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Sep 29, 2009

VMWare Tools For Linux On The Easy

Last year, I wrote about how you you go about installing VMWare tools on an Ubuntu virtual machine. That method still works, but it isn’t the optimal nor easiest way of doing it. Not according to my boss anyway.

My boss is the guy who really introduced me to Linux, and really knows his sH!7. He said that if you manually install the VMWare tools pack then later decide to upgrade the kernel it will break your VMWare tools install, and you will have to remember to manually uninstall it, then re-install it. He recommends using your distro’s pre-packaged Open-VM-Tools!

He said that since your distro maintains Open-VM-Tools in their repository, chances are pretty good that they will keep them up to date when they roll out changes to the kernel, and will keep you running smoothly after an upgrade.

To install Open-VM-Tools in Ubuntu it is as simple as using apt-get:

>sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools

One thing I did notice with using this is that for an Ubuntu virtual machine, vSphere shows the tools status as OK:

Ubuntu VMWare Tools

On Gentoo, my boss’s distro of choice, vShpere shows the VMWare tools status as Unmanaged:

gentoo VMWare toolsStick that in your pipe and smoke it Gentoo! Just kidding, all joking aside, my boss assures me that even though it appears as Unmanaged in vSphere you still get all of the benefits as the manual install of VMWare tools such as:

  • Improved video compatibility & performance
  • Improved network compatibility & performance
  • Copy and paste between the host and guest
  • Improved memory utilization
  • Improved CPU utilization

Do you use a lot of Linux virtual servers in your environment? Do you already use Open-VM-Tools? Do you manually install the tools? What’s your VM story? Hit us up in the comments!

Sep 28, 2009

NTFRS Error 13559

Oh this is not a fun one. I am doing a lot of domain controller maintenance on one of the many Windows active directory domain I manage and I noticed a little problem with replication on one of the domain controllers in the forest.

For those of you not familiar with NtFRS, according to Wikipedia, File Replication Service is a Microsoft Windows Server service for distributing folders stored in the SYSVOL shared folder on domain controllers and Distributed File System (DFS) shared folders. It is also known as NTFRS after the name of the executable file that runs the service. This service is part of Microsoft's Active Directory.”

The error that I kept seeing was right after the file replication service was trying to start, and it would say:

Event Type:    Error
Event Source:    NtFrs
Event Category:    None
Event ID:    13559
Date:        9/01/2009
Time:        9:19:05 PM
User:        N/A
Computer:    SERVER
Description:
The File Replication Service has detected that the replica root path has changed from "c:\ad\sysvol\domain" to "c:\ad\sysvol\domain". If this is an intentional move then a file with the name NTFRS_CMD_FILE_MOVE_ROOT needs to be created under the new root path.
This was detected for the following replica set:
    "DOMAIN SYSTEM VOLUME (SYSVOL SHARE)"
Changing the replica root path is a two step process which is triggered by the creation of the NTFRS_CMD_FILE_MOVE_ROOT file.
[1] At the first poll which will occur in 60 minutes this computer will be deleted from the replica set.
[2] At the poll following the deletion this computer will be re-added to the replica set with the new root path. This re-addition will trigger a full tree sync for the replica set. At the end of the sync all the files will be at the new location. The files may or may not be deleted from the old location depending on whether they are needed or not.

For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

You know what though? The fix is actually pretty easy. All you have to do is browse to the directory that is mentioned in the error. In the above case it is c:\ad\sysvol\domain right click in there and create a new text file called NTFRS_CMD_FILE_MOVE_ROOT with no extension. After that, the error will go away, and replication should continue again within a few minutes.

Did that help you with your issue? Are you experiencing another replication issue? Maybe we can help. Hit us up in the comments!

 

Sep 24, 2009

How To Get osTicket To Authenticate With AD

One of my first tasks at the new gig was to set up an open source ticketing system. We decided on osTicket. My boss said I could use any distro I wanted, the only requirement was that it had to authenticate with AD.

He sent me some links to possibly help get it working, and one was how to set up LDAP authentication in Linux. If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I discovered an even easier way to get Linux to authenticate with AD using Likewise-Open. That was only part of the puzzle though.

We not only had to get Ubuntu (The distro I chose) to authenticate with AD, we had to get osTicket to authenticate with AD using Pam. Here is what we did:

  1. Installed Likewise-Open using my instructions
  2. Installed a few packages:

    sudo apt-get install php5-imap postfix php5-pam-auth pecl php_pam mcrypt php5-mcrypt

  3. Modified /include/class.staff.php as follows

    sudo nano /var/www/include/class.staff.php

    Replace

    /*compares user password*/

    function check_passwd($password){

    return (strlen($this->passwd) && strcmp($this->passwd, MD5($password))==0)?(TRUE):(FALSE);

    }

    with

    /*compares user password*/

    function check_passwd($password){

    if (pam_auth($this->username, $password, &$error)) {

    return TRUE;

    } else {

    return FALSE;

    }

    }

  4. Restarted Apache
  5. Done!

Also to control spam since anyone in the world can create a ticket with osTicket without authentication, we also added recaptcha using these instructions here: (Captcha in osTicket)

Do you use osTicket? Like it? Dislike it? Do you have it integrating with AD? Did you do the same thing, or do something different? Let us know in the comments.

Special thanks to henkka on the osTicket forum.


NOTE: If you are using osTicket 1.6ST Read my post here: (AD Authentication in osTicket 1.6.0)

Sep 23, 2009

How to increase disk space on a Windows VM

Wow, look at this! Two posts in one week! What the hell happened? I used to bring you daily geeky goodness, but now you are reduced to two lousy articles a week? I digress.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this article which is how one goes about adding more disk space to a Windows virtual machine in VMWare. Now I found this article which talks about doing this using a Knoppix live CD, however I found an easier way, and it is built into Windows.

All you have to do is the following:

  1. Power down you virtual machine
  2. In your VMWare manager (vSphere, etc.) edit the VM’s settings
  3. Increase the provisioned size of the disk and click OK
  4. Power on the virtual machine
  5. Verify in Disk management that the VM sees the new unformatted disk space
  6. Open a command prompt (In Vista/2008 as Administrator)
  7. Run diskpart
  8. Type list volume
  9. Type select volume <volume number>
  10. Type extend
  11. Type exit

That’s it. No live CD. No nothin’! Just more disk space!

Sep 21, 2009

Troubleshooting Backup Exec 12.5

I have really been slacking lately on the blog, and for that I want to just apologies right off the bat. I started a new job a couple of weeks ago and that has been keeping me busy as all hell. One of the things I have been working on was getting a new backup server running, and that is where a lot of my time has been spent.

If you have read some of my older posts, I mention using CA Arcserve. That was at my last company, and I am glad that I no longer have to use that sorry piece of crap software any more. At my new company I am using the industry standard, Backup Exec from Symantec. In fact, I am using Backup Exec 12.5 SP2. I thought this software would be all wine and roses, but I found out that it wasn’t going to be that easy.

Backup exec 12.5 If you ever have to setup a new Backup Exec server from scratch, here are a couple of things I noticed that may help you out.

My first issue was that Backup Exec could see the tape library, but couldn’t see the tapes in the slots. It just listed all slots as empty. To fix that I had to go into my tape library interface and set the Library Mode to random. I am using an HP Library, so that is what it is called in HP lingo. If you have a different library, check the users manual, or Google search for the proper configuration for your make/model. Once that is set, restart Backup Exec services, and you should see tapes in the slots.

My next issue was that the tape drive didn’t appear under the robotic library. It appeared separate! To fix that I had to manually select the Symantec drivers in device manager for the Tape Library. It turns out that when you select to use the Symantec Drivers during setup, Windows doesn’t automatically change them over. You should see something like this in Device Manager:

Device Manager

If you don’t see that, then you are still using your OEM driver. To change it:

  • Right click the device, and select Update Driver Software
  • Select Browse my Computer for driver software
  • Select Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer
  • Select Unknown Medium Changer and select Next then Finish Unknown Medium Changer
  • Reboot if necessary

Finally, my last problem was that Backup Exec couldn’t manipulate the tapes correctly. In the library it showed all tapes as Unknown Media. Inventory failed. Disk Erase failed. Nothing worked. In fact, Backup Exec couldn’t even see media that was in the drive. I found out that Backup Exec doesn’t like to start up with a tape in the drive. I went into the library web interface, and manually ejected the tape. Then I restarted Backup Exec services and BAM! Now I can erase and write to media. Tapes no longer show up as Unknown Media, and I can see a tape in the drive!

Have you had any problems with Backup Exec? Care to share any tips/tricks/recommendations? Hit me up in the comments!

Sep 16, 2009

Name that tune in 140 characters or less. Can’t remember that songs title? LyricRat to the rescue.

When ever I start to think about not remembering a song I think back to that episode of Married With Children, way back when, when Al was trying to remember that song that starts hmmm hmmm himmmm…

Well this service might not have helped him but it can help you!

The way Lyric Rat works is simple you either visit their website – located at http://www.lyricRat.com or if you are a twitter head you can tweet right at LyricRat.

rat1

For the scope of this article we will be walking through using the website but according to the Lyric Rat website’s instructions here is how you can use it via twitter:

@LyricRat

Lyric Rat is naming that tune in 140 characters or less on Twitter.

Send a tweet to @LyricRat with some lyrics and the Rat will reply with the song title and artist and a link with more info. Just make sure “@LyricRat” is the first thing in your tweet.

Back to the website. Once you are on the Lyric Rat site you can type in as much of the song as you remember. I started off with an old favorite of mine. A little Jay Z tune from back in the day. I picked PART of a line out of the song and typed it into the query box on the home page. Once I was done I hit the Find The Song button and the rat when out and found my song!

rat2

I waited patiently for about 45 seconds as I stared at this spinning flash graphic. It was scouring Amazon I can only imagine utilizing the Bing search engine for lyrics and returning the best hit.

rat3

Then it returned what I was looking for… The song is called Dead Presidents (back then it wasn’t called part 1!) . Then after a moment a Amazon MP3 player popped up and let me play the song I was looking for. This is awesome. The only thing it was lacking was the full lyrics of the song. But hey it did find what I was looking for so beggars shouldn’t be choosey!

rat4

I decided to try some other songs from other genres like an old song called blister in the sun… This search was quick and returned the correct song, artist and a Amazon MP3 player again allowing me to get my listen on right there in my browser without clicking around.

rat5

You can see the MP3 player below. All you have to do is click on the play button or the right arrow and it will start playing. You can also click buy to be sent to Amazon to cop that song. I am sure the software’s author is using affiliate links to make money as the site is FREE. Free as in Free beer!

ratMP3

I was having such a good time I decided to throw a stranger less known song at it from the Spin Doctors. But it had NO PROBLEM finding the song in a jiffy.rat6

Are you stumped? Are you in a bar and fighting about what song that is? Well if so feel free to browse on over to Lyric Rat and solve your problems! Do you have another application that does what Lyric Rat does? Do you know of an off-line solution? We would love to hear about it in the comments!

By Karl Gechlik of AskTheAdmin

 

Sep 14, 2009

Funny people you meet at Walmart

Now I don't usually like to deride others, but sometimes it can be funny to see people in public. Peopleofwalmart.com is a new blog where you can post those people who seem to not care what the world thinks of them. There is actually a guy with implants on the site, yes you read that right, a dude with boobs. Classy with a K. Looks like this guy was planning on hiding in the woods after he robbed the bank.


Sep 11, 2009

Social Networking for Nerds

So you want to be social but you're not into the regular pop references. Twitter is nice in it's bite size but Facebook, Friendfeed and Myspace just aren't your cup of tea. The solution is to surround yourself with people as socially dysfunctional as you. Yes you heard right there are social networks for us geeks, nerds, hackers, code monkeys or whatever you choose to call yourself.

Advogato is the place to be for open source networking, it has a nice mix of people fully versed in open source to those just starting a rating system to get yourself from user to master at the recommendation of those who know you. The site has also been used as an example of a good trust metrics system. The site isn't the shiniest but if you're looking for solid code and a blog system check it out.

Games more your thing? Try GamerDNA. It's a site that specializes in social networking for gamers. It goes through trending games and you can post screenshots and communicate with other gamers about how much you pwn them.


Looking for a mix? Try Wakoopa where you can share the games and software you use. You can also find new software and update your status to others. Yes Opera is still less popular than IE though only a deity would know why.

By @PhilipTruax

Sep 10, 2009

Clean Up Stale Records in DNS

One of the many many tasks I was asked to lift off the shoulders of my company’s other Sr. Systems Engineer was to clean up DNS in the many domains we administer. He apparently took over an aging network that needs some serious TLC.

Since he is overloaded with many other projects, I gladly took that one off his plate. If you ever find your self having to do a similar project, it is actually pretty easy to do. You see Microsoft has built a feature into it’s DNS server that does an auto cleanup of stale records in DNS, the problem is they don’t turn it on by default. A lot of Systems Administrators overlook this feature when initially setting up DNS on their networks, and over time it can create problems, and a messy DNS structure.

The feature is called Aging and Scavenging. If this feature is never enabled you may encounter the following problems:

  • If a large number of stale resource records remain in server zones, they can eventually take up server disk space and cause unnecessarily long zone transfers.
  • DNS servers loading zones with stale RRs might use outdated information to answer client queries, potentially causing the clients to experience name resolution problems on the network.
  • The accumulation of stale RRs at the DNS server can degrade its performance and responsiveness.
  • In some cases, the presence of a stale RR in a zone could prevent a DNS domain name from being used by another computer or host device.

aging scavenging dns To enable Aging and Scavenging on all DNS zones do the following:

  1. Open the DNS snap-in.

  2. In the console tree, right-click the applicable Domain Name System (DNS) server, and then click Set Aging/Scavenging for All Zones.

  3. Select the Scavenge stale resource records check box.

  4. Modify other aging and scavenging properties as needed


[Via Technet]

You can also simply make the change on individual zones as well, to do that:

  1. Open the DNS snap-in.

  2. In the console tree, right-click the applicable zone, and then click Properties.

  3. On the General tab, click Aging.

  4. Select the Scavenge stale resource records check box.

  5. Modify other aging and scavenging properties as needed.

[Via Technet]

So why isn't this enabled by default? According to Technet, there are some risks here:

By default, the aging and scavenging mechanism for the DNS Server service is disabled. It should only be enabled when all parameters are fully understood. Otherwise, the server could be accidentally configured to delete records that should not be deleted. If a record is accidentally deleted, not only will users fail to resolve queries for that record, but any user can create the record and take ownership of it, even on zones configured for secure dynamic update.

Still though, I think the good outweighs the bad with this feature. What do you think though? have you ever had problems with this feature? Do you know of some other good tools to use with DNS/AD cleanup? Let me know in the comments!

Sep 9, 2009

Cheat At Rubik’s Cube

Last Christmas my wife bought me a Rubik's Cube puzzle for a stocking stuffer. I have always wanted one, and never had one. I finally told her that I wanted one for Christmas and she delivered.

I was really excited when I got it so I brought it to work so I could solve it on my breaks, or so my coworkers could give it a shot. One of my co-workers decided he was going to give it a whirl so he took it. About 30 minutes or so later he brought it back completely solved. When I saw that my jaw dropped. WTF? How the hell did he solve it so quickly? He played it off for a while that he was a Rubik’s genius, but he eventually let me in on the trick.

That shady S.O.B. used the Rubik’s Cube Solver from the guys at wrongway.org. With the Rubik’s Cube solver you can enter your current configuration into their online model, then click a button for step by step instructions on how to solve it, and how many moves it will take to solve it. Here is a screen shot of their solver model:

rubiks cube solver

Do you know of an easier to use Rubik’s solver? Or maybe just another one? Let us know in the comments.

Sep 8, 2009

Organize All Of Your Remote Connections In One Application

I started a new job last week on Monday. I decided to go to work for one of my former bosses from one of my past lives. Along with my former boss, I get to work along side a former colleague. In this environment we work with multiple Windows domains.

One day while working on a project with my former/current colleague I noticed that all of his remote desktop connections were organized by domain in one easy snap-in. At first I thought he was using the remote desktop MMC snap in with multiple connections, but then I looked a little further and I saw he was using something completely different.

I looked it up online, and found that the application he was using could do so much more than just remote desktop. In fact, here is a list of all the protocols it supports:

This application is called mRemote, and is absolutely free! Here is a screenshot from their page of a connection using SSH:

mRemote

 

Since I installed it it has made my life a little easier in the new joint. Having to administer multiple domains can be a daunting task, so organization is key. Currently I have all of my servers organized by domain.

Do you know of a similar tool? Do you use mRemote? Any tips with it? What do you like/dislike about it? Hit me up in the comments!

Sep 7, 2009

FREE Alternative to Partition Magic

When I first landed in the business, the name in third party disk partitioning was Partition Magic which is now owned by Symantec. In many circles, Partition is still the program to go to for disk partitioning.

Well, I got the idea to write about a free, open source, Linux based partitioning tool from Ask The Admin, when they mentioned using this free alternative in their adventures with Vista and Kubuntu.

This little miracle is called GPARTED. It is a Linux live CD and it's whole purpose in life is disk partitioning. It offers a really easy to use GUI for resizing drives, as well as formatting in just about every known format including NTFS for Windows. I used it just the other day to take some of my unused disk space on my computer and turn it into another partition. It works very well!



The next time someone needs some custom disk partitioning done on an a drive with an existing operating system, and you don't want to wipe the drive and start over from scratch, use GPARTED to get the job done!

Sep 2, 2009

Growl for any system

So you were at school or your trendy friends house and were on a Mac and that cool little notification came up and looked all shiny and pretty. Congratulations you've seen growl. Regardless of what you think of Steve Jobs and Apple, it's hard to deny that they can make simple look as fabulous as Will Smith in Men in Black.

So now you're back at your beautiful PC or Linux box and you want to have the same toys as your Mac buddy. Well, you're in luck! Windows aficionados will find that the wonderful folks over at Growl for Windows have got some goodies already made up and ready to roll for you. They have quite a few apps that you actually use and the interface has different skins, plus if you're any good at coding you can create a notification of your favorite app to share.

So that Bill Gates and his closed Windows not for you? Fear not 'Nix lovers because with a little bit of effort you too can have the wonders of a growl like notification. Ubuntu has Mumbles which from the looks of things looks fairly well baked with some minor hiccups and someone has installed it on Gentoo. Another decent looking notifier is Specto they claim to have it working on many major distros and it's customizable too. Finally there's this tutorial that shows you how to do it from scratch.

That's for this post folks, I would like to give a nod to the folks over at the Ubuntu forums for their help in compiling this list.



Sep 1, 2009

Explore your inner self

There are days where I tend to be introspective. Normally I can sit down with a good book and broaden my horizons just a bit each day but there are days where I want to delve a bit deeper into understanding myself and a free tarot reading just doesn't give me the enlightened feeling I am looking for. For that purpose I've run across a couple of neat tools to help with that internal quest.

While mind mapping may not be exactly what one thinks of when they are looking for introspection that doesn't mean it can't be a useful tool in organizing one's thoughts. FreeMind is a no nonsense tool that may not be the most graphically pleasing but it gets the job done with zest and has a good selection of options that should help keep even the most flighty of minds on track, especially if you're looking to plan for a long project, such as a term paper, a project plan, a book, etc. If you need what amounts to virtual post it notes this organizes it all for you neatly and with no frills or steep learning curve.

Not quite deep enough? Or maybe you want to compare yourself to others? Yourmorals.org lets you take quizzes to find out how your personality shakes out versus others and can tell you where you sit politically based on your answers. This site is actually a really interesting case study into what explains the differences between conservatives and liberals in America is is definitely worth a look into just so it might help you understand that friend or co-worker on the other side of the political aisle.

Interested in finding out what the web thinks of you? Personas a project by those crazy guys over at MIT delves into what the web thinks about you and gives you a visual representation about what it says about you breaking your search down into different categories. You can do it on any name. I thought Sun Tzu was particularly interesting.

Some of you at this point may be sitting at home unemployed due to the down economy, thinking maybe this would be the time to change careers, but aren't certain where we'd really like to be career wise. Maybe you'd like to take a free Meyers-Briggs personality test? Yes, this is one of those tests you probably took in high school, but didn't pay attention or take seriously at the time. Your personality might change slightly as you age but your core should be the same unless you are on the cusp of more than one type. I am an INTP, feel free to leave your personality type in the comments below.

Okay so you've got some serious time on your hands at this point for self inflection and improvement? I've got two more sites for you TCU Self-Exploration has tools to really delve into your psyche complete with books, tools and techniques. The M.A.P. Maker feels a bit more existential but will equally gobble up your free time and help you to put your mind places it normally wouldn't go.

That's all for today, feel free to add your favorite sites or suggestions in the comments below!





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