Category: Note To Self

Getting Started with Ruby and rbenv on a Raspberry Pi

In preparation of a workshop at Agile Testing Days 2022, I’m setting up a Raspberry Pi as a backup system for participants, to be prepared if things go wrong. Especially one of the first steps “Installing Ruby – If Necessary” has the potential to fail or take too long.

With the keyboard configured (see the previous post “Setting Up a Raspberry PI with a German Mac Keyboard“), the next step is installing a recent Ruby version. I’ll use rbenv , a widespread tool to manage Ruby versions on a machine.

Installing rbenv

The rbenv page suggests to install the tool using a basic git checkout.

~ $ git clone https://github.com/rbenv/rbenv.git ~/.rbenv
Cloning into '/home/guest/.rbenv'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 3138, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (288/288), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (147/147), done.
remote: Total 3138 (delta 165), reused 231 (delta 131), pack-reused 2850
Receiving objects: 100% (3138/3138), 626.69 KiB | 3.12 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (1955/1955), done.

Following the next step in the docs, .bashrc is updated to initialise rbenv:

~ $ echo 'eval "$(~/.rbenv/bin/rbenv init - bash)"' >> ~/.bashrc

Restarting the terminal app actually loads the updated .bashrc, and then rbenv is installed and configured.

Another step is to also install the ruby-build plugin, which rbenv uses to compile and install new Ruby versions. I’ll use git to clone this plugin and upgrade it (as documented in https://github.com/rbenv/ruby-build#readme):

~ $ git clone https://github.com/rbenv/ruby-build.git "$(rbenv root)"/plugins/ruby-build

Now, rbenv can be used to install Rubyies:

~ $ time rbenv install 3.1.2
To follow progress, use 'tail -f /tmp/ruby-build.20221110172124.19039.log' or pass --verbose
No system openssl version was found, ensure openssl headers are installed (https://github.com/rbenv/ruby-build/wiki#suggested-build-environment)
Downloading openssl-3.0.7.tar.gz...
︙

As a last step set this new Ruby version to be used globally:

rbenv global 3.1.2

That’s it. Ruby 3.1.2 is now available for the user an the Raspberry Pi.

Setting Up a Raspberry PI with a German Mac Keyboard

This is another “Note to self” post.

For a workshop I will present at the Agile Testing Days 2022, I’ve set up a backup computer, in case folks don’t have Ruby installed on their machine already, or don’t get it installed within the available time slot.

The Raspberry itself had already worked … with some keyboard back in 2017 (when I used it in a ½ days tutorial at the same conference). But now, I connected a Mac keyboard to it, one with a German layout – including the umlauts. Getting the configuration to work well enough was surprisingly hard.

The existing keyboard configuration didn’t work very well, since it expected an international layout, meaning that the key cap labels weren’t always correct. Or the printed key wasn’t, depending on your perspective.

Setting it up using the GUI application that comes with RaspbianOS didn’t work so well either: for some configuration settings the keyboard stopped reacting completely. Yay! I learned another way how not do do it. 🤣

In the end I used the terminal raspi-config:

sudo raspi-config
A screenshot of the 'raspi-config' tool as displayed in a terminal window

to try all variations of (non-japanese) Apple keyboards with the corresponding German layouts and variants.

In the end I settled with this configuration, as it is stored in /etc/default/keyboard on the Raspi:

# KEYBOARD CONFIGURATION FILE

# Consult the keyboard(5) manual page.

XKBMODEL=apple
XKBLAYOUT="de"
XKBVARIANT=
XKBOPTIONS="lv3:ralt_switch,terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp"

BACKSPACE="guess"

Colourful Code with Pygments

This is another entry in the ‘Note to Self’ category. 🙂 I’m sure I will need this information at some later point in time again.

The other day I wanted to have some code syntax-highlighted and be able to select the colour theme and well as use the highlighted listing in a number of ways.

Since Pygments is a library made for this task and it also provides a command line tool: pygmentize. It took me some time to use the tool the right way and produce the result I was looking for.

To show how I ended up using it, I’ll use fd as an example, a Ruby utility I wrote that dumps file contents as hex codes and utf-8 characters.

The command below is run inside a directory that contains a sub-folder ‘bin’, and inside that a (Ruby) file fd. To achieve this you can do the following (preferably when in a folder where you keep your cloned Git repositories):

> git clone git@github.com:s2k/fd.git
Cloning into 'fd'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 532, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (57/57), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (9/9), done.
remote: Total 532 (delta 48), reused 53 (delta 47), pack-reused 475
Receiving objects: 100% (532/532), 105.97 KiB | 526.00 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (261/261), done.
> cd fd

Here’s the command to create an HTML file using the given theme:

> pygmentize -l ruby -O full,style=monokai,linenos=1 -o fd.html -f html bin/fd

Here’s what the Parameters mean:

-l ruby
Set Ruby as the language to ge highlighted.
-O full,style=monokai,linenos=1
full generates output that includes everything to display the colourised code.
style=monokai sets the theme to ‘Monokai’.
linenos=1 displays the line numbers in the output.
-o fd.html
Set the output file name.
-f html
Set the output format to HTML.

When generating HTML, the full seems to be particularly important, as otherwise the HTML won’t contain the CSS used to colour the code.
The resulting highlighted code looks like this:

The colourised code of the file 'fd', including line numbers in front of each line.
The pygmentized source code

In case you’d like to experiment with pygmentize, here’s some zsh code that prints a sorted list of the styles it knows about:

> pygmentize -L styles | grep "* \(\w\+\):" | sed "s/* \([a-z_]*\):/\1/" | sort

Processing a Number of Image Files

This is, again, is mostly a note to my future self. 🙂

Occasionally, I need to process a bunch of image files in a batch. Most often it’s about resizing them, so they fit into a given format of at most xy pixels, or precisely into, say a square format. Here’s how I do it using ImageMagick and a bit of Ruby code:

Processing a single file

ImageMagick comes with convert (it’s linked to …/bin/magick on my machine), as command line tool for processing image files in a whole lot of ways. In order to resize a single file so that it ends up as a square image in a given number of pixels one can use the following on the command line (I use zsh on macOS):

convert input_file.jpg -resize 1200x1200 -background White -gravity center -extent 1200x1200 output_file.jpg

This command

  • reads ‘input_file.jpg’,
  • creates a new image with 1200⨉1200 pixels,
  • a white background,
  • resizes the input image as needed,
  • puts it in the center of the new image
  • and saves it as ‘output_file.jpg’.

Batch processing files

For this step, I use a Ruby script (of course this can also be done in zsh, bash, Python etc.):

images = Dir['file_pattern*.jpg']
images.each do |fn|
  `convert #{fn} -resize 1200x1200 -background White -gravity center -extent 1200x1200  #{fn.gsub(/\./, '_res.')}`
end

Tip: Be sure to use different names for the input and output file names.

Two Ways of Solo Programming

Occasionally, especially in times between (paid) projects, I program solo. This morning, I realised that I operate in two ‘modes’ which slightly differ in the way I leave the project I’m working on in the evenings.

One way of working is when I program along while working through a book. Currently, I’m reading ‘Agile Web Development with Rails 7‘ (by Sam Ruby & Dave Thomas). I very much leave the ‘Depot’ app (the example application used in the book) with a completed section and passing tests. The Part of the next section is a fresh starting point in the following morning.

The other way is when I’m progressing in a project, i.e. a library or tool, I work on. In these cases, I prefer to leave a (read: one) failing test in the evening, so it’s easy to remember what I was planning to do in the morning: To fix/implement the code to make the tests pass. Note though, that I do not commit & push this failing tests to version control.

This is neither a new nor my idea. Nick Holden wrote about in 2018 already, in his blog post ‘Try ending today with a failing test for a great start tomorrow‘.

Have you noticed differences in developing software (whether it’s the coding, testing, UX, or any other aspect of it), between times of working alone versus working in a team? What are they? I would be seriously interested in hearing about this.

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