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!

XBox Live via an OpenWRT router

One of the concerning requests of Xbox Live connectivity, is to enable UPnP or ‘Universal Plug and Play’ on your home router.

The UPnP protocol has a long standing history of security problems, not the least of which being that it allows unauthenticated devices to connect to and through your home network. In the past, I have advocated for this to be switched off by default in consumer grade routers and I explain the UPnP threat in another post.

Getting back on track, my security conscious view for our home network does nothing for a teenage boy who received an Xbox Live subscription for his birthday and, while some aspects of the Live subscription work, others – such as game sharing will fail. With this in mind, we need to setup port forwarding, rather than implement UPnP, to connect said teenager to his gaming buddies and keep our network free of the risks introduced by enabling UPnP.

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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.

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Skype Beta 2.2.0.25 for Linux – Webcam WORKING!

Skype for LinuxUgh – finally, after much backward and forward (even to the point I dragged out a Windows laptop) I’ve tracked down the issue which was stopping my embedded webcams (which otherwise works in all other applications) from working with the latest beta of Skype for Linux.

The solution is this (thanks Ubuntu Forums):

for 32-bit Linux / Skype

sudo mv /usr/bin/skype /usr/bin/skype.original
sudo echo -e "#!/bin/bash \nLD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l1compat.so skype.original" > /usr/bin/skype

for 64-bit  Linux / Skype

sudo mv /usr/bin/skype /usr/bin/skype.original
sudo echo -e "#!/bin/bash \nLD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib32/libv4l/v4l1compat.so skype.original" > /usr/bin/skype

I found the command to build the script didn’t work out for me

$ sudo echo -e "#!/bin/bash \nLD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib32/libv4l/v4l1compat.so skype.original" > /usr/bin/skype
bash: !/bin/bash: event not found

So, I built my own script

sudo nano /usr/bin/skype

and pasted in the lines to build the script

#!/bin/bash
LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib32/libv4l/v4l1compat.so skype.original

Of course, the script needs to be made executable

sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/skype

Then all that remained was to make sure no instances of skype were running, and re-launch skype from the menu.

For me, the video came up once Skype had loaded, from other discussions, some people may need to restart their machines.

Organizing, Getting Things Done, (N)Evernote…

With a recent move to a new working environment, I’ve needed to re-address how I’m working to compensate for the loss of an ability to leave my workspace setup ready for action each day.

Part of this change has been to start using (then consolidate) ‘To Do’ lists. As as assistant for this – I’m returning to ‘Evernote‘ to help keep track of things across the platforms I use in both my professional and personal life.

Evernote / NevernoteThe basic premise of Evernote is “Capture Anything > Access Anywhere > Find Things Fast” and, while that is true for the popular platforms such as Windows, Mac, iPhone, Blackberry and Android – it’s sadly lacking in two of my every day devices. Continue reading “Organizing, Getting Things Done, (N)Evernote…”

Adding more functionality to Kubuntu 9.10 NBR

In a previous article, I covered off the installation of Kubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) onto an aging, but much loved and reliable ASUS 701 EEE Netbook. In this entry, I will detail a few of the additional bits of functionality I’ve added to the already awesome Netbook Remix (NBR) of this latest OS drop.

Topics Covered

As always, if there are things you think I should be including, or better ways of doing stuff, let me know in the comments 🙂

Pairing Bluetooth to a Nokia E71

Using an inexpensive bluetooth adapter allows you to get online without having to drag out cables etc when you’re on the bus, in the car – wherever.

The adapter detected fine – but then came the job of setting up the pairing with my Nokia E71:

On the EEE

  • From the Home Screen, open the ‘Internet’ group, then open up ‘kbluetooth’
  • You should see a bluetooth icon appear on your toolbar
  • Right-click the bluetooth icon, and select ‘Settings’ > ‘Bluetooth Adapters’ from the dropdown menu.
  • From the ‘Bluetooth Adapter’ dialogue box, set:
    • Adapter Name: ‘[WhateverYouWant]’
    • Mode: ‘Discoverable’

NOTE: Your Netbook is now being all promiscuous and stuff to the world, long-term, this isn’t good.

  • Click OK


On the Nokia E71

  • Select ‘Menu’ > ‘Connectivity’ > ‘Bluetooth’ and set:
    • Bluetooth ‘On’
    • Visibility ‘Shown to all’ (the same promiscuous warnings apply)
    • My Phones Name ‘[WhateverYouWant]’
    • Remote SIM ‘Off’ (not sure what it does, didn’t need it on)
  • Now, scroll/tab to the right and you’ll see the ‘Paired Devices’ list.
    • Select ‘Options’ > ‘New Paired Device’

Your phone should now scan for any bluetooth devices in range (if your workplace is anything like mine you’ll see a heap of devices)

  • ‘Select’ the device with the name you set in the EEE steps above.
  • The phone will now prompt for a passcode – Enter a passcode (numeric) into your phone.

On the EEE

  • You should now be prompted to enter a passcode on the EEE, enter the same numeric code

On the E71

  • You will be asked to ‘Authorise device [the EEE] to make connections automatically’, select ‘Yes’
  • Your connection should now appear in the phone

(Optional)

  • Select ‘Options’ > ‘Assign short name’ and change the name of the device to something more friendly if you wish.

On the EEE

  • Right-click the bluetooth icon, and select ‘Settings’ > ‘Bluetooth Device Manager’ from the dropdown menu.
  • Your E71 should appear in the list, select the device and click ‘Set Trusted’

Congratulations, your devices are now paired… now to do something useful with the connection!

Installing EEE Control (EEE PC Tray)

EEE Control is a utility written to allow easy management of the ASUS EEE embedded devices such as en/disable the Webcam, SDCard, Wifi as well as setting power and performance schemes.

To set it up under Kubuntu NBR, simply open a terminal window and enter the following:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install eeepc-tray

You should see an icon appear on your taskbar which allows you to access the functionality supported by your model of EEE netbook.

Installing UbuntuONE

Ubuntu One is your personal cloud. You can use it to back up, store, sync and share your data with other Ubuntu One users.”

…it’s just not in the Kubuntu NBR by default. To fix this, simply open a terminal window and enter the following:

sudo apt-get install ubuntuone-client-gnome

You will then find a UbuntuOne cloud icon in your ‘Internet’ applications group, and from there you are only a simple configuration away from your 2GB of free storage out in the interwebs somewhere.

Installing Skype

Skype is a VoIP client, if you haven’t heard of it in the last 5 years, you’ve probably been living under a rock – it works, the voice quality is acceptable and while the video capability can be variable, it’s got a huge number of subscribers so, give it a crack – you’ll probably find a number of your friends are already on there. My Current Skype Status is:

To get things running on your netbook, see below:

Remember, those of us with low resolution screens may need to invoke the <Alt> + <Mouse Click & Drag> trick to see the bottom of some dialogue boxes.

Hope this helps those of you out there wanting to squeeze a little more life out of your beloved Netbooks

Installing Karmic Koala (9.10) on an ASUS EEE 701 netbook

Koala

So – Karmic is out, and for those who are looking to upgrade to the new goodness, there’s a few simple tricks to make the process pretty much painless.

If you’re already running (K)Ubuntu 9.04, simply open up a terminal window and type:

update-manager -d

For those installing from scratch (and to be honest – it’s what I tend to still do, hang up from the Windows days?) things are almost as simple.

Getting the Files

  1. Grab a 2GB or larger USB stick
  2. Hit the web for your ISO files

Once the files are downloading (and they’ll take awhile as everyone hits the servers initially (trying a torrent may help), head on to the next step…
Making your USB bootable

  • Grab Unetbootin for your OS for a really easy way to create a bootable USB drive
  • Insert your USB stick, double check where it’s loaded then create!

On your EEE 701

  • Because of the native resolution of the original EEE, a number of dialogue boxes don’t fit so well on the screen. This is mostly only a hassle during the installation as, afterward, you should be able to hold down the <Alt> key while click-dragging the window you want to see the bottom of.
  • If you have an external monitor available, connect it and change the screen settings to display a more reasonable resolution, larger than the crippling 800×400 of the native 701 🙂
  • If you do not have an external monitor available, don’t panic – we can simply use the keystroke navigation as detailed below
    • Ubuntu Install (First Screen)
      • Press <Alt> + <F> (Forward)
    • Welcome Screen
      • Choose your language then <Alt> + <F>
    • TimeZone / Where are you
      • Select your location
      • <Alt> + <F>
    • Keyboard Layout
      • This should detect fine so…
      • <Alt> + <F>
    • Prepare Disk Space
      • To install to 4GB SSD (This will delete EVERYTHING ON THE DISK and install from a blank partition)
        • <Alt> + <E>
        • <Alt> + <F>
        • Partitions will calculate
      • For a Custom Install (to use SDHC card in a EEE for instance)
        • <Alt> + <S> (to Specify partitions)
        • <Alt> + <F>
        • Setup partitions as you wish
          • I chose to use /dev/sdc (the SDHC card) creating a Primary partition of [Full Size of Storage minus Amount of installed RAM (for swap) ]
          • Set mount point to ‘/’ and use the ext4 file system
          • Create a logical partition using the rest of available disk as swap (which should be size as the amount of RAM in your system)
          • <Alt> + <F>
        • Partitions will calculate
    • Who are you- Obvious really:
      • Your Name <Tab>
      • Login/Username <Tab>
      • Password <Tab>
      • Password Verify <Tab>
      • Device Name<Tab>
      • Choose your Login type
        • “Require My password” <Alt> + <M> – Default
        • “Login Automatically” <Alt> + <L> or
        • “Require my password to login and Decrypt Home folder” <Alt> + <R>
      • <Alt> + <F>
    • Summary
      • Last chance to check all your selections
      • Alt + I (to Install)
    • And now the installation will start…

At the end of the installation process, you will be prompted to remove the install media (USB drive) and reboot the machine.

You’re done!

Installing VMware Server 2.0.1 on Ubuntu Server 9.04

The following guide will take you through installing VMWare Server 2 on a minimal install headless Ubuntu v9.04 (Jaunty) Server. For a step by step on setting up the minimal server, read the article I posted here.

Getting the Pre-requisite Packages

First up, you will need to SSH into your server, and paste in the following command to install some additional packages which allow for the changes required to the kernel and the building of the VMWare server.

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r` build-essential xinetd

Getting the VMware Server TAR ball

Once the extra packages are installed, you will need to grab the TAR ball from the VMWare site, and drop it into the directory where you wish to run your VMs from. For me, I’ve chosen to keep them under my users home directory in a directory called (imaginativly) ‘VM’. The following commands will make the directory ‘VM’ under your users root directory, then change to that directory:

mkdir ~/VM
cd ~/VM

From the PC you are using to SSH to the server, open a browser and visit the VMWare Server page from here you will need to download the server which will require you to create a VMware account, and login so that a licence key can be emailed to you.

Once logged in, you will be directed to the download page containing all the binaries for VMware Server.

Download the relevant TAR image for your architecture and linux version to your local machine, and do an MD5 checksum to make sure it arrived intact.

There is also a patch which you will require, you will need a login to the Ubuntu Forums however, to access the file below:

http://ubuntuforums.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=94477&d=1227872015

From here, transfer the TAR and the patch file in whatever way works best for you. If you followed my server build guide and installed the optional SAMBA extensions, you should be able to easily open the home directory on your server via a Windows network share – or similar for you particular operating system.

Running the Installer

Back to our SSH session now, unpack the patch into your “~/VM/” directory, then extract the VMware Server TAR ball and run the installer:

tar xvfz VMware-server-*.tar.gz
cd vmware-server-distrib
sudo patch ./bin/vmware-config.pl ~/VM/vmware-config.pl.patch.txt
sudo ./vmware-install.pl

Accept the default options (there are a LOT of them) throughout the installation and allow the installer to build any modules or kernels it needs to during the setup.

Choose the Administrative User

When prompted for the name of the current administrative user, select YES and type in YOUR user name (otherwise it’ll use root)

Select the Directory to Store the Virtual Machines

When prompted for the directory to store your virtual machine files, type in /home/[YourUsername]/VM/Virtual Machines and allow the installer to create the directory

Entering the Serial Number

Next you will be prompted for the serial number which should have been emailed to you for your VM Server installation, simply copy out of your email and paste into the SSH window.

Back to selecting the default values now until you are returned to the prompt.

Just in case things didn’t go well

If you think you may have made a mistake in the configuration, you can easily re-run the configuration tool by typing:

sudo /usr/bin/vmware-config.pl

If you REALLY made a hash of it, you can always remove the installation by typing:

sudo /usr/bin/vmware-uninstall.pl

and start again 🙂

Accessing the VMServer Console

After you installation sucessfully completes you will be returned to the prompt in your SSH session. That’s it – you’re done. All you need to do now, is attach to the VM Server console via your browser by typing in the address of your server box which will look something like this:

https://[YourUbuntuServerName-or-IPAddress]:8333/ui/

Read the documentation, and start setting up some Virtual Machines, or download any useful looking Virtual Appliances that catch your eye from the appliance marketplace.

Note: If you experience issues with the web console appearing to ‘hang’ ensure that you have loaded the lastest Java Runtime Environment (JRE) – get it here.

Setting Up a Virtual Environment

So, since we’ve moved into the new place, I’ve been wanting to consolidate my technology somewhat and make things a lot easier to administer. To this end (and forgetting for a moment the lack of structured home cabling – which I’m still working on) I’ve decided to resurrect one of my lower powered (in wattage, not horsepower) machines – and turn it into a Virtual Server from which I will run the multiple hosts which have been sitting on independent hardware until the move.

Things haven’t exactly gone without a hitch, but I’ve learned a lot along the way – which I probably could have learned if I spend more time researching before I spent time doing, but meh. I’m a kinisthetic kinda guy, so – here’s what I’ve learned in my ‘travels’ hopefully it may be of some use to you.

Continue reading “Setting Up a Virtual Environment”