Posts Tagged ‘data’

How to disable Windows pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys to temporary or permamently save disk space if space is critically low

Monday, March 28th, 2022

howto-pagefile-hiberfil.sys-remove-reduce-increase-increase-size-windows-logo

Sometimes you have to work with Windows 7 / 8 / 10 PCs  etc. that has a very small partition C:\
drive or othertimes due to whatever the disk got filled up with time and has only few megabytes left
and this totally broke up the windows performance as Windows OS becomes terribly sluggish and even
simple things as opening Internet Browser (Chrome / Firefox / Opera ) or Windows Explorer stones the PC performance.

You might of course try to use something like Spacesniffer tool (a great tool to find lost data space on PC s short description on it is found in my previous article how to
delete temporary Internet Files and Folders to to speed up and free disk space
 ) or use CCleaner to clean up a bit the pc.
Sometimes this is not enough though or it is not possible to do at all the main
partition disk C:\ is anyhow too much low (only 30-50MB are available on HDD) or the Physical or Virtual Machine containing the OS is filled with important data
and you couldn't risk to remove anything including Internet Temporary files, browsing cookies … whatever.

Lets say you are the fate chosen guy as sysadmin to face this uneasy situation and have no easy
way to add disk space from another present free space partition or could not add a new SATA hard drive
SSD drive, what should you do?
 

The solution wipe off pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys

Usually every Windows installation has a pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys.

  • pagefile.sys – is the default file that is used as a swap file, immediately once the machine runs out of memory. For Unix / Linux users better understanding pagefile.sys is the equivallent of Linux's swap partition. Of course as the pagefile is in a file and not in separate partition the swapping in Windows is perhaps generally worse than in Linux.
  • hiberfil.sys – is used to store data from the machine on machine Hibernation (for those who use the feature)


Pagefile.sys which depending on the configured RAM memory on the OS could takes up up to 5 – 8 GB, there hanging around doing nothing but just occupying space. Thus a temporary workaround that could free you some space even though it will degrade performance and on servers and production machines this is not a good solution on just user machines, where you temporary need to free space any other important task you can free up space
by seriously reducing the preconfigured default size of pagefile.sys (which usually is 1.5 times the active memory on the OS – hence if you have 4GB you would have a 6Gigabytes of pagefile.sys).

Other possibility especially on laptop and movable devices running Win OS is to disable hiberfil.sys, read below how this is done.


The temporary solution here is to simply free space by either reducing the pagefile.sys or completely disabling it


1. Disable pagefile.sys on Windows XP, Windows 7 / 8 / 10 / 11


The GUI interface to disable pagefile across all NT based Windows OS-es is quite similar, the only difference is newer versions of Windows has slightly more options.


1.1 Disable pagefile on Windows XP


Quickest way is to find pagefile.sys settings from GUI menus

1. Computer (My Computer) – right click mouse
2. Properties (System Preperties will appear)
3. Advanced (tab) 
4. Settings
5. Advanced (tab)
6. Change button

windows-xp-pagefile-disable-screenshot

1.2 Disable pagefile on Windows 7

 

advanced-system-settings-control-panel-system-and-security-screenshot

windows-system-properties-screenshot-properties-advanced-change-Virtual-memory-pagefile-screenshot

system-properties-performance-options
 

Once applied you'll be required to reboot the PC

How-to-turn-off-Virtual-Memory-Paging_File-in-Windows-7-restart

 

1.3 Disable Increase / Decrease pagefile.sys on Windows 10 / Win 11
 

open-system-properties-advanced-win10

win10-performance-options-menu-screenshot

configure-virtual-memory-win-10-screenshot


1.4 Make Windows clear pagefile.sys on shutdown

On home PCs it might be useful thing to clear up ( nullify) pagefile.sys on shutdown, that could save you some disk space on every reboot, until file continuously grows to its configured Maximum.

Run

regedit

Modify registry key at location

 

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management

windows-clean-up-pagefile-sys-file-on-shutdown-or-reboot-registry-editor-value-screenshot

You can apply the value also via a registry file you can get the Enable Clearpagefile at shutdown here .reg.
 

2. Manipulating pagefile.sys size and file delete from command line with wmic tool 

For scripting purposes you might want to use the wmic pagefile which can do increase / decrase or delete the file without GUI, that is very helpful if you have to admin a Windows Domain (Active Directory)
 

[hipo.WINDOWS-PC] ➤ wmic pagefile /?

PAGEFILE – Virtual memory file swapping management.

HINT: BNF for Alias usage.
(<alias> [WMIObject] | [] | [] ) [].

USAGE:

PAGEFILE ASSOC []
PAGEFILE CREATE <assign list>
PAGEFILE DELETE
PAGEFILE GET [] []
PAGEFILE LIST [] []

 

[hipo.WINDOWS-PC] ➤ wmic pagefile
AllocatedBaseSize  Caption          CurrentUsage  Description      InstallDate                Name             PeakUsage  Status  TempPageFile
4709               C:\pagefile.sys  499           C:\pagefile.sys  20200912061902.938000+180  C:\pagefile.sys  525                FALSE

 

[hipo.WINDOWS-PC] ➤ wmic pagefile list /format:list

AllocatedBaseSize=4709
CurrentUsage=499
Description=C:\pagefile.sys
InstallDate=20200912061902.938000+180
Name=C:\pagefile.sys
PeakUsage=525
Status=
TempPageFile=FALSE

wmic-pagefile-command-line-tool-for-windows-default-output-screenshot

 

  • To change the Initial Size or Maximum Size of Pagefile use:
     

➤ wmic pagefileset where name="C:\\pagefile.sys" set InitialSize=2048,MaximumSize=2048

  • To move the pagefile / change location of pagefile to less occupied disk drive partition (i.e. D:\ drive)

     

     

    Sometimes you might have multiple drives on the PC and some of them might be having multitudes of gigabytes while main drive C:\ could be fully occupied due to initial install bad drive organization, in that case a good work arount to save you space so you can work normally with the server is just to temporary or permanently move pagefile to another drive.

wmic pagefileset where name="D:\\pagefile.sys" set InitialSize=2048,MaximumSize=2048


!! CONSIDER !!! 

That if you have the option to move the pagefile.sys for best performance it is advicable to place the file inside another physical disk, preferrably a Solid State Drive one, SATA disks are too slow and reduced Input / Output disk operations will lead to degraded performance, if there is lack of memory (i.e. pagefile.sys is actively open read and wrote in).
 

  • To delete pagefile.sys 
     

➤ wmic pagefileset where name="C:\\pagefile.sys" delete

 

If for some reason you prefer to not use wmic but simple del command you can delete pagefile.sys also by:

Removing file default "Hidden" and "system" file attributes – set for security reasons as the file is a system file usually not touched by user. This will save you from "permission denied" errors:
 

➤ attrib -s -h %systemdrive%\pagefile.sys


Delete the file:
 

➤ del /a /q %systemdrive%\pagefile.sys


3. Disable hibernation on Windows 7 / 8 and Win 10 / 11

Disabling hibernation file hiberfil.sys can also free up some space, especially if the hibernation has been actively used before and the file is written with data. Of course, that is more common on notebooks.
Windows hibernation has significantly improved over time though i didn't have very pleasant experience in the past and I prefer to disable it just in case.
 

3.1 Disable Windows 7 / 8 / 10 / 11 hibernation from GUI 

Disable it through:

Control Panel -> All Control Panel Items -> Power Options -> Edit Plan Settings -> Change advanced power settings


 like shown in below screenshot:

Windqows-power-options-Advanced-settings-Allow-Hybrid-sleep-option-menu-screenshot

 

3.2 Disable Windows 7 / 8 / 10 / 11 hibernation from command line

Disable hibernation Is done in the same way through the powercfg.exe command, to disable it
if you're cut of disk space and you want to save space from it:

run as Administrator in Command Line Windows (cmd.exe)
 

powercfg.exe /hibernate off

If you later need to switch on hibernation
 

powercfg.exe /hibernate on


disable-hiberfile-windows-screenshot

3.3 Disable Windows hibernation on legacy Windows XP

On XP to disable hibernation open

1. Power Options Properties
2. Select Hibernate
3. Select Enable Hibernation to clear the checkbox and disable Hibernation mode. 
4. Select OK to apply the change.

Close the Power Options Properties box. 

enable-disable-hibernate-windows-xp-menu-screenshot

To sum it up

We have learned some basics on Windows swapping and hibernation and i've tried to give some insight on how thiese files if misconfigured could lead to degraded Win OS performance. In any case using SSD as of 2022 to store both files is a best practice for machines that has plenty of memory always try to completely disable / remove the files. It was shown how  to manage pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys across Windows Operating Systems different versions both from GUI and via command line as well as how you can configure pagefile.sys to be cleared up on pc reboot.
 

Monitoring chronyd time service is synchronized, get additional time server values with Zabbix userparameter script

Monday, March 21st, 2022

monitoring-chronyc-time-server-synchronization-zabbix-logo

If you''re running a server infrastructure and your main monitoring system is Zabbix. Then a vital check you might want to setup is to monitor the server time synchronization to a central server. In newer Linux OS-es ntpd time server is started to be used lesser and many modern Linux distributions used in the corporate realm are starting to recommend using chrony as a time synchronization client / server.

In this article, I'll show you how you can quickly setup monitoring of chronyd process and monitoring whether the time is successfully synchronizing with remote Chronyd time server. This will be done with a tiny one liner shell script setup as userparameter It is relatively easy then to setup an Action Alert


1. Create userparameter script to send parsed chronyd time synchronization to Zabbix Server

chronyc tracking provides plenty of useful data which can give many details about info such as offset, skew, root delay, stratum, update interval.

[root@server: ~]# chronyc tracking
Reference ID    : 0A32EF0B (fkf-intp01.intcs.meshcore.net)
Stratum         : 3
Ref time (UTC)  : Fri Mar 18 12:42:31 2022
System time     : 0.000032544 seconds fast of NTP time
Last offset     : +0.000031102 seconds
RMS offset      : 0.000039914 seconds
Frequency       : 3.037 ppm slow
Residual freq   : +0.000 ppm
Skew            : 0.023 ppm
Root delay      : 0.017352410 seconds
Root dispersion : 0.004285847 seconds
Update interval : 1041.6 seconds
Leap status     : Normal

[root@server zabbix_agentd.d]# cat userparameter_chrony.conf 
UserParameter=chrony.json,chronyc -c tracking | sed -e s/'^'/'{"chrony":[“‘/g -e s/’$’/'”]}'/g -e s/','/'","'/g
[root@server zabbix_agentd.d]#

The -c option passed to chronyc is printing the chronyc tracking command ouput data in comma-separated values ( CSV ) format.

2. Create Necessery Item key to get chronyd processes and catch the userparameter data

 

  • First lets create a an Item key to calculate the chronyd daemon proc.num
    proc.num – simply returns the number of processes in the process list just like a simple
    pgrep servicename command does.


monitroing-chronyc_zabbix_item_report_to-zabbix

Second lets create the Item for the userparameter script, the chrony.json key should be the same as the key given in the userparameter script.

obtain-chronyc-statistic-variables-from-remote-chronyd-to-zabbix-windows

Create Chrony Zabbix Triggers 
 

Expression 

{server-host:proc.num[chronyd].last()}<1


will be triggered if the process of chronyd on the server is less than 1

 

chronyc_monitoring_process-is-not-running-screenshot

Next configure

{server-host:chrony[Leap status].iregexp[Not synchronised) ]=1


to trigger Alert Chronyd is Not synchronized if the Expression check occurs.

chronyd-is-not-synchronized-trigger-iregexp

Reload the zabbix-agent on the server
 

To make zabbix-agent locally installed on the machine read the userparameter into memory  (in my case this is zabbix-agent-4.0.28-1.el8.x86_64) installed on Redhat 8.3 (Ootpa), you have to restart it.

[root@server: ~]# systemctl restart zabbix-agent
[root@server: ~]# systemctl status zabbix-agent

● zabbix-agent.service – Zabbix Agent
   Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/zabbix-agent.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (running) since Thu 2021-12-16 16:41:02 CET; 3 months 0 days ago
 Main PID: 862165 (zabbix_agentd)
    Tasks: 6 (limit: 23662)
   Memory: 20.6M
   CGroup: /system.slice/zabbix-agent.service
           ├─862165 /usr/sbin/zabbix_agentd -c /etc/zabbix/zabbix_agentd.conf
           ├─862166 /usr/sbin/zabbix_agentd: collector [idle 1 sec]
           ├─862167 /usr/sbin/zabbix_agentd: listener #1 [waiting for connection]
           ├─862168 /usr/sbin/zabbix_agentd: listener #2 [waiting for connection]
           ├─862169 /usr/sbin/zabbix_agentd: listener #3 [waiting for connection]
           └─862170 /usr/sbin/zabbix_agentd: active checks #1 [idle 1 sec]

Warning: Journal has been rotated since unit was started. Log output is incomplete or unavailable.


In a short while you should be seeing in the chrony.json key History data fed by the userparameter Script.

In Zabbix Latest data, you will see plenty of interesting time synchronization data get reported such as Skew, Stratum, Root Delay, Update Interval, Frequency etc.

chronyd-zabbix-reported-time-synchronization-offset-leap-residual-freq-root-delay-screenshot

To have an email Alerting further, go and setup a new Zabbix Action based on the Trigger with your likings and you're done. 
The tracked machine will be in zabbix to make sure your OS clock is not afar from the time server. Repeat the same steps if you need to track chronyd is up running and synchronized on few machines, or if you have to make it for dozens setup a Zabbix template.

Configure own Media streaming minidlna Linux server to access data from your Smart TV

Friday, February 18th, 2022

dlna-media-minidlna-server-linux-logo

If you happen to buy or already own or just have to install a Smart TV to be connected with a LAN Network to a Linux based custom built NAS (Network Attached Storage) server. You might benefit of the smart TV to Share and Watching the Disk Storage Pictures, Music, Video files from the NAS  to the Smart TV using the Media Server protocol.

You have certainly already faced the Media Server at your life on many locations in stores and Mall Buildings, because virtually any reoccuring advertisements, movies projected on the TVs, Kids entertainment or Floor and Buildings Room location schedules or timeline promition schedules are streamed using the Media Server protocol, for many years now. Thus having a brief idea about Media Server proto existence is foundamental stuff to be aware of for sysadmins and programmers.

Shortly about DLNA UPnP Media Streaming Protocol

Assuming that your Smart TV has been already connected to your Wireless Router 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz Wifi, one would think that the easiest way to share the files with the SmartTV is via something like a simple SAMBA Linux server via smb:// cifs:// protocols or via the good old NFS Server, however most of Samsung Smart TV and many other in year 2022 does not have embedded support for Samba SMB / CIFS Protocol but instead have support for the DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) streaming support. DLNA is part of the UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) Protocols, UPnP is also known to those using and familiar with Windows Operating Systems realm simply as UPnP AV Media server or Windows Media server.
Windows Media server for those who never heard it or used it 
 allows you to build a Playlists with Media files Video and Audio data files, that can be then later played remotely via a Local LAN or even long distance over TCP / IP remote side connected Internet network.
 

1. Set up and Stream data via Media server on  Windows PC / notebook with integrated Windows Media server 

Windows Media server configuration on Windows 7, 10 and 11 is a relatively easy to configure via:

Network and Sharing Center -> Media Streaming Options -> Turn on Media Streaming 


Then you have to define the name of the Media Library, configure whether Media server should show
on the Local Netework
for other conected devices and Allow or Block access from the other network present devices.


 2. Using a more advanced Media Server to get rid about the limitation of DLNA set of supported file codecs.
 

The Windows default embedded DLNA server is the easiest and fastest one to set up, but it’s not necessarily the best option.
Due to the way DLNA works, you can only stream certain types of media codecs supported by the server. If you have other types of media not defaultly supported and defined by DLNA win server, it just won’t work.

Thus thanksfully it was developed other DLNA servers improve this by offering real-time transcoding.
If you try to play an unsupported file, they’ll transcode it on-the-fly, streaming the video in a supported format to your DLNA device.
Just to name few of the DLNA Media Streaming servers that have supported for larger MPG Video, MP3 / MP4 and other Audio formats encodings,
you can try Plex or the Universal Media Server both of which are free to use under freeware license and have versions for Linux and Mac OS.


Universal_media_server-windows-screenshot-stream-media-data-on-network

 

3. Setting up a free as in freedom DLNA server MiniDLNA (ReadyMedia) on GNU / Linux


ReadyMedia (formerly known as MiniDLNA) is a simple media server software, with the aim of being fully compliant with DLNA/UPnP-AV clients. It was originally developed by a NETGEAR employee for the ReadyNAS product line.

MiniDNLA daemon serves media files (music, pictures, and video) to clients on a network. Linux Media servers clients you can use to test or scan your network for existent Media servers are multiple perhaps the most famous ones are applications such as totem (for QT users) and Kodi (for KDE).
The devices that can be used with minidlna are devices such as portable media players (iPod), Smartphones, Televisions, Tablets, and gaming systems (such as PS3 and Xbox 360) etc.
 

ReadyMedia is a simple, lightweight, the downside of it is It does not have a web interface for administration and must be configured by editing a text file. But for a simple Video streaming in most cases does a great job.


3.1 Install the minidlna software package 

Minidlna is available out of the box on most linux distributions (Fedora / CentOS / Debian / Ubuntu etc.) as of year 2022.

  • Install on Debian Linux (Deb based distro)

media-server:~# apt install minidlna –yes

  • Install on Fedora / CentOS (other RPM based distro)

media-server:~# yum install -y minidlna


3.2 Configure minidlna

– /etc/minidlna.conf – main config file
Open with text editor and set user= ,  media_dir= ,  port=, friendly_name= ,  network_interface= variables as minimum.
To be add minidlnad support symlinks to external file locations, set also wide_links=yes

media-server:~# vim /etc/minidlna.conf

#user=minidlna
user=root
media_dir=/var/www/owncloud/data
network_interface=eth0,eth1

# Port number for HTTP traffic (descriptions, SOAP, media transfer).
# This option is mandatory (or it must be specified on the command-line using
# "-p").
port=8200
# Name that the DLNA server presents to clients.
# Defaults to "hostname: username".
#friendly_name=
friendly_name=DLNAServer Linux
# set this to yes to allow symlinks that point outside user-defined media_dirs.
wide_links=yes
# Automatic discovery of new files in the media_dir directory.
#inotify=yes

Keep in mind that it is supported to provide separete media_dir and provide different USB / External Hard Drive or SD Card sources separated only by content be it Video, Audio or Pictures short named in config as (A,V,P).

media_dir=P,/media/usb/photos
media_dir=V,/media/external-disk/videos
media_dir=A,/media/sd-card/music

You might want to diasble / ineable the inotify depending on your liking, if you don't plan to place new files automated to the NAS and don't care to get indexed and streamed from the Media server you can disable it with inotify=no otherwise keep that on.

– /etc/default/minidlna – additional startup config to set minidlnad (daemon) options such as setup to run with admin superuser root:root 
(usually it is safe to leave it empty and set the user=root, whether needed straight from /etc/minidlna.conf
That's all now go on and launch the minidlna and enable it to automatically boot on Linux boot.

media-server:~# systemctl start minidlna
media-server:~# systemctl enable minidlna
media-server:~# systemctl status minidlna

 

3.3 Rebuilt minidlna database with data indexed files

If you need to re- generate minidlna's database.
To do so stop the minidlna server with the
 

media-server:~# systemctop stop minidlna


 command, then issue the following command (both commands should be run as root):

media-server:~# minidlna -R

Since this command might kept in the background and keep the minidlna server running with incorrect flags, after a minute or two kill minidlna process and relaunch the server via sysctl.

media-server:~#  killall -9 minidlna
media-server:~#  systemctl start minidlna

 

3.4 Permission Issues / Scanning issues

If you plan to place files in /home directory. You better have a seperate partition or folder *outside* your "home" directory devoted to your media. Default user with which minidlna runs is minidlna, this could prevent some files with root or other users being red. So either run minidlna daemon as root or as other user with whom all media files should be accessible.
If service runs as root:root, and still getting some scanning issues, check permissions on your files and remove special characters from file names.
 

media-server:~# tail -10 /var/log/minidlna/minidlna.log 
[2022/02/17 22:51:36] scanner.c:489: warn: Unsuccessful getting details for /var/www/owncloud/data/Videos/Family-Videos/FILE006.MPG
[2022/02/17 22:52:08] scanner.c:819: warn: Scanning /var/www/owncloud/data finished (10637 files)!
[2022/02/17 22:52:08] playlist.c:135: warn: Parsing playlists…
[2022/02/17 22:52:08] playlist.c:269: warn: Finished parsing playlists.
minidlna.c:1126: warn: Starting MiniDLNA version 1.3.0.
minidlna.c:1186: warn: HTTP listening on port 8200
scanner.c:489: warn: Unsuccessful getting details for /var/www/owncloud/data/admin/files/origin/External SD card/media/Viber Images/IMG-4477de7b1eee273d5e6ae25236c5c223-V.jpg
scanner.c:489: warn: Unsuccessful getting details for /var/www/owncloud/data/Videos/Family-Video/FILE006.MPG
playlist.c:135: warn: Parsing playlists…
playlist.c:269: warn: Finished parsing playlists.

 

3.5. Fix minidlna Inotify errors

In /etc/sysctl.conf 

Add:

fs.inotify.max_user_watches=65536

in a blank line at end of file and do 

media-server:~# sysctl -p

Debugging minidlna problems, index errors, warnings etc

minidlna does write by default to /var/log/minidlna/minidlna.log inspect the log closely and you should get most of the time what is wrong with it.
Note that some files might not get indexed because minidlna won't support the strange file codecs such as SWF encoding, if you have some important files to stream that are not indexed by minidlna, then install and try one of the more sophisticated free software Media Servers for Linux:

plex-media-streaming-server-screenshot

Note that most Linux users from my quick research shows, MediaTomb is the preferred advanced features Open Source Linux Media Server of choice for most of the guys.

mediatomb-linux-media-streaming-server-picture.jpg.webp
 

 

4. Test minidlna Linux servers works, getting information of other DLNA Servers on the network

media-server:~# lynx -dump  http://127.0.0.1:8200
MiniDLNA status

  Media library

   Audio files 0
   Video files 455
   Image files 10182

  Connected clients

   ID Type                   IP Address    HW Address        Connections
   0  Samsung Series [CDEFJ] 192.168.1.11  7C:0A:3D:88:A6:FA 0
   1  Generic DLNA 1.5       192.168.0.241 00:16:4E:1D:48:05 0
   2  Generic DLNA 1.5       192.168.1.18  00:16:3F:0D:45:05 0
   3  Unknown                127.0.0.1     FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF 0

   -1 connections currently open
 

Note that there is -1 connections (no active connections) currently to the server. 
The 2 Generic DLNA 1.5 IPs are another DLNA servers provided by a OpenXEN hosted Windows 7 Virtual machines, that are also broadcasting their existence in the network. The Samsung Series [CDEFJ] is the DLNA client on the Samsung TV found, used to detect and stream data from the just configured Linux dlna server.

The DLNA Protocol enabled devices on a network as you can see are quite easy to access, querying localhost on the 8200 server dumps, what minidlna knows, the rest of IPs connecting should not be able to receive this info. But anyways since the minidlna does not have a special layers of security to access it, but the only way to restrict is filtering the 8200 port, it is a very good idea to put a good iptables firewall on the machine to allow only the devices that should have access to the data.

Further more if you happen to need to access the Media files on Linux from GUI you might use some client as upmentioned totem, VLC or if you need something more feature rich Java eezUPnP .

eeZUPnP-screenshot-java-client-for-media-server

That's all folks !
Enjoy your media on the TV 🙂

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

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

test-ram-memory-for-errors-linux-unix-find-broken-memory-logo

 

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.

memtest-hp
HP BIOS Setup

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 https://www.memtest.org/  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.

ubuntu-grub-2-04-boot-loader-memtest86-menu-screenshot

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

memtestx86-8gigabytes-of-memory-boot-screenshot
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. 
The

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:

memtest86-returning-memory-address-errors-screenshot


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 <dirson@debian.org>
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
Homepage: http://www.memtest86.com/
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 <dirson@debian.org>
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
Homepage: http://www.memtest.org/

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:
  memtest86
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 http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian 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
done
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

Edit-Grub-Parameters-add-memtest-4-to-kernel-boot

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

wget http://pyropus.ca/software/memtester/old-versions/memtester-4.2.2.tar.gz
# 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'. 
8*1024
8192


 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

Done.

 

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 memtestlinux.sh
 

#!/bin/bash
# Downloaded from https://www.srv24x7.com/memtest-linux/
echo "ByteOnSite Memory Test"
cpus=`cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep processor | wc -l`
if [ $cpus -lt 6 ]; then
threads=2
else
threads=$(($cpus / 2))
fi
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
fi
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 $threads`;
do
# 1044 is used in place of 1024 to ensure full RAM usage (2% over allocation)
dd if=/dev/urandom bs=$memoryper count=1044 >> dump.memtest.img 2>/dev/null &
pids[$i]=$!
echo $i
done
for pid in "${pids[@]}"
do
wait $pid
done

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” != “$md52” ]; then
fail=1
elif [ “$md51” != “$md53” ]; then
fail=1
elif [ “$md52” != “$md53” ]; then
fail=1
else
fail=0
fi
if [ $fail -eq 0 ]; then
echo "Memory test PASSED."
else
echo "Memory test FAILED. Bad memory detected."
fi
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 cyberciti.biz, 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.
run

# 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 – ftp://mersenne.org/gimps/ 
(https://www.mersenne.org/ftp_root/gimps/)

  •  (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.

Install and enable Sysstats IO / DIsk / CPU / Network monitoring console suite on Redhat 8.3, Few sar useful command examples

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

linux-sysstat-monitoring-logo

 

Why to monitoring CPU, Memory, Hard Disk, Network usage etc. with sysstats tools?
 

Using system monitoring tools such as Zabbix, Nagios Monit is a good approach, however sometimes due to zabbix server interruptions you might not be able to track certain aspects of system performance on time. Thus it is always a good idea to 
Gain more insights on system peroformance from command line. Of course there is cmd tools such as iostat and top, free, vnstat that provides plenty of useful info on system performance issues or bottlenecks. However from my experience to have a better historical data that is systimized and all the time accessible from console it is a great thing to have sysstat package at place. Since many years mostly on every server I administer, I've been using sysstats to monitor what is going on servers over a short time frames and I'm quite happy with it. In current company we're using Redhats and CentOS-es and I had to install sysstats on Redhat 8.3. I've earlier done it multiple times on Debian / Ubuntu Linux and while I've faced on some .deb distributions complications of making sysstat collect statistics I've come with an article on Howto fix sysstat Cannot open /var/log/sysstat/sa no such file or directory” on Debian / Ubuntu Linux
 

Sysstat contains the following tools related to collecting I/O and CPU statistics:
iostat
Displays an overview of CPU utilization, along with I/O statistics for one or more disk drives.
mpstat
Displays more in-depth CPU statistics.
Sysstat also contains tools that collect system resource utilization data and create daily reports based on that data. These tools are:
sadc
Known as the system activity data collector, sadc collects system resource utilization information and writes it to a file.
sar
Producing reports from the files created by sadc, sar reports can be generated interactively or written to a file for more intensive analysis.

My experience with CentOS 7 and Fedora to install sysstat it was pretty straight forward, I just had to install it via yum install sysstat wait for some time and use sar (System Activity Reporter) tool to report collected system activity info stats over time.
Unfortunately it seems on RedHat 8.3 as well as on CentOS 8.XX instaling sysstats does not work out of the box.

To complete a successful installation of it on RHEL 8.3, I had to:

[root@server ~]# yum install -y sysstat


To make sysstat enabled on the system and make it run, I've enabled it in sysstat

[root@server ~]# systemctl enable sysstat


Running immediately sar command, I've faced the shitty error:


Cannot open /var/log/sysstat/sa18:
No such file or directory. Please check if data collecting is enabled”

 

Once installed I've waited for about 5 minutes hoping, that somehow automatically sysstat would manage it but it didn't.

To solve it, I've had to create additionally file /etc/cron.d/sysstat (weirdly RPM's post install instructions does not tell it to automatically create it)

[root@server ~]# vim /etc/cron.d/sysstat

# run system activity accounting tool every 10 minutes
0 * * * * root /usr/lib64/sa/sa1 60 59 &
# generate a daily summary of process accounting at 23:53
53 23 * * * root /usr/lib64/sa/sa2 -A &

 

  • /usr/local/lib/sa1 is a shell script that we can use for scheduling cron which will create daily binary log file.
  • /usr/local/lib/sa2 is a shell script will change binary log file to human-readable form.

 

[root@server ~]# chmod 600 /etc/cron.d/sysstat

[root@server ~]# systemctl restart sysstat


In a while if sysstat is working correctly you should get produced its data history logs inside /var/log/sa

[root@server ~]# ls -al /var/log/sa 


Note that the standard sysstat history files on Debian and other modern .deb based distros such as Debian 10 (in  y.2021) is stored under /var/log/sysstat

Here is few useful uses of sysstat cmds


1. Check with sysstat machine history SWAP and RAM Memory use


To lets say check last 10 minutes SWAP memory use:

[hipo@server yum.repos.d] $ sar -W  |last -n 10
 

Linux 4.18.0-240.el8.x86_64 (server)       09/28/2021      _x86_64_        (8 CPU)

12:00:00 AM  pswpin/s pswpout/s
12:00:01 AM      0.00      0.00
12:01:01 AM      0.00      0.00
12:02:01 AM      0.00      0.00
12:03:01 AM      0.00      0.00
12:04:01 AM      0.00      0.00
12:05:01 AM      0.00      0.00
12:06:01 AM      0.00      0.00

[root@ccnrlb01 ~]# sar -r | tail -n 10
14:00:01        93008   1788832     95.06         0   1357700    725740      9.02    795168    683484        32
14:10:01        78756   1803084     95.81         0   1358780    725740      9.02    827660    652248        16
14:20:01        92844   1788996     95.07         0   1344332    725740      9.02    813912    651620        28
14:30:01        92408   1789432     95.09         0   1344612    725740      9.02    816392    649544        24
14:40:01        91740   1790100     95.12         0   1344876    725740      9.02    816948    649436        36
14:50:01        91688   1790152     95.13         0   1345144    725740      9.02    817136    649448        36
15:00:02        91544   1790296     95.14         0   1345448    725740      9.02    817472    649448        36
15:10:01        91108   1790732     95.16         0   1345724    725740      9.02    817732    649340        36
15:20:01        90844   1790996     95.17         0   1346000    725740      9.02    818016    649332        28
Average:        93473   1788367     95.03         0   1369583    725074      9.02    800965    671266        29

 

2. Check system load? Are my processes waiting too long to run on the CPU?

[root@server ~ ]# sar -q |head -n 10
Linux 4.18.0-240.el8.x86_64 (server)       09/28/2021      _x86_64_        (8 CPU)

12:00:00 AM   runq-sz  plist-sz   ldavg-1   ldavg-5  ldavg-15   blocked
12:00:01 AM         0       272      0.00      0.02      0.00         0
12:01:01 AM         1       271      0.00      0.02      0.00         0
12:02:01 AM         0       268      0.00      0.01      0.00         0
12:03:01 AM         0       268      0.00      0.00      0.00         0
12:04:01 AM         1       271      0.00      0.00      0.00         0
12:05:01 AM         1       271      0.00      0.00      0.00         0
12:06:01 AM         1       265      0.00      0.00      0.00         0


3. Show various CPU statistics per CPU use
 

On a multiprocessor, multi core server sometimes for scripting it is useful to fetch processor per use historic data, 
this can be attained with:

 

[hipo@server ~ ] $ mpstat -P ALL
Linux 4.18.0-240.el8.x86_64 (server)       09/28/2021      _x86_64_        (8 CPU)

06:08:38 PM  CPU    %usr   %nice    %sys %iowait    %irq   %soft  %steal  %guest  %gnice   %idle
06:08:38 PM  all    0.17    0.02    0.25    0.00    0.05    0.02    0.00    0.00    0.00   99.49
06:08:38 PM    0    0.22    0.02    0.28    0.00    0.06    0.03    0.00    0.00    0.00   99.39
06:08:38 PM    1    0.28    0.02    0.36    0.00    0.08    0.02    0.00    0.00    0.00   99.23
06:08:38 PM    2    0.27    0.02    0.31    0.00    0.06    0.01    0.00    0.00    0.00   99.33
06:08:38 PM    3    0.15    0.02    0.22    0.00    0.03    0.01    0.00    0.00    0.00   99.57
06:08:38 PM    4    0.13    0.02    0.20    0.01    0.03    0.01    0.00    0.00    0.00   99.60
06:08:38 PM    5    0.14    0.02    0.27    0.00    0.04    0.06    0.01    0.00    0.00   99.47
06:08:38 PM    6    0.10    0.02    0.17    0.00    0.04    0.02    0.00    0.00    0.00   99.65
06:08:38 PM    7    0.09    0.02    0.15    0.00    0.02    0.01    0.00    0.00    0.00   99.70


 

sar-sysstat-cpu-statistics-screenshot

Monitor processes and threads currently being managed by the Linux kernel.

[hipo@server ~ ] $ pidstat

pidstat-various-random-process-statistics

[hipo@server ~ ] $ pidstat -d 2


pidstat-show-processes-with-most-io-activities-linux-screenshot

This report tells us that there is few processes with heave I/O use Filesystem system journalling daemon jbd2, apache, mysqld and supervise, in 3rd column you see their respective PID IDs.

To show threads used inside a process (like if you press SHIFT + H) inside Linux top command:

[hipo@server ~ ] $ pidstat -t -p 10765 1 3

Linux 4.19.0-14-amd64 (server)     28.09.2021     _x86_64_    (10 CPU)

21:41:22      UID      TGID       TID    %usr %system  %guest   %wait    %CPU   CPU  Command
21:41:23      108     10765         –    1,98    0,99    0,00    0,00    2,97     1  mysqld
21:41:23      108         –     10765    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00     1  |__mysqld
21:41:23      108         –     10768    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00     0  |__mysqld
21:41:23      108         –     10771    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00     5  |__mysqld
21:41:23      108         –     10784    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00     7  |__mysqld
21:41:23      108         –     10785    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00     6  |__mysqld
21:41:23      108         –     10786    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00    0,00     2  |__mysqld

10765 – is the Process ID whose threads you would like to list

With pidstat, you can further monitor processes for memory leaks with:

[hipo@server ~ ] $ pidstat -r 2

 

4. Report paging statistics for some old period

 

[root@server ~ ]# sar -B -f /var/log/sa/sa27 |head -n 10
Linux 4.18.0-240.el8.x86_64 (server)       09/27/2021      _x86_64_        (8 CPU)

15:42:26     LINUX RESTART      (8 CPU)

15:55:30     LINUX RESTART      (8 CPU)

04:00:01 PM  pgpgin/s pgpgout/s   fault/s  majflt/s  pgfree/s pgscank/s pgscand/s pgsteal/s    %vmeff
04:01:01 PM      0.00     14.47    629.17      0.00    502.53      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00
04:02:01 PM      0.00     13.07    553.75      0.00    419.98      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00
04:03:01 PM      0.00     11.67    548.13      0.00    411.80      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00

 

5.  Monitor Received RX and Transmitted TX network traffic perl Network interface real time
 

To print out Received and Send traffic per network interface 4 times in a raw

sar-sysstats-network-traffic-statistics-screenshot
 

[hipo@server ~ ] $ sar -n DEV 1 4


To continusly monitor all network interfaces I/O traffic

[hipo@server ~ ] $ sar -n DEV 1


To only monitor a certain network interface lets say loopback interface (127.0.0.1) received / transmitted bytes

[hipo@server yum.repos.d] $  sar -n DEV 1 2|grep -i lo
06:29:53 PM        lo      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00
06:29:54 PM        lo      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00
Average:           lo      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00      0.00


6. Monitor block devices use
 

To check block devices use 3 times in a raw
 

[hipo@server yum.repos.d] $ sar -d 1 3


sar-sysstats-blockdevice-statistics-screenshot
 

7. Output server monitoring data in CSV database structured format


For preparing a nice graphs with Excel from CSV strucuted file format, you can dump the collected data as so:

 [root@server yum.repos.d]# sadf -d /var/log/sa/sa27 — -n DEV | grep -v lo|head -n 10
server-name-fqdn;-1;2021-09-27 13:42:26 UTC;LINUX-RESTART    (8 CPU)
# hostname;interval;timestamp;IFACE;rxpck/s;txpck/s;rxkB/s;txkB/s;rxcmp/s;txcmp/s;rxmcst/s;%ifutil
server-name-fqdn;-1;2021-09-27 13:55:30 UTC;LINUX-RESTART    (8 CPU)
# hostname;interval;timestamp;IFACE;rxpck/s;txpck/s;rxkB/s;txkB/s;rxcmp/s;txcmp/s;rxmcst/s;%ifutil
server-name-fqdn;60;2021-09-27 14:01:01 UTC;eth1;19.42;16.12;1.94;1.68;0.00;0.00;0.00;0.00
server-name-fqdn;60;2021-09-27 14:01:01 UTC;eth0;7.18;9.65;0.55;0.78;0.00;0.00;0.00;0.00
server-name-fqdn;60;2021-09-27 14:01:01 UTC;eth2;5.65;5.13;0.42;0.39;0.00;0.00;0.00;0.00
server-name-fqdn;60;2021-09-27 14:02:01 UTC;eth1;18.90;15.55;1.89;1.60;0.00;0.00;0.00;0.00
server-name-fqdn;60;2021-09-27 14:02:01 UTC;eth0;7.15;9.63;0.55;0.74;0.00;0.00;0.00;0.00
server-name-fqdn;60;2021-09-27 14:02:01 UTC;eth2;5.67;5.15;0.42;0.39;0.00;0.00;0.00;0.00

To graph the output data you can use Excel / LibreOffice's Excel equivalent Calc or if you need to dump a CSV sar output and generate it on the fly from a script  use gnuplot 


What we've learned?


How to install and enable on cron sysstats on Redhat and CentOS 8 Linux ? 
How to continuously monitor CPU / Disk and Network, block devices, paging use and processes and threads used by the kernel per process ?  
As well as how to export previously collected data to CSV to import to database or for later use inrder to generate graphic presentation of data.
Cheers ! 🙂

 

Monitoring Linux hardware Hard Drives / Temperature and Disk with lm_sensors / smartd / hddtemp and Zabbix Userparameter lm_sensors report script

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

monitoring-linux-hardware-with-software-temperature-disk-cpu-health-zabbix-userparameter-script

I'm part of a  SysAdmin Team that is partially doing some minor Zabbix imrovements on a custom corporate installed Zabbix in an ongoing project to substitute the previous HP OpenView monitoring for a bunch of Legacy Linux hosts.
As one of the necessery checks to have is regarding system Hardware, the task was to invent some simplistic way to monitor hardware with the Zabbix Monitoring tool.  Monitoring Bare Metal servers hardware of HP / Dell / Fujituse etc. servers  in Linux usually is done with a third party software provided by the Hardware vendor. But as this requires an additional services to run and sometimes is not desired. It was interesting to find out some alternative Linux native ways to do the System hardware monitoring.
Monitoring statistics from the system hardware components can be obtained directly from the server components with ipmi / ipmitool (for more info on it check my previous article Reset and Manage intelligent  Platform Management remote board article).
With ipmi
 hardware health info could be received straight from the ILO / IDRAC / HPMI of the server. However as often the Admin-Lan of the server is in a seperate DMZ secured network and available via only a certain set of routed IPs, ipmitool can't be used.

So what are the other options to use to implement Linux Server Hardware Monitoring?

The tools to use are perhaps many but I know of two which gives you most of the information you ever need to have a prelimitary hardware damage warning system before the crash, these are:
 

1. smartmontools (smartd)

Smartd is part of smartmontools package which contains two utility programs (smartctl and smartd) to control and monitor storage systems using the Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology system (SMART) built into most modern ATA/SATA, SCSI/SAS and NVMe disks

Disk monitoring is handled by a special service the package provides called smartd that does query the Hard Drives periodically aiming to find a warning signs of hardware failures.
The downside of smartd use is that it implies a little bit of extra load on Hard Drive read / writes and if misconfigured could reduce the the Hard disk life time.

 

linux:~#  /usr/sbin/smartctl -a /dev/sdb2
smartctl 6.6 2017-11-05 r4594 [x86_64-linux-4.19.0-5-amd64] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-17, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, www.smartmontools.org

=== START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
Device Model:     KINGSTON SA400S37240G
Serial Number:    50026B768340AA31
LU WWN Device Id: 5 0026b7 68340aa31
Firmware Version: S1Z40102
User Capacity:    240,057,409,536 bytes [240 GB]
Sector Size:      512 bytes logical/physical
Rotation Rate:    Solid State Device
Device is:        Not in smartctl database [for details use: -P showall]
ATA Version is:   ACS-3 T13/2161-D revision 4
SATA Version is:  SATA 3.2, 6.0 Gb/s (current: 3.0 Gb/s)
Local Time is:    Thu Apr 30 14:05:01 2020 EEST
SMART support is: Available – device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x00) Offline data collection activity
                                        was never started.
                                        Auto Offline Data Collection: Disabled.
Self-test execution status:      (   0) The previous self-test routine completed
                                        without error or no self-test has ever
                                        been run.
Total time to complete Offline
data collection:                (  120) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities:                    (0x11) SMART execute Offline immediate.
                                        No Auto Offline data collection support.
                                        Suspend Offline collection upon new
                                        command.
                                        No Offline surface scan supported.
                                        Self-test supported.
                                        No Conveyance Self-test supported.
                                        No Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x0002) Does not save SMART data before
                                        entering power-saving mode.
                                        Supports SMART auto save timer.
Error logging capability:        (0x01) Error logging supported.
                                        General Purpose Logging supported.
Short self-test routine
recommended polling time:        (   2) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time:        (  10) minutes.

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 1
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
ID# ATTRIBUTE_NAME          FLAG     VALUE WORST THRESH TYPE      UPDATED  WHEN_FAILED RAW_VALUE
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       100
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       2820
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       21
148 Unknown_Attribute       0x0000   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      –       0
149 Unknown_Attribute       0x0000   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      –       0
167 Unknown_Attribute       0x0000   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      –       0
168 Unknown_Attribute       0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       0
169 Unknown_Attribute       0x0000   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      –       0
170 Unknown_Attribute       0x0000   100   100   010    Old_age   Offline      –       0
172 Unknown_Attribute       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       0
173 Unknown_Attribute       0x0000   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      –       0
181 Program_Fail_Cnt_Total  0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       0
182 Erase_Fail_Count_Total  0x0000   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      –       0
187 Reported_Uncorrect      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       0
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       16
194 Temperature_Celsius     0x0022   034   052   000    Old_age   Always       –       34 (Min/Max 19/52)
196 Reallocated_Event_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       0
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       0
218 Unknown_Attribute       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       0
231 Temperature_Celsius     0x0000   097   097   000    Old_age   Offline      –       97
233 Media_Wearout_Indicator 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       2104
241 Total_LBAs_Written      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       1857
242 Total_LBAs_Read         0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       –       1141
244 Unknown_Attribute       0x0000   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      –       32
245 Unknown_Attribute       0x0000   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      –       107
246 Unknown_Attribute       0x0000   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      –       15940

SMART Error Log Version: 1
No Errors Logged

SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
No self-tests have been logged.  [To run self-tests, use: smartctl -t]

Selective Self-tests/Logging not supported

 

2. hddtemp

 

Usually if smartd is used it is useful to also use hddtemp which relies on smartd data.
 The hddtemp program monitors and reports the temperature of PATA, SATA
 or SCSI hard drives by reading Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting
 Technology (S.M.A.R.T.)
information on drives that support this feature.
 

linux:~# /usr/sbin/hddtemp /dev/sda1
/dev/sda1: Hitachi HDS721050CLA360: 31°C
linux:~# /usr/sbin/hddtemp /dev/sdc6
/dev/sdc6: KINGSTON SV300S37A120G: 25°C
linux:~# /usr/sbin/hddtemp /dev/sdb2
/dev/sdb2: KINGSTON SA400S37240G: 34°C
linux:~# /usr/sbin/hddtemp /dev/sdd1
/dev/sdd1: WD Elements 10B8: S.M.A.R.T. not available

 

 

3. lm-sensors / i2c-tools 

 Lm-sensors is a hardware health monitoring package for Linux. It allows you
 to access information from temperature, voltage, and fan speed sensors.
i2c-tools
was historically bundled in the same package as lm_sensors but has been seperated cause not all hardware monitoring chips are I2C devices, and not all I2C devices are hardware monitoring chips.

The most basic use of lm-sensors is with the sensors command

 

linux:~# sensors
i350bb-pci-0600
Adapter: PCI adapter
loc1:         +55.0 C  (high = +120.0 C, crit = +110.0 C)

 

coretemp-isa-0000
Adapter: ISA adapter
Physical id 0:  +28.0 C  (high = +78.0 C, crit = +88.0 C)
Core 0:         +26.0 C  (high = +78.0 C, crit = +88.0 C)
Core 1:         +28.0 C  (high = +78.0 C, crit = +88.0 C)
Core 2:         +28.0 C  (high = +78.0 C, crit = +88.0 C)
Core 3:         +28.0 C  (high = +78.0 C, crit = +88.0 C)

 


On CentOS Linux useful tool is also  lm_sensors-sensord.x86_64 – A Daemon that periodically logs sensor readings to syslog or a round-robin database, and warns of sensor alarms.

In Debian Linux there is also the psensors-server (an HTTP server providing JSON Web service which can be used by GTK+ Application to remotely monitor sensors) useful for developers
psesors-server

psensor-linux-graphical-tool-to-check-cpu-hard-disk-temperature-unix

If you have a Xserver installed on the Server accessed with Xclient or via VNC though quite rare,
You can use xsensors or Psensora GTK+ (Widget Toolkit for creating Graphical User Interface) application software.

With this 3 tools it is pretty easy to script one liners and use the Zabbix UserParameters functionality to send hardware report data to a Company's Zabbix Sserver, though Zabbix has already some templates to do so in my case, I couldn't import this templates cause I don't have Zabbix Super-Admin credentials, thus to work around that a sample work around is use script to monitor for higher and critical considered temperature.
Here is a tiny sample script I came up in 1 min time it can be used to used as 1 liner UserParameter and built upon something more complex.

SENSORS_HIGH=`sensors | awk '{ print $6 }'| grep '^+' | uniq`;
SENSORS_CRIT=`sensors | awk '{ print $9 }'| grep '^+' | uniq`; ;SENSORS_STAT=`sensors|grep -E 'Core\s' | awk '{ print $1" "$2" "$3 }' | grep "$SENSORS_HIGH|$SENSORS_CRIT"`;
if [ ! -z $SENSORS_STAT ]; then
echo 'Temperature HIGH';
else 
echo 'Sensors OK';
fi 

Of course there is much more sophisticated stuff to use for monitoring out there


Below script can be easily adapted and use on other Monitoring Platforms such as Nagios / Munin / Cacti / Icinga and there are plenty of paid solutions, but for anyone that wants to develop something from scratch just like me I hope this
article will be a good short introduction.
If you know some other Linux hardware monitoring tools, please share.

Create SFTP CHROOT Jail User for data transfer to better Linux shared web hosting server security

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

Adding user SFTP access to a Linux system is often required and therefore a must for multi users or web hosting environments it is an absolute requirement to have SFTP  user space separation ( isolation ) out of the basic Linux system environment this is done using a fake CHROOT Jail.

Purpose of this article is to show how to create SFTP Chroot JAIL in few easy configurations.

By isolating each user into his own space you will protect the users to not eventually steal or mistakenly leak information such as user credentials / passwords etc.

Besides that it is useful to restrict the User to his own File / Web Space to have granted only access to Secure FTP (SFTP) only and not SSH login access and togheter with the chroot jail environment to protect your server from being attempted to be hacked (rooted / exploited) through some (0day) zero-day kernel 1337 vulnerability.

1. Setup Chrooted file system and do the bind mount in /etc/fstab
 

# chown root:root /mnt/data/share
# chmod 755 /mnt/data/share
# mkdir -p /sftp/home
# mount -o bind /mnt/data/share /sftp/home

Next add to /etc/fstab (e.g. vim /etc/fstab) and add following line:
 

/mnt/data/share /sftp/home  none   bind   0   0


To mount it next:
 

# mount -a


/mnt/data/share is a mounted HDD in my case but could be any external attached storage

 

2. Create User and sftpgroup group and add your new SFTP Jailed user accounts to it

To achieve SFTP only CHROOT Jail environment you need some UNIX accounts new group created such as sftpgroup and use it to assign proper ownership / permissions to newly added SFTP restricted accounts.
 

# groupadd sftpgroup


Once the group exists, next step is to create the desired username / usernames with useradd command and assign it to sftpgroup:

 

# adduser sftp-account1 -s /sbin/nologin -d /sftp/home
# passwd sftp-account1

 

usermod -G sftpgroup sftp-account1


Above both commands could be also done in one line with adduser

 

# adduser sftp-account1 -g sftpgroup -s /sbin/nologin -d /sftp/home

Note the /sbin/nologin which is set to prevent SSH logins but still allow access via sftp / scp data transfer clients Once the user exists it is a good idea to prepare the jailed environment under a separate directory under root File system system lets say in /sftp/home/

3. Set proper permissions to User chrooted /home folder

# mkdir -p /sftp/home
# mkdir /sftp/home/sftp-account1
# chown root:root /sftp/
# chown sftp-account1:sftpgroup /sftp/home/sftp-account1

For each new created uesr (in this case sftp-account1) make sure the permissions are properly set to make the files readable only by the respective user.

# chmod 700 -R /sftp/home/sftp-account1

For every next created user don't forget to do the same 3. Modify SSHD configuration file to add Chroot match rules Edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config file and to the end of it add below configuration:

# vim /etc/ssh/sshd_config
Subsystem sftp internal-sftp     
Match Group sftpgroup   
ChrootDirectory /sftp/home   
ForceCommand internal-sftp   
X11Forwarding no   
AllowTcpForwarding no


Restart sshd to make the new settings take effect, to make sure you don't ed up with no access (if it is a remote server) run the sshd daemon on a secondary port like so:
 

# /usr/sbin/sshd -p 2208 &

Then restart sshd – if it is old Linux with Init V support

# /etc/init.d/sshd restart

– For systemd Linux systems

# systemctl restart sshd


4. Verify Username (sftp-account1) could login only via SFTP and his environment is chrooted

 

ssh sftp-account1@www.pc-freak.net

This service allows sftp connections only.
Connection to 83.228.93.76 closed.

 

sftp sftp-account1@www.pc-freak.net Connected to 83.228.93.76. sftp>


5. Closure

The quick summary of What we have achieved with below is:

restrict Linux users from having no /bin/shell access but still have Secure FTP copy in few steps to summarize them

a. create new user and group for SFTP chrooted restricted access only
b. set proper permissions to make folder accessible only by user itself
c. added necessery sshd config and restarted sshd to make it working d. tested configuration

This short guide was based on documentation on Arch Linux's wiki SFTP chroot you can check it here.

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

Monday, September 10th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

 

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

 


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

Here is an example email_content.html (skeleton file)

 

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

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


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

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

 

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

 

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

2. Using sendmail command to send email
 

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

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

 

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

 

Content of file should be something like:

Subject: This Email is sent from UNIX Terminal Email

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

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

 

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

 

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

3. Using ssmtp command to send mail
 

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

To give it a try you can do:

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

Lets send a simple test email …

 

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

 

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

 

/etc/ssmtp/ssmtp.conf

 

4. Send Email from terminal using Mutt client
 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

Terminal-Verify-existing-Email-with-telnet

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

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

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

# apt-get –yes install netcat


 

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

 

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

 

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

 

# netcat -C localhost 25 < test_email_content.txt

 

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

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


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

 

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

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

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

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


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


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

root@linux:~# apt-get install curl

 


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

root@linux:~# curl –manual

 

a) Sending Emails via Gmail and other Mail Public services

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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


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

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

Then use curl in a similar way like below example:

 

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

 

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

 

9. Using swaks command to send emails from

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

 


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

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

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

Create new file with content like:
 

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


This is a test message.
 

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


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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 Closure

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

Hope you enjoyed, happy mailing !

Mount remote Linux SSHFS Filesystem harddisk on Windows Explorer SWISH SSHFS file mounter and a short evaluation on what is available to copy files to SSHFS from Windows PC

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

swish-mount-and-copy-files-from-windows-to-linux-via-sshfs-mount

I'm forced to use Windows on my workbook and I found it really irritating, that I can't easily share files in a DropBox, Google Drive, MS OneDrive, Amazon Storage or other cloud-storage free remote service. etc.
I don't want to use DropBox like non self-hosted Data storage because I want to keep my data private and therefore the only and best option for me was to make possible share my Linux harddisk storage
dir remotely to the Windows notebook.

I didn't wanted to setup some complex environment such as Samba Share Server (which used to be often a common option to share file from Linux server to Windows), neither wanted to bother with  installing FTP service and bother with FTP clients, or configuring some other complex stuff such as WebDav – which BTW is an accepted and heavily used solution across corporate clients to access read / write files on a remote Linux servers.
Hence, I made a quick research what else besides could be used to easily share files and data from Windows PC / notebook to a home brew or professional hosting Linux server.

It turned out, there are few of softwares that gives a similar possibility for a home lan small network Linux / Windows hybrid network users such, here is few of the many:

  • SyncThingSyncthing is an open-source file synchronization client/server application, written in Go, implementing its own, equally free Block Exchange Protocol. The source code's content-management repository is hosted on GitHub

     

     

     

     

     

    syncthing-logo

  • OwnCloud – ownCloud provides universal access to your files via the web, your computer or your mobile devices

     

     

     

     

     

    owncloud-logo

  • Seafile – Seafile is a file hosting software system. Files are stored on a central server and can be synchronized with personal computers and mobile devices via the Seafile client. Files can also be accessed via the server's web interface


seafile-client-in-browser

I've checked all of them and give a quick try of Syncthing which is really easy to start, just download the binary launch it and configure it under https://Localhost:8385 URL from a browser on the Linux server.
Syncthing seemed to be nice and easy to configure solution to be able to Sync files between Server A (Windows) and Server B(Linux) and guess many would enjoy it, if you want to give it a try you can follow this short install syncthing article.
However what I didsliked in both SyncThing and OwnCloud and Seafile and all of the other Sync file solutions was, they only supported synchronization via web and didn't seemed to have a Windows Explorer integration and did required
the server to run more services, posing another security hole in the system as such third party softwares are not easily to update and maintain.

Because of that finally after rethinking about some other ways to copy files to a locally mounted Sync directory from the Linux server, I've decided to give SSHFS a try. Mounting SSHFS between two Linux / UNIX hosts is
quite easy task with SSHFS tool

In Windows however the only way I know to transfer files to Linux via SSHFS was with WinSCP client and other SCP clients as well as the experimental:

As well as few others such as ExpandDrive, Netdrive, Dokan SSHFS (mirrored for download here)
I should say that I first decided to try copying few dozen of Gigabyte movies, text, books etc. using WinSCP direct connection, but after getting a couple of timeouts I was tired of WinSCP and decided to look for better way to copy to remote Linux SSHFS.
However the best solution I found after a bit of extensive turned to be:

SWISH – Easy SFTP for Windows

Swish is very straight forward to configure compared to all of them you download the .exe which as of time of writting is at version 0.8.0 install on the PC and right in My Computer you will get a New Device called Swish next to your local and remote drives C:/ D:/ , USBs etc.

swish-new-device-to-appear-in-my-computer-to-mount-sshfs

As you see in below screenshot two new non-standard buttons will Appear in Windows Explorer that lets you configure SWISH

windows-mount-sshfs-swish-add-sftp-connection-button-screenshot

Next and final step before you have the SSHFS remote Linux filesystem visible on Windows Xp / 7 / 8 / 10 is to fill in remote Linux hostname address (or even better fill in IP to get rid of possible DNS issues), UserName (UserID) and Direcory to mount.

swish-new-fill-in-dialog-to-make-new-linux-sshfs-mount-directory-possible-on-windows

Then you will see the SSHFS moutned:

swish-sshfs-mounted-on-windows

You will be asked to accept the SSH host-key as it used to be unknown so far

swish-mount-sshfs-partition-on-windows-from-remote-linux-accept-key

That's it now you will see straight into Windows Explorer the remote Linux SSHFS mounted:

remote-sshfs-linux-filesystem-mounted-in-windows-explorer-with-swish

Once setupped a Swish connection to copy files directly to it you can use the Send to Embedded Windows dialog, as in below screenshot

swish-send-to-files-windows-screenshot

The only 3 problem with SWISH are:

1. It doesn't support Save password, so on every Windows PC reboot when you want to connect to remote Linux SSHFS, you will have to retype remote login user pass.
Fron security stand point this is not such a bad thing, but it is a bit irritating to everytime type the password without an option to save permanently.
The good thing here is you can use Launch Key Agent
as visible in above screenshot and set in Putty Key Agent your remote host SSH key so the passwordless login will work without any authentication at
all however, this might open a security hole if your Win PC gets infected by virus, which might delete something on remote mounted SSHFS filesystem so I personally prefer to retype password on every boot.

2. it is a bit slow so if you're planning to Transfer large amounts of Data as hundreds of megabytes, expect a very slow transfer rate, even in a Local  10Mbit Network to transfer 20 – 30 GB of data, it took me about 2-3 hours or so.
SWISH is not actively supported and it doesn't have new release since 20th of June 2013, but for the general work I need it is just perfect, as I don't tent to be Synchronizing Dozens of Gigabytes all the time between my notebook PC and the Linux server.

3. If you don't use the established mounted connection for a while or your computer goes to sleep mode after recovering your connection to remote Linux HDD if opened in Windows File Explorer will probably be dead and you will have to re-enable it.

For Mac OS X users who want to mount / attach remote directory from a Linux partitions should look in fuguA Mac OS X SFTP, SCP and SSH Frontend

I'll be glad to hear from people on other good ways to achieve same results as with SWISH but have a better copy speed while using SSHFS.

How to Remove Firefox TABS all time Moving Backward / Forward (Waiting) Wheel cursor – Browser and OS Wheel Ring cursor might affect hypnotically

Monday, September 7th, 2015

remove-firefox-tabs-all-time-annoying-moving-back-forward-waiting-wheel-cursor-browser-and-ring-cursor-might-affect-you-hypnotically

I've been annoying for quite a long time by the the Clockwise moving backward and Forward Wheel (Ring) on Top of browser Tabs everytime I navigate to a new Internet domain or request a resource on the Net.

I'm aware that seeing the wheel all the time move back and forward is a very bad manipulation technique that is often used in advertisements in old movies and some advertisements in the start of the video . I'm talking about the infamous backward counting technique in a Circle (it was moer commonly used in the dawn of Television) aiming to induce watchers mind into hypnotic state …

back-counting-10-9-8-7-manipulation-technique-to-make-your-mind-susceptible

Those who have a degree in psychology or have been into marketing or human resources fields or any field involved where you have to influence the masses are already aware of the backward counting methology which has been practiced heavily by hypnosis practisioners such as Sigmund Freud, to induce any kind of hypnotic state the hypnotist always asks the object of hypnotism to watch closely into a moving back and forwards clock, often accompanied by counting backwards …

Well my Theory here is that the same techniques is well aware of those who planned Windows OS in which if you remember the Sand Clock has been substituted in Windows 7 / 8 and Windows 10 with the rotating back and foward Wheel for the reason that this aims to influence people mind to go into Alpha state from Beta state and thus make them feel more relaxed while doing stuff on the PC.

One thing to mention here is Back and Forward wheel is not only into OS level it has been heavily adopted by leading Software as a Service (SAS) UIs such as Google's and probably more importantly Youtube (have you noticed the Cycling Wheel when waiting for a Youtube movie to Load), the Wheel is also heavily incoruprated in most if not all biggest Websites on the Net. Even If you have noticed these days Google's Cycling (Waiting) Wheel is not only Cycling but has the colorful programming incorporated.

google-wheel-color-programming-example

Well probably many people who use computers daily did not really realize that the Computer OS and Programs GUI Interface they're using is influencing their mind and some famous psychological methods such as color programming and hypnotic tricks could be used more or less.

In that regard as a Firefox user I decided to change tne Back and Forward Wheel with another one which will not trigger my subconsciousness / mind all the time while browing on the Net into Alpha State. As I'm not a Firefox expert and my quick research on search Engines on how to achieve changing or removing the Browser Tabs all time turning wheel did not led me to nothing positive, I've consulted the experts in irc.freenode.net #firefox.

As always the guys were helpful and pointed me out to UserStyles.org website's Static-Throbbler CSS. I've mirrored the CSS script under a name remove-firefox-tab-wheel-script.css in case if UserSpace.org disappears in future, below is also a paste of the script:

@namespace url(https://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul); @-moz-document url(chrome://browser/content/browser.xul) { .tab-throbber { list-style-image: url('data:image/png;base64,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') !important; animation-name: none !important; } .tab-throbber[progress] { list-style-image: url('data:image/png;base64,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') !important; } }

To use the script you will first need to install the Stylish FF plugin, then:

Stylish-FireFox-plugin-screenshot-Windows-7-OS
 

1. Enable Stylish plugin and Restart firefox when prompted
2. Click on Write New Style
3. Paste above CSS script and click on Save button

 

stylish-static-throbbler-css-script-change-back-forward-rotating-tab-wheel-on-Firefox-howto

Now instead of the moving wheel you will get just a circle appearing as a static image while the page is loading.

If you want to absolutely remove any circles or images and show nothing when loading, e.g. not have any mean to monitor whether page is loaded or not, but also make it easier for the eye I even finally decided to completely remove the all time moving Wheel from Firefox Tabs even the static picture out using below CSS script with Stylish:
 

@namespace url(https://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul); @-moz-document url(chrome://browser/content/browser.xul) { .tab-throbber { list-style-image: none !important; animation-name: none !important; } .tab-throbber[progress] { list-style-image: none !important; } }

After all even after removing the FF Tabs wheel, there is the Status being printed down the webpage, showing text based the connection status. I find this kind of page loading status much less agressive and preferrable, than the current verions Firefox 4 onwards ..

One other thing I do to prevent the annoying Windows OS default Theme wheel is to change it to the old fashioned sand clock as well as bring back the theme of Windows 7 / 8 to Classic Theme of Win 2000, as I believe this reduced the level of zoombification the PC imposes on self 🙂

Enjoy!