Escape with Spacemacs in Tmux

21 October 2020

I’ve occasionally been using a SSH session from my Pixel phones for years to login to my servers and write Clojure code in Emacs. I’d often run into an issue where I find myself having a weird time switching between NORMAL and INSERT modes when I’d hit ESCAPE quickly and try to move the cursor.

Googling my random problems is a favorite pastime, and I’ve finally stumbled upon an article about tmux and vim escape key. I learned that it’s probably been tmux sporadically eating my ESCAPE key, so I’ve tried disabling the built-in delay by adding to my .tmux.conf:

set -g -s escape-time 0

Templates and Snippets in Emacs

30 August 2020

I was only trying to write that last article, but it took me days to finally do it. I had so much work to do before I got there.

I had come to appreciate Emacs automatically inserting the boilerplate namespace declarations in new Clojure files, and I really thought I needed such convenience for my blog posts written in AsciiDoc in JBake. I dove down a 20-tab-deep, yak-shaving hole to get it done. [1]

I had to figure out the right search terms and names for what Emacs was doing for me. I finally found yatemplate which seems similar to yasnippets. Spacemacs has the templates layer for integrating yatemplate support, so I added that layer and created a template for my adoc files in my .emacs.d directory. My simple case worked, but I recognized that I’ll want that template on all my machines, so having a local copy of it wouldn’t cut it. I needed a way to check-in and version more Emacs/Spacemacs files than just my ~/.spacemacs files I was previously distributing.

I learned yasnippets would default to looking in ~/.spacemacs.d/ if the configuration was in there, so I had to move my ~/.spacemacs file over to ~/.spacemacs.d/init.el. To have the templates layer source templates from the .spacemacs.d directory, it required an extra bit of configuration when introducing it to the dotspacemacs-configuration-layers:

  (templates :variables templates-private-directory "~/.spacemacs.d/templates")

At this point, I could now commit my .spacemacs.d directory with the regular configuration file and the supporting templates and snippets. All those files will be cloned to all my workstations.

I was almost ready to write that article, but yasnippet and yatemplate have this fancy templating language. I’m sure that can make my article-creation even smarter! I read a bit more and found a couple cool elisp functions for automatically filling in the date and building a title from the file name. With the final enhancements to my adoc template, I could write the article, if I could only remember what I was trying to do in the first place. I hope to at least remember how to use these snippets and templates for future work.

1. I often measure task complexity in the number of tabs I end up having opened.


18 September 2018

Months ago, I started setting up LetsEncrypt using certbot on my Debian web server. It hosts multiple virtual hosts, so I setup 2 different sets of certificates: one for and the other for

On Debian, at least when I got started, it was recommernded to have certbot shutdown your apache2 and let it start its own temporary web server to verify the LetsEncrypt setup (--authenticator standalone). The other trick is to register multiple domain names for one certificate by repeating the -d option. I did this with this invocation:

certbot \
    --pre-hook "systemctl stop apache2" \
    --post-hook "systemctl start apache2" \
    --authenticator standalone \
    --installer apache \
    -d \
    -d \

I got it started a couple months ago, but I didn’t know how to setup multiple domain names, so I was always getting errors that this certificate was for a different name: instead of, etc.

That’s all sorted out now, and all my sites should be SSL all the time.

For more information on setup, certbot has a great set of guides based on your OS and web server.

Reclaiming Drives to Build a New RAID

07 January 2018

A couple years ago, I replaced my old spinner drives with matching SSDs. I left the old drives mounted but disconnected the cables. I’ve been watching my photo collection grow and consume about half my live storage, so I figured it was time to bring those slower spinning drives back online, so I can move my archive of old photos off my fast drives and get a little extra room.

I plugged in the first drive, and observed that it fortunately did not try to join the existing RAID arrays. lsblk showed me a list of drives and partitions and how they were currently used, so I could confidently cfdisk /dev/sda to wipe and recreate 1 primary partition on the drive as type fd (Linux raid autodetect). I rebooted to see the new partition table, and then installed and did the second drive (/dev/sdb in my case).

I setup the new drives in a mirror:

# create a new RAID1 mirror out of those new partitions:
mdadm --create /dev/md2 --level 1 --raid-devices=2 /dev/sda1 /dev/sdb1

# to ensure it's still called md2, and not md127 on reboot
update-initramfs -u

# create a filesystem
mkfs -t ext4 /dev/md2

# mount it to copy
mkdir /mnt/new
mount /dev/md2 /mnt/new

# migrate all my photos
rsync -av /home/john/Photos/ /mnt/new

After the initial migration, I tested it:

  • Rebooted

  • Checked that the array is there with the same name: cat /proc/mdstat (It initially had not kept the name, and that’s when I learned to update-initramfs above.)

  • Mounted the new array as /home/john/Photos,

  • Checked that Digikam still works.

That looked good, so it’s time to make it permanent:

  • Unmounted the new filesystem

  • Deleted all the old contents of /home/john/Photos

  • Added the new array to the /etc/fstab to mount it automatically

  • Rebooted!

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