A Weird Imagination

Limit processor usage of multiple processes

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The problem

In last week's post, I discussed using cpulimit on multiple processes in the special case of web browsers, but I wanted a more general solution.

The solution

cpulimit-all.sh is a wrapper around cpulimit which will call cpulimit many times to cover multiple processes of the same name and subprocesses.

Using that script, the follow is the equivalent of the script from last week to limit all browser processes to 10% CPU:

cpulimit-all.sh --limit=10 --max-depth=1 \
    -e firefox -e firefox-esr -e chromium -e chrome

But also, we can add a couple options to include any grandchild processes and check for new processes to limit every minute:

cpulimit-all.sh --limit=10 --max-depth=2 \
    -e firefox -e firefox-esr -e chromium -e chrome \
    --watch-interval=1m

The details

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Limit web browser processor usage

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The problem

cpulimit is a useful utility for stopping a program from wasting CPU, but it only limits a single process. As all modern web browsers use process isolation, limiting just a single process doesn't do very much, we actually want to limit all of the browser processes.

The solution

The following script will limit the CPU usage of all browser processes to $LIMIT percent CPU. Note that the limit is per process not total over all processes, so you may want to set it quite low to actually have an effect.

LIMIT=10 # Hard-code a limit of 10% CPU as an example.

# Kill child processes (stop limiting CPU) on script exit.
for sig in INT QUIT HUP TERM; do
  trap "
    pkill -P $$
    trap - $sig EXIT
    kill -s $sig "'"$$"' "$sig"
done
trap cleanup EXIT

# Find and limit all child processes of all browsers.
for name in firefox firefox-esr chromium chrome
do
    for ppid in $(pgrep "$name")
    do
        cpulimit --pid="$ppid" --limit="$LIMIT" &
        for pid in "$ppid" $(pgrep --parent "$ppid")
        do
            cpulimit --pid="$pid" --limit="$LIMIT" &
        done
    done
done

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Virtual microphone using GStreamer and PulseAudio

The problem

My previous post got the video from my smartphone to show up as a camera device on my desktop, but for a video chat, we probably also want audio. So, now the question is: how to build GStreamer pipelines that will allow minimal-webrtc-gstreamer to use virtual microphone and speaker devices that I can point a voice/video chat application at, allowing me to use my smartphone's microphone and speaker for applications on my desktop.

The solution

The following requires that you are using PulseAudio as your sound server and have downloaded minimal-webrtc-gstreamer:

pactl load-module module-null-sink sink_name=virtspk \
    sink_properties=device.description=Virtual_Speaker
pactl load-module module-null-sink sink_name=virtmic \
    sink_properties=device.description=Virtual_Microphone_Sink
pactl load-module module-remap-source \
    master=virtmic.monitor source_name=virtmic \
    source_properties=device.description=Virtual_Microphone
./minimal-webrtc-host.py\
    --url "https://apps.aweirdimagination.net/camera/"\
    --receiveAudioTo device=virtmic\
    --sendAudio "pulsesrc device=virtspk.monitor"\
    --sendVideo false --receiveVideo false

You can reset your PulseAudio configuration by killing PulseAudio:

pulseaudio -k

You can make the PulseAudio settings permanent by following these instructions to put them in your default.pa file.

The details

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Virtual web cam using GStreamer and v4l2loopback

The problem

I want to make my smartphone's camera appear as an actual camera device on my desktop so any application (primarily Discord) can use it like it were a normal USB web cam.

My previous post introduced minimal-webrtc-gstreamer, which got as far as getting the video stream from any web browser into a GStreamer pipeline, which reduces the problem to outputting a GStreamer pipeline into a virtual web cam device.

The solution

Download minimal-webrtc-gstreamer and install v4l2loopback. Then run

sudo modprobe v4l2loopback video_nr="42"\
    'card_label=virtcam'\
    exclusive_caps=1 max_buffers=2
./minimal-webrtc-host.py\
    --url "https://apps.aweirdimagination.net/camera/"\
    --receiveVideoTo /dev/video42\
    --sendAudio false

You can test by watching the stream with

gst-launch-1.0 v4l2src device=/dev/video42 ! autovideosink

Note that some applications, including the current desktop release of Discord may not support the virtual camera, showing a solid black square or failing to connect to it at all. It should work in the latest Chromium/Chrome browser, including for the Discord web app.

When done, remove the virtual camera device:

sudo modprobe -r v4l2loopback

The details

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GStreamer WebRTC

The problem

In my previous posts on minimal-webrtc, I set up a peer-to-peer connection between the web browsers on two different devices. For more flexibility, including making the remote camera and microphone appear as local camera and microphone devices, we need to handle the WebRTC connection outside of a web browser.

The solution

minimal-webrtc-gstreamer is a command-line client for minimal-webrtc written in Python using the GStreamer library. It's mostly a modification of the webrtc-sendrecv.py demo script to use minimal-webrtc as the signaling server to make it easier for me to tinker with.

Run as follows:

./minimal-webrtc-host.py\
    --url "https://apps.aweirdimagination.net/camera/"\
    --receiveAudio --receiveVideo any

It will output a URL as text and QR code for the other device to connect to. With those options, the output from that device's camera will be shown on screen and the output from its microphone will be played through your speakers. That device will be sent video and audio test patterns. See ./minimal-webrtc-host.py --help for more information.

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Kill child jobs on script exit

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The problem

When writing a shell script that starts background jobs, sometimes running those jobs past the lifetime of the script doesn't make sense. (Of course, sometimes background jobs really should keeping going after the script completes, but that's not the case this post is concerned with.) In the case that either the background jobs are used to do some background computation relevant to the script or the script can conceptually be thought of as a collection of processes, it makes sense for killing the script to also kill any background jobs it started.

The solution

At the start of the script, add

cleanup() {
    # kill all processes whose parent is this process
    pkill -P $$
}

for sig in INT QUIT HUP TERM; do
  trap "
    cleanup
    trap - $sig EXIT
    kill -s $sig "'"$$"' "$sig"
done
trap cleanup EXIT

If you really want to kill only jobs and not all child processes, use the kill_child_jobs() function from all.sh or look at the other versions in the kill-child-jobs repository.

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Pelican publish without downtime

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The problem

My existing script for publishing my blog has Pelican run on the web server and generate the static site directly into the directory served by nginx. This has the effect that while the blog is being published, it is inaccessible or some of the pages or styles are missing. The publish takes well under a minute, so this isn't a big issue, but there's no reason for any downtime at all.

The solution

Instead of serving the output/ directory, instead generate it and then copy it over by changing the make publish line in schedule_publish.sh to the following:

make publish || exit 1
if [ -L output_dir ]
then
    cp -r output output_dir/
    rm -rf output_dir/html.old
    mv output_dir/html output_dir/html.old
    mv output_dir/output output_dir/html
fi

where output_dir/ is a symbolic link to the parent of the directory actually being served and html/ is the directory actually being served (which output/ previously was a symbolic link to).

The details

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Serverless WebRTC

The problem

While in my last post, I said serverless WebRTC was too cumbersome, I wanted to try to see how streamlined I could make the process. While researching, I did find a variant of serverless-webrtc called serverless-webrtc-qrcode as well as a similar demo, webrtc-qr that both use QR codes as an easy way to transmit the offer strings. But both require that both sides have a camera to scan QR codes, while my use case is a WebRTC connection between my desktop without a camera and my smartphone.

The solution

minimal-webrtc now has a checkbox to enable serverless mode. In that mode, the QR code shown by the host is a much longer URL that includes the initial WebRTC offer. Opening that URL on another device (or in another browser window) will show another QR code along with a "Copy" button. With the first device, either press the "Scan QR code" button and point it at the QR code or use some other mechanism to copy the text and paste it into the text area labeled "Paste offer here:".

To run it locally, download the source code and run a web server to serve the wwwroot/ directory. If both devices can run a web server, then you can just access it via localhost on each, but, as before, because WebRTC requires HTTPS, to run it on your local network, you may need to set up a self-signed certificate.

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Minimal WebRTC

The problem

I wanted to stream video of myself and my screen at the same time. My plan was to put the video of myself on my screen and stream the entire screen, but I do not have a camera on my desktop. On the other hand, I do have a smartphone with a camera, so I needed a way to show the video from my phone's camera on my desktop's screen.

There are a few Android apps that promise to do so, but none of the ones I tried worked very well. But I know that video chat works just fine on my phone, including in a web browser using WebRTC which supports peer-to-peer video chat between two web browsers, so it should be easy to show the video from my phone's camera in a browser window on my desktop. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any straightforward solution for setting up just a peer-to-peer video link.

The solution

Open minimal-webrtc on the computer you want the video streamed to. A QR code will appear; use your smartphone to read it and after approving access to the camera, the video should appear in the first browser window. This is intended to be used for local connections, so it may not work if the two devices are not on the same network. Only the signaling to set up the connection goes to the minimal-webrtc server, the actual video will be sent peer-to-peer over the local network.

To get just the video as a bare window with no decorations, use chromium --app=uri to get rid of the address bar, etc., and this script to remove the rest.

To host it yourself, download the source code1 and use the included run_daphne.sh script (which assumes daphne is installed) and nginx configuration. As WebRTC requires HTTPS, to run it on your local network, you may need to set up a self-signed certificate.

The details

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Extracting slides from video presentations

The problem

Washington state has been holding a lot of press conferences with updates about the COVID-19 situation recently. The information has always been summarized in a few slides during the video, but those slides and explanatory text are only posted separately several hours to a day later.

The solution

youtube-dl will download videos off Twitter just given the URL of the tweet like this one. Then clone and run slide-detector:

./slide-detector.py video.mp4 473 105 727 397

(requires opencv-python) where video.mp4 is the filename of the video and the relevant section of the video is a 727x397 rectangle whose top-left corner is at the coordinates (473, 105), which is the correct rectangle to crop the linked video to just the main video section (i.e. omitting the ASL interpreter who is always on screen). Omit the numbers to not crop the video.

The script will output the slides as image files in the current directory with names like static_at_3:55.jpg for the slide that appears on the screen 3 minutes and 55 seconds into the video.

The details

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