Inkplate 6, A “versatile, easy-to-use, Wi-Fi-enabled e-paper display”

eink

So, my good friend, the Libre Hacker, sent me a link to a new e-paper display that is pretty cool and completely open source! It is the new Inkplate 6. It’s build on the ESP32, which means you can use the Arduino suite to program it, which is really convenient.

It’s pretty nifty, displaying at around 250 ms screen refresh rate and comes in an 800×600 resolution for grey-scale and black and white. Now I’m just waiting for someone to build the newest, open source e-reader with it….

Linux – keep it simple.

Using A NetGear AC600 (A6100) With Linux Successfully!

Due to a few changes at work, I was in need of an USB WiFi adapter for my desktop computer. Of course, I’m running Linux, and while that shouldn’t make things complicated, when it comes to hardware, sometimes it does.

There are tons of great WiFi adapters that work great out of the box with Linux. There are even numerous Open Source, and some Open Hardware versions too. However, in Alaska, you typically have to order out for something like that. Instead, I needed a WiFi adapter today, not in the mail.

A quick run to a local “buy your groceries and everything else” (Jack of all trades, master of none) store provided me with few options. However, a quick web search proved that the AC600 (model A6100) USB adapter was working for others on Linux, so I picked that up.

41WBoY-N-0L._SL160_

Unfortunately, my first web search led me to source code which I downloaded and compiled, but it did not work. Apparently there are more than one generation with the same model number, and those drivers didn’t help me. However, further search lead me here: https://wikidevi.com/wiki/Netgear_A6100, which lead me here: https://github.com/abperiasamy/rtl8812AU_8821AU_linux .

I don’t want to rehash the already great instructions provided, so you can read that page for the full details, but here is my history from my terminal:

2015 git clone https://github.com/abperiasamy/rtl8812AU_8821AU_linux
2016 cd rtl8812AU_8821AU_linux/
2017 make
2018 sudo make install
2019 sudo modprobe -r 8812au
2020 sudo modprobe -a rtl8812au
2021 sudo iwconfig
2022 history
2023 sudo nano /etc/modules
2024 sudo apt-get update
2025 sudo apt-get install dkms
2026 sudo cp -R . /usr/src/rtl8812AU_8821AU_linux-1.0
2027 sudo dkms add -m rtl8812AU_8821AU_linux -v 1.0
2028 sudo dkms build -m rtl8812AU_8821AU_linux -v 1.0
2029 sudo dkms install -m rtl8812AU_8821AU_linux -v 1.0

Long story short: If you follow the instructions, you will have this installed in under 15 minutes, and it does work! So, if you happen to have one of these, or need to use one on Linux, it is fairly simple and does function great!

Linux – keep it simple.

Checking the internet connection speed from the command line

Typically, if we want to check the internet connection speed, we can just use a web browser with any of the usual internet speed test sites. However, the other day I actually needed to test the internet connection speed on a machine without using a browser.

In this case the machine was old and the browser did not support flash, nor HTML5, which really cut down on available websites. A quick Google search led me to some options. If you are like me, you know how to use Google too, however, like myself, you may run into several options that lead to depreciated links, or missing files. So I thought I’d save you the trouble and post the working answer here.

I wrote a bash script to make it simple, you can see the contents of it here:

user@crunchbang:~$ cat checkinternetspeed.sh

#!/bin/bash

wget -O – https://raw.githubusercontent.com/sivel/speedtest-cli/master/speedtest.py –no-check-certificate | python

exit 0

And after giving it the proper execution attributes, I simply run the script:

user@crunchbang:~$ ./checkinternetspeed.sh

–2017-10-07 08:17:04–  https://raw.githubusercontent.com/sivel/speedtest-cli/master/speedtest.py
Resolving raw.githubusercontent.com… 151.101.52.133
Connecting to raw.githubusercontent.com|151.101.52.133|:443… connected.
WARNING: certificate common name “www.github.com” doesn’t match requested host name “raw.githubusercontent.com”.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response… 200 OK
Length: 47228 (46K) [text/plain]
Saving to: “STDOUT”

100%[========================================================================>] 47,228       116K/s   in 0.4s

2017-10-07 08:17:05 (116 KB/s) – written to stdout [47228/47228]

Retrieving speedtest.net configuration…
Testing from GCI (206.174.115.164)…
Retrieving speedtest.net server list…
Selecting best server based on ping…
Hosted by GCI (Anchorage, AK) [424.45 km]: 32.192 ms
Testing download speed……………………………………………………………………..
Download: 2.62 Mbit/s
Testing upload speed……………………………………………………………………………………
Upload: 3.58 Mbit/s
user@crunchbang:~$

Wow! 2.6 Mbit download speed! I was really cruising today! That’s a really simple way to check your internet connection speed from the command line, if you ever need it.

Linux – keep it simple.

How to use an old PCMCIA WiFi card?

While helping a friend of mine throw out some old junk, I came across a PCMCIA WiFi card. To be more precise, it was a Cisco Systems, Aironet 350 Series. Having several older laptops without built in WiFi, I thought that this was a truly great find!

The card was covered in mud and dirt, so I took a few minutes to clean the card with some isopropyl alcohol. Using cotton swabs on the surface, and more or less “dunking” the end of the card where the pins are, I finally got it cleaned up. I figured that I couldn’t hurt it any worse than riding around in the back of my friends truck while it rained, and it turns out I was right. After the cleaning, the card still worked when I plugged it in.

I decided to try it out on my old IBM Thinkpad T30, running Ubuntu 14.04, 32 bit. After plugging it in, the operating system picked it right up, and loaded all the appropriate modules. Within a minute I had the Network Manager open and was scanning for local WiFi networks. There were several available, but I clicked on my usual connection, and was prompted for the password. After entering the appropriate password, I clicked okay.

That’s where the happy part of the story ends. It couldn’t connect. But why?

At first I thought I miss-typed the password, which I proved not to be the case after trying it several times. Then I decided to try some other networks, which also didn’t work. Finaly, I resorted to the internet, where I read this little tidbit:

“Note: Cisco Aironet 350 Series products does not support WPA2 because their radios lack AES support. It is necessary to upgrade to Cisco Aironet Series access points and client devices that support AES if WPA2 is used.”

Suddenly, everything became clear. I started an open guest network from a WiFi access point, and immediately was able to connect. I then changed that network to WEP encryption, and again was able to connect. It appears that the lack of AES support keeps you from using this card on a WPA2 network, which is the “de facto” standard for modern day networks.

Unfortunately, unless you are using open “cafe style” WiFi connections, or old school WEP security, the only thing this card is good for is a coffee coaster.

Linux – keep it simple.