Category Archives: perl

Ripping unfinalized DVDs from Linux

Recently we had some DVD’s with old family videos that had been recorded directly but never finalized, the device that recorded them then broke so it was impossible to finalize them, and it seemed to be pretty much impossible for anything else to read them. So, I figured out a way to recover them using linux…

First I installed the dvd+rw-tools package on ubuntu and used that to get various info and prove that the DVD itself was readable even though nothing on the system could see it as a video disk or filesystem.

I then pulled the entire DVD into a file on the local computer for easier processing later. The command will produce lots of errors (as there are parts of the DVD that are not readable as they were never written to), but the output file (image.iso) will contain a full dump of the DVD eventually

I then put together a short perl script to search through this file for 1kb blocks beginning with the magic tag DVDVIDEO – these seemed to be the starts of individual chapters, which avconv (also called ffmpeg on some distributions) can then extract into proper video/audio.

Save that as extract_dvd_tracks.pl and then run it to extract them as files named like out0.mp4. Note that it won’t process tracks that are less than about 1Mb because there seemed to be a number of small sections like this which we wanted to skip over.

Job done! Note that there are probably many different formats and layouts for unfinalized DVD’s, this may be just one of many but hopefully the principle remains the same.

Uploading videos to YouTube with perl

As part of a perl project recently I needed to generate a load of videos (using the excellent MLT framework) and upload them to YouTube. As the bulk of the project was already in perl, I needed to write a YouTube upload module for it. Here’s a rough overview of how to authenticate and upload a video (chunked rather than loading it all into memory at once) with perl. Note as well it was quite a struggle to get long-term auth tokens from the Google services – one slight mistake with a parameter and they only give temporary grants which last for an hour or two rather than indefinitely.

As per this bug report you need to hack LWP::Authen::OAuth2::AccessToken::Bearer to enable the chunked uploads to work, otherwise it throws an error.

The auth_id and auth_secret parameters are given by the google code console when you sign up for YouTube API access, and the redirect_uri should be where the web app would redirect to after displaying the Google oauth permission grant screen. The first time you run the script, you’ll need to save the auth_code / auth_token parts and use them in future when calling. Even though it should grant a new auth token each time the script is run you still need to present the original one from the look of things.

Debugging perl memory leaks

In perl you hardly ever have to think about memory management. It has a great garbage collector, and aside from the issue of it not usually passing free memory back to the OS (but rather using it for new objects) it doesn’t have much in the way of memory issues. One exception however is if you are creating objects with circular references and you forgot to weaken one of them meaning that there is a dependency cycle and so the memory cannot be garbage collected. Fortunately weakening is very easy with Moo or Moose

If you start seeing memory leaks, it’s really simple to debug; just use the excellent Devel::Leak::Object at the top of your perl code:

Then, when your script exits it will print a list of all non-garbage collected objects still in existence. Look for a few with a high value and that’s where your memory leak is. Easy!

A source of random perl crashes

Recently we rolled out a new version of code to production and started observing a lot of segfaults being recorded to do with freeing memory:

Researching a bit further, I found that this was caused by some code which was meant to automatically save an object to the database when it was destroyed, if it had not already been saved:

Researching further, I discovered that the issue is to do with the way perl handles global destruction. During a normal object destroy phase this code will work just fine; however when the process is exiting and objects are being destroyed you don’t know what order they will be destroyed in. In this case I assume that the database object that we tried sending the object to had already been DESTROY/garbage collected which is what was causing the crash. Fortunately there’s quite a simple work-around:

If you want to support perl < 5.14 you should use the Devel::GlobalDestruction module. Moo provides this more easily via the DEMOLISH subroutine:

We had another similar issue when using Log4perl – if you try to access it from within the DESTROY scope the logger object may already have been destroyed and the process baloons in memory until it is OOM’d. Again just a check if you are in global destruction from within your logging function will handle this just fine.

Easily dumping sample data from any database

Following on from my previous post on the wonders of perl’s DBIx::Class::Schema::Loader, after you have dumped the schema using either the perl scripts provided or the dbicdump commandline tool, you can easily dump the first few rows of each table in JSON using the following very simple perl script:

To dump the whole table simply remove that rows => 10 bit (although as it loads each table into memory and keeps it there before dumping I wouldn’t advise this!)

Alternatively for a NoSQL database like MongoDB: