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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Dual-boot Laptop – Vista and Kubuntu 9.04…

I started last night.  First, I decided to use the 32-bit LiveCD installer.  I booted off the CD after shutting down Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, and soon was at the GUI (I chose the first option; to test before installing).  Once there, i opened up a konsole session, ran “sudo -i” to get root, and installed gparted – “apt get install gparted”.  After it installed (to RAM of course), I ran it to see what I could do.

NOTHING.

I could not resize the 140 GB partition Windows called a “C drive”, because I forgot to defragment it first.  Crap.  So I booted back into Windows, Safe Mode.  I found the defrag tool under the System Accessories, but it would not run.  I tried from the command prompt as well.  I rebooted, into SAFE Mode With Console, and it still wouldn’t work.  I finally just rebooted into Vista normally – then it worked.  It gave no status other than a flickering hard drive light and a spinning cue that meant it was not finished.  Eventually, it did finish.  It claimed to have been doing it on a schedule, and the last defrag was back on the 5th of May, yet it took over two hours to complete.  Guess what?  It made all the difference in the world.  I suspect it wasn’t really defragmenting after all.

Once I rebooted into Kubuntu Live CD and reran gparted, I was able to resize it.  The first attempt failed – I cut it too close to the bare minimum space i could shrink the drive.  I decided to split it 50-50, giving about 70 GB for each side, and then it worked.  This took another hour, but I had 70 GB or free space.  I went into cfdisk and manually made a 10 GB bootable partition for root, a 3 GB for /var, a 2 GB for /tmp, a 2 GB for swap, and the rest for /home.  i then rebooted into Windows.

Windows behaved as expected, like it had been punched int the mouth, but didn’t know by whom.  It rescan itself, determined that everything was still ok, and rebooted again.  This reboot came up fine.  Satisfied I had not broken Vista, I rebooted a final time back into the Live CD.

I went ahead and formatted everything with XFS except the swap partition:

  • mkfs.xfs -f -d agcount=1 -i attr=2 -l lazy-count=1,size=128m,version=2 /dev/sda3
  • mkfs.xfs -f -d agcount=1 -i attr=2 -l lazy-count=1,size=128m,version=2 /dev/sda5
  • mkfs.xfs -f -d agcount=1 -i attr=2 -l lazy-count=1,size=128m,version=2 /dev/sda6
  • etc…

I then made the swap partition and then installed, choosing to manually select my partitions and not to format them.   I went to bed, abd when I woke up and checked in the morning, it was done.  I had been unable to get wireless to work (no proprietary drivers needed, just would not work) on the Live CD, so I had connected it up via network cable.  Once I booted into the new system, I saw that it had a GRUB entry for Windows (it works).  After logging into KDE, I was able to set up a working wireless connection with no real drama.  I also modified my /etc/fstab to mount the XFS partitions with the following options:

noatime,nodiratime,logbsize=256k,logbufs=8

I edited /etc/X11/xorg.conf and added in the section to reenable the CTRL-ALT-BACKSPACE zap for X:

Section "ServerFlags"
      Option          "DontZap"               "false"
EndSection

I installed the medibuntu repositories, the kubuntu-restricted package, the sun-java6 package, the non-free flash package, the libdvdcss and libdvdread packages, lots of TTF fonts, the MSTTF core fonts, skype2, firefox, thunderbird, and the packages needed for a DoD smartcard.

Links:

Medibuntu

DoD CAC

Thunderbird setup with AKO

Kubuntu-restricted and Sun-JRE6

Xorg no-zap

Results:  It boots and shuts down much faster than Vista.  It is a Compaq lapto, Pentium Core-Duo, 1 GB RAM, uses the ath5k driver for wireless, has an integrated Intel graphics adapter (maybe 800 fps max on glxgears), and a 160 GB SATA drive.  It has sound, a mic, speakers, a DVD writer, some USB ports, and a network jack.  Overall, not too bad for what I need it to do.  But it is a little shaky and unstable from time to time, so I have shut off the compositing effects and unloaded some troublesome widgets (RSS news widget especially seemed flaky).  But the suspend and hibernate functions work great, and the webcam i bought (Logitech) worked right off the bat with skype.  So did my smartcaard reader.  I also installed the Acrobat Reader from the Adobe website – with it, I added the coolkey security device and am able to sign fillable PDF files with my card.  DVDs also play (region-free, of course).

So, these are my ramblings on the notebook.  I dual-booted because my wife insisted I keep Vista, just in case the Linux machine she is on dumps.  But she is getting more comfortable without Vista already – I can tell.

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!