Zentyal - Ultimate Gateay/Fireall solution for beginners.

So I was up to my throat in trying to get a regular Debian distro to act as a firwall/gateway/dchp provider/network sniffer etc. I pretty much gave up after I could not get dnsmasq working properly.

So I researched a bit and came up with the Zentyal distro. I am currently running it on a single core Pentium 4 with a low grade mobo, and it does just fine. Load times are around 0.20.

The ease of use and intuitive user interface will have you set up in no time. Here's the LINK to their website. The paid version includes cloud services et.al but the standalone server is FREE.

Installing Zentyal 2.2.7

An old single core P4 machine with 2GB RAM

Not much in here, CD-ROM, IDE harddisk to boot from

Also installed 2x80 SATA disks in RAID0,
just to have some space for downloads.

The free version includes (among others)
No hassle network configuration
Web Proxy Cache
Misc. Monitors.
GUI (XCFE i think)
Comes with Firefox to administer the firewall. It's implemented with jquery and scriptacolous. Nice work.
It's built on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and comes with an LXDE interface. You can install Synaptic and install some apps, but do not expect the full Ubuntu Experience.

However, there is a way to install Zentyal packages from within an original Ubuntu. If you want that, check the Ubuntu forums. But this is a good and clean install.

I tried first IPcop and it's sublings and them I tried to customize Debian 6.04, only to end up with spasms, and then I found Zentyal. It pretty much worls out of the box for beginner-to intermdiate network administrators.

Keep up the good work, Zentyal devs!
The desktop itself, LXDE based.

Administration is performed within the web
interface in the pre-installed FireFox.

One great thing about keeping old hardware around!

ACER Tower

Other solutions like IPCop and MonoWall are great, but this makes a good multifunctional device:
  • Cheap ISP routers are casually hacked. This will chase away most random hackers.
  • The computer in question can be used for more than just a dumb dedicated firewall
  • Traffic shaping can control bandwidth usage, if let's say, you have a neighbor who lends some internet from "time to time. (Meaning "I'll fucking kill you if I lose my XBox Live connection again").
  • Intrusion detection and general bad packet warning

The Demise of a Harddisk

So, you don't need to be a computer expert to have realized that Maxtor harddisk are about the lowest quality disks you can buy. My stack here of about 7 broken Maxtor Disks, while almost every other disk (newer or older) works fine.

So here's how a Maxtor drive eels it way trough detection mechanisms before they go titsup without warning.

I had two 320GB Maxtor harddisks (salvaged from their horrible OneTouch external USB drives with notoriously faulty controllers)

So here is what's inside one of these:
Some custom IDE-2-USB interface
That disk is a regular 3.5" IDE drive.

When the controller fails (as both mine did about at the same time) you can take the disks out, they are still (Maxtorwize) ok.
It was two such disks that became one of the RAID0's in my file server.
I set up in RAID0 on a Medley RAID SiL controller. Suddenly my clients complain about the drive not beeing available.

Just some time before before this, I noticed that one of the drives had trouble syncing speed up to the other drive. I could hear it ticking, like 2-3 times per hour. That's how I got suspicious first. Since then, I proactively moved stuff from the drive to another drive (after a proper checksum check).

I then check out the fileserver with the RAID, and lo and behold, the controller software had issued warnings about a drive. Their SMART status was OK, but still the RAID controller was complaining.

So I am beginning to think that Maxtor drives fakes their SMART status and dies off without any warning.

Right now I am shuffling about as much as I can from the RAID :)

Anyway, after a 3rd reboot of the fileserver, and stopping other clients from accesing that RAID, I seem to be able to move files from it, uninterrupted, locally on the machine. I just hope this will hold until the disk dies. I'll reconfigure the two disks to RAID1 and wait for the first one to fail. At least then I've only lost 320GB of free space and not 640GB of stuff. (That particular RAID was purely a playground and download setup.)

I have a RAID10 setup of WD disks, let's just say I have a lot more confidence in that! Also I have a spare disk for that RAID should it ever become needed !

UPDATE: May 8th 2012:
The RAID10 actually failed! It went better than expected


So I had to do a summarization of the hardware we got going here.

CPU power:
AMD Turion(?)   x4  1.5Ghz (laptop)
AMD Phenom II x6, 3.4Ghz (game rig)
AMD Phenom II x4 3.4 Ghz (fileserver)
Intel Pentium 4         1.8Ghz (firewall)
Intel Celeron             1.4Ghz (sec)
Intel Celeron             1.5Ghz (offline)
=                                44.7Ghz
4x1 Kingston HyperX 4.00GB
4x4 Kingston HyperX 16.GB
Laptop DDR                512 MB
Laptop DDR                512 MB
P4 DDR2                     1GB
Laptop                         6GB
=                                  28GB RAM


320GB Raid 10
640GB Raid 0
320GB Raid 0
500GB Raid 0
5 TB External
250GB Sata
320 Sata
160 GB Samsung
30 GB Laptop
600 GB Laptop
= 8,2 TB Space (More than that including Raid spares++, probably around 10TB total)

GPU: Any combinaton of these. I can run CrossFire CL and PhysX at the same time.
GeFore MX440 PCIe Edition, 64MB

Laptop GPUs
1xAMD Mobile CF2 512MB
2xIntel915 Some variants of therse 32MBx2

GigaBit Switched Network. JF4.
OS: Win7, Debian based security software, Several distros that follows rule #1 will be more than happy to accomodate your needs in case you break the ISP router. Here be dragons, if that wasn't obvious enough.

ISP 25/5 Line, no quota. :D
Power drain: Probably around 1KW per hour when all computers goes max settings and troughput.

Now the question is: Will it run Beowulf? Or skynet!


Metallica Roskilde 86 2nd gen complete

 Just had to grab the opportunity to grab one of the most prized Metallica bootlegs ever: The *complete 2nd gen copy* of the Roskilde 86 show. (The 1st gen is destined to go with the taper to the grave and will *never ever* be released.)
From the left:
Dual DVD transfers of Toronto and Quebec 86
Germany 85 Remade with multiple audio
The Green one there: 2n gen Roskilde DVD!

Some jewels: (From the left)
California: Anaheim 86 (Jasons's 2nd show, uncorrupted version)
New York: Uniondale 86 1st gen LPCM audio
Sweden, Frødalundborg: 1987 Remade with as much SBD as we could find

Various, including a Roam tour rehearsal proshot

And heres an overview of the whole collection
(Yeah right like I even printed out 10% of what i have) :) :) :)

Interested in trading: Check my trading list (a bit out of date, will update soonish as all the veterans are releasing their stuff before Metfuk goes down)

Leave a comment if you're interested!

Here's some more pics:


Gaming: PS2 on HDMI trough your computer!

So you have all these cool PS2 games but you have no hardware that supports a composite cable anymore, do you? No, all you have is HDMI, DVI and maybe VGA. Well there's a reasonable solution to all this!

I got something called EasyCap, which is a capturing device that goes into the a USB2 port. On the installation disk is drivers and Ulead Visual Studio. The serial code is printed on the CD.

Here's how it looks: (the black cable is a S-Video cable)

The only drawback with this cheap device is that the sound capture chip only does 8Khz mono. So what i did was attach a female-to-two-male cable from the PlayStation into my stereo. Here's my Visio skillz for the schematics:

BAM, you get good sound. They look like this: (Obviously they probably need to be longer!)

So far I have not been able to get a widescreen live capture going on in Ulead Visual Studio, but it might be some configuration thing somewhere (The program asks you on startup if you want 16:9). Maybe it is EasyCap that can't do 16:9.

Anyway, the 4:3 picture I got on the 27" 1920x1080 from the humble PS2 was at least very impressive.


My new gaming rig!

CoolerMaster HAF 922 bigtower with built in glass panel side

2x 120mm fans on top. I managed to break a blade on the original 200x200x3 fan! Have a spare fan you want to donate?! :D
  • Gigabyte FXA990 UD7
  • Intel 80GB SSD disk for system
  • Samsung 160Gb SATA disk for data (I also moved all User directories to this drive to save space on the SSD. I can teach you how if you want!)
  • 16 Gb 1600 Mhz RAM
  • Phenom II X6 1100T CPU
  • 2x Sapphire Radeon 6790 in Crossfire
  • NXZT 5-fan controller
  • Kingston dual fan RAM cooler
  • Noctua SE CPU fan
  • Gbit Ethernet with 9K Jumbo frames
  • 24" BenQ HDMI LCD
  • Manually BIOS-overclocked to 220 FSB. (So RAM goes as 1740 and CPU at 3.3Ghz I think.
  • 2x 250GB Hitachi SATA 3.0Gbit in RAID0 on the Marvell ports
  • 1x 320GB Hitachi SATA Deskstar 3.0Gbit
  • 2x USB3 ports
  • 7.1 Surround
  • 6x USB2 ports with 2x power
  • ESATA connector
  • Corsair 750W V1 PSU

Front View

At the most, this monster draws about 500 Watts and seems to run smoothly.
One thing, the 6790 cards can be safely overclocked to 880 core speed, but do NOT mess with the Memory Speed clocks. That will get you BSODS. Also, I dont think it's completely stable on core speed 900Mhz.

A little note about the 6790 and CrossFire, it seems that you need to restart CrossFire before starting any games about half the time. Otherwise I get a flickering screen 50% of the time.

I am running Sapphire Trixx and enabled card syncing and disabled UPLS. That is supposed to do the trick. But not always it seems.

Also, if you happen to buy this motherboard and you have a Phenom II X4 960T, it will actually fit in the AM3 slot and works perfectly if your mobo has BIOS v7 or newer. (the 960T is the last of it's kind to do this. It has *both* DDR2 and DDR3 memory controllers.

I broke my 960T and had to get a new one, thats why I have a 1100T. But I fixed the broken pin on the 960T and put it back into it't proper AM2+ motherboard!

Old gaming rig rebuilt to RAID diskmonster!

So this is my main diskmonster rig:

  •  MSI K9A2+ Mobo
  • 460W PSU at the moment
  • 4 Gb Kingston HyperX 1066
  • Phenom II X4 960T
  • GeForce 8800GT
  • 2x SiL SATAPATA cards ( 320GB RAID 10,  120GB RAID 1, 640GB RAID 0)
  • 1x WD 250GB IDE drive
  • 1x Maxtor 40GB IDE for booting (Gonna move the user dirs soon, only 19 gigs free here!)
  • Gbit ethernet
  • 1TB IoMega USB external drive
  • 2TB WD USB external drive
  • About as many fans as I could fit in there.
  • A total of 10 disks!

Notes about the PCI SiL0680 SATAPATA cards: These needs to be flashed with a downloadable BIOS to enable RAID modes. This is originally just a quad channel IDE controller. But with the flashing, you get RAID modes 0,1 and 10. This is one of those 'Medley' RAID cards and it seems they are even bootable but i can't confirm that yet.

Also the gfx card in the picture is not the 8800, it's out for de-dusting. That card is just an old 64MB PCIe2.0 Nvidia card i had lying around.

The rig in it's current state draws about 180 Watts of power.


How to save your AMD Phenom 960T CPU with a broken pin

So I bought this Phenon II X4 Black Edition and put it into my MSI K9A2+ mobo. Then I bought a Noctua SE fan and all was going well. Until I discovered that the Promise RAID controller on the card did not work and the advertised 1Gbit ethernet port is actually just 100Mbps, that is.

Since the retailers (komplett.no) are complete jerks I  had to buy a new motherboard.

So then I bougth the excellent Gigabyte 990FXA UD7 board, in which that new 960T actually fits if you have BIOS v7 on the Gigabyte board installed.

When the new board arrived, the old MSI mobo wasn't even cold before I started to pull out the *heavy* Noctua fan long before the cooling paste had changed to 'cold state' and at the same time the Noctua fan kind of had a disagreement with Newton. And WHOOPS I ripped the 960T straight out of the socket. A lot of the pins were bent but I did not see any broken pins. So far. BTW, this pocket knife is perfect and widely available to use for CPU pin straigthening. First run it sharp edge up, then sharp edge down along 'bent lanes' of pins:
Better than MacGyvers pocket knife!

I put the 960T into the UD7 board. No post, just a mystical hex value 0x88 on the mobo POST indicator (pretty fancy!). After some Googling, I figured out that code means dead CPU. So a pin must have broken.

I had already put my old Athlon X2 back in the MSI board as as backup computer and it worked. I then disassembled it, shook the mobo over some pieces of newpaper and wouldn't you know, a pin from the 960T had been in there at the same time as the Athlon X2 was running fine!

So the next project was of course to get the 960T working again in the old mobo.

Here's the AM2+ socket, and I circled in red which hole it is that corresponds to the CPU.

Here's a blurry (sorry) picture of the location of the broken pin (it's the opposite of the triangle-mark side)

And here is the CPU pin, which still is not in the socket slot. How come ?!

 I lost that 960T pin about 6-7 times and I could not find it when I had finally figured out a way to securely insert the pin into the AM2+ socket. So I gave up an said to myself, well I do have a an old Pentium 3 1.4Ghz lying around, I'll just snap off a pin and use that instead!

Poor Pentium III got it's pin cut off :(

Then after a lot of Benny Hilling around that night, my old computer finally posted!
My 960T finally posted! YAY!

 And that's the story of how a Pentium III saved a Phenom II X4 960T. If anyone needs any tips for doing this, I can safely say I have the know-how now!