Posts Tagged ‘log messages’

Mail send from command line on Linux and *BSD servers – useful for scripting

Monday, September 10th, 2018

mail-send-email-from-command-line-on-linux-and-freebsd-operating-systems-logo

Historically Email sending has been very different from what most people use it in the Office, there was no heavy Email clients such as Outlook Express no MX Exchange, no e-mail client capabilities for Calendar and Meetings schedule as it is in most of the modern corporate offices that depend on products such as Office 365 (I would call it a connectedHell 365 days a year !).

There was no free webmail and pop3 / imap providers such as Mail.Yahoo.com, Gmail.com, Hotmail.com, Yandex.com, RediffMail, Mail.com the innumerous lists goes and on.
Nope back in the day emails were doing what they were originally supposed to like the post services in real life simply send and receive messages.

For those who remember that charming times, people used to be using BBS-es (which were basicly a shared set-up home system as a server) or some of the few University Internal Email student accounts or by crazy sysadmins who received their notification and warnings logs about daemon (services) messages via local DMZ-ed network email servers and it was common to read the email directly with mail (mailx) text command or custom written scripts … It was not uncommon also that mailx was used heavily to send notification messages on triggered events from logs. Oh life was simple and clear back then, and even though today the email could be used in a similar fashion by hard-core old school sysadmins and Dev Ops / simple shell scriptings tasks or report cron jobs such usage is already in the deep history.

The number of ways one could send email in text format directly from the GNU / Linux / *BSD server to another remote mail MTA node (assuming it had properly configured Relay server be it Exim or Postifix) were plenty.

In this article I will try to rewind back some of the UNIX history by pinpointing a few of the most common ways, one used to send quick emails directly from a remote server connection terminal or lets say a cheap VPS few cents server, through something like (SSH or Telnet) etc.
 

1. Using the mail command client (part of bsd-mailx on Debian).
 

In my previous article Linux: "bash mail command not found" error fix
I ended the article with a short explanation on how this is done but I will repeat myself one more time here for the sake of clearness of this article.

root@linux:~# echo "Your Sample Message Body" | mail -s "Whatever … Message Subject" remote_receiver@remote-server-email-address.com


The mail command will connect to local server TCP PORT 25 on local configured MTA and send via it. If the local MTA is misconfigured or it doesn't have a proper MX / PTR DNS records etc. or not configure as a relay SMTP remote mail will not get delivered. Sent Email should be properly delivered at remote recipient address.

How to send HTML formatted emails using mailx command on Linux console / terminal shell using remote server through SSH ?

Connect to remote SSH server (VPS), dedicated server, home Linux router etc. and run:

 

root@linux:~# mailx -a 'Content-Type: text/html'
      -s "This is advanced mailx indeed!" < email_content.html
      "first_email_to_send_to@gmail.com, mail_recipient_2@yahoo.com"

 


email_content.html should be properly formatted (at best w3c standard compliant) HTML.

Here is an example email_content.html (skeleton file)

 

    To: your_customer@gmail.com
    Subject: This is an HTML message
    From: marketing@your_company.com
    Content-Type: text/html; charset="utf8"

    <html>
    <body>
    <div style="
        background-color:
        #abcdef; width: 300px;
        height: 300px;
        ">
    </div>
Whatever text mixed with valid email HTML tags here.
    </body>
    </html>


Above command sends to two email addresses however if you have a text formatted list of recipients you can easily use that file with a bash shell script for loop and send to multiple addresses red from lets say email_addresses_list.txt .

To further advance the one liner you can also want to provide an email attachment, lets say the file email_archive.rar by using the -A email_archive.rar argument.

 

root@linux:~# mailx -a 'Content-Type: text/html'
      -s "This is advanced mailx indeed!" -A ~/email_archive.rar < email_content.html
      "first_email_to_send_to@gmail.com, mail_recipient_2@yahoo.com"

 

For those familiar with Dan Bernstein's Qmail MTA (which even though a bit obsolete is still a Security and Stability Beast across email servers) – mailx command had to be substituted with a custom qmail one in order to be capable to send via qmail MTA daemon.
 

2. Using sendmail command to send email
 

Do you remember that heavy hard to configure MTA monster sendmail ? It was and until this very day is the default Mail Transport Agent for Slackware Linux.

Here is how we were supposed to send mail with it:

 

[root@sendmail-host ~]# vim email_content_to_be_delivered.txt

 

Content of file should be something like:

Subject: This Email is sent from UNIX Terminal Email

Hi this Email was typed in a file and send via sendmail console email client
(part of the sendmail mail server)

It is really fun to go back in the pre-history of Mail Content creation 🙂

 

[root@sendmail-host ~]# sendmail -v user_name@remote-mail-domain.com  < /tmp/email_content_to_be_delivered.txt

 

-v argument provided, will make the communication between the mail server and your mail transfer agent visible.
 

3. Using ssmtp command to send mail
 

ssmtp MTA and its included shell command was used historically as it was pretty straight forward you just launch it on the command line type on one line all your email and subject and ship it (by pressing the CTRL + D key combination).

To give it a try you can do:

 

root@linux:~# apt-get install ssmtp
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information… Done
The following additional packages will be installed:
  libgnutls-openssl27
The following packages will be REMOVED:
  exim4-base exim4-config exim4-daemon-heavy
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  libgnutls-openssl27 ssmtp
0 upgraded, 2 newly installed, 3 to remove and 1 not upgraded.
Need to get 239 kB of archives.
After this operation, 3,697 kB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] Y
Get:1 http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian stretch/main amd64 ssmtp amd64 2.64-8+b2 [54.2 kB]
Get:2 http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian stretch/main amd64 libgnutls-openssl27 amd64 3.5.8-5+deb9u3 [184 kB]
Fetched 239 kB in 2s (88.5 kB/s)         
Preconfiguring packages …
dpkg: exim4-daemon-heavy: dependency problems, but removing anyway as you requested:
 mailutils depends on default-mta | mail-transport-agent; however:
  Package default-mta is not installed.
  Package mail-transport-agent is not installed.
  Package exim4-daemon-heavy which provides mail-transport-agent is to be removed.

 

(Reading database … 169307 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing exim4-daemon-heavy (4.89-2+deb9u3) …
dpkg: exim4-config: dependency problems, but removing anyway as you requested:
 exim4-base depends on exim4-config (>= 4.82) | exim4-config-2; however:
  Package exim4-config is to be removed.
  Package exim4-config-2 is not installed.
  Package exim4-config which provides exim4-config-2 is to be removed.
 exim4-base depends on exim4-config (>= 4.82) | exim4-config-2; however:
  Package exim4-config is to be removed.
  Package exim4-config-2 is not installed.
  Package exim4-config which provides exim4-config-2 is to be removed.

Removing exim4-config (4.89-2+deb9u3) …
Selecting previously unselected package ssmtp.
(Reading database … 169247 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack …/ssmtp_2.64-8+b2_amd64.deb …
Unpacking ssmtp (2.64-8+b2) …
(Reading database … 169268 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing exim4-base (4.89-2+deb9u3) …
Selecting previously unselected package libgnutls-openssl27:amd64.
(Reading database … 169195 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack …/libgnutls-openssl27_3.5.8-5+deb9u3_amd64.deb …
Unpacking libgnutls-openssl27:amd64 (3.5.8-5+deb9u3) …
Processing triggers for libc-bin (2.24-11+deb9u3) …
Setting up libgnutls-openssl27:amd64 (3.5.8-5+deb9u3) …
Setting up ssmtp (2.64-8+b2) …
Processing triggers for man-db (2.7.6.1-2) …
Processing triggers for libc-bin (2.24-11+deb9u3) …

 

As you see from above output local default Debian Linux Exim is removed …

Lets send a simple test email …

 

hipo@linux:~# ssmtp user@remote-mail-server.com
Subject: Simply Test SSMTP Email
This Email was send just as a test using SSMTP obscure client
via SMTP server.
^d

 

What is notable about ssmtp is that even though so obsolete today it supports of STARTTLS (email communication encryption) that is done via its config file

 

/etc/ssmtp/ssmtp.conf

 

4. Send Email from terminal using Mutt client
 

Mutt was and still is one of the swiff army of most used console text email clients along with Alpine and Fetchmail to know more about it read here

Mutt supports reading / sending mail from multiple mailboxes and capable of reading IMAP and POP3 mail fetch protocols and was a serious step forward over mailx. Its syntax pretty much resembles mailx cmds.

 

root@linux:~# mutt -s "Test Email" user@example.com < /dev/null

 

Send email including attachment a 15 megabytes MySQL backup of Squirrel Webmail

 

root@linux:~# mutt  -s "This is last backup small sized database" -a /home/backups/backup_db.sql user@remote-mail-server.com < /dev/null

 


5. Using simple telnet to test and send email (verify existence of email on remote SMTP)
 

As a Mail Server SysAdmin this is one of my best ways to test whether I had a server properly configured and even sometimes for the sake of fun I used it as a hack to send my mail 🙂
telnet is and will always be a great tool for doing SMTP issues troubleshooting.
 

It is very useful to test whether a remote SMTP TCP port 25 is opened or a local / remote server firewall prevents connections to MTA.

Below is an example connect and send example using telnet to my local SMTP on pc-freak.net (QMail powered (R) 🙂 )

sending-email-using-telnet-command-howto-screenshot

 

root@pcfreak:~# telnet localhost 25
Trying 127.0.0.1…
Connected to localhost.
Escape character is '^]'.
220 This is Mail Pc-Freak.NET ESMTP
HELO mail.pc-freak.net
250 This is Mail Pc-Freak.NET
MAIL FROM:<hipo@pc-freak.net>
250 ok
RCPT TO:<roots_bg@yahoo.com>
250 ok
DATA
354 go ahead
Subject: This is a test subject

 

This is just a test mail send through telnet
.
250 ok 1536440787 qp 28058
^]
telnet>

 

Note that the returned messages are native to qmail, a postfix would return a slightly different content, here is another test example to remote SMTP running sendmail or postfix.

 

root@pcfreak:~# telnet mail.servername.com 25
Trying 127.0.0.1…
Connected to localhost.localdomain (127.0.0.1).
Escape character is '^]'.
220 mail.servername.com ESMTP Sendmail 8.13.8/8.13.8; Tue, 22 Oct 2013 05:05:59 -0400
HELO yahoo.com
250 mail.servername.com Hello mail.servername.com [127.0.0.1], pleased to meet you
mail from: systemexec@gmail.com
250 2.1.0 hipo@pc-freak.net… Sender ok
rcpt to: hip0d@yandex.ru
250 2.1.5 hip0d@yandex.ru… Recipient ok
data
354 Enter mail, end with "." on a line by itself
Hey
This is test email only

 

Thanks
.
250 2.0.0 r9M95xgc014513 Message accepted for delivery
quit
221 2.0.0 mail.servername.com closing connection
Connection closed by foreign host.


It is handy if you want to know whether remote MTA server has a certain Emailbox existing or not with telnet by simply trying to send to a certian email and checking the Email server returned output (note that the message returned depends on the remote MTA version and many qmails are configured to not give information on the initial SMTP handshake but returns instead a MAILER DAEMON failure error sent back to your sender address. Some MX servrers are still vulnerable to this attack yet, historically dreamhost.com. Below attack screenshot is made at the times before dreamhost.com fixed the brute force email issue.

Terminal-Verify-existing-Email-with-telnet

6. Using simple netcat TCP/IP Swiss Army Knife to test and send email in console

netcat-logo-a-swiff-army-knife-of-the-hacker-and-security-expert-logo
Other tool besides telnet of testing remote / local SMTP is netcat tool (for reading and writting data across TCP and UDP connections).

The way to do it is analogous but since netcat is not present on most Linux OSes by default you need to install it through the package manager first be it apt or yum etc.

# apt-get –yes install netcat


 

First lets create a new file test_email_content.txt using bash's echo cmd.
 

 

# echo 'EHLO hostname
MAIL FROM: hip0d@yandex.ru
RCPT TO:   solutions@pc-freak.net
DATA
From: A tester <hip0d@yandex.ru>
To:   <solutions@pc-freak.net>
Date: date
Subject: A test message from test hostname

 

Delete me, please
.
QUIT
' >>test_email_content.txt

 

# netcat -C localhost 25 < test_email_content.txt

 

220 This is Mail Pc-Freak.NET ESMTP
250-This is Mail Pc-Freak.NET
250-STARTTLS
250-SIZE 80000000
250-PIPELINING
250 8BITMIME
250 ok
250 ok
354 go ahead
451 See http://pobox.com/~djb/docs/smtplf.html.

Because of its simplicity and the fact it has a bit more capabilities in reading / writing data over network it was no surprise it was among the favorite tools not only of crackers and penetration testers but also a precious debug tool for the avarage sysadmin. netcat's advantage over telnet is you can push-pull over the remote SMTP port (25) a non-interactive input.


7. Using openssl to connect and send email via encrypted channel

 

root@linux:~# openssl s_client -connect smtp.gmail.com:465 -crlf -ign_eof

    ===
               Certificate negotiation output from openssl command goes here
        ===

        220 smtp.gmail.com ESMTP j92sm925556edd.81 – gsmtp
            EHLO localhost
        250-smtp.gmail.com at your service, [78.139.22.28]
        250-SIZE 35882577
        250-8BITMIME
        250-AUTH LOGIN PLAIN XOAUTH2 PLAIN-CLIENTTOKEN OAUTHBEARER XOAUTH
        250-ENHANCEDSTATUSCODES
        250-PIPELINING
        250-CHUNKING
        250 SMTPUTF8
            AUTH PLAIN *passwordhash*
        235 2.7.0 Accepted
            MAIL FROM: <hipo@pcfreak.org>
        250 2.1.0 OK j92sm925556edd.81 – gsmtp
            rcpt to: <systemexec@gmail.com>
        250 2.1.5 OK j92sm925556edd.81 – gsmtp
            DATA
        354  Go ahead j92sm925556edd.81 – gsmtp
            Subject: This is openssl mailing

            Hello nice user
            .
        250 2.0.0 OK 1339757532 m46sm11546481eeh.9
            quit
        221 2.0.0 closing connection m46sm11546481eeh.9
        read:errno=0


8. Using CURL (URL transfer) tool to send SSL / TLS secured crypted channel emails via Gmail / Yahoo servers and MailGun Mail send API service


Using curl webpage downloading advanced tool for managing email send might be  a shocking news to many as it is idea is to just transfer data from a server.
curl is mostly used in conjunction with PHP website scripts for the reason it has a Native PHP implementation and many PHP based websites widely use it for download / upload of user data.
Interestingly besides support for HTTP and FTP it has support for POP3 and SMTP email protocols as well
If you don't have it installed on your server and you want to give it a try, install it first with apt:
 

root@linux:~# apt-get install curl

 


To learn more about curl capabilities make sure you check cURL –manual arg.
 

root@linux:~# curl –manual

 

a) Sending Emails via Gmail and other Mail Public services

Curl is capable to send emails from terminal using Gmail and Yahoo Mail services, if you want to give that a try.

gmail-settings-google-allow-less-secure-apps-sign-in-to-google-screenshot

Go to myaccount.google.com URL and login from the web interface choose Sign in And Security choose Allow less Secure Apps to be -> ON and turn on access for less secure apps in Gmail. Though I have not tested it myself so far with Yahoo! Mail, I suppose it should have a similar security settings somewhere.

Here is how to use curl to send email via Gmail.

Gmail-password-Allow-less-secure-apps-ON-screenshot-howto-to-be-able-to-send-email-with-text-commands-with-encryption-and-outlook

 

 

root@linux:~# curl –url 'smtps://smtp.gmail.com:465' –ssl-reqd \
  –mail-from 'your_email@gmail.com' –mail-rcpt 'remote_recipient@mail.com' \
  –upload-file mail.txt –user 'your_email@gmail.com:your_accout_password'


b) Sending Emails using Mailgun.com (Transactional Email Service API for developers)

To use Mailgun to script sending automated emails go to Mailgun.com and create account and generate new API key.

Then use curl in a similar way like below example:

 

curl -sv –user 'api:key-7e55d003b…f79accd31a' \
    https://api.mailgun.net/v3/sandbox21a78f824…3eb160ebc79.mailgun.org/messages \
    -F from='Excited User <developer@yourcompany.com>' \
    -F to=sandbox21a78f824…3eb160ebc79.mailgun.org \
    -F to=user_acc@gmail.com \
    -F subject='Hello' \
    -F text='Testing Mailgun service!' \
   –form-string html='<h1>EDMdesigner Blog</h1><br /><cite>This tutorial helps me understand email sending from Linux console</cite>' \
    -F attachment=@logo_picture.jpg

 

The -F option that is heavy present in above command lets curl (Emulate a form filled in button in which user has pressed the submit button).
For more info of the options check out man curl.
 

 

9. Using swaks command to send emails from

 

root@linux:~# apt-cache show swaks|grep "Description" -B 10
Package: swaks
Version: 20170101.0-1
Installed-Size: 221
Maintainer: Andreas Metzler <ametzler@debian.org>
Architecture: all
Depends: perl
Recommends: libnet-dns-perl, libnet-ssleay-perl
Suggests: perl-doc, libauthen-sasl-perl, libauthen-ntlm-perl
Description-en: SMTP command-line test tool
 swaks (Swiss Army Knife SMTP) is a command-line tool written in Perl
 for testing SMTP setups; it supports STARTTLS and SMTP AUTH (PLAIN,
 LOGIN, CRAM-MD5, SPA, and DIGEST-MD5). swaks allows one to stop the
 SMTP dialog at any stage, e.g to check RCPT TO: without actually
 sending a mail.
 .
 If you are spending too much time iterating "telnet foo.example 25"
 swaks is for you.
Description-md5: f44c6c864f0f0cb3896aa932ce2bdaa8

 

 

 

root@linux:~# apt-get instal –yes swaks

root@linux:~# swaks –to mailbox@example.com -s smtp.gmail.com:587
      -tls -au <user-account> -ap <account-password>

 


The -tls argument (in order to use gmail encrypted TLS channel on port 587)

If you want to hide the password not to provide the password from command line so (in order not to log it to user history) add the -a options.

10. Using qmail-inject on Qmail mail servers to send simple emails

Create new file with content like:
 

root@qmail:~# vim email_file_content.text
To: user@mail-example.com
Subject: Test


This is a test message.
 

root@qmail:~# cat email_file_content.text | /var/qmail/bin/qmail-inject


qmail-inject is part of ordinary qmail installation so it is very simple it even doesn't return error codes it just ships what ever given as content to remote MTA.
If the linux host where you invoke it has a properly configured qmail installation the email will get immediately delivered. The advantage of qmail-inject over the other ones is it is really lightweight and will deliver the simple message more quickly than the the prior heavy tools but again it is more a Mail Delivery Agent (MDA) for quick debugging, if MTA is not working, than for daily email writting.

It is very useful to simply test whether email send works properly without sending any email content by (I used qmail-inject to test local email delivery works like so).
 

root@linux:~# echo 'To: mailbox_acc@mail-server.com' | /var/qmail/bin/qmail-inject

 

11. Debugging why Email send with text tool is not being send properly to remote recipient

If you use some of the above described methods and email is not delivered to remote recipient email addresses check /var/log/mail.log (for a general email log and postfix MTAs – the log is present on many of the Linux distributions) and /var/log/messages or /var/log/qmal (on Qmail installations) /var/log/exim4 (on servers running Exim as MTA).

http://pc-freak.net/images/linux-email-log-debug-var-log-mail-output

 Closure

The ways to send email via Linux terminal are properly innumerous as there are plenty of scripted tools in various programming languages, I am sure in this article,  also missing a lot of pre-bundled installable distro packages. If you know other interesting ways / tools to send via terminal I would like to hear it.

Hope you enjoyed, happy mailing !

Linux Bond network interfaces to merge multiple interfaces ISPs traffic – Combine many interfaces NIC into one on Debian / Ubuntu / CentOS / Fedora / RHEL Linux

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

how-to-create-bond-linux-agregated-network-interfaces-for-increased-network-thoroughput-debian-ubuntu-centos-fedora-rhel
Bonding Network Traffic
 (link aggregation) or NIC teaming is used to increase connection thoroughput and as a way to provide redundancy for a services / applications in case of some of the network connection (eth interfaces) fail. Networking Bonding is mostly used in large computer network providers (ISPs), infrastructures, university labs or big  computer network accessible infrastructures or even by enthusiatst to run home-server assuring its >= ~99% connectivity to the internet by bonding few Internet Providers links into single Bonded Network interface. One of most common use of Link Aggreegation nowadays is of course in Cloud environments.  

 Boding Network Traffic is a must know and (daily use) skill for the sys-admin of both Small Company Office network environment up to the large Professional Distributed Computing networks, as novice GNU /  Linux sys-admins would probably have never heard it and sooner or later they will have to, I've created this article as a quick and dirty guide on configuring Linux bonding across most common used Linux distributions.

It is assumed that the server where you need network boding to be configured has at least 2 or more PCI Gigabyte NICs with hardware driver for Linux supporting Jumbo Frames and some relatively fresh up2date Debian Linux >=6.0.*, Ubuntu 10+ distro, CentOS 6.4, RHEL 5.1, SuSE etc.
 

1. Bond Network ethernet interfaces on Debian / Ubutnu and Deb based distributions

To make network bonding possible on Debian and derivatives you need to install support for it through ifenslave package (command).

apt-cache show ifenslave-2.6|grep -i descript -A 8
Description: Attach and detach slave interfaces to a bonding device
 This is a tool to attach and detach slave network interfaces to a bonding
 device. A bonding device will act like a normal Ethernet network device to
 the kernel, but will send out the packets via the slave devices using a simple
 round-robin scheduler. This allows for simple load-balancing, identical to
 "channel bonding" or "trunking" techniques used in switches.
 .
 The kernel must have support for bonding devices for ifenslave to be useful.
 This package supports 2.6.x kernels and the most recent 2.4.x kernels.

 

apt-get –yes install ifenslave-2.6

 

Bonding interface works by creating a "Virtual" network interface on a Linux kernel level, it sends and receives packages via special
slave devices using simple round-robin scheduler. This makes possible a very simple network load balancing also known as "channel bonding" and "trunking"
supported by all Intelligent network switches

Below is a text diagram showing tiny Linux office network router configured to bond ISPs interfaces for increased thoroughput:

 

Internet
 |                  204.58.3.10 (eth0)
ISP Router/Firewall 10.10.10.254 (eth1)
   
                              | -----+------ Server 1 (Debian FTP file server w/ eth0 & eth1) 10.10.10.1
      +------------------+ --- |
      | Gigabit Ethernet       |------+------ Server 2 (MySQL) 10.10.10.2
      | with Jumbo Frame       |
      +------------------+     |------+------ Server 3 (Apache Webserver) 10.10.10.3
                               |
                               |------+-----  Server 4 (Squid Proxy / Qmail SMTP / DHCP) 10.10.10.4
                               |
                               |------+-----  Server 5 (Nginx CDN static content Webserver) 10.10.10.5
                               |
                               |------+-----  WINDOWS Desktop PCs / Printers & Scanners, Other network devices 

 

Next to configure just installed ifenslave Bonding  
 

vim /etc/modprobe.d/bonding.conf

alias bond0 bonding
  options bonding mode=0 arp_interval=100 arp_ip_target=10.10.10.254, 10.10.10.2, 10.10.10.3, 10.10.10.4, 10.10.10.5


Where:

  1. mode=0 : Set the bonding policies to balance-rr (round robin). This is default mode, provides load balancing and fault tolerance.
  2. arp_interval=100 : Set the ARP link monitoring frequency to 100 milliseconds. Without option you will get various warning when start bond0 via /etc/network/interfaces
  3. arp_ip_target=10.10.10.254, 10.10.10.2, … : Use the 10.10.10.254 (router ip) and 10.10.10.2-5 IP addresses to use as ARP monitoring peers when arp_interval is > 0. This is used determine the health of the link to the targets. Multiple IP addresses must be separated by a comma. At least one IP address must be given (usually I set it to router IP) for ARP monitoring to function. The maximum number of targets that can be specified is 16.

Next to make bonding work its necessery to load the bonding kernel module:

modprobe -v bonding mode=0 arp_interval=100 arp_ip_target=10.10.10.254, 10.10.10.2, 10.10.10.3, 10.10.10.4, 10.10.10.5

 

Loading the bonding module should spit some good output in /var/log/messages (check it out with tail -f /var/log/messages)

Now to make bonding active it is necessery to reload networking (this is extremely risky if you don't have some way of Console Web Java / VPN Access such as IPKVM / ILO / IDRAC), so reloading the network be absolutely sure to either do it through a cronjob which will automatically do the network restart with new settings and revert back to old configuration whether network is inaccessible or assure physical access to the server console if the server is at your disposal.

Whatever the case make sure you backup:

 cp /etc/network/interfaces /etc/network/interfaces.bak

vim /etc/network/interfaces

############ WARNING ####################
# You do not need an "iface eth0" nor an "iface eth1" stanza.
# Setup IP address / netmask / gateway as per your requirements.
#######################################
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback
 
# The primary network interface
auto bond0
iface bond0 inet static
    address 10.10.10.1
    netmask 255.255.255.0
    network 192.168.1.0
    gateway 10.10.10.254
    slaves eth0 eth1
    # jumbo frame support
    mtu 9000
    # Load balancing and fault tolerance
    bond-mode balance-rr
    bond-miimon 100
    bond-downdelay 200
    bond-updelay 200
    dns-nameservers 10.10.10.254
    dns-search nixcraft.net.in

 


As you can see from config there are some bond specific configuration variables that can be tuned, they can have positive / negative impact in some cases on network thoroughput. As you can see bonding interfaces has slaves (this are all other ethXX) interfaces. Bonded traffic will be available via one single interface, such configuration is great for webhosting providers with multiple hosted sites as usually hosting thousand websites on the same server or one single big news site requires a lot of bandwidth and of course requires a redundancy of data (guarantee it is up if possible 7/24h.

Here is what of configs stand for

 
  • mtu 9000 : Set MTU size to 9000. This is related to Jumbo Frames.
  • bond-mode balance-rr : Set bounding mode profiles to "Load balancing and fault tolerance". See below for more information.
  • bond-miimon 100 : Set the MII link monitoring frequency to 100 milliseconds. This determines how often the link state of each slave is inspected for link failures.
  • bond-downdelay 200 : Set the time, t0 200 milliseconds, to wait before disabling a slave after a link failure has been detected. This option is only valid for the bond-miimon.
  • bond-updelay 200 : Set the time, to 200 milliseconds, to wait before enabling a slave after a link recovery has been detected. This option is only valid for the bond-miimon.
  • dns-nameservers 192.168.1.254 : Use 192.168.1.254 as dns server.
  • dns-search nixcraft.net.in : Use nixcraft.net.in as default host-name lookup (optional).

To get the best network thorougput you might want to play with different bounding policies. To learn more and get the list of all bounding policies check out Linux ethernet Bounding driver howto

To make the new bounding active restart network:
 

/etc/init.d/networking stop
sleep 5;
/etc/init.d/networking start


2. Fedora / CentOS RHEL Linux network Bond 

Configuring eth0, eth1, eth2 into single bond0 NIC network virtual device is with few easy steps:

a) Create following bond0 configuration file:
 

vim /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-bond0

 

DEVICE=bond0
IPADDR=10.10.10.20
NETWORK=10.10.10.0
NETMASK=255.255.255.0
GATEWAY=10.10.10.1
USERCTL=no
BOOTPROTO=none
ONBOOT=yes


b) Modify ifcfg-eth0 and ifcfg-eth0 files /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/

– Edit ifcfg-eth0

vim /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0

DEVICE=eth0
USERCTL=no
ONBOOT=yes
MASTER=bond0
SLAVE=yes
BOOTPROTO=none

– Edit ifcfg-eth1

vim /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth1

DEVICE=eth0
USERCTL=no
ONBOOT=yes
MASTER=bond0
SLAVE=yes
BOOTPROTO=none


c) Load bond driver through modprobe.conf

vim /etc/modprobe.conf

alias bond0 bonding
options bond0 mode=balance-alb miimon=100


Manually load the bonding kernel driver to make it affective without server reboot:
 

modprobe bonding

d) Restart networking to load just configured bonding 
 

service network restart


3. Testing Bond Success / Fail status

Periodically if you have to administrate a bonded interface Linux server it is useful to check Bonds Link Status:

cat /proc/net/bonding/bond0
 

Ethernet Channel Bonding Driver: v3.5.0 (November 4, 2008)

Bonding Mode: fault-tolerance (active-backup)
Primary Slave: None
Currently Active Slave: eth0
MII Status: up
MII Polling Interval (ms): 100
Up Delay (ms): 0
Down Delay (ms): 0

Slave Interface: eth0
MII Status: up
Link Failure Count: 0
Permanent HW addr: 00:1e:0b:d6:6c:8f

Slave Interface: eth1
MII Status: up
Link Failure Count: 0
Permanent HW addr: 00:1e:0b:d6:6c:8c

To check out which interfaces are bonded you can either use (on older Linux kernels)
 

/sbin/ifconfig -a


If ifconfig is not returning IP addresses / interfaces of teamed up eths, to check NICs / IPs:

/bin/ip a show
1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 16436 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN
    link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00
    inet 127.0.0.1/8 brd 127.255.255.255 scope host lo
    inet 127.0.0.2/8 brd 127.255.255.255 scope host secondary lo
    inet6 ::1/128 scope host
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
2: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,SLAVE,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc mq master bond0 state UP qlen 1000
    link/ether 00:1e:0b:d6:6c:8c brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
3: eth1: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,SLAVE,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc mq master bond0 state UP qlen 1000
    link/ether 00:1e:0b:d6:6c:8c brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
7: bond0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,MASTER,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc noqueue state UP
    link/ether 00:1e:0b:d6:6c:8c brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
    inet 10.239.15.173/27 brd 10.239.15.191 scope global bond0
    inet 10.239.15.181/27 brd 10.239.15.191 scope global secondary bond0:7156web
    inet6 fe80::21e:bff:fed6:6c8c/64 scope link
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever


In case of Bonding interface failure you will get output like:

Ethernet Channel Bonding Driver: v3.5.0 (November 4, 2008)
Bonding Mode: load balancing (round-robin)
MII Status: up
MII Polling Interval (ms): 100
Up Delay (ms): 200
Down Delay (ms): 200
Slave Interface: eth0
MII Status: up
Link Failure Count: 0
Permanent HW addr: 00:xx:yy:zz:tt:31
Slave Interface: eth1
MII Status: down
Link Failure Count: 1
Permanent HW addr: 00:xx:yy:zz:tt:30

Failure to start / stop bonding is also logged in /var/log/messages so its a good idea to check there too once launched:
 

tail -f /var/log/messages
Dec  15 07:18:15 nas01 kernel: [ 6271.468218] e1000e: eth1 NIC Link is Down
Dec 15 07:18:15 nas01 kernel: [ 6271.548027] bonding: bond0: link status down for interface eth1, disabling it in 200 ms.
Dec  15 07:18:15 nas01 kernel: [ 6271.748018] bonding: bond0: link status definitely down for interface eth1, disabling it

On bond failure you will get smthing like:

Dec  15 04:19:15 micah01 kernel: [ 6271.468218] e1000e: eth1 NIC Link is Down
Dec  15 04:19:15 micah01 kernel: [ 6271.548027] bonding: bond0: link status down for interface eth1, disabling it in 200 ms.
Dec  15 04:19:15 micah01 kernel: [ 6271.748018] bonding: bond0: link status definitely down for interface eth1, disabling it


4. Adding removing interfaces to the bond interactively
 

You can set the mode through sysfs virtual filesystem with:

echo active-backup > /sys/class/net/bond0/bonding/mode

If you want to try adding an ethernet interface to the bond, type:

echo +ethN > /sys/class/net/bond0/bonding/slaves

To remove an interface type:

echo -ethN > /sys/class/net/bond0/bonding/slaves


In case if you're wondering how many bonding devices you can have, well the "sky is the limit" you can have, it is only limited by the number of NIC cards Linux kernel / distro support and ofcourse how many physical NIC slots are on your server.

To monitor (in real time) adding  / removal of new ifaces to the bond use:
 

watch -n 1 ‘cat /proc/net.bonding/bond0′

 

Resolving “nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.” flood message in dmesg Linux kernel log

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

nf_conntrack_table_full_dropping_packet
On many busy servers, you might encounter in /var/log/syslog or dmesg kernel log messages like

nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet

to appear repeatingly:

[1737157.057528] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.
[1737157.160357] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.
[1737157.260534] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.
[1737157.361837] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.
[1737157.462305] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.
[1737157.564270] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.
[1737157.666836] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.
[1737157.767348] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.
[1737157.868338] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.
[1737157.969828] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.
[1737157.969928] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet
[1737157.989828] nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet
[1737162.214084] __ratelimit: 83 callbacks suppressed

There are two type of servers, I've encountered this message on:

1. Xen OpenVZ / VPS (Virtual Private Servers)
2. ISPs – Internet Providers with heavy traffic NAT network routers
 

I. What is the meaning of nf_conntrack: table full dropping packet error message

In short, this message is received because the nf_conntrack kernel maximum number assigned value gets reached.
The common reason for that is a heavy traffic passing by the server or very often a DoS or DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. Sometimes encountering the err is a result of a bad server planning (incorrect data about expected traffic load by a company/companeis) or simply a sys admin error…

– Checking the current maximum nf_conntrack value assigned on host:

linux:~# cat /proc/sys/net/ipv4/netfilter/ip_conntrack_max
65536

– Alternative way to check the current kernel values for nf_conntrack is through:

linux:~# /sbin/sysctl -a|grep -i nf_conntrack_max
error: permission denied on key 'net.ipv4.route.flush'
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_max = 65536
error: permission denied on key 'net.ipv6.route.flush'
net.nf_conntrack_max = 65536

– Check the current sysctl nf_conntrack active connections

To check present connection tracking opened on a system:

:

linux:~# /sbin/sysctl net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_count
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_count = 12742

The shown connections are assigned dynamicly on each new succesful TCP / IP NAT-ted connection. Btw, on a systems that work normally without the dmesg log being flooded with the message, the output of lsmod is:

linux:~# /sbin/lsmod | egrep 'ip_tables|conntrack'
ip_tables 9899 1 iptable_filter
x_tables 14175 1 ip_tables

On servers which are encountering nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet error, you can see, when issuing lsmod, extra modules related to nf_conntrack are shown as loaded:

linux:~# /sbin/lsmod | egrep 'ip_tables|conntrack'
nf_conntrack_ipv4 10346 3 iptable_nat,nf_nat
nf_conntrack 60975 4 ipt_MASQUERADE,iptable_nat,nf_nat,nf_conntrack_ipv4
nf_defrag_ipv4 1073 1 nf_conntrack_ipv4
ip_tables 9899 2 iptable_nat,iptable_filter
x_tables 14175 3 ipt_MASQUERADE,iptable_nat,ip_tables

 

II. Remove completely nf_conntrack support if it is not really necessery

It is a good practice to limit or try to omit completely use of any iptables NAT rules to prevent yourself from ending with flooding your kernel log with the messages and respectively stop your system from dropping connections.

Another option is to completely remove any modules related to nf_conntrack, iptables_nat and nf_nat.
To remove nf_conntrack support from the Linux kernel, if for instance the system is not used for Network Address Translation use:

/sbin/rmmod iptable_nat
/sbin/rmmod ipt_MASQUERADE
/sbin/rmmod rmmod nf_nat
/sbin/rmmod rmmod nf_conntrack_ipv4
/sbin/rmmod nf_conntrack
/sbin/rmmod nf_defrag_ipv4

Once the modules are removed, be sure to not use iptables -t nat .. rules. Even attempt to list, if there are any NAT related rules with iptables -t nat -L -n will force the kernel to load the nf_conntrack modules again.

Btw nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet. message is observable across all GNU / Linux distributions, so this is not some kind of local distribution bug or Linux kernel (distro) customization.
 

III. Fixing the nf_conntrack … dropping packets error

– One temporary, fix if you need to keep your iptables NAT rules is:

linux:~# sysctl -w net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_max=131072

I say temporary, because raising the nf_conntrack_max doesn't guarantee, things will get smoothly from now on.
However on many not so heavily traffic loaded servers just raising the net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_max=131072 to a high enough value will be enough to resolve the hassle.

– Increasing the size of nf_conntrack hash-table

The Hash table hashsize value, which stores lists of conntrack-entries should be increased propertionally, whenever net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_max is raised.

linux:~# echo 32768 > /sys/module/nf_conntrack/parameters/hashsize
The rule to calculate the right value to set is:
hashsize = nf_conntrack_max / 4

– To permanently store the made changes ;a) put into /etc/sysctl.conf:

linux:~# echo 'net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_count = 131072' >> /etc/sysctl.conf
linux:~# /sbin/sysct -p

b) put in /etc/rc.local (before the exit 0 line):

echo 32768 > /sys/module/nf_conntrack/parameters/hashsize

Note: Be careful with this variable, according to my experience raising it to too high value (especially on XEN patched kernels) could freeze the system.
Also raising the value to a too high number can freeze a regular Linux server running on old hardware.

– For the diagnosis of nf_conntrack stuff there is ;

/proc/sys/net/netfilter kernel memory stored directory. There you can find some values dynamically stored which gives info concerning nf_conntrack operations in "real time":

linux:~# cd /proc/sys/net/netfilter
linux:/proc/sys/net/netfilter# ls -al nf_log/

total 0
dr-xr-xr-x 0 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 ./
dr-xr-xr-x 0 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 ../
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 0
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 1
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 10
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 11
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 12
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 2
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 3
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 4
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 5
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 6
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 7
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 8
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Mar 23 23:02 9

 

IV. Decreasing other nf_conntrack NAT time-out values to prevent server against DoS attacks

Generally, the default value for nf_conntrack_* time-outs are (unnecessery) large.
Therefore, for large flows of traffic even if you increase nf_conntrack_max, still shorty you can get a nf_conntrack overflow table resulting in dropping server connections. To make this not happen, check and decrease the other nf_conntrack timeout connection tracking values:

linux:~# sysctl -a | grep conntrack | grep timeout
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_generic_timeout = 600
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_tcp_timeout_syn_sent = 120
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_tcp_timeout_syn_recv = 60
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_tcp_timeout_established = 432000
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_tcp_timeout_fin_wait = 120
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_tcp_timeout_close_wait = 60
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_tcp_timeout_last_ack = 30
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_tcp_timeout_time_wait = 120
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_tcp_timeout_close = 10
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_tcp_timeout_max_retrans = 300
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_tcp_timeout_unacknowledged = 300
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_udp_timeout = 30
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_udp_timeout_stream = 180
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_icmp_timeout = 30
net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_events_retry_timeout = 15
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_generic_timeout = 600
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_syn_sent = 120
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_syn_sent2 = 120
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_syn_recv = 60
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_established = 432000
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_fin_wait = 120
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_close_wait = 60
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_last_ack = 30
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_time_wait = 120
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_close = 10
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_max_retrans = 300
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_udp_timeout = 30
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_udp_timeout_stream = 180
net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_icmp_timeout = 30

All the timeouts are in seconds. net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_generic_timeout as you see is quite high – 600 secs = (10 minutes).
This kind of value means any NAT-ted connection not responding can stay hanging for 10 minutes!

The value net.netfilter.nf_conntrack_tcp_timeout_established = 432000 is quite high too (5 days!)
If this values, are not lowered the server will be an easy target for anyone who would like to flood it with excessive connections, once this happens the server will quick reach even the raised up value for net.nf_conntrack_max and the initial connection dropping will re-occur again …

With all said, to prevent the server from malicious users, situated behind the NAT plaguing you with Denial of Service attacks:

Lower net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_generic_timeout to 60 – 120 seconds and net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_established to stmh. like 54000

linux:~# sysctl -w net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_generic_timeout = 120
linux:~# sysctl -w net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_established = 54000

This timeout should work fine on the router without creating interruptions for regular NAT users. After changing the values and monitoring for at least few days make the changes permanent by adding them to /etc/sysctl.conf

linux:~# echo 'net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_generic_timeout = 120' >> /etc/sysctl.conf
linux:~# echo 'net.ipv4.netfilter.ip_conntrack_tcp_timeout_established = 54000' >> /etc/sysctl.conf

How to auto restart CentOS Linux server with software watchdog (softdog) to reduce server downtime

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

How to auto restart centos with software watchdog daemon to mitigate server downtimes, watchdog linux artistic logo

I’m in charge of dozen of Linux servers these days and therefore am required to restart many of the servers with a support ticket (because many of the Data Centers where the servers are co-located does not have a web interface or IPKVM connected to the server for that purpose). Therefore the server restart requests in case of crash sometimes gets processed in few hours or in best case in at least half an hour.

I’m aware of the existence of Hardware Watchdog devices, which are capable to detect if a server is hanged and auto-restart it, however the servers I administrate does not have Hardware support for Watchdog timer.

Thanksfully there is a free software project called Watchdog which is easily configured and mitigates the terrible downtimes caused every now and then by a server crash and respective delays by tech support in Data Centers.

I’ve recently blogged on the topic of Debian Linux auto-restart in case of kernel panic , however now i had to conifgure watchdog on some dozen of CentOS Linux servers.

It appeared installation & configuration of Watchdog on CentOS is a piece of cake and comes to simply following few easy steps, which I’ll explain quickly in this post:

1. Install with yum watchdog to CentOS

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# yum install watchdog
...

2. Add to configuration a log file to log watchdog activities and location of the watchdog device

The quickest way to add this two is to use echo to append it in /etc/watchdog.conf:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# echo 'file = /var/log/messages' >> /etc/watchdog.conf
echo 'watchdog-device = /dev/watchdog' >> /etc/watchdog.conf

3. Load the softdog kernel module to initialize the software watchdog via /dev/watchdog

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# /sbin/modprobe softdog

Initialization of softdog should be indicated by a line in dmesg kernel log like the one above:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# dmesg |grep -i watchdog
Software Watchdog Timer: 0.07 initialized. soft_noboot=0 soft_margin=60 sec (nowayout= 0)

4. Include the softdog kernel module to load on CentOS boot up

This is necessery, because otherwise after reboot the softdog would not be auto initialized and without it being initialized, the watchdog daemon service could not function as it does automatically auto reboots the server if the /dev/watchdog disappears.

It’s better that the softdog module is not loaded via /etc/rc.local but the default CentOS methodology to load module from /etc/rc.module is used:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# echo modprobe softdog >> /etc/rc.modules
[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# chmod +x /etc/rc.modules

5. Start the watchdog daemon service

The succesful intialization of softdog in step 4, should have provided the system with /dev/watchdog, before proceeding with starting up the watchdog daemon it’s wise to first check if /dev/watchdog is existent on the system. Here is how:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# ls -al /dev/watchdogcrw------- 1 root root 10, 130 Aug 10 14:03 /dev/watchdog

Being sure, that /dev/watchdog is there, I’ll start the watchdog service.

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# service watchdog restart
...

Very important note to make here is that you should never ever configure watchdog service to run on boot time with chkconfig. In other words the status from chkconfig for watchdog boot on all levels should be off like so:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# chkconfig --list |grep -i watchdog
watchdog 0:off 1:off 2:off 3:off 4:off 5:off 6:off

Enabling the watchdog from the chkconfig will cause watchdog to automatically restart the system as it will probably start the watchdog daemon before the softdog module is initialized. As watchdog will be unable to read the /dev/watchdog it will though the system has hanged even though the system might be in a boot process. Therefore it will end up in an endless loops of reboots which can only be fixed in a linux single user mode!!! Once again BEWARE, never ever activate watchdog via chkconfig!

Next step to be absolutely sure that watchdog device is running it can be checked with normal ps command:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# ps aux|grep -i watchdog
root@hosting1-fr [~]# ps axu|grep -i watch|grep -v greproot 18692 0.0 0.0 1816 1812 ? SNLs 14:03 0:00 /usr/sbin/watchdog
root 25225 0.0 0.0 0 0 ? ZN 17:25 0:00 [watchdog] <defunct>

You have probably noticed the defunct state of watchdog, consider that as absolutely normal, above output indicates that now watchdog is properly running on the host and waiting to auto reboot in case of sudden /dev/watchdog disappearance.

As a last step before, after being sure its initialized properly, it’s necessery to add watchdog to run on boot time via /etc/rc.local post init script, like so:

[root@centos:/etc/init.d ]# echo 'echo /sbin/service watchdog start' >> /etc/rc.local

Now enjoy, watchdog is up and running and will automatically restart the CentOS host 😉

xorg on Toshiba Satellite L40 14B with Intel GM965 video hangs up after boot and the worst fix ever / How to reinstall Ubuntu by keeping the old personal data and programs

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

black screen ubuntu troubles

I have updated Ubuntu version 9.04 (Jaunty) to 9.10 and followed the my previous post update ubuntu from 9.04 to Latest Ubuntu

I expected that a step by step upgrade from a release to release will work like a charm and though it does on many notebooks it doesn't on Toshiba Satellite L40

The update itself went fine, whether I used the update-manager -d and followed the above pointed tutorial, however after a system restart the PC failed to boot the X server properly, a completely blank screen with blinking cursor appeared and that was all.

I restarted the system into the 2.6.35-28-generic kernel rescue-mode recovery kernel in order to be able to enter into physical console.

Logically the first thing I did is to check /var/log/messages and /var/log/Xorg.0.log but I couldn't find nothing unusual or wrong there.

I suspected something might be wrong with /etc/X11/xorg.conf so I deleted it:

ubuntu:~# rm -f /etc/X11/xorg.conf

and attempted to re-create the xorg.conf X configuration with command:

ubuntu:~# dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

This command was reported to be the usual way to reconfigure the X server settings from console, but in my case (for unknown reasons) it did nothing.

Next the command which was able to re-generate the xorg.conf file was:

ubuntu:~# X -configure

The command generates a xorg.conf sample file in /root/xorg.conf.* so I used the conf to put it in /etc/X11/xorg.conf X's default location and restarted in hope that this would fix the non-booting issue.

Very sadly again the black screen of death appeared on the notebook toshiba screen.
I further thought of completely wipe out the xorg.conf in hope that at least it might boot without the conf file but this worked out neither.

I attempted to run the Xserver with a xorg.conf configured to work with vesa as it's well known vesa X server driver is supposed to work on 99% of the video cards, as almost all of them nowdays are compatible with the vesa standard, but guess what in my case vesa worked not!

The only version of X I can boot in was the failsafe X screen mode which is available through the grub's boot menu recovery mode.

Further on I decided to try few xorg.conf which I found online and were reported to work fine with Intel GM965 internal video , and yes this was also unsucessful.

Some of my other futile attempts were: to re-install the xorg server with apt-get, reinstall the xserver-xorg-video-intel driver e.g.:

ubuntu:~# apt-get install --reinstall xserver-xorg xserver-xorg-video-intel

As nothing worked out I was completely pissed off and decided to take an alternative approach which will take a lot of time but at least will probably be succesful, I decided to completely re-install the Ubuntu from a CD after backing up the /home directory and making a list of available packages on the system, so I can further easily run a tiny bash one-liner script to install all the packages which were previously existing on the laptop before the re-install:

Here is how I did it:

First I archived the /home directory:

ubuntu:/# tar -czvf home.tar.gz home/
....

For 12GB of data with some few thousands of files archiving it took about 40 minutes.

The tar spit archive became like 9GB and I hence used sftp to upload it to a remote FTP server as I was missing a flash drive or an external HDD where I can place the just archived data.

Uploading with sftp can be achieved with a command similar to:

sftp user@yourhost.com
Password:
Connected to yourhost.com.
sftp> put home.tar.gz

As a next step to backup in a file the list of all current installed packages, before I can further proceed to boot-up with the Ubuntu Maverich 10.10 CD and prooceed with the fresh install I used command:

for i in $(dpkg -l| awk '{ print $2 }'); do
echo $i; done >> my_current_ubuntu_packages.txt

Once again I used sftp as in above example to upload my_current_update_packages.txt file to my FTP host.

After backing up all the stuff necessery, I restarted the system and booted from the CD-rom with Ubuntu.
The Ubuntu installation as usual is more than a piece of cake and even if you don't have a brain you can succeed with it, so I wouldn't comment on it 😉

Right after the installation I used the sftp client once again to fetch the home.tar.gz and my_current_ubuntu_packages.txt

I placed the home.tar.gz in /home/ and untarred it inside the fresh /home dir:

ubuntu:/home# tar -zxvf home.tar.gz

Eventually the old home directory was located in /home/home so thereon I used Midnight Commander ( the good old mc text file explorer and manager ) to restore the important user files to their respective places.

As a last step I used the my_current_ubuntu_packages.txt in combination with a tiny shell script to install all the listed packages inside the file with command:

ubuntu:~# for i in $(cat my_current_ubuntu_packagespackages.txt); do
apt-get install --yes $i; sleep 1;
done

You will have to stay in front of the computer and manually answer a ncurses interface questions concerning some packages configuration and to be honest this is really annoying and time consuming.

Summing up the overall time I spend with this stupid Toshiba Satellite L40 with the shitty Intel GM965 was 4 days, where each day I tried numerous ways to fix up the X and did my best to get through the blank screen xserver non-bootable issue, without a complete re-install of the old Ubuntu system.
This is a lesson for me that if I stumble such a shitty issues I will straight proceed to the re-install option and not loose my time with non-sense fixes which would never work.

Hope the article might be helpful to somebody else who experience some problems with Linux similar to mine.

After all at least the Ubuntu Maverick 10.10 is really good looking in general from a design perspective.
What really striked me was the placement of the close, minimize and maximize window buttons , it seems in newer Ubuntus the ubuntu guys decided to place the buttons on the left, here is a screenshot:

Left button positioning of navigation Buttons in Ubuntu 10.10

I believe the solution I explain, though very radical and slow is a solution that would always work and hence worthy 😉
Let me hear from you if the article was helpful.

Maximal protection against SSH attacks. If your server has to stay with open SSH (Secure Shell) port open to the world

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Brute Force Attack SSH screen, Script kiddie attacking
If you’re a a remote Linux many other Unix based OSes, you have defitenily faced the security threat of many failed ssh logins or as it’s better known a brute force attack

During such attacks your /var/log/messages or /var/log/auth gets filled in with various failed password logs like for example:

Feb 3 20:25:50 linux sshd[32098]: Failed password for invalid user oracle from 95.154.249.193 port 51490 ssh2
Feb 3 20:28:30 linux sshd[32135]: Failed password for invalid user oracle1 from 95.154.249.193 port 42778 ssh2
Feb 3 20:28:55 linux sshd[32141]: Failed password for invalid user test1 from 95.154.249.193 port 51072 ssh2
Feb 3 20:30:15 linux sshd[32163]: Failed password for invalid user test from 95.154.249.193 port 47481 ssh2
Feb 3 20:33:20 linux sshd[32211]: Failed password for invalid user testuser from 95.154.249.193 port 51731 ssh2
Feb 3 20:35:32 linux sshd[32249]: Failed password for invalid user user from 95.154.249.193 port 38966 ssh2
Feb 3 20:35:59 linux sshd[32256]: Failed password for invalid user user1 from 95.154.249.193 port 55850 ssh2
Feb 3 20:36:25 linux sshd[32268]: Failed password for invalid user user3 from 95.154.249.193 port 36610 ssh2
Feb 3 20:36:52 linux sshd[32274]: Failed password for invalid user user4 from 95.154.249.193 port 45514 ssh2
Feb 3 20:37:19 linux sshd[32279]: Failed password for invalid user user5 from 95.154.249.193 port 54262 ssh2
Feb 3 20:37:45 linux sshd[32285]: Failed password for invalid user user2 from 95.154.249.193 port 34755 ssh2
Feb 3 20:38:11 linux sshd[32292]: Failed password for invalid user info from 95.154.249.193 port 43146 ssh2
Feb 3 20:40:50 linux sshd[32340]: Failed password for invalid user peter from 95.154.249.193 port 46411 ssh2
Feb 3 20:43:02 linux sshd[32372]: Failed password for invalid user amanda from 95.154.249.193 port 59414 ssh2
Feb 3 20:43:28 linux sshd[32378]: Failed password for invalid user postgres from 95.154.249.193 port 39228 ssh2
Feb 3 20:43:55 linux sshd[32384]: Failed password for invalid user ftpuser from 95.154.249.193 port 47118 ssh2
Feb 3 20:44:22 linux sshd[32391]: Failed password for invalid user fax from 95.154.249.193 port 54939 ssh2
Feb 3 20:44:48 linux sshd[32397]: Failed password for invalid user cyrus from 95.154.249.193 port 34567 ssh2
Feb 3 20:45:14 linux sshd[32405]: Failed password for invalid user toto from 95.154.249.193 port 42350 ssh2
Feb 3 20:45:42 linux sshd[32410]: Failed password for invalid user sophie from 95.154.249.193 port 50063 ssh2
Feb 3 20:46:08 linux sshd[32415]: Failed password for invalid user yves from 95.154.249.193 port 59818 ssh2
Feb 3 20:46:34 linux sshd[32424]: Failed password for invalid user trac from 95.154.249.193 port 39509 ssh2
Feb 3 20:47:00 linux sshd[32432]: Failed password for invalid user webmaster from 95.154.249.193 port 47424 ssh2
Feb 3 20:47:27 linux sshd[32437]: Failed password for invalid user postfix from 95.154.249.193 port 55615 ssh2
Feb 3 20:47:54 linux sshd[32442]: Failed password for www-data from 95.154.249.193 port 35554 ssh2
Feb 3 20:48:19 linux sshd[32448]: Failed password for invalid user temp from 95.154.249.193 port 43896 ssh2
Feb 3 20:48:46 linux sshd[32453]: Failed password for invalid user service from 95.154.249.193 port 52092 ssh2
Feb 3 20:49:13 linux sshd[32458]: Failed password for invalid user tomcat from 95.154.249.193 port 60261 ssh2
Feb 3 20:49:40 linux sshd[32464]: Failed password for invalid user upload from 95.154.249.193 port 40236 ssh2
Feb 3 20:50:06 linux sshd[32469]: Failed password for invalid user debian from 95.154.249.193 port 48295 ssh2
Feb 3 20:50:32 linux sshd[32479]: Failed password for invalid user apache from 95.154.249.193 port 56437 ssh2
Feb 3 20:51:00 linux sshd[32492]: Failed password for invalid user rds from 95.154.249.193 port 45540 ssh2
Feb 3 20:51:26 linux sshd[32501]: Failed password for invalid user exploit from 95.154.249.193 port 53751 ssh2
Feb 3 20:51:51 linux sshd[32506]: Failed password for invalid user exploit from 95.154.249.193 port 33543 ssh2
Feb 3 20:52:18 linux sshd[32512]: Failed password for invalid user postgres from 95.154.249.193 port 41350 ssh2
Feb 3 21:02:04 linux sshd[32652]: Failed password for invalid user shell from 95.154.249.193 port 54454 ssh2
Feb 3 21:02:30 linux sshd[32657]: Failed password for invalid user radio from 95.154.249.193 port 35462 ssh2
Feb 3 21:02:57 linux sshd[32663]: Failed password for invalid user anonymous from 95.154.249.193 port 44290 ssh2
Feb 3 21:03:23 linux sshd[32668]: Failed password for invalid user mark from 95.154.249.193 port 53285 ssh2
Feb 3 21:03:50 linux sshd[32673]: Failed password for invalid user majordomo from 95.154.249.193 port 34082 ssh2
Feb 3 21:04:43 linux sshd[32684]: Failed password for irc from 95.154.249.193 port 50918 ssh2
Feb 3 21:05:36 linux sshd[32695]: Failed password for root from 95.154.249.193 port 38577 ssh2
Feb 3 21:06:30 linux sshd[32705]: Failed password for bin from 95.154.249.193 port 53564 ssh2
Feb 3 21:06:56 linux sshd[32714]: Failed password for invalid user dev from 95.154.249.193 port 34568 ssh2
Feb 3 21:07:23 linux sshd[32720]: Failed password for root from 95.154.249.193 port 43799 ssh2
Feb 3 21:09:10 linux sshd[32755]: Failed password for invalid user bob from 95.154.249.193 port 50026 ssh2
Feb 3 21:09:36 linux sshd[32761]: Failed password for invalid user r00t from 95.154.249.193 port 58129 ssh2
Feb 3 21:11:50 linux sshd[537]: Failed password for root from 95.154.249.193 port 58358 ssh2

This brute force dictionary attacks often succeed where there is a user with a weak a password, or some old forgotten test user account.
Just recently on one of the servers I administrate I have catched a malicious attacker originating from Romania, who was able to break with my system test account with the weak password tset .

Thanksfully the script kiddie was unable to get root access to my system, so what he did is he just started another ssh brute force scanner to crawl the net and look for some other vulnerable hosts.

As you read in my recent example being immune against SSH brute force attacks is a very essential security step, the administrator needs to take on a newly installed server.

The easiest way to get read of the brute force attacks without using some external brute force filtering software like fail2ban can be done by:

1. By using an iptables filtering rule to filter every IP which has failed in logging in more than 5 times

To use this brute force prevention method you need to use the following iptables rules:
linux-host:~# /sbin/iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -i eth0 -m state -state NEW -m recent -set
linux-host:~# /sbin/iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -i eth0 -m state -state NEW
-m recent -update -seconds 60 -hitcount 5 -j DROP

This iptables rules will filter out the SSH port to an every IP address with more than 5 invalid attempts to login to port 22

2. Getting rid of brute force attacks through use of hosts.deny blacklists

sshbl – The SSH blacklist, updated every few minutes, contains IP addresses of hosts which tried to bruteforce into any of currently 19 hosts (all running OpenBSD, FreeBSD or some Linux) using the SSH protocol. The hosts are located in Germany, the United States, United Kingdom, France, England, Ukraine, China, Australia, Czech Republic and setup to report and log those attempts to a central database. Very similar to all the spam blacklists out there.

To use sshbl you will have to set up in your root crontab the following line:

*/60 * * * * /usr/bin/wget -qO /etc/hosts.deny http://www.sshbl.org/lists/hosts.deny

To set it up from console issue:

linux-host:~# echo '*/60 * * * * /usr/bin/wget -qO /etc/hosts.deny http://www.sshbl.org/lists/hosts.deny' | crontab -u root -

These crontab will download and substitute your system default hosts with the one regularly updated on sshbl.org , thus next time a brute force attacker which has been a reported attacker will be filtered out as your Linux or Unix system finds out the IP matches an ip in /etc/hosts.deny

The /etc/hosts.deny filtering rules are written in a way that only publicly known brute forcer IPs will only be filtered for the SSH service, therefore other system services like Apache or a radio, tv streaming server will be still accessible for the brute forcer IP.

It’s a good practice actually to use both of the methods 😉
Thanks to Static (Multics) a close friend of mine for inspiring this article.

How to automatically reboot (restart) Debian GNU Lenny / Squeeze Linux on kernel panic, some general CPU overload or system crash

Monday, June 21st, 2010

If you are a system administrator, you have probably wondered at least once ohw to configure your Linux server to automatically reboot itself if it crashes, is going through a mass CPU overload, e.g. the server load average “hits the sky”.
I just learned from a nice article found here that there is a kernel variable which when enabled takes care to automatically restart a crashed server with the terrible Kernel Panic message we all know.

The variable I’m taking about is kernel.panic for instance kernel.panic = 20 would instruct your GNU Linux kernel to automatically reboot if it experiences a kernel panic system crash within a time limit of 20 seconds.

To start using the auto-reboot linux capabilities on a kernel panic occurance just set the variable to /etc/sysctl.conf

debian-server:~# echo 'kernel.panic = 20' >> /etc/sysctl.conf

Now we will also have to enable the variable to start being use on the system, so execute:

debian-server:~# sysctl -p There you go automatic system reboots on kernel panics is now on.
Now to further assure yourself the linux server you’re responsible of will automatically restart itself on a emergency situation like a system overload I suggest you check Watchdog

You might consider checking out this auto reboot tutorial which explains in simple words how watchdog is installed and configured.
On Debian installing and maintaining watchdog is really simple and comes to installing and enabling the watchdog system service, right afteryou made two changes in it’s configuration file /etc/watchdog.conf

To do so execute:

debian-server:~# apt-get install watchdog
debian-server:~# echo "file = /var/log/messages" >> /etc/watchdog.conf
debian-server:~# echo "watchdog-device = /dev/watchdog" >> /etc/watchdog.conf

Well that should be it, you might also need to load some kernel module to monitor your watchdog.
On my system the kernel modules related to watchdog are located in:

/lib/modules/2.6.26-2-amd64/kernel/drivers/watchdog/
If not then you should certainly try the software watchdog linux kernel module called softdog , to do so issue:
debian-server:~# /sbin/modprobe softdog

It’s best if you load the module while the softdog daemon is disabled.
If you consider auto loadig the softdog software watchdog kernel driver you should exec:

debian-server:~# echo 'softdog' >> /etc/modules

Finally a start of the watchdog is necessery:

 


debian-server:~# /etc/init.d/watchdog start
Stopping watchdog keepalive daemon....
Starting watchdog daemon....

That should be all your automatic system reboots should be now on! 🙂