The following is a collection of scripts, tools, tricks, tips, etc, related to Linux or Fedora in general.  There's also a page dedicated to my Lenovo V100 laptop and other subpages linked on the right side of the page that you'll want to check out.

MicroEmacs Cheat Sheet

Here's a MicroEmacs Cheat Sheet I found on the net that comes in handy sometimes.. 

(Last Modified 9/10/2008 21:53)

MicroEmacs wrapper script

I've used MicroEmacs since my Amiga days around 1988 when I discovered it.  On the Amiga, it was memacs and to this day, I name it me.  It's not easy to compile, and the 4.x versions are a pain in the rear because they've decided to support XON/XOFF and thus hosing up many of the commands I have some serious muscle memory with (ie:  save: ^X^S).  So I still use 3.09, and I typically just copy/use the binary and sometimes have to link to, but it seems to work fine.  Hopefully it will continue to do so!

One problem I've always had with it is that it destroys symlinks and recently I noticed it also hoses SELinux contexts, so I decided it was time to write a wrapper script.  This script does basically three things:  If the argument is a directory, error.  If it's a symlink, edit the real file location.  If SELinux is enabled, do a restorecon on it to fix the SELinux contexts.

The uEmacs wrapper script can be found here.  I've used it a bit in normal use, but I haven't done a lot with it on SELinux systems yet so I might tweak the script some in the future.  You'll see there are still some debugging lines in the current script, those will go away in the future when I've decided it's cooked.

(Last Modified 9/1/2008 15:27)

Setting up the BEFW11S4 Router for DHCP

If you have a BEFW11S4 Wireless Access Point and you want to plug into the lan and use your OWN DHCP (or perhaps even broadband/ISP dhcp) you'll need to set up a bit differently.. I set up a little pictorial guide to setting it up.  Bootnote:  If you're still using this router, do yourself a favor and upgrade!
(Last Modified 9/1/2008 15:04)

fail2ban configuration

fail2ban is an extremely flexible program which allows you to set up filters to monitor a great deal of annoyances, attacks, etc, and take action against them.  Here's a list of the things which I do with fail2ban:

  • Block ssh login attempts
  • Block SASL login attempts (sendmail, imap, etc)
  • Block Apache login attempts
  • Block many different attacks against Apache/websites

Sometime I'll try to explain better what all it does, but the following config files and filters can serve as examples to how I use fail2ban for now.  Needless to say, it puts an end to all of the stupid ssh brute force attacks that go on, idiots trying to hack usernames in Apache, Sendmail, etc, and the random crap that people try against websites, particularly PHP or known-exploitable web CGIs, scripts, etc.

These configurations are tailored for CentOS 5.2 and may or may not work verbatim in other distros.

  • jail.conf - Example configuration file
  • apache-badbots.conf - Regexp to catch known spambots and software alike (default filter, but I've modified it somewhat)
  • apache-hackbots.conf - Copy with modification of the above filter to clean out some annoyances I see very often.  Note in my jail.conf I use a modified sendmail action script named sendmail-buffered-hackbots.conf because otherwise I wasn't getting all notifications otherwise, not sure why.
  • apache-noscript.conf - Scripted attacks against Apache logins, etc.  Default filter, modified by me.
fail2ban unfortunately does not ship with CentOS, but you can download it from Dag.  I suggest if you do this, you do not enable the Dag repo (or even necessarily install it), just download the rpm.  Just check every so often to keep it up to date.

(Last Modified 9/1/2008 00:21)


monit is an awesome software watchdog which can monitor machines, websites, daemons, ports (even specific protocols, such as 443 SSL https and many others), etc.. It can also give you a web interface to view all current conditions, stop/restart services, etc.  And has a nice cli client to do the same, plus make modifications, refresh from an updated config file, etc, named monit-client.

Here's a list of things of which I use monit for and some sample config (which go into the monit.d folder!) files linked from each one:

No point in attaching the monit.conf file itself, as it is very generic except for configuring a port user/pass to view monit from the web, etc.

Monit is unfortunately not available directly in the CentOS repos, but is available in the Dag repository.  I suggest you do not install the Dag repos, and that you only manually download and install the RPM from DAG.  You'll have to check every so often to see if it's been updated or not.

(Last Modified 9/1/2008 00:01)

Setting up blocksshd on Fedora

Note:  The following could be useful to some folks, but please see my article on this same page about fail2ban, it is a much better solution.

I was recently asked to help out someone who was having problems with a server being hit by ssh scripts, the basic brute-force password cracking attempts that's been going on for a few years now.  While the chance of being hacked with this sort of script is very low unless you use really bad passwords, this sort of thing is pretty annoying and makes a lot of noise in the logs and can potentially cause a lot of cpu time.  My P2 400Mhz server/router uses 100% cpu for several minutes when being hit with one of these scripts.

So I wrote up a fairly simple HOWTO on the subject and was pretty successful first try on getting it to work for this person who was reading it and doing it on his system, and he was a self-claimed Linux newb.  Hopefully it's useful for someone else too.  Please read the installation instructions for blocksshd before starting here so that you understand what is going on.

Lines which are prefixed with # are commands to run, otherwise the line is informative or instructions.

Get the blocksshd program from here:
Download blocksshd-X.X-src.rpm (download the latest, 1.1 at this moment)
# rpmbuild --rebuild blocksshd-1.1-src.rpm
# cd /usr/src/redhat/RPMS/noarch
# rpm -Uvh blocksshd-1.1-1.noarch.rpm

Now it's installed, time to set up the system.  FYI, you don't have to edit the blocksshd config file, but I suggest you read the instructions that come with blocksshd and make sure it's ideal for your network.

You'll need a perl module or two most likely..
# yum install perl-File-Tail perl-Net-DNS

Unfortunately gotta install one module manually...
# wget
Download the latest version of the Net::Subnets module from here:
# tar zxf Net-Subnets-0.21.tar.gz
# cd Net-Subnets-0.21
# perl Makefile.PL
# make install

Now, must edit the iptables script to add a single but necessary rule, so edit /etc/sysconfig/iptables ABOVE the line with --dport 22 ACCEPT, add this:

-N blocksshd
-I INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 22 -j blocksshd

Or might be this if it matches your firewall:

-N blocksshd
-I RH-Firewall-1-INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 22 -j blocksshd

I want to make specific mention here to be very careful with your firewall, especially if you're working on a remote machine.  And it would be ideal to add these lines in some way other than directly editing the iptables script, but I don't know of another way.  If you later edit your iptables with the system-config-security tool, you'll have to make sure these lines weren't lost as blocksshd does not function without it.  See the blocksshd readme or install documentation for more information.

Now we can restart iptables and start blocksshd! 

# service iptables restart
# service blocksshd start
# chkconfig --level 345 blocksshd on

(FYI I see a small error with the init script when it runs, but I think it's harmless as everything seems to work..)

One suggestion I might make is that you make sure you remain ssh'ed into the machine while testing the script.  I would set the block timeout to a low value in the config file temporarily so that you can test to make sure that blocksshd is working.

Once things are working, you'll want to tweak the config file, especially add networks into the whitelist so that you're less likely to get locked out of your own machine.

(Last Modified 8/31/2008 23:38)

RSync Backup

I've done a lot of different things over the years to back up my systems, and until very recently used an optical disk backup system called BackBurner (long, long abandoned project).

Now I've simplified things for myself, as well as fully automated my backups.  I use a script which creates snapshots and uses rsync to copy down data.  Because it does a smart method of making hard links for the snapshots, the resulting backup set is as compact as it can be, yet it is not compressed at all.  It is directly accessible on the filesystem.  If a file doesn't change, it simply has a hard link made.  If it has changed, multiple copies will exist, one per snapshot.  This lets you go back in time and recapture a file as it was at that time.  Comes in every handy for restoring files quickly and easily.

I have my server set up with a 200G disk dedicated for backups and it backs up itself, my second server, my workstation, and my new V100 laptop.  All the other machines have NFS mounts and generally run once a week.  The local copy runs every 6 hours, creating 4 snapshots per day.  Then there are 4 daily snapshots, allowing me to retrieve data from 6, 12, 18, 24, 48, 72, 96, and 120 hours ago.  As mentioned above, it would seem this would require a lot of disk space, but I find that this full hourly+daily snapshot requires around 2x filesystem size.  So if you're currently backing up 4G of data, this system will use about 8G of disk space.  If you have a lot of big files which frequently change the disk requirements will go up.

Please note that this script should protect you from single disk failures, also give you access to files from another system if that particular system has gone down, etc.  It will obviously not protect you from fires or catastrophic failures.   It would be well advised to also do offsite backups of critical data.  At least the data is all in place to make a copy of.  I have my backup drive on a removable tray and could remove the disk in about 15s if the need arose and I was there to be able to do it.  This also lets me pop in another disk to make a snapshot to and then remove and store in another location.

Here is the script, inside it are some basic instructions on how to set it up.  There's an hourly script and a daily script.  You don't have to use the daily script, all it does it make snapshots of the oldest hourly snapshot.   But it comes in handy to go back multiple days to retrieve a file.

Example:  My server runs every 6 hours, then daily it runs  What this gives me is a snapshot for 6, 12, 18, and 24 hours ago, as well as 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 days ago.

Example:  I backup my workstation weekly, so I only run on it.  Since it's weekly, this means I have 4 weeks of snapshots.   This is basically the same as but it's geared for remote machines.

I can't take the credit for these scripts, I've only made some updates to them for myself and documented the process a bit.  The original website for the scripts are here.

(Last Modified 8/31/2008 23:06)

TrueCrypt on Fedora 8

TrueCrypt is an excellent open source encryption software that can do a variety of things, most notably it can make encrypted/secure volumes out of entire devices or within files on the filesystem which can be mounted and used like a normal filesystem.

There's no Fedora-specific RPM available, but there is a very easy method for getting it working in Fedora 8.

  1. Go to the TrueCrypt download page and download the Unewbtoo package.
  2. Use file-roller on the tar.gz that downloads, and enter the download
  3. Click to enter the .deb file that you'll see.
  4. Enter the data.tar.gz file
  5. Click the directory (might just show '.' but click on it)
  6. Enter usr/bin
  7. Copy the fiile called "truecrypt" to your home directory or directly into /usr/local/bin
  8. Try to run truecrypt.  If you get a GUI, you're good to go, now read the instructions at their website!

If you don't get a GUI and it won't launch, you might need a dependancy, so run the following from the command line or equivilent GUI tool:

# yum install wxPython

Someone please contact me through the link in the menus if you have any corrections for the above, I mucked around a little bit with some stuff and not 100% sure if the above is all that is necessary.

Some useful CLI type information can be found here and here.  How to mount a volume from the terminal, etc, but I'd still like to figure out how to be able to 'automount' a volume (with password, of course).

(Last Modified 2/25/2008 19:23)

Laptop suspend time history

I've recently started putting my laptop to sleep after being idle 45m, and then I get curious how long it's been asleep, etc.  So I wrote a perl script to keep record for fun.

This is called in my suspend script before suspend with the suspend argument, after the script with the resume argument, then with the sleeptime argument.  So basically what it does is record a suspend record before the laptop suspends, then after the laptop resumes it writes a resume record, then prints the last suspend time (difference between the two events) in a friendly format.  How this will be configured for your particular installation I can't say, as I have my own custom suspend script.  But figure out where the laptop goes to sleep and when it wakes up and you should be able to insert the lines appropriately, it's pretty simple really.  You can see my suspend script on this page as an example.

The script is available here, and is fairly well self-documented.  It is written in Perl and is licensed under GPL v3.

Tip!  If you use KDE, you can even pop up the suspended time on the screen after restore.  See my suspend script on this page to see how I do that. 

Example output:

# ./sleeptime sleephistory
(00:01:07:23) Asleep 1 hours 7 minutes 23 seconds
(00:01:05:41) Asleep 1 hours 5 minutes 41 seconds

(Last Modified 10/6/2007 22:45)

Laptop critical battery shutdown script

Seems a lot of laptops don't support ACPI battery alarms, you can cat /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/alarm to see if yours is supported.  If so, handle it in an ACPI script.  However, if your laptop is like both of mine, read further.

This script checks to see if the battery is discharging (off AC), then compares the critical battery level with the current level.  If the level is critical, begin a shutdown in 5m.  If AC is restored, the shutdown is aborted.  The script also creates a flag so it won't run itself multiple times, so you can have this script in a cron file without worries of it running multiple times.

You very likely will need to adjust the  LOGGER, BAT_INFO, and BAT_STATE variables at the top of the script to match your particular laptop.  If you have multiple batteries this script will need work I expect.  It's suggested you test the script by changing the $LOGGER entries to echo's and comment out the shutdown command.  Probably change the sleep time, inject a fake $REMAINING value, etc.  Hopefully it will work without changing anything besides the variables listed above.

I suggest you put this script in cron on a five minute check, that should be enough time to safely shut the laptop down.  This suggested configuration would mean at least 10m of critical battery run before shutting down, and possibly as much as just under 15 minutes if the critical level is reached right after the last run of the script.  If your laptop drains faster or needs a faster response time, you might consider having this script run every minute on a cron and/or shortening the shutdown time from 5m to 1m.  One minute may or may not give you time to get to the AC adapter to get the laptop plugged back in, so consider time necessary unless you want the laptop to shut down.  You might also want to add some sort of alert to the script where noted in the script, such as sending an email or an SMS. 

You can grab the script here, let me know if there are any suggested changes, bugs, etc.   I've updated the script to include a reference to my suspend script noted in the V100 section for suspend to disk instead of system shutdown.

Version 1.0 

(Last Modified 3/7/2007 13:48)

Disk space warning script

Here's a script I recently wrote to warn me when disk space is getting low.  There are probably others out there, including some large things like Nagios, but this is small and simple and does what I need.  I put this in an hourly cron.

The script is here, it works for me on Red Hat and CentOS Linux, your mileage may vary. 

(Last Modified 3/7/2007 13:33)

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