Posts Tagged ‘queue’

Restart hung Mac OS application – How to kill programs in Mac OS – alternative of Windows CTRL + ALT + DEL

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

If you happen to have the rare case of having a hung MAC OS X application and you're coming from a Linux / Windows background you will be certainly wonderhing how to kill Mac OS X hung application.
In Mac OS the 3 golden buttons to kill crashed application are:



Command + Option + Escape

while pressed simultaneously is the Mac Computer equivalent of Windows CTRL + ALT + DEL


Holding together COMMAND  + OPTION + ESCAPE on MAC OS brings up the Force Quit Window showing and letting you choose between the list of open applications. To close freezed MAC application, choose it and Press the Force Quit Button this will kill immediately that application.  

To directly end application without invoking the choose Force Quit Window menu, to force a hanging app quit right click on its icon in Dock (CTRL + Click) and choose "Force Quit” from context menu.

A little bit more on why applications hung in MAC OS. Each application in MAC OS has its event queue. Event queue is created on initial application launch, event queue is buffer that accepts input from system (could be user input from kbd or mouse, messages passed from other programs etc.). Program is hanging when system detects queued events are not being used.

Other reasons for Mac OS hanging program is whether you're attaching detaching new hardware peripherals (i.e. problems caused by improper mount / unmounts), same hang issues are often observed on BSD and Linux. Sometimes just re-connecting (mouse, external hdd etc.) resolves it.
Program hungs due to buggy software are much rarer in Macs just like in IPhones and Ipads due to fact mac applications are very well tested until published in appstore.

Issues with program hungs in Mac sometimes happen after "sleep mode" during "system wake" function – closing, opening macbook. If a crashed program is of critical importance and you don't want to "Force Quit" with COMMAND + OPTION + ESC. Try send PC to sleep mode for a minute or 2 by pressing together OPTION + COMMAND + EJECT.

An alternative approach to solve hanging app issue is to Force-quit Finder and Dock to try that, launch Terminal

And type there:

# killall Dock

Other useful to know Mac OS keyboard combination is COMMAND + OPTION + POWERHold together Command and Option and after a while press Power – This is a shortcut to instruct your Mac PC to reboot.

Share this on

Best Windows tools to Test (Benchmark) Hard Drives, SSD Drives and RAID Storage Controllers

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Disk Benchmarking is very useful for people involved in Graphic Design, 3D modelling, system admins  and anyone willing to squeeze maximum of his PC hardware.

If you want to do some benchmarking on newly built Windows server targetting Hard Disk performance, just bought a new hard SSD (Solid State Drives) and you want to test how well Hard Drive I/O operations behave or you want to see a regular HDD benchmarking of group of MS Windows PCs and plan hardware optiomization, check out ATTO Disk Benchmark.

So why exactly ATTO Benchmark? – Cause it is one of the best Windows Free Benchmark tools on the internet.

ATTO is a widely-accepted Disk Benchmark freeware utility to help measure storage system performance. ATTO though being freeware is among top tools utilized in industry. It is very useful in comparing different Hard Disk vendors speed, measure Windows storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes.

ATTO Disk Benchmark is used by manufacturers of Hardware RAID controllers, its precious tool to test Windows storage controllers, host bus adapters (HBAs).

Here is ATTO Benchmark tool specifications (quote from their webstie):

  • Transfer sizes from 512KB to 8MB
  • Transfer lengths from 64KB to 2GB
  • Support for overlapped I/O
  • Supports a variety of queue depths
  • I/O comparisons with various test patterns
  • Timed mode allows continuous testing
  • Non-destructive performance measurement on formatted drives
  • Transfer sizes from 512KB to 8MB
  • Transfer lengths from 64KB to 2GB
  • Support for overlapped I/O
  • Supports a variety of queue depths
  • I/O comparisons with various test patterns
  • Timed mode allows continuous testing
  • Non-destructive performance measurement on formatted drives
  • – See more at:

Here is mirrored latest version of ATTO Disk for Download. Once you get your HDD statistics you will probably want to compare to other people results. On  TomsHardware's world famous Hardware geek site there are plenty of Hard Drives performance Charts

Of course there are other GUI alternatives to ATTO Benchmark one historically famous is NBench



Nbench is nice little benchmarking program for Windows NT. Nbench reports the following components of performance:

CPU speed: integer and floating operations/sec
L1 and L2 cache speeds: MB/sec
main memory speed: MB/sec
disk read and write speeds: MB/sec

SMP systems and multi-tasking OS efficiency can be tested using up to 20 separate threads of execution.

For Console Geeks or Windows server admins there are also some ports of famous *NIX Hard Disk Benchmarking tools:


NTiogen benchmark was written by Symbios Logic, It's Windows NT port of their popular UNIX benchmark IOGEN. NTIOGEN is the parent processes that spawns the specified number of IOGEN processes that actually do the I/O.
The program will display as output the number of processes, the average response time, the number of I/O operations per second, and the number of KBytes per second. You can download mirror copy of Ntiogen here

There are plenty of other GUI and Console HDD Benchmarking Win Tools, i.e.:

IOMeter (ex-developed by Intel and now abandoned available as open source available on SourceForge)


Bench32 – Comprehensive benchmark that measures overall system performance under Windows NT or Windows 95, now obsolete not developed anymore abandoned by producer company.

ThreadMark32 – capable of bench (ex developed and supported by ADAPTEC) but also already unsupported

IOZone – filesystem benchmark tool. The benchmark generates and measures a variety of file operations. Iozone has been ported to many machines and runs under many operating systems.

N! B! Important note to make here is above suggested tools will provide you more realistic results than the proprietary vendor tools shipped by your hardware vendor. Using proprietary software produced by a single vendor makes it impossible to analyze and compare different hardwares, above HDD benchmarking tools are for "open systems", e.g. nomatter what the hardware producer is produced results can be checked against each other.
Another thing to consider is even though if you use any of above tools to test and compare two storage devices still results will be partially imaginary, its always best to conduct tests in Real Working Application Environments. If you're planning to launch a new services structure always test it first and don't rely on preliminary returned soft benchmarks.

if you know some other useful benchmarking software i'm missing please share.

Share this on

Finding spam sending php scripts on multiple sites servers – Tracing and stopping spammer PHP scripts

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Spam has become a severe issue for administrators, not only for mail server admins but also for webshosting adms. Even the most secure spam protected mail server can get affected by spam due to fact it is configured to relay mail from other servers acting as web hosting sites.

Webhosting companies almost always suffer seriously from spam issues and often their mail servers gets blocked (enter spam blacklists), because of their irresponsible clients uploading lets say old vulnerable Joomla, WordPress without Akismet or proper spam handling plugin,a CMS which is not frequently supported / updated or custom client insecure php code.

What I mean is Shared server A is often configured to sent mail via (mail) server B. And often some of the many websites / scripts hosted on server A gets hacked and a spam form is uploaded and tons of spam start being shipped via mail server B.

Of course on mail server level it is possible to configure delay between mail sent and adopt a couple of policies to reduce spam, but the spam protection issue can't be completely solved thus admin of such server is forced to periodically keep an eye on what mail is sent from hosting server to mail server.

If you happen to be one of those Linux (Unix) webhosting admins who find few thousand of spammer emails into mail server logs or your eMail server queue and you can't seem to find what is causing it, cause there are multiple websites shared hosting using mainly PHP + SQL and you can't identify what php script is spamming by reviewing  Apache log / PHP files. What you can do is get use of:

PHP mail.log directive

Precious tool in tracking spam issues is a PHP Mail.log parameter, mail log paramater is available since PHP version >= 5.3.0 and above.
PHP Mail.log parameter records all calls to the PHP mail() function including exact PHP headers, line numbers and path to script initiating mail sent.

Here is how it is used:

1. Create empty PHP Mail.log file

touch /var/log/phpmail.log

File has to be writtable to same user with which Apache is running in case of Apache with SuPHP running file has to be writtable by all users.

On Debian, Ubunut Linux:

chown www:data:www-data /var/log/phpmail.log

On CentOS, RHEL, SuSE phpmail.log has to be owned by httpd:

chown httpd:httpd /var/log/phpmail.log

On some other distros it might be chown nobody:nobody etc. depending on the user with which Apache server is running.


2. Add to php.ini configuration following lines

mail.add_x_header = On
mail.log = /var/log/phpmail.log

PHP directive instructs PHP to log complete outbund Mail header sent by mail() function, containing the UID of the web server or PHP process and the name of the script that sent the email;

(X-PHP-Originating-Script: 33:mailer.php)

i.e. it will make php start logging to phpmail.log stuff like:


mail() on [/var/www/pomoriemonasteryorg/components/com_xmap/2ktdz2.php:1]: To: — Headers: From: "Priority Mail" <status_93@pomoriemon> X-Mailer: MailMagic2.0 Reply-To: "Priority Mail" <> Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative;boundary="——
mail() on [/var/www/pomoriemonasteryorg/components/com_xmap/2ktdz2.php:1]: To: — Headers: From: "One Day Shipping" <status_44@pomoriemonastery.
org> X-Mailer: CSMTPConnectionv1.3 Reply-To: "One Day Shipping" <> Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative;boundary="—
mail() on [/var/www/pomoriemonasteryorg/components/com_xmap/2ktdz2.php:1]: To: — Headers: From: "Logistics Services" <customer.> X-Mailer: TheBat!(v3.99.27)UNREG Reply-To: "Logistics Services" <> Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: mult
mail() on [/var/www/pomoriemonasteryorg/components/com_xmap/2ktdz2.php:1]: To: — Headers: From: "Priority Mail" <status_73@pomoriemonaster> X-Mailer: FastMailer/Webmail(versionSM/1.2.6) Reply-To: "Priority Mail" <> Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternativ


On Debian / Ubuntu Linux to enable this logging, exec:

echo 'mail.add_x_header = On' >> /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini
echo 'mail.log = /var/log/phpmail.log' >> /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini

I find it useful to symlink /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini to /etc/php.ini its much easier to remember php location plus it is a standard location for many RPM based distros.

ln -sf /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini /etc/php.ini

Or another "Debian recommended way" to enable mail.add_x_header logging on Debian is via:

echo 'mail.add_x_header = On' >> /etc/php5/conf.d/mail.ini
echo 'mail.log = /var/log/phpmail.log' >> /etc/php5/conf.d/mail.ini

On Redhats (RHEL, CentOS, SuSE) Linux issue:

echo 'mail.add_x_header = On' >> /etc/php.ini
echo 'mail.log = /var/log/phpmail.log' >> /etc/php.ini

3. Restart Apache

On Debian / Ubuntu based linuces:

/etc/init.d/apache2 restart

P.S. Normally to restart Apache without interrupting client connections graceful option can be used, i.e. instead of restarting do:

/etc/init.d/apache2 graceful

On RPM baed CentOS, Fedora etc.:

/sbin/service httpd restart


apachectl graceful

4. Reading the log

To review in real time exact PHP scripts sending tons of spam tail it:

tail -f /var/log/phpmail.log


mail() on [/var/www/remote-admin/wp-includes/class-phpmailer.php:489]: To: — Headers: Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2014 03:27:23 +0000 Return-Path: From: WordPress Message-ID: X-Priority: 3 X-Mailer: PHPMailer ( [version 2.0.4] MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
mail() on [/var/www/pomoriemonasteryorg/media/rsinstall_4de38d919da01/admin/js/tiny_mce/plugins/inlinepopups/skins/.3a1a1c.php:1]: To: — Headers: From: "Manager Elijah Castillo" <> X-Mailer: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; es-ES; rv: Gecko/20100111 Thunderbird/3.0.1 Reply-To: "Manager Elijah Castillo" <> Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative;boundary="———-1397463670534B9A76017CC"
mail() on [/var/www/pomoriemonasteryorg/media/rsinstall_4de38d919da01/admin/js/tiny_mce/plugins/inlinepopups/skins/.3a1a1c.php:1]: To: — Headers: From: "Manager Justin Murphy" <> X-Mailer: Opera Mail/10.62 (Win32) Reply-To: "Manager Justin Murphy" <> Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative;boundary="———-1397463670534B9A7603ED6"
mail() on [/var/www/pomoriemonasteryorg/media/rsinstall_4de38d919da01/admin/js/tiny_mce/plugins/inlinepopups/skins/.3a1a1c.php:1]: To: — Headers: From: "Manager Elijah Castillo" <> X-Mailer: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.5; pl; rv: Gecko/20100317 Thunderbird/3.0.4 Reply-To: "Manager Elijah Castillo" <> Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative;boundary="———-1397463670534B9A7606308"
mail() on [/var/www/pomoriemonasteryorg/media/rsinstall_4de38d919da01/admin/js/tiny_mce/plugins/inlinepopups/skins/.3a1a1c.php:1]: To: — Headers: From: "Manager Justin Murphy" <> X-Mailer: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.5; pl; rv: Gecko/20100317 Thunderbird/3.0.4 Reply-To: "Manager Justin Murphy" <> Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/alternative;boundary="———-1397463670534B9A76086D1"


As you can see there is a junky spam mails sent via some spammer script uploaded under name .3a1a1c.php, so to stop the dirty bastard, deleted the script:

rm -f /var/www/pomoriemonasteryorg/media/rsinstall_4de38d919da01/admin/js/tiny_mce/plugins/inlinepopups/skins/.3a1a1c.php

It is generally useful to also check (search) for all hidden .php files inside directoring storing multiple virtualhost websites, as often a weirdly named hidden .php is sure indicator of either a PHP Shell script kiddie tool or a spammer form.

Here is how to Find all Hidden Perl / PHP scripts inside /var/www:

find . -iname '.*.php'

find . -iname '.*.pl*'


Reviewing complete list of all hidden files is also often useful to determine shitty cracker stuff

 find . -iname ".*"

Debugging via  /var/log/phpmail.log enablement is useful but is more recommended on development and staging (QA) environments. Having it enable on productive server with high amounts of mail sent via PHP scripts or just on dedicated shared site server could cause both performance issues, hard disk could quickly get and most importantly could be a severe security hole as information from PHP scripts could be potentially exposed to external parties.

Share this on

Linux: Understanding uptime command Load Avarage statistics / When load avarage is high?

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

GNU / Linux load avarage explained load avarage from top command

There is probably no Linux system administrator who, don't have idea about system  Load Avarage. Most of admins however does have some brought idea about what kind of load avarage is critical but doesn't have good understanding on the 3 digits returned as a load avarage i.e. – load average: 2.47, 2.27, 2.02 shown in above ascii graphs ( generated by tload command).

What is Load Avarage ?

  •  The number of blocking processes in the run queue averaged over a certain time period.

A blocking process is a process that is waiting for something to continue. Typically, a process is waiting to use:

  •  CPU Time,  Disk Input / Output oper. or Network I / O

Thus logically the higher the Load Avarage, the more processes has to wait for access to CPU, HDD and Network I/O.

The most two common commands used where load avarage appear are;

w – who



mx:/home/hipo# w
 11:07:56 up 513 days,  1:04,  1 user,  load average: 1.92, 1.95, 1.84
USER     TTY      FROM              LOGIN@   IDLE   JCPU   PCPU WHAT
hipo     pts/0     Thu19    0.00s  0.06s  0.02s sshd: hipo [priv]

mail:/home/hipo# uptime
 11:03:59 up 513 days,  1:00,  2 users,  load average: 2.11, 1.91, 1.81

Other common place to check load avarage is in top cmd:

mail:/home/hipo# top

Linux top command load avarage showing server system load 3 digits of load avarage explained

a) Optimum machine use – Load Avarage 1 

So what does load avarage: 1.74, 1.90, 1.83 really means? The 3 digits are showing system load avarage over the last 1, 5 and 15 minutes time. Meaning;


– before 1 minute system had a load of 1.74
– 5 minutes before it was 1.90
– and 15 minutes back 1.83

Usually Load Avarage of more than 1 is considered critical. If a system is working with a load avarage of 1 this means the system is working capacity. In best cases in terms of optimizing processes on server with hardware it is good the system is working in load of 0.70 or 0.80. Whether a traffic the machine gets is planned in most cases a load avarage of exactly 1 means machine hardware is properly utilized. However whether the load avarage is hitting over 1 this usually means you have to think about moving server to new hardware. It is general rule of thumb that if system load is exceeeding 0.70 it is time to migrate to better hardware.

b) Load avarage on Multi-core / Multiprocessor servers

Load avarage of 4 on 4 CPU cores server hardware is optimum one. Each core / CPU on machine should get maximum of load avarage 1. Load avarage of 1 means CPU is utilized in 100%. Load avarage of 4 on 4 CPU server hardware means all 4 processors are working in their maximum power of 100%. For people who have multi processor server the best way to show utilization is by running htop. There all 4 CPUs will show idle of 0%.

Hence rule to calculate normal load avarage for server is;

1 Load Avarage per CPU. Therefore for 24 CPU Intel Xeon hardware. Load Avarage under 1*24.00 = 24.00 is considered normal. On such a server whether load avarage jumps to 50.00 / 70.00 or above server becomes totally irresponsive and it is very likely to hang because of over-heating. Even if it continues working it will work extremely slow and even simply operations like ssh to it will become hardly possible and sometimes even access via ssh will be not possible.

Therefore Rule of Thumb for calculating which load avarage is okay for a server is;

Number of CPU / Cores should not exceed digit returned in Load Avarage stats

c) Critical – Load avarage >5 – A sure sign for unresponsive or soon to hang server

On Computers with just 1 CPU, load avarage of 5 is sure sign running services will lag brutally and server will become inaccessible. For multicore / multiprocessor servers big troubles can be expected, whether load avarage is about  1/2 of the maximum number of of Load Avarage; (for 8 CPU Multicore hardware). A load avarage of 8 + ( 1/2 * 8 ) = 12 is sure sign system is stoned and running services inaccessible.

d) load avarage: 1.74, 1.90, 1.83 – Is 1 / 5 or 15 minutes LA numbers more important to consider?

All are important however 5 and 15 minutes load avg. give better indication on what's happening with machine as current load can peak for just a second to a higher number, being misleading.

To get number of CPU / Cores use cmd;

mail:/home/hipo# grep 'model name' /proc/cpuinfo | wc -l

For more precise info on CPU type and model use;

mail:/home/hipo# cat /proc/cpuinfo

processor       : 0
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 6
model           : 44
model name      : Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU           E5645  @ 2.40GHz
stepping        : 2
cpu MHz         : 2400.094
cache size      : 12288 KB
physical id     : 0
siblings        : 12
core id         : 0
cpu cores       : 6
apicid          : 0
initial apicid  : 0
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 11
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx pdpe1gb rdtscp lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good xtopology nonstop_tsc aperfmperf pni dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx smx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm dca sse4_1 sse4_2 popcnt lahf_lm ida arat tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority ept vpid
bogomips        : 4800.18
clflush size    : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes   : 40 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management:

If you hit abnormal high load avarage, it is useful to check in top process list what is top process / processes causing highest system load. It is useful to run ps with following arguments

mail:/home/hipo# ps axuwwf

Look in STAT column. Processes in STAT have 3 states;

  • R – Running
  • S – Sleeping
  • D – Waiting for something

Usually processes with status of D – are ones causing problems. If you get D STAT-ed processes check further what's wrong with them and fix it. If there are none,  simply, number of clients using machine pop-ed up meaning you need to quickly move to better hardware host.

e) Getting notified via email whether load avarage exceeds certain value

A good way to get notified or do certain action like restarting Apache WebServer or other common process causing high loads is through monit. Monit is very usefukl for notifying on high load avarages or even better for Restarting processes imposing high loads.

You can always use a few liners shell script to mail to email or SMS2Email mailbox similar to this tiny shell script to restart apache on high load.There is also a Ruby lang tool – Scout to monitor and report high load avarages

Share this on

How to clean QMAIL mail server filled Queue with spam mail messages

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Sys Admins managing QMAIL mail servers know, often it happens QMAIL queue gets filled with unwanted unsolicated SPAM e-mails due to a buggy WEB PHP / Perl mail sendingform or some other odd reason, like too many bouncing messages ,,,,

For one more time I’ve experienced the huge SPAM destined mails queue on one QMAIL running on Debian GNU / Linux.

= … Hence I needed to clean up the qmail queue. For this there is a little tool written in PERL called qmhandle

A+) Download qmhandle;

Qmhandle’s official download site is in SourceForge

I’ve made also a mirror copy of QMHandle here

qmail-server:~# cd /usr/local/src
qmail-server:/usr/local/src# wget -q

As it is written in the program documentation one has to be very careful when cleaning the mail queue. Be sure to stop qmail with qmailctl or whatever script is used to shutdown any mail sever in progress operations, otherwise there is big chance the queue to mess up badly .

C#) Check extended info about the mail queue:

qmail-server:/usr/local/src/qmhandle-1.3.2# ./qmhandle -l -c
102 (10, 10/102) Return-path:
Subject: =?UTF8?B?QWNjb3VudCBpbmZvcm1hdGlvbiBmb3IgU09DQ0VSRkFNRQ==?=
Date: 1 Sep 2011 21:02:16 -0000
Size: 581 bytes
1136 (9, 9/1136)
Subject: Link Exchange Proposal /
Date: Fri, 2 Sep 2011 07:58:52 +0100 (BST)
Size: 1764 bytes
1103 (22, 22/1103)
Subject: =?UTF8?B?QWNjb3VudCBpbmZvcm1hdGlvbiBmb3IgU09DQ0VSRkFNRQ==?=
Date: 2 Sep 2011 00:36:11 -0000
Size: 578 bytes
Total messages: 1500 Messages with local recipients: 0
Messages with remote recipients: 1500
Messages with bounces: 500
Messages in preprocess: 300

D-) Delete the Queue
qmail-server:/usr/local/src/qmhandle-1.3.2# ./qmHandle -D

Fina1ly launch the qmail to continue normal oper.

qmail-server:~# qmailctl start

Share this on

How to print simple text pages on Linux in console with old LPR parallel port attached printer

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

LPT parallel port pinout diagram with explanations

Many younger people, might not know lpr command, historically it was heavily used for printing in the early GNU / Linux days.
lpr ships the text to be printed to the printer which is physically attached on LPT (Line Print Terminal) parallel port . Those who lived the DOS era surely know in those "ancient" days, everyone who wanted to print has to use the LPT parallel port

Present time, everyone knows there is almost no modern printer that is attached to the PC via LPT port but rather the USB port is used for communication between the printer the computer.
Nevertheless The USB printers on Linux are managed by CUPS, the lpr command is still functional shipping the text to be printed via CUPS (cups-lpd daemon).
Before cups-lpd was introduced the service managing the print jobs was lpd
Hence lpr is still functional.

To print a plain text file of one page with lpr on Linux:

linux:~# cat text-file-to-print.txt | lpr

For multiple printers to switch between multiple printers there is the PRINTER shell variable:

linux:~# export PRINTER=printer-Name-and-Type

To print a really long text file (a book in TXT) the pr command comes handy. As you can read in the cmd manual pr converts text files for printing

Lets say you would like to have a 60 lines of text per printed page, the cmd to issue is:

linux:~# pr -l60 text-file-to-print.txt | lrp

All queued printing jobs can be reviewed with the lpq, if you have a printer attached try:

linux:~# lpq
lp is ready and printing
Rank Owner Job Files Total Size
active hipo 1 text-file-to-print.txt 62045 bytes

Since some years it is pretty rare for people to use lpq, since most of the parallel printing is managed by CUPS server, what most people use nowdays to check the printer queue is lpstat : e.g.

linux:~# lpstat

Printing status and all things related to queued jobs for printing gets logged in /var/log/lpr.log

There is even more simplistic way to print directly to the printer (if the printer is attached via a LPT port) through the kernel /dev/lp, for example:

linux:~# cat text-file-to-print.txt >> /dev/lp

For more than one printer attached the naming of /dev/lp, might probably be /dev/lp0, /dev/lp1 etc.
The lprm command also exists in case if you would like to cancel a printjob in the queue. Lets say I want to cancel a job in the queue with Job ID 5:

linux:~# lrpm 5

To cancel a current running job in the middle the /usr/bin/cancel command exists.

An interesting historic fact is that nowdays opening lpr, lpq or any of the other tools for simple text mode printing one sees on top of the page Apple Inc.

Lets clear this up CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) (open source) printing platform is not owned by Apple, since it is licensed under GPL2 and LGPL. The reason why the Apple Inc. shows up in man pages is because in year 2007, the founder of CUPS printing server Michael Sweet hired him to work for Apple Inc. "purchasing" the CUPS source. However as we know they did not really purchased the code, because the code was already belonging to the community (licensed under GPL2). Apple however as a marketing trick used the fact that Sweet worked for them and as probably as a matter of marketing asked him to place the Apple Inc. in the copyright source and manual areas. Obviously this is not true, since Apple Inc. does not hold copyright for CUPS as CUPS can be copied by anyone (its open source) 😉

Most of the people will never print using this commands, since printing is now, ages ahead, anyways for simple people (like me), who just need to print a text with no special fonts or graphics text printing is just great.

Text printing is also a good learning experience for Linux novices and is good to be known just as a piece of UNIX history.

Share this on

How to fix a broken QMAIL queue with queue-repair and qmhandle

Friday, May 27th, 2011

How qmail works, qmail queue picture :)

The aim of this small post is to give just a brief idea of how I fix my qmail server after breaking it or in case it is broken after mail bomb attacks, etc.

Most common cases when I break my qmail queue myself, are after I’m implementing some new patches and reinstall parts of the qmail server with a patched version of default qmail binaries.
On other occasions, I simply used the qmailctl to start or stop the server as a part of some routine tasks necessery for the administration of the qmail server.

Everybody who has already experience with qmail should have experienced, that qmail is very fragile and could break even with a simple changes, though if it works once it’s rock solid piece of mail servant.

Below I explain few ways I used through my days as a qmail sys admin to deal with broken or messed queues.

1. Fixing a broken qmail queue using automatic tools There are few handy tools which in most cases are able to solve issues with the queue, one very popular one isqueue-repair – check
Installation of qmail-repair is dead easy, but it needs to be installed from source as no official debian package is available:

linux:/usr/local/src# wget
linux:/usr/local/src# tar -xzvvf queue-repair-0.9.0.tar.gzdrwxr-xr-x charlesc/qcc 0 2003-10-22 16:54 queue-repair-0.9.0/
-rw-r--r-- charlesc/qcc 268 2003-10-22 16:54 queue-repair-0.9.0/TODO
-rw-r--r-- charlesc/qcc 1700 2003-10-22 16:54 queue-repair-0.9.0/CHANGELOG
-rw-r--r-- charlesc/qcc 18007 2003-10-22 16:54 queue-repair-0.9.0/COPYING
-rw-r--r-- charlesc/qcc 1098 2003-10-22 16:54 queue-repair-0.9.0/BLURB
-rwxr-xr-x charlesc/qcc 26286 2003-10-22 16:54 queue-repair-0.9.0/

To check if there are issues fixable within the qmail queue it’s as easy as:

linux:/usr/local/src# cd queue-repair-0.9.0
linux:/usr/local/src/queue-repair-0.9.0# ./queue-repair -t
checking files...
checking queue/mess files...
checking split locations...

The tool will walk through the mail sub-directories containing mail queued files in /var/qmail/queue and will list any issues found.
It’s recommended that the qmail server is stopped before any queue modify operations are issued on the server:

linux:/usr/local/src# qmailctl stop

Further on in order to solve any found issues with the queue, there is the “-r”/repair option:

linux:/usr/local/src/queue-repair-0.9.0# ./queue-repair -r

Another tool which comes handy whether a repair of a messed qmail queue is needed is qmhandle

The use of qmhandle is also pretty easy, all one has to do is to follow the usual classical steps of a download the source & compile:

linux:/usr/local/src# wget
linux:/usr/local/src# tar -zxvvf qmhandle-1.3.2
linux:/usr/local/src# cd qmhandle-1.3.2

Once again it’s necessery that the qmail server is stopped via its init script before qmHandle tool is used, e.g.:

linux:~# qmailctl stop

There is a difference between qmail queue repair tool and qmail handle , while qmail queue-repair tool is used to fix improper permissions of queued files with the qmail queue, qmhandle ‘s application is to completely delete the stored mail contents of a broken queue.

Deleting all the qmail queue content is in some cases the only option to fix the queue.
Often such a drastic measure is required after a heavy mail server overload, let’s say a result of spammers or caused by virus infected mail users which send a massive amounts of spam mails.

Thus at many cases when queue-repair was unable to solve a queue mess, I use qmhandble and sacrifice all the queued emails by completely wiping them out like so:

linux:/usr/local/src/qmhandle-1.3.2# ./qmhandle -D

Above command would eradicate all queued emails. Hopefully after the qmail server gets launched again with qmailctl start all the mail server operations should be back to normal.

Note that the use of qmhandle’s queue delete capabilities is pretty dangerous, if you forgot to stop the qmail server before issuing the above command!

Note that in order to use both qmHandle and queue-repair tools you will need to install python interpreter as both of the tools are written in python.

To check what is currently in the queue in Qmail, there are also native tools available, as you should probably know if you have dealt with qmail, e.g.:

debian:~# qmail-qstat
debian:~# qmail-qstat
messages in queue: 2
messages in queue but not yet preprocessed: 0

Often when there are problems with Qmail and more specificly with qmail server queue the qmail-qstat command does show messages in queue, however when an attempt to check what kind of messages are in the queue with qmail-qread no messages are shown, for instance below you see an example of that, even though qmail-qstat claims 2 messages are in the queue, qmail-qread is unable to list the messages:

debian:~# qmail-qread

If all is fine with qmail queue above’s qmail-qread command should have returned something similar to:

debian:~# qmail-qread
26 May 2011 07:46:47 GMT #659982 3517 <>
26 May 2011 07:46:47 GMT #659983 3517 <>

2. Fixing qmail queue manually This is very dangerous initiative, so before you try anything, make sure that you know what you’re doing, the possibility that you make the situation worst if you attempt to tamper manually the qmail queue is quite high 🙂

However if you’re still convinced to try fixing it manually, take a look at /var/qmail/queue it’s very likely that there are permission issues with some of the queued files, in order to fix the situation it’s necessery that the following directories:


gets explored with midnight commander / mc or some kind of convenient file explorer.

If there are queued files owned by users different from qmailq and user group qmail , for instance if owned by the root user, a simple chown qmailq:qmail to the wrong permissions file, should be able to resolve the issues.

Apart from all I explain above, there are many other ways suggested online on howto clean a qmail queue, one very popular one is using James’s qfixq shell script.

This script as of this very date is not working on Debian based systems, the script is dedicated initially to run on Fedora and Redhat based Linuces

Moreover myy experience with qfixq was never successful.

One very important note which is often a cause of many problems, is always make sure you stop and start the qmail server with an interval of at least of 10 seconds.

I’ve managed many servers which after an immediate (undelayed) qmailctl stop and qmailctl start was unable to run the whole engine of the qmail server (and either email sending or email receiving was not properly working) afterwards.

In that cases many weird behaviours are common, consider this seriously if you deal with the qmail-queue, it might happen that even if you have fixed your qmail queue, after a restart the qmail might breaks up.
I’ve experienced this kind of oddities numerous times, thus when I do changes to qmail I always make sure I restart the server a couple of times (at least 5 times 😉 ) always with a good delay between the HUPs.

And as always with qmail prayer is always needed, this server is complex, you never know what will happen next 🙂

Share this on

How to fix “delivery 1: deferral: Sorry,_message_has_wrong_owner._(#4.3.5)/” qmail mail delivery failure message

Friday, May 20th, 2011

After a failed attempt to enable some wrapper scripts to enable domain keys support in a qmail powered mail server my qmail server suddenly stopped being able to normally send mail.

The exact error message which was logged in /var/log/qmail/current was:

@400000004dd66fcc16a088ac delivery 1: deferral: Sorry,_message_has_wrong_owner._(#4.3.5)/

This qmail messed happened after I substituted /var/qmail/bin/qmail-queue and /var/qmail/bin/qmail-remote with two respective wrapper shell scripts which were calling for the original qmail-queue and qmail-remote binaries under the names qmail-queue.orig and qmail-queue.orig

Restoring back qmail-queue.orig to /var/qmail/bin/qmail-queue and qmail-remote.orig to /var/qmain/bin/qmail-remote and restarting the mail server broke my qmail install.

After a bunch of nerves trying to isolate what is causing the error I found out that by mistake I forgot to copy the qmail-queue and qmail-remote permissions and ownership.

Thus I had to check another qmail working installation’s permissions for both binaries and fix the permissions to be equivalent to the permissions:

debian:~# ls -al /var/qmail/bin/qmail-remote
-rwx–x–x 1 root qmail 50464 2011-05-20 12:56 /var/qmail/bin/qmail-remote*
debian:~# ls -al /var/qmail/bin/qmail-queue
-rws–x–x 1 qmailq qmail 20392 2011-05-20 12:56 /var/qmail/bin/qmail-queue*

The exact chmod and chmod commands I issued to solve the shitty issues were as follows:

First I fixed the qmail-queue and qmail-remote ownership:

debian:~# chown qmailq:qmail /var/qmail/bin/qmail-queue
debian:~# chown root:qmail /var/qmail/bin/qmail-remote

Second I set the proper file permissions:

# make the qmail-queue binary suid
debian:~# chmod u+s /var/qmail/bin/qmail-queue
debian:~# chmod 611 /var/qmail/bin/qmail-queue
debian:~# chmod 611 /var/qmail/bin/qmail-remote

Third and last I did a restart of the qmail server and tested it sends properly

debian:~# /usr/bin/qmailctl stop
Stopping qmail...
debian:~# /usr/bin/qmailctl start
Starting qmail

Finally to test that the qmail server qmail-queue was queing and sending with qmail-remote I used the system mail command like so:

debian:~# mail -s "test email"

Afterwards the mail was properly received on my mail account immediately.

In my /var/log/qmail/current log file all seemed fine:

@400000004dd6702a2eb2b064 starting delivery 1: msg 85281596 to remote
@400000004dd6702a2eb2b834 status: local 0/20 remote 1/20
@400000004dd6702b34cc809c delivery 1: success:
@400000004dd6702b34cc886c status: local 0/20 remote 0/20
@400000004dd6702b34cc8c54 end msg 85281596

The test mail was properly received on my mail account immediately.

It took me like half an hour to figure out what exactly is wrong with the permissions in situations like this I really wanted to change all my qmail installs with postfix and forget forever I ever used qmail …

Share this on

WordPress blog MySQL data maintainance valuable plugin WP-OPTIMIZE

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

The more my blog is growing the slower it becomes, this is a tendency I’ve noticed since a couple of weeks.

Very fortunately while reading some random articles online I’ve came across a super valuable wordpress plugin called WP-OPTIMIZE

I think it’s best if I present instead of taking the time to explain what the WP-optimize does for a wordpress powered blog:

WP-Optimize is a WordPress 2.9++ database cleanup and optimization tool. It doesn’t require PhpMyAdmin to optimize your database tables. It allows you to remove post revisions, comments in the spam queue, un-approved comments within few clicks.

Additionally you can rename any username to another username too.

For example: If you want to rename default ‘admin’ username to ‘someothername’; just put ‘admin’ (without quotes) to the Old username field and the new username to the New username field, then click “PROCESS”)

Now in short to rephrase above text, during MySQL database requests a lot of database starts needing the so called MySQL optimization , this operation becomes necessery especially for databases which are very actively used and is related to the basic design of the mysql server.

Very often many tables starts having a lot of garbage (repetitive) data and therefore read and writes from the SQL server gets slower and slower day by day.

Thus the MySQL server has it’s famous OPTIMIZE TABLE command which does wipe out all the garbage unnecessery data stored in a tables/s and hence seriously impacts the later read/write table operations.

Now to go back to wordpress the same optimization issues, very often are a cause for a performance bottleneck and some smart guy has came with the great idea to create a specific wordpress plugin to fix such an optimize table issues

The WP-Optimize plugin has 5 major options which somehow could have a positive impact on blog’s performance, these are:

  • Remove all Post revisions
  • Remove all auto draft posts
  • Clean marked Spam comments
  • lean Unapproved comments
  • Optimize database tables

Apart from the nice performance boost applicaiton the wp-optimize plugin has one super valuable function, it could change the default wordpress blog administrator user admin to some other desired username, for example rename the default blog administrator username “admin” user to “john”.

From a security perspective this is another must have feature in every wordpress blog as it can kill many of the possible brute force attacks with some web brute force softwares like Hydra

Installing and using wp-optimize is a real piece of cake, here is a very quick few command lines to install it:

host:~# cd /var/www/blog/wp-content/plugins/
host:/var/www/blog/wp-content/plugins:# wget
host:/var/www/blog/wp-content/plugins:# unzip

To launch WP-OPTIMIZE and fix many speed bottlenecks caused by unoptimized tables, or just hanging around in database old spam comments, go and login with your adminsitrator to wordpress.

In the left pane menu starting up with Dashboard somewhere near the end of the vertical menu you will notice a button reading WP-Optimize .
Click over the Wp-Optimize button and a screen like the one in below’s screenshot will appear in your browser screen:

wp optimize plugin database optimization options screen

I have personally decided to use just 2 of all the 5 available primary plugin options, I decided to select only:

  • Clean marked Spam comments
  • Optimize database tables

Scrolling below the PROCEED button I could also notice a number of tables which were missing optimization and hence required an optimize table to be executed on each one of them.
Further on I pressed the PROCESS button and after a couple of minutes (2, 3 minutes) of waiting the wp-optimize plugin was done it’s selected tasks:

In the screenshot below, you see all my blog tables which were optimized by the plugin:
WP-Optimize optimized blog tables screenshot

It’s interesting to say few words about the Remove All Posts revisions plugin option, as many might be wondering what this plugin option really means.

When writting posts, wordpress has an option to restore to a certain point of the write out and makes a sort of different versions in time of each of it’s written posts.

Therefore later restoration if something gots deleted by mistake is facilitated, this is actually the all meaning of Remove All Posts revisions

With time and the increase wp posts the amount of Posts Revisions is growing on and on and just taking space and possibly making the access to the database entries slower, thus it might be a good idea to also remove them as, it’s absolutely rare to use the wp post restoration function.
However I’ve personally decided to not wipe out the old posts revisions as someday i might need it and I’m a bit scared that it might cause me some database issues.

I’ll be glad if somebody has tried the Posts Revisions wp-Optimize funciton and is happy with the results.

Share this on