Posts Tagged ‘checking’

How to configure mutual Apache WebServer SSL authentication – Two Way SSL mutual authentication for better security and stronger encryption

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017


In this post I'm about to explain how to configure Apache Web server for Two Way SSL Authentication alone and how to configure Two Way SSL Authentication for a Certain Domain URL Locations and the mixture of both One Way standar SSL authentication and Two Way Handshake Authentication .

Generally before starting I have to say most Web sites does not require a Mutual SSL  Authentication (the so called Two-Way SSL).

In most configurations Apache Web server is configured for One Way Basic authentication where The Web server authenticates to the Client usuall that's Browser program such as Mozilla  Firefox / Chrome / IE / Epiphany whatever presenting certificate signed by Trustable Certificate Authority such as VeriSign.


The authority then autneticates to the browser that the Installed certificate on the Apache Web Server is trustable and the website is not a fraudulant, that is especially important for websites where sensitive data is being transferred, lets say Banks (Doing Money Transfers online), Hospitals (Transfelling your Medical results data) or purchasing something from, Ebay.Com, PayPal etc.

Once client validates the certificate the communication line gets encrypted based on Public Key, below diagram illustrates this.

Public Ke Cryptography diagram how it works

However in some casis where an additional Security Hardening is required, the Web Server might be configured to require additional certificate so the authentication between Client -> Server doesn't work by certificating with just a Server provided certificate but to work Two Ways, e.g. the Client might be setup to also have a Trusted Authority Certificate and to present it to server and send back this certificate to the Server as well for a mutual authentication and only once the certificate handshake between;

client -> server and server -> client


is confirmed as successful the two could establish a trustable encypted SSL channel over which they can talk securely this is called
Two way SSL Authentication.


1. Configure Two Way SSL Authentication on Apache HTTPD

To be able to configure Two Way SSL Authentication handshake on Apache HTTPD just like with One way standard one, the mod_ssl Apache module have to enabled.

Enabling two-way SSL is usually not done on normal clients but is done with another server acting as client that is using some kind of REST API to connect to the server


The Apache directive used for Mutual Authentication is SSLVerifyClient directive (this is provided by mod_ssl)

the options that SSLVerifyClient receives are:

none: instructs no client Certificate is required
optional: the client is allowed to present a valid certificate but optionally
require: the client is always required to present a valid Certificate for mutual Authenticaton
optional_no_ca: the client is asked to present a valid Certificate however it has to be successfully verified.

In most of Apache configuratoins the 2 ones that are used are either none or require
because optional is reported to not behave properly with some of the web browsers and
optional_no_ca is not restrictive and is usually used just for establishing basic SSL test pages.

At some cases when configuring Apache HTTPD it is required to have a mixture of both One Way and Two Way Authentication, if that is your case the SSLVerifyClient none is to be used inside the virtual host configuration and then include SSLVerifyClient require to each directory (URL) location that requires a client certificate with mutual auth.

Below is an example VirtualHost configuration as a sample:


The SSLVerifyClient directive from mod_ssl dictates whether a client certificate is required for a given location:

<VirtualHost *:443>

SSLVerifyClient none
<Location /whatever_extra_secured_location/dir>
            SSLVerifyClient require


Because earlier in configuration the SSLVerifyClient none is provided, the client will not be doing a Two Way Mutual Authentication for the whole domain but just the selected Location the client certificate will be not requested by the server for a 2 way mutual auth, but only when the client requests the Location setupped resouce a renegotiation will be done and client will be asked to provide certificate for the two way handshake authentication.

Keep in mind that on a busy servers with multitudes of connections this renegotiation might put an extra load on the server and this even can turn into server scaling issue on a high latency networks, because of the multiple client connects. Every new SSL renegotiation is about to assign new session ID and that could have a negative impact on overall performance and could eat you a lot of server memory.
To avoid this often it i suseful to use SSLRenegBufferSize directive which by default is set in Apache 2.2.X to 128 Kilobytes and for multiple connects it might be wise to raise this.

A mutual authentication that is done on a Public Server that is connected to the Internet without any DMZ might be quite dangerous thing as due to to the multiple renegotiations the server might end up easily a victim of Denial of Service (DOS) attack, by multiple connects to the server trying to consume all its memory …
Of course the security is not dependent on how you have done the initial solution design but also on how the Client software that is doing the mutual authentication is written to make the connections to the Web Server.


2. Configure a Mixture of One Way Standard (Basic) SSL Authentication together with Two Way Client Server Handshake SSL Authentication

Below example configuring is instructing Apache Webserver to listen for a mixture of One Way standard Client to browser authentication and once the client browser establishes the session it asks for renegotiation for every location under Main Root / to be be authenticated with a Mutual Two Way Handshake Authentication, then the received connection is proxied by the Reverse Proxy to the end host which is another proxy server listening on the same host on ( or localhost) on port 8080.


<VirtualHost *:8001>
  SSLEngine on
  SSLCertificateFile /etc/ssl/server-cert.pem
  SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/ssl/private/server-key.pem

  SSLVerifyClient require
  SSLVerifyDepth 10
  SSLCACertificateFile /home/etc/ssl/cacert.pem
  <location />
    Order allow,deny
    allow from all
    SSLRequire (%{SSL_CLIENT_S_DN_CN} eq "clientcn")
  ProxyPass /
  ProxyPassReverse /



3. So what other useful options do we have?

Keep Connections Alive

This is a good option but it may consume significant amount of memory. If Apache is using the prefork MPM (as many Webservers still do instead of Apache Threading), keeping all connections alive means multiple live processes. For example, if Apache has to support 1000 concurrent connections, each process consuming 2.7MB, an additional 2700MB should be considered. This may be of lesser significance when using other MPMs. This option will mitigate the problem but will still require SSL renegotiation when the SSL sessions will time out.

Another better approach in terms of security to the mixture of requirement for both One Side Basic SSL Authentication to a Webserver and Mutual Handshake SSL Auth is just to set different Virtualhosts one or more configuration to serve the One Way SSL authentication and others that are configured just to do the Mutual Two Way Handshake SSL to specified Locations.

4. So what if you need to set-up multiple Virtualhosts with SSL authentication on the Same IP address Apache (SNI) ?


For those who did not hear still since some time Apache Web Server has been rewritten to support SNI (Server Name Indication), SNI is really great feature as it can give to the webserver the ability to serve multiple one and two way handshake authentications on the same IP address. For those older people you might remember earlier before SNI was introduced, in order to support a VirtualHost with SSL encryption authentication the administrator had to configure a separate IP address for each SSL certificate on each different domian name.  

SNI feature can also be used here with both One Way standard Apache SSL auth or Two Way one the only downside of course is SNI could be a performance bottleneck if improperly scaled. Besides that some older browsers are not supporting SNI at all, so possibly for public services SNI is less recommended but it is better to keep-up to the good old way to have a separate IP address for each :443 set upped VirtualHost.
One more note to make here is SNI works by checking the Host Header send by the Client (browser) request
SSL with Virtual Hosts Using SNI.

SNI (Server Name Indication) is a cool feature. Basically it allows multiple virtual hosts with different configurations to listen to the same port. Each virtual host should specify a unique server name identification using the SeverName directive. When accepting connections, Apache will select a virtual host based on the host header that is part of the request (must be set on both HTTP and SSL levels). You can also set one of the virtual hosts as a default to serve clients that don’t support SNI. You should bear in mind that SNI has different support levels in Java. Java 1.7 was the first version to support SNI and therefore it should be a minimum requirement for Java clients.

5. Overall list of useful Options for Mutual Two Way And Basic SSL authentication

Once again the few SSL options for Apache Mutual Handhake Authentication

SSLVerifyClient -> to enable the two-way SSL authentication

SSLVerifyDepth -> to specify the depth of the check if the certificate has an approved CA

SSLCACertificateFile -> the public key that will be used to decrypt the data recieved

SSLRequire -> Allows only requests that satisfy the expression

Below is another real time example for a VirtualHost Apache configuration configured for a Two Way Handshake Mutual Authentication

For the standard One way Authentication you need the following Apache directives


SSLEngine on -> to enable the single way SSL authentication

SSLCertificateFile -> to specify the public certificate that the WebServer will show to the users

SSLCertificateKeyFIle -> to specify the private key that will be used to encrypt the data sent

6. Configuring Mutual Handshake SSL Authentication on Apache 2.4.x

Below guide is focusing on Apache HTTPD 2.2.x nomatter that it can easily be adopted to work on Apache HTTPD 2.4.x branch, if you're planning to do a 2 way handshake auth on 2.4.x I recommend you check SSL / TLS Apache 2.4.x Strong Encryption howto official Apache documentation page.

In meantime here is one working configuration for SSL Mutual Auth handshake for Apache 2.4.x:


<Directory /some-directory/location/html>
    RedirectMatch permanent ^/$ /auth/login.php
    Options -Indexes +FollowSymLinks

    # Anything which matches a Require rule will let us in

    # Make server ask for client certificate, but not insist on it
    SSLVerifyClient optional
    SSLVerifyDepth  2
    SSLOptions      +FakeBasicAuth +StrictRequire

    # Client with appropriate client certificate is OK
        Require ssl-verify-client
        Require expr %{SSL_CLIENT_I_DN_O} eq "Company_O"

    # Set up basic (username/password) authentication
    AuthType Basic
    AuthName "Password credentials"
    AuthBasicProvider file
    AuthUserFile /etc/apache2/htaccess/my.passwd

    # User which is acceptable to basic authentication is OK
    Require valid-user

    # Access from these addresses is OK
    Require ip
    Require ip 10.144.100

Finally to make the new configurations working depending you need to restart Apache Webserver depending on your GNU / Linux / BSD or Windows distro use the respective script to do it.


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Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Fix WordPress after interrupted upgrade

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017


I've recenty tried Update my WordPress blog sites and being unattentive I've selected all the plugins possitble for Upgrade by checking the "Select All" check box on the Update dialogs and almost automatically int he hurry pressing Update button however out of a sudden I've realized I could screw up my websites brutally as some of the plugins to upgraded might be lacking 100% compitability with their prior versions.

I've made a messes out of my blog many times during upgrades because of choosing to upgrade the wrong not 100% compatible plugins and I know well how painful and hard to track it could be a misbehaving incompatible plugin or how ot could cause a severe sluggishness to blog which automatically reflects on how well the website search engine ranked in Google / Yahoo / Bing indexed etc.

Thus as an almost unconcsious reaction to prevent myself the future troubles I've tried to cancel the update request in Firefox browser and trying to reload the Update page with a hope that I might be quick enough for the Apache / WP / MySQLbackend Update Update queries request to be delaying for processing but I was too slow and bang! I ended up with the following unpleasent message in my browser:

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance.

As you could guess that message caused me quite a lot of worries at hand especially since I've already break up my sites many times by doing quick unmindful reactions and the fact that there is Google Adsense ads appearing which does give me some Return on Investment cents every now and then …

It took me few minutes of research online to find what really happened and how to fix / resolve the WebSites normal operations.

So what causes the Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. appears ?

When WordPress does some of its integrated maintenance jobs a plugin enable / disable or any task that has to modify crucial configurations inside the database WordPress does disable access to all end clients to itself in order to protect its sensitive data to appear to browser requestors as showing some unexpected information to end client browser could be later used by crackers / hackers or a possibly open a security hole for an attacker.

The message is wordpress generated notice and it is pretty normal for the end user to see it during the WP site installation update depending on how many plugins are installed and loaded to the site and how long it will take for the backend Linux / Windows server to fetch the archived .zips of plugins and substitute with the new ones and update the files extracting them to wp-content/plugins and updating the respective required SQL database / tables it could be showing for end users from few secs to few minutes.

However under some circumstances on Browser request timeout to remote wordpress site due to a network connectivity issue or just a bad configuration of Apache for requests timeout (or a slow remote server Apache responce time due to server Hardware / Mem overload) or a stupid browser "Stop" / cancel request like in my case you end up with the Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance and you can can longer access the your Admin Panel.

The message is triggered by a WP craeted file .maintenance inside /var/www/blog-site/ e.g. WordPress PHP scripts does check for /var/www/blog-site/.maintenance
existence and if it is matched the WP scripts does generate the Briefly unavailble … message.

How to resolve the "Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute" WordPress error ?

As you might guess removing the maintenance "coming soon" like message in most of the cases comes to just deleting the .maintenance file, to do so:

1. Login to remote server via FTP or SFTP
2. Locate your WP website root folder that should be something like /var/www/blog-site/.maintenance and issue:
issue something like:

$ rm -rf /var/www/bog-site/.maintenance

Assuming that some plugin Update .zip extraction or SQL update query did not ended being half installed / executed that should solve the error.
To check whether all is back to normal just refresh your browser pointing to the "broken" site. If it appears well you can thank God for that 🙂
If not check the apache error logs and php error logs and see which of the php scripts is failing and then try to manually fetch and unzip the WP .zip package to wp-content/plugins folder and give it another try and if God bless so it will work as before 🙂

How to prevent your WP based business in future from such nasty errors using A Staging site (test) version of your blog ?

Just run a duplicate of your website under a separate folder on your hosting and do enable the same plugins as on the primary website and copy over the MySQL / PostgreSQL Database from your Live site to the Staging, then once it is enabled before doing any crucial WordPress version updates or Plugins Update always do try the Upgrade first on your Test Staging site. If it does execute fine there in most of the cases the result should be the same on the Production host and that could solve you effors and nerves of debugging a hard to get failure errors or faulty plugins without affecting what your End users see.

If you're not hosting the WordPress install under your own hosting like me you can always use some of the public available hostings like  BlueHost or WPEngine


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Tools to scan a Linux / Unix Web server for Malware and Rootkits / Lynis and ISPProtect – clean Joomla / WordPress and other CMS for malware and malicious scripts and trojan codes

Monday, March 14th, 2016


If you have been hacked or have been suspicious that someone has broken up in some of the shared web hosting servers you happent o manage you already probably have tried the server with rkhuter, chroot and unhide tools which gives a general guidance where a server has been compromised

However with the evolution of hacking tools out there and the boom of Web security XSS / CSS / Database injections and PHP scripts vulnerability catching an intruder especially spammers has been becoming more and more hard to achieve.

Just lately a mail server of mine's load avarage increased about 10 times, and the CPU's and HDD I/O load jump over the sky.
I started evaluating the situation to find out what exactly went wrong with the machine, starting with a hardware analysis tools and a physical check up whether all was fine with the hardware Disks / Ram etc. just to find out the machine's hardware was working perfect.
I've also thoroughfully investigated on Logs of Apache, MySQL, TinyProxy and Tor server and bind DNS and DJBDns  which were happily living there for quite some time but didn't found anything strange.

Not on a last place I investigated TOP processes (with top command) and iostat  and realized the CPU high burst lays in exessive Input / Output of Hard Drive. Checking the Qmail Mail server logs and the queue with qmail-qstat was a real surprise for me as on the queue there were about 9800 emails hanging unsent, most of which were obviously a spam, so I realized someone was heavily spamming through the server and started more thoroughfully investigating ending up to a WordPress Blog temp folder (writtable by all system users) which was existing under a Joomla directory infrastructure, so I guess someone got hacked through the Joomla and uploaded the malicious php spammer script to the WordPress blog. I've instantly stopped and first chmod 000 to stop being execuded and after examing deleted view73.php, javascript92.php and index8239.php which were full of PHP values with binary encoded values and one was full of encoded strings which after being decoding were actually the recepient's spammed emails.
BTW, the view*.php javascript*.php and index*.php files were owned by www-data (the user with which Apache was owned), so obviously someone got hacked through some vulnerable joomla or wordpress script (as joomla there was quite obscure version 1.5 – where currently Joomla is at version branch 3.5), hence my guess is the spamming script was uploaded through Joomla XSS vulnerability).

As I was unsure wheteher the scripts were not also mirrored under other subdirectories of Joomla or WP Blog I had to scan further to check whether there are no other scripts infected with malware or trojan spammer codes, webshells, rootkits etc.
And after some investigation, I've actually caught the 3 scripts being mirrored under other webside folders with other numbering on filename view34.php javascript72.php, index8123.php  etc..

I've used 2 tools to scan and catch malware the trojan scripts and make sure no common rootkit is installed on the server.

1. Lynis (to check for rootkits)
2. ISPProtect (Proprietary but superb Website malware scanner with a free trial)

1. Lynis – Universal security auditing tool and rootkit scanner

Lynis is actually the well known rkhunter, I've used earlier to check servers BSD and Linux servers for rootkits.
To have up-to-date version of Lynis, I've installed it from source:

cd /tmp
tar xvfz lynis-2.1.1.tar.gz
mv lynis /usr/local/
ln -s /usr/local/lynis/lynis /usr/local/bin/lynis


Then to scan the server for rootkits, first I had to update its malware definition database with:

lynis update info

Then to actually scan the system:

lynis audit system

Plenty of things will be scanned but you will be asked on a multiple times whether you would like to conduct different kind fo system services and log files, loadable kernel module rootkits and  common places to check for installed rootkits or server placed backdoors. That's pretty annoying as you will have to press Enter on a multiple times.


Once scan is over you will get a System Scan Summary like in below screenshot:


Lynis suggests also a very good things that might be tampered to make the system more secure, so using some of its output when I have time I'll work out on hardening all servers.

To prevent further incidents and keep an eye on servers I've deployed Lynis scan via cron job once a month on all servers, I've placed under a root cronjob on every first dae of month in following command:



server:~# crontab -u root -e
0 3 1 * * /usr/local/bin/lynis –quick 2>&1 | mail -s "lynis output of my server"


2. ISPProtect – Website malware scanner

ISPProtect is a malware scanner for web servers, I've used it to scan all installed  CMS systems like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc.
ISPProtect is great for PHP / Pyhon / Perl and other CMS based frameworks.
ISPProtect contains 3 scanning engines: a signature based malware scanner, a heuristic malware scanner, and a scanner to show the installation directories of outdated CMS systems.
Unfortunately it is not free software, but I personally used the FREE TRIAL option  which can be used without registration to test it or clean an infected system.
I first webserver first locally for the infected site and then globally for all the other shared hosting websites.

As I wanted to check also rest of hosted websites, I've run ISPProtect over the all bunch of installed websites.
Pre-requirement of ISPProtect is to have a working PHP Cli and Clamav Anti-Virus installed on the server thus on RHEL (RPM) based servers make sure you have it installed if not:

server:~# yum -y install php

server:~# yum -y install clamav

Debian based Linux servers web hosting  admins that doesn't have php-cli installed should run:

server:~# apt-get install php5-cli

server:~# apt-get install clamav

Installing ISPProtect from source is with:

mkdir -p /usr/local/ispprotect
chown -R root:root /usr/local/ispprotect
chmod -R 750 /usr/local/ispprotect
cd /usr/local/ispprotect
tar xzf ispp_scan.tar.gz
rm -f ispp_scan.tar.gz
ln -s /usr/local/ispprotect/ispp_scan /usr/local/bin/ispp_scan


To initiate scan with ISPProtect just invoke it:

server:~# /usr/local/bin/ispp_scan



I've used it as a trial

Please enter scan key:  trial
Please enter path to scan: /var/www

You will be shown the scan progress, be patient because on a multiple shared hosting servers with few hundred of websites.
The tool will take really, really long so you might need to leave it for 1 hr or even more depending on how many source files / CSS / Javascript etc. needs to be scanned.

Once scan is completed scan and infections found logs will be stored under /usr/local/ispprotect, under separate files for different Website Engines and CMSes:

After the scan is completed, you will find the results also in the following files:

Malware => /usr/local/ispprotect/found_malware_20161401174626.txt
Wordpress => /usr/local/ispprotect/software_wordpress_20161401174626.txt
Joomla => /usr/local/ispprotect/software_joomla_20161401174626.txt
Drupal => /usr/local/ispprotect/software_drupal_20161401174626.txt
Mediawiki => /usr/local/ispprotect/software_mediawiki_20161401174626.txt
Contao => /usr/local/ispprotect/software_contao_20161401174626.txt
Magentocommerce => /usr/local/ispprotect/software_magentocommerce_20161401174626.txt
Woltlab Burning Board => /usr/local/ispprotect/software_woltlab_burning_board_20161401174626.txt
Cms Made Simple => /usr/local/ispprotect/software_cms_made_simple_20161401174626.txt
Phpmyadmin => /usr/local/ispprotect/software_phpmyadmin_20161401174626.txt
Typo3 => /usr/local/ispprotect/software_typo3_20161401174626.txt
Roundcube => /usr/local/ispprotect/software_roundcube_20161401174626.txt

ISPProtect is really good in results is definitely the best malicious scripts / trojan / trojan / webshell / backdoor / spammer (hacking) scripts tool available so if your company could afford it you better buy a license and settle a periodic cron job scan of all your servers, like lets say:


server:~# crontab -u root -e
0 3  1 * *   /usr/local/ispprotect/ispp_scan –update && /usr/local/ispprotect/ispp_scan –path=/var/www – –non-interactive –scan-key=AAA-BBB-CCC-DDD

Unfortunately ispprotect is quite expensive so I guess most small and middle sized shared hosting companies will be unable to afford it.
But even for a one time run this tools worths the try and will save you an hours if not days of system investigations.
I'll be glad to hear from readers if aware of any available free software alternatives to ISPProtect. The only one I am aware is Linux Malware Detect (LMD).
I've used LMD in the past but as of time of writting this article it doesn't seems working any more so I guess the tool is currently unsupported / obsolete.


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Removing exim and installing qmail / Generate and install pseudo mta dummy package on Debian / Ubuntu etc. .deb based Linux

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

If you happen to be installing Qmail Mail server on a Debian or Ubuntu (.deb) based Linux, you will notice by default there will be some kind of MTA (Mail Transport Agent) already installed mail-transfer-agent package will be installed and because of Debian .deb package depedency to have an MTA always installed on the system you will be unable to remove Exim MTA without installing some other MTA (Postix / Qmail) etc.

This will be a problem for those like me who prefer to compile and install Qmail from source, thus to get around this it is necessery to create a dummy package that will trick the deb packaging depencies that actually mta-local MTA package is present on the server.

The way to go here is to use equivs (Circumvent debian package dependencies):

debian:~# apt-cache show equivs|grep -i desc -A 10

Description: Circumvent Debian package dependencies
 This package provides a tool to create trivial Debian packages.
 Typically these packages contain only dependency information, but they
 can also include normal installed files like other packages do.
 One use for this is to create a metapackage: a package whose sole
 purpose is to declare dependencies and conflicts on other packages so
 that these will be automatically installed, upgraded, or removed.
 Another use is to circumvent dependency checking: by letting dpkg
 think a particular package name and version is installed when it

Btw creating a .deb dummy package will be necessery in many other cases when you have to install from some third party debian repositories or some old and alrady unmaintaned deb-src packages for the sake of making some archaic software to resurrect somewhere, so sooner or later even if you're not into Mail servers you will certainly need equivs.

Then install equivs and go on proceeding creating the dummy mail-transport-agent package

debian:~# cd /tmp debian:~# cp -rpf /usr/share/doc/equivs/examples/mail-transport-agent.ctl . debian:~# equivs-build mail-transport-agent.ctl

Above command will build and package /tmp/mta-local_1.0_all.deb dummy package.
So continue and install it with dpkg as you use to install debian packages


debian:~# dpkg -i /tmp/mta-local_1.0_all.deb

From then on you can continue your standard LWQ – Life with Qmail or any other source based qmail installation with:




So that's it now .deb packaging system consistency will be complete so standard security package updates with apt-get and aptitude updates or dpkg -i third party custom software insatlls will not be breaking up any more.

Hope that helped someone 🙂





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Fix MySQL ibdata file size – ibdata1 file growing too large, preventing ibdata1 from eating all your server disk space

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015


If you're a webhosting company hosting dozens of various websites that use MySQL with InnoDB  engine as a backend you've probably already experienced the annoying problem of MySQL's ibdata1 growing too large / eating all server's disk space and triggering disk space low alerts. The ibdata1 file, taking up hundreds of gigabytes is likely to be encountered on virtually all Linux distributions which run default MySQL server <= MySQL 5.6 (with default distro shipped my.cnf). The excremental ibdata1 raise appears usually due to a application software bug on how it queries the database. In theory there are no limitation for ibdata1 except maximum file size limitation set for the filesystem (and there is no limitation option set in my.cnf) meaning it is quite possible that under certain conditions ibdata1 grow over time can happily fill up your server LVM (Storage) drive partitions.

Unfortunately there is no way to shrink the ibdata1 file and only known work around (I found) is to set innodb_file_per_table option in my.cnf to force the MySQL server create separate *.ibd files under datadir (my.cnf variable) for each freshly created InnoDB table.

1. Checking size of ibdata1 file

On Debian / Ubuntu and other deb based Linux servers datadir is /var/lib/mysql/ibdata1

server:~# du -hsc /var/lib/mysql/ibdata1
45G     /var/lib/mysql/ibdata1
45G     total

2. Checking info about Databases and Innodb storage Engine

server:~# mysql -u root -p

| Database           |
| information_schema |
| bible              |
| blog               |
| blog-sezoni        |
| blogmonastery      |
| daniel             |
| ezmlm              |
| flash-games        |

Next step is to get some understanding about how many existing InnoDB tables are present within Database server:


mysql> SELECT COUNT(1) EngineCount,engine FROM information_schema.tables WHERE table_schema NOT IN ('information_schema','performance_schema','mysql') GROUP BY engine;
| EngineCount | engine |
|         131 | InnoDB |
|           5 | MEMORY |
|         584 | MyISAM |
3 rows in set (0.02 sec)

To get some more statistics related to InnoDb variables set on the SQL server:

mysqladmin -u root -p'Your-Server-Password' var | grep innodb

Here is also how to find which tables use InnoDb Engine

mysql> SELECT table_schema, table_name
    -> WHERE engine = 'innodb';

| table_schema | table_name               |
| blog         | wp_blc_filters           |
| blog         | wp_blc_instances         |
| blog         | wp_blc_links             |
| blog         | wp_blc_synch             |
| blog         | wp_likes                 |
| blog         | wp_wpx_logs              |
| blog-sezoni  | wp_likes                 |
| icanga_web   | cronk                    |
| icanga_web   | cronk_category           |
| icanga_web   | cronk_category_cronk     |
| icanga_web   | cronk_principal_category |
| icanga_web   | cronk_principal_cronk    |

3. Check and Stop any Web / Mail / DNS service using MySQL

server:~# ps -efl |grep -E 'apache|nginx|dovecot|bind|radius|postfix'

Below cmd should return empty output, (e.g. Apache / Nginx / Postfix / Radius / Dovecot / DNS etc. services are properly stopped on server).

4. Create Backup dump all MySQL tables with mysqldump

Next step is to create full backup dump of all current MySQL databases (with mysqladmin):

server:~# mysqldump –opt –allow-keywords –add-drop-table –all-databases –events -u root -p > dump.sql
server:~# du -hsc /root/dump.sql
940M    dump.sql
940M    total


If you have free space on an external backup server or remotely mounted attached (NFS or SAN Storage) it is a good idea to make a full binary copy of MySQL data (just in case something wents wrong with above binary dump), copy respective directory depending on the Linux distro and install location of SQL binary files set (in my.cnf).
To check where are MySQL binary stored database data (check in my.cnf):

server:~# grep -i datadir /etc/mysql/my.cnf
datadir         = /var/lib/mysql

If server is CentOS / RHEL Fedora RPM based substitute in above grep cmd line /etc/mysql/my.cnf with /etc/my.cnf

if you're on Debian / Ubuntu:

server:~# /etc/init.d/mysql stop
server:~# cp -rpfv /var/lib/mysql /root/mysql-data-backup

Once above copy completes, DROP all all databases except, mysql, information_schema (which store MySQL existing user / passwords and Access Grants and Host Permissions)

5. Drop All databases except mysql and information_schema

server:~# mysql -u root -p



DROP DATABASE wordpress;
DROP DATABASE micropcfreak;
DROP DATABASE statusnet;

          etc. etc.

ACHTUNG !!! DON'T execute!DROP database mysql; DROP database information_schema; !!! – cause this might damage your User permissions to databases

6. Stop MySQL server and add innodb_file_per_table and few more settings to prevent ibdata1 to grow infinitely in future

server:~# /etc/init.d/mysql stop

server:~# vim /etc/mysql/my.cnf

Delete files taking up too much space – ibdata1 ib_logfile0 and ib_logfile1

server:~# cd /var/lib/mysql/
server:~#  rm -f ibdata1 ib_logfile0 ib_logfile1
server:~# /etc/init.d/mysql start
server:~# /etc/init.d/mysql stop
server:~# /etc/init.d/mysql start
server:~# ps ax |grep -i mysql


You should get no running MySQL instance (processes), so above ps command should return blank.

7. Re-Import previously dumped SQL databases with mysql cli client

server:~# cd /root/
server:~# mysql -u root -p < dump.sql

Hopefully import should went fine, and if no errors experienced new data should be in.

Altearnatively if your database is too big and you want to import it in less time to mitigate SQL downtime, instead import the database with:

server:~# mysql -u root -p
mysql> SOURCE /root/dump.sql;


If something goes wrong with the import for some reason, you can always copy over sql binary files from /root/mysql-data-backup/ to /var/lib/mysql/

8. Connect to mysql and check whether databases are listable and re-check ibdata file size

Once imported login with mysql cli and check whther databases are there with:

server:~# mysql -u root -p

Next lets see what is currently the size of ibdata1, ib_logfile0 and ib_logfile1

server:~# du -hsc /var/lib/mysql/{ibdata1,ib_logfile0,ib_logfile1}
19M     /var/lib/mysql/ibdata1
1,1G    /var/lib/mysql/ib_logfile0
1,1G    /var/lib/mysql/ib_logfile1
2,1G    total

Now ibdata1 will grow, but only contain table metadata. Each InnoDB table will exist outside of ibdata1.
To better understand what I mean, lets say you have InnoDB table named blogdb.mytable.
If you go into /var/lib/mysql/blogdb, you will see two files
representing the table:

  •     mytable.frm (Storage Engine Header)
  •     mytable.ibd (Home of Table Data and Table Indexes for blogdb.mytable)

Now construction will be like that for each of MySQL stored databases instead of everything to go to ibdata1.
MySQL 5.6+ admins could relax as innodb_file_per_table is enabled by default in newer SQL releases.

Now to make sure your websites are working take few of the hosted websites URLs that use any of the imported databases and just browse.
In my case ibdata1 was 45GB after clearing it up I managed to save 43 GB of disk space!!!

Enjoy the disk saving! 🙂

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WordPress Plugins to monitor and debug WP enabled plugins – Find Errors / Warnings and Remove WP problematic plugins slowing down your Website (blog) database

Thursday, February 19th, 2015


Recent days, I'm spending a lot of time again trying to optimize my wordpress blog. Optimizing WP for better efficiency is becoming harder and harder task day by day as the website file content data is growing along with SQL databases. Moreover situation gets even worse because the number of plugins enabled on my blog is incrementally growing with time because, there is more and more goodies I'd like to add.
Optimizing WordPress to run for Speed on a server is a whole a lot of art and its a small universe in itself, because as of time of writting this post the count (number) of WordPress available PLUGINS is 36,197 ! 

1. Manually Tracking WordPress  Plugins causing Slow SQL Queries (MySQL bottleneck) issues directly using console / SSH

Because of its open source development and its nice modular design wordpress has turned into a standard for building small, middle sized and large websites (some WordPress based blogs and sites have from 50 000 to 100 000 unique pages!). My blog is still a small WordPress site with only 1676 posts, so I still haven't reached the high volume traffic optimization requirements but still even though I have a relatively good server hardware  8GB RAM / (2×2.70 Ghz Intel CPU) / 500 GB (7400 RPM HDD) at times I see Apache Webservers is unable to properly serve coming requests because of MySQL database (LEFT JOIN) requests being slow to serve (taking up to few seconds to complete) and creating a MySQL table lock, putting all the rest SQL queries to stay in a long unserved queues line, I've realized about this performance issue by using a a mysql cli (command) client and few commands and console command (tool) called mytop (also known as mtop). MyTop refreshes every 3 seconds, so the slow query will immediately stay on screen to view moer info about it press "f" and type the  in query ID.



Finally it is very useful to run  for a while MySQL server logging to /var/log/mysql/slow-query.log:
Slow query is enabled (on my Debian 7 Wheezy host) by adding to /etc/mysql/my.cnf
after conf section


vim /etc/mysql/my.cnf
# * Logging and Replication
# Both location gets rotated by the cronjob.
# Be aware that this log type is a performance killer.
# As of 5.1 you can enable the log at runtime!
#general_log_file        = /var/log/mysql/mysql.log
#general_log             = 1
# Error logging goes to syslog due to /etc/mysql/conf.d/mysqld_safe_syslog.cnf.
# Here you can see queries with especially long duration




slow_query_log = 1
slow_query_log_file = /var/log/mysql/slow-query.log
long_query_time = 2


And then to make new mysql configuration load restarted mysql server:


debian-server:~# /etc/init.d/mysql restart
Stopping MySQL database server: mysqld.
Starting MySQL database server: mysqld ..
Checking for tables which need an upgrade, are corrupt or were
not closed cleanly..


Leaving mysql-slow.log to be enabled for 30 minutes to an 1 hrs is a good time to track most problematic slow queries and based on this queries, I took parts of  SQL UPDATE / SELECT / INSERT etc. Db queries which was problematic and grepped throughout /var/www/blog/wp-content/plugin files in order to determine which WordPress Plugin is triggering the slow query, causing blog to hang when too many clients try to see it in browser.

My main problematic SQL query having long execution time  (about 2 to 3 seconds!!!) most commonly occuring in slow-query.log was:


SELECT DISTINCT post_title, ID, post_type, post_name FROM wp_posts wposts LEFT JOIN wp_postmeta wpostmeta ON wposts.ID = wpostmeta.post_id LEFT JOIN wp_term_relationships ON (wposts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) LEFT JOIN wp_term_taxonomy ON (wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id = wp_term_taxonomy.term_taxonomy_id) WHERE (post_type='page' OR (wp_term_taxonomy.taxonomy = 'category' AND wp_term_taxonomy.term_id IN(11))) AND post_status = 'publish' AND LENGTH(post_title)>=5 ORDER BY LENGTH(post_title) ASC LIMIT 500

Because above query uses SQL Column names and Tables which are not hard coded in PHP code, to find out which plugins is most probably to launch this complex LEFT JOIN query, I used a quick bash one-liner:


# cd /var/www/blog/wp-content/plugins


# for i in $(grep -rli 'SELECT DISTINCT' *); do grep -rli 'LEFT JOIN' $i; done 


I wanted to put less load on CPU during grep so looked for string only in .PHP extensioned files with:


 # for i in $(find . -iname '*.php' -exec grep -rli 'SELECT DISTINCT' '{}' \;); do grep -rli 'LEFT JOIN' $i; done

As you can see the complex query is being called from PHP file belonging to one of 3 plugins

  • SEO Automatic Links – this is SEO Smart Links WP plugin (Does internal bliog interlinking in order to boast SEA)
  • WP PostViews – WordPress Post Views plugin (Which allows me to show how many times an article was read in WP Widget menu)
  • Yet Another Related Posts – Which is WP plugin I installed / enabled to show Related posts down on each blog post

2. Basic way to optimize MySQL slow queries (EXPLAIN / SHOW CREATE TABLE)

Now as I have a basic clue on plugins locking my Database, I disabled them one by one while keeping enabled mysql slow query log and viewing queries in mytop and I figure out that actually all of the plugins were causing a short time overheat (lock) on server Database because of LEFT JOINs. Though I really like what this plugins are doing, as they boast SEO and attract prefer to disable them for now and have my blog all the time responsible light fast instead of having a little bit better Search Engine Optimization (Ranking) and loosing many of my visitors because they're annoyed to wait until my articles open

Before disabling I tried to optimize the queries using MySQL EXPLAIN command + SHOW CREATE TABLE (2 commands often used to debug slow SQL queries and find out whether a Column needs to have added INDEX-ing to boast MySQL query).

Just in case if you decide to give them a try here is example on how they're used to debug problematic SQL query:

  1. mysql> explain SELECT DISTINCT post_title, ID, post_type, post_name
  2.     -> FROM wp_posts wposts LEFT JOIN wp_postmeta wpostmeta
  3.     -> ON wposts.ID = wpostmeta.post_id LEFT JOIN wp_term_relationships
  4.     -> ON (wposts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) LEFT JOIN wp_term_taxonomy
  5.     -> ON (wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id = wp_term_taxonomy.term_taxonomy_id)
  6.     -> WHERE (post_type='page'
  7.     -> OR (wp_term_taxonomy.taxonomy = 'category'
  8.     -> AND wp_term_taxonomy.term_id IN(11,15,17)))
  9.     -> AND post_status = 'publish'
  10.     -> AND LENGTH(post_title)>=5
  11.     -> ORDER BY LENGTH(post_title) ASC
  12.     -> LIMIT 500;
  13. +—-+————-+———————–+——–+——————+———+———+———————————————+——+———————————————-+
  14. | id | select_type | table                 | type   | possible_keys    | key     | key_len | ref                                         | rows | Extra                                        |
  15. +—-+————-+———————–+——–+——————+———+———+———————————————+——+———————————————-+
  16. |  1 | SIMPLE      | wposts                | ALL    | type_status_date | NULL    | NULL    | NULL                                        | 1715 | Using where; Using temporary; Using filesort |
  17. |  1 | SIMPLE      | wpostmeta             | ref    | post_id          | post_id | 8       | blog.wposts.ID                              |   11 | Using index; Distinct                        |
  18. |  1 | SIMPLE      | wp_term_relationships | ref    | PRIMARY          | PRIMARY | 8       | blog.wposts.ID                              |   19 | Using index; Distinct                        |
  19. |  1 | SIMPLE      | wp_term_taxonomy      | eq_ref | PRIMARY          | PRIMARY | 8       | blog.wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id |    1 | Using where; Distinct                        |
  20. +—-+————-+———————–+——–+——————+———+———+———————————————+——+———————————————-+
  21. 4 rows in set (0.02 sec)
  23. mysql>



  1. mysql> show create table wp_posts;
  2. +———-+————————–+
  3. | Table    | Create Table                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 |
  4. +———-+————————–+
  5. | wp_posts | CREATE TABLE `wp_posts` (
  6.   `ID` bigint(20) unsigned NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  7.   `post_author` bigint(20) unsigned NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
  8.   `post_date` datetime NOT NULL DEFAULT '0000-00-00 00:00:00',
  9.   `post_date_gmt` datetime NOT NULL DEFAULT '0000-00-00 00:00:00',
  10.   `post_content` longtext NOT NULL,
  11.   `post_title` text NOT NULL,
  12.   `post_excerpt` text NOT NULL,
  13.   `post_status` varchar(20) NOT NULL DEFAULT 'publish',
  14.   `comment_status` varchar(20) NOT NULL DEFAULT 'open',
  15.   `ping_status` varchar(20) NOT NULL DEFAULT 'open',
  16.   `post_password` varchar(20) NOT NULL DEFAULT '',
  17.   `post_name` varchar(200) NOT NULL DEFAULT '',
  18.   `to_ping` text NOT NULL,
  19.   `pinged` text NOT NULL,
  20.   `post_modified` datetime NOT NULL DEFAULT '0000-00-00 00:00:00',
  21.   `post_modified_gmt` datetime NOT NULL DEFAULT '0000-00-00 00:00:00',
  22.   `post_content_filtered` longtext NOT NULL,
  23.   `post_parent` bigint(20) unsigned NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
  24.   `guid` varchar(255) NOT NULL DEFAULT '',
  25.   `menu_order` int(11) NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
  26.   `post_type` varchar(20) NOT NULL DEFAULT 'post',
  27.   `post_mime_type` varchar(100) NOT NULL DEFAULT '',
  28.   `comment_count` bigint(20) NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
  29.   PRIMARY KEY (`ID`),
  30.   KEY `post_name` (`post_name`),
  31.   KEY `type_status_date` (`post_type`,`post_status`,`post_date`,`ID`),
  32.   KEY `post_parent` (`post_parent`),
  33.   KEY `post_author` (`post_author`),
  34.   FULLTEXT KEY `post_related` (`post_title`,`post_content`)
  36. +———-+———————-+
  37. 1 row in set (0.00 sec)
  39. mysql>

By the way above output is a paste from the the new PasteBin Open Source (Stikked powered) service I started on – ( 🙂

Before I took final decision to disable slow WP plugins, I've experimented a bit trying to add INDEX to Table Column (wposts) in hope that this would speed up SQL queries with:




But this didn't improve query speed even on the contrary it make execution time worse.

3. Tracking WordPress Plugin PHP Code Execution time and Plugins causing Slow SQL Queries (MySQL bottleneck) issues through WP itself

Well fine, I'm running my own hosted Blog and WordPress sites, but for people who have wordpress sites on shared hosting, there is usually no SSH (Terminal) Access to server, those people will be happy to hear there are 2 Free easy installable WordPress plugins which can be used to Debug Slow WordPress Plugins SQL Queries as well as plugin to Track which plugin takes most time to execute, this are:


a) P3 Plugin Performance Profiler  

runs a scan over your site to determine what resources your plugins are using, and when, during a standard page request. P3 PPP Can even create reports in a beatiful Excel like Pie chart sheet.


Another useful thing to see with P3 PPP is Detailed Timeline it shows when the plugins are being loaded during new page request so you can see if there is a certain sequence in time when a plugin slows down the website.


The pictures says it all as P3 PPP is Godaddy's work, congrats to GoDaddy, they've done great job.


b) WordPress memory Viewer WP plugins

Is useful to check how much memory each of WordPress plugin is taking on user (visitor) request.
Memory Viewer is allows you to view WordPress’ memory utilization at several hooks during WordPress’ execution. It also shows a summary of MySQL Queries that have ran as well as CPU time.
To use it download it to plugins/ folder as usual enable it from:

Installed Plugins -> (Inactive) -> Memory Viewer (Enable)

To see statistics from Memory Viewer open any post from your blog website and scroll down to the bottom you will notice the statistics, showing up there, like on below screenshot.


Though WP Memory Viewer is said to work only up to WP version 3.2.1, I've tested it and it works fine on my latest stable WordPress 4.1 based blog.

c) WordPress Query Monitor


Query Monitor is a debugging plugin for anyone developing with WordPress but also very helpful for anyone who want to track issues with plugins who use the database unefficient.
It has some advanced features not available in other debugging plugins, including automatic AJAX debugging and the ability to narrow down things by plugin or theme.
You can view plenty of precious statistics on how enabled plugins query the database server, here is a short overview on its Database Queries capabilities:

  • Shows all database queries performed on the current page
  • Shows affected rows and time for all queries
  • Show notifications for slow queries and queries with errors
  • Filter queries by query type (SELECT, UPDATE, DELETE, etc)
  • Filter queries by component (WordPress core, Plugin X, Plugin Y, theme)
  • Filter queries by calling function
  • View aggregate query information grouped by component, calling function, and type
  • Super advanced: Supports multiple instances of wpdb on one page
  • Once enabled from Plugins you will see it appear as a new menu on bottom Admin raw.

An important note to make here is latest Query Monitor extension fails when loaded on current latest Wordpress 4.1, to use it you will have to download and useolder Query Monitor plugin version 2.6.8 you can download it from here

d) Debug Bar

If you want you want a Memory Viewer like plugin for more complex used components memory debugging, reporting if (WP_DEBUG is set in wp-config.php) also check out Debug Bar .
For me Debug Bar was very useful because it show me depreciated functions some plugins used, so I substituted the obsoleted function with new one.



4. Server Hardware hungry (slow) WordPress plugins that you better not use

While spending time to Google for some fixes to WP slow query plugins – I've stumbled upon this post giving a good list with WordPress Plugins better off not to use because they will slow down your site
This is a publicly well known list of WP plugins every WordPress based site adminstrator should avoid, but until today I didn't know so my assumption is you don't know either ..

Below plugins are extremely database intensive mentioned in article that we should better (in all cases!) avoid:

  • Dynamic Related Posts
  • SEO Auto Links & Related Posts
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
  • Similar Posts
  • Contextual Related Posts
  • Broken Link Checker — Overwhelms even our robust caching layer with an inordinate amount of HTTP requests.
  • MyReviewPlugin — Slams the database with a fairly significant amount of writes.
  • LinkMan — Much like the MyReviewPlugin above, LinkMan utilizes an unscalable amount of database writes.
  • Fuzzy SEO Booster — Causes MySQL issues as a site becomes more popular.
  • WP PostViews — Inefficiently writes to the database on every page load. To track traffic in a more scalable manner, both the stats module in Automattic’s Jetpack plugin and Google Analytics work wonderfully.
  • Tweet Blender — Does not play nicely with our caching layer and can cause increased server load.

A good Complete list of known WordPress slow plugins that will hammer down your wordpress performance is here

There are few alternatives to this plugins and when I have some free time I will download and test their alternatives but for now I plan the plugins to stay disabled.

For the absolute WP Performance Optimization Freaks, its good to check out the native way to Debug a wordpress installation through using few embedded


define('WP_DEBUG', true);
define('WP_DEBUG', false);
define('WP_DEBUG_LOG', true);
define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false);
define('SAVEQUERIES', true);


An article describing how you can use native WP debug variables is here

Happy Optimizing  ! 🙂

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Install VMWare tools on Debian and Ubuntu Linux – Enable VMWare Fullscreen and copy paste between OS host and Virtual machine

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014


If you need to use Virtual Machine to run some testing on heterogenous Operating Systems and you have chosen VMWare as a Virtual Machine. You will soon notice some of Virtual Machines functionality like copy between host operating system and Virtual Machine, true fullscreen mode and most importantly Copy paste between your host operating system and VMWare is not working. I'm not too much into Virtualization these days so for me it was truely shocking that a proprietary software like VMWare, claimed to be the best and most efficient Virtual Machine nowadays is not supporting copy / paste, fullscreen and copy between host and guest OS.  For those arguing why I'm using VMWare at all as it is proprietary and there is already free software Virtual Machines like QEMU and Oracle's VirtualBox its simply because now I have the chance to install and use VMWare 9 Enterprise on my work place at HP with a free Corporate license – in other words I'm using VMWare just for the sake of educating myself and would always recommend VirtualBox for those looking for good substitute free alternative to VMWare.

Before trying out VMWare, I tried Virtualbox to emulate Linux on my HP work PC running Windows with VirtualBox I was having issues with keyboard not working (because of lack of support of USB, no full screen support and lack of copy / paste between OS-es), I've just recently understood this is not because Virtualbox is bad Virtualization solution but because I forgot to install VirtualBox Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack which allows support for USB, enables copy paste and full screen support. The equivalent to Virtualbox Oracle VM VirtualBox in VMWare world is called VMWare-Tools and once the guest operating system is installed inside VMWare VM, its necessary to install vmware-tools to enable better screen resolution and copy paste.

In Windows Virtual Machine installation of vmware-tools is pretty straight forward you go through VMWare's menus


VM -> Install Vmware-tools


follow the instructions and you're done, however as always installing VMWare-tools on Linux is little bit more complicated you need to run few commands from Linux installed inside the Virtual Machine to install vmware-tools. Here is how vmware-tools is installed on Debian / Ubuntu / Linux Mint and rest of Debian based operating systems:

  1. Install Build essentials and gcc You need to have this installed some developer tools as well as GCC compiler in order for the vmware-tools to compile a special Linux kernel module which enables extra support (integration) between the VMWare VM and the installed inside VM Linux distro

apt-get install --yes build-essential gcc

2. Install appropriate Linux headers corresponding to current Linux OS installed kernel

apt-get install --yes linux-headers-$(uname -r)

3. Mount CD (Virtual) Content to obtain the vmware-tools version for your Linux

Be sure to have first checked from VMWare menus on menus VM -> Intall Vmware Tools
This step is a little bit strange but just do it without too much questioning …

mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/
umount /media/cdrom0/
mount /media/cdrom
mount /dev/sr0 /mnt/cdrom/
mount /dev/sr0 /mnt/


Note that /dev/sr0, might already be mounted and sometimes it might be necessary to unmount it first (don't remember exactly if I unmounted it or not)

4. Copy and Untar VMwareTools-9.2.0-799703.tar.gz

cp -rpf /media/cdrom/VMwareTools-9.2.0-799703.tar.gz /tmp/
cd /tmp/
tar -zxvvf VMwareTools-9.2.0-799703.tar.gz

5. Run vmware-tools installer

cd vmware-tools-distrib/

You will be asked multiple questions you can safely press enter to answer with default settings to all settings, hopefully if all runs okay this will make VMWare Tools installed

Creating a new VMware Tools installer database using the tar4 format.
Installing VMware Tools.
In which directory do you want to install the binary files?
What is the directory that contains the init directories (rc0.d/ to rc6.d/)?
What is the directory that contains the init scripts?
In which directory do you want to install the daemon files?
In which directory do you want to install the library files?
The path "/usr/lib/vmware-tools" does not exist currently. This program is
going to create it, including needed parent directories. Is this what you want?
In which directory do you want to install the documentation files?
The path "/usr/share/doc/vmware-tools" does not exist currently. This program
is going to create it, including needed parent directories. Is this what you
want? [yes]
The installation of VMware Tools 9.2.0 build-799703 for Linux completed
successfully. You can decide to remove this software from your system at any
time by invoking the following command: "/usr/bin/".
Before running VMware Tools for the first time, you need to configure it by
invoking the following command: "/usr/bin/". Do you want
this program to invoke the command for you now? [yes]
Making sure services for VMware Tools are stopped.
Stopping VMware Tools services in the virtual machine:
Guest operating system daemon: done
Unmounting HGFS shares: done
Guest filesystem driver: done
[EXPERIMENTAL] The VMware FileSystem Sync Driver (vmsync) is a new feature that creates backups of virtual machines. Please refer to the VMware Knowledge Base for more details on this capability. Do you wish to enable this feature?
Before you can compile modules, you need to have the following installed…
kernel headers of the running kernel
Searching for GCC…
Detected GCC binary at "/usr/bin/gcc-4.6".
The path "/usr/bin/gcc-4.6" appears to be a valid path to the gcc binary.
Would you like to change it? [no]
Searching for a valid kernel header path…
Detected the kernel headers at "/lib/modules/3.2.0-4-amd64/build/include".
The path "/lib/modules/3.2.0-4-amd64/build/include" appears to be a valid path
to the 3.2.0-4-amd64 kernel headers.
Would you like to change it? [no]
The vmblock enables dragging or copying files between host and guest in a
Fusion or Workstation virtual environment. Do you wish to enable this feature?
[no] yes
make: Leaving directory `/tmp/vmware-root/modules/vmblock-only'

No X install found.
Creating a new initrd boot image for the kernel.
update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img-3.2.0-4-amd64
Checking acpi hot plug done
Starting VMware Tools services in the virtual machine:
Switching to guest configuration: done
VM communication interface: done
VM communication interface socket family: done
File system sync driver: done
Guest operating system daemon: done
The configuration of VMware Tools 8.6.10 build-913593 for Linux for this
running kernel completed successfully.
You must restart your X session before any mouse or graphics changes take
You can now run VMware Tools by invoking "/usr/bin/vmware-toolbox-cmd" from the
command line or by invoking "/usr/bin/vmware-toolbox" from the command line
during an X server session.
To enable advanced X features (e.g., guest resolution fit, drag and drop, and
file and text copy/paste), you will need to do one (or more) of the following:
1. Manually start /usr/bin/vmware-user
2. Log out and log back into your desktop session; and,
3. Restart your X session.
–the VMware team
Found VMware Tools CDROM mounted at /mnt. Ejecting device /dev/sr0 …

.To make sure vmware-tools compiled modules are loaded into Linux kernel inside VM, restart the Virtual Machine. Once Linux boots again and you login to gnome-terminal to check what is vmware-tools status (e.g. if properly loaded) run:

service vmware-tools status
vmtoolsd is running


This method of installing works on Debian 7 (Wheezy) but same steps should work on any Ubuntu and rest of Debian derivatives. For Redhat (RPM) based Linux distributions to install vmware-tools after mounting cdrom drive following above instructions you will have an rpm package instead of .tar.gz archive so all you have to do is install the rpm, e.g. launch smth. like:

rpm -Uhv /mnt/cdrom/VMwareTools-9.2.0-799703.i386.rpm
Cheers 😉

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Linux: how to show all users crontab – List all cronjobs

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

I'm doing another server services decomissioning and part of decomissioning plan is: Removing application and all related scripts from related machines (FTP, RSYNC, …). In project documentation I found a list with Cron enabled shell scripts:

#Cron tab excerpt:
1,11,21,31,41,51 * * * */webservices/tools/scripts/

that has to be deleted, however there was nowhere mentioned under what kind of credentials (with what kind of user) are the cron scripts running? Hence I had to look up all users that has cronjobs and find inside each user's cronjobs whether respective script is set to run. Herein I will explain shortly how I did that.

Cronjobs by default has few locations from where cronjobs are setupped depending on their run time schedule. First place I checked for the scripts is

/etc/crontabs # cat /etc/crontabs SHELL=/bin/sh
# check scripts in cron.hourly, cron.daily, cron.weekly, and cron.monthly
-*/15 * * * * root test -x /usr/lib/cron/run-crons && /usr/lib/cron/run-crons >/dev/null 2>&1
59 * * * * root rm -f /var/spool/cron/lastrun/cron.hourly
14 4 * * * root rm -f /var/spool/cron/lastrun/cron.daily
29 4 * * 6 root rm -f /var/spool/cron/lastrun/cron.weekly
44 4 1 * * root rm -f /var/spool/cron/lastrun/cron.monthly

I was not really user via what user is shell script run, therefore I looked first if someone doesn't set the script to run via crontab's standard locations for Daily, Hourly,Weekly and Monthly cronjobs:

a) Daily set cron jobs are in:


b) Hourly set cron jobs:


c) Weekly cron jobs are in:


d) Monthly cron jobs:


There is also a location read by crontab for all Software (package distribution) specific cronjobs – all run under root user privileges.:

e) Software specific script cron jobs are in:

As the system has about 327 users in /etc/passwd, checking each user's cronjob manually with:

# crontab -u UserName -l

was too much time consuming thus it is a good practice to list


directory and to see which users has cron jobs defined


# ls -al /var/spool/cron/*
-rw——- 1 root root 11 2007-07-09 17:08 /var/spool/cron/deny

total 0
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 80 2014-05-22 11:15 .
drwx—— 4 root root 120 2008-02-25 15:45 ..
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 0 2014-05-22 04:15 cron.daily

total 8
drwx—— 2 root root 72 2014-04-03 03:43 .
drwx—— 4 root root 120 2008-02-25 15:45 ..
-rw——- 1 root root 4901 2014-04-03 03:43 root

/var/spool/cron – is crond (/usr/bin/cron/)'s spool directory.

# ls -al /var/spool/cron/tabs/ total 8
drwx------ 2 root root 72 2014-04-03 03:43 .
drwx------ 4 root root 120 2008-02-25 15:45 ..
-rw------- 1 root root 4901 2014-04-03 03:43 root

Above output shows only root superuser has defined crons.

Alternative way to check all user crontabs is via quick Linux one liner shell script show all user cron jobs

for i in $(cat /etc/passwd | sed -e "s#:# #g" | awk '{ print $1 }'); do
echo "user $i --- crontab ---";
crontab -u $i -l 2>&1 >/dev/null;
echo '----------';

Note that above short script has to run with root user. Enjoy 🙂

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How to reduce spam in PHPBB based internet forum on Debian GNU / Linux

Monday, March 26th, 2012

phpbb reduce spam bot registrations on Debian Linux tiny script

I had to install two PHPBB based internet forums, some long time ago. Since long time passed and I haven't checked what's happening with them I just noticed. They start filling up spam threads. The phpbb installations are done using the standard shipped deb packages in Debian Linux Lenny.

After checking online, I found one smart solution to . The idea is very simple most spam bots are written in a way that they don't have a properly set timezone. Therefore the quickest way to get rid of spam bots which try to auto register and put spam content inside the a forum category or post is to add a simple if condition in php to check the browser set timezone:

The file to add the php if condition is ucp_register.phpThe phpbb package install places default phpbb path on Debian is /usr/share/phpbb3/ and hence the file I had to modify is located in:


To make the TZ check one needs to modify ../www/includes/ucp/ucp_register.php and look for php array definition:

$data = array(
'username' => utf8_normalize_nfc(request_var('username', '', true)),
'new_password' => request_var('new_password', '', true),
'password_confirm' => request_var('password_confirm', '', true),
'email' => strtolower(request_var('email', '')),
'email_confirm' => strtolower(request_var('email_confirm', '')),
'confirm_code' => request_var('confirm_code', ''),
'lang' => basename(request_var('lang', $user->lang_name)),
'tz' => request_var('tz', (float) $timezone),

Right after this chunk of code add the if condition code which is like so:

if ($data['tz'] == '-12.00')
die('Die, bot! Die.');

From now onwards, any attempt for new user registration with an incorrect timezone of -12.00 will be immediately stopped while the forum spammer bot will be offered an empty page 🙂

Another good practice is to disable Birthday Listing from phpbb Admin Control panel (ACP). Go to menus:

ACP -> General -> Board Settings -> Enable Birthday listing: (No)

Enable birthday listing phpbb forum screenshot

I like disabling birthday listing, as when it is enabled and you have some spammer registrations, which even though didn't succeeded to contaminate your forum content has specified a birthday and therefore there profiles gets popping up each different day on the main page of the forum.
This will not eradicate all spammer bots, but at least will significantly decrease spammer bot registrations.

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Cause and solution for Qmail sent error “Requested action aborted: error in processing Server replied: 451 qq temporary problem (#4.3.0)”

Friday, October 28th, 2011

One of the qmail servers I manage today has started returning strange errors in Squirrel webmail and via POP3/IMAP connections with Thunderbird.

What was rather strange is if the email doesn’t contain a link to a webpage or and attachment, e.g. mail consists of just plain text the mail was sent properly, if not however it failed to sent with an error message of:

Requested action aborted: error in processing Server replied: 451 qq temporary problem (#4.3.0)

After looking up in the logs and some quick search in Google, I come across some online threads reporting that the whole issues are caused by malfunction of the (script checking mail for viruses).

After a close examination on what is happening I found out /usr/sbin/clamd was not running at all?!
Then I remembered a bit earlier I applied some updates on the server with apt-get update && apt-get upgrade , some of the packages which were updated were exactly clamav-daemon and clamav-freshclam .
Hence, the reason for the error:

451 qq temporary problem (#4.3.0)

was pretty obvious which is using the clamd daemon to check incoming and outgoing mail for viruses failed to respond, so any mail which contained any content which needed to go through clamd for a check and returned back to did not make it and therefore qmail returned the weird error message.
Apparently for some reason apparently the earlier update of clamav-daemon failed to properly restart, the init script /etc/init.d/clamav-daemon .

Following fix was very simple all I had to do is launch clamav-daemon again:

linux:~# /etc/inid.d/clamav-daemon restart

Afterwards the error is gone and all mails worked just fine 😉

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