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Eyes on the Stars

“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground” -Theodore Roosevelt

Trust in Ideas

“ Wise men put their trust in ideas and not in circumstances. ”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Symptoms

Device Manager displays only non-Plug and Play devices, drivers, and printers when you click Show hidden devices on the View menu. Devices that you install that are not connected to the computer (such as a Universal Serial Bus [USB] device or “ghosted” devices) are not displayed in Device Manager, even when you click Show hidden devices.

Workaround

To work around this behavior and display devices when you click Show hidden devices:

  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Command Prompt.
  2. At a command prompt, type the following command , and then press ENTER:
    set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
  3. Type the following command a command prompt, and then press ENTER:
    start devmgmt.msc
  4. Troubleshoot the devices and drivers in Device Manager.

    NOTE: Click Show hidden devices on the View menu in Device Manager before you can see devices that are not connected to the computer.

  5. When you finish troubleshooting, close Device Manager.
  6. Type exit at the command prompt.

    Note that when you close the command prompt window, Window clears the devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1variable that you set in step 2 and prevents ghosted devices from being displayed when you click Show hidden devices

In the Information Technology world, you often hear people say that IPv6 is “the worst” or it causes problems and breaks things with the high recommendation of disabling it.  However, the source of this recommendation is never clearly specified nor validated and there is significant reason to leave it enabled.

When you talk to Microsoft or attend seminars, you always hear them recommend to not to disable IPv6.  The explanation is located at the link below.  I love how Microsoft begins the explanation in this Q&A.

IPv6 for Microsoft Windows

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/network/cc987595.aspx

Q. What are Microsoft’s recommendations about disabling IPv6?

A.

It is unfortunate that some organizations disable IPv6 on their computers running Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2008, where it is installed and enabled by default. Many disable IPv6-based on the assumption that they are not running any applications or services that use it. Others might disable it because of a misperception that having both IPv4 and IPv6 enabled effectively doubles their DNS and Web traffic. This is not true.

From Microsoft’s perspective, IPv6 is a mandatory part of the Windows operating system and it is enabled and included in standard Windows service and application testing during the operating system development process. Because Windows was designed specifically with IPv6 present, Microsoft does not perform any testing to determine the effects of disabling IPv6. If IPv6 is disabled on Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2008, or later versions, some components will not function. Moreover, applications that you might not think are using IPv6—such as Remote Assistance, HomeGroup, DirectAccess, and Windows Mail—could be.

Therefore, Microsoft recommends that you leave IPv6 enabled, even if you do not have an IPv6-enabled network, either native or tunneled. By leaving IPv6 enabled, you do not disable IPv6-only applications and services (for example, HomeGroup in Windows 7 and DirectAccess in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are IPv6-only) and your hosts can take advantage of IPv6-enhanced connectivity.

 

 

Roots of Innovation

Innovation comes from lessons learned in the past for the future.

 

There are nine server roles you can install on Server Core:

  1. AD DS – Active Directory Domain Services
  2. AD LDS – Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services
  3. DNS – Domain Name System
  4. DHCP – Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol
  5. File Services
  6. Print Services
  7. Streaming Media Services
  8. Web Server (IIS)
  9. Hyper-V

Server Core is built solely to run only these nine server roles.  Nothing else.

RAID Configuration Best Practices

Throughout my career, I have seen many different practices on which levels of RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) to use.  This post is referring to the traditional RAID form as there are now a few new forms of RAID that I believe in the future will supplant the original type.  Here are my recommendations and best practices that have served me well through the years.

  • RAID 0 – fastest performance, but also highest chance of failure.  With one drive failure, you will lose the entire array.  Best used as a scratch disk and data that can be lost.
  • RAID 1 – optimal for operating system (OS) installation with 2 drives.
  • RAID 5 – not recommended for any arrays larger than a couple terabytes because of the high chance of an unrecoverable read error (URE) and tolerance of only 1 drive failure.  I have seen too many UREs with RAID 5 that prevent a successful rebuild.  A URE happens when there is corrupt data in the array preventing a successful recovery from a degraded state.  Requires a minimum of 3 drives.
  • RAID 6 – recommended for data stores where reads are more important than writes.  Tolerates 2 drive failures and significantly less chance of experiencing a URE.  Requires a minimum of 4 drives.
  • RAID 10 – most expensive, but has the best performance and resiliency.  Requires a minimum of 4 disks.  It is striped (for performance) and mirrored (for redundancy).

NOTE: RAID is not a replacement for backups.  A good backup strategy that involves testing the backup is a necessity for a production environment.

Also, do yourself a favor and never use RAID 5.  I’ve seen too many failures, headaches and trouble caused by its usage.

Another type of RAID that I recommend and is my first recommendation is using a ZFS file system that has similar options, but better performance and resiliency with background data scrubbing.  The generic name for that type of RAID is called RAIDZ.  I’ll touch on examples and further explanations of this new state-of-the-art form of RAID in another post.

Installation

Download Hamachi2 deb from the LogMeIn download page.
https://secure.logmein.com/US/labs

When the download completes:

  1. Open up a terminal window.
  2. Change to the directory housing the newly downloaded .deb file.
  3. Issue the command

    sudo dpkg -i logmein-hamachi_XXX_xxx.deb

    (Where XXX is the release number and xxx is the architecture for your hardware). NOTE: If your installation doesn’t complete, you might need to open up Synaptic to “fix” the broken packages. This is an easy way to catch all of the dependencies.

  4. Type your sudo password and hit Enter.
  5. Allow the installation to complete.

Now you are ready to install the GUI.  Instead of downloading a .deb file, we are going to add the PPA for Haguichi to our system.  Once the PPA is added, Haguichi can be installed using apt-get. Here are the steps:

  1. Open up a terminal.
  2. Issue the command

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/haguichi

  3. Issue the command

    sudo apt-get update

  4. Issue the command

    sudo apt-get install haguichi

Haguichi client has been more reliable than Hamachi GUI.

Connect to, or create a VPN network

Click Applications | Internet | Haguichi. When the Haguichi window opens (at left), click Client | Join Network.  A new window will open where you can enter the credentials for the VPN you want to join.

You can also create a new network by clicking Client | Create Network.  You will have to enter a name and a password for that network.

Make sure your password follows standard strong password practices. Do NOT create a week password for a VPN network connection.

Now set the proxy settings in your browser to use the secure Hamachi+Privoxy proxy.

Install and Setup Privoxy

Privoxy is a free, open source web proxy.  It will be installed on your machine that you would like to connect to as your proxy.

  1. Download Privoxy from Sourceforge for your system and install. Privoxy is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  2. After you’ve installed Privoxy, launch the application. (If you’re running a firewall, you may need to give it access to open a port.) In Windows, Privoxy loads as a blank window.  It doesn’t mean it isn’t working and you can close this window; Privoxy will still be running in your system tray.
  3. Configure Privoxy to transmit traffic through your Hamachi setup
  4. Right-click Privoxy in the system tray and select Edit > Main Configuration.  Notepad will open with a text file called config.txt; this is Privoxy’s main configuration file.
  5. Press Ctrl+f and search for listen-address 127.0.0.1:8118. Most of the code is commented out with # in front of it.
  6. Type listen-address followed by the IP address created by Hamachi (i.e., listen-address 25.xxx.xxx.xx:8118).
  7. Save config.txt and restart Privoxy.

Chrome Privoxy Configuration

How to Secure and Encrypt Your Web Browsing on Public Networks (with Hamachi and Privoxy)

  1. Install the Proxy Switchy extension. Once installed, it should automatically open a new tab with its options.  (If it doesn’t, right-click the Proxy Switchy icon in your toolbar and select Options.)
  2. Enter a profile name—(i.e. Privoxy.
  3. In the HTTP Proxy box under Manual Configuration, enter the Hamachi VPN IP address to the computer where you set up your proxy. Set the port to 8118.  (Remember: Hamachi needs to be running on both computers when you want to use this proxy, and you can get the IP of any other computer on your Hamachi network by right-clicking the computer name and selecting Copy address.)
  4. Click Save and you’re done.

Whenever you want to browse using your secure proxy—just click the Proxy Switchy icon in Chrome, then select your Privoxy connection.

Conclusion

If you need to connect a Linux machine to a Hamachi VPN (or need to quickly create a VPN network), Hamachi2 and either Hamachi GUI or Haguichi are fantastic options. The setup time is short an the tools are user-friendly.  OpenVPN is another good option, but is much more complex to configure.

However, the source code of the Haugichi software is 100% open source, it does rely on the Hamachi service which uses non-open source software.

Linux ‘rdesktop’ Command

Linux is great, but there will more than likely always be a need to remote desktop into a Windows machine.

Open a terminal window and type the following command to initiate a session:

rdesktop [machine/ip address] -flag

 

To get backslash ( \ ) if the backslash key is not working:

  • Press keys 9 and 2 while holding down Alt key.

To get frontslash ( / ):

  • Press keys 4 and 7 while holding down Alt key.
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