4/26/2010

The Cost of Owning a Sony Playstation 3 (PS3) with Linux

Since Sony introduced their latest update on April 1, 2010, I have refused to update my PS3 since it will no longer allow me to run Linux on the system. As a result, I have to sacrifice the following:

* no access to play games with other users online
* the inability to play online games only
* no video downloads
* no access to demos
* no access to install games online
* no ability to update any of the games that I own online
* the ability to benefit from future updates to the Playstation
* the ability to send messages to other Playstation Network accounts
* the ability to access my Playstation Network account
* the ability to access Playstation Network exclusive content
* the capability to be able to install or play games to be sold in the future
(note: one of the most recently released games requires you to sign into your Playstation Network account to be even able to play the game)

On the other hand, if I update now, then I'll lose these capabilities that I enjoy:

* using the system as part of my Blender 3D render farm for which I developed software
* using the system with HDMI output to view and/or listen to multimedia content in many more formats and with many more options than the Playstation allows
* using the system to access the Internet protocols beyond what the Playstation OS allows
* using the system as part of a network of the computers in my home
* using the system to test out numerous distributions of Linux
* to incorporate Cell Broadband optimized libraries in Linux
* to sharpen my Linux booting/installing/rescuing skills
* to sharpen my Linux kernel building/compiling/optimizing capabilities
* to learn parallel programming using the Cell Broadband Engine
* to learn how Linux works on the PowerPC platform

Do you blame me for not updating?

4/19/2010

Backing Up / Restoring Moodle

I've been maintaining a moodle server for some time now, and have backed up and restored my data a few times. Since I've not blogged about it before, I've not a got a reference on how to do it, until now!

Uploaded images and other files are stored under /var/ftp/pub. They are backed up with:

tar cvzPf moodle.ftp.tar.gz /var/ftp/pub

and restored with:

tar xvP moodle.ftp.tar.gz

The other data for moodle resides in a mysql database. I know I used this reference page from http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.1/en/backup-and-recovery.html.

To backup the database use:

mysqldump moodle -u root -p > moodle.mysqldump
Password:******

After installing mysql and setting a root password for it, I login to mysql as root and create the moodle database and user, then restore the file.

# mysql -u root -p
> create database moodle;
> grant all on moodle.* to dbuser@localhost identified by 'password';
> quit
# mysql moodle -u root -p < moodle.mysqldump
Password: ******

TCP Wrapper that ALWAYS logs denials

During teaching of a class this week, one of my students noticed that the vsftpd service was being denied by his TCP Wrapper rules in /etc/hosts.allow and /etc/hosts.deny, but that nothing was being logged into /var/log/messages. He then asked me if there was still a way for the TCP Wrapper to start a process as an option. I told him about both the spawn and twist options, and referred him the to the hosts_access and hosts_options man pages. After both of us experimenting a little bit, we came up with the solution that all allow rules should be in /etc/hosts.allow and that /etc/hosts.deny should look something like this:

ALL:ALL:spawn (logger TCP wrapper in /etc/hosts.deny denied %c access to %d)

With this rule, anything that gets denied will be logged by spawn starting the logger process in a subshell (thus the parentheses) and that it would report the client (%c) who was attempting to connect to the daemon (%d). Now, anytime a denial is suspected, the /var/log/messages file can be checked for a 'TCP Wrapper' message.

4/06/2010

Windows 7 Administrator Account

One way to improve security while using Windows 7 is to not use the Administrator account all of the time. By default, the first account that Windows 7 sets up is the Administrator. This leads to most users logging in as the Administrator without even being aware of it.

If you want to make the normal Administrator account active and your own account just a standard account, then follow these steps.

1. Login with the account that was first created.
2. Start, All Programs, Accessories, right-click the Command Prompt item.
3. Choose Run As Administrator, and click the Yes button in the dialog box.
4. Enable the Administrator account by typing:

net user administrator /active:yes

5. Set the Administrator account password by typing the following and the new password twice:

net user administrator password *

6. Log off the account, and now login using the Administrator account.
7. Start, Control panel, User Accounts and Family User Accounts, and Manage Another Account.
8. Select the account you first created when installed Windows 7.
9. Click Change Account Type, make sure Standard is selected, and click the Change Account Type button.
10. Now you can logoff the Administrator account, and login using a standard account for safety.

About Me - WrightRocket

My photo

I've worked with computers for over 30 years, programming, administering, using and building them from scratch.

I'm an instructor for technical computer courses, an editor and developer of training manuals, and an Android developer.