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.

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SquidGuard Blacklists…

Here is a listing of some sites that have actively managed blacklists freely available for non-commercial download:

Shalla Secure Services
Blacklists UT1
MESD Blacklists (not sure how current this one is)

Anyway, I updated the getlists.sh script from the HOWTO – Child-Proofing Internet Access on Kubuntu article. It was failing because squidGuard kept not finding files and going into emergency mode when run with “-C all” to build databases. By also running it with the -d option, I was able to see where it was failing. The Norway site was not permitting the blacklist download to occur, so I found these other sites and wrote that into the script. By doing that and adjusting my squidguard.conf file (commented out the “not_ok” ACL block), as well as by creating files that it could not find (copied ok/domains.db to ok/domains and adult/very_restrictive_expressions to adult/expressions and porn/expressions), the script now ran without errors to completion.

The script is updated here and on the linked article.
getlists.sh (pdf file)

Upgrading Kubuntu-9.04 from PPA – KDE 4, Xorg, Wine, OpenOffice 3…

I have upgraded all my systems to KDE 4.3.1 very successfully, and it is gorgeous.  While still slower than LXDE (this will likely always be the case), it is much better than the 4.2 that shipped with Jaunty.  I have also upgraded to OpenOffice 3.1.1, the latest stable Wine, and I have updated Xorg as well – all from the PPA (Personal Packages Archive) site.  Here is how, and from where:

To use these, click on each link, then:

  1. Select your sources.list version and copy the two deb lines to your /etc/apt/sources.list file
  2. Import the key with this command – sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 12345678 (replace 12345678 with the appropriate import key listed above)
  3. Update with sudo apt-get update
  4. Upgrade with sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Hope this helps, but YMMV.  This is only a “howto if you want”, not a “recommendation that you do”.  If things blow up, well, that’s the risk you take.  I find it encouraging, however, that across four different Kubuntu 9.04 systems, I have not had any problems from these upgrades, and found that many fixes and improvements had taken place.

Ultimately, this article is really to help me for future upgrades.  But if you get something good from here, that’s cool too.

HOWTO – 64-bit Kernel 2.6.31 and VMware Server 2.0.1…

Assuming you have already installed the 2.6 31 kernel, this link has a patch and script to modify the modules VMware compiles when you run the vmware-config.pl script.  The script is for 2.6.30.4 and later kernels, and works fine for 2.6.31.

  1. Run the vmware-install.sh script that came with VMware Server 2.0.1, but DO NOT run the vmware-config.pl script at the end.
  2. Get the patch script – vmware-server.2.0.1_x64-modules-2.6.30.4-fix.sh and make it executable.
  3. Get the patch – vmware-server.2.0.1_x64-modules-2.6.30.4-fix.patch.
  4. Make a directory, say, /usr/src/vmware-patches and cd to it.
  5. Copy the patch, the script and the four module sources (/usr/lib/vmware/modules/source/*.tar) to the patch directory you are now in.
  6. Run the patch – it should build for 64-bit systems.  I do not know about 32-bit systems…
  7. Run the vmware-config.pl command, and install as normal.

There have been reports of minor script errors, so you may need to make some slight edits.  Or you may not – I had no trouble.  If you need to reinstall, make sure you stop the vmware services, rmmod the vmware modules, and delete everything in the /usr/lib/vmware/modules directory before re-running the installer-patch-config steps above.  You will also need to delete the modules from your system – running the installer should generate a failure message telling you what files to delete from where.  Successfully running the installer will put everything you need back in the /usr/lib/vmware/modules directory.

Big thanks to meubeukeu and michelemase for their work in making these patches!

VMWorld 2009 – Overall Impressions…

My first VMWorld was last year at Las Vegas.  It blew my mind.  Unfortunately, it seems to have set the bar rather high.  Hearing stories about past conferences in San Francisco (renting out Universal Studios, etc.) did not help.  As the foreshadowing may indicate, I was somewhat disappointed with this conference.  Major sore points for a LOT of attendees included:

  • Registering for sessions and labs, only to be bumped due to overbooking or having labs and sessions suddenly cancelled.
  • Rather poor lab setup and stability – the one I attended seems to have been the norm, not the exception, in which there were lots of problems and inconsistencies that just wasted time.
  • Really poor wireless access – I was pretty jazzed to learn I could get online free in my hotel (they were charging $10 a day, but the VMWorld WLAN was strong enough to ride), but then I spent two days offline simply due to the overwhelming overload of wireless clients and networks.
  • Poor power accessibility – there are four horseshoe-shaped platforms (I am in one now) with power strips, but they have been packed all week.  Downstairs, power outlets are few and far between, and not all work.  The Bloggers Lounge in the Solutions Exchange was pretty much filled up as well.
  • Lousy food – what can I say?  It sucked, and they ran out of breakfast at the Marriott and had to turn people away on Monday.
  • The general session on Monday was just not sparking it for me or a lot of others, although the HP blade server display with the slide out side-loading drive tray was insanely sick.  Too bad they didn’t have a floor model at their booth…
  • The party last night was sorta OK, but I have low standards, I guess.  Foreigner played and that was good, although they blew it when they closed by hawking their next CD to be available at WalMart.  FAIL.  Plus, nobody knew where the food and beer were, and the selection of beer was heavily weighted towards Corona and Miller.  It is San Fransicso – you should NEVER run out of Anchor Steam here.  Period.  (epic fail)

Overall, I am pretty sure VMware is going to get shellacked over this one.  I really hope they do better next year – attendees pay well to come here, and walking and waiting hours and days in a row should be offset witth much better service, organization and entertainment.  I mean, we ARE the reason they can completely OWN a conference like this, right?

VMWorld 2009 – Monday…

Went to a cool little party last night at the Thirsty Bear – many thanks to Theron Conrey for setting it up.  Open bar, good food, lotsa laughs, and some pretty big brains were present (Scott Lowe, Theron, Laus Troen [drove in from Norway, apparently], etc.)   Today, I  have one lab in the afternoon, so I will see how waiting in line feels again.

VMWorld2009 at San Francisco…

I am finally here, and it feels good.  Nothing to do today, and I did not get all the sessions I wanted, but this will be a good conference regardless.  The hotel is nearby, all walking, no cabbing, and everything is close together.  Right now, I am in the Marriott where the labs are to be held – they are running boot camps for partners (invitation only), but I was able to print out my updated schedule and find nearby events.   Apparently, the expected crowd will number more than 16,000.  The conference blow-out party will feature Foreigner (live), and is also at the Moscone Center.

Right now, I am just relaxing, charging my laptop, and waiting to check into my room.