Endy's Blogomat

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

SMS posting to Social Networks – Update

By today many services like twitter offer simple posting via SMS. Unfortunately this can be misused easily by using tools likesmstools Update: sendpage or yaps which allow to send sms via modem or ISDN. The problem with this tools is that the sender can be set to anything – including the victim’s mobile number. So anyone with the software and a modem who knows your MSISDN can post to your twitter account or blog and pretend to be you. This of cause is also valid for peer to peer SMS. I don’t understand why not even a simple 4 digit pin mechanism is implemented in this services to validate the user…

SMTP TLS trouble with cisco 851w

Since weeks I experienced a very strange problem with smtp and tls. My postfix mail server allows TLS encrypted connections – unfortunately this does not seem to work as soon as I’m at home – at work everything is fine. Today I found some time to investigate. I tested the TLS smtp connection using openssl from various systems I have access to by issuing:

openssl  s_client -starttls smtp -host my.mail.server -port 25

Only from my home LAN I got the following error:

root@linkstation:/home/nd# openssl  s_client -starttls smtp -host my.mail.server -port
2933:error:140770FC:SSL routines:SSL23_GET_SERVER_HELLO: unknown protocol:s23_clnt.c:567:

Now I began to suspect my cisco 851w Router and I was right! The router logged:

179041: Jan 13 14:51:15.969 CET: %FW-3-SMTP_INVALID_COMMAND: Invalid SMTP command 

(STARTTLSrn)(total 10 chars) from initiator (

After searching the net I found out that this also is a known problem on Cisco PIX firewalls. I disabled smtp inspection using:

c851w-nd(config)#no ip inspect name DEFAULT100 smtp

Now the ssl handshake is successful. Looks like the deep inspection inside Cisco IOS is not knowing about TLS. BTW: my Cisco runs IOS version 12.3(8r)YI2.

My Linkstation runs kernel 2.6.22

After getting fooled for about 6 hours by my cisco home router I finally managed to install u-boot bootloader on my linkstation and also boot a 2.6.22 kernel. What you basically need are the binaries for u-boot you can download here, and a linux or unix PC having netcat installed. (more…)

Custom 2.6 kernel available for LS2

One of the biggest issues regarding the mips based Linkstation seems to be solved! According to this thread and this detailed howto, a guy from linuxnotincluded managed to port the u-boot bootloader to the mips Linkstation. Now it should be possible to build and boot a custom kernel having all the desired bells and whistles like inotify support, bluetooth support, xfs support any everything else the 2.6 kernel can provide. I will now start implementing this on my Linkstation – keep fingers crossed that I don’t brick it ;-). The proceedure does not yet look trivial but I think its worth to give it a try to have the kernel available for further features.

Spinning down your Linkstations HD

While playing around with mediaservers and my ps3, I noticed that I still had not fixed my HD spin down issue on my FreeLink Linksation. Some months ago I evaluated what my cause hdparm spindown timers to fail. I found out that some processes still work on logfiles, I tried to minimize them but still the HD spin up to often. I now use this setting for hdparm:

 command_line {   

  hdparm -q -m16 -q -W0 -q -d1 -S120 /dev/hda



which equals 10 minutes idle time. In addition i added the noatime,nodiratime flags to my /etc/fstab entries locate on the harddisc. This is what I already had, but still the spinup problem. I found a posting a while ago – I don’t know where – about moving the /var directory from the harddrive onto a flash drive or USB stick. This is what finally solved my issue! I just stopped all daemons accessing var (cron, atd, syslog, etc.) and copied over the complete /var directory to a USB stick partition. Then I changed the /etc/fstab file and moved the old /var directory out of the way, created a new on and mounted the flash drive – also the reboot test was successful. I was more than happy finding out that now th HD spins down and only spins up if I mount the Linkstation or need to access or execute a file on the HD. Next I will install a new more silent fan and I will not hear the Linkstation any more 🙂  

mediaserver evaluations for PS3

I started to setup a mediaserver for my PS3. After noticing that I’m not the only one who is working  on this i followed cirrus porposal and evaluated TwonkyMediaServer. It worked well on my LS2 linkstation (running full blown debian etch – they call it FreeLink – it can now be installed without much pain using this tutorial – when I started I had to do everything on my own including disassemling of the box). The only two issues I see with Twonky are:

  • It costs money (but is still affordable)
  • It does not support my .ts files recoded with my dbox2 I have to rename them to mpg.

I then found another project on sourceforge called mediatomb which is an open source project. It took me some time to compile the code on my linkstation since this box is not that fast – but i managed to get it up and running wihout any problems and the box seems to be also powerful enough for this software. After adding the required mime type to the config.xml and added the required paramter to enable the box to work with my PS3, I now have the same status as with twonky, apart from the nice itunes xml integration. One nice feature of mediatomb is that it is actively developed and that it can be scripted very nice – it should be also possible to integrated last.fm notifications easily.  

Warner to support Blue-Ray exclusively

looks like there is new pace in the HD war – Warner just announce to bring out new titles on Blue-Ray only accordig to this press release. Maybe this will finish the format war a little bit quicker having consumers in mind. Good thing for me too since i just bought a PS3 🙂

Apple wireless keyboard and PS3

Someone gave me the nice thin Apple Bluetoth Keyboard as christmas present. When I bought my PS3 the first thing I thought about was sitting on the couch and surfing with the PS3’s webbrowser using a bluetooth keyboard. Initaly I don’t had any success since the Apple keyboard refused to pair with the PS3. After it found the Apple Keyboard nothing happen until you pressed the return key on the keyboard which results in an error message. Next step was to update the PS3 Firmware to the most recent version. I did this using the online update from the menu and voila: after the update the keyboard paired flawlessly – BTW: this entry was written from my PS3 while sitting on my couch 🙂

Figthing with Time Machine on OS X (Update 2)

As mentioned earlier, time machine is not working out of the box on network shares as promised initially by Apple. After reading some Forums and blogs it looks like Apple stripped down Time Machine Configuration options in the final release. Never the less i managed with the help of the information provided in these forums and blogs to workaround this issue and enable Time Machine to backup to my netatalk AFP share on my Buffalo Linkstation. All you need is a spare USB disk. Here are the steps: 

  1.  connect the USB (or FW) drive to your mac
  2.  if time machine recognizes the drive just ignore it
  3. Rename the Drive to the name you would like to use for your backup share e.g. Backup
  4. Open Time Machine Configuration Dialog in System Preferences
  5. Now select your attached USB drive
  6. You will see the next backup Timer countdown, just cancel it by pressing the X button
  7. now connect your AFP share (Finder Cmd+K) 
  8. next open a terminal and copy two files from the USB Disk Volumen e.g.  
    cp /Volumes/Backup/.com.apple.timemachine.supported /Volumes/Backup-1/ 


    cp /Volumes/Backup/.00* /Volumes/Backup-1/
  9. now disconnect your USB Disk and unmount your AFP share
  10. Reconnect to your AFP share and select Backup Now by right klick (or Ctrl-Klick) on the TimeMachine Dock icon.
  11. Voila !  now your Backup should start.

you should see something like this: 
Time Machine creates not a simple Directory like on the attached Disk but a sparse Image which is then automatically mounted and used as the target.

Update 1:

After hours of waiting and finally a successful backup, I found out that time machine itself does not use the created backup on the network share – so you can make an automatic backup but not use the fancy interface – which is from my point of view only about 50% of what I would like to have or in other word useless :-( 

Update 2:

hopefully this guy is right ;-) 

Mac OS X Leopard has arrived

Today I received my copy of Mac OS X Leopard. Just as promised it took about an hour to install it on my MacBook Pro. My first impression is that it feels more responsive than Tiger – maybe because of better support for multi Core CPU’s. The reworked interface looks nice, especially the new cover flow like feature in the Finder is fun to use.

Here a screenshot of my new desktop:


I was impressed that my Cisco VPN CLient was still operational like most of the other Apps. Also most important for me: Finally in Leopard  you can use Cisco VPN Client over a PPP connection! This is the greatest improvement or lets say bug fix for me. I often need to access networks using the VPN client and – to be honest – while being on the road my mac was not capable of doing this easy task without the help of vmware and windows.

For the other apps – I ran into the following issues:

  • Quicksilver – Icon was shown in the dock even if hide from dock was selected after updating to the latest version everything was fine.
  • growl – growl mail plugin is incompatible with leopards mail app. Hopefully this will be fixed soon – I already miss this.
  • Spaces: What I really like is spaces since I missed this feature most since I moved from Linux to OS X. All previous implementation where not that useful, but spaces is! You can easily move between spaces by hot-keys, move windows around and – what I like most – predefine space per Application.
  • Ichat:The new Ichat is fun, too. I played around with the effects and the screen sharing, also the presentation mode is quite nice. Ichat now handles multiple accounts and I got it working with our Jabber server at work. I still have some strange problem with an other Jabber account on a different server  but i will investigate later.
  • Timemachine: First thing i did was of cause plugging a new 500GB drive in in order to let time machine make a full backup. The initial backup took about an hour (about 65GB) which is still fast compared to the backup I made on Thursday using Carbon Copy Cloner which was about 5 hours for the same amount of data. The Interfaces is really nice and making backups or restoring things is pure fun. I think this is really a nice approach to provide such a convenient interface that people start using it. All other backup solutions i know are uncomfortable and unsexy compared to time machine – only drawback is the lack of network backups – or is there a way?
  • Preview:One thing I noticed is that preview has improved much – you now have more image processing tools at hand for example one to resize images easily.
  • Dashboard tool:As promised creating “widgets” from Dashboard is now really easy. In safari just select an area of a website and your done. I have not yet found a useful use case for this but it is at least a nice idea. 😉

These are only a few things which i already tested, hopefully I will find a lot more improvements.

For now I can summarize  that Leopard is not re-inventing an OS but a solid update with a few very nice new features and many useful improvements.