Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Mac Terminal timeout with SSH - Solved!

If you're like me and have a bajillion things open on your machine, it's a real PITA to have a SSH session timing out after a couple minutes of inactivity. Maybe in certain scenarios this is beneficial, but when I'm on my personal laptop at home, it's not a security risk.

At any rate, it's a really simple fix and it requires the creation/editing of a local user ssh config file.


Add lines:

Host *  ServerAliveInterval 60

Save and Exit.

Just tweak some permissions and you'll be good to go.

chmod 600 ~/.ssh/config
That's pretty much it.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Troubleshooting Cron (Cron not working)

I had a very curious case on a developmental server where after a couple weeks, I realized the cronjobs were not running. The crontab was fine, the scripts and permissions were fine and could be manually executed. Seems like the issue was cron itself.

It took a bit of digging, and there was this obscure line highlighted in the man page. Much thanks to here for pointing me in the right direction.

Two things were wrong here.

1. The crond was stalled. Quietly. Check this first and start it if it's stopped. Even if it's running, consider restarting the service.
service crond status
service crond restart

2. Crontab needs an empty/newline at the end of the file in order to load.
My version of crontab does not match the one in the article (I'm on CentOS 6); but the newline was missing at the end. Oddly enough all the other servers that were fine had this blank/newline. Guess it's pretty important, if not documented/deprecated.

At any rate, cron performs important user functions, so consider checking it from time to time.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Reset/Update NTP Server

There was an older machine on the network, with an outdated local NTP configuration, and the time was off by a couple minutes. This post shows how to perform a quick update and force sync. Use at your own risk for time sensitive applications.

1. Update the NTP client configuration.

service ntpd stop
vi /etc/ntp.conf
 Find Line
server 192.168.x.x

Change to new server
Save and quit.
 service ntpd start

2.  Force synchronization
 date ; service ntpd stop ; ntpdate ; service ntpd start ; date

In one fell swoop it will give you the current time, stop the service, force an update, start the service and give you the updated time.

Tue Feb 21 11:40:44 AST 2017
Shutting down ntpd:                   [  OK  ]
21 Feb 11:44:28 ntpdate[10457]: step time server 192.168.x.x offset 223.794778 sec
Starting ntpd:                        [  OK  ]
Tue Feb 21 11:44:28 AST 2017

That's it. All updated.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Installing Docker on CentOS 7 (behind corporate proxy)

As part of my research into Percona's new Open Source offering, their Percona Monitoring and Management platform, I realized that a core component is provided via a Docker container. Now I've previously played around with docker on a small scale, but this needed to be done on an actual server environment on the corporate network. There was one little item that caused a brief moment of grief with the proxy, but I eventually sorted it out.

Docker Engine installation on CentOS7

0. Login as root
1. Update machine
yum update
2. Add the Docker yum repo

tee /etc/yum.repos.d/docker.repo <<-'EOF'[dockerrepo]name=Docker Repositorybaseurl=

3. Install the Docker Engine Package
yum install docker-engine

4. Start the Daemon
systemctl start docker

5. Set to run at boot
systemctl enable docker

6. Verify Operation with simple test
docker run hello-world

**Note: if you're behind a proxy, you may notice an error 
... dial tcp xx.xx.xx.xx:53: getsockopt: connection refused

You may need to do the following

a. create a systemd drop-in directory for the docker service
mkdir /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d

b. create a proxy configuration file the directory just created, in my case I needed both an HTTP and an HTTPS proxy to get it to work
vi /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d/http-proxy.conf

Add the following (one line)
Environment="HTTP_PROXY=http://your.proxy.ip.addr:port/" "HTTPS_PROXY=http://your.proxy.ip.addr:port/"

Save and exit

c. flush changes
systemctl daemon-reload

d. Verify that the configuration has been loaded:
systemctl show --property=Environment docker

e. Restart Docker:
systemctl restart docker
Verify Operation with simple test (works, yay!)
docker run hello-world
Unable to find image 'hello-world:latest' locally
latest: Pulling from library/hello-world
c04b14da8d14: Pull complete
Digest: sha256:0256e8a36e2070f7bf2d0b0763dbabdd67798512411de4cdcf9431a1feb60fd9
Status: Downloaded newer image for hello-world:latest

Hello from Docker!
This message shows that your installation appears to be working correctly.

To generate this message, Docker took the following steps:
 1. The Docker client contacted the Docker daemon.
 2. The Docker daemon pulled the "hello-world" image from the Docker Hub.
 3. The Docker daemon created a new container from that image which runs the
    executable that produces the output you are currently reading.
 4. The Docker daemon streamed that output to the Docker client, which sent it
    to your terminal.

To try something more ambitious, you can run an Ubuntu container with:
 $ docker run -it ubuntu bash

Share images, automate workflows, and more with a free Docker Hub account:

For more examples and ideas, visit:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

BootCamp: OSX (El Capitan) and Windows 10

The only reason I'm posting this is because I was stuck for a few hours and the internet had tons of conflicting fixes for this that led me nowhere. Still stuck with GPT errors and a whole lot of general bollocks. For some reason this refused to work on the USB port on the left of my macbook and for reasons known only to Job's & Gates' lovechild,  worked on the one located on the right. Sorcery.

This is what worked for me, I can't guarantee that it will work for you and I'm by no means a Mac expert - so use at your own risk. Caveat emptor. No screenshots because of reasons.

What you need:

1. MacBook or other Mac Computer that is listed here:
2. Windows 10 64-bit ISO.
3. A fresh USB stick, 8G or more would be fine.
4. At least 100GB free on your Mac for a 64GB Windows install.

What's next?
0. Update your mac if needed.
1. Run bootcamp and select the two options
- Create a Windows 7 or later setup disk
 - Download the latest windows support software from Apple
1.1. Click Continue, grab a beer. or three. This takes a while.

2. Exit bootcamp. Because of reasons.

3. Fire up bootcamp and this time select the option to install (only).

4. Drag a partition size that suits you, I went with 64GB - then click Continue

5. Magic happens then the computer would probably reboot right into OSX. Manually reboot and this time hit the Option Key, Feel free to bang away at it. (Disclaimer: Do not bang away at it.)

6. When presented with boot options, please ignore the Windows option. Select UEFI boot.

7. Oh looky, run through the windows install until you get to the Disk screen. At this point choose your desired windows partition created in step 4 and then click format. The next button magically appears and you should now be able to proceed with installation.

8. Magic happens again, then a couple reboots later and Win 10 is done. Grab another beer. or three.

9. The next time you bring up the dual boot screen, Only OSX and Windows would be presented and the UEFI option is gone.

10. Happy dualbooting. Hell you'd be happy too after six beers.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Using Grep to search for a string inside a file

Simple story here really.

I had a borked config somewhere inside my /etc/ folder that was throwing some application errors. It's a development machine with poor documentation so I had to try to figure out where the typo happened.

Grep is a simple, but incredibly powerful command that took care of this quite easily. The flags I used  provided the filenames that contain the matching string as well as the line number where the string is matched. Helpful for fixing or tweaking some borked config or code.

Usage is quite simple:

grep -inr "badconfigurationstring" /searchdirectory

the flags are as follows;
-i = ignore case sensitivity
-n = print line number of matching string
-r = recursively read all files under search directory

more info at the grep man page:


Monday, February 15, 2016

TurnitinTwo Issues with Moodle 3 on CentOS 6

I recently stumbled upon a Turnitin bug on my Moodle 3 environment where it was simply failing to connect with Turnitin through the configuration interface.

The message was fairly cryptic and the logs even more so.

The error message was simply: "Could not connect to Turnitin, Double check your API URL setting". This was fine, so I looked at the API log, which indicated a "Curl error: Proxy CONNECT aborted", alongside an error 502.

When Turnitin was contacted, they gave this response, which did not work.
If you encounter connectivity issues while using the Turnitin Moodle Direct V2 integration (error: Turnitin API Base URL incorrect or unavailable, or error: Double check your API URL setting) this could be related to a CA certificate being unavailable to cURL. Viewing the Turnitin Apilog files will identify if this is the case.

The Moodle Direct plugin uses the server operating system's implementation of cURL. If cURL has an out of date (or no) CA certificates, the interaction with Turnitin will fail due to cURL performing peer SSL certificate verification and not being able to verify the Turnitin SSL certificate. Until cURL 7.18.0 some CA certificates were provided, but after 7.18.0 no CA certificates have been provided at all. Because of this, the Moodle server administrator would need to ensure that an up to date CA certificate bundle is used.

For Debian and RedHat based distributions:
CA certificates are distributed in the ca-certificates package. Gentoo servers provide them via the app-misc/ca-certificates ebuild. It's also a good idea to make sure that the OpenSSL libraries (libssl) and cURL libraries (libcurl) are up to date on your server.

You will also need to place a file with the Bundle of CA Root Certificates (downloadable from on your webserver and make a curl.cainfo reference to this file in your php.ini.

For Windows based servers:

1. You need to be running PHP 5.3.7 or later.
2. Download
from the Curl repository on GitHub.
3. Open a Command Prompt as Administrator and go to the directory in which you downloaded mk-ca-bundle.vbs .
4. Run mk-ca-bundle.vbs . Accept the default file name and do not include the text information for each certificate.
5. After running this you will end up with a file ca-bundle.crt.
6. Copy that to a known location, e.g. {path}/ca-bundle.crt.
7. Add curl.cainfo={path}/ca-bundle.crt to php.ini. See PHP Runtime Configuration for more details
; CURL Settings ;
8. Restart the IIS web site
We were eventually able to resolve the issue by a combination of factors:

1. In addition to having an http_proxy environment variable in the operating system, I also needed to explicitly set an https_proxy. This is dependent on if your server currently uses an http_proxy environment variable. Do not make any changes if your server can access the web directly.

vi /etc/bashrc
add linesexport http_proxy=’http://yourproxyip:port/’ export https_proxy=’http://yourproxyip:port/’ save and exit shell

2. The CA-Certificates bundle from did not work and resulted in a bunch of errors related to the SSL CA Cert (Message: Problem with the SSL CA cert (path? access rights?)) , so I re-installed the ca-certificates bundle from CentOS repositories.
yum reinstall ca-certificates openssl
3. I then used the “update-ca-trust” package to update the certificate store.
4. I removed the Moodle Proxy configuration from the Moodle application interface.
    Dashboard / ► Site administration / ► Server / ► HTTP (Server Proxy section)

Please note that these steps fixed the issue with my particular environment, if you are faced with similar issues I'd suggest starting with steps 2 and 3. If you are having proxy connect issues beforehand, you may try step 1 first.

Good luck and happy moodling!