Got a Netbook…

I am going to a conference soon, and my wife cannot part with her laptop now, so I bought a $300 Asus Eee-PC netbook (1005HAB), with a 9-cell battery that gives me close to 9 hrs of battery time.  I bought it online through Best Buy (I know, I know), and picked it up at the store a few days later.  I had Windows7 Starter Edition on it.  I prepped a USB drive using a the KDE Startup Disk Creator program and the Kubuntu 10.04 Netbook Edition ISO.  I had to find the BIOS first (F2), and tell the netbook to boot from USB, but after that, Kubuntu Netbook installed without a hitch.  I chose to wipe everything, since the netbook came with the OS media (if I ever want to install Windows, yuck – but hey, I paid for it).  I set it up with separate partitions (including /boot) and formatted everything with EXT4 (for later conversion to btrfs when the 2.6.36 kernel comes out).

Everything worked right out of the box.  Including wireless and suspend-resume.  Sweet.  It is a little slow, but who cares?  This thing is so neat.  I am a little addicted to being able to go anywhere around the house now and surf, blog, email, and administer the other machines from this thing.  When I am done, I can close the lid, and later open it back up, wait a bit, and then be prompted to unlock the screen and get back online, no sweat.

In addition to updating the kernel to 2.6.35-17 and updating KDE to version 4.4.5, I also installed the MediBuntu repositories, set up the USB smartcard with Acrobat Reader, Firefox, and Thunderbird, and got the camera working with the new gmail video chat software.  One more thing – to get the function keys to work, I had to edit my /etc/default/grub file and change the line

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"

to

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash acpi_osi=Linux"

I also installed “eee-control-tray” from the repositories for better control over the camera, touchpad, etc.  The only thing I do not like is the touchpad, in fact.  When scrolling on a web page, it likes to keep scrolling whenever I move it into the page to click on a a link.  I use a USB wireless mouse now.  We are taking this thing everywhere we go now.

Wireless Dilemma and Kubuntu 9.04 Network Manager….

While upgrading my kid’s computer and installing the web proxy and filter (see article titled “SquidGuard Blacklists…“), I ran across a real problem.  Wireless would start only after a user logged into their desktop, so the system had no IP address until then.  However, without an IP, Dansguardian would fail to start.  I tried scripting the problem away, essentially waiting indefinitely until a periodic check showed an IP address in use and then starting the services, but this did not work.  I played around with making an init script under /etc/init.d and using “update-rc.d” to create the proper sym links.  This also did not work.  I tried manually defining the wireless network using /etc/network interfaces and creating a /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf file.  This did not work.

It was then I remembered a server I had built at work, using Ubuntu-9.04, in which I had stripped off all of the GUI/desktop stuff, leaving a bare-bones server instead.  It worked fine on the network, and did not have Network Manager installed.  Looking in the init script folder under /etc/init.d, I found a NetworkManager service, so I made it non-executable (“sudo chmod -x /etc/inint.d/NetworkManager“), and ran “sudo update-rc.d -f NetworkManager remove” to get rid of the startup links.  After that, the wireless network started on boot just fine, with no need for user interaction, and the services for the proxy and filters started flawlessly (I added them into /etc/network/interfaces).

So, Network Manager was stepping all over /etc/network/interfaces.  Not anymore.  I could have removed the package, but other packages will then be removed, and I don’t want that.

For someone having trouble with their manual wireless setup, here are my scrubbed /etc/network/interfaces and /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf files:

/etc/network/interfaces:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf

# added 10-18-09 for proxy filter
pre-up iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.rules
post-up /usr/local/squid/sbin/squid
post-up /usr/local/dansguardian/sbin/dansguardian
post-down iptables-save -c > /etc/iptables.rules

/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf:

network={
ssid="myssid"
proto=RSN
key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
pairwise=CCMP TKIP
group=CCMP TKIP
psk="my-key-phrase"
}

This is for a WPA2 wireless setup (SSID and passphrase are bogus, of course).  Hope this helps someone.

Wireless and Kubuntu 9.04…

I tried to connect my media computer to my wireless network and failed. I ended up running a wired connection to it and searching online for an answer. There is a lot of stuff out there regarding problems with the KNetwork Manager app being brain-dead with wireless. I did some checking and found that my wireless chipset, a Broadcom BCM 4318 AirForce One 54g should work. I ran the command lshw -C network and the results seemed normal. The b43 modules was loaded. Yet I could not get it to connect. I also stumbled over a possible fix with KWallet – using no password, creating an entry and allowing KWallet to use that for the network connection. It still did not work.
Then I went to the System menu, Hardware Drivers, and looked at the proprietary drivers. The Nvidia driver and the Broadcom driver were both listed but not enabled, so I enabled each. As soon as the Broadcom driver loaded, I recreated the network connection and was in immediately.

Not too smooth, overall. I can appreciate the frustration lots of folks are having with this issue, and the one with KNetworkManager not connecting to a network that does not broadcast an SSID. Some notification that more drivers needed to be loaded would have been really helpful here. I understand Ubuntu [GNOME] and Xubuntu [XFCE] are not having these issues.

Ubuntu Forum Article – HOWTO: Wireless Security – WPA1, WPA2, LEAP, etc…

Found this while mindlessly surfing around – this is a very good read if you are troubleshooting wireless on Ubuntu (or Linux in general).

Here is the link – HOWTO: Wireless Security – WPA1, WPA2, LEAP, etc.

Hope this helps!

Free Computer!

Amazing what some folks will throw away.

I was driving to work, and I happened to see a computer sitting on the curb in my neighborhood. This means it is for the garbage collector to pick up. I went to the house and asked what the story was, and the lady who answered the door told me that her husband had also found it on the curb somewhere else, but had been unable to make it work and didn’t have the time to continue, so he was throwing it out. She said I could have it, so I went to take a look.

No hard drive, no video card, dual SLI PCIe slots, a nice case and power supply, DVD writer…. and a gigabyte of Corsair RAM (PC3200) (!). Bonus!

So I took it home and a weekend later, had a monitor, PCI video card (no AGP slot), speakers, keyboard and mouse. I also had a couple of Linux CDs ready.

After checking all the connections and parts, this is what it had inside:

  • A 500W modular-plug power supply
  • A PCI Broadcom wireless G card (no antenna, but I had a spare)
  • A SoundBlaster Audigy PCI card
  • A generic PCI LAN card
  • An ASA A8N-Premium motherboard
  • A slew of USB ports
  • Onboard sound and dual gigabit LAN ports
  • 3 PCI slots, two 16x PCIe slots, and four memory slots
  • Eight SATA ports onboard, evenly split across two onboard RAID controllers (one supporting RAID-5)
  • Lots of case fans
  • And a partridge in a pear tree.

After checking it out, pulling the PCI LAN card, rearranging the WLAN and sound cards so the video card would fit ok (a puny NVIDIA 5500 with 128 MB RAM), and installing an 80 gig SATA-1 hard drive, I fired it up.

Everything worked. It was very very quiet.

I entered the BIOS first and checked it out. The hard drive wasn’t there, until I enabled both SATA controllers. Then it showed up fine after a reboot.

Holy crap! The thing had an AMD64 4400+ X2 processor – I had snagged a 64-bit dual core AMD for nothing!

It gets better – I went to install Linux, and there was already a CD in the drive – the OEM recovery CD, for Windows XP Pro! The license key was on the side of the case, so just for S&G I let it boot.  Hahaha.

After waiting for about 10 minutes into the blue “Initializing Windows Setup” screen with no sign of this changing, I rebooted, threw in a Linux Mint CD, and had it installed about 20 minutes later.  As I figured – maybe I’ll try to load XP in a virtual machine later…

Linux Mint came up fine, with everything found but the WLAN card. It was running a 2.6.17 kernel, so I reloaded with Kubuntu 7.04 to see if a more recent kernel would make a difference. It seemed a little better in seeing the card, but still wouldn’t configure it. Oh well.

I’ll Google it and get it running manually (that’ll be a new post). The SoundBlaster card seems to work well, and every thing else works fine. This thing is pretty quick.

In the mean time, I need to get a better video card for it, for starters. And yeah, “cat /proc/cpuinfo” shows two CPUs.

It just floors me what some people will toss out. I did some checking around, and I figure it had to have cost around $1000. I wonder if they decided to get a new computer with Vista pre-loaded?

How Long to Crack WPA?

Trolling through websites, I found an interesting link on this aircrack-ng tutorial page – a calculator to estimate the amount of time it would take to brute-force the WPA keys, based on a variety of parameters.

The calculator is HERE – you will need to turn on JavaScript if you are using No-Script (IE users, just ignore that tip… ^__^) .

I do not know how accurate or valid it is, but I imagine the aircrack-ng folks wouldn’t have linked to it if they thought it was junk….

Kismet and D-Link DWL-G122 USB WLAN Adapter

I decided to try out kismet today. I had a D-Link USB wireless adapter handy (a DWL-G122 version B1), but no driver. Some quick Googling turned up the RaLink Linux support web site, but I had trouble compiling the drivers there (I tried both the RT2501USB(RT2571W/RT2671) and the RT2500USB(RT2571/RT2572) (source Code)). So instead I tried the latest beta rt2570 driver from the rt2x00.serialmonkey.com web site:

  1. Untar after downloading.
  2. Go to the Module directory.
  3. “make”
  4. “make install” (gotta be root).
  5. “modprobe rt2570″
  6. “iwconfig” should then show it as rausb0.

From there, the README file included in the tarball has instructions for having the hardware activated on boot.

Of course, you need to have iwconfig (urpmi network-tools to get it on Mandriva)…

I then installed kismet via urpmi, and after a little trolling through man pages, and finding the config file (hint – “updatedb” followed by “locate kismet”), I edited the /etc/kismet.conf file and changed the following lines:

  • # User to setid to (should be your normal user)
    suiduser=<put in a non-root username here>
  • # source=sourcetype,interface,name[,initialchannel]
  • #source=prism54g,eth0,eth0 (for my Planex Intersil card)
    #source=rt2570,rausb0,DWL-G122-B1 (my first guess – shoulda read the README below first)
    source=rt2500,rausb0,rausb0 (correct setting)

I found the right sources in the README doc (/usr/share/doc/kismet-3.1.060413/README) – READ THIS FILE FIRST!

Running kismet without the suid user set failed (it needs to be started as root, but then will drop down to the specified user’s privileges for security reasons). Trying with the correct suid user and the source set to the prism54 worked, but of course, my wireless connection was now gone. I changed to use the DLink interface, and kismet came up, discovered my wireless network (which stilled worked), and even revealed that my neighbors do not appear to have wireless.

Of course, our walls are pretty thick, too….

Next, I’ll get a notebook and try a little war-strolling in my neighborhood. Everyone needs a hobby, right?

PS – Seriously, read the kismet README first – it has the correct sources and list the serialmonkey site as the place to get the driver.

PPS – lsusb output for the D-Link:

  • Bus 005 Device 003: ID 2001:3c00 D-Link Corp. [hex] DWL-G122 802.11g rev. B1 [ralink]
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