Archive for the ‘Linux’ Category

Hey! Wait a Mint-it…

Broken Cinnamon

Broken Cinnamon

I spent an entire night in frustration with this so if anyone has any ideas, I am all ears.

I upgraded my Linux install from Mint 13 (yes I know – old) to a fresh v15. After a couple hours the lappy locks up hard, and I mean hard. Video still running but nothing else working at all. No kb/mouse/ssh/nothing. I jumped to a VT and let it go until it hung again and see this (pictured). DAMN, I thought. I have a bad CPU – just my friggin luck. I decided to do a bit of googling around and I saw a post somewhere that someone had some hard lockups running Cinnamon on v13 (I think it was), so I figured I would install XFCE and let it run under that just for a test. Guess what? It ran all night under XFCE with no issues. Although I am relieved that I probably don’t need to buy another new laptop (I am so damn poor), I am somewhat frustrated by the effect of Cinnamon on my machine. Anyone, anyone?


Well, it finally happened again. It appears that it is actually the CPU. Dang.

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

CentOS 6 Linux Server Cookbook

CentOS 6 Linux Server Cookbook

CentOS 6 Linux Server Cookbook

OH YEAH! Another book review, and one on one of my favorite Linux distributions too!

Pakt Pub contacted me to do a review on their new CentOS 6 book, and boy was I excited at the chance. First of all, I generally like Pakt Pub‘s books, and second I really dig CentOS! Even better is this is all about using CentOS as a server, and I just happen to use quite a lot of CentOS as my preferred home server platform. And why, you may ask? Well, it very closely mirrors another enterprise level Linux that I use heavily in my professional environment. It’s good stuff.

I found this book particularly reminiscent of a few books I studied from to get my RedHat certs. There is a good bit of material in there – most things that a budging server administrator would want to know how to do, and it is formatted in a “recipe” format, which makes it fairly easy for readers to piece mail through if they are looking to do something specific in a hurry. I really like that kind of format because, lets face it, most of us have precious little time these days and reading line by line though technical materials is not usually high on our lists of things to spend our time on. Thankfully, as I said before, it’s easy to get to pertinent info here, and the writing is not really too dry or overly technical to begin with.

The book starts right out where it should by helping you not only download CentOS (for free of course), but also gives you example and instruction on several different installation methods. This is particularly useful for more advanced users because there are significant time savers to be had by using minimal and text method installs that most Linux books leave out. From there we are off to recipes for basic configuration changes like changing SELinux, IP addresses, time zone settings and the like. This is followed by a bunch of basic administrative info like using cron, starting services, package management and helping to secure your environment, before really focusing on what I like to refer to as the big 5 applications: Samba, Bind, MySQL, Mail and Apache. These are all covered in their own chapters, giving them plenty of room to address common specific topics and options. The only thing I found at all out of place is the last chapter which deals with FTP. I might be a little jilted here but it has been my experience that ftp usage is being deprecated in most places. But for those of you who do actually use it, this book covers setting up and using VSFTP, which can be daunting to get going without a little well written help, which this chapter *does* provide.

All in all, I find this a well written book covering what most system admins would really be looking for info on. In fact, this is one I really wish they had sent me in a paper edition so I could more easily loan it around to friends and coworkers whom, I am sure would find it helpful! At only $25.50 for the digital edition it would be silly for anyone new or unfamiliar with CentOS not to grab a copy before diving in. It will surely save you some time and aggravation and provide you with a good reference for future service additions and changes. It gets a nice thumbs up from me!

CentOS 6 Linux Server Cookbook

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

WOOT! Linux Mint 15 “Olivia” RC candidate released.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint

Yes, you heard it right! Get your backups up to date and your gear ready for the next release of the best Linux distribution available. Grab it here:

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Reviews a comin’!

OK, ok, so I have been a bit absent lately. I have been mind blowingly busy at work. That aside, I *have* still been vaping and occasionally even answering my emails. SO, that brings me to this:

I have some things I want to review and I thought I’d post a little teaser to know what to watch for. I still have some e-juice flavors to review that AquaVaporCig sent me (delicious stuff by the way). J-Wraps sent me some really cool e-cig wraps to review as well. PaktPub just sent me an e-copy of the CentOS 6 Linux Server Cookbook, which I am really anxious to delve into (loves me some CentOS, I do). I also bought a few e-cig mods like the Vamo, the CCTS, the Draw Tube, Silver Bullet, Provari Mini, Segelei ZMax, Innokin SVD and a couple more on the way. Then there are the accessories like the Kanger Pro Tank, the iClear 30, a Cobra clone and the Kick, by Evolv. Hints and tips along the way, and even a review on Drip Tips! Stay Tuned!

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

BackTrack 5 Cookbook: Quick answers to common problems

BackTrack 5 Cookbook

BackTrack 5 Cookbook

You know, sometimes, just sometimes something fortuitous happens to me. This was one of those times.

I was contacted by my friends over at Pakt Publishing to review their new book on BackTrack. Of course I said sure. Hey, I am a Linux junkie after all! It had actually been quite a while since I had played with BackTrack and this gave me *just* the incentive I needed, but let me tell you a bit about the book…

The book is a “cookbook” style book which gives you “recipes” or guided examples of common problems/scenarios and their fixes. The book is well written, a good reference for a pro, and a great tutorial for the beginner, and by beginner I am assuming that the person *does* have Linux experience, just not BackTrack experience as some command line comfort is pretty much a necessity for this kind of work. The first 2 chapters start you out exactly the way they should, by installing and customizing the distribution. What they don’t tell you is it takes a good while to actually download the distro, but that is beside the point.

Once you actually get things running well, you can follow the book through some really decent examples from Information Gathering all the way through Forensics. The book covers all matter of subject matter and applications in between such as using NMAP, Nessus, Metaspolit, UCSniff and more. I mentioned that this was fortuitous for me and that was because one of the things the book covered was the Hydra program, and, as it turns out, that was the perfect tool for me to use in remediating some password synchronization issues across several hundred servers.

Anyone using a computer should have at least a basic understanding about keeping their valuable data safe, whether that data is for a multi-million dollar company or your own invaluable family photographs. This book goes to great efforts to not only explain how to detect, analyze and remedy such issues, but also gives important background about just how systems become vulnerable to begin with. If only for that reason alone, it’s worth the read. If you are actually a sysadmin, this information is a must. For $23 for the ebook version, it’s a no brainer. Good book. It helped me out and I’ll wager that if you give it a read it’ll do the same for you!

Monday, February 18th, 2013

BackTrack 5 Cookbook Review

BackTrack 5 Cookbook

The folks over at Pakt Publishing have asked me to review their new BackTrack Linux book, The BackTrack 5 Cookbook. Stay tuned right here for the review and in the mean time make sure to hit their website for more information!

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Linux Mint 14: Keyboard Shortcut Fix

Linux Mint

Linux Mint

Just a quickie update post before I forget. I mentioned one of the things I was still waiting for before I would start using Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Edition in earnest was the keyboard shortcuts needed to be fixed. Well, apparently that is not a priority because they are still broken. A quick search in the Mint forums, however, reveals a stellar work around that can be easily applied. Read more here.

Special thanks go out to ElectricKite for this one!

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Linux Mint 14 XFCE Edition

Linux Mint 14 xfce

Linux Mint 14 xfce

Woo! It has been a while since I posted about any linuxy things here and I was just going to veg today, but I promised 🙂

It’s no secret that I have had a thing for Linux Mint for quite a while. It is a solid reliable distribution that “just works” and, personally, it’s the one I have to piss with the least in order to get it working the way I like. That being said, as I posted about earlier, I noticed a few things on Mint 14 (Cinnamon) that contributed to keeping me off of it for a while. Most have been fixed, like the processor pegging, but the nagging issue with not being able to set custom keyboard shortcuts was a stinker. Honestly, at this point I have been so busy the last fre weeks I haven’t had a chance to see if that has been resolved yet. All that being said, I have this old laptop that I have traditionally run the XFCE edition on because it haqs lower resources. The XFCE edition has always worked a treat on this thing and I finally had the opportunity to upgrade from Mint 13 to 14 and really beat on it a little bit. In fact, that is what I am typing on now.

So just to be clear, I followed the recommended upgrade path, which is to say, clean reinstall. This seems to bother a lot of people but in Mint’s defense, I believe this is the best way to go from distribution to distribution. When you do an in place upgrade (which is possible) it takes tremendously longer imho, and then you are left sometimes with little residual bits and bobs issues to deal with that may or may not spring up on you at an inopportune time. Conversely, the clean install method of backing up your important bits, clean reinstall, and restoring the bits again is really relatively quick and painless. It does count on you having good backups, but, for sure, if you are doing an in place upgrade without good backups, you are lighting the disaster fuse 🙂

So, what is new on xfce edition? It doesn’t seem like there are any earth shattering changes here, mostly userland and kernel updates. Everything works really well and very quick, just as it did under 13. I would like to say I am surprised, but I am not. I have come to expect a certain level of quality from the Mint folks and they hardly ever disappoint. That’s why I always recommend their distribution, especially to newbies. People need to have a go-to distro that just works.

If you haven’t tried XFCE before and are contrasting it with Cinnamon or gnome (standard) you would certainly feel right at home and comfortable. While being a good bit lighter than the other DE’s xfce does well with providing you a similar set of programs, look and feel. Instead of a nautilus file manager, you generally have thunar, which works very well and much the same. Other differences are xfterm instead of gnome-terminal – still carries much of the same feel and functionality, etc.. You also have many of the same setup options, such as some ability for composting, screensavers, desktop backgrounds, virtual desktops and the rest of the things you are used to having control over. The menuing system has a bit of a different feel, but it is easily navigable.

As a lighter desktop option, there are still some things, some tweaks that you might need to take care of manually though. I will give you one example. For one reason or another xfce’s default icon text color was black. Well, as you can see from my screenshot, that doesn’t really work well for people like myself who like darker backgrounds (the default bg for Mint is a very light grey). I wanted to change that text color to white so I could, you know, read it 🙂 While not very hard, it involves editing the .gtk-xfce file in your home directory and changing all the color codes (3 there) from #000000 to #FFFFFF. The resulting file looks like so:

style “xfdesktop-icon-view” {
XfdesktopIconView::label-alpha = 0

widget_class “*XfdesktopIconView*” style “xfdesktop-icon-view”

The rest of the customization, outside of fixing network manager’s dns control, which I think is a horrible idea, is pure userland. There are a bunch of programs that I personally use that make me able to do what I do and I naturally put all my customization into a script to be able to share it. You’ll need to run this as root and not just sudo it to get it to work correctly. To oget to a root account simply open a term and do a “sudo su -” and you’ll br prompted for your password. Once you give it, you are root. Just run this program for all the goodies. One other oddity I found was that after the initial reboot, when you are logging in, you *must* choose xfce as your session type. If you do not, you won’t get a desktop environment 🙂 Once you choose it once, though, it’ll ask you if you want to make it your default. Yes is a good answer here 🙂 Then you’ll be a rockin’!

Here is



# Test for UID=0
if [ “$(echo $UID)” != “0” ]
echo “You must be superuser to run this program. Try ‘sudo su -‘ then ‘./’”

sed -i -e ‘s/dns=dnsmasq/#dns=dnsmasq/g’ /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf

apt-get update
apt-get -y install xterm
apt-get -y install openssh-server ssh
apt-get -y install sshfs
apt-get -y install smbfs
apt-get -y install irssi
apt-get -y install vpnc
apt-get -y install screen
apt-get -y install vlc
apt-get -y install mencoder
apt-get -y install vim
apt-get -y install moc
apt-get -y install subversion
apt-get -y install git
apt-get -y install curl
apt-get -y install php5-cli
apt-get -y install mutt
apt-get -y install clusterssh
apt-get -y install html2text
apt-get -y install autofs
apt-get -y install vncviewer
apt-get -y install dropbox
apt-get -y install sqlite
apt-get -y install links
apt-get -y install rdesktop
apt-get -y install expect
apt-get -y install mysql-client
apt-get upgrade

for service in rsync virtualbox-guest-utils dns-clean pppd-dns saned speech-dispatcher ; do update-rc.d $service disable; done


Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Linux Mint 14

Linux Mint

Tonight on the TechShow I will reveal some **super secret** information from Clem regarding Linux Mint 14! Tune in tonight, Wednesday November 28th at 8:30pm EDT! Get directions at

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012


WTH Mint-14!? Cinnamon runs at 17% cpu (doing NOTHING), Gnome3 at 7.x%, xfce at 2.x% and Fluxbox at 0.x%… GAHHH! FIX ME PLEASE!!!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012