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.

Continue reading “XBox Live via an OpenWRT router”

Ubuntu Upgrade Day: 11.04 – 11.10 ‘Oneiric Ocelot’

Yay! My favorite Linux distro gets a facelift today with Ubuntu 11.04 making way for the newly released version 11.10 ‘Oneiric Ocelot’. From past history lessons, I do tend to stray on the side of caution, so only one of my machines will be getting the upgrade treatment this week and I’ll hold off with the others until any post update issues shake out.

For those who haven’t given Linux a try yet – I’d strongly suggest giving Ubuntu a go – it has a nice interface and can be skinned to look and feel quite similar to some of the other major operating systems you may already be familiar with. Follow this download link and grab the file.

If you just want to kick the tyres and have a quick look, there are some easy to follow instructions on the download page for making a ‘Live CD’ or a bootable USB stick that you can drop into your current machine and check out.

For those already running Ubuntu, upgrading is as easy as following the instructions on this page, or by entering the command:

update-manager -d

from a terminal window (or from a command via <Alt> + <F2> ). At the time of writing, the update files hadn’t made it to the New Zealand servers so you may want to hold off a little, or change your region under the ‘Settings’ option.

Good luck, enjoy (and don’t forget to make a backup of your data files BEFORE you start…)

Windows 7 RTM – The last installation

Windows 7 PackagingSo Windows 7 is now released to manufacturing (RTM for you acronym junkies out there) and this is the last time I’ll need to be installing the operating system before it appears in the shops. During the Beta, aside from a few minor issues with hibernate, Windows 7 has been wonderfully stable and, I must say I’m impressed by the new Media Center interface (EngadgetHD have a look at it here).

Anyway – this is a HOWTO for installing the Windows 7 RTM [Get it here] from a USB drive, mainly because it’s faster than doing it from a DVD, and also – because my various DVD drives appear to not enjoy talking to each other. These instructions assume a Windows based operating system, I completed them using Windows Vista.

Continue reading “Windows 7 RTM – The last installation”

Hacking with MSConfig – Speeding the boot process

My laptop is slow to boot – painfully slow. Slow to the point that, after entering my credentials, I’ll go make a coffee or grab an architecture document to review – anything to avoid the minutes of chugging away which occurs whenever the boot scripts are doing their thing and all the Windows background processes are starting up.

This is where fun little tweaks such as those available in the Windows System Configuration editor come in handy. This is a little known tool which allows you to view and edit the things which load during your windows boot. Of course, because you can edit things in the startup files, it doesn’t mean you should. You can probably make quite a mess of your system if you get too free and easy with the clicking via this tool – so make sure you understand what it is you’re telling you machine not to do when if you decide to start unselecting options.

For me, the big one was to change the number of processors available to the startup sequence from 1 to 2 and allow maximum RAM to be utilised. To do this (these instructions assume Windows Vista, but XP should be the same – possibly with different dialogue box layouts), first you’ll need to startup the Windows System Configuration editor – Click Start, Run, and type in ‘MSConfig’. You’ll likely be asked for authorisation/administrative access to run the utility so, assuming you can grant such things, the first screen you’ll see looks like this:

Default System Configuration Screen

Click the ‘Boot’ Tab

Boot Options - System Configuration

And select the ‘Advanced Options’ button

Advanced Boot - System Configuration

And there’s the money shot, change the number of processors, the maximum allowable memory, click OK to save and you’ll be asked to reboot.

Good luck.

Driving DropBox – Linking External Directories in Windows

To get Dropbox to sync folders OUTSIDE of your [Drive:\ProgramPath]\My Dropbox\ directory, we need to use a symbolic link, something easily done in Linux*, but requiring a little more effort in Windows (though it is still a supported function).

dropboxI’ve been using Dropbox in it’s intended form for a while now - but recently, with the threat of a software rebuild of my company supplied laptop looming, I decided it was about time I had some of my other data synced via “The Cloud” (IT bloggers apparently get points every time they use the phrase “The Cloud” – ooh, 2 points in this article so far! 😉 )

After a little bit of searching, I discovered that no one has written a windows based guide for this process (okay, not one that was easy to find) so – here’s mine… (Google Juice – do your stuff!)

The Guide:

To get Dropbox to sync folders OUTSIDE of your [Drive:\ProgramPath]\My Dropbox\ directory, we need to use a symbolic link, something easily done in Linux*, but requiring a little more effort in Windows (though it is still a supported function).

  1. First up, lets grab the Windows Junction creator from here**
  2. Unzip the Junction.exe file and dropped it somewhere useful
  3. Open up a command window from Windows (Start, Run, CMD)
  4. Enter in the Junction command followed by the pointer link (your ‘fake’ directory path) then the  path to the directory you want linked into DropBox.

For me, the command looks a little like this:

D:\Robs Docs\My Dropbox>"D:\Program Files\junction.exe" -s "D:\Robs Docs\My Dropbox\Work-Firefox" "D:\Robs Docs\Rob-Firefox-Profile"

If the stars align and you’re wearing your lucky pants, you’ll see an output that looks like this:

Junction v1.05 - Windows junction creator and reparse point viewer
Copyright (C) 2000-2007 Mark Russinovich
Systems Internals -
Created: D:\Robs Docs\My Dropbox\Work-Firefox
Targetted at: D:\Robs Docs\Rob-Firefox-Profile

That’s it – you’re done!

If you want to know how to move YOUR Firefox profile to a different location on your local machine like I have, check this link.

* In Linux, the command is:

ln -s /home/[MyUsername]/[OriginalDirectory] [Target]

Apparently, this command needs to be run FROM your DropBox directory, so be sure to cd /home/yourusername/Dropbox first!. Check this great article for more from a Linux HOWTO perspective. 

** You can also use the mklink command which has a slightly different syntax. If you’re using Windows XP (like most Corporates, still) you’ll need Junction as per my example.