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Archive for the ‘Config’ Category

Debian Installer With Kernel 2.6.11

As mentioned recently, Debian Sarge’s installer doesn’t work on my Dell Inspiron 9300. I like Debian but I think it’s a shame that the sarge installer was already outdated on the day of its release.

The official sarge installer still uses a 2.4 kernel by default but includes a 2.6 kernel that can be used by booting with "install26" or "expert26". But even that kernel, 2.6.8, is too old for the Inspiron 9300. It still doesn’t recognize the hard disk.

Ubuntu’s installer, which uses a 2.6.11 kernel, works fine on the machine. Although Ubuntu is a nice distribution, I like pure Debian better. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any 2.6.11 based Debian installer on the net, even a question on debian-boot yielded nothing.

Anyhow, I finally had the time to build one myself:
debian-2.6.11-i386-businesscard.iso (GPG signature)

The image is basically a sarge businesscard ISO with a 2.6.11 kernel from Debian testing instead of the original 2.6.8 kernel.

Unlike with Ubuntu, installation on the Inspiron 9300 still doesn’t work out of the box but with a few tricks I was able to install Debian sarge:

  • Boot with expert26
  • When the installer starts up, switch to the second console (Alt-F2) and enter these commands:
    ~ # modprobe ide_generic
    ~ # modprobe ata_piix

    Without this the installer won’t find the CD-ROM.

  • If network configuration via DHCP fails, just retry — worked for me
  • When asked what version of Debian you would like to install, choose stable. Installing testing or unstable directly doesn’t work.
  • It doesn’t matter which kernel you choose to install, we have to replace it with a 2.6.11 kernel later anyway
  • Just before the first reboot, that means right after the installer ejects the CD-ROM, switch back to console two. Now download and install the latest available Debian kernel. I’ve used 2.6.11-1-686:
    ~ # mount -t proc proc /target/proc
    ~ # chroot /target
    sh-2.05b# cd /root
    sh-2.05b# wget http://blog.blackdown.de/static/debian/kernel-image-2.6.11-1-686_2.6.11-7_i386.deb
    sh-2.05b# dpkg -i kernel-image-2.6.11-1-686_2.6.11-7_i386.deb
    sh-2.05b# exit
    ~ # umount /target/proc
  • Reboot (using the kernel just installed) and complete the installation
  • Upgrade to testing or unstable
  • Build a custom kernel (2.6.12 or newer). It’s probably a good idea to include some additional libata patches. To get the DVD drive working you have to apply this patch.

Securing WordPress Admin Access With SSL

January 22nd, 2006: There’s an updated version of this guide for WordPress 2 now: Securing WordPress 2 Admin Access With SSL

As one can guess from the look of this site, I’m using as my blog engine. At this time WordPress does not support HTTPS access to the admin area when the rest of the blog is served via normal HTTP. This is a bit unfortunate. I do not like logging in to my server over unencrypted connections, especially not when using public WLANs. Getting around this WordPress limitation requires quite a few steps:

The Goal

All communication involving passwords or authentication cookies should be done over HTTPS connections. wp-login.php and the wp-admin directory should only be accessible over HTTPS.
Normal reading access, as well as comments, tracebacks, and pingbacks still should go over ordinary HTTP.

The Plan

  • Add an HTTPS virtual host that forwards requests to the HTTP virtual host
  • Modify WordPress to send secure authentication cookies, so cookies never get sent over insecure connections accidentally
  • Require a valid certificate on HTTPS clients. That means to log in to WordPress you need both a valid certificate and a valid password. If someone manages to get your password, he still can not login because he does not have a valid certificate.

The Implementation

Note: This documentation assumes a Debian sarge installation with 2. Some things, in particular Apache module related ones, will be different on other systems.
The server used throughout the instructions is example.org/ The server’s DocumentRoot is /blog and WordPress resides in /blog/wp. The value of WordPress’ home option is ‘http://example.org’ and the value of its site_url option is ‘http://example.org/wp’.

  • Prepare the SSL certificates:
    • Generate your own certificate authority (CA) if you don’t have one already (I’m using the makefile from OpenSSL Certificate Authority Setup for managing mine) and import it into your browser.
    • Generate a certificate for the SSL server and certify it with your private CA.
    • Generate a certificate for your browser and certify it with your private CA. Most browsers expect a PKCS#12 file, so generate one with
      $ openssl pkcs12 -export -clcerts \
          -in blogclient.cert \
          -inkey blogclient.key \
          -out blogclient.p12

      Then import blogclient.p12 into your browser.

  • Make WordPress SSL-ready:
    Apply this patch to the WordPress code. It makes the following changes:

    • Use secure authentication cookies in wp_setcookie()
    • Make check_admin_referer() working with HTTPS URLs
    • Disable login over XML-RPC
  • Enable the necessary Apache modules:
    • Install mod_proxy_html. It will be used to replace absolute ‘http://example.org’ HTTP URLs in the WordPress output with ‘https://example.org’ HTTPS URLs:
      $ aptitude install libapache2-mod-proxy-html

      The module gets enabled automatically after installation.

    • Enable mod_proxy and mod_ssl
      $ a2enmod proxy
      $ a2enmod ssl

      Debian provides sane default configurations for both modules. You might want to take a look at the configuration files (ssl.conf and proxy.conf) nevertheless.

    • If you are compressing WordPress output (that is if you enabled the ‘WordPress should compress articles (gzip) if browsers ask for them’ option) then also enable mod_headers:
      $ a2enmod headers
  • Configure Apache to listen on the HTTPS port
    $ cat > /etc/apache2/conf.d/ssl.conf << EOF
    <IfModule mod_ssl.c>
    	Listen 443
  • Modify the blog virtual host to limit access to wp-login.php and wp-admin to the local host. Also completely deny access to files which should never be accessed directly. Here is an example: 10-example.org
  • Now setup the HTTPS virtual server: 20-example.org-ssl
    If you are compressing WordPress output you have to enable the RequestHeader line.
  • Enable the site and restart Apache
    $ a2ensite 20-blog-ssl
    $ /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
  • Remove the old WP cookies from your browser
  • Test the new setup!

Logitech MX1000 Configuration

I’ve had to buy a new mouse, this time I got me a Logitech MX1000 (my first Logitech mouse ever). The Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer I’ve used on my G5 got broken, it lost about two out of ten of clicks on the left button.

I’m not completely satisfied with the MX1000. It’s too heavy and a bit too small for my hands. The notable exception is the Forward button, it’s too far away from my thumb. I’ve had the last problem with the IntelliMouse Explorer too. I still have a few IntelliMouse Optical on other machines, I really like that mouse. Perfect Size, good wheel, easily reachable side buttons. The only drawback is the annoying big red light.

Anyhow, back to the MX1000. Only a few changes to my configuration for the IntelliMouse Explorer where needed to get it working. Here’s my new configuration:

  • /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 or /etc/X11/xorg.conf:
    Section "InputDevice"
     Identifier "MX1000"
     Driver     "mouse"
     Option     "CorePointer"
     Option     "Protocol"        "evdev"
     Option     "Dev Name"        "Logitech USB Receiver"
     Option     "Buttons"         "12"
     Option     "ZAxisMapping"    "11 12 10 9"
     Option     "Resolution"      "800"
     Option     "Emulate3Buttons" "false"
  • /etc/X11/Xmodmap:
    ! MX1000
    pointer = 1 2 3 8 9 10 11 12 6 7 4 5

    This gets the buttons in right order: Scrolling the wheel generates 4 and 5, tilting the wheel 6 and 7.

  • ~/.xbindkeysrc:
    (You have to install xbindkeys and xvkbd for this; I’m starting xbindkeys in ~/.gnomerc)

    # Backward and Forward buttons
    "xvkbd -text "\[Alt_L]\[Left]""
      m:0x10 + b:8
    "xvkbd -text "\[Alt_L]\[Right]""
      m:0x10 + b:9
    # "Cruise Control" disabled:
    #"xvkbd -text "\[Page_Up]""
    #  m:0x10 + b:11
    #"xvkbd -text "\[Page_Down]""
    #  m:0x10 + b:12
    # "Cruise Control" enabled:
    # Only use this if you have problems with Mozilla
    #  m:0x10 + b:11
    #  m:0x10 + b:12
    # Application-Switch button
    # A-Tab doesn't work
    # Use it as another Forward for now
    "xvkbd -text "\[Alt_L]\[Right]""
      m:0x10 + b:10

    Using the Application-Switch button for switching windows in GNOME doesn’t work because it would require holding down the Alt key while pressing Tab several times, xvkbd can’t do that. I’m using the button as another Forward now, it’s easier to reach than the real Forward button.
    Defining actions for the Cruise Control buttons only makes sense when Cruise Control is disabled (you can disable it with the Logitech Mouse Applet). If it is disabled, the buttons generate 11 and 12. When it is enabled, they generate a single button 11 or 12 event and then a series of button 4 or 5 events just like scrolling the wheel does.
    I have no idea why the mouse generates 11 or 12 before starting normal scrolling in Cruise Control mode. I’m mapping 11 and 12 to “NoCommand”, this eliminates the ButtonPress but not the ButtonRelease event. This seems to eliminate the negative effects of the extra button events in Mozilla. (Mozilla interprets the 11 and 12 events as normal left clicks, Firefox doesn’t have this issue. So if you’re using Firefox or if you don’t see the left-click problem with your Mozilla build, then don’t bind 11 and 12 to anything.)

  • At this point the Backward and Forward buttons should work in GNOME, KDE, and -based browsers. Horizontal scrolling should work in GNOME and KDE.
    Mozilla-based browser like need two additional changes to get horizontal scrolling working with the tilt wheel: Open about:config and set

    mousewheel.horizscroll.withnokey.action = 0
    mousewheel.horizscroll.withnokey.sysnumlines = true

April 5th, 2005: Update: Don’t bind 11/12 to anything in Cruise Control mode by default (only needed if there are problems with Mozilla). Fixed the "Cruise Control" comments in ~/.xbindkeysrc.

January 15th, 2006: Xorg 6.9 and later come with a different evdev driver. I’ve made an updated version of this guide now.

cyrus_sasl patch for Exim 4

The Exim 4 source code supports authentication with SASL since version 4.43. Debian started enabling this feature in exim4_4.50-2. After I’ve had upgraded to that version and replaced my saslauthd authenticators with brand-new cyrus_sasl authenticators, I’ve noticed that auth.log got flooded with entries like ‘exim4: OTP unavailable because can't read/write key database /etc/opiekeys: No such file or directory.’

My exim configuration uses three different cyrus_sasl authenticators and each exim invocation resulted in three of these OTP warnings because exim calls sasl_listmech() for each configured authenticator. It doesn’t specify a limiting mech_list, that means SASL will test which of all installed mechs actually can be used for authentication. Debian’s SASL package includes libotp.so, so it also tries to use OTP which is not configured on my system.

There are two ways to get rid off the warnings:

  • Remove /usr/lib/sasl2/libotp.*. You’ll have to do this after each upgrade of the libsasl2-modules package.
  • Rebuild exim with this patch. The patch specifies a limiting mech_list option for SASL. This limits sasl_listmech() to the mechs used in the exim configuration. Other mechs won’t be tried anymore.

May 3rd, 2005: A slightly modified version of the patch has been integrated into Exim CVS and will be included in the next Debian release of exim4 (see Debian bug #299743)

Updated MySQL Chroot Script

Debian’s latest MySQL packages are compiled with --with-mysqld-ldflags = -all-static.

That means libc.so.6 is linked statically now. But glibc’s getpwnam and getpwuid implementations still need the shared libraries. The needed libraries must be copied into the chroot because mysqld calls those functions after calling chroot. I’ve updated the mysql-chroot script accordingly.
(The rest of the chroot setup procedure still works as described in Chrooting MySQL on Debian.)

By the way, I’ve filed a wishlist bug at Debian’s BTS (#299265). mysqld should do all /etc/passwd lookups before calling chroot. That way chrooting would work without $CHROOT/etc/passwd and with copying any libraries into the chroot. That’s how Apache and Bind 9 do it.

March 17th, 2005: Debian has removed the -all-static flag again. I’m leaving the additional bits in the chroot script however, just in case the maintainers decide to add the flag again.