Life

Updating Ubuntu cloud images

One approach to updating (and making PCI DSS-compliant…) Ubuntu cloud images would be to start a stock instance with an unmodified image, customise this VM, and then either snapshot or save and convert the resulting filesystem. The two drawbacks of this methodology are that the resulting image isn’t necessarily pristine – the commands run to migrate its state and and temporary files will still be present – and the image will be much larger than the original compressed/deduplicated source. This latter aspect is important when there is a need to spin-up a large number of VMs quickly, and the smaller the source image the faster this can occur.

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Setting user passwords on Ubuntu cloud instances

I’ve recently been working on upgrading the stock Ubuntu cloud image(*) to meet the requirements for PCI DSS compliance – and a hugely non-obvious issue I ran into went as follows:


# passwd newuser
passwd: Module is unknown
passwd: password unchanged

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Unmounting stuck Linux filesystems…

It’s not uncommon, especially when using chroot() gaols, to find that “modern” systemd-equipped Linux distributions seem to get a bit possessive when it comes to mounting filesystems such as devtmpfs on /dev or tmpfs on /run, and when you want to remove the gaol this filesystems can show as still in use – although lsof/fuser -m output suggests that everything using root-dev and nothing respectively are actually using these mount-points.

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HP Virtual Rooms on Linux

HP Virtual Rooms supports Windows (primarily), Mac OS, and Linux.

Getting things working on Linux, however, takes a bit of elbow grease…

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Understanding UK Distance Selling Regulations

I’ve recently been looking to purchase a piece of equipment online which is not available from big-name suppliers, only from a limited number lesser-known websites. Having no reputation upon which to base a purchasing decision, a viable method to choose between a reliable site and a potentially bad site could be to see how well each site’s Terms & Conditions comply with the legal requirements of the UK Distance Selling regulations – legal requirements which either seem to be frequently misunderstood by legitimate sellers or frequently mis-quoted by sellers who seemingly wish to shirk their responsibilities in an attempt to force unlawful terms onto unwitting customers.

For reference, the Office of Fair Trading‘s guide on distance selling is available in this PDF document.

Please note that these regulations only apply when goods are purchased remotely, without having viewed the goods prior to purchase. They in fact give consumers many more rights when making purchases via the internet than if they purchased from a shop – to the point where it in many cases no longer makes sense to purchase big-ticket items from a bricks-and-mortar shop at all!

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Look Ma, I’m on TV!

The other weekend I spent Sunday at RAF Upwood, an abandoned RAF base near Peterborough, on a photo-shoot organised by Alex Beckett. Alex has put together a video of the event, featuring some of the most striking photographs taken.

If you keep your eyes peeled, you might even spot me in a couple of the pictures 🙂

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Gentoo Linux ebuild for SilverStripe 2.2.3

We’ve recently been working on remodelling our corporate website, and the decision has been made to make use of the SilverStripe CMS.

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Fix problems with Vodafone 3G USB modems on Sony laptops

At work we have several Sony laptops and have recently upgraded to the latest Vodafone-branded Huawei 3G/HSDPA modems… and on all laptops we’ve experienced intermittent connectivity and constant errors.

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Vodafone illegally intercepting 3G-users’ email?

Some of the guys at work have been reporting for several days that they haven’t been able to send email when working off-site and connecting to the internet by their Vodafone 3G dongles.

Specifically, Thunderbird was saying that it received an invalid server response of “421 too many connections”.

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Time … stops

From the looks of the video, these guys did really well…