LEDE Project on WRT3200ACM

After pulling my hair out trying to get an OpenVPN server working on stock Linksys firmware I finally made the plunge and installed the latest LEDE firmware on this router and couldn’t be happier. I also considered DD-WRT but that project seems to have stagnated (no update for WRT3200ACM firmware for over a year). Stay tuned for how to do it and what to expect.

Stop the Windows 10 Upgrade with Never10

Tired of being nagged by Microsoft to upgrade to Windows 10? Stop the insanity with the nice little utility Never 10 from the good folks at Gibson Research Corporation. According to the site:

Never10 does NOT prevent the installation of Windows updates, including
the infamous Get Windows 10 (GWX) update KB3035583.  Never10 simply
employs Microsoft’s documented and sanctioned configuration settings to
instruct it NOT to change the installed version of Windows.

So if you’re wanting perhaps the easiest way to stop the insanity head on over to GRC and grab this 83k beauty and forget about it.

Enable Auto Login in CrunchBang++

Now that a suitable replacement for CrunchBang has come along, you can use my previous guide here for optimizing the lightweight CrunchBang++ Linux operating system as a guest virtual machine. One difference you will find is how to enable auto-login now that the core Debian base has changed in Jessie. The easy method of using a GUI is no longer available, but fret not as the changes required are minor. Simply perform the following steps to enable the auto-login functionality.

Open a terminal window and run the following command to edit the proper config file:

$ sudo geany /etc/slim.conf

On line 37 delete the part of the login command after exec and up to the ampersand so the line now looks like this:

login_cmd          exec /bin/bash -login /etc/X11/Xsession %session

Uncomment line 70 and change simone to your username:

default_user       nodakbarnes

Uncomment line 78 and change to yes to enable auto-login:

auto_login          yes

That’s it! Now save the file and reboot and enjoy not having to login in every time to your VM.

Approaches to Computing

There are three approaches to computing:

Commercial-ubiquitous approach: This is Microsoft’s approach. Try to support (or to get manufacturers to support) as much hardware as possible.  Be the default solution. Things generally look good (I can’t fault Microsoft over their years for most of their UI decisions), stability may not always be terribly good though, and that’s the sacrifice, ubiquity over stability, but the gain is to run on just about all hardware in existence. Android is also mostly falling into this category too now.

Commercial-restricted approach: Sell your hardware and your software, and only allow a select-few others to sell hardware or software that is compatible with your products. The upside is that the platforms are highly stable, but the downsides are that users will sometimes find they simply can’t do something because it’s disallowed. It also requires the company to be ever-vigilant about pushing more features and capabilities, as stagnation will mean death. Apple currently leads this community, but SGI, Sun, NeXT, Commodore, and a whole bunch of computer companies throughout the years have tried it and ultimately closed up shop.

Open-Source approach: Both leading edge (ie, research projects by major universities) and completely behind (many user applications simply don’t exist or are only partially functional).

I use Windows, OSX, and Linux daily as desktop environments. Linux is stable and fast, but often not compatible with developments out of Redmond and with a lot of work to make some features function. OSX is very smooth, very stable, and awkwardly locked-down to where some things simply aren’t options. Windows is compatible with just about everything and requires weekly reboots to keep it running.

They all suck. All of them.

Original post courtesy of TWX on Slashdot

Recovering from a Botched CrunchBang Upgrade

I recently botched an upgrade of the kernel in my CrunchBang VM and it broke the X window system leaving me staring at a black screen after boot. Thankfully it wasn’t terribly difficult to fix. See below for the steps to take to re-apply the upgrades and make the system bootable once again.

When initially booting, CrunchBang shows a Grub menu with the kernel to boot and another option with the same kernel in recovery mode. Choose this second kernel option to log in as root and then run these commands in single-user mode.

First we need to get the network interface up:

# ip link set eth0 up

Next we need to get an IP address using DHCP:

# dhclient eth0

Let’s see how the interface looks now:

# ifconfig eth0

And now we can run the update process again:

# apt-get update
# apt-get dist-upgrade

Reboot and it should all just work now:

# shutdown -r now

This is not a cure-all for all booting problems, but for a botched kernel upgrade this did the trick for me!

Optimizing CrunchBang Linux for VirtualBox

CrunchBang is an excellent version of Linux to run in VirtualBox due to the fact that it’s a nimble Openbox Linux distribution. That being said, the OS still requires tweaking after install in a VM to get the most performance and satisfaction out of it. I’ve put together a guide to walk one through the installation and optimization settings. So take this opportunity to grab the requisite softwares:

And then click here to see how it’s done.

Safe(r) Windows Browsing

Unfortunately with the magnet Microsoft Windows is to malware, and the reluctance people have to migrating to an alternate operating system (ie Linux, OSX), there needs to be a way to protect yourself from the majority of vectors out in the wilds of the internets. The sad fact today is that it is not enough to browse “safe” sites anymore (seems as though even the safe sites host ads that contain malware). So, what is one to do? I suggest a combination of a non-Microsoft browser and two plug-ins to get the job done:

1.  Firefox ESR
2.  NoScript
3.  Adblock Plus

Why the ESR version of Firefox? It is geared toward large organizations due to its stability and the fact that it is not upgraded every week whenever the newest feature is added. If you’ve got to have the latest and greatest then this is not for you. As for me, I prefer stability and security over the newer features. If you want the bleeding edge then Chrome is for you, but you’d better have an awesome malware solution in place (or run it in a sandbox on Windows). The NoScript and AdBlock Plus add-ons are a must for a secure browsing environment on Windows. NoScript stops all scripts from running by default and you can enable sites as you visit them. The AdBlock Plus add-on does what the name suggests and blocks most ads and pop-ups. The majority of malware is delivered via adverts now (and you don’t even need to click on them to get infected), and this add-on helps to mitigate these attacks.

CentOS Vagrant Base Box

I will show how to create a headless CentOS minimal installation “box” using Vagrant and VirtualBox. Similar results can be accomplished without Vagrant, but I find that with a little extra work, Vagrant adds enough value to make the effort worth it. According to their website:

Vagrant is a tool for building complete development environments. With an easy-to-use workflow and focus on automation, Vagrant lowers development environment setup time, increases development/production parity, and makes the “works on my machine” excuse a relic of the past.

Here’s what you’ll need (version used in this tutorial):

Keep in mind, while I did this in Windows 7, the same can be accomplished in OSX and Linux. So let’s get started and see how it’s done. Click here for the tutorial.

Note: If all you want is the Vagrant box you can download it here.

CentOS Development Workstation in VirtualBox

Have you ever wanted to learn how to program or just need a clean & efficient environment to do same? I will demonstrate how to set up a very nice development environment to start off with. This tutorial is Windows-centric and will get you set up to program in Linux under an existing Windows installation. To get started lets grab the requisite pieces needed to get going. Here’s what you’ll need:

Now that you have the prerequisites click here for the particulars.

If all you want is a quick and dirty of how to do similar the CentOS Wiki has a page describing how to install CentOS as a Guest OS in VirtualBox.

LFS Slackware VirtualBox Appliance

I’ve created an optimized Linux From Scratch build environment using Slackware 14.0 and exported it as an Oracle VirtualBox Appliance to ease installation. The size was kept to minimum (less than 200 MB) and the packages included are as follows.

You can get the appliance here.

You can get the tagfiles to modify your Slackware ISO as well as a floppy image with the tagfiles included here.

NOTE: Login as root with password slack