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May 31, 2008

Stop the Ubuntu 30-Mount Check Annoyance

I found this blog article on Digg talking about how to stop the fsck (File System Check, kind of like chkdsk in Windows) every 30 mounts. It is set by default when you install Ubuntu. Every 30 times you boot up, the fsck is forced. This is actually pretty good because it fixes problems and keeps your computer running properly.

If it's so good, then what the heck is the problem? The problem is that sometimes the check can take a while. A while meaning 15 to 20 minutes in some cases. I don't know about you, but when I'm booting up my computer it's because there is something I want to do on it now, not in 20 minutes.Well, If you want to avoid this, then you need autofsck, which forces the 30-day check at shutdown rather than at start-up. Also, when shutting it down, you get prompted before the check to make sure it is a good time to do it. That is fantastic because if you need to shutdown quick for some reason, you can skip it until next time.

From what I understand about it, at shutdown you get the prompt, and you select 'Y' to allow the check, your computer will reboot, do the fsck, then shutdown when finished. Not bad at all. To install it, do the following:

* Download the package here: autofsk
* Untar it
* Run the install script located in the extracted folder
(sudo ./install).
* Follow the prompts and voilla...No more Mr. boot time check!

read more | digg story

May 30, 2008

Ubuntu 8.04 Can Be Encrypted at Install

I am a big fan of full hard drive encryption. I have written posts about encrypting Windows using free tools like Compusec, and Truecrypt. Sure, some of you haters out there will shout from the rafters that hard drive encryption is pointless because the RAM can be frozen, and the memory can be dumped to obtain the encryption keys. The fact is though that without encryption, any average dude with a boot CD can steal your data. It would take an above average dude to do the RAM freeze trick.

Anyway, I learned of this new feature from Tux Training. If you download the Alternate Install CD of Ubuntu 8.04, you can select to encrypt the entire hard drive at install time!

From Tux Training:

Bauer-Power Ubuntu LogoData encryption is one of the best methods to protect your sensitive files, especially if you own a laptop. Unfortunately, on the Ubuntu operating system, it’s only available in the text mode installer. But that’s why this guide is here, to help you install a fully encrypted Ubuntu OS on your computer. whole process is completely safe and it is recommended to be used by anyone out there who wants to protect his/her sensitive data. To break it down to you: No more living in fear! Your data will NOT be stolen anymore!
It is really easy to do. When you get to the disk partitioning part of the install, you can select the third option which is:

Guided - use entire disk and set up encrypted LVM…

For a more comprehensive how-to, read the Tux Training article.

This should also prevent being pwned with the recovery boot option as well.

May 29, 2008

Do you know how easy it is to pwn an Ubuntu box?

Maybe I'm not being 100% fair here. This is a quick and easy trick that I stumbled on yesterday while screwing around with my test Ubuntu server at work. In order to do this, one must have physical access to the machine. Like any piece of equipment, if you have physical access to the box, you can pwn the box.

The thing about Ubuntu is that by default it is just as easy to own it as a Windows machine if you leave things to their default values. The reason being is that since the root account isn't enabled by default, and users sudo their way around, they sometimes forget that the root account is still there and is all powerful. All someone has to do to login as root, change passwords, create new users, or anything else they want to do (They are root after all) is reboot, select esc when grub pops up, then boot into recovery mode.

Ubuntu recovery
Once in recovery you can select to drop to a root shell prompt:

ubuntu recovery root
Since root isn't activated by default, guess what.... root has no password! When you select this option you are automatically logged in as root!

Sure, but what if you don't know any Linux command line? Then what? No problem, you can run startx from the root shell, and now you are running X as root, and can continue pwning the machine.

What is a quick way to fix this you may ask. Well, I first thought that if you give root a password by typing the following in a console:

sudo passwd root


It would fix it, but when I tried it I didn't get prompted when I went into recovery. I suppose a quick fix would be to backup your /boot/grub/menu.lst file, then comment out the recovery mode boot option. For example:


title Ubuntu hardy (development branch), kernel 2.6.24-8-generic (recovery mode)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.24-8-generic root=UUID=062c96e8-709f-4f60
-bb64-6779bc4ea1f8 ro single
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.24-8-generic

would become:

#title Ubuntu hardy (development branch), kernel 2.6.24-8-generic (recovery mode)
#root (hd0,0)
#kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.24-8-generic root=UUID=062c96e8-709f-4f60-bb64-6779bc4ea1f8 ro single
#initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.24-8-generic


This isn't a perfect fix though, as anyone with a live cd could boot up to their live cd and uncomment your menu.lst file, but it is better than nothing, and certainly better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions to secure your Ubuntu box? Hit me up in the comments!

May 19, 2008

Install VMWare Tools on Ubuntu 8.04

Hello out there in Ubuntu land! I thought I would write a tip today on how to install VMWare tools on Ubuntu 8.04. The reason I am writing is it occurs to me that not everyone knows how to do this. I had a former colleague write me and tell me that Bauer-Power shows up in a lot of his Ubuntu searches. He was looking for instructions on how to install VMWare tools, but couldn't find anything.

Actually, it is pretty easy. Like most binary packages, you need to have two things installed first, Linux Headers, and the Build Essentials package. Before trying to install VMWare tools run the following from command line:

sudo apt-get install build-essential

Then run

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r`

After that is finished, click on the VM menu, and select Install VMWare Tools. When you click that, Ubuntu will mount a virtual CD. Browse the CD and extract the VMWare tools tar ball to your desktop. In the terminal, cd into that newly extracted directory and run the following:

sudo ./vmware-install.pl

Accept all defaults, and you are set just reboot once. Now keep in mind that VMWare tools on Ubuntu doesn't really act the same way as it does on a Windows VM. There will be no icon in the tray, or anything like that. It basically runs transparently. It also give some good benefits like:

  • vmware toolsImproved video compatibility & performance
  • Mouse synchronization with the host operating system so that you don't have to keep releasing your mouse from the guest to go back to the host
  • Improved network compatibility & performance
  • Copy and paste between the host and guest

Have you had any problems installing VMWare tools on Ubuntu or any other Linux platform? Did you find a fix? Hit me up in the comments.

May 11, 2008

Remove Dangerous Spyware and Protect your System Now

Spyware is now destroying computers and lives all over the world. Thieves are gaining access to personal information like credit card info, bank accounts and passwords all from the pleasure of there own home. Spyware can also quickly destroy your pc leaving you with a pile of junk. Spyware has cost me three computers to date and I'm just plain sick of it. This article will give you the info on which software to install to make sure you are getting the best possible protection available.

So what is spyware?

If you are not computer savvy well spyware is a specially designed piece of software that will collect surfing habits and personal information once it has entered your PC. There are also certain types of spyware that can remain hidden in your computer until the owner of the program has given the command to activate. Once the command has been given you will start experiencing symptoms like pop ups appearing while not connected to the internet, computer running slow and not being able to connect to your usual home page to name a few. If this is the case well the chances are you are infected with some type of spyware.

What to do if I'm infected?

Well the very first thing you should do is get yourself some spyware removal software to detect any spyware present on your computer. Now if you don't have the cash to spend at presant then there are a number of free programs available. Two that come to mind are Ad aware and Spy bot search and destroy. Just remember these are free programs and tend to leave some spyware behind. So please get yourself a paid software tool once you have some money as I have found they do a far better scan. But just use the two mentioned above for now and clean out you system.

Ok you now have a spyware free computer lets look at additional software to protect you even further.
Pop Up Blockers

spywareNow these are now a very important piece of software to have installed on your computer. Why? I shall explain. Pop ups can be used as another type of program to plant spyware on your computer. If you surf the net a lot I'm sure you have encountered them. The thing i think most Internet users don't under stand about the pop up is they simply think pushing the X closes the pop up and that's the end of that. Well in some cases that's totally wrong!! You see people can simply change the X button to OK or Download while it still looks like the close button. So you are actually giving the program permission to download onto your system and you don't even realize it. If this does happen the best thing to do is log of immediately before the download gets a chance to finish. Better still get a blocker installed and stop pop ups in the first place. There are plenty around for free.
Anti-virus

This is one of the best software programs you can have installed on your computer. Anti-virus software will detect and isolate any Trojans, key loggers and worms trying to gain access to your computer, usually when you are downloading a file or product off the net. This also gives you the ability to scan any emails you receive in your inbox. But please if you don't know who its from just delete it, opening emails from unknown senders is one of the more common causes of spyware infection.
Register Cleaners

This a great little piece of software for cleaning up any un-used files that may be left behind from any spyware and software programs you may have recently removed. I love it and you would be surprised what gets left behind. This will clean out your cache, temporary Internet files and browser history also so it makes sense to get one installed. This will speed up your computer considerably and make surfing the net very fast.
Install a Firewall

Firewalls are your best protection against hackers. If you leave an opening on your computer hackers can gain access to your computer and practerlly do as the wish? Hackers are extremely good at what they do and if you store personal info on your PC they will find it. Now if you don't store that type of info on your computer, well they will simply install and hide some spyware designed to activate when you visit certain websites of their choice. So the next time you are doing your banking or making an online purchase the spyware will activate itself and gather all your personal information and send it back to the hacker. This will result in Identity theft!!

Ok if you install all these types of software programs on your computer your personal info and Pc should be pretty safe. There are new types of spyware hitting the Internet every day so just make sure to update the software at least once a week.

By Robert Pearce

Robert Pearce has helped hunderds of Internet users Remove spyware from there Computer systems with his expert spyware software reviews. So Make the right choice and visit his site today.

May 9, 2008

Anybody want to buy a hard drive (or two)?

Hey folks! My main desktop computer at home finally took a shit on me on Monday. The motherboard on it fried. This is a computer that I built a few years ago, and every six months or so something goes out on it, and I have to replace stuff. Well the MoBo finally quit, and I decided that it was time to get a new machine anyway. So now I am selling some of my parts on eBay to recoup some of the cost for my new machine.

I will be listing two 1GB sticks of RAM here pretty soon, and when I do I will write a quick post about it. For now though, I only have one item up and that is my Maxtor Diamond 16 ATA 133 120GB IDE hard drive. It is a pretty solid drive, and still works rather well. You can get one of them brand new for about $38, so I set the starting bid at $10. Check it out, and if you need some additional storage, go ahead and place a bid.

maxtor 120gb hard drive

I also have a 160GB Samsung drive that I will be listing too. Hit me up in the comments if you have any questions.

[Edit]: If you were waiting for the 160GB drive, you can bid on that listing here: (160GB IDE Drive)

Awesome Site For Students!

This semester in school, I have been forced to write essays non stop! Every damned week I have another 500-1000 word essay I have to write. Then when I think I am sick of writing, I turn around and write something on my blog. The cycle never stops!

Anyway, I came across a site today that made my job a lot easier! You see, in my school, as in most, we have to write every damned paper in MLA format. Every time I go to write a damned paper I bust out my MLA guide and look for the proper way to format my citations. Well, I am not a friggin' English major, I am a tech for crying out loud so I tend to find MLA a pain in my ass. Not any more though.

easybibI found a site that has an easy to follow wizard that allows you to create your works cited page, and even alphabetizes it for you complete with the proper indentations and everything. When you are done you can save a copy in RTF format to copy and paste into your essay! The site is called EasyBib. By Following the wizard I had my MLA format works cited done in about 3 minutes. If you are a student, you have to check it out!

May 2, 2008

Join Ubuntu 8.04 To A Windows Domain

When my old boss at Websense first introduced me to the world of Linux, being from a Windows shop, I naturally asked him how to join my Linux workstation to the domain. He of course said, "Why would you want to do that? Don't taint the pureness of open source!" So I never pressed the issue.

That is, until yesterday afternoon. I decided to give it a go again, and I have to tell you they have made it really easy. I read some blog posts on this before, and it used to be kind of a pain in the arse to do it. Not any more with the use of LikeWise Open which is available in the Ubuntu repositories.

To install it and set it up, just do the following steps (Via AnotherSysadmin.Wordpress.Com):

  1. sudo apt-get update
  2. sudo apt-get install likewise-open
  3. sudo domainjoin-cli join fqdn.of.your.domain Administrator
  4. sudo update-rc.d likewise-open defaults
  5. sudo /etc/init.d/likewise-open start


After that is done, you can log out, then log back in with your domain\username account (You have to add the domain\ first). Here is the beautiful screen shot of my Ubuntu machine in Active directory:

Ubuntu windows active directory

Ubuntu 8.04 windows active directory

Pretty cool right? I bet you never knew it could be that easy to do. Try it yourself. Let me know how it goes in the comments.

May 1, 2008

Favorite Prank: Goin' back To The Old School

I was browsing on 5Min.com at lunch and came accross this video that explains how to do one of my favorite computer-based pranks of all time. This is my favorite one to do if someone leaves their computer unlocked.

Basically, to sum it up, you take a quick screen shot of the desktop, save it as an image in MSPaint and set it as their wallpaper. Next you hide all of their real desktop icons. The last thing I like to do, which was not mentioned in the video, is drag their task bar to the top of their screen and set it to auto hide. When they come back they are confused as hell when nothing they click on works. If the victim is really un-computer savvy, then this little prank can go for a long, long time! Don't believe me? Check out this video from 5Min.com:



Do you have a favorite prank like this for when people forget to lock their workstations? Let me know in the comments!



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