Managing Multiple Versions of Visual Studio

In my previous post, I described how to build an old version of GNU Make for Windows. While working on that I wanted to be able to test out different versions of Visual Studio to see if it builds successfully. Quickly switching between versions of Visual Studio was difficult so I created a batch file to help make it a lot easier.

This script takes a single argument that specifies which version of visual studio you want to set up and it then calls the appropriate vsvars32.bat file for that version of Visual Studio.

@echo off

if "%1" == "vs4" goto vs4
if "%1" == "vs6" goto vs6
if "%1" == "vs2003" goto vs2003

goto argerror

:vs4
pushd C:\msdev\bin
call vcvars32 x86
popd
goto done


:vs6
pushd C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\VC98\Bin
call vcvars32
popd
goto done


:vs2003
pushd "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003\Common7\Tools\"
call vsvars32.bat
popd
goto done

:argerror
echo no Visual Studio version specified!
echo usage: setupenv [version]
echo    where version is one of the following: vs4, vs6, vs2003

:done

Compiling Old Versions of GNU Make for Windows

I needed to build GNU Make v3.8 for Windows, turns out that this is not straightforward and I needed to patch the build script to get it to correctly build. GNU Make 3.8 is a very old version of make, the release note dates back to 2002.

The first issue is it needs an old version of Visual C++, trying to build using VS 2019 you will get a lot of warnings about deprecated flags. Reading the README.W32 file it mentions MSVC 5.x and MSVC 6.x. I opted for MSVC 6 which I happened to have a copy of in a Windows 2000 VM.

The first issue we need to resolve is a linking error caused by a missing library.

Looking through the build output we can see that it cannot find "config.h", which prevents the "subproc.lib" library from compiling which subsequently causes the error we just saw.

C:\BUILD\xxx\make-3.80\w32\subproc>cl.exe /nologo /MT /W3 /GX /Z7 /YX /Od /I .. /I . /I ../include /I ../.. /D WIN32 /D
WINDOWS32 /D _DEBUG /D _WINDOWS /FR.\WinDebug/ /Fp.\WinDebug/subproc.pch /Fo.\WinDebug/ /c sub_proc.c
sub_proc.c
sub_proc.c(9) : fatal error C1083: Cannot open include file: 'config.h': No such file or directory

The reason that "config.h" does not exist is that the file is not created by the build script. The line in the build script that creates it doesn’t get run, this is because there is a “+” at the beginning of the line which stops this line from running.

set make=gnumake
+if not exist config.h copy config.h.W32 config.h
cd w32\subproc

Removing the plus at the beginning of the line allows "subproc.lib" to be compiled and linked, but we still get linker errors.

C:\BUILD\xxx\make-3.80>echo WinRel\pathstuff.obj  1>>link.rel

C:\BUILD\xxx\make-3.80>echo off
"Linking WinRel/gnumake.exe"
function.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_init
variable.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_init
file.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_init
dir.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_init
read.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_init
variable.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_insert_at
file.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_insert_at
dir.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_insert_at
read.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_insert_at
variable.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_deleted_item
file.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_deleted_item
dir.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_deleted_item
read.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_deleted_item
variable.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_find_slot
file.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_find_slot
dir.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_find_slot
read.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_find_slot
variable.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_find_item
file.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_find_item
dir.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_find_item
function.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_find_item
variable.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_free
read.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_free
function.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_free
variable.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_map
file.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_map
variable.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_delete
file.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_delete
variable.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_print_stats
file.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_print_stats
variable.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_map_arg
file.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_dump
dir.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_insert
function.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_insert
function.obj : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol _hash_load
.\WinRel/gnumake.exe : fatal error LNK1120: 13 unresolved externals
"WinRel build failed"

C:\BUILD\xxx\make-3.80>

There’s a lot of unresolved symbols, I searched for "hash_insert_at" and found the definition for it in "hash.c". Looking through the build script it turns out that this file is not included in the build. I added the following two lines to "build_w32.bat" just after "implicit.c" is compiled.

cl.exe /nologo /MT /W3 /GX /YX /O2 /I . /I glob /I w32/include /D NDEBUG /D WINDOWS32 /D WIN32 /D _CONSOLE /D HAVE_CONFIG_H /FR.\WinRel/ /Fp.\WinRel/%make%.pch /Fo.\WinRel/ /c hash.c
echo WinRel\hash.obj >>link.rel

Running the build script again, and voilà…..

C:\BUILD\build\make-3.80>echo off
"Linking WinRel/gnumake.exe"
LINK : warning LNK4089: all references to "ADVAPI32.dll" discarded by /OPT:REF
"WinRel build succeeded!"

C:\BUILD\build\make-3.80>

YAY!!! It now compiles, and we have gnumake.exe.

Fixing Code Block Alignment

I’m using the Enlighter plugin for WordPress to syntax highlight code snippets in posts. When using the TwentyTwenty theme the code snippets are left-aligned instead of centered in the post. This is a known compatibility issue for this plugin, and there is a fix detailed on Github.

.enlighter-default{
    margin: 0 auto 1.25em auto;
}

I’ve already created a child theme based on TwentyTwenty so it was easy to add the above CSS to the stylesheet, and et viola, the code snippets are correctly aligned now.

Compiling OpenSSL 1.0.2d on 64-bit Cygwin

Out of the box I couldn’t get OpenSSL to compile on 64-bit Cygwin, below are the steps I used to successfully compile it.

  1. Use “tar xf openssl-1.0.2d.tar.gz” to decompress the source
  2. Add  options=”$options no-asm” to line 913 of config
  3. Run ./config
  4. Change -march=i486 to -march=x86-64
  5. Run make
  6. All done

Note that I had to use tar to decompress it as 7zip wreaked the symlinks used in there which caused some #includes to fail.

Handling SIGUSR1 in GDB

I was debugging a project that used SIGUSR1 heavily, GDB stops on SIGUSR1 by default and it was making debugging a pain when I didn’t care when the signal was being generated. So here is now to set how GDB interprets signals.

By entering the following into the GDB prompt you can instruct it to not print, or stop when the signal happens and to pass it to the program.

handle SIGUSR1 nostop noprint pass

Building RTLSDR and GNURadio

I recently brought a USB DVB-T dongle that is based on the Realtek RTL2832U chip which, with RTLSDR, can be used as a really low cost SDR. This is because it can be setup to return the raw I/Q samples to the host PC.  Once you have the samples they can then be processed, I tend to use GNURadio for the processing.

There is a script available that downloads and installs everything, RTLSDR, GNURadio, and more. I recomend you try it first. I think there is also a new project from the GNURadio people that will automate building and installing. I had had some issues with building gr-audio when I wrote this so I use the manual method of building the code for now.

First of all make sure you have all of the dependencies GNURadio has, see http://gnuradio.org/doc/doxygen/build_guide.html for a list of them.

Once you have made sure you have all of the libraries that GNURadio needs you can build the code.

mkdir build
cd build
cmake ../
make && make test

sudo make install

This whole process can take a while to complete. On my work machine it took nearly 40mins! I had an issue building the gr-audio on my laptop that I still haven’t been able to resolve.

Next I built downloaded and extracted the RTLSDR source code. As with GNURadio we need to create a build directory and run cmake.

mkdir build
cmake ../
make

Then I ran a few commands to check that the code and the dongle worked correctly. The first tests to make sure samples are being returned at the correct rate and the second will receive and demodulate a WBFM station.

rtl_test
rtl_fm -f 97.1e6 -W -s 1000000 -r 48000 – | aplay -r 48k -f S16_LE

And that’s it! Now I’m going to play around with GRC and sound card I/O.

Playing Around with dwm

I use i3 as my main window manager but I like to play around with others so I know what’s out there. One of the window managers that I find very interesting is dwm. It is a very small window manager, about 2k lines of code and you configure it my changing a header file and re-compiling. Definitely not beginner-friendly!

To make playing easier I wanted to run dwm inside i3, that way I don’t have to keep logging in and out. I could have used a VM but the same problem would exist. Below is the shell script I use to do this. I found out how to do this from LinuxExchange.

#!/bin/bash
xhost +local:<USER>
Xephyr -screen 800x600 -reset -terminate -extension GLX 2>/dev/null :1 &
export DISPLAY=:1
 
./dwm
./dwm

For some reason I need to run dwm twice before it works, the first time it says “dwm: cannot open display”. Anyone know why this is happening? Below is a screenshot of dwm running emacs, it is the bottom right panel. The panel to the left is emacs editing the config.h file.

So far I have modified the background colour of the status bar and set the status message. To set the status message all you need to do is set the WM_NAME property of the root window. Most systems have a utility that lets you do this in the command line.

xsetroot -name “Hello World”

You can also use this utility to change the background colour, I did a similar thing for i3.

xsetroot -solid “#222222″

Links
http://dwm.suckless.org/
http://dwm.suckless.org/tutorial 

Converting a String to a Double (with SI prefixes)

Engineers and scientists will often use SI prefixes to make writing down very large, and very small, numbers easier. Writing down 3 GV is much better than 3000000000 V :). I’m currently working on a couple of software projects, both at home and work, where I’d like the ability to enter numbers with SI prefixes for convenience.

First I decided to write down the different styles of input my code will have to support, below is the list of styles I came up with.

Now I know what I want the code to do I can start writing it. I created a dictionary containing the prefixe character and the associated multiplier. I am writing this code in C# by the way, and used LINQPad to try it all out. Once I had it working I put into the class library I was working on.

private readonly Dictionary Prefixes = new Dictionary(){
    {'P', 1e15},
    {'T', 1e12},
    {'G', 1e9},
    {'M', 1e6},
    {'k', 1e3},
    {'h', 1e2},
    {'d', 1e-1},
    {'c', 1e-2},
    {'m', 1e-3},
    {'u', 1e-6},
    {'n', 1e-9},
    {'p', 1e-12},
    {'f', 1e-15},
};

Then I wrote a method that will take in the input string and convert it to a double. The first thing the method does is check to see if it is a plain number that Double.Parse() can take care of, it does this check using a regex. If the Regex matched then it simply calls the Double.Parse() method and returns the result.

If the regex fails then it check using two more regexes if the number looks like it contains SI prefixes. If it does then we find out what prefix is used then remove the prefix and convert the number.

I am not very good with regular expressions so there may be better ways of writing them than this. I have tested this code quite a bit with different types of input and it seems pretty solid. It will throw a FormatException if anything goes wrong.

// These are the regexes used by the method. These are initialised in a constructor.
Regex plain_number_regex = new Regex(@"^[+-]?(?=[\.\d])\d*(\.\d+)?$"); // For .2222, 0.222, 2.32
Regex si_number_a_regex = new Regex(@"^[+-]?[\d]+[PTGMkcmunpf]?[\d]*$"); // for 2k, 2k2
Regex si_number_b_regex = new Regex(@"^[+-]?[\d]+(\.\d+)?[PTGMkcmunpf]?$"); // For 1.2k
 
public double ParseInputStringSI(string input)
{
    // Test to see if it is a plain number with no SI prefixes
    if (plain_number_regex.IsMatch(input)) {
        return Double.Parse(input);
    }
 
    // Test to see if it is a number with an SI prefix.
    if(si_number_a_regex.IsMatch(input) || si_number_b_regex.IsMatch(input) ) {
        // Find where in the string the prefix is and what
        // kind of prefix it is.
        var input_prefix = from p in Prefixes.Keys
                           where input.IndexOf(p) > 0
                           select input[input.IndexOf(p)];
 
        // Make sure the above query worked. There should be
        // no reason for it to fail because the Regex checks
        // the prefix characters.
        if (input_prefix.Count() == 0) {
            throw new FormatException("Invalid Input");
        }
 
        // Get the multiplier for the prefix
        var multiplier = Prefixes[input_prefix.First()];
 
        // Ether replace the prefix with a decimal point or
    // remove it entierly. Depends on the format of the
    // input.
    string inputp;
    if( si_number_a_regex.IsMatch(input) ) {
            inputp = Regex.Replace(input, @"[PTGMkhdcmunpf]", ".");
    } else {
        inputp = Regex.Replace(input, @"[PTGMkhdcmunpf]", "");
    }
 
        // Attempt the conversion, multiply it then return it.
        var tmp = Double.Parse(inputp);
        return tmp * multiplier;
    } else {
        throw new FormatException("Input String is Invalid");
    }
}

Getting a List of the Available COM Ports in C#

It’s really nice to show the user a list of the COM ports they actually have on their machines. All too often I have seen software that makes you type in the COM port name. Even worse are the applications that force you to select from a list of COM ports, usually COM1 to COM5, without the option of typing in a different one!

Below is some really simple code that generates a list of the available COM ports and inserts the list into a drop-down selection control in a WinForms application.

string[] ports = SerialPort.GetPortNames();
if (ports.Length > 0) {
    Array.Sort(ports);
    COMPort.Items.AddRange(ports);
    COMPort.Text = ports[0];
} else {
    COMPort.Text = "Unable to Detect COM ports";
}

Creating an IO Assignment Header File

When developing embedded firmware I like to define macros that provide aliases for the IO port registers that I need. The name of each of the macros will correspond to the net name on the schematic to make it easy to check for errors. I put all of these macros into a single header file that I can include, I have sometimes seen these called board support packages. They can sometime be entire libraries that abstract details of the hardware. In my case they are just simple header files as that is all I need for now.

Recently I decided to automate some of the work of creating these files as it can be very time consuming. This is the Awk script I ended up with.

#!/usr/bin/awk -f
{
    if ($0 == "") next;
 
    if ($2 == "PORTA") { port = "A"; }
    if ($2 == "PORTB") { port = "B"; }
    if ($2 == "PORTC") { port = "C"; }
    if ($2 == "PORTD") { port = "D"; }
    if ($2 == "PORTE") { port = "E"; }
    if ($2 == "PORTF") { port = "F"; }
    if ($2 == "PORTG") { port = "G"; }
 
    print "#define " $1 "_PIN " $3;
    print "#define " $1 "_TRIS TRIS" port "bits.TRIS" port $3;
    print "#define " $1 "_LAT LAT" port "bits.LAT" port $3;
    print "#define " $1 "_PORT PORT" port "bits.R" port $3;
    print "";
}

All I need to do is write a space separated file in which each line contains the name I want, the port it is on and the number of the pin that it is attached to. Then this simple script generates the C code. This was for a PIC24F series micro, I have a slightly different script for a project involving a PIC32 which I may post later.

This makes creating BSP header files really easy, especially if you need to modify the pin assignments!

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