Archive for the ‘Internet & Networking’ Category

SSH – No Jumbo Frames for you!

Posted on May 2nd, 2014 in Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix | No Comments »

Ah Jumbo frames, the Power, the Speed, the pure goodness of MTU=9000 – well, not so fast if you want a stable SSH experience across the internet.

Here’s what I found; Debian + Jumbo Frames + AT&T Uverse = intermittent, hangs on terminal and SFTP sessions while remotely connected. Recently, I built a new Debian based (Actually, Linux Mint DE) system for the house that I plan to expose port 22 on for remote shell access. I know, pretty common stuff. During the setup of the OS, I started playing around with the MTU size, figuring like my FreeNAS box I should boost the value up from the base 1500 size. I made the config change, everything worked great – at least while I was on the LAN.

So the next week comes and I’m working down in Houston – I fire up an ssh session back to the Debian box, I connect without any problem, but then discover I can’t reliably issue even simple commands like “ls” without the session locking up, stalling, or just “hanging” there. But since the connection does not drop all together, I start troubleshooting other connection issues. It’s not till I SFTP to the box (also a port 22 action) that I begin to suspect something in the Debian side, rather then my client connectivity. My SFTP session, just like the terminal was able to connect and sustain a connection, but after maybe on directory refresh would “pause” or “hang” and exhibit the same type of behavior as the command line session.

Mulling all this over, I did the only logical thing an IT Pro would do…. Roll back my changes, setting the MTU back to the default 1500. And like-a-magic remote ssh traffic is back to normal.  So friends – learn from my greedy frame size experience.

Run-away Samba Logs from Hell!

Posted on January 5th, 2012 in Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix | No Comments »

I recently encountered a problem on a Linux/Samba server – A full root drive. Much to my surprise I found that a single file was consuming over 80 Gigs – Hu?! Turns out the culprit was a log.XXXX.old file generated by the Samba process.

These potentially high growth log files live in the /var/log/samba directory. While supposedly limited in size growth by the “max log size = XX” setting in the smb.conf file, I learned the hard way that this file size limitation does not apply to the .old archive of the live file. After the current active log file reaches the size determined by the max log size setting, the contents are appended onto an ever expanding log.XXXX.old file.

So what are the options to mitigate or manage these files? Of course as admins we should always be more proactive in managing and monitoring our systems logs and diagnostics – but there are only so many hours in a day. To that end I’m researching methods of log suppression. So far all my digging indicates that a “log level = 0” should cease all logging, but this does not appear to be the case as I see individual machine connection error logs continuing to generate.

So for now the symptom of a large log file has been identified, but the root cause as to why/how this file expanded remains a mystery.

FOG you, Ghost

Posted on February 18th, 2009 in Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix, Windows | No Comments »

Some of you who follow my twitter ramblings know that I recently completed an evaluation of Ghost Solution Suite vs FOG for a major system cloning project we have at work. Below are my final findings and recommendation that lead our organization to select the Open Source package FOG over our existing Symantec product. Please note, that we were already using Ghost Solution Suite version 1.0 not the most recent 2.5. Therefore this evaluation is really weighing whether to upgrade to 2.5, stay on 1.0 or migrate to FOG.

To FOG or not to FOG, that is the question?

So I’ve spent most of the day evaluating Ghost Solution Suite to better understand just what capabilities it offers. I’m ready to report those findings, and I’ll say upfront, while I don’t want this to appear like a “bash fest” it might start to sound that way. None-the-less, here is what I’ve found in several key areas we should consider.

Manageability: Ghost uses a tried and true File Based Image management system, accessed behind an MMC plugin. The MMC does appear to offer remote capabilities, so once this tool is loaded on a third machine you can access the server remotely. This model is similar to the SAV 10 and below model (a model that has been discontinued in favor of a Java approach beginning with SAV 11. It is also worth pointing out that this MMC model precludes access from any clients other then Windows. FOG utilizes a Web browser access front end atop a database driven model, therefore any computer with a browser can manage the cloning server.

Manageability Advantage: Neither

Platform Support: Ghost really starts to show its age here, OS support only extends up to XP in the core product and only up to Windows 2000 for the accompanying 3Com PXE services (more about these below.) Since there are no patches for version 1.0 the only recourse for additional OS and File systems would be to purchase an upgrade to the a newer version. While Vista support is not key to us now, at some point we will need to migrate to Vista or Win 7, both of which use a newer version of NTFS than XP. FOG presently supports Vista, and has a track record of regular updates.

Platform Support Advantage: FOG

Hardware / Network Interoperability: Since Ghost 1.0 is already a few years old it suffers from a lack of current H/W and NIC support. This is compounded by the fact that it outsourced the PXE Network Boot tasks to an OEM software package from 3Com, which was even older then Ghost. 3Com Boot Services 1.02 is so old it does not officially support Windows XP, just up to 2000. On top of this, the built in Ghost method for adding network cards is NDIS driver based, meaning that if we are imaging a system with a new / different model NIC, the driver must be found for it and then a custom boot image must be loaded on a USB or DHCP/PXE server for each different NIC. Compared to the FOG methodology where a single generic Linux kernel is pushed out, that then has custom behavior on a system by system basis – there is no comparison.

Hardware / Network Interoperability Advantage: FOG

Inventory Functionality: Unlike FOG, Ghost has no H/W level inventorying system. Since FOG treats each piece of hardware it encounters as a unique record (ala the NICs MAC address) in a MySQL DB, it provides detailed hardware level reporting, independent of the image loaded on the system.

Inventory Functionality Advantage: FOG

Training and Learning Curve: Perhaps the strongest argument in favor of Ghost is its familiarity. It has been in place here for some time and running atop a consistent Windows interface makes it operator friendly. FOG is a Linux only application and therefore some training will be necessary. This should be minimal as all management is web based and with PXE Netbooting on clients, there is no requirement, once the server is operational, for any deep Linux knowledgebase.

Training and Learning Curve Advantage: Ghost

Licensing and Cost: Since it is possible that Ghost 2.5 (the current version) addresses many of the current versions shortcomings, price does come into the picture, as we would be required to get on support or worst case re-purchase the whole product. Comparatively FOG is bound by its GPL 3 license to always exist in a free and open form. FOG’s version history goes back 25 steps right now, and there is no indication that the project will soon be discontinued.

Licensing and Cost Advantage: FOG

Conclusion

Given the overwhelming feature superiority of the Open Source package, FOG, and it’s low barrier of entry, financially and in training, I’m confident in recommending we migrate from Ghost to FOG.

VMWare Goodness – no make that Greatness!

Posted on October 2nd, 2008 in Business & Industry, Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix, Windows | No Comments »

I’ve been an ardent VMWare user and proponent for some time. But only recently have I had the opportunity to work with the VMWare flagship product, ESX Server. Let me just say…. Oh Good Lord!

Disclaimer: ESX is not for everyone, it is first and foremost a dedicated server product; not something you are going to load and play around with on a desktop pc. And until more recently, it has been a rather expensive endeavor, recently however, with the introduction of a freeware option (ala VM Server and Player), that has changed. VMWare ESXi is now free to use, and boosts the same Core Hypervisor as its costly big brother ESX. There is even an upgrade path to the fully licensed version, should you require the full VI3 management suite. If you have the datacenter class gear, and are in need of a full time Virtualized platform I can not stress enough how wonderful a solution ESXi is. I’m presently deploying ESXi on Dell servers (on select new models it is even available as a flash based boot module – for no charge!)

If your needs do not necessitate full time data center VM operations, you still should look at the latest incarnation of VM Server. Version 2.0 just went golden, and after playing with it on both Linux and Windows platforms the last week, I am equally impressed. Be forewarned, if you are a current VM Server 1.X user you are in for a shock – the new web based interface can be a little disorienting at first, but new and better functionality awaits. Just as before this product is completely free and absolutely suitable for production use.

Virtualization is unquestionably the wave of the future, both in servers and even on the desktop. If you have been waiting to dip a toe into the VM waters, wait no longer – with these new offerings from VMware now is the time to Virtulize!

French Fried BIOS!

Posted on May 26th, 2008 in Internet & Networking, Windows | No Comments »

Once in a while I pull a truly bone-headed move; last week I proved my own fallibility once again. It was a simple goal really; patch up my media center system. This included applying the new Vista SP1, updating my Nvidia and other system drivers, and hey, while I’m at it, might as well bump up to the latest motherboard BIOS.

How hard could this be, right? After all I’m an experienced IT professional. Over the years I have flashed literally hundreds of system BIOS, and up till a few days ago, without incident.

In retrospect there were some warning signs I should have headed. For starters, 1AM when you are about ready to turn in for the night – not the best time to flash your BIOS. Next, when looking up the new version of your BIOS on the manufacture’s web site, it’s helpful to know the exact model number of the motherboard rather then just “doing it by memory.” Finally, when you are at the command prompt and it warns you to be sure you have the right BIOS for your MoBo, get up off your butt and grab the manual or box for the motherboard and double check that you have downloaded the right one!

As you probably have guessed by now, I did not adhere to any of this great advice. And when the system rebooted after having flashed the wrong model BIOS, it became rather clear to me exactly what I had just done – Son-of-a-….

The Flashing Threat

While I managed to do this damage all on my own, some alarming news surfaced this past week indicating that malicious hackers are now contemplating the use of BIOS flashing attacks. These “Permanent Denial of Service” (PDOS) attacks would be used to infect routers and other such core network devices; and unlike other maliware and viruses, the goal of PDOS attacks is to cripple or completely destroy systems and networks.

Judging from my recent experience with an incorrectly flashed motherboard, I can attest to the lethality of such a scheme. A compromised system could not just be “re-formated” to factory defaults, as a messed up BIOS will leave the system totally inoperable.

BIOSMAN to the Rescue

After realizing my bush-league mistake I did what any technology professional would do – Cry. Ok, maybe that is an exaggeration, but I did start whining on Twitter about the situation, to which I received many concerned and compassionate replies. One particularly thoughtful suggestion was that I should simply enjoy my new piece of attractive wall art! :)

Thanks, but after the initial desperation and panic subsisted, I was able to locate several physical BIOS (Eprom) recovery/replacement services. I quickly settled on http://www.biosman.com/. After entering the requested information in the easy to follow online forms (step, by step asking about the make, model and other motherboard info), I was charged a modest fee. Even without selecting an express shipping method, my replacement BIOS chip arrived in the standard mail in under a week. Popping the new chip in was easy on my socketed motherboard, and presto! My media center was back up and at them.

While BIOSMAN is a wonderful service and deserves to be on your tech “oh shhhiiittt” goto list, I can’t stress enough how important it is to take care when patching your firmware. That, and the old axiom applies, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Podcast Picks Part II

Posted on May 14th, 2008 in Apple, Business & Industry, Gadgets, Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix, Tech & Science, Windows | No Comments »

As promised, I’m back with part two of my personal podcast selections.

Grammar Girl – http://grammar.qdnow.beta.libsynpro.com/rss

If your reading this blog post there is a good chance you are a blogger yourself, in which case this cast is a must for you. But regardless how you use the English language, Grammar Girl has helpful tips for you. Each installment of GG is quick and to the point, focusing on all kinds of grammar usage issues.

Linux Action Show – http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheLinuxActionShow

Begin tired old Cliché: “If you only listen to one Linux Podcast, this should be it!” Chris and Bryan are not only incredibly insightful and up on all the latest happenings surrounding the Open Source community, they put on one darn entertaining Podcast.

And if you want all the casts put on by this resourceful duo (like the afore mentioned CastaBlasta) you can subscribe to the unified Jupiter Broadcasting Feed at – http://www.jupiterbroadcasting.com/?feed=rss2

Linux Basement – http://feeds.feedburner.com/linuxbasement

Great Tutorials, Fantastic close-nit community and as if that is not enough, you get and Open Source Song every episode! Yes, you heard right an OSS “Song” performed by the ever talented Chad Wollenberg, host of the the Linux Basement.

Slashdot Review – http://slashdotreview.com/wp-rss2.php

Don’t have time to sift through all the great content on Reddit, Digg, Slashdot or a myriad of others, no worries, Andrew McCaskey does an amazing job editing and reading them to you. Under 15 minutes and you are up to date with the day’s tech/geek news.

Super Average Podcast – http://feeds.feedburner.com/SuperAveragePodcast

Looking for a great down to earth spiritual talk show? The interestingly named “Super Average Podcast” is a weekly round table of four everyday guys from different walks of life, talking about what faith means to them.

This WEEK in TECH – http://leoville.tv/podcasts/twit.xml

Leo Laporte, nuff said! Ok seriously if you have not ever heard of the “Twit Army” this is the Leo’s flagship podcast – part punditry, part news, part interview show, and plenty of random thoughts, This Week in Tech features a weekly round table (guests change from show to show) discussing the state of all things tech.

This will have to do for now, but you have gobs of stuff to listen to now, so find some new podcasts already.

Podcast Picks Part I

Posted on April 17th, 2008 in Apple, Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix, Tech & Science, Windows | No Comments »

Last week I blogged about the state of the Satellite radio landscape and the many great alternatives to fee based subscription radio. But let’s face it no matter how many MP3s you have at some point you may want to listen to some talk radio style programming.

To that end I have found an assortment of audio podcasts that inform, educate and challenge me on a regular basis. Hopefully you will find something new in this list that sounds interesting (sorry no pun intended.) Note: these are all audio programs, there are some wonderful video casts that warrant consideration – perhaps I’ll save those another post.

CastaBlasta Show – http://www.castablasta.com/?feed=rss2&cat=1

Newer show I’ve started to enjoy that centers around geek/nerd/sci-fi and entertainment culture. Three regular hosts, the same creative team that developed the Linux Action Show, put out this weekly review/recap of the stories ranging from movies to video games, book reviews to toys for the not so grown-up.

CNET’s Buzz Out Loud – http://www.cnet.com/i/pod/cnet_buzz.xml

“Welcome to CNET’s podcast of indeterminate length episode number 5,294,387!” Ok well maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but Molly Wood and Tom Merit, should be awarded some kind of medal for consistency and longevity! BOL is a daily, yes DAILY, 30 – 40 minute tech news and commentary show, summarizing the happenings of Silicon Valley, Redmond, and the greater tech world. High production values, methodic consistency and great hosts make this a must listen for every techy.

Cranky Geeks – http://feeds.ziffdavis.com/ziffdavis/crankygeekspodcast

“Arg – visit my blog @ www.dvorak.org/blog/” Love him or hate him Dvorak is a fixture in the computer journalism world, if you look up tech pundit in the dictionary, you’ll the host of the Cranky Geeks there. If there was any doubt in your mind, the show name it truth in advertising, each week John assembles a panel of feisty technology specialists for thirty minutes of banter (ala his old Tech TV show – Silicon Spin.)

Daily Audio Bible – http://feeds.feedburner.com/dailyaudiobible

Less is more, and in the case of bible study Brian Hardin provides daily readings from the scriptures with heart felt passion, high production values and minimal commentary. Refreshing and simple Brian has been reading various translations every day for three years now. Regardless of your spiritual position, incorporating 15 minutes of the Bible into your day is always positive.

FLOSS Weekly – http://leoville.tv/podcasts/floss.xml

Open Source Software is changing the way we use technology in our everyday life; whether you know it or not you are most likely already working with OSS. To this end Randal Schwartz and Leo Laporte host this weekly show that focuses each episode on an Open Source technology, usually via an interview with the inventor or author.

Fresh Ubuntu Podcast – http://feeds.feedburner.com/freshubuntu

If you “Heart” Ubuntu – this is the show for you! Don’t me wrong, other Linux Distros are welcome, but Harlem and Peter’s first love is for Ubuntu. This weekly Linux round-up features news and helpful tips along with a health dose of whatever is irking the hosts all in fast passing hour long show.

Next post I’ll continue this list with six more great podcasts, till then – happy listening!

Trying to Twitter

Posted on March 10th, 2008 in General, Internet & Networking, News & Updates | No Comments »

As I have oft pointed out, I don’t do most of the social networks out there, at least I don’t do them well apparently 😉 But recently I have started delving into the world of Twitter. So good, bad, or indifferent you can follow me now at http://twitter.com/ericdegen

MicroHooSoft: The Undoing of an Empire?

Posted on February 11th, 2008 in Internet & Networking, Windows | No Comments »

“Do you MicroHoo?” Nah, doesn’t have the same ring does it? however, judging from the recent semi-hostile bid from the folks at Redmond, product branding and name recognition are just a couple of trivial details Microsoft has not thought through with regards to the software giant’s bid to take over number two Internet search provider Yahoo. The past week’s happenings surrounding the possible acquisition of Yahoo have proved almost as interesting a drama as the political primaries, and they’re arguably just as pointless in the final assessment. Look at the players and consider what each has to lose and win and see why:

Microsoft

While Microsoft has done many things right; a consistent and successful Internet strategy has not been one of them. Therefore, their desire to purchase an under-valued web pioneer (Yahoo) is not surprising, and on the surface looks like a shrewd move even at the current offer of 44 Billion. Notice I say “current” – expect this number to go up! The thought of the Operating System / Application behemoth mated with Yahoo’s online market share congers thoughts of a technological juggernaut previously unequaled.

Fear mongers are quick to point out that such a marriage would certainly result in a monopoly that would crush all competition and leave only Google and Microsoft to slug it out for technological and market dominance on the web. Perhaps, perhaps not – Microsoft does not have the best track record absorbing companies, and they have never bit off a mouthful like this before.

Yahoo

While Google may be the reigning Silicon Valley media darling don’t kid yourself, Yahoo is no also ran. The undisputed veteran of the portal, Yahoo has over a decade in the space. Unlike others who have come and gone (remember: AltaVista or Dogpile?) Yahoo has not just rested on its past success, but has remained relevant via a combination of internal innovations, brilliant partnerships and enlightened acquisitions.

Yep, Yahoo has a lot going for her – and its not surprising that she is looking for a bigger Valentine’s gift then the current 62% per share premium MS is offering. But other than cash, certain to please share holders, what does Microsoft have to offer Yahoo long term?

Or does it matter, has Yahoo’s usefulness as an innovator been out lived? Yahoo Mail and Messenger platforms boast large users, but so do Hotmail and MSN Messenger, is there any motivation, specifically a financial one for them to be consolidated? Sure Flickr is sexy and drives traffic, but can it be monetized successfully? By these standards Yahoo should take the money and run, what Microsoft does with the brand and properties becomes secondary.

Google

And then there is the 800 pound gorilla in the mix – Google. Frankly, there are so many upsides for Google with the possibility of a Microsoft/Yahoo merger, the entire Mountain View campus has to be watching with unabated glee. That comment might surprise some, but think about it, to start with the longer this drama plays out the more uncertainty is injected into Yahoo and Microsoft web plans and futures. Google is already firing on all cylinders in the web space and quickly reading its entry salvo into the mobile space this year. Market and personnel uncertainty at MS and Yahoo, would only serve to distract these competitors and allow Google to move even farther ahead.

So will there be a Wedding?

Others have speculated that the DOJ and EU will likely block this merger, and I don’t really have an option on that aspect of the merger. I tend to think not, as the inflated demands that Yahoo is now seeking, but its just as well for both Microsoft and Yahoo if there is no deal.

Should this take over proceed I have to believe it will be a catastrophic disaster for both, especially Microsoft. Some point to long term synergies of the two firms, and that might even be true, but the short term consequences will be staggering. For 12 to 24 months Microsoft’s focus will be redirected drastically into the morphing of Yahoo services under the MS brand. Backend systems will be impacted, staff will be transferred, you know – general chaos!

Compounding this Microsoft is struggling with its worst OS launch since Windows ME, Apple is having a real impact in the PC space, Linux is eroding Windows market share and oh yea, the 800 pound gorilla – Google – just keeps on rolling.

So MSYahoo, or MicroHoo or YaSoft, Do a deal if you must, someday we will look you up on the internet WayBack machine.

Year of the home NAS – A Tera-byte in every pot!

Posted on February 5th, 2008 in Apple, Internet & Networking, Linux/Unix, Windows | No Comments »

The digital home is here, and to feed a hungry media rich world you need a terabyte or more; at least that’s what NAS vendors (Network Attached Storage) are banking on this year. Large hard drives are nothing new, what’s novel for 2008 is the appearance high capacity, inexpensive, consumer friendly NAS systems for the home.

Despite CES 2008 being largely unimpressive, with regards to new innovative product launches, there was one interesting theme that persistent all over the show floor; the appearance of RAID based NAS boxes for the home. In the past home based storage has been limited to external USB or Firewire boxes, but not any more. Thanks to the raise of home networking and the digital lifestyle, every member of the family from parents to teens and even little ones have storage needs.

Here are a few of the standouts in the home storage arena:

Netgear – Ready NAS Duo

HP – MediaSmart Server

Lacie Ethernet Disk mini – Home Edition


The truly unique aspect about these offerings if just how consumer friendly they are! No need to be a network admin or have your local geek force out to install them.

If you have been looking to add storage to your home computer this is the method you should employ, any of the above products will do wonderfully.