Posts Tagged ‘system admin’

Setting up VPN Connection with gnome Network Manager

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Recently for a project I’ve been working on at the office I had to set up a VPN connection to gain access to the client’s network. They already had vpn set up on their end (thankfully) however, oddly enough I didn’t have a vpn client. I noticed that the gnome Network Manager had a tab for VPN, however the add button was disabled. After a quick google, I found out that you just have to install the packages ‘network-manager-pptp’ and ‘pptp-linux’ to enable it.

sudo apt-get install network-manager-pptp pptp-linux
Network Manager Window

Did the trick and now it was just a matter of entering the server information, username, password. At this point I was still unable to connect to the network. I double and triple checked my info and it was all right. It turned out I had to enable Point to Point Encryption (makes sense) in the advanced section.

Use Point to Point encryption

Now, I have a nice little ‘locked’ icon on my network status bar.

VPN Connection in Network Manager

VPN Connection in Network Manager

Who knew it would be that easy?

Stress Testing Apache Using ab

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

If you’ve ever written a web-app you’ve probably wondered how well it will hold up once the world discovers your awesome service. Will it work if you get dugg? What happens if 200 people all try to access your site at once? This is where benchmarking can provide some useful numbers to give you an idea as to how your server will hold up.


Save Your State with Rsnapshot

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

We all know backups are an essential part of running a server. Being able to restore in the worst case scenario of complete drive corruption (let’s say that your RAID setup failed somehow as well) as quickly as possible is key. Another situation could be one of your clients deleted their incredibly important file 3 days ago, but decided to call you about it now.

Rsnapshot is a series of scripts and commands which can automate the process of backing up your files to a remote location, as well as keeping a incremental copy of any changes. I have it set to keep 7 daily copies, 4 weekly copies (on Saturdays) and 6 monthly copies. Now this may sound like it will use up a great deal of disk space, but rsnapshot makes clever use of hard links, which means it only needs to store copies of files that have changed since the last backup as well as aslight overhead. In my case, this means that for every 100 megs that is backed up, on average only 1 extra meg is stored per copy. So, if I had 1GB of data and 17 old versions (7 days + 4 weeks + 6 months) it would require approximately 1.2GB of physical disk space.


Password Security

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

So, everything requires a password these days right? Whether you’re setting up a new email account, signing up for twitter, or creating a new bank account. How in the world do you remember all of these passwords? Well, I’ve seen the old sticky note on the monitor (in the drawer, under the keyboard, you name it) all too often, and we all know that we shouldn’t use the same password everywhere right? That leaves two options: have an amazing memory (ask my wife, I don’t) or find a way to securely manage your passwords.

Thankfully KeePass (or KeepassX on Linux or Mac OS-X) can help out where my memory lacks. KeePass will provide you with a secure place to store all of you passwords in an encrypted format. From the screenshot you can get a rough idea as to what the interface looks like. When you highlight any of the entries, you can just Ctrl+C to copy the password and paste it into whatever application is asking for it. For websites, there’s even an ‘auto-type’ feature. To use this, you first go to the site you want to log in to, click in the username box, and then open KeePass and click on the entry for the site. Then press Ctrl+V and it will type in your username / password for you. Slick eh?