Setup Remote Logging on an Ubuntu rsyslog Server for DD-WRT to Use

Setup Remote Logging on an Ubuntu rsyslog Server for DD-WRT to Use

Enable remote logging on an Ubuntu server by configuring rsyslog to allow remote connections from port 514 (adjust as needed):

sudo nano /etc/rsyslog.conf

Uncomment the imudp and imtcp load module statements like so (adjusting as needed):

# provides UDP syslog reception
module(load="imudp")
input(type="imudp" port="514")

# provides TCP syslog reception
module(load="imtcp")
input(type="imtcp" port="514")

Create a logging template and apply it only to remote hosts that start with "c-" (comcast connection remote host prefix [followed by the IP address of the device which can change])

# Comcast remote logging
$template remote-incoming-logs, "/var/log/remote_logs/%HOSTNAME%/%PROGRAMNAME%.$
if $fromhost startswith "c-" then -?remote-incoming-logs

Save and quit.

Restart the rsyslog daemon:

sudo service rsyslog restart

Remote logs will be stored in /var/log/remote_logs

Configure logrotate to process and rotate these logs automatically (so you don't lose them and have a history on them):

sudo nano /etc/logrotate.d/ddwrt

Paste these contents into the file:

/var/log/remote_logs/*.log /var/log/remote_logs/*/*.log {
    daily
    missingok
    compress
    delaycompress
    su syslog adm
}

Save and quit.

Everything has been configured, and remote logging should work from your DD-WRT router once you set the remote URL to your server's IPAddress:port combo and apply the changed settings.

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CentOS LVM and Software RAID Partitioning Instructions

Installing and Configuring CentOS to Host KVM Virtual Machines

GUI

When configuring a fresh install of CentOS for a KVM host machine (the main server that hosts all of the virtual machines), I like to run a GUI to make managing some of the virtual machines easier.  Thus, during install, choose the options for CentOS with Minimal GUI:

RAID 10 LVM Partitions

When configuring the hard drive partitions, set it up to use RAID 10 LVM SOFTWARE RAID:

Create volume group called "vms" without the quotes that is setup as RAID 10 (set volume group space to be as large as possible).

Set the "/" partition to 100GB XFS LVM (RAID10).

Set the "swap" partition to 32GB.

Only setup those two partitions.  The remaining space in the RAID 10 volume group "vms" will be used for KVM containers (and the remaining space does NOT need to be assigned to any mount points).

That's all.

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Increasing KVM Guest Hard Disk (Hard Drive) Space

Increasing KVM Guest Hard Disk (Hard Drive) Space

Increasing the hard drive space in a KVM guest can be rather tricky.  The first step is to shutdown (completely turn off) the guest machine by running the below command from the guest system:

sudo shutdown -h now

Once the guest machine has been turned off (verify it is off by using sudo virt-manager on the host machine to see if it's no longer running), on the host machine, resize the LVM partition by running the following command (and adjust the size as necessary):

sudo lvextend -L+78G /dev/vg_vps/utils

If you need help identifying the name of the disk your guest has been assigned, run this command from the host:

sudo virsh domblklist {VIRSH_NAME_OF_VIRTUAL_MACHINE}

For my example, I would use this command:

sudo virsh domblklist utils

From the host machine, download the GParted live ISO image for your system's architecture (x86 or x64).  Start virt-manager:

sudo virt-manager

Assign a CD drive to the virtual machine you're expanding the hard drive space for, and assign / mount the GParted ISO to it.  Change the boot order so that the KVM guest boots from the CD first.  Save your settings and start the KVM guest virtual machine.  Boot into GParted Live.  GParted will run automatically.  Use GParted to expand the partitions so that they make use of the added storage based on your own preferences.  Apply the resize operation.  Exit GParted and shutdown the virtual machine so that it's off again. Remove the CD drive from the boot options from virt-manager, and then start the KVM guest again. 

If Guest Doesn't Use LVM Partitioning

If your KVM guest virtual machine hasn't been configured to use LVM, the added hard drive space should already be available to your system.  Verify it has been expanded by again running the df -h command.  You're done!

If Guest Uses LVM

Let the OS boot.  From the guest, the file system needs to be resized itself.  You can do this by running the following command to see the current space allocated to your system's partitions:

df -h

You'll see a bunch of output similar to:

Filesystem                  Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev                        2.9G     0  2.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs                       597M  8.3M  589M   2% /run
/dev/mapper/utils--vg-root  127G   24G   98G  20% /
tmpfs                       3.0G     0  3.0G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs                       5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
tmpfs                       3.0G     0  3.0G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/vda1                   720M   60M  624M   9% /boot
tmpfs                       597M     0  597M   0% /run/user/1000

You'll notice that the added hard drive space doesn't show up on any of the partitions.  However, it is available to be assigned to these partitions.  To assign additional space, you will need to resize it using these commands (run from the guest virtual machine… the machine you're resizing):

lvextend /dev/mapper/utils--vg-root -L +78G
resize2fs /dev/mapper/utils--vg-root

Obviously, you need to substitute the name of the LVM partition with the one from your system shown in your output of the df -h command.

Resources

https://tldp.org/HOWTO/LVM-HOWTO/extendlv.htmlMirror if Offline

https://sandilands.info/sgordon/increasing-kvm-virtual-machine-disk-using-lvm-ext4Mirror if Offline

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Adding SAS RAID Drivers to CentOS 8 and Red Hat Linux During Installation

Adding SAS RAID Drivers to CentOS 8 and Red Hat Linux During Installation

CentOS 8 and Red Hat Linux 8 removed a lot of built in RAID controller and SAS drivers.  As such, you'll need to identify your SAS RAID controller card model number, and then during the installation of CentOS 8 or Red Hat, you will need to follow these instructions (modifying them for your hardware).

https://gainanov.pro/eng-blog/linux/rhel8-install-to-dell-raid/

If for some reason the link above is no longer available, I saved and archived a copy which can be read here.

Add El Repo Permanently

As updates are released to CentOS 8 / Rocky Linux / Red Hat 8, the kernel will often be upgraded.  To make sure the SAS drives are updated as well, you'll need to configure your system to pull updates from El Repo automatically by using the following commands:

sudo rpm --import https://www.elrepo.org/RPM-GPG-KEY-elrepo.org
sudo yum install https://www.elrepo.org/elrepo-release-8.el8.elrepo.noarch.rpm
sudo yum update -y

In case the above instructions no longer work, this guide should help.

Disable NetworkManager Wait Online Service

Prevent the boot from being halted on startup by network connection checks by running the below command:

sudo systemctl mask NetworkManager-wait-online.service

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Fixing Sound in Ubuntu

Fixing Sound in Ubuntu

If your sound quits working randomly after installing updates via the apt system (via sudo apt-get update && apt-get upgrade) or via the Software & Updates graphical program, it's possible that some of the drivers have not been installed with the latest kernel updates.

To fix this, try running the below command:

sudo apt install linux-modules-extra-$(uname -r)

Reboot.  Your sound should hopefully work again!

If the above command doesn't work (older versions of Ubuntu do not have this package), please see the generic information here:

https://itsfoss.com/how-to-fix-no-sound-through-hdmi-in-external-monitor-in-ubuntu/

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Intel Original Compute Stick – Keep WiFi from Breaking – Block Kernel Updates and Chestersmill-Settings Updates – Get Latest Software from Ubuntu Advantage

Intel Original Compute Stick – Keep WiFi from Breaking – Block Kernel Updates and Chestersmill-Settings Updates

If you have the original Intel Compute Stick (STCK1A8LFC [1GB of RAM] or STCK1A32WFC [2GB of RAM] models from 2015), you'll need to prevent a few software packages from updating so that these updates won't break your WiFi!  I've never been able to get the WiFi to work with these Intel Compute Sticks running a kernel newer than version 3.16 on any version of Ubuntu.  I've also never been able to get the WiFi to work on anything but Ubuntu 14.04, so you might be stuck having to run this older version of Ubuntu.  Also, updates to the chestersmill-settings package can break your WiFi.  To prevent both scenarios from breaking your WiFi, simply prevent the below packages from being updated.

Preventing packages from being updated can be accomplished using hold statuses in the apt system as explained on AskUbuntu:

https://askubuntu.com/questions/18654/how-to-prevent-updating-of-a-specific-package

Basically, you'll need to run the below commands to prevent WiFi from breaking due to buggy kernel and chestersmill-settings package updates:

sudo apt-mark hold chestersmill-settings
sudo apt-mark hold linux-image-$(uname -r)
sudo apt-mark hold linux-image-generic
sudo apt-mark hold linux-generic

You can now safely update software packages without worrying about your WiFi being broken by kernel and chestersmill-settings package updates!

Get Latest Software from Ubuntu Advantage for Ubuntu 14.04

Ubuntu 14.04 is also still supported via the Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) Ubuntu Advantage program (https://ubuntu.com/advantage).  

To get updated software and packages until April of 2022, you'll need to get an Ubuntu Advantage key.  Get your key using your UbuntuOne account on this page:  https://ubuntu.com/advantage

Now, install the Ubuntu advantage client by using the commands below:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ua-client/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-advantage-tools

Set your key using the command below (using your key rather than YOUR_KEY_HERE):

sudo ua attach YOUR_KEY_HERE

Now update and install the upgraded packages available via Ubuntu Advantage:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

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The Dangers of Using tcp_tw_recycle in Linux – Strange Intermittent Timeout Issues

Do Not Use tcp_tw_recycle

I had a very strange connectivity issue recently that I was only able to reproduce intermittently on my own LAN network when connecting to a few of my servers hosting websites that process and receive tons of simultaneous connections at any point in time.  Basically, my connection to a specific set of websites that I host would timeout from my home internet connection.  However, I was never able to reproduce this issue when connecting to the same sites from other networks belonging to my family and friends. 

From my home connection, I used TCPView and saw that SYN_SENT packets were supposedly sent to my servers to establish a connection.  Unfortunately, the server never replied to some of these requests.  As such, my connection would timeout at times, and work perfectly fine sometimes.  I looked at DD-WRT's connection table, and it also claimed that the packets had been sent, but that they were in an UNREPLIED state when I experienced issues.  Thus, packets were supposedly being sent, but the server was not responding at times.  After spending nearly a week trying to tackle this issue and buying new cable internet equipment (an officially supported Comcast modem), I tracked down the issue, and it ended up being a TCP configuration setting on my servers rather than my home LAN equipment.

Modem or Router's Fault?

Originally, I thought my issue was caused by the DD-WRT open source firmware I was running on my wireless router.  If I restored the router's settings to DD-WRT's factory defaults, I could always connect to the websites I was having intermittent connection timeout issues on.  I suspected it might be my router after trying an older router which didn't have any problems either.  I even upgraded the DD-WRT firmware to the latest version and rebuilt my complicated network configuration from scratch.  Unfortunately, the issue was still there.  Thus, despite mixed results with different routers, I started to wonder if the issue was on my server's end.

Finally Fixed

I started looking at sysctl TCP settings I could adjust on my router, and I ended up comparing some of these values to the ones used on my servers (that were hosting the problem websites).  Eventually, I came across configuration values I had changed myself several months ago which were supposed to help the server support multiple simultaneous connections.

After reading this StackOverflow thread (https://stackoverflow.com/questions/6426253/tcp-tw-reuse-vs-tcp-tw-recycle-which-to-use-or-both), I decided I would try disabling the tcp_tw_recycle setting.

/proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_tw_recycle was set to 1 (enabled) from tweaks I had run that I had found on the internet.  After I disabled it, /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_tw_recycle was set to 0 (disabled).  By default, Linux keeps tcp_tw_recycle disabled.  Again, this is something I had changed for tuning reasons.  After disabling this setting and rebooting the server, I no longer have any issues connecting to the severs in question.  No more connection timeouts, and everything works properly again.

I have no idea why I wasn't able to reproduce this issue on other networks.  I thought it was my network equipment (modem and router), but it ended up being the server.

Lessons Learned

Be careful when applying settings you find online.  Sometimes, they may not work, or their usage may be buggy.  In fact, net.ipv4.tcp_tw_recycle has been removed from Linux in kernel versions newer than 4.12 by default.  I'm guessing this is because it doesn't work, as I experienced.  Do NOT use  net.ipv4.tcp_tw_recycle! I kept tcp_tw_reuse enabled, so you can enable this setting without running into problems.  Just don't for the love of anything use tcp_tw_recycle!  It doesn't work, and it will cause you headaches trying to track down strange intermittent issues!

 

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Blackbird – Windows Privacy, Security, and Performance

Blackbird for Windows (7, 8, and 10)

When it comes to Windows, getting rid of telemetry, keyloggers, and other spyware Microsoft has embedded in your operating system can be rather difficult.  Fortunately, there are a few utilities that can help you take back control over your privacy and security.  One of these utilities is Blackbird, and it is now my preferred privacy and security utility for removing the Microsoft bloatware and spyware that Microsoft has embedded in their latest versions of Windows (Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10). 

To use Blackbird, simply download and run the latest version from their site:

https://www.getblackbird.net/

If for some reason you can't download it from their official site, you can download the latest version from this mirror.

Fix for Mapped Network Drive Issues

After running Blackbird and using it to remove Microsoft's embedded spyware, your mapped network drives to your Network Attached Storage (NAS) drives may no longer work or load properly.  To fix this, download and extract this zip file (named blackbird_fix_smb1_nas_drives.zip) into the same directory where you unzipped the blackbird.exe file.  Then, double click on the "blackbird-network-issues-fix-including-smbv1.bat" file which will run scripts to fix your Server Message Block Version 1 (SMB1) settings.  Reboot your computer after running the batch file, and your NAS drives should work again.

Destroy Windows Spying

I used to use Destroy Windows Spying, but unfortunately, it hasn't been updated in a long time and is no longer being actively developed or maintained, and as such, Blackbird is now my preferred destroy windows spying utility!

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C# Binding Redirects – Finding and Detecting Assembly Version of Any DLL

C# Binding Redirects – Finding and Detecting Assembly Version of Any DLL

When dealing with binding redirects, you may not know the newVersion value to use for a recently updated library.  The file version of the DLL is not necessarily the assembly version of the DLL, and when it comes to binding redirects, you must use the correct assembly version for a particular library. 

For example, in the web.config for one of our MVC projects we have the following:

<runtime>
    <assemblyBinding xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1">
       <dependentAssembly>
         <assemblyIdentity name="Antlr3.Runtime" publicKeyToken="eb42632606e9261f">
         <bindingRedirect oldVersion="0.0.0.0-3.5.0.2" newVersion="3.5.0.2">
       </dependentAssembly>
    </assemblyBiding>
</runtime>

If we update the Antlr3.Runtime package to the latest version in the nuget package manager, our binding redirects may not be automatically updated. As such, we will have to update it manually ourselves with the correct newVersion assembly version value for the updated DLL. To find the assembly version, run this PowerShell script (updating the path to the DLL as necessary):

[Reflection.AssemblyName]::GetAssemblyName('C:\development\bin\Antlr3.Runtime.dll').Version

This is the version number that is needed for the updated binding redirect in the "newVersion" attribute.

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Dell c1100 CS24-TY Latest BIOS and BMC Firmware Files

Dell c1100 CS24-TY Latest BIOS and BMC Firmware Files

Download the latest BIOS and BMC Firmware Files for the Dell c1100 CS24-TY 1U Server

The file above contains instructions and guides for updating both the BIOS and BMC Firmware to the latest released versions for official Dell c1100 CS24-TY servers and unofficial DCS or Quanta c1100 versions.

For Quanta or DCS servers, follow this guide:

https://johannes.skartland.net/2015/11/flashing-c1100/  | Archived Version

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