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Weekend Reading: Networking

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 13:08:08 +0000

Weekend Reading: Networking Image Carlie Fairchild Sat, 04/21/2018 - 08:08 Networking Networking is one of Linux's strengths and a popular topic for our subscribers. For your weekend reading, we've curated some of Linux Journal's most popular networking articles.    NTPsec: a Secure, Hardened NTP Implementation by Eric S. Raymond Network time synchronization—aligning your computer's clock to the same Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) that everyone else is using—is both necessary and a hard problem. Many internet protocols rely on being able to exchange UTC timestamps accurate to small tolerances, but the clock crystal in your computer drifts (its frequency varies by temperature), so it needs occasional adjustments.   smbclient Security for Windows Printing and File Transfer by Charles Fisher Microsoft Windows is usually a presence in most computing environments, and UNIX administrators likely will be forced to use resources in Windows networks from time to time. Although many are familiar with the Samba server software, the matching smbclient utility often escapes notice.   Understanding Firewalld in Multi-Zone Configurations by Nathan R. Vance and William F. Polik Stories of compromised servers and data theft fill today's news. It isn't difficult for someone who has read an informative blog post to access a system via a misconfigured service, take advantage of a recently exposed vulnerability or gain control using a stolen password. Any of the many internet services found on a typical Linux server could harbor a vulnerability that grants unauthorized access to the system.   Papa's Got a Brand New NAS by Kyle Rankin It used to be that the true sign you were dealing with a Linux geek was the pile of computers lying around that person's house. How else could you experiment with networked servers without a mass of computers and networking equipment? If you work as a sysadmin for a large company, sometimes one of the job perks is that you get first dibs on decommissioned equipment. Through the years, I was able to amass quite a home network by combining some things I bought myself with some equipment that was too old for production. A major point of pride in my own home network was the 24U server cabinet in the garage. It had a gigabit top-of-rack managed switch, a 2U UPS at the bottom, and in the middle was a 1U HP DL-series server with a 1U eSATA disk array attached to it. Above that was a slide-out LCD and keyboard in case I ever needed to work on the server directly.   Banana Backups by Kyle Rankin I wrote an article called "Papa's Got a Brand New NAS" where I described how I replaced my rackmounted gear with a small, low-powered ARM device—the Odroid XU4. Before I settled on that solution, I tried out a few others including a pair of Banana Pi computers—small single-board computers like Raspberry Pis only with gigabit networking and SATA2 controllers on board. In the end, I decided to go with a single higher-powered board and use a USB3 disk enclosure with RAID instead of building a cluster of Banana Pis that each had a single disk attached. Since I had two Banana Pis left over after this experiment, I decided to put them to use, so in this article, I describe how I turned one into a nice little backup server.   Roll Your Own Enterprise Wi-Fi by Shawn Powers The UniFi line of products from Ubiquiti is affordable and reliable, but the really awesome feature is its (free!) Web-based controller app. The only UniFi products I have are wireless access points, even though the company also has added switches, gateways and even VoIP products to the mix. Even with my limited selection of products, however, the Web controller makes designing and maintaining a wireless network not just easy, but fun!   Tracking Down Blips by Shawn Powers In a previous article, I explained the process for setting up Cacti, which is a great program for graphing just about anything. One of the main things I graph is my in[...]

Caption This!

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 16:21:23 +0000

Caption This!
Carlie Fairchild Fri, 04/20/2018 - 11:21

Each month, we provide a cartoon in need of a caption. You submit your caption, we choose three finalists, and readers vote for their favorite. The winning caption for this month's cartoon will appear in the June issue of Linux Journal.

To enter, simply type in your caption in the comments below or email us,

Mozilla's Common Voice Project, Red Hat Announces Vault Operator, VirtualBox 5.2.10 Released and More

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 13:43:51 +0000

Mozilla open source Apple Red Hat News VirtualBox Chrome OS Cloud Security Containers News briefs April 20, 2018. Participate in Mozilla's open-source Common Voice Project, an initiative to help teach machines how real people speak: "Now you can donate your voice to help us build an open-source voice database that anyone can use to make innovative apps for devices and the web." For more about the Common Voice Project, see the story on Red Hat yesterday announced the Vault Operator, a new open-source project that "aims to make it easier to install, manage, and maintain instances of Vault—a tool designed for storing, managing, and controlling access to secrets, such as tokens, passwords, certificates, and API keys—on Kubernetes clusters." Google might be working on implementing dual-boot functionality in Chrome OS to allow Chromebook users to boot multiple OSes. Softpedia News reports on a Reddit thread that references "Alt OS" in recent Chromium Gerrit commits. This is only speculation so far, and Google has not confirmed it is working on dual-boot support for Chrome OS on Chromebooks. Oracle recently released VirtualBox 5.2.10. This release addresses the CPU (Critical Patch Updates) Advisory for April 2018 related to Oracle VM VirtualBox and several other improvements, including fixing a KDE Plasma hang and having multiple NVMe controllers with ICH9 enabled. See the Changelog for all the details. Apple yesterday announced it has open-sourced its FoundationDB cloud database. Apple's goal is "to build a community around the project and make FoundationDB the foundation for the next generation of distributed databases". The project is now available on GitHub. [...]

More L337 Translations

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:20:00 +0000

More L337 Translations Image Dave Taylor Thu, 04/19/2018 - 09:20 HOW-TOs Programming Shell Scripting Dave continues with his shell-script L33t translator. In my last article, I talked about the inside jargon of hackers and computer geeks known as "Leet Speak" or just "Leet". Of course, that's a shortened version of the word Elite, and it's best written as L33T or perhaps L337 to be ultimately kewl. But hey, I don't judge. Last time I looked at a series of simple letter substitutions that allow you to convert a sentence like "I am a master hacker with great skills" into something like this: I AM A M@ST3R H@XR WITH GR3@T SKILLZ It turns out that I missed some nuances of Leet and didn't realize that most often the letter "a" is actually turned into a "4", not an "@", although as with just about everything about the jargon, it's somewhat random. In fact, every single letter of the alphabet can be randomly tweaked and changed, sometimes from a single letter to a sequence of two or three symbols. For example, another variation on "a" is "/-\" (for what are hopefully visually obvious reasons). Continuing in that vein, "B" can become "|3", "C" can become "[", "I" can become "1", and one of my favorites, "M" can change into "[]V[]". That's a lot of work, but since one of the goals is to have a language no one else understands, I get it. There are additional substitutions: a word can have its trailing "S" replaced by a "Z", a trailing "ED" can become "'D" or just "D", and another interesting one is that words containing "and", "anned" or "ant" can have that sequence replaced by an ampersand (&). Let's add all these L337 filters and see how the script is shaping up. But First, Some Randomness Since many of these transformations are going to have a random element, let's go ahead and produce a random number between 1–10 to figure out whether to do one or another action. That's easily done with the $RANDOM variable: doit=$(( $RANDOM % 10 )) # random virtual coin flip Now let's say that there's a 50% chance that a -ed suffix is going to change to "'D" and a 50% chance that it's just going to become "D", which is coded like this: if [ $doit -ge 5 ] ; then word="$(echo $word | sed "s/ed$/d/")" else word="$(echo $word | sed "s/ed$/'d/")" fi Let's add the additional transformations, but not do them every time. Let's give them a 70–90% chance of occurring, based on the transform itself. Here are a few examples: if [ $doit -ge 3 ] ; then word="$(echo $word | sed "s/cks/x/g;s/cke/x/g")" fi if [ $doit -ge 4 ] ; then word="$(echo $word | sed "s/and/\&/g;s/anned/\&/g; s/ant/\&/g")" fi And so, here's the second translation, a bit more sophisticated: $ "banned? whatever. elite hacker, not scriptie." B&? WH4T3V3R. 3LIT3 H4XR, N0T SCRIPTI3. Note that it hasn't realized that "elite" should become L337 or L33T, but since it is supposed to be rather random, let's just leave this script as is. Kk? Kewl. If you want to expand it, an interesting programming problem is to break each word down into individual letters, then randomly change lowercase to uppercase or vice versa, so you get those great ransom-note-style WeiRD LeTtEr pHrASes. Next time, I plan to move on, however, and look at the great command-line tool youtube-dl, exploring how to use it to download videos and even just the audio tracks as MP3 files. [...]

Help Canonical Test GNOME Patches, Android Apps Illegally Tracking Kids, MySQL 8.0 Released and More

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:05:45 +0000

GNOME Desktop News Android Security Privacy MySQL KDE LibreOffice Cloud News briefs for April 19, 2018. Help Canonical test the GNOME desktop memory leak fixes in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) by downloading and installing the current daily ISO for your hardware from here: Then download the patched version of gjs, install, reboot, and then just use your desktop normally. If performance seems impacted by the new packages, re-install from the ISO again, but don't install the new packages and see if things are better. See the Ubuntu Community page for more detailed instructions. Thousands of Android apps downloaded from the Google Play store may be tracking kids' data illegally, according to a new study. NBC News reports: "Researchers at the University of California's International Computer Science Institute analyzed 5,855 of the most downloaded kids apps, concluding that most of them are 'are potentially in violation' of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act 1998, or COPPA, a federal law making it illegal to collect personally identifiable data on children under 13." MySQL 8.0 has been released. This new version "includes significant performance, security and developer productivity improvements enabling the next generation of web, mobile, embedded and Cloud applications." MySQL 8.0 features include MySQL document store, transactional data dictionary, SQL roles, default to utf8mb4 and more. See the white paper for all the details. KDE announced this morning that KDE Applications 18.04.0 are now available. New features include improvements to panels in the Dolphin file manager; Wayland support for KDE's JuK music player; improvements to Gwenview, KDE's image viewer and organizer; and more. Collabora Productivity, "the driving force behind putting LibreOffice in the cloud", announced a new release of its enterprise-ready cloud document suite—Collabora Online 3.2. The new release includes implemented chart creation, data validation in Calc, context menu spell-checking and more. [...]

An Update on Linux Journal

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 17:41:23 +0000

An Update on Linux Journal
Carlie Fairchild Wed, 04/18/2018 - 12:41

So many of you have asked how to help Linux Journal continue to be published* for years to come.

First, keep the great ideas coming—we all want to continue making Linux Journal 2.0 something special, and we need this community to do it.

Second, subscribe or renew. Magazines have a built-in fundraising program: subscriptions. It's true that most magazines don't survive on subscription revenue alone, but having a strong subscriber base tells Linux Journal, prospective authors, and yes, advertisers, that there is a community of people who support and read the magazine each month.

Third, if you prefer reading articles on our website, consider becoming a Patron. We have different Patreon reward levels, one even gets your name immortalized in the pages of Linux Journal.

Fourth, spread the word within your company about corporate sponsorship of Linux Journal. We as a community reject tracking, but we explicitly invite high-value advertising that sponsors the magazine and values readers. This is new and unique in online publishing, and just one example of our pioneering work here at Linux Journal.  

Finally, write for us! We are always looking for new writers, especially now that we are publishing more articles more often.  

With all our gratitude,

Your friends at Linux Journal


*We'd be remiss to not acknowledge or thank Private Internet Access for saving the day and bringing Linux Journal back from the dead. They are incredibly supportive partners and sincerely, we can not thank them enough for keeping us going. At a certain point however, Linux Journal has to become sustainable on its own.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Comes to Linux Tomorrow, IoT Developers Survey, New Zulip Release and More

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 15:21:19 +0000

News briefs for April 18, 2018.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration comes to Linux tomorrow! A minisite dedicated to Rise of the Tomb Raider is available now from Feral Interactive, and you also can view the trailer on Feral's YouTube channel.

Zulip 1.8, the open-source team chat software, announces the release of Zulip Server 1.8. This is a huge release, with more than 3500 new commits since the last release in October 2017. Zulip "is an alternative to Slack, HipChat, and IRC. Zulip combines the immediacy of chat with the asynchronous efficiency of email-style threading, and is 100% free and open-source software".

The IoT Developers Survey 2018 is now available. The survey was sponsored by the Eclipse IoT Working Group, Agile IoT, IEEE and the Open Mobile Alliance "to better understand how developers are building IoT solutions". The survey covers what people are building, key IoT concerns, top IoT programming languages and distros, and more.

Google released Chrome 66 to its stable channel for desktop/mobile users. This release includes many security improvements as well as new JavaScript APIs. See the Chrome Platform Status site for details.

openSUSE Leap 15 is scheduled for release May 25, 2018. Leap 15 "shares a common core with SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) 15 sources and has thousands of community packages on top to meet the needs of professional and semi-professional users and their workloads."

GIMP 2.10.0 RC 2 has been released. This release fixes 44 bugs and introduces important performance improvements. See the complete list of changes here.

Create Dynamic Wallpaper with a Bash Script

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 14:58:00 +0000

Create Dynamic Wallpaper with a Bash Script Image Patrick Wheelan Wed, 04/18/2018 - 09:58 bash Desktop Programming Harness the power of bash and learn how to scrape websites for exciting new images every morning. So, you want a cool dynamic desktop wallpaper without dodgy programs and a million viruses? The good news is, this is Linux, and anything is possible. I started this project because I was bored of my standard OS desktop wallpaper, and I have slowly created a plethora of scripts to pull images from several sites and set them as my desktop background. It's a nice little addition to my day—being greeted by a different cat picture or a panorama of a country I didn't know existed. The great news is that it's easy to do, so let's get started. Why Bash? BAsh (The Bourne Again shell) is standard across almost all *NIX systems and provides a wide range of operations "out of the box", which would take time and copious lines of code to achieve in a conventional coding or even scripting language. Additionally, there's no need to re-invent the wheel. It's much easier to use somebody else's program to download webpages for example, than to deal with low-level system sockets in C. How's It Going to Work? The concept is simple. Choose a site with images you like and "scrape" the page for those images. Then once you have a direct link, you download them and set them as the desktop wallpaper using the display manager. Easy right? A Simple Example: xkcd To start off, let's venture to every programmer's second-favorite page after Stack Overflow: xkcd. Loading the page, you should be greeted by the daily comic strip and some other data. Now, what if you want to see this comic without venturing to the xkcd site? You need a script to do it for you. First, you need to know how the webpage looks to the computer, so download it and take a look. To do this, use wget, an easy-to-use, commonly installed, non-interactive, network downloader. So, on the command line, call wget, and give it the link to the page: user@LJ $: wget --2018-01-27 21:01:39-- Resolving,, ↪, ... Connecting to||:443... connected. HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK Length: 2606 (2.5K) [text/html] Saving to: 'index.html' index.html 100% [==========================================================>] 2.54K --.-KB/s in 0s 2018-01-27 21:01:39 (23.1 MB/s) - 'index.html' saved [6237] As you can see in the output, the page has been saved to index.html in your current directory. Using your favourite editor, open it and take a look (I'm using nano for this example): user@LJ $: nano index.html Now you might realize, despite this being a rather bare page, there's a lot of code in that file. Instead of going through it all, let's use grep, which is perfect for this task. Its sole function is to print lines matching your search. Grep uses the syntax: user@LJ $: grep [search] [file] Looking at the daily comic, its current title is "Night Sky". Searching for "night" with grep yields the following results: user@LJ $: grep "night" index.html Image URL (for hotlinking/embedding): ↪ The grep search has returned two image links in the file, each related to "night". Looking at those two lines, one is the image in the page, and the other is for hotlinking and is already a usable link. You'll be obtaining the first link, however, as it is more representative of other pages that don't provide an easy link, and it serves as a good introduction to the use of grep and cut. To get the first link out of the page, you fir[...]

Cooking With Linux (without a net): A CMS Smorgasbord

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 20:02:23 +0000

Please support Linux Journal by subscribing or becoming a patron.

Note : You are watching a recording of a live show. It's Tuesday and that means it's time for Cooking With Linux (without a net), sponsored and supported by Linux Journal. Today, I'm going to install four popular content management systems. These will be Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress, and Backdrop. If you're trying to decide on what your next CMS platform should be, this would be a great time to tune in. And yes, I'll do it all live, without a net, and with a high probability of falling flat on my face. Join me today, at 12 noon, Easter Time. Be part of the conversation.

Content management systems covered include:

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Cloud Billing

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 14:40:00 +0000

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Cloud Billing Image Corey Quinn Tue, 04/17/2018 - 09:40 AWS Cloud Cloud billing is inherently complex; it's not just you. Back in the mists of antiquity when I started reading Linux Journal, figuring out what an infrastructure was going to cost was (although still obnoxious in some ways) straightforward. You'd sign leases with colocation providers, buy hardware that you'd depreciate on a schedule and strike a deal in blood with a bandwidth provider, and you were more or less set until something significant happened to your scale. In today's brave new cloud world, all of that goes out the window. The public cloud providers give with one hand ("Have a full copy of any environment you want, paid by the hour!"), while taking with the other ("A single Linux instance will cost you $X per hour, $Y per GB transferred per month, and $Z for the attached storage; we simplify this pricing into what we like to call 'We Make It Up As We Go Along'"). In my day job, I'm a consultant who focuses purely on analyzing and reducing the Amazon Web Services (AWS) bill. As a result, I've seen a lot of environments doing different things: cloud-native shops spinning things up without governance, large enterprises transitioning into the public cloud with legacy applications that don't exactly support that model without some serious tweaking, and cloud migration projects that somehow lost their way severely enough that they were declared acceptable as they were, and the "multi-cloud" label was slapped on to them. Throughout all of this, some themes definitely have emerged that I find that people don't intuitively grasp at first. To wit: It's relatively straightforward to do the basic arithmetic to figure out what a current data center would cost to put into the cloud as is—generally it's a lot! If you do a 1:1 mapping of your existing data center into the cloudy equivalents, it invariably will cost more; that's a given. The real cost savings arise when you start to take advantage of cloud capabilities—your web server farm doesn't need to have 50 instances at all times. If that's your burst load, maybe you can scale that in when traffic is low to five instances or so? Only once you fall into a pattern (and your applications support it!) of paying only for what you need when you need it do the cost savings of cloud become apparent. One of the most misunderstood aspects of Cloud Economics is the proper calculation of Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO. If you want to do a break-even analysis on whether it makes sense to build out a storage system instead of using S3, you've got to include a lot more than just a pile of disks. You've got to factor in disaster recovery equipment and location, software to handle replication of data, staff to run the data center/replace drives, the bandwidth to get to the storage from where it's needed, the capacity planning for future growth—and the opportunity cost of building that out instead of focusing on product features. It's easy to get lost in the byzantine world of cloud billing dimensions and lose sight of the fact that you've got staffing expenses. I've yet to see a company with more than five employees wherein the cloud expense wasn't dwarfed by payroll. Unlike the toy projects some of us do as labors of love, engineering time costs a lot of money. Retraining existing staff to embrace a cloud future takes time, and not everyone takes to this new paradigm quickly. Accounting is going to have to weigh in on this, and if you're not prepared for that conversation, it's likely to be unpleasant. You're going from an old world where you could plan your computing expenses a few years out and be pretty close to accurate. Cloud r[...]