Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Boot to any device even if the BIOS doesn't like it

PLoP is a boot manager that can be installed or booted to via just about any boot device, and allows you in turn to boot from any other boot device.

What does that do for you?
Well you can use a boot floppy with PLoP to boot to a USB on an old computer that normal can't boot to USB. You can also boot PLoP off a CD or install it as a boot menu for windows or linux.

It might come in useful if you are wanting to try out the new chrome OS on USB, or maybe just trying to boot from CD on an old computer that can only boot from floppy.

Thanks Steve for finding this and sending it on!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Lots of Logs


This entry is one of those notes I talked about in my intro.

I was trying to forward my logs from a firewall that I setup using IPTables to a splunk server, and I ended up learning a good bit about the logging system. I'm sure I have not done things in the most efficient manner but for my purposes it worked well.

First I started logging some things using IPTables. I logged at the info level. As soon as I restarted the firewall the log messages started flooding my console. I logged in with putty and continued from there.

First to forward the logs I edited /etc/syslog.conf
I added:
kern.* @ (Replace IPAddress with that of the server you are forwarding to)

This will forward all alerts coming from the kernal. You could be much more specific or do a *.* to forward EVERYTHING. See man syslog.conf for more information.

Next I restarted sysklogd:
/etc/init.d/sysklogd restart

That did it. The logs were forwarding just fine to the splunk server.

At this point I was getting all of my logs from the firewall showing up on my console, which made the console basically useless. First I checked my syslog.conf to see if there was an entry that was sending those logs to the console, but there weren't any. So I did some digging and found a few sites that talked about printk. It seems that printk controls what gets sent to your console along with any entries in syslog.conf that may point to your console.

So to fix it I typed:
echo "4 1 1 7" > /proc/sys/kernel/printk

That fixed the info level logs showing up on my console and to fix it for future reboots I edited /etc/sysctl.conf and added:
kernel.printk = 4 4 1 7

I then restarted sysklogd again:
/etc/init.d/sysklogd restart

A strange thing happened though. The alerts weren't showing up on the console or in the log files. I messed around for quite a while and finally fixed the problem by restarting klogd:
/etc/init.d/klogd restart

Update: It looks like depending on the version of klogd, and some other things I'm not yet aware of, when you restart klogd it might reset printk = 7 1 1 7 (Happened on one server but not the other). To fix this run "/etc/init.d/klogd stop" then run "/sbin/klogd -c 4" then run "/etc/init.d/klogd start"

That fixed things. Everything seems to work well now. Check out these web sites for further information and reference.

Information about changing printk

More information about printk

Great information about IPTables

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Edit PDF files using Open Source tools.

I recently found out that OpenOffice 3.0 has a PDF Import Extension that will allow a user to import a PDF and possibly edit it. It depends on how the original document was created but it may be of use if you need to edit a PDF document.

After downloading the Extension open OpenOffice, go to Tools, and select Extension Manager. Add the extension you downloaded earlier. Once you have installed the extension, you can open the pdf file using file open. Make sure you change the file type to PDF first. You can open the document in either Draw (The default) or Impress. Once you are done editing the document can be exported back out as a PDF.

PDF Import Extension: (updated)


OpenOffice Portable (So you don't have to install anything)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

PC Repair Flow Charts

There are logical steps to fixing PC problems, but sometimes you just draw a blank.
These flow charts might be what you need to give yourself a kick start.

I came across this site at one of my favorite blogs Lifehacker.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Copy it... Period!

If you have ever dealt with a corrupted hard drive you have come across this problem. You are trying to move files from the old/corrupted hard drive and as you are copying you hit a bad file. The copy job stops leaving you at a loss for what has copied and what hasn't. I have spend many an hour digging through file lists making sure I copied everything I was able to. Well I had that very same problem today and I decided that someone out there must have solved this problem. Sure enough.

Y-Copy is a great free program that will continue to copy files even if one has failed. It keeps a log of files that have failed so you can let the user know what just didn't make it off the drive.

Note: I first found another application that was supposed to do the same thing. It was actually part of the PC Repair System USB Key (That I wrote about before). Encopy is a good app, but I didn't like the interface or the usability as much as I did Y-Copy. There are many more features in Encopy so if you find Y-Copy lacking in options check it out.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fix corrupted software installs

If you have ever gotten caught with an installation that has crashed or have had problems uninstalling an application, this tool might be of some help. Many programs use "Windows Installer" to install themselves, and sometimes during installation or later when you are trying to uninstall you find that the installation information in Windows has been corrupted. This will sometimes keep the program from being reinstalled or uninstalled. The Windows Installer CleanUp Utility will clean out corrupted Installer data allowing you to reinstall the product (It does not remove the program).

[Thanks Tim for pointing me to this]

If it's uninstall your having problems with check out the Uninstall Everything article for a great uninstall utility that will remove even corrupt installations.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A couple of FREE data restore utilities

I came across a couple of new data restore utilities that look very promising.

The first is called PhotoRec. I have seen lots of photo recovery programs but this one is open source and looks to be a very full featured program. I haven't tested it yet but I will definitely come back to this one the next time i'm in need.

The second is called TestDisk. The feature list is quite impressive, and again it's open source. This one is a hard drive recovery program. It focuses on recovering partitions, and boot sectors. Again I haven't tested it but I like the look of the feature list and will try it soon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to Stop a VM that is not responding AND How to Release files that give device or resource busy

Just found this posted in the VM forums and wanted to make sure and mark it. Looks like very good steps to take when you are stuck in this situation.