Monthly Archives: July 2014

VirtualBox 4.3.14 and Antivirus Programs

This evening I wanted to delve into some different distributions of Linux that I’ve never really given much time. The first one that came to mine was Gentoo. I’ve read that “If you use any Linux distro, you learn that distro, but if you use Gentoo, you learn Linux.”  It’s quite a bold statement, and quite frankly I wanted to see for myself. Another popular one I heard great things about is Arch. I wanted to give both of them a try tonight.

I downloaded the most recent basic images of both, and realized that since my latest PC reload, I never reinstalled VirtualBox — an important tool for testing out various operating systems. It seems foolish to destroy a working system to test something out that you may absolutely hate, so VirtualBox has always been my first step in trying a new one. The latest version of VirtualBox as of this post is 4.3.14. I installed it, rebooted just in case (since it adds a network device and likely loads some kernel modules), and attached my Gentoo ISO to the virtual cdrom, and clicked ‘Start’. This was the lovely message I received: (Note, this is from my Arch attempt, but the message was the same)

VirtualBox Error

Having never seen this before for any thing, I quickly hit Google, only to find a few others have had this in the past, and nobody was quite sure what the fix was. Some were searching and deleting Windows registry keys (which I had none that matched), and various other things. Wanting to quickly see if it was the ISO or my VirtualBox installation, I tried Arch, and got the same message.

I did a bit more searching, and found that people were having moderate success in removing their “Avast” anti-virus, so I thought I’d give that a try. Rather than remove it, my AVG installation has an option to “Temporarily Disable AVG Protection”. I checked the “10 minutes” option, and viola! The ISO booted just fine. Once it was running, I’m sure the 10 minutes expired, and the guest is still up and running, but I suspect any time I want to boot this (until the bug in VirtualBox is resolved) I’ll need to temporarily turn off the anti-virus.

Duo Security on WordPress and Linux

Some time ago I created a free Duo Security account to help protect my VPS. It was relatively simple to configure pam in Linux to use the Duo two factor authentication, so now anytime anyone successfully authenticates with a valid username and password, I get a notification on my phone (both Android and iOS versions available) asking me to confirm or reject the logon. While this seems like a hassle, after looking at the ssh denies (the thousands that I get per day) I felt much more relaxed about the security of my VPS.

Shortly after configuring it on Linux, I also realized there is a WordPress plugin, so now anytime anyone logs into my WordPress account successfully, I get one of the notifications. Since my phone is always nearby, it hasn’t proven to be cumbersome in any way yet. In fact, knowing that even if my WordPress account is hacked and the offenders manage to successfully capture my username and password (don’t use the default username!) they still will not likely to be able to get in. No system is foolproof, but this certainly is a grand step past just password authentication.

If you’re not familiar with two factor authentication, Wikipedia has a writeup (granted not a fantastic one) that should explain the basics.

When the famous heardbleed and OpenSSL vulnerabilities were made public, Duo released updates almost immediately. Great customer service for a great product.

Cool Linux tool: notify-send

I’ve been using Linux for a number of years, but only recently I was made aware of a nifty little command in Linux: notify-send. I noticed there was no man page installed on my system, but it does have the “--help” option:
Usage:
  notify-send [OPTION...] <SUMMARY> [BODY] - create a notification

Help Options:
  -?, --help                        Show help options

Application Options:
  -u, --urgency=LEVEL               Specifies the urgency level (low, normal, critical).
  -t, --expire-time=TIME            Specifies the timeout in milliseconds at which to expire the notification.
  -a, --app-name=APP_NAME           Specifies the app name for the icon
  -i, --icon=ICON[,ICON...]         Specifies an icon filename or stock icon to display.
  -c, --category=TYPE[,TYPE...]     Specifies the notification category.
  -h, --hint=TYPE:NAME:VALUE        Specifies basic extra data to pass. Valid types are int, double, string and byte.
  -v, --version                     Version of the package.


So after playing around with it for a few minutes, I came up with this example:
notify-send -u low "Test" "This is a test"
Low and behold, a popup appeared in the upper right hand corner of my AwesomeWM screen with the text that I provided. I later noticed that using “-u critical” made the popup a blazing red rather than the default dark gray.

I should point out that notify-send appears to be installed by default on Fedora 20, however my CentOS 6.5 does not install it by default, but it is available through the base repo as libnotify-0.5.0-1.el6.x86_64.

Now I only have to think of cool use cases for this handy desktop notifier!

CentOS 7 Released

Since Redhat has re-embraced the CentOS project, it makes sense that the releases of CentOS may be a bit faster. It was announced by Redhat yesterday that CentOS 7 has been released for general availability.

I’m looking forward to getting to play around with the newer release. If you have any particular issues, caveats, or tips, feel free to post them below!

Slow Network Connection in Linux

I have a Windows 7 machine. It’s mainly used for gaming and for photography work (Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop). I’m trying, however, to spend more time in Linux instead of Windows. I dual-boot between the Windows 7 disk and Fedora 20.

In addition, some time ago I switched from Chrome to the Mozilla Firefox browser for two main reasons. First, it’s free and open source, which I strongly believe in, but secondly because Chrome was consuming an inordinate amount of ram on my system for barely having 6-7 tabs open (none of which were doing anything dynamic). After switching to Firefox, I’ve been very pleased with it. I have it installed everywhere, even on my Android phone, and like Chrome, it effortlessly shares all my bookmarks and bookmark toolbars among all of the devices. On a side note, LastPass is a great tool for cross-device management of web passwords.

Anyway, after being in Linux for some time today, messing around with this and that, I noticed that it was taking much longer for web pages to load in Firefox than it ever did in Windows. Even low-content pages like google.com were taking 20-30 seconds, when usually it’s just a few. I did a bit of research, and found that one possible cause of the issue is Firefox’s default behavior of using ipv6 (which I have not configured), as can be found by typing “about:config” in the URL address bar of the browser. If you filter on “ipv6”, you can find the offending entry and double-click the “false” to make it “true” to disable ipv6:

firefox_ipv6

While I noticed that the load times for webpages isn’t still quite what it was in Windows, I did notice a drastic improvement. It was definitely worth the effort!