Saturday, November 25, 2017

Veracrypt instead of Truecrypt

Back in June 2014 Truecrypt died, but I and many others were able to build it from the source. I blogged about this before. Recently I had to access a couple of truecrypted volumes but found that my copy of truecrypt no longer worked. It relied on an old version of GTK that was no longer on my system. After some fruitless attempts to restore the required version of GTK2 I decided to try out VeraCrypt, which is the successor to Truecrypt.

Veracrypt is everything that Truecrypt was, and more. Fully open source, multi-platform strong encryption with optional plausible deniability and compatibility with Truecrypt. After installing yasm and libfuse I was able to build Veracrypt from source with no trouble at all. And it works. It was able to read my old truecrypt volumes. It also works on my Windows laptop. Wonderful! I have now switched over to Veracrypt.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

How to find which dependent DLL can't be found

A couple of times in the last few years I have faced a knotty problem to do with DLLs on Windows. The first occasion was when a large complex program was performing that Win32 function ::LoadLibrary and it failed to find a sub-dependent DLL. A more recent case was where a java program called loadLibrary to load a shared C++ library used by a JNI interface. This library load also failed. Both failures were silent and mysterious. No details are given, just that the load failed.

I googled for help and asked friends and colleagues. The answer that came back again and again was to use the Dependency Walker at Well, it turns out that every time I used that program to solve the riddle it was no help at all. I have now found a more reliable way, thanks to a tip via the ACCU general mailing list. I wrote a little C++ program. Before you run the program set PATH to the value it would have in your particular problem situation. The program waits for the user to hit return, then it calls ::LoadLibrary on the library name supplied. What you have to do is run the program (with PATH set appropriately) and while it is waiting for you to hit return, run Procmon from SysInternals. Enter the pid for the LoadLibrary program and set a filter for Operation to QueryOpen. Then hit return so it tries to load the library. The Procmon windows will then fill with all the file access attempts made to resolve the DLLs.Bear in mind that it is using PATH to locate the DLLs so there will be several access failures. The thing to do is check each leaf DLL name and find the case or cases where it failed to find the DLL no matter which PATH directories were searched. That's it, you have found which DLL failure(s) occurred!

It is a shame there is no more convenient way to deal with situation. If only the logic of calling ::LoadLibrary could be combined with the logic in Procmon that gets all the OpenQuery cases with the pathname and whether or not the access worked, all in one program. Maybe one day someone will write such a program, but in the meantime this solution will have to do.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Linux Mint 17 and scroll bar arrows

A while ago I did a complete reinstall of my desktop machine using Linux Mint 17. One of the first things I noticed after doing this was that the arrow bars that normally appear in conjunction with the scroll bar had disappeared. I deemed this a minor irritation and didn't do anything about it. But more recently I investigated why this was and what to do about it and found various blogs etc where people were complaining of the same thing and offering various solutions. I only found one solution that actually worked and give details on it below:

* Ensure that your changes are made to the Mint-X theme. You need access to the theme selector. Click on the Linux button (bottom left hand corner) and click on Settings. In the right hand menu pane click on Appearance (with the jacket and tie icon). This shows the theme selector when you pick the first tab, Style (which is the default tab). When you click on a theme it is immediately selected. There is no need to logout, reboot, or anything else. On selecting a theme the theme config files are read and processed. Therefore when you edit the theme files, use the selector to pick any theme *other* than Mint-X, then click on Mint-X again to pick up your changes.

* As root, edit the theme files. These are found under /usr/share/themes, so for Mint-X the directory is /usr/share/themes/Mint-X. There are sub-directories for gtk-2.0 and gtk-3.0. My edits were done to gtk-2.0. The file there is called gtkrc. Make a backup copy of the file first. Ensure your file contains the following:

GtkScrollbar::has-backward-stepper = 1
GtkScrollbar::has-forward-stepper = 1
GtkScrollbar::stepper_size = 18
GtkScrollbar::min-slider-length = 30
GtkScrollbar::slider-width = 18
GtkScrollbar::trough-border = 1
GtkScrollbar::activate-slider = 1

The crucial line turns out to be:

GtkScrollbar::stepper-size = 18

Without that line, no scroll bar arrows.
I found this tip on Linux Questions at

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Using Joda time to handle date+time+timezone

I have been working on a client-server system where the client and server are in different timezones. The client is on London time, the server is in Los Angeles, a difference of 8 hours. This means that at the end of the business day in LA it already the next day in London. The API that I have to use contains functions with parameters of type Calendar. As we know, Calendar is a date+time+timezone triple, and the timezone defaults. This means that if the timezone is not explicitly specified then it will change its meaning as it goes over the wire.

I have been using the Joda datetime package to help me and after a bit of struggling eventually came up with the example program below which shows the construction of Joda DateTime objects for a specific date+time+timezone which is displayed correctly in both timezones. The program also shows how to construct Calendar objects from them for the correct timezone.

package jodaexample;

import java.text.SimpleDateFormat;
import java.util.Calendar;

import org.joda.time.DateTime;
import org.joda.time.DateTimeZone;
import org.joda.time.format.DateTimeFormat;
import org.joda.time.format.DateTimeFormatter;

 * @author marlowa
 * This example shows a time of 18:30 PST which is 8 hours behind UTC.
 * This means the date+time+timezone is 01:30 the previous day in UTC,
 * or 02:30 in BST.
public class example {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("Joda timezone example program.");
        DateTimeZone mytimezone = DateTimeZone.forID("America/Los_Angeles");
        DateTime mydatetime = new DateTime(2017, 3, 31, 18, 30, 0, mytimezone);
        String formatString = "yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss z '('Z')'";
        DateTimeFormatter dtf = DateTimeFormat.forPattern(formatString);
        System.out.println("DateTime (local, i.e. behind UTC) = "+dtf.print(mydatetime));
        Calendar datetimeInAmerica = mydatetime.toGregorianCalendar();
        SimpleDateFormat sdfInAmerica = new SimpleDateFormat(formatString);
        sdfInAmerica.setCalendar(datetimeInAmerica); // to set the timezone.
        System.out.println("Calendar inAmerica                = "+sdfInAmerica.format(datetimeInAmerica.getTime()));
        long dateTimeMilliseconds = mydatetime.getMillis(); 
        int millisecondsOffset = mytimezone.getOffset(dateTimeMilliseconds);
        System.out.println(String.format("Milliseconds = %d, offset = %d", dateTimeMilliseconds, millisecondsOffset));
        long millisecondsInTimezone = dateTimeMilliseconds+millisecondsOffset;
        System.out.println("millisecondsInTimezone            = "+millisecondsInTimezone);
        long millisecondsInUTC = mytimezone.convertLocalToUTC(millisecondsInTimezone, false);
        DateTime dateTimeUTC = new DateTime(millisecondsInUTC, DateTimeZone.UTC);
        System.out.println("DateTime (UTC)                    = "+dtf.print(dateTimeUTC));
        Calendar datetimeInLondon = dateTimeUTC.toGregorianCalendar();
  SimpleDateFormat sdfInLondon = new SimpleDateFormat(formatString);
  sdfInAmerica.setCalendar(datetimeInLondon); // to set the timezone.
  System.out.println("Calendar inLondon                 = "+sdfInLondon.format(datetimeInAmerica.getTime()));