Archive for the ‘Linux and FreeBSD Desktop’ Category

How to set up Notify by email expiring local UNIX user accounts on Linux / BSD with a bash script

Thursday, August 24th, 2023


If you have already configured Linux Local User Accounts Password Security policies Hardening – Set Password expiry, password quality, limit repatead access attempts, add directionary check, increase logged history command size and you want your configured local user accounts on a Linux / UNIX / BSD system to not expire before the user is reminded that it will be of his benefit to change his password on time, not to completely loose account to his account, then you might use a small script that is just checking the upcoming expiry for a predefined users and emails in an array with lslogins command like you will learn in this article.

The script below is written by a colleague Lachezar Pramatarov (Credit for the script goes to him) in order to solve this annoying expire problem, that we had all the time as me and colleagues often ended up with expired accounts and had to bother to ask for the password reset and even sometimes clearance of account locks. Hopefully this little script will help some other unix legacy admin systems to get rid of the account expire problem.

For the script to work you will need to have a properly configured SMTP (Mail server) with or without a relay to be able to send to the script predefined email addresses that will get notified. 

Here is example of a user whose account is about to expire in a couple of days and who will benefit of getting the Alert that he should hurry up to change his password until it is too late 🙂

[root@linux ~]# date
Thu Aug 24 17:28:18 CEST 2023

[root@server~]# chage -l lachezar
Last password change                                    : May 30, 2023
Password expires                                        : Aug 28, 2023
Password inactive                                       : never
Account expires                                         : never
Minimum number of days between password change          : 0
Maximum number of days between password change          : 90
Number of days of warning before password expires       : 14

Here is the that will report the user

# vim  /usr/local/bin/


# This script will send warning emails for password expiration 
# on the participants in the following list:
# 20, 15, 10 and 0-7 days before expiration
# ! Script sends expiry Alert only if day is Wednesday – if (( $(date +%u)==3 )); !

# email to send if expiring
# the users that are admins added to belong to this group
notify_email_header_customer_name='Customer Name';

declare -A mails=(
# list below accounts which will receive account expiry emails

# syntax to define uid / email
# [“account_name_from_etc_passwd”]="real_email_addr@fqdn";

#    [“abc”]=""
#    [“cba”]=""
#    [“acct7”]=""
#    [“acct8”]=""
#    [“acct9”]=""

declare -A days

while IFS="=" read -r person day ; do
done < <(lslogins –noheadings -o USER,GROUP,PWD-CHANGE,PWD-WARN,PWD-MIN,PWD-MAX,PWD-EXPIR,LAST-LOGIN,FAILED-LOGIN  –time-format=iso | awk '{print "echo "$1" "$2" "$3" $(((($(date +%s -d \""$3"+90 days\")-$(date +%s)))/86400)) "$5}' | /bin/bash | grep -E " $admin_group " | awk '{print $1 "=" $4}')

#echo ${days[laprext]}
for person in "${!mails[@]}"; do
     echo "$person ${days[$person]}";

#     echo $tmp
# each person will receive mails only if 20th days / 15th days / 10th days remaining till expiry or if less than 7 days receive alert mail every day

     if  (( (${tmp}==20) || (${tmp}==15) || (${tmp}==10) || ((${tmp}>=0) && (${tmp}<=7)) )); 
         echo "Hello, your password for $(hostname -s) will expire after ${days[$person]} days.” | mail -s “$notify_email_header_customer_name $(hostname -s) server password expiration”  -r passwd_expire ${mails[$person]};
     elif ((${tmp}<0));
#          echo "The password for $person on $(hostname -s) has EXPIRED before{days[$person]} days. Please take an action ASAP.” | mail -s “EXPIRED password of  $person on $(hostname -s)”  -r EXPIRED ${mails[$person]};

# ==3 meaning day is Wednesday the day on which OnCall Person changes

        if (( $(date +%u)==3 ));
             echo "The password for $person on $(hostname -s) has EXPIRED. Please take an action." | mail -s "EXPIRED password of  $person on $(hostname -s)"  -r EXPIRED $alert_email;


To make the script notify about expiring user accounts, place the script under some directory lets say /usr/local/bin/ and make it executable and configure a cron job that will schedule it to run every now and then.

# cat /etc/cron.d/passwd_expire_cron

# /etc/cron.d/pwd_expire
# Check password expiration for users
# 2023-01-16 LPR
02 06 * * * root /usr/local/bin/ >/dev/null

Script will execute every day morning 06:02 by the cron job and if the day is wednesday (3rd day of week) it will send warning emails for password expiration if 20, 15, 10 days are left before account expires if only 7 days are left until the password of user acct expires, the script will start sending the Alarm every single day for 7th, 6th … 0 day until pwd expires.

If you don't have an expiring accounts and you want to force a specific account to have a expire date you can do it with:

# chage -E 2023-08-30 someuser

Or set it for new created system users with:

# useradd -e 2023-08-30 username

That's it the script will notify you on User PWD expiry.

If you need to for example set a single account to expire 90 days from now (3 months) that is a kind of standard password expiry policy admins use, do it with:

# date -d "90 days" +"%Y-%m-%d"

Ideas for script improvement

The downside of the script if you have too many local user accounts is you have to hardcode into it the username and user email_address attached to and that would be tedios task if you have 100+ accounts. 

However it is pretty easy if you already have a multitude of accounts in /etc/passwd that are from UID range to loop over them in a small shell loop and build new array from it. Of course for a solution like this to work you will have to have defined as user data as GECOS with command like chfn.

[georgi@server ~]$ chfn
Changing finger information for test.
Name [test]: 
Office []:
Office Phone []: 
Home Phone []: 


[root@server test]# finger georgi
Login: georgi                       Name: georgi
Directory: /home/georgi                   Shell: /bin/bash
On since чт авг 24 17:41 (EEST) on :0 from :0 (messages off)
On since чт авг 24 17:43 (EEST) on pts/0 from :0
   2 seconds idle
On since чт авг 24 17:44 (EEST) on pts/1 from :0
   49 minutes 30 seconds idle
On since чт авг 24 18:04 (EEST) on pts/2 from :0
   32 minutes 42 seconds idle
New mail received пт окт 30 17:24 2020 (EET)
     Unread since пт окт 30 17:13 2020 (EET)
No Plan.

Then it should be relatively easy to add the GECOS for multilpe accounts if you have them predefined in a text file for each existing local user account.

Hope this script will help some sysadmin out there, many thanks to Lachezar for allowing me to share the script here.
Enjoy ! 🙂

Fix ruby: /usr/lib/ version `XCRYPT_2.0′ not found in apt upgrade on Debian Linux 10

Saturday, August 5th, 2023

I've an old legacy Thinkpad Laptop that is for simplicty running Window Maker Wmaker which was laying on my home desk for almost an year and I remembered since i'm for few days in my parents home in Dobrich that it will be a good idea to update its software to the latest Debian packages to patch security issues with it. Thus if you're like me and  you tried to update your Debian 10 Linux to the latest Stable release debian packages  and you end up into a critical error that is preventing apt to to resolve conflicts (fix it with) cmds like:

# apt-get update –fix-missing

# apt –fix-broken install

As usual I looked into Google to see about solution and found few articles, claiming to have scripts that fix it but at the end nothing worked.
And the shitty error occured during the standard:

# apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

ruby: /usr/lib/ version `XCRYPT_2.0' not found

Hence the cause and work around seemed to be very unexpected.
For some reason debian makes a link

root@noah:/lib# ls -al /lib/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 19 Aug  3 16:53 /lib/ ->

root@noah:/lib# ls -al /lib/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 16 Jun 15  2017 /lib/ ->

Thus to resolve it and force the .deb upgrade package to continue it is up to simply deleting the strange simlink and re-run the

# apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

Setting up libc6:i386 (2.31-13+deb11u6) …
/usr/bin/perl: /lib/ version `XCRYPT_2.0' not found (required by /usr/bin/perl)
dpkg: error processing package libc6:i386 (–configure):
 installed libc6:i386 package post-installation script subprocess returned error exit status 1
Errors were encountered while processing:

Few more times. If you get some critical apt failures still, each time make sure to rerun the command after doing a simple removal of the strange simbolic link with cmd:

# rm -f /lib/

That's all folks after a short while your Debian will be updated to latest Enoy folks ! 🙂

Generate and Add UUID for every existing Redhat / CentOS / RHEL network interface to configuration if missing howto

Saturday, August 5th, 2023


If you manage old Linux machines it might be after the update either due to update mess or because of old system administrators which manually included the UUID to the config forgot to include it in the present network configuration in /etc/sysconfig/networking-scripts/ifcfg-* Universally Unique IDentifier (UUID)128-bit label I used a small one liner after listing all the existing configured LAN interfaces reported from iproute2 network stack with ip command. As this might be useful to someone out there here is the simple command that returns a number of commands to later just copy paste to console once verified there are no duplicates of the UUID already in the present server configuration with grep.

In overall to correct the configs and reload the network with the proper UUIDs here is what I had to do:

# grep -rli UUID /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-*

No output from the recursive grep means UUIDs are not present on any existing interface, so we can step further check all the existing machines network ifaces and generate the missing UUIDs with uuidgen command

# ip a s |grep -Ei ': <'|sed -e 's#:##g' |grep -v '\.' |awk '{ print $2 }'


I've stumbled on that case on some legacy Linux inherited from other people sysadmins and in order to place the correct 

# for i in $(ip a s |grep -Ei ': <'|sed -e 's#:##g' |grep -v '\.' |awk '{ print $2 }'); do echo "echo UUID=$(uuidgen $i)"" >> ifcfg-$i"; done|grep -v '\-lo' 
echo UUID=26819d24-9452-4431-a9ca-176d87492b75 >> ifcfg-venet0
echo UUID=3c7e8848-0232-436f-a52a-46db9a03eb33 >> ifcfg-eth0
echo UUID=1fc0454d-bf23-417d-b960-571fc04754d2 >> ifcfg-eth1
echo UUID=5793c1e5-4481-4f09-967e-2cceda85c35f >> ifcfg-eth2
echo UUID=65fdcaf6-d271-4845-a8f1-0ec478c375d1 >> ifcfg-eth3

As you can see I exclude the loopback interface -lo from the ouput as it is not necessery to have UUID for it.
That's all folks problem solved. Enjoy

Analyze disk space usage in Linux / BSD with du / find and filelight /qdirstat / baobab GUI disk usage analyzers to check what takes up your disk space on Unix like OSes

Friday, April 21st, 2023


If you're a Desktop Linux or BSD UNIX user and your hard disk / external SSD / flash drive etc. space starts to be misteriously disapper due to whatever reaseon such as a crashing applications producing rapidly log error / warning messages leading quickly to filling up the disk or out of a sudden you have some Disk space lost without knowing what kind of data filled up the disk or you're downloading some big sized bittorrent files forgotten in your bittorrent client or complete mirroring a large website and you suddenly get the result of root directory ( / ) getting fully or nearly filled up, then you definitely would want to check out what has disk activity has eaten up your disk space and leaing to OS and Aplication slow responsiveness.

For the Linux regular *nix user finding out what is filling the disk is a trivial task with with find / du -hsc * but as people have different habits to use find and du I'll show you the most common ways I use this two command line tools to identify disk space low issues for the sake of comparison.
Others who have better easier ways to do it are very welcome to share it with me in the comments.

1. Finding large files on hard disk with find Linux command tool

host:~# find /home -type f -printf "%s\t%p\n" | sort -n | tail -10
2100000000    /home/hipo/Downloads/MameUIfx incl. ROMs/MameUIfx incl. ROMs-6.bin
2100000000    /home/hipo/Downloads/MameUIfx incl. ROMs/MameUIfx incl. ROMs-7.bin
2100000000    /home/hipo/Downloads/MameUIfx incl. ROMs/MameUIfx incl. ROMs-8.bin
2100000000    /home/hipo/Downloads/MameUIfx incl. ROMs/MameUIfx incl. ROMs-9.bin
2815424080    /home/hipo/.thunderbird/h3dasfii.default\
2925584895    /home/hipo/Documents/.git/\
4336918067    /home/hipo/Games/Mames_4GB-compilation-best-arcade-games-of-your-14_04_2021.tar.gz
6109003776    /home/hipo/VirtualBox VMs/CentOS/CentOS.vdi
23599251456    /home/hipo/VirtualBox VMs/Windows 7/Windows 7.vdi
33913044992    /home/hipo/VirtualBox VMs/Windows 10/Windows 10.vdi

I use less rarely find on Desktops and more when I have to do some kind of data usage analysis on servers, of course for my Linux home computer and any other Linux desktop machines, or just a small incomprehensive analysis du cmd is much more appropriate to use.

2. Finding large files Megabyte occupying space files sorted in Megabytes and Gigas with du

  • Check main 10 files sorted in megabytes that are hanging in a directory

pcfkreak:~# du -hsc /home/hipo/*|grep 'M\s'|sort -rn|head -n 10
956M    /home/hipo/last_dump1.sql
711M    /home/hipo/hipod
571M    /home/hipo/from-thinkpad_r61
453M    /home/hipo/ultimate-edition-themes
432M    /home/hipo/metasploit-framework
355M    /home/hipo/output-upgrade.txt
333M    /home/hipo/Плот
209M    /home/hipo/Work-New.tar.gz
98M    /home/hipo/DOOM64
90M    /home/hipo/mp3

  • Get 10 top larges files in Gigabytes that are space hungry and eating up your space

pcfkreak:~# du -hsc /home/hipo/*|grep 'G\s'|sort -rn|head -n 10
156G    total
60G    /home/hipo/VirtualBox VMs
37G    /home/hipo/Downloads
18G    /home/hipo/Desktop
11G    /home/hipo/Games
7.4G    /home/hipo/ownCloud
7.1G    /home/hipo/Документи
4.6G    /home/hipo/music
2.9G    /home/hipo/root
2.8G    /home/hipo/Documents

If you want to still work on the console terminal but you don't want to type too much you can use ncdu (ncurses) text tool, install it with

# apt install –yes ncdu

 For the most lazy ones or complete Linux newbies that doesn't want to spend time typing / learing or using text commands or softwares you can also check what has eaten up your full disk space with GUI tools as well.

There are at least 3 tools to use to check in Graphical Interface what has occupied your disk space on Linux / BSD, I'm aware of:

3. Filelight GUI disk usage analysis Linux tool

For those using KDE or preferring a shiny GUI interface that will capture the eye, perhaps filelight would be the option of choice tool to get analysis sum of your directory sturctures and file use on the laptop or desktop *unix OS.

unix-desktop:~# apt-cache show filelight|grep -i description-en -A 7
Description-en: show where your diskspace is being used
 Filelight allows you to understand your disk usage by graphically
 representing your filesystem as a set of concentric, segmented rings.
 It is like a pie-chart, but the segments nest, allowing you to see both
 which directories take up all your space, and which directories
 and files inside those directories are the real culprits.
Description-md5: 397ff9a469e07a772f22460c66b66875

To use it simply go ahead and install it with apt or yum / dnf or whatever Linux package manager your distro uses:

unix-desktop:~# apt-get install –yes filelight


4. GNOME DIsk Usage Analyzer Baobab GUI tool

For those being a GNOME / Mate / Budgie / Cinnamon Graphical interface users baobab shold be the program to use as it uses the famous LibGD library.

unix-desktop:~# apt-cache show baobab|grep -i description-en -A10
Description-en: GNOME disk usage analyzer
 Disk Usage Analyzer is a graphical, menu-driven application to analyse
 disk usage in a GNOME environment. It can easily scan either the whole
 filesystem tree, or a specific user-requested directory branch (local or
 It also auto-detects in real-time any changes made to your home
 directory as far as any mounted/unmounted device. Disk Usage Analyzer
 also provides a full graphical treemap window for each selected folder.
Description-md5: 5f6072b89ebb1dc83433fa7658814dc6



5. Qdirstat graphical application to show where your disk space has gone on Linux

Qdirstat is perhaps well known tool to track disk space issues on Linux desktop hosts, known by the hardcore KDE / LXDE / LXQT / DDE GUI interface / environment lovers and as a KDE tool uses the infamous Qt library. I personally don't like it and don't put it on machines I use because I never use kde and don't want to waste my disk space with additional libraries such as the QT Library which historically was not totally free in terms of licensing and even now is in both free and non free licensing GPL / LGPL and QT Commercial Licensing license.

unix-desktop:~# apt-cache show qdirstat|grep -i description-en -A10
Description-en: Qt-based directory statistics
 QDirStat is a graphical application to show where your disk space has gone and
 to help you to clean it up.
 QDirStat has a number of new features compared to KDirStat. To name a few:
  * Multi-selection in both the tree and the treemap.
  * Unlimited number of user-defined cleanup actions.
  * Properly show errors of cleanup actions (and their output, if desired).
  * File categories (MIME types) and their treemap color are now configurable.
  * Exclude rules for directories are easily configurable.
  * Desktop-agnostic; no longer relies on KDE or any other specific desktop.


That shiny fuzed graphics is actually a repsesantation of all directories the bigger and if one scrolls on the colorful gamma a text with directory and size or file will appear. Though the graphical represantation is really c00l to me it is a bit unreadable, thus I prefer and recommend the other two GUI tools filelight or baobab instead.

6. Finding duplicate files on Linux system with duff command tool

Talking about big unknown left-over files on your hard drives, it is appropriate to mention one tool here that is a console one but very useful to anyone willing to get rid of old duplicate files that are hanging around on the disk. Sometimes such copies are produced while copying large amount of files from place to place or simply by mistake while copying Photo / Video files from your Smart Phone to Linux desktop etc. 

This is where the duff command line utility might be super beneficial for you.

unix-desktop:~# apt-cache show duff|grep -i description-en -A3
Description-en: Duplicate file finder
 Duff is a command-line utility for identifying duplicates in a given set of
 files.  It attempts to be usably fast and uses the SHA family of message
 digests as a part of the comparisons.

Using duff tool is very straight forward to see all the duplicate files hanging in a directory lets say your home folder.

unix-desktop:~#  duff -rP /home/hipo

/home/hipo/music/var/Quake II Soundtrack – Kill Ratio.mp3
/home/hipo/mp3/Quake II Soundtrack – Kill Ratio.mp3
2 files in cluster 44 (7913472 bytes, digest 98f38be49e2ffcbf90927f9357b3e24a81d5a649)
2 files in cluster 45 (2807808 bytes, digest ce9067ce1f132fc096a5044845c7fac73e99c0ed)
/home/hipo/music/var/Quake II Suondtrack – March Of The Stoggs.mp3
/home/hipo/mp3/Quake II Suondtrack – March Of The Stoggs.mp3
2 files in cluster 46 (3506176 bytes, digest efcc401b4ebda9b0b2367aceb8e334c8ba1a357d)
/home/hipo/music/var/Quake II Suondtrack – Quad Machine.mp3
/home/hipo/mp3/Quake II Suondtrack – Quad Machine.mp3
2 files in cluster 47 (7917568 bytes, digest 0905c1d790654016c2ecf2949f78d47a870c3822)
/home/hipo/music/var/Cyberpunk Group – Futureshock!.mp3
/home/hipo/mp3/Cyberpunk Group – Futureshock!.mp3

-r (Recursively search into all specified directories.)

P (Don't follow any symbolic links.  This overrides any previous -H or -L option.  This is the default.  Note that this only applies to directories, as sym‐
             bolic links to files are never followed.)

7. Deleting duplicate files with duff

If you're absolutely sure you know what you're doing and you have a backup in case if something messes up during duplicate teletions, to get rid of lets say any duplicate Picture files found by duff run sommething like:

# duff -e0 -r /home/hipo/Pictures/ | xargs -0 rm

!!! Please note that using duff is for those who absolutely know what they're doing and have their data recent data. Deleting the wrong data by mistake with the tool might put you in the first grade and you'll be the only one to blame  🙂 !!!

Wrap it Up

Filling up the disk with unknown large files is a task to resolve that happens often. For the unlazy on Linux / BSD / Mac OS and other UNIX like OS-es the easiest way is to use find or du with some one liner command. For the lazy Windows addicted Graphical users filelightqdirstat or baobab GUI disk usage analysis tools are there.
If you have a lot of files and many of thems are duplicates you can use duff to check them out and remove all unneded duplicates and save space. 
Hope this article, was helpful for someone.
That's all folks, enjoy your data profilactics, if you know any other good easy command or GUI tools or hints for drive disk space profilactics please share.

Megaraid SAS software installation on CentOS Linux

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

With a standard el5 on a new Dell server, it may be necessary to install the Dell Raid driver, otherwise the OMSA always reports an error and hardware monitoring is therefore obsolete:

Previously, the megaraid_sys package was now called mptlinux

For this we need the following packages in advance:

# yum install gcc kernel-devel
Now the driver stuff:

# yum install dkms mptlinux
That should have built the new module, better test it:

# modinfo mptsas

# dkms status
After a kernel update it may be necessary to build the driver for the new version:

# dkms build -m mptlinux -v

# dkms install -m mptlinux -v

How to install Viber client on Debian GNU / Linux / Ubuntu / Mint in 2022 and enable Bulgarian language cyrillic phonetic keyboard

Tuesday, October 4th, 2022

How to install Viber client on Debian GNU / Linux / Ubuntu / Mint in 2022 and enable Bulgarian language cyrillic phonetic keyboard


So far I've always used Viber on my mobile phone earlier on my Blu H1 HD and now after my dear friend Nomen give me his old iPhone X, i have switched to the iOS version which i find still a bit strangely looking.
Using Viber on the phone and stretching for the Phone all day long is really annoying especially if you work in the field of Information technology like me as System Administrator programmer. Thus having a copy of Viber on your Linux desktop that is next to you is a must.
Viber is proprietary software on M$ Windows its installation is a piece of cake, you install confirm that you want to use it on a secondary device by scanning the QR and opening the URL with your phone and you're ready to Chat and Viber Call with your friends or colleagues

As often on Linux, it is a bit more complicated as the developers of Viber, perhaps did not put too much effort to port it to Linux or did not have much knowledge of how Linux is organized or they simply did not have the time to put for enough testing, and hence installing the Viber on Linux does not straight supported the Bulgarian traditional cyrillic. I've done some small experimentation and installed Viber on Linux both as inidividual package from their official Linux .deb package as well as of a custom build flatpak. In this small article, i'll put it down how i completed that as well as how managed to workaround the language layout problems with a simple setxkbmap cmd.

How to install Viber client on Debian GNU / Linux / Ubuntu / Mint in 2022 and enable Bulgarian language cyrillic phonetic

1.Install and use Viber as a standard Desktop user Linux application

Download latest Debian AMD64 .deb binary from official Viber website inside some dir with Opera / Chrome / Firefox browser and store it in:

hipo@jericho: ~$ cd /usr/local/src

Alternatively you can run the above wget command, but this is not the recommended way since you might end up with Viber Linux version that is older.

hipo@jericho: ~$ sudo wget
hipo@jericho: ~$ su – root

1.2. Resolve the required Viber .deb package dependecies

To resolve the required dependencies of viber.deb package, easiest way is to use gdebi-core # apt-cache show gdebi-core|grep Description-en -A4 Description-en: simple tool to install deb files  gdebi lets you install local deb packages resolving and installing  its dependencies. apt does the same, but only for remote (http, ftp)  located packages. # apt-get install gdebi-core … # apt-get install -f ./viber

1.3. Setting the default language for Viber to support non-latin languages like Cyrillic

I'm Bulgarian and I use the Phonetic Traidional BG keyboard that is UTF8 compatible but cyrillic and non latin. However Viber developers seems to not put much effort and resolve that the Bulgarian Phonetic Traditional keyboard added in my Mate Desktop Environment to work out of the box with Viber on Linux. So as usual in Linux you need a hack ! The hack consists of using setxkbmap to set supported keyboard layouts for Viber US,BG and Traditional Phonetic. This can be done with above command:

setxkbmap -layout 'us,bg' -variant ' ,phonetic' -option 'grp:lalt_lshift_toggle'

To run it everytime together with the Viber binary executable that is stored in location /opt/viber/Viber as prepared by the package developer by install and post-install scripts in the viber.deb, prepared also a 3 liner tine script:

# cat
cd /opt/viber; setxkbmap -layout 'us,bg' -variant ' ,phonetic' -option 'grp:lalt_lshift_toggle'


2. Install Viber in separated isolated sandbox from wider system

Second way if you don't trust a priorietary third party binary of Viber (and don't want for Viber to be able to possibly read data of your login GNOME / KDE user, e.g. not be spied by KGB 🙂

For those curious why i'm saying that Viber is mostly used mainly in the ex Soviet Union and in the countries that used to be Soviet satellite ones for one or another reason and though being developed in Israel some of its development in the past was done in Belarus as far as I remember one of the main 3 members (Ukraine, Belarus and Russia) that took the decision to dissolve the USSR 🙂

Talking about privacy if you're really concerned about privacy the best practice is not to use neither WhatApp nor Viber at all on any OS, but this is hard as usually most people are already "educated" to use one of the two. 
For the enthusiasts however I do recommend just to use the Viber / WhatsApp free GPLed software alternative for Vital communication that you don't want to have been listened to by the China / USA / Russia etc. 
Such a good free software alternative is Jitsy and it has both a Web interface that can be used very easily straight inside a browser or you could install a desktop version for PC / iOS and Android and more.
An interesting and proud fact to mention about Jitsy is that its main development that led the project to the state it is now is being done by a buddy Bulgarian ! Good Job man ! 🙂

If you want to give jitsy a try in web with a friend just clik over my pc-freak home lab machine has installed usable version on

In the same way people in most countries with American and English free world use the WhatsApp which is a another free spy and self analysis software offered by America most likely collecting your chat data and info about you in the (US Central Intelligence Agency) CIA databases. But enough blant so to minimize a bit the security risks of having the binary run directly as a process you can use a containerization like docker to run it inside and isolate from the rest of your Linux desktop. flatpak is a tool developed exactly for that.


hipo@jeremiah:/opt/viber$ apt-cache show flatpak|grep -i Description-en -A 13

Description-en: Application deployment framework for desktop apps
 Flatpak installs, manages and runs sandboxed desktop application bundles.
 Application bundles run partially isolated from the wider system, using
 containerization techniques such as namespaces to prevent direct access
 to system resources. Resources from outside the sandbox can be accessed
 via "portal" services, which are responsible for access control; for
 example, the Documents portal displays an "Open" dialog outside the
 sandbox, then allows the application to access only the selected file.
 Each application uses a specified "runtime", or set of libraries, which is
 available as /usr inside its sandbox. This can be used to run application
 bundles with multiple, potentially incompatible sets of dependencies within
 the same desktop environment.

Having Viber installed on Linux inside a container with flatpak is as simple as to adding, repository and installing the flatpak package
already bundled and stored inside flathub repository, e.g.:

2.1. Install flatpak 

# sudo apt install flatpak


2.2. Add flathub install repository

flatpak is pretty much like dockerhub, it contains images of containered sandbox copies of software, the main advantage of flatpak is its portability, scalability and security.
Of course if you're a complete security freak you can prepare yourself an own set of Viber and add it to flathub and use instead of the original one 🙂

# sudo flatpak remote-add –if-not-exists flathub

2.3. Install Flatpak-ed Viber 

#sudo flatpak install flathub com.viber.Viber


Reboot the PC and to test Viber will run containerized normally issue below flapak start command:

# /usr/bin/flatpak run –branch=stable –arch=x86_64 –command=viber com.viber.Viber



! NOTE !  The Linux version of Viber is missing Backups options, exclusively the Settings -> Account -> Viber backup menus is missing, but the good news is that if you're using the Viber client
as a secondary device message client, on first login you'll be offered to Synchronize your Viber data with your 1st Active device (usually your Smart Phone). Just click on it and allow the synchronization from your phone and in a while the Contacts and message history should be on the Linux Viber client.

That's it Enjoy your Viber Sound and Video on Linux ! 🙂

How to test RAM Memory for errors in Linux / UNIX OS servers. Find broken memory RAM banks

Friday, December 3rd, 2021



1. Testing the memory with motherboard integrated tools

Memory testing has been integral part of Computers for the last 50 years. In the dawn of computers those older perhaps remember memory testing was part of the computer initialization boot. And this memory testing was delaying the boot with some seconds and the user could see the memory numbers being counted up to the amount of memory. With the increased memory modern computers started to have and the annoyance to wait for a memory check program to check the computer hardware memory on modern computers this check has been mitigated or completely removed on some hardware.
Thus under some circumstances sysadmins or advanced computer users might need to check the memory, especially if there is some suspicion for memory damages or if for example a home PC starts crashing with Blue screens of Death on Windows without reason or simply the PC or some old arcane Linux / UNIX servers gets restarted every now and then for now apparent reason. When such circumstances occur it is an idea to start debugging the hardware issue with a simple memory check.

There are multiple ways to test installed memory banks on a server laptop or local home PC both integrated and using external programs.
On servers that is usually easily done from ILO or IPMI or IDRAC access (usually web) interface of the vendor, on laptops and home usage from BIOS or UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) acces interface on system boot that is possible as well.


An old but gold TIP, more younger people might not know is the


Prolonged SHIFT key press which once held with the user instructs the machine to initiate a memory test before the computer starts reading what is written in the boot loader.

So before anything else from below article it might be a good idea to just try HOLD SHIFT for 15-20 seconds after a complete Shut and ON from the POWER button.

If this test does not triggered or it is triggered and you end up with some corrupted memory but you're not sure which exact Memory bank is really crashing and want to know more on what memory Bank and segments are breaking up you might want to do a more thorough testing. In below article I'll try to explain shortly how this can be done.

2. Test the memory using a boot USB Flash Drive / DVD / CD 

Say hello to memtest86+. It is a Linux GRUB boot loader bootable utility that tests physical memory by writing various patterns to it and reading them back. Since memtest86+ runs directly off the hardware it does not require any operating system support for execution. Perhaps it is important to mention that memtest86 (is PassMark memtest86)and memtest86+ (An Advanced Memory diagnostic tool) are different tools, the first is freeware and second one is FOSS software.

To use it all you'll need is some version of Linux. If you don't already have some burned in somewhere at your closet, you might want to burn one.
For Linux / Mac users this is as downloading a Linux distribution ISO file and burning it with

# dd if=/path/to/iso of=/dev/sdbX bs=80M status=progress

Windows users can burn a Live USB with whatever Linux distro or download and burn the latest versionof memtest86+ from  on Windows Desktop with some proggie like lets say UnetBootIn.

2.1. Run memtest86+ on Ubuntu

Many Linux distributions such as Ubuntu 20.0 comes together with memtest86+, which can be easily invoked from GRUB / GRUB2 Kernel boot loader.
Ubuntu has a separate menu pointer for a Memtest.


Other distributions RPM based distributions such as CentOS, Fedora Linux, Redhat things differ.

2.2. memtest86+ on Fedora

Fedora used to have the memtest86+ menu at the GRUB boot selection prompt, but for some reason removed it and in newest Fedora releases as of time such as Fedora 35 memtest86+ is preinstalled and available but not visible, to start on  already and to start a memtest memory test tool:

  •   Boot a Fedora installation or Rescue CD / USB. At the prompt, type "memtest86".

boot: memtest86

2.3 memtest86+ on RHEL Linux

The memtest86+tool is available as an RPM package from Red Hat Network (RHN) as well as a boot option from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux rescue disk.
And nowadays Red Hat Enterprise Linux ships by default with the tool.

Prior redhat (now legacy) releases such as on RHEL 5.0 it has to be installed and configure it with below 3 commands.

[root@rhel ~]# yum install memtest86+
[root@rhel ~]# memtest-setup
[root@rhel ~]# grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

    Again as with CentOS to boot memtest86+ from the rescue disk, you will need to boot your system from CD 1 of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux installation media, and type the following at the boot prompt (before the Linux kernel is started):

boot: memtest86

memtest86+ testing 5 memory slots

As you see all on above screenshot the Memory banks are listed as Slots. There are a number of Tests to be completed until
it can be said for sure memory does not have any faulty cells. 

Pass: 0
Errors: 0 

Indicates no errors, so in the end if memtest86 does not find anything this values should stay at zero.
memtest86+ is also usable to detecting issues with temperature of CPU. Just recently I've tested a PC thinking that some memory has defects but it turned out the issue on the Computer was at the CPU's temperature which was topping up at 80 – 82 Celsius.

If you're unfortunate and happen to get some corrupted memory segments you will get some red fields with the memory addresses found to have corrupted on Read / Write test operations:


2.4. Install and use memtest and memtest86+ on Debian / Mint Linux

You can install either memtest86+ or just for the fun put both of them and play around with both of them as they have a .deb package provided out of debian non-free /etc/apt/sources.list repositories.

root@jeremiah:/home/hipo# apt-cache show memtest86 memtest86+
Package: memtest86
Version: 4.3.7-3
Installed-Size: 302
Maintainer: Yann Dirson <>
Architecture: amd64
Depends: debconf (>= 0.5) | debconf-2.0
Recommends: memtest86+
Suggests: hwtools, memtester, kernel-patch-badram, grub2 (>= 1.96+20090523-1) | grub (>= 0.95+cvs20040624), mtools
Description-en: thorough real-mode memory tester
 Memtest86 scans your RAM for errors.
 This tester runs independently of any OS – it is run at computer
 boot-up, so that it can test *all* of your memory.  You may want to
 look at `memtester', which allows testing your memory within Linux,
 but this one won't be able to test your whole RAM.
 It can output a list of bad RAM regions usable by the BadRAM kernel
 patch, so that you can still use you old RAM with one or two bad bits.
 This is the last DFSG-compliant version of this software, upstream
 has opted for a proprietary development model starting with 5.0.  You
 may want to consider using memtest86+, which has been forked from an
 earlier version of memtest86, and provides a different set of
 features.  It is available in the memtest86+ package.
 A convenience script is also provided to make a grub-legacy-based
 floppy or image.

Description-md5: 0ad381a54d59a7d7f012972f613d7759
Section: misc
Priority: optional
Filename: pool/main/m/memtest86/memtest86_4.3.7-3_amd64.deb
Size: 45470
MD5sum: 8dd2a4c52910498d711fbf6b5753bca9
SHA256: 09178eca21f8fd562806ccaa759d0261a2d3bb23190aaebc8cd99071d431aeb6

Package: memtest86+
Version: 5.01-3
Installed-Size: 2391
Maintainer: Yann Dirson <>
Architecture: amd64
Depends: debconf (>= 0.5) | debconf-2.0
Suggests: hwtools, memtester, kernel-patch-badram, memtest86, grub-pc | grub-legacy, mtools
Description-en: thorough real-mode memory tester
 Memtest86+ scans your RAM for errors.
 This tester runs independently of any OS – it is run at computer
 boot-up, so that it can test *all* of your memory.  You may want to
 look at `memtester', which allows to test your memory within Linux,
 but this one won't be able to test your whole RAM.
 It can output a list of bad RAM regions usable by the BadRAM kernel
 patch, so that you can still use your old RAM with one or two bad bits.
 Memtest86+ is based on memtest86 3.0, and adds support for recent
 hardware, as well as a number of general-purpose improvements,
 including many patches to memtest86 available from various sources.
 Both memtest86 and memtest86+ are being worked on in parallel.
Description-md5: aa685f84801773ef97fdaba8eb26436a

Tag: admin::benchmarking, admin::boot, hardware::storage:floppy,
 interface::text-mode, role::program, scope::utility, use::checking
Section: misc
Priority: optional
Filename: pool/main/m/memtest86+/memtest86+_5.01-3_amd64.deb
Size: 75142
MD5sum: 4f06523532ddfca0222ba6c55a80c433
SHA256: ad42816e0b17e882713cc6f699b988e73e580e38876cebe975891f5904828005


root@jeremiah:/home/hipo# apt-get install –yes memtest86+

root@jeremiah:/home/hipo# apt-get install –yes memtest86

Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information… Done
Suggested packages:
  hwtools kernel-patch-badram grub2 | grub
The following NEW packages will be installed:
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 21 not upgraded.
Need to get 45.5 kB of archives.
After this operation, 309 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Get:1 buster/main amd64 memtest86 amd64 4.3.7-3 [45.5 kB]
Fetched 45.5 kB in 0s (181 kB/s)     
Preconfiguring packages …
Selecting previously unselected package memtest86.
(Reading database … 519985 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack …/memtest86_4.3.7-3_amd64.deb …
Unpacking memtest86 (4.3.7-3) …
Setting up memtest86 (4.3.7-3) …
Generating grub configuration file …
Found background image: saint-John-of-Rila-grub.jpg
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-4.19.0-18-amd64
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-4.19.0-18-amd64
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-4.19.0-17-amd64
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-4.19.0-17-amd64
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-4.19.0-8-amd64
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-4.19.0-8-amd64
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-4.19.0-6-amd64
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-4.19.0-6-amd64
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-4.19.0-5-amd64
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-4.19.0-5-amd64
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-4.9.0-8-amd64
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-4.9.0-8-amd64
Found memtest86 image: /boot/memtest86.bin
Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+.bin
Found memtest86+ multiboot image: /boot/memtest86+_multiboot.bin
File descriptor 3 (pipe:[66049]) leaked on lvs invocation. Parent PID 22581: /bin/sh
Processing triggers for man-db (2.8.5-2) …


After this both memory testers memtest86+ and memtest86 will appear next to the option of booting a different version kernels and the Advanced recovery kernels, that you usually get in the GRUB boot prompt.

2.5. Use memtest embedded tool on any Linux by adding a kernel variable


2.4.1. Reboot your computer

# reboot

2.4.2. At the GRUB boot screen (with UEFI, press Esc).

2.4.3 For 4 passes add temporarily the memtest=4 kernel parameter.

memtest=        [KNL,X86,ARM,PPC,RISCV] Enable memtest
                Format: <integer>
                default : 0 <disable>
                Specifies the number of memtest passes to be
                performed. Each pass selects another test
                pattern from a given set of patterns. Memtest
                fills the memory with this pattern, validates
                memory contents and reserves bad memory
                regions that are detected.

3. Install and use memtester Linux tool

At some condition, memory is the one of the suspcious part, or you just want have a quick test. memtester  is an effective userspace tester for stress-testing the memory subsystem.  It is very effective at finding intermittent and non-deterministic faults.

The advantage of memtester "live system check tool is", you can check your system for errors while it's still running. No need for a restart, just run that application, the downside is that some segments of memory cannot be thoroughfully tested as you already have much preloaded data in it to have the Operating Sytstem running, thus always when possible try to stick to rule to test the memory using memtest86+  from OS Boot Loader, after a clean Machine restart in order to clean up whole memory heap.

Anyhow for a general memory test on a Critical Legacy Server  (if you lets say don't have access to Remote Console Board, or don't trust the ILO / IPMI Hardware reported integrity statistics), running memtester from already booted is still a good idea.

3.1. Install memtester on any Linux distribution from source

# tar zxvf memtester-4.2.2.tar.gz
# cd memtester-4.2.2
# make && make install

3.2 Install on RPM based distros


On Fedora memtester is available from repositories however on many other RPM based distros it is not so you have to install it from source.

[root@fedora ]# yum install -y memtester


3.3. Install memtester on Deb based Linux distributions from source

To install it on Debian / Ubuntu / Mint etc. , open a terminal and type:

root@linux:/ #  apt install –yes memtester

The general run syntax is:

memtester [-p PHYSADDR] [ITERATIONS]

You can hence use it like so:

hipo@linux:/ $ sudo memtester 1024 5

This should allocate 1024MB of memory, and repeat the test 5 times. The more repeats you run the better, but as a memtester run places a great overall load on the system you either don't increment the runs too much or at least run it with  lowered process importance e.g. by nicing the PID:

hipo@linux:/ $ nice -n 15 sudo memtester 1024 5


  • If you have more RAM like 4GB or 8GB, it is upto you how much memory you want to allocate for testing.
  • As your operating system, current running process might take some amount of RAM, Please check available Free RAM and assign that too memtester.
  • If you are using a 32 Bit System, you cant test more than 4 GB even though you have more RAM( 32 bit systems doesnt support more than 3.5 GB RAM as you all know).
  • If your system is very busy and you still assigned higher than available amount of RAM, then the test might get your system into a deadlock, leads to system to halt, be aware of this.
  • Run the memtester as root user, so that memtester process can malloc the memory, once its gets hold on that memory it will try to apply lock. if specified memory is not available, it will try to reduce required RAM automatically and try to lock it with mlock.
  • if you run it as a regular user, it cant auto reduce the required amount of RAM, so it cant lock it, so it tries to get hold on that specified memory and starts exhausting all system resources.

If you have 8 Gigas of RAM plugged into the PC motherboard you have to multiple 1024*8 this is easily done with bc (An arbitrary precision calculator language) tool:

root@linux:/ # bc -l
bc 1.07.1
Copyright 1991-1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012-2017 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
For details type `warranty'. 

 for example you should run:

root@linux:/ # memtester 8192 5

memtester version 4.3.0 (64-bit)
Copyright (C) 2001-2012 Charles Cazabon.
Licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2 (only).

pagesize is 4096
pagesizemask is 0xfffffffffffff000
want 8192MB (2083520512 bytes)
got  8192MB (2083520512 bytes), trying mlock …Loop 1/1:
  Stuck Address       : ok        
  Random Value        : ok
  Compare XOR         : ok
  Compare SUB         : ok
  Compare MUL         : ok
  Compare DIV         : ok
  Compare OR          : ok
  Compare AND         : ok
  Sequential Increment: ok
  Solid Bits          : ok        
  Block Sequential    : ok        
  Checkerboard        : ok        
  Bit Spread          : ok        
  Bit Flip            : ok        
  Walking Ones        : ok        
  Walking Zeroes      : ok        
  8-bit Writes        : ok
  16-bit Writes       : ok



4. Shell Script to test server memory for corruptions

If for some reason the machine you want to run a memory test doesn't have connection to the external network such as the internet and therefore you cannot configure a package repository server and install memtester, the other approach is to use a simple memory test script such as

# Downloaded from
echo "ByteOnSite Memory Test"
cpus=`cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep processor | wc -l`
if [ $cpus -lt 6 ]; then
threads=$(($cpus / 2))
echo "Detected $cpus CPUs, using $threads threads.."
memory=`free | grep 'Mem:' | awk {'print $2'}`
memoryper=$(($memory / $threads))
echo "Detected ${memory}K of RAM ($memoryper per thread).."
freespace=`df -B1024 . | tail -n1 | awk {'print $4'}`
if [ $freespace -le $memory ]; then
echo You do not have enough free space on the current partition. Minimum: $memory bytes
exit 1
echo "Clearing RAM Cache.."
sync; echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_cachesfile
echo > dump.memtest.img
echo "Writing to dump file (dump.memtest.img).."
for i in `seq 1 $threads`;
# 1044 is used in place of 1024 to ensure full RAM usage (2% over allocation)
dd if=/dev/urandom bs=$memoryper count=1044 >> dump.memtest.img 2>/dev/null &
echo $i
for pid in "${pids[@]}"
wait $pid

echo "Reading and analyzing dump file…"
echo "Pass 1.."
md51=`md5sum dump.memtest.img | awk {'print $1'}`
echo "Pass 2.."
md52=`md5sum dump.memtest.img | awk {'print $1'}`
echo "Pass 3.."
md53=`md5sum dump.memtest.img | awk {'print $1'}`
if [ “$md51” != “$md52” ]; then
elif [ “$md51” != “$md53” ]; then
elif [ “$md52” != “$md53” ]; then
if [ $fail -eq 0 ]; then
echo "Memory test PASSED."
echo "Memory test FAILED. Bad memory detected."
rm -f dump.memtest.img
exit $fail

Nota Bene !: Again consider the restults might not always be 100% trustable if possible restart the server and test with memtest86+

Consider also its important to make sure prior to script run,  you''ll have enough disk space to produce the dump.memtest.img file – file is created as a test bed for the memory tests and if not scaled properly you might end up with a full ( / ) root directory!


4.1 Other memory test script with dd and md5sum checksum

I found this solution on the well known sysadmin site nixCraft, I think it makes sense and quicker.

First find out memory site using free command.

# free
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:      32867436   32574160     293276          0      16652   31194340
-/+ buffers/cache:    1363168   31504268
Swap:            0          0          0

It shows that this server has 32GB memory,

# dd if=/dev/urandom bs=32867436 count=1050 of=/home/memtest

free reports by k and use 1050 is to make sure file memtest is bigger than physical memory.  To get better performance, use proper bs size, for example 2048 or 4096, depends on your local disk i/o,  the rule is to make bs * count > 32 GB.

# md5sum /home/memtest; md5sum /home/memtest; md5sum /home/memtest

If you see md5sum mismatch in different run, you have faulty memory guaranteed.
The theory is simple, the file /home/memtest will cache data in memory by filling up all available memory during read operation. Using md5sum command you are reading same data from memory.

5. Other ways to test memory / do a machine stress test

Other good tools you might want to check for memory testing is mprime – 

  •  (mprime can also be used to stress test your CPU)

Alternatively, use the package stress-ng to run all kind of stress tests (including memory test) on your machine.
Perhaps there are other interesting tools for a diagnosis of memory if you know other ones I miss, let me know in the comment section.

How to Recover deleted /var/lib/dpkg directory on Debian / Ubuntu Linux server

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021


Sometimes you might do something stupid, in the hurry like running the wrong rm  command and ending up deleting /var/lib/dpkg on your Debian / Ubuntu system.

by either wrongly issuing the rm to a directory or mistyping rm -r /var/lib/dpkg.
I know this is pretty dumb but sometimes we're all dumb, if you do so and you try to do the regular

root@debian:/ # apt update && apt upgrade

or try to install some random package onwards you will end up with error message:

E: Could not open lock file /var/lib/dpkg/lock – open (2: No such file or directory)

Ending up with this error, does totally blocks your further system administration activities with both apt / aptitude / apt-get as well as with dpkg package management tool.


1. The /var/backups recovery directory

Thankfully, by Gods mercy some of Debian Linux system architects has foreseen such issues might occur and have integrated into it the automatic periodic creation of some important files into directory /var/backups/

Hence the next step is to check what kind of backups are available, there:

root@debian:/ # ls -al /var/backups/
total 19892
drwxr-xr-x  7 root root      4096 Sep 24 06:25 ./
drwxr-xr-x 22 root root      4096 Dec 21  2020 ../
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    245760 Aug 20 06:25 alternatives.tar.0
-rw-r–r–  1 root root     15910 Aug 14 06:25 alternatives.tar.1.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root     15914 May 29 06:25 alternatives.tar.2.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root     15783 Jan 29  2021 alternatives.tar.3.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root     15825 Nov 20  2020 alternatives.tar.4.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root     15778 Jul 16  2020 alternatives.tar.5.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root     15799 Jul  4  2020 alternatives.tar.6.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root     80417 Aug 19 14:48 apt.extended_states.0
-rw-r–r–  1 root root      8693 Apr 27 22:40 apt.extended_states.1.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root      8658 Apr 17 19:45 apt.extended_states.2.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root      8601 Apr 15 00:52 apt.extended_states.3.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root      8599 Apr  9 00:26 apt.extended_states.4.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root      8542 Mar 18  2021 apt.extended_states.5.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root      8549 Mar 18  2021 apt.extended_states.6.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root   9030483 Jul  4  2020 aptitude.pkgstates.0
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    628958 May  7  2019 aptitude.pkgstates.1.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    534758 Oct 21  2017 aptitude.pkgstates.2.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    503877 Oct 19  2017 aptitude.pkgstates.3.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    423277 Oct 15  2017 aptitude.pkgstates.4.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    420899 Oct 14  2017 aptitude.pkgstates.5.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    229508 May  5  2015 aptitude.pkgstates.6.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root        11 Oct 14  2017 dpkg.arch.0
-rw-r–r–  1 root root        43 Oct 14  2017 dpkg.arch.1.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root        43 Oct 14  2017 dpkg.arch.2.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root        43 Oct 14  2017 dpkg.arch.3.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root        43 Oct 14  2017 dpkg.arch.4.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root        43 Oct 14  2017 dpkg.arch.5.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root        43 Oct 14  2017 dpkg.arch.6.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root      1319 Apr 27 22:28 dpkg.diversions.0
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       387 Apr 27 22:28 dpkg.diversions.1.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       387 Apr 27 22:28 dpkg.diversions.2.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       387 Apr 27 22:28 dpkg.diversions.3.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       387 Apr 27 22:28 dpkg.diversions.4.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       387 Apr 27 22:28 dpkg.diversions.5.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       387 Apr 27 22:28 dpkg.diversions.6.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       375 Aug 23  2018 dpkg.statoverride.0
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       247 Aug 23  2018 dpkg.statoverride.1.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       247 Aug 23  2018 dpkg.statoverride.2.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       247 Aug 23  2018 dpkg.statoverride.3.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       247 Aug 23  2018 dpkg.statoverride.4.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       247 Aug 23  2018 dpkg.statoverride.5.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root       247 Aug 23  2018 dpkg.statoverride.6.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root   3363749 Sep 23 14:32 dpkg.status.0
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    763524 Aug 19 14:48 dpkg.status.1.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    760198 Aug 17 19:41 dpkg.status.2.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    760176 Aug 13 12:48 dpkg.status.3.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    760105 Jul 16 15:25 dpkg.status.4.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    759807 Jun 28 15:18 dpkg.status.5.gz
-rw-r–r–  1 root root    759554 May 28 16:22 dpkg.status.6.gz

drwx——  2 root root      4096 Oct 15  2017 ejabberd-2017-10-15T00:22:30.p1e5J8/
drwx——  2 root root      4096 Oct 15  2017 ejabberd-2017-10-15T00:24:02.dAUgDs/
drwx——  2 root root      4096 Oct 15  2017 ejabberd-2017-10-15T12:29:51.FX27WJ/
drwx——  2 root root      4096 Oct 15  2017 ejabberd-2017-10-15T21:18:26.bPQWlW/
drwx——  2 root root      4096 Jul 16  2019 ejabberd-2019-07-16T00:49:52.Gy3sus/
-rw——-  1 root root      2512 Oct 20  2020 group.bak
-rw——-  1 root shadow    1415 Oct 20  2020 gshadow.bak
-rw——-  1 root root      7395 May 11 22:56 passwd.bak
-rw——-  1 root shadow    7476 May 11 22:56 shadow.bak

Considering the situation the important files for us that could, help us restore our previous list of packages, we had installed on the Debian are files under /var/backups/dpkg.status*

Luckily debian based systems keeps backups of its important files that can be used later on for system recovery activities.
Below is a common structure of /var/lib/dpkg on a deb based system.

hipo@debian:/home/hipo$ ls -l /var/lib/dpkg/
total 11504
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Aug 19 14:33 alternatives/
-rw-r–r– 1 root root      11 Oct 14  2017 arch
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 2199402 Oct 19  2017 available
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 2197483 Oct 19  2017 available-old
-rw-r–r– 1 root root       8 Sep  6  2012 cmethopt
-rw-r–r– 1 root root    1319 Apr 27 22:28 diversions
-rw-r–r– 1 root root    1266 Nov 18  2020 diversions-old
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root  606208 Sep 23 14:32 info/
-rw-r—– 1 root root       0 Sep 23 14:32 lock
-rw-r—– 1 root root       0 Mar 18  2021 lock-frontend
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Sep 17  2012 parts/
-rw-r–r– 1 root root     375 Aug 23  2018 statoverride
-rw-r–r– 1 root root     337 Aug 13  2018 statoverride-old
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 3363749 Sep 23 14:32 status
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 3363788 Sep 23 14:32 status-old
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Aug 19 14:48 triggers/
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Sep 23 14:32 updates/


2. Recreate basic /var/lib/dpkg directory and files structures

As you can see, there are 5 directories and the status file and some other files. 
Hence the first step is to restore the lost directory structure.

hipo@debian: ~$ sudo mkdir -p /var/lib/dpkg/{alternatives,info,parts,triggers,updates}

3. Recover /var/lib/dpkg/status file

Further on recover the dpkg status file from backup

hipo@debian: ~$  sudo cp /var/backups/dpkg.status.0 /var/lib/dpkg/status

4. Check dpkg package installation works again and reinstall base-files

Next check if dpkg – debian package manager is now working, by simply trying to download dpkg*.deb reinstalling it.

root@debian:/root # apt-get download dpkg
# sudo dpkg -i dpkg*.deb

If you get no errors next step is to reinstall base-files which is important package on which dpkg depends.

root@debian:/root # apt-get download base-files

root@debian:/root # sudo dpkg -i base-files*.deb


5. Update deb system package list and db consistency

Onwards try to update system package list and check dpkg / apt database consistency.

root@debian:/root # dpkg –audit

root@debian:/root # sudo apt-get update

root@debian:/root # sudo apt-get check

The result should be more of the files in /var/lib/dpkg should appear, thus list the directory again and compare to the earlier given list of it, they should be similar.

root@debian:/root # ls -l /var/lib/dpkg

6. Reinstall completely from source code dpkg, if nothing else works

If some files are missing they should get created with a normal daily sysadmin package management tasks so no worries.

In case if after attempting to upgrade the system or install a package with apt, you get some nasty error like:

'/usr/local/var/lib/dpkg/status' for reading: No such file or directory

Then the next and final thing to try as a recovery is to download compile from a new and reinstall dpkg from source code!


root@debian:/ # wget
root@debian:/ # tar -xvf dpkg_1.16*

root@debian:/ # cd dpkg-1.16*

root@debian:/ # ./configure

root@debian:/ # make

root@debian:/ # make install

Hopefully you'll have gcc and development tools provided by build-essential .deb package otherwise you have to download and compile this ones as well 🙂
If this doesn't bring you back the installed packages you had priorly (hopefully not), then waste no more time and do a backup of the main things on the server, and reinstall it completely.

The moral out of this incident is always to implement always to your system a good back up system and regularly create backups of /var/lib/dpkg , /etc/ , /usr/local* and other important files on a remote backup server, to be able to easily recover if you do by mistake something whacky.

Hope that helped anyone. Cheers 🙂

Defining multiple short Server Hostname aliases via SSH config files and defining multiple ssh options for it, Use passwordless authentication via public keys

Thursday, September 16th, 2021


In case you have to access multiple servers from your terminal client such as gnome-terminal, kterminal (if on Linux) or something such as mobaxterm + cygwin (if on Windows) with an opens ssh client (ssh command). There is a nifty trick to save time and keyboard typing through creating shortcuts aliases by adding few definitions inside your $HOME/.ssh/config ( ~/.ssh/config ) for your local non root user or even make the configuration system wide (for all existing local /etc/passwd users) via /etc/ssh/ssh_config.
By adding a pseudonym alias for each server it makes sysadmin life much easier as you don't have to type in each time the FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name) hostname of remote accessed Linux / Unix / BSD / Mac OS or even Windows sshd ready hosts accessible via remote TCP/IP port 22.

1. Adding local user remote server pointer aliases via ~/.ssh/config

The file ~/.ssh/config is read by the ssh client part of the openssh-client (Linux OS package) on each invokement of the client, and besides defining a pseudonym for the hosts you like to save you time when accessing remote host and hence increase your productivity. Moreover you can also define various other nice options through it to define specifics of remote ssh session for each desired host such as remote host default SSH port (for example if your OpenSSHD is configured to run on non-standard SSH port as lets say 2022 instead of default port TCP 22 for some reason, e.g. security through obscurity etc.).


The general syntax of .ssh/config file si simplistic, it goes like this:


SSH_OPTION1 value1
SSH_OPTION1 value1 value2
SSH_OPTION2 value1 value2



SSH_OPTION1 value1 value2

  • Another understood syntax if you prefer to not have empty whitespaces is to use ( = )
    between the parameter name and values.

SSH_config1=value1 value2

  • All empty lines and lines starting with the hash shebang sign ( # ) would be ignored.
  • All values are case-sensitive, but parameter names are not.

If you have never so far used the $HOME/.ssh/config you would have to create the file and set the proper permissions to it like so:

mkdir -p $HOME/.ssh
chmod 0700 $HOME/.ssh

Below are examples taken from my .ssh/config configuration for all subdomains for my domain


# Ask for password for every subdomain under for security
Host *
user hipopo
passwordauthentication yes
StrictHostKeyChecking no

# ssh public Key authentication automatic login
user hipopo
Port 22
passwordauthentication no
StrictHostKeyChecking no

UserKnownHostsFile /dev/null

Host haproxy2
    User root
    Port 2218
    PubkeyAuthentication yes
    IdentityFile ~/.ssh/    
    StrictHostKeyChecking no
    LogLevel INFO     

Host pcfrxenweb
    User root
    Port 2218

    PubkeyAuthentication yes
    IdentityFile ~/.ssh/pcfrxenweb.key    
    StrictHostKeyChecking no

Host pcfreak-sf
    User root
    Port 2209
    PreferredAuthentications password
    StrictHostKeyChecking no

    Compression yes

As you can see from above configuration the Hostname could be referring either to IP address or to Hostname.

Now to connect to defined IP you can simply refer to its alias

$ ssh pcfreak-sf -v

and you end up into the machine ssh on port 2209 and you will be prompted for a password.

$ ssh pcfrxenweb -v

would lead to IP SSH on Port 2218 and will use the defined public key for a passwordless login and will save you the password typing each time.

Above ssh command is a short alias you can further use instead of every time typing:

$ ssh -i ~/.ssh/pcfrxenweb.key -p 2218 root@

There is another nifty trick worthy to mention, if you have a defined hostname such as the above config haproxy2 to use a certain variables, but you would like to override some option for example you don't want to connet by default with User root, but some other local account, lets say ssh as devuser@haproxy2 you can type:

$ ssh -o "User=dev" devuser

StrictHostKeyChecking no

– variable will instruct the ssh to not check if the finger print of remote host has changed. Usually this finger print check sum changes in case if for example for some reason the opensshd gets updated or the default /etc/ssh/ssh_host_dsa_key /etc/ssh/sshd_host_dsa_* files have changed due to some reason.
Of course you should use this option only if you tend to access your remote host via a secured VPN or local network, otherwise the Host Key change could be an indicator someone is trying to intercept your ssh session.


Compression yes

– variable  enables compression of connection saves few bits was useful in the old modem telephone lines but still could save you few bits
It is also possible to define a full range of IP addresses to be accessed with one single public rsa / dsa key

Below .ssh/config

Host 192.168.5.?
     User admin
     IdentityFile ~/.ssh/

Would instruct each host attemted to be reached in the IP range of to be automatically reachable by default with ssh client with admin user and the respective key.

$ ssh 192.168.1.[1-254] -v


2. Adding ssh client options system wide for all existing local or remote LDAP login users

The way to add any Host block is absolutely the same as with a default user except you need to add the configuration to /etc/ssh/ssh_config. Here is a confiugaration from mine Latest Debian Linux

$ cat /etc/ssh/ssh_config

# This is the ssh client system-wide configuration file.  See
# ssh_config(5) for more information.  This file provides defaults for
# users, and the values can be changed in per-user configuration files
# or on the command line.

# Configuration data is parsed as follows:
#  1. command line options
#  2. user-specific file
#  3. system-wide file
# Any configuration value is only changed the first time it is set.
# Thus, host-specific definitions should be at the beginning of the
# configuration file, and defaults at the end.

# Site-wide defaults for some commonly used options.  For a comprehensive
# list of available options, their meanings and defaults, please see the
# ssh_config(5) man page.

Host *
#   ForwardAgent no
#   ForwardX11 no
#   ForwardX11Trusted yes
#   PasswordAuthentication yes
#   HostbasedAuthentication no
#   GSSAPIAuthentication no
#   GSSAPIDelegateCredentials no
#   GSSAPIKeyExchange no
#   GSSAPITrustDNS no
#   BatchMode no
#   CheckHostIP yes
#   AddressFamily any
#   ConnectTimeout 0
#   StrictHostKeyChecking ask
#   IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa
#   IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_dsa
#   IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_ecdsa
#   IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_ed25519
#   Port 22
#   Protocol 2
#   Ciphers aes128-ctr,aes192-ctr,aes256-ctr,aes128-cbc,3des-cbc
#   MACs hmac-md5,hmac-sha1,
#   EscapeChar ~
#   Tunnel no
#   TunnelDevice any:any
#   PermitLocalCommand no
#   VisualHostKey no
#   ProxyCommand ssh -q -W %h:%p
#   RekeyLimit 1G 1h
    SendEnv LANG LC_*
    HashKnownHosts yes
    GSSAPIAuthentication yes

As you can see pretty much can be enabled by default such as the forwarding of the Authentication agent option ( -A ) option, necessery for some Company server environments to be anbled. So if you have to connect to remote host with enabled Agent Forwarding instead of typing

ssh -A user@remotehostname

To enable Agent Forwarding instead of

ssh -X user@remotehostname

Simply uncomment and set to yes

ForwardX11 yes
ForwardX11Trusted yes

Just simply uncomment above's config ForwardAgent no

As you can see ssh could do pretty much, you can configure enable SSH Tunneling or run via a Proxy with the ProxyCommand (If it is the first time you hear about ProxyCommand I warmly recommend you check my previous article – How to pass SSH traffic through a secured Corporate Proxy Server with corkscrew).

Sometimes for a defines hostname, due to changes on remote server ssh configuration, SSH encryption type or a host key removal you might end up with issues connecting, therefore to override all the previously defined options inside .ssh/config by ignoring the configuration with -F /dev/null

$ ssh -F /dev/null user@freak -v

What we learned ?

To sum it up In this article, we have learned how to easify the stressed sysadmin life, by adding Aliases with certain port numbering and configurations for different remote SSH administrated Linux / Unix, hosts via local ~/.ssh/config or global wide /etc/ssh/ssh_config configuration options, as well as how already applied configuration from ~/.ssh/config affecting each user ssh command execution, could be overriden.