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Making screencasts on the Raspberry Pi 5 and Raspberry Pi OS Bookworm

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November 14th, 2023

Recording your desktop, or recording a part of your desktop, or piping your desktop to Zoom, or in general as a webcam input, it can all be done quite easily with the new Raspberry Pi 5.

The new version of Debian is using Wayland as a default, so it’s always a bit of a search how to do rather trivial things on a new device and a new environment.

Anyhow there is a versatile simple Wayland desktop recording program, wf-recorder, that can be installed with:

sudo apt install wf-recorder

You can find more info here:

https://github.com/ammen99/wf-recorder

Recording is a simple as running wf-recorder 🙂

That outputs a file recording.mp4 in the directory it’s run from, so to get it organized a bit it needs some cli parameters.

Furthermore the programs starts recording until you kill it, normally by CTRL C on the cli.

Let’s setup a keyboard shortcut that records the desktop and save it in the Video’s folder with a filename screencast-2023-11-14_12-20.mkv, so it’s includes date and time.

And because the Raspberry Pi 5 can drive two monitors you have to specify which screen the screencast should be made of.

So to add shortcuts to the Wayland environment, just open .config/wayfire.ini and add them there:

binding_screencast_hdmi_a_1 = <super> <ctrl> KEY_1
command_screencast_hdmi_a_1 = timeout 30s wf-recorder -p crf=28 -t -o HDMI-A-1 -f "/home/pi/Videos/screencast-$(date +%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M).mkv"
binding_screencast_hdmi_a_2 = <super> <ctrl> KEY_2
command_screencast_hdmi_a_2 = timeout 30s wf-recorder -p crf=28 -t -o HDMI-A-2 -f "/home/pi/Videos/screencast-$(date +%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M).mkv"
binding_screencast_hdmi_a_1_audio = <super> <alt> KEY_1
command_screencast_hdmi_a_1_audio = timeout 30s wf-recorder -a -p crf=28 -t -o HDMI-A-1 -f "/home/pi/Videos/screencast-$(date +%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M).mkv"
binding_screencast_hdmi_a_2_audio = <super> <alt> KEY_2
command_screencast_hdmi_a_2_audio = timeout 30s wf-recorder -a -p crf=28 -t -o HDMI-A-2 -f "/home/pi/Videos/screencast-$(date +%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M).mkv"

On the first line we define the shortcut, on the second line the command that should be executed.

I have setup 4 shortcuts to:

  1. record screen 1 by pressing SUPER + CTRL + 1
  2. record screen 1 with audio  by pressing SUPER + ALT + 1
  3. record screen 2 by pressing SUPER + CTRL + 2
  4. record screen 2 with audio by pressing SUPER + ALT + 2

Of course you can change the shortcuts to your liking.

I choose to record just 30 sec, it will stop automatically. In Linux you can do that simple with timeout 30s command

The moment I’m typing this blog-post, I realize it is probably better to add another 5th shortcut to kill/stop the recording, so you could make recordings with variable duration.

Well not that difficult, just bind a shortcut to

killall -s SIGINT wf-recorder

And remove the `timeout 30s` part.

wf-recorder only records screen updates by default, so recording a static desktop will output an empty file 😉 Nothing to record when nothing is happening, saving MB’s on file size. Add -D to record every frame.

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Controlling the Fan of the Raspberry Pi 5 in Ubuntu 23.10

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November 9th, 2023

The new Raspberry Pi 5 is a really nice upgrade. Both RaspberryPiOS and Ubuntu 23.10 are really running much faster on the new model then on a RPI 4.

Booting RaspberryPiOS takes around 12sec on a ordinary SanDisk SD card. The fan is running full speed at boot, but is slowing down afterwards. And it has not started again during browsing a few websites.

Ubuntu boots a bit slower, but GNOME 3 is also running really fine. Ubuntu is visually more attractive, and it’s really running smooth.

There is a big annoyance for the moment and that is the fan. It is running full speed at boot and keeps running all the time full speed, making to much noise.

Fan control doesn’t seem to work yet, but controlling the fan can be done manually by writing a number in the range 0 (off) to 4 (full speed) to /sys/class/thermal/cooling_device0/cur_state

So I created a startup service that slows down the fan on Ubuntu after boot to speed setting 1, and that is inaudible.

[Unit]
Description=RPI-startup Fan Control service
After=multi-user.target
[Service]
User=root
Type=oneshot
ExecStart=/bin/bash -c "echo '1' | tee -a /sys/class/thermal/cooling_device0/cur_state" &
[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Copy above content to a file /etc/systemd/system/fan.service.

And enable it by:

sudo systemctl enable fan.service

That’s all, no reboot the Pi and Ubuntu will be silent.

Remember the Raspberry Pi willl automatically throttle when reaching a temperature of 85°. So there is no danger in letting the fan run on speed 1 continuously. Even when your compiling the Linux Kernel.

Off course you can always check the temperature with, and yes that works also in Ubuntu 23.10 on the Pi

sudo vcgencmd measure_temp

You can always bump up the speed to 3 by issuing this in the terminal

echo '3' | sudo tee -a /sys/class/thermal/cooling_device0/cur_state

 

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Raspberry Pi 5 FAQ

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October 4th, 2023

What is the official name of the new RPI 5 device: Raspberry Pi 5 or Raspberry Pi 5 Model B?

That is unclear. 🙂 .

According to mother Lady Raspberry Pi Herself Liz Upton it’s  Raspberry Pi  5

According to father engineer James it does include B in the name: it’s Raspberry Pi 5 Model B

According to the Raspberry Pi 5 itself it’s: Raspberry Pi 5 Model B Rev 1.0

Rev here stands for revision and gives an indication that there has been a small update/patch to the hardware. Of course this name is partly depending of the software/firmware and hardware/revision.

Can I use the same camera cables as for the Raspberry Pi 4?

No, the Raspberry Pi 5 needs another type of cable. Because the connectors are smaller, it uses higher-density pinout variant of the camera cable.

In fact it uses the same cables as a Raspberry Pi Zero (2). So if you have a couple of them, you’re OK.

Does the Raspberry Pi 5 need a new Power Supply?

No, you can run the Raspberry Pi with the trusty Raspberry Pi 4 power supply. It will downstream USB current to 600mA. However, the Raspberry Pi 5 can be more power hungry, and if you really need more power on the USB ports, you better use the new Raspberry Pi 5 power supply. It will more than double the output to 1.6A.

All things considered the new Power Supply is not a bad deal. It will cost you 12 bucks, but it does support PD, and you can even charge your Apple MacBook Pro laptop or your phone.

What about the RPIBOOT mode of the Raspberry Pi 5

If you connect a laptop to the Raspberry Pi 5 USB-C port, so you’re powering the Raspberry Pi5 from your laptop instead of a power supply (yes, that also works on the Raspberry Pi 4), and you press and hold the new power button before connecting the USB-C cable, the Raspberry Pi 5 will boot into USB boot mode; this way the host machine can upload new firmware into the Raspberry Pi 5.

Why does the Raspberry Pi 5 not have an external WiFi Antenna Connector?

Space, and it would be more expensive because you’ll need to cover approval-costs for compliance.

How do I enable USB-boot when I’m using a Raspberry Pi 4 15w power supply instead of the 27w Raspberry Pi 5 power supply?

It will show a warning, stop booting, and you’ll need to press the power button before is continues booting.

Or add this to  `/boot/firmware/config.txt`

usb_max_current_enable=1

See the docs.

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The new Raspberry Pi 5 has arrived (in specs)

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September 30th, 2023

A new Raspberry Pi 5 is introduced, and contrary to earlier launches, the new device is not available yet for customers. It will be on the shelves around the 23rd of October.

This creates a period of time in which the new open-source software can be pushed into the open, and merged with existing repositories. When the boards are shipped in the end of October, the update free open source software is in place.

The new Pi is about twice as fast as the RPI4, memory bandwidth and latency have improved, the same for the I/O. For example WiFi speed is twice as fast, due to the new improved I/O, the WiFi chip itself is the same as in the Pi 4. SD-card speed is twice as fast.

Nearly all parts have been upgraded. A Real Time Clock is a new welcome addition. A fan socket. A power button has been added.

Key features include:

  • 2.4GHz quad-core 64-bit Arm Cortex-A76 CPU
  • VideoCore VII GPU, supporting OpenGLES 3.1, Vulkan 1.2
  • Dual 4Kp60 HDMI® display output
  • 4Kp60 HEVC decoder
  • Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi®
  • Bluetooth 5.0 / Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
  • High-speed microSD card interface with SDR104 mode support
  • 2 × USB 3.0 ports, supporting simultaneous 5Gbps operation
  • 2 × USB 2.0 ports
  • Gigabit Ethernet, with PoE+ support (requires separate PoE+ HAT, coming soon)
  • 2 × 4-lane MIPI camera/display transceivers
  • PCIe 2.0 x1 interface for fast peripherals
  • Raspberry Pi standard 40-pin GPIO header
  • Real-time clock
  • Power button

SD-card transfer speed for Raspberry Pi’s

Let’s take a look at the new SD-card speed. A simple benchmark is hdparm for reading speed:

sudo hdparm -t --direct /dev/mmcblk0

So in this post we compare some benchmarks of the new Raspberry Pi 5 and earlier models.

Explaining Computers is getting this speed for a SD-card in the new RaspberryPi 5 (RPI5):

Raspberry Pi 5 SD-card transfer speed

/dev/mmcblk0:
Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 258 MB in 3.01 seconds = 85.69 MB/sec

Raspberry Pi 4 SD-card transfer speed

/dev/mmcblk0:
Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 258 MB in 3.01 seconds = 41.15 MB/sec

Raspberry Pi 400 SD-card transfer speed

We did our own test with a Raspberry Pi 400 and actually we achieved a similar speed:

/dev/mmcblk0:
Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 126 MB in 3.02 seconds = 41.76 MB/sec

A Raspberry Pi 4 or 400 also doubled the SD-card speed compared to older models, so let’s test a RPI 2:

Raspberry Pi 2 SD-card transfer speed

/dev/mmcblk0:
Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 66 MB in 3.08 seconds = 21.41 MB/sec

Raspberry Pi Zero SD-card transfer speed

/dev/mmcblk0:
Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 64 MB in 3.04 seconds = 21.02 MB/sec

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 SD-card transfer speed

/dev/mmcblk0:
Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 62 MB in 3.00 seconds = 20.65 MB/sec

SD-card RPI5 speed has quadrupled since the RPI2

An yes, the SD-Card speed has quadrupled moving from an original RPI to the new RPI5.

That is not bad.

We also tested the Compute Model 4 with eMMC:

Raspberry Compute Model 4 eMMC transfer speed

/dev/mmcblk0:
Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 244 MB in 3.00 seconds = 81.22 MB/sec

So the new RPI5 is reading faster from an SD-card then the CM4 is reading from eMMC!

That is a surprise, and AFAICS, this is all related to the much improved I/O at the new RPI5.

Remember, WiFi is twice as fast, and it still has the same WiFi hardware.

USB speeds is now 5GB each on the USB ports, in the RPI4 5GB was shared.

So it seems the new Raspberry Pi 5 is a nice upgrade for just 5 dollars, a new Raspberry Pi 5 4GB/8GB is just 5 dollars more expensive than the Raspberry 4.

SD benchmark transfer speed various Raspberry Pi models

sudo hdparm -t --direct /dev/mmcblk0
Model SD card Speed
RPI 5 (Expl. Comp.) 85.69 MB/sec
CM 4 (eMMC) 81.22 MB/sec
RPI 400 41.76 MB/sec
RPI 4 41.15 MB/sec
RPI 2 21.41 MB/sec
RPI Zero 2 20.65 MB/sec
RPI Zero 21.02 MB/sec

Greetings.

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Improving accessibility in Ubuntu for the visually impaired with a narrow field of vision

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August 24th, 2023

For a visually impaired person with a very narrow field of vision it can be difficult to locate the mouse on the screen.

Imagine someone with glaucoma, they are looking through a straw, so they have to scan the screen from left top to right bottom (or sometimes even a sentence character by character).

So what you want sometimes is to move the mouse to the center of the screen or some other easy to spot location.

Historically you could use xdotool for that, but xdotool doesn’t work with Wayland,  and in Wayland there is no out-of-the-box tool to do it.

There a a few options as an alternative:

  • wtype
  • ydotool
  • dotool

wtype is available in the deb repository, so it can be installed with

sudo apt install wtype

BUT

it doesn’t work with Gnome.

`Compositor does not support the virtual keyboard protocol`

I’m not sure if that’s a lacking Gnome feature that will be resolved sooner or later, but IMHO it makes wtype useless for the common Ubuntu user.

Second is ydotool, but that is quite a hassle to install, although there are detailed instructions, so I decided to give the alternative dotool a try.

Follow the instructions (Clone the repo and run install).

Next I created a small bash script


#!/usr/bin/bash
echo "mouseto .5 .5" | dotool

Then simple add a custom shortcut to your script with absolute path and you’re done.

Open Settings -> Keyboard

Choose View and Customize shortcuts -> Custom Shortcuts

 

And add your shortcut.

 

That is all. Now you can easily center the mouse with pressing CTRL SUPER Z.

Remember SUPER is the windows key, normally next to the left CTRL key.

Actually the script will center on the total desktop, so when you use two monitors with extended desktop it won’t center on your screen. 😉

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Permitting a device to join Zigbee2MQTT in Home Assistant temporarily

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June 28th, 2023

The config setting for letting a new device join the Zigbee network is found in Zigbee2MQTT”s configuration.yaml

For security reasons it’s important that permit_join: is set to falseOtherwise rogue devices are able to join allowing them to send and receive Zigbee traffic.

When you want to add a new device editing this setting manually in the config file is a hassle.

Luckily you can issue this CLI command from any connected computer on the LAN to open the network temporarily:

mosquitto_pub -h <hostname> -t zigbee2mqtt/bridge/request/permit_join -m ‘{“value”: true, “time”: 20}’

This will open the network for 20 seconds, enough time to add your device, and when the 20 seconds have passed the network is secure again.

Just keep an eye that no additional rogue devices are added.