Setting Up Nagios – Working with Cisco’s CIMC

September 7th, 2017

This was far more challenging than it needed to be. Cisco makes some SDK’s available for use with Nagios but I was totally unable to make the system see them. They are just Python packages so I didn’t expect much trouble but I was totally at a loss. I thought, initially, that the issue was that the installer dumped the files into /usr/lib/python/site-packages/ instead of the 64bit path /usr/lib64/python/site-packages/ but no amount of copying and permissions changes made the system able to see the dependencies. For those interested, here is a link to the Cisco Nagios tools which is working in September of 2017 Nagios Plug-Ins for Cisco UCS I am making use of none of that package, or it’s requisite dependencies.

Instead, I found a script written in Go, that worked a treat and required no other dependencies to work. You can find it here on Github: check_cisco_ucs

Setting Up Nagios – Installing on Centos 7

September 6th, 2017

Long story short, I changed jobs about 6 months ago and found myself in a new position without any appreciable monitoring of the hardware for which I’m responsible. That needed to change as soon as I started to have time to put some hours into it. I did a little testing and poking around with some other monitoring tools but kept coming back to Nagios as the right choice, despite the mountain of work involved in setting it up. There is such a large community of help and plugins available for it, plus it’s a tool I’ve used at other jobs for many years.

The actual process of standing up a Nagios server is incredibly simple, but that initial server does almost nothing. Let’s go over these initial steps today and I’ll post little updates of the settings and configs I’ve rolled into Nagios over time to monitor different hardware and software platforms.

Libresonic on Centos 7 with SSL

June 7th, 2017

I’ve been a happy iTunes Match user since the service was introduced. I have a large music collection and I don’t always want to dedicate the required amount of iPhone and computer storage to keeping it available all the time on all my devices. iTunes Match lets Apple deal with storing the whole thing and allows me to just download what I want on a given device or stream music I own to any device I’d like. It’s been $25/year well spent.

That being said, with streaming music plans taking over the market, I can’t imagine Apple’s going to want to offer this service forever, plus I prefer to self-host as much of my digital needs as possible. Finding a way to replicate these features though has proven a bit tough. There were a few projects that would allow me to stream my music but I don’t want to use up my whole data plan streaming songs over and over again or have my music drop out every time I’m in a dead zone. Thankfully, I found Libresonic, which in concert with an app on my iPhone checks a lot of these boxes.

When the Photo Bug Bites

May 24th, 2017

I remember the first time I saw a moment that I knew I had to photograph. I wonder if other photographers are the same.

I was in Maine, spending a weekend with a friend at his lake side cabin. I woke up on a cool late autumn morning and the whole lake was covered in rising mist. The water was much warmer than the cool dry air and up came the moisture.

My only camera was a 3 megapixel ‘Kodak Easy Share’ I had gotten for Christmas a few years before. This was turn of the century, inexpensive, pocket camera technology at its most average. It was a fine snapshot camera, and I was glad to have received it as a gift, but I never expected that misty lake would impact my life to such a degree.

After that trip, I did a bit of research and bought myself a little Canon point and shoot camera. It was 8 mega pixels and had a bit of zoom ability built-in. I fully expected to love that camera and never need to upgrade again. In the end though, I found it very frustrating.

Automated Backups of OpnSense

January 31st, 2017

I use rsnapshot, on Centos 7, to manage the vast majority of my backups across a myriad of linux servers both within my network and across the globe. I’ve never blogged about the entirety of that process, but I wanted to post a quick note about how I use rsnapshot to also backup the configuration of my router.

Until recently, I had been using this process to backup my pfSense routers. With my switch to OPNsense though, I was pleased to see the process is the same.

Basically, we just need to make a copy of a single folder on the machine, ‘/conf’, which is located right off of the root on both pfSense an OpnSense.

Step one is to make sure you have a user setup on the router that can connect over SSH. For OpnSense you need to log into the web portal and navigate to System -> Settings -> Administration. Check the box to ‘Enable Secure Shell’ and ‘Permit Password login’. (We’ll disable password logins in a moment)

Cleaning up old Logs on Centos 7

January 16th, 2017

As often happens with computers of all types, log files build up over time. Generally speaking, the operating system will rotate these logs, which means it breaks them up into chunks, but it isn’t usually set to remove the old chunks. Over time, those log files can start to add up.

I am giving some thought to changing the provider of the VPS that hosts this web page, since performance is not consistent and the VPS is not very reliable, and I was curious to know how much disk space I needed for the system to run well. After doing some light clean up on the system I did a check to see where on the disk I was using the most space.

Using the following command, I did a search to find out which folders contained the most data:

du -a / | sort -n -r | head -n 10

Interesting Failure Modes – SD Card Arching

August 22nd, 2016

I’ve been using Raspberry Pi computers for several years. A few months ago the Raspberry Pi B I had hooked up to my TV and running OpenElec, stopped working. The Pi was locked up and then wouldn’t reboot when I pulled the power cord.

It’s an original B model, with just two USB ports, so I didn’t think much of it. I prepped and put in place a replacement Pi, also running OpenElec, and threw the Pi into a drawer for further inspection..later. I got 4 years faithful service from a $35 computer so I wasn’t complaining.

Some weeks later, I had an idea that I wanted to use a Raspberry Pi for so I grabbed the questionable unit and got to work.

My standard way to prep a Pi is to use raspbian-ua-netinst ( It doesn’t require a huge download, and it doesn’t automatically install a GUI and a bunch of software I don’t want.

How To: A Clean install of Windows 7 in 2016

April 25th, 2016

Maybe I’m alone here, but I still have occasion to install Windows 7 from time to time. For a while, that was no big deal; Install the OS, update, update, update and you’re good to go. Lately though, the process has become far more cumbersome. Not only does the process take ages to complete, but when you’re done its always nagging you to update to Windows 10. What follows is my process for getting this done without too much hassle.

Firstly, I’ve not created anything new here. I’ve simply found a series of tools and bit of information online that helped me along the way so I’m compiling it here for my future benefit.

Step 1 – Get the OS installed. After that, if your copy of Windows 7 doesn’t including Service Pack 1, go here and download it: Install. Reboot. Service packs include a large number of updates so it’s much faster to get the service pack installed first thing after the install than it is to use Windows Update to find it and download it.

Install Centos 6 on a Non-PAE Machine

March 12th, 2015

I have a Thecus N5200 that was modified to have a VGA port. Though the machine will run a variety of current Linux distributions, I wanted it to run Centos 6. Unfortunately, the N5200 doesn’t support PAE, which Centos 6 requires.

The first major problem is that a Non-PAE machine won’t even boot the Centos installer CD/DVD. You have to find some way around that. There are several ways to get around that but they are all quite complex and time-consuming. Plus, as time goes on they work less and less. The old software needed is harder and harder to find. I instead chose to simply install Stella. It’s a Desktop focused Linux distribution that is based on Centos 6 and the 32bit version includes a Non-PAE kernel. If you’re looking to install a Centos 6 desktop, install Stella and you’re all set. It’s great. The developer did a great job keeping things compatible with Centos 6 while also adding in things like video codecs and the like.

Thecus N5200 as a Server

March 12th, 2015

Back in 2007, I bought a Thecus N5200 to use as bulk storage on my network. I’ve spent many years using and fighting with the unit but it wasn’t until my storage needs out grew the 5 SATA disks it could hold that I considering sending it off to be recycled.

It’s a pretty basic unit. From Thecus it arrived with 5 hot swap SATA disk trays and a simple web-based management interface. The interface wasn’t great at telling you exactly what the state of your disks were so I lost my data with this unit more than once. Over time though Thecus added a method to install add ons and little by little people started to write add ons for the unit and actually increased its feature set. You could get an add-on to allow you to access the unit over SSH and to set up rsync file copies to a second location. Overtime, it became very useful and it’s remained in almost constant use.

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