:

# Generated by resolvconf

So like systemd-resolve, Windscribe lets resolvconf steal the DNS redirection that’s supposed to go straight to my router to an intermediary that doesn’t do the job! Aargh!

To fix it (needs to be done every time after a Windscribe connection, so I’m getting rid of this lamely written Windscribe CLI for now), remove the symlink /etc/resolv.conf:

sudo rm /etc/resolv.conf

and restart NetworkManager

sudo systemctl restart NetworkManager

so NetworkManager will re-generate /etc/resolv.conf directly (no symlink) with the correct name server from the GUI config program (in my case, automatically obtained from my router).

Turns out it’s a common scene that in Linux, many DNS resolution program fight over the control over /etc/resolv.conf. NetworkManager kicks in after you disabled the rest.

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Bitlocker for Linux (Dislocker)

I regularly consolidate my disk drives to higher capacities as they are available to reduce the complexity managing many controllers, so I’ll often have to wipe the drives before I sell them (trade up). Often they are sold at very little moment’s notice, sanitizing the data might take too long. I learned that if I encrypt my data drives, I don’t really have to do much other than just clearing out the partition before I sell them, and there’s little performance penalty for Bitlocker in modern hardware.

Right now dislocker (Linux version of bitlocker) does not have a GUI to automatically unlock and mount the encrypted drives. Here’s the script that has the form “BL_{drive name}.sh” that will unencrypt the device and mount it and at the same time creating the script in the same folder to unwind (unmount & lock) the drive.


# Extracting partition name from file name (BL_*.sh)
FN_base="$(basename -- $0)"

# TODO: Check with /dev to make sure it's legit
echo $partition

# Unlock the device into a raw image 'file'
sudo mkdir -p $path_raw

sudo dislocker $dev_partition -u -- $path_raw

# Mount the image file as a disk
sudo mkdir -p $path_mount

sudo mount -o loop $file_raw $path_mount

# Build wind down file
# Leave /media/dislocker there for isolation
echo "#!/bin/bash"             > $script_unwind
echo "sudo umount $path_mount">> $script_unwind
echo "sudo rmdir $path_mount" >> $script_unwind
# Note that the website is wrong. umount the path, not the dislocker-file
echo "sudo umount $path_raw"  >> $script_unwind
echo "sudo rmdir $path_raw"   >> $script_unwind
# Make sure the "$0" is literal including the $ sign or it will
# delete this file instead of the unwind_sd*.sh file
echo "sudo rm -- \"\$0\""     >> $script_unwind
chmod +x $script_unwind


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