Monday, November 19, 2007

Free Linux Ebooks

Here is a really great site full of free ebooks about Linux.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Windows XP remote desktop with more then 1 user at a time

Windows Xp:
Have you ever needed to Remote Desktop into a computer and have the console stay active? Or just have two people logged into a Windows Xp box at the same time? Well there is a hack that uses some code from a beta release of SP2 that will allow you to do just that. The web site below has a pretty good step by step on how to do it. If your computer is on a domain, scroll to the bottom and read the comments to figure out a way around the fast user switching problem. Basically you have to redo a few things every time you login using a batch file.

The same site now has an install for Unlimited connections of Remote Desktop!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Online backups

I'm quite happy to say that this blog post does not start with a horror story about complete data loss. Instead, I for once was ahead of disaster (knock on wood, nothing has happened yet). I really am not one for keeping up with backups. I almost NEVER backup and when I do it's just copying the data from one computer to another (I'm talking about HOME only here!). Backups are hard, there are many choices and all of them require you to get off your butt and do something to implement them. Some take more work then others to keep up with once implemented. When I started looking at backup options I knew I needed something easy to implemented, inexpensive, and very easy to keep up with (Doesn't everyone!).

I had heard that online backups had gotten better and better so I decided to check them out. I checked out several sites and concluded that Carbonite, and Mozy were the top runners in the online backup market (Links are referral links). Mozy has a nice interface and is around $50 for a years worth of unlimited space. Carbonite is really easy to use and is the same price for the same amount of space. Both are really nice and get high reviews.

As I tried them out I found that online backups made things simple. After installing the software I chose which files I wanted backed up, and off it went. Now when files change, or new files are added, it updates the backup. I don't have to stress about the last time I backed up our pictures, because I know that it's already been taken care of automatically. Some might say that an external hard drive is a cheaper faster way of backing up, but just remember that if something were to happen to your house (fire) that backup would be gone with everything else. My suggestion is to give both of these a try (Mozy has a free 2gig account, and Carbonite has a 15 day free trial) and choose the one that works best for you.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Free DVD Authoring

There have been many times that I wanted to burn a Video DVD and didn't have any DVD authoring software loaded on the computer I was using. I found these two freeware apps from a Lifehacker post.

DVD Styler Is a DVD menu creation program.

DVD Flick converts many different formats of video and burns the DVD for you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Muliple Computers One Keybard and Mouse (Virtual KVM)

While writing my last post I came across maxivista's virtual KVM software. It allows you to have two different computers side by side but use the keyboard and mouse from one computer for both... It's kind of like dual monitors but each monitor having it's own computer. Just move your mouse into the other screen and you control that computer. They also sync the clipboards so you can cut and past from one to the other.

Like usual there is also a free open source alternative that will do the same thing. Synergy is a virtual KVM open source project. It adds Linux and Unix to the mix so you could be controlling a windows box along side a Linux box. It also syncs the clipboards so you can cut and past from one computer to the next.

Another non open source but FREE option is Input Director, it is a lot like Synergy but is for Windows only

Multiple Monitor Software

I have found a few pieces of software that make having multiple monitors even better!

UltraMon is probably the best multi monitor software out there. It manages your wallpaper, screen saver, and gives you a great multi monitor task bar. It also gives you a window position tool bar and a few advanced settings to help manage those extra monitors. The big disadvantage is price, it's pretty pricey for a utility program.

Background Switcher is a wallpaper manager that can be used with multiple monitors. It's freeware and it is by far the best wallpaper manager I have ever used! It connects to flickr, phanfare, smugmug, picasa, facebook, and yahoo! image search. Oh, and of course can be directed at a folder (or a list of pictures) on your computer. It allows you to have different images on each monitor, and will switch images at an Interval of your choosing. It can also display the images in several modes including thumbnail mosaics, 4-picture montage, or snap shot scrapbook. Background Switcher is a really amazing program with many many options, and I would suggest it to anybody.

DisplayFusion is a great freeware wallpaper manager for multiple monitors. It lets you use different wallpaper for each monitor or stretch a single image across all monitors. It also integrates with flickr giving you the ability to use flickr to find and download new backgrounds. DisplayFusion also includes some hotkeys to help you manage your windows.

Multi-Monitor TaskBar is a freeware package that adds a taskbar to all of the monitors (Normally there is only the task bar on the primary monitor). As you move a window from monitor to monitor that window also moves to the correct task bar. It also adds an "Arrow" toolbar on the top of each window. The toolbar gives you buttons to move that window from monitor to monitor, or stretch it across all monitors. It also has a hotkey that jumps the window from screen to screen.

If you don't have multiple monitors maybe this software can help. Maxivista lets a single computer take over another computers monitor as a secondary display. So if you have two computers at your desk, say a laptop and a desktop, you could use Maxivista to let you use the laptop screen as a second monitor for the desktop (Or the other way around).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Missing HAL.DLL, Invalid Boot.ini

Windows XP:

I have come across "Cannot find \Windows\System32\hal.dll", or "Invalid Boot.Ini" several times and it's actually a really easy fix. I found these steps on an information week article.

Boot from your XP Setup CD and enter the Recovery Console
Run "Attrib -H -R -S C:\Boot.ini"
Delete the C:\Boot.ini file
Run "Bootcfg /Rebuild"
Run "Fixboot"


Side note:
If you are using Vista you can boot to the CD and choose "repair your system" and then "startup repair". Thats it, vista should auto repair your boot up problem.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ghost 8.0 and Microsoft Vista

Ghost, Vista:

I came across something interesting with Ghost8 and vista today... It turns out that vista uses a new boot manager that ties itself to both the drives signature and to the partition, so if either one of these change it will freak out and make you do a startup repair with your installation CD. Luckily there are people out there much smarter then myself and I was able to find a work around.

I found this at

written by Alan Adams

Preparing a Vista installation prior to creating the Ghost image then becomes a task of setting the DEVICE and OSDEVICE entries of the BCD entries you intend to use:

Logon as Administrator [run Command Prompt as Administrator] and from a command prompt invoke the following changes:
BCDEDIT /set {bootmgr} device boot
BCDEDIT /set {default} device boot
BCDEDIT /set {default} osdevice boot

Note you can "fix" a previously restored (and currently failing to boot) installation using a PE boot disc and executing these same actions against the restored partition's BCD entries.

There may be more entires that you need to fix if you intend to use them ({memtest}, {legacy}, etc.). The above is just the minimum for my own scenario where there is just a clean Vista-only OS installation on the partition.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Using a proxy for apt-get in Debian

Linux Debian:

A quick and easy way to get apt-get to work with a proxy in Debian...

Place the following code into the file /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/proxy

Acquire::http::Proxy "http://proxy:8080";

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thumbnails not working in windows 2000

I had a strange problem with windows 2000 today... No JPG thumbnails would show... It would just show a box with the associated program icon in it... I found a nice Microsoft KB article that fixed the problem...

PS. you can fix GIF files by doing the same changes to .gif

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Great lists of Freeware and Open Source Software

I have come across several great lists for both free and open source software...

These sites list everything broken into categories.

The Last site is setup in a really novel way. It allows you to choose a software package that you are looking for (ex. PhotoShop) and it will give you suggestions of Open Source software that is like that software (ex. Gimp).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Default Password List

This is a great list of Default Passwords from routers to winterms...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

TE Gadgets

I have decided to start a new blog for the REALLY interesting gadgets that I come across... After adding that Microsoft table entry I relized I really didn't like it being in this blog and that I had a few other things I would like to throw out there... So...

Check it out at

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Something I have been waiting for is here! Well Kindda

So I really don't want to get in the habit of posting about news or random products but this is something that I have been interested in for many years... Table Top computing... The ability to touch and interact with content, move it, shape it, and interact with it naturally... Check out this Cnet news link to see a GREAT video of Microsofts new table top computing device. It's not exactly ready for your living room, but this is just the begining to that end...

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Software Virtualization

Some of the coolest software of all time... Ok imagine being able to turn on and off software at will... I'm talking about turning off dll's files registry settings EVERYTHING... In fact when you turn it off the computer doesn't even know it exists... Software virtualization! There are so many uses for this in buisness and home...

Altiris Juice

Monday, April 9, 2007

Playing with SysPrep

So I decided that it was time to start playing with SysPrep... Yes I know that many of you out there have been using SysPrep for some time, but I have been putting it off because, well... I had my way of doing things and that worked just fine Thank You (Basically, Just lazy)...

So the first thing I came across was this site... Microsoft's official how-to for SysPrep...

Hmm... I guess there is a special version for Windows XP Sp2...

SysPrep Download for XP Sp2

Another good explanation and how-to from Microsoft...

And so I'm not outdated here is a how-to for Windows Vista

Thats it for now... I'll add later...

Friday, March 30, 2007

Fun with virtualization and OEM installs!


We use all dell hardware at our plant... We have a corporate license and corporate keys for all windows software BUT when we get new Dells in we just add the software that's needed and send them out the door...

So what we have is a Dell box with an OEM copy of windows running on it... When We virtualize the box it changes the Original Equipment Manufacturer ID to VMWare triggering windows to say "Hey I'm not on the correct hardware for this OEM license so you better register me!"

Well thats the answer to why the problem happens and here are two solutions to what you might do to fix the problem...

Update: ESX Server 3.0.2 has a bug and does not correctly work with SMBIOS.reflectHost, 3.0.2 Update 1 fixes that bug.

First try adding this field into your Virtual Machines config file (VMX File):

SMBIOS.reflectHost = TRUE

That will set the OEM ID from VMWare to what it cloned...

Second you can try to run a fix install of windows XP but this will only work if you have another Windows XP key laying around that is not an OEM Key... Also you must use a NON oem install CD of Windows XP so that it will work with the non OEM key.

I hope this helps you and anyone else having this problem! I looked high and low and pieced this together from an article and forum post... Here are the links to those for further reading...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lock down Windows XP

I came across a utility from Microsoft today that is supposed to help you lock down public access computers... It's free and looks pretty robust...

Check it out here:

Note:  Microsoft has removed all files and references to this utility.  I was able to find it on Cnet though

Monday, March 19, 2007

Linux Cheat Sheets

If you are lost when you get to the command line in linux check out these two sites for a great list of commands...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Nagios 2.5 and Oreon 1.3 installation How-To...


No I havn't written a great How-To, but I did find one!

This is a great tutorial on how to install Nagios and Oreon from scratch on a Debian box... I followed it and got mine up and running with few problems

(Upgrade your PEAR version to the latest before trying to install new PEAR modules Check this:

Now I'm just searching for a great config guide to help me get started with Oreon...

Rebuilding our Nagios box in VMware

Ok so to give background on my last post...

We are wanting to add AD authentication to our Nagios box at work, so to test everything I ghosted the box and loaded it into a VM. Well it was setup with reiserfs file system which ghost didn't know, so the ghost had to save the thing as a one to one drive backup... The image was HUGE! (Compared to what was actually on the drive) The drive was 60gig and Suse (Yes it is a Suse box) was only using like 7 gig...

Well I didn't want to have to keep a 60gig VM around to hold a 6 gig file system, so thats why in the last post I was trying to change the file system type and rebuild the kernel (I know that doesn't completely explain why but no matter). Long story short I couldn't get it to work and decided to ditch the effort and rebuilt a new version of Nagios running on EXT3 with Debian as it's Distro... So thats where I am now... I still haven't even got to the whole AD Authentication thing yet (Which I'm sure will be fun)... Oh and since I'm starting from scratch I decided to make things really hard and add to the mix Oreon which is a front end to Nagios... So Off I Go!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Rebuilding a Suse based Kernel

Update: I was trying to change the file system from riserfs to ext3 and shrink the partition size... The change in file system was because riserfs is not supported with things like ghost and the partition size because I didn't need a 60 gig VM when only 7gig was being used...
:Close Update

Ok so I have done a lot to get to this point but I had to stop what I was doing to add some notes so I would'nt forget this stuff... (I will come back a little later and update the blog to show what I have been working on) So I'm at the point were I think I need to rebuild the kernel I'm using to support ext3. Again I will explain why I'm here later...

So I booted into a rescue system with the Suse Install CD (I really screwed up the system) and The first thing to do is mount the hard drive so I can fix it....

mkdir /temp
mount /sda2 (The drive and partition I'm mounting) /temp (Where I'm mounting to)
chroot /temp /bin/bash (Change root to the drive I just mounted)

Now that I have the root mounted, I whet to /usr/src/linux where the source files where located. Then I started working on the kernel rebuild...

make config (I added direct ext3 support, and everything else default)
make modules
make modules_install

And I get a stupid error from modules_install:
ln: target '.note.GNU-stack,,@progbits-default/source; is not a directory
make: *** [_modinst_] Error 1

and if I do something stupid like create source as a directory myself the same error comes up except it says "" is a directory... So I can't win!

Update: So all in all the kernel already supports EXT3 and that is not my problem... No I never got it to rebuild correctly but I got some help and that wasn't my problem... Unfortunately changing file systems (Why I was trying to get EXT3 to work) is not easy or recommended in Linux... I'm sure there are some great Linux Gurus out there that can point to a great how-to but for me I couldn't find anything so I moved on to something else... (If you know a good way to change file systems and or partition sizes please add the link in a comment)

Thursday, March 1, 2007

PDF software on the cheap!

I just found this great site that lists free software for creating editing and manipulating PDF files... It can be pretty hard to find free pdf software because of all of the sites out there trying to sell there little utilities and this site is a great guide to some really great software if your into PDFs.

Update: I noticed that this website does not list CutePDF which is a great free PDF creator that is free for both personal and commercial.

Update: I came across a free PDF to Word converter today.

Update: Here is another free PDF tool that also adds rotation and several other great tools.

Update: I found an online PDF to WORD, and EXCEL converter. I havn't used it so proceed at your own risk. It also has a full online pdf editing suite that might be useful. It looks like their doing an upsell which is fine with me :) Use our online version to get you in the door to buy our desktop version.

Friday, February 2, 2007


Ok so I have a bit of frustration to let out over SNMP... I installed SNMP with the whole

apt-get install snmpd

and everything went fine.... I figured out how to change the /etc/snmp/snmpd.conf file to allow for external connections...

com2sec readonly "Network (ex." public

But! It wouldn't work! So I hit the web... Not a whole lot out there for snmpd. I did find some stuff, but nothing seemed to work... I was going crazy for a couple of days until I finally came across a little Mailing list post that had buried in it a line about


Hmm... Well I checked it out and theres my problem! There is a line in there

SNMPDOPTS='-Lsd -Lf /dev/null -u snmp -I -smux -p /var/run/'

that I think controls what interface snmpd daemon listens on! I changed it to the correct IP of the interface I wanted it to listen on and boom... There you go...

Oh and this little command helped me realize that snmpd wasn't listening on the right interface

netstat -natup | grep 161

And there you go....

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Open Manage on Debian

Ok so i'm trying to get Open Manage to run on my Dell Ubuntu box... It is based on Debian so I'm working that angle... Dell only gives Open Mange for Red Hat so I had to do a little research... It turns out you can convert Red Hat installs to Debian but there are other problems like file structure that you come across... I found a couple of websites that helped and finally found someone that had done the proper changes to the files and made .deb files (Debian install files)...

The link is:

Now I'm trying to get the package to install.. You have to have the source code for the kernel to start so thats what I'm doing now... Just apt-get install linux-source-#.#.## (Your version number here)...

On to it then...

Ok all that stuff didn't work and was harder then it needed to be...
Check out this site:

That will get you started but the final easy thing is to edit your apt source list and add

deb dell sara

and then apt-get install dellomsa

It will install everything for you...

Check out this link for some more info (You really have to skim a bunch of stuff but it's in there... Look for OMSA and Debian together)

I still don't know much about the things it installs but it does work so far...

OMREPORT is one command so far...

Oh and to get snmp working with this (which is why I was working on this in the first place) Add this line to /etc/snmp/snmpd.conf

smuxpeer .

If your having problems with SNMP not working make sure that dsm_sa_snmp32d is turned on... (Thanks Cesar Avalos)

To get it to load automatically type this:
/opt/dell/srvadmin/dataeng/bin/dataeng enablesnmp

And also make sure that your SNMP community strings are setup correctly...

What Kernel am I using?

Linux General:

uname -r

To find out what kernel you are using...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Windows: The Network folder specified is currently mapped using a different user name and password

Windows 2000, XP, 7, 8 ; Server 2003, 2008, 2012:
Ok so if you have ever had this problem you know how really annoying it can be... You try to map a drive and you get this:

The Network folder specified is currently mapped using a different user name and password.

You check your drives and there are NO Mapped drives to that computer at ALL! I have had this problem many times and one thing I found to fix it was to try and map the drive using the IP-address instead of the computer name... Well what if that fails? Go crazy and try a million things until it works. Thats what I have always been forced to do until today! I finally found a solution (now granted this might not always be the problem, but I have a suspicion that it is the culprit more then not)...

So I was working on this very problem and thought I would try the "net use" command in the command line... And I saw something interesting... There was a resource connected... IPC$ was connected... So I deleted that resource with "net use (resource name) /delete" and that did it! That fixed the problem and I was able to map the drive no problem... I think that IPC$ is used when you browse to the computer with network neighborhood but I'm not sure... I feel so much better now that I know what has been happening all of those frustrating hours I have fought this problem!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

VM Backup Script

ESX 2 and 3:

VMBK is a great pearl script for backing up VMs... It can do hotbackups and much more...

Check it out:

Monday, January 22, 2007

Moving VMs and running from a secodary NAS


Ok so I have been trying to move VMs from my main NAS to a secondary backup NAS and then trying to start them... When I imported them into my inventory list they kept coming up as unknown and wouldn't allow me to do anything... I first thought that it was a problem with me not doing something correct with ESX, but I found out that it was just a permissions problem where ESX couldn't write to the files... So now I have to work on doing a backup from my main NAS to the secondary NAS that way if the NAS goes down I can pull up the VMs on the secondary NAS and keep on going...

Help I can't write to my NFS share!

Linux in general:

Ok, so I'm not so proud that I can't admit when I do something stupid...

I had created an nfs share and could mount it, but I couldn't write anything to it! Well the first question should have been "do I have rights to write to the file system?" and there would have been my answer... Yes in the end it was just a file system rights issue...

My problem is I'm not really use to Linux and I forget that it has full multi user rights...


Make sure you check the rights of what you are mounting and make sure that "other" (or if you are mounting it with a specific "user") has access... Here is a good web page that helped me understand Linux security rights ( )...

Well back to it...

Find Things!

Linux Debian/Ubuntu:
One of the most helpful commands ever is find...

Use it to find files! Use * for a "from here on wild card" or ? for a "single character wild card"

find / (where to start) -name (I'm searching using the name) something*

so if I was looking for the file bob and I wanted to search from root on, I would:

find / -name bob
or if the file might be called bob.2 I would:
find / -name bob*

and so on...

VMWARE ESX 3.0 FireWall

ESX 3.0:

The ESX firewall is great for security but a pain when it comes to troubleshooting! It may not be best practice (None of the stuff I write probably is), but you can change the default incoming and outgoing rule from deny to allow. I use it when I just can't get something in ESX to work remember to turn it back to deny once you have figured out what in the firewall to open...

To open:
esxcfg-firewall --allowOutgoing
esxcfg-firewall --allowIncoming

To close:
esxcfg-firewall --blockIncoming
esxcfg-firewall --blockOutgoing


Ok nfs is fairly simple yet a bit of a pain... I am serving up NFS using nfs-kernel-server... First of all the NFS service control is kept in the /etc/init.d/ as normal, and it's of course called nfs-kernel-server.

Some simple things to know is that the nfs shares are configured in the /etc/exports file which also contains some access control and more specific access control is kept in the etc/hosts.allow and etc/hosts.deny can have an effect on it too...

One thing to note is that the mountd command is in /usr/sbin/rpc.mountd which is helpful because you can run "rpc.mountd -F" and get a foreground view of whats going on with the mountd service so you can see what messages you get when other boxes try to mount something from your server... Great for troubleshooting...

Simple mount command is "mount -t nfs ipaddress:/share /whereto"
Oh and the "/whereto" has to exist before hand, so create the directory first and then you can mount something to it...

My First Blog (Yeah, thats the title I thought up all by myself!)

If you have randomly stumbled on this blog, I first apologize... This is a blog that I am writing not for the masses but just to keep some record of the things I have learned in Linux. I often spend long periods of time looking for stupid little bits of how-to on Linux just to find out that all I needed was a quick command... The problem comes later when I what to do the same thing and of course I have completely forgotten everything that I learned two days ago... So... This will be random comments on things that I find out, and a notebook of sorts for commands and other things I learn as I use Linux...

Edit: I guess this thing has turned out to be more then Linux... So it's a blog on Random things in IT (Information Technology)... We'll see if it morphs again later...