CentOS 7 – CLI to GUI

CentOS7I’ve been playing with a few VMs as I try to figure out a new infrastructure for our office, and as part of this I’ve taken a particular shine to CentOS as a minimal build for my virtual servers. I then decided I wanted to get a few sandbox environments running with desktop software and, well.. that’s where the fun began!

After about twelvety-zillion restores from snapshots and reading, and forum trawling, and more restores, I think I’ve come up with a winning way to turn a humble CentOS 7 minimal build, booting to the lonely command prompt, into a bastion of desktoppy goodness. Hopefully this will be of use to someone else out there, if not – it will serve and a handy reminder to me as to what I did to get things running.

Continue reading “CentOS 7 – CLI to GUI”

PBX in a Flash – Cyclic Reboot under Hyper-V

RebootThis post is for anyone who is running into an issue where following the guide over on Nerd Vittles and setting up under Hyper-V leaves their virtual machine in a cyclic reboot… er, cycle.

Cyclic Reboot
Fig 1: Cyclic reboot error

If you are quick enough, you may catch the error (Fig 1)

umount: can't umount /mnt/selinux: Invalid argument

..which isn’t entirely helpful, but does point us to something being misunderstood during boot time.

The solution is fairly simple (once you figure out what’s happening), simply follow these steps;

Continue reading “PBX in a Flash – Cyclic Reboot under Hyper-V”

Reflashing a Rooted Router

I have a couple of Open Mesh Indoor Access Points that I’ve used for various projects, the most recent of which being the provision of WiFi for our Teenage Subnet.

Open Mesh - Indoor Access Point
I have the OM1 version, not the OM2 pictured here – they are similar however.

These devices have a very cool history. Originally created under the banner of Meraki (since sold to Cisco and thenceforth diverging from its open source roots), the Open Mesh has a really strong community behind it both in the development and the after-market support camps.

Long story short, one of the nodes decided to pack a sad and nothing I could do from the control panel would get the dang thing to talk to the network again.. so that’s when I rolled out the big guns.
It was to these guys that I turned my web browser, and true to form was soon rewarded with this very good HOWTO explaining the step by step of reflashing an open mesh device.

While I have archived a copy of the article in case the original gets moved, I would caution the visiting reader to seek their fortunes in the community forums updated documentation should you stumble across this page at any great length time after it is initially published.

FlashThe one edit I would make would be to ensure that, in Windows, you open the command prompt as an Administrator. For me, the flash program would not detect any interfaces until I did this.

Happy flashing!

Kicking off with Koha

Koha is a fully featured, scalable library management system.

Koha LogoSo, I thought I’d set up Koha on a virtual machine to have a bit of a play, and maybe use it to manage our library at home.

Create the virtual machine

I’m using VirtualBox as my VM manager, so – first off we create a new machine, give it a name and set the type to ‘Linux, Debian (64-bit)’ as Koha is most often deployed on Debian servers.

The default settings (512MB RAM, 1 Processor, 8GB HDD) are fine, and we will set the network card to be a bridged adapter (which will give it its own IP address on our local network). For now so all that remains is to point the CD to the latest Debian installation image. I am using the network install as this machine will only be built with what Koha needs and thus I don’t need to pull down local copies of a bunch of things we won’t install. So, let’s start the VM and get on with the installation.

Continue reading “Kicking off with Koha”

When USB goes bad…

Image Credit: Jenn Durfey / Flickr (CC: by) So, I decided to give running a linux distro *solely* from a USB 3.0 flash drive… the install itself was fairly simple and painless, the pain only started on the reboot.

The drive failed, and I was dropped to the rather unfriendly >initfs prompt.

I tried a few things, from fixing the failed superblocks

dumpe2fs /dev/sdc1 | grep superblock
fsck -b [ALTERNATE SUPERBLOCK # e.g. 32768] /dev/sdc1

…to  trying to repair the file system

sudo fsck -fp /dev/sdc1

…and even forcing the filesystem ‘read only’ state back to read-write.

hdparm -r0 /dev/sdc

At which point I was 2 beers into the problem and getting a little… impatient. The last link however gave me two other possibilities:

  1. The drive itself may be faulty (it’s apparently somewhat common for poor soldering to cause this ‘read-only’ condition)
  2. Run a utility from the drive manufacturer to low-level format the drive and start again (waay too easy, and a WINDOWS based until – it would be like admitting defeat!)

I considered adding a third beer to the problem solving mix, then decided that it’d just be easier to go with option 2… a quick search later and I was on the Apacer support site and 337kb away from solving the problem.

Apacer Repair ToolWell, almost. Trying the ‘format’ option didn’t work (bad partition table / read-only state and all) so, ‘Restore’ it was, and.. we’re away! Low-level formatted, and ready to retry the install.

<burp> 🙂

Linux for Kids

My best mate dropped over on the weekend and left me an ancient Sony Vaio that he’d acquired for his 7-year-old daughter.

Doudou LinuxAfter shooting the breeze over the beer, we got to talking about his daughters computer use. Essentially he (and she) just wanted “something she can use and have for her own” – he’d already been supplied with a Live CD of Doudou Linux which she’d been booting from, yet due to the failing hard drive in the near fossilized Vaio, the machine was taking far too long to start-up – by which time her attention span was exceeded.

Continue reading “Linux for Kids”

Technology and Recreation – a recipie for AWESOME

For gadget geeks like myself, there’s always been an opportunity to mix technology with what we do when AFK (away from keyboard).

My first heart monitor watch *had* to be imported because no one in this country was selling the IR receiver (connecting through a DB9 (serial) cable no less.. for the more normal, serial cables were “how things were done” before the simplicity of USB arrived). Continue reading “Technology and Recreation – a recipie for AWESOME”

Social Scams and Why They Work

Over the last week, as New Zealanders begin to change their jandals (flip-flops / thongs) for shoes, I’ve noted a significant increase in the number of “warnings” being posted in my social network feeds. This is not uncommon and it’s not unique only to my network of contacts as these articles point out.

Scam ImageNow, for the most part, folks in my social stream tend to only get caught on an infrequent basis by these messages. I do my best to flick a link back if it’s an obvious hoax, as do others who we share as common contacts. I have been caught myself and have more than once shared something which, if I’d relied on more than wishful thinking, would/should have been filtered out.

So – why do these attacks work, why do the hoaxes perpetuate, and what can we do as a community to reduce our chances of passing on misinformation to our networks?

The simple answer is diligence. Continue reading “Social Scams and Why They Work”

ASUS Garmin A10

I got one of these phones when they first came out – they were pretty awesome back then, however over time they have been orphaned on older, vulnerable iterations of Android and they simply don’t have what it takes to be a primary device any longer.

Because of this – I’m currently looking to root the phone and install upon it a modified ROM which will give me *just* what I need to turn this into a useful device for sitting in the car.

I got one of these phones when they first came out – they were pretty awesome back then, however over time they have been orphaned on older, vulnerable iterations of Android and they simply don’t have what it takes to be a primary device any longer.

Because of this – I’m currently looking to root the phone and install upon it a modified ROM which will give me *just* what I need to turn this into a useful device for sitting in the car.

Step #1 – Hard Reset to Factory Defaults.

  • Turn the phone OFF
  • While holding the volume UP button, press and HOLD the power button
  • Keep holding the buttons until ‘Clear User Data’ is displayed in text on the phone’s screen.

The phone will continue to boot after factory resetting the device (note, items on the Micro SD card will NOT be affected – you would need to reformat that independently yourself.

Step #2 – Find a ROM.

  • The new firmware needs to enable the more recent features of Android without overtaxing the processing power or battery capacity of the aging device…
  • Suggestions?