Scientific Article: Moving charged particles in lattice Boltzmann-based electrokinetics

I’ve published a scientific article in The Journal of Chemical Physics.

Moving charged particles in lattice Boltzmann-based electrokinetics
Michael Kuron, Georg Rempfer, Florian Schornbaum, Martin Bauer, Christian Godenschwager, Christian Holm, and Joost de Graaf
J. Chem. Phys. 145, 214102 (2016)

The journal provides open-access to the article for the first month. After that, you’ll still be able to download it for free from arXiv:

Disabling “secured” IPv6 addresses is macOS 10.12 Sierra

On older macOS versions, every network interface would have one IPv6 address autogenerated from its MAC address, easily identified by the characteristic “ff:fe” bytes in the middle of the host part:
$ ifconfig en0
ether 10:dd:b1:9f:6b:ba
inet6 fe80::12dd:b1ff:fe9f:6bba%en0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x4
inet6 2001:7c0:2012:4a:12dd:b1ff:fe9f:6bba prefixlen 64 autoconf

Since macOS 10.12 however, these were replaced with randomly-generated “secured” addresses:
$ ifconfig en0
ether 10:dd:b1:9b:d0:67
inet6 fe80::46:3b36:146:9857%en0 prefixlen 64 secured scopeid 0x4
inet6 2001:7c0:2012:4a:4e6:f1d1:dd90:c6b4 prefixlen 64 autoconf secured

Very little is known about these, besides a single mailing list post that discovered them. If you are running a server, you’ll want your IPv6 address to be deterministic so you can register it in DNS. Therefore, we need to revert to pre-10.12 behavior:

$ echo net.inet6.send.opmode=0 >> /etc/sysctl.conf
$ reboot

If you look at the source code of the XNU kernel (Search for the IN6_IFF_SECURED flag) and the IPConfiguration service in macOS 10.11 (the 10.12 source code hasn’t been released yet), you can see that the new behavior was already there, just not enabled by default like it is now. Also, we now know that the change wasn’t made to reflect RFC 7217 (Semantically Opaque Interface Identifiers) behavior, but rather implements RFC 3972 (Cryptographically Generated Addresses).

Using a BIND DNS server in an Active Directory Environment

Years ago, I posted a script that allowed ISC DHCPd to update a Microsoft DNS server with dynamic records for DHCP clients. I haven’t used that method in a long time and there is a much simpler method: use ISC DHCPd together with the BIND DNS server like everybody else does, and only delegate the _mscds and _sites zones from the BIND server to the Microsoft DNS servers: 86400 IN NS 86400 IN NS 86400 IN NS 86400 IN NS

Then on all your machines, use the BIND server as DNS server (typically set via DHCP option 23). For Windows Domain matters, only records below _msdcs and _sites are ever looked up.

I believe you should even be able to point your domain controllers to the BIND DNS server — they should be able to follow the NS record so that whenever they try to update their own records, they do so on the Microsoft DNS server. As it turns out, the RFC 2136 DNS UPDATE method is used when domain controllers try to register their own records, so you’ll see error messages in your logs if you point your domain controllers to the BIND DNS server (on a Microsoft DC, these would refer to NETLOGON and dynamic DNS registrations, while on a Samba DC they would be about samba_dnsupdate). If you are running Samba 4.5 or higher, you should ensure that samba_dnsupdate is called with the –use-samba-tool flag, which can probably be done by setting the option below in your /etc/samba/smb.conf. If you are running an older Samba version or any Windows Server version, you need to resort to using your domain controllers’ IP addresses as DNS servers on on all domain controllers (Samba: put them into /etc/resolv.conf, Windows: set them in the network interface properties).

dns update command = /usr/sbin/samba_dnsupdate --use-samba-tool

For compatibility with Unix clients (including Mac OS X), you’ll want to add a couple of CNAME records for the SRV records: 86400 IN CNAME 86400 IN CNAME 86400 IN CNAME 86400 IN CNAME 3600 IN SRV 0 100 464 3600 IN SRV 0 100 464 3600 IN SRV 0 100 464 3600 IN SRV 0 100 464

The _kpasswd records unfortunately can’t be CNAMEs because they don’t exist in the _msdcs branch, so you manually need to keep them up-to-date when you add and remove domain controllers.

Boot a Windows install disc from the network using iPXE and wimboot

A while ago, I showed how you can use a Linux PXE server along with a tool called Serva to PXE boot a Windows installer DVD. By now, there is a much nicer solution available that doesn’t require any Windows tools: iPXE with wimboot. So go ahead and replace your PXELinux setup with iPXE first. Then copy the contents of a Windows installer DVD to your TFTP server and make sure that the folder is also shared read-only via SMB. Now copy the wimboot binary to your TFTP server and add something like the following to your iPXE config file:
set serverip
set tftpboot tftp://${serverip}/
set tftpbootpath /mnt/Daten/tftpboot

menu iPXE boot menu
item --key w win10de Windows 10 16.07 x64 German
choose os
goto ${os}

echo Booting Windows Installer...
set root-path ${tftpboot}/ipxe
kernel ${root-path}/wimboot gui
set root-path ${tftpboot}/Win10_1607_German_x64
initrd ${root-path}/boot/bcd BCD
initrd ${root-path}/boot/boot.sdi boot.sdi
initrd ${root-path}/sources/boot.wim boot.wim
initrd ${root-path}/boot/fonts/segmono_boot.ttf segmono_boot.ttf
initrd ${root-path}/boot/fonts/segoe_slboot.ttf segoe_slboot.ttf
initrd ${root-path}/boot/fonts/segoen_slboot.ttf segoen_slboot.ttf
initrd ${root-path}/boot/fonts/wgl4_boot.ttf wgl4_boot.ttf
boot || goto failed

That’s it. When you boot this boot menu entry, you’ll be presented with the Windows installer, but if you click through it, it will at some point ask you for a driver because it can’t find its installer packages. So before you click through, hit Shift-F10 and execute the following commands to set up the network, mount the SMB share and re-execute the installer:
net use s: \\\tftpboot\Win10_1607_German_x64 bar /user:foo

If your SMB server is running Samba, the user you specify (foo) must not exist on the server so you force it to use anonymous authentication. With a Windows server, things might be different.

That should give you a working installer that will get your Windows running within a few minutes because Gigabit Ethernet has a much bigger bandwidth than a spinning DVD or a cheap USB flash drive.

Serva did have one advantage, however: when you set it up, you could inject network drivers into the boot image. With Windows 10, luckily, that has become a non-issue: Microsoft releases a new installer ISO for it about once a year, which you can directly download and which should contain all drivers for the latest hardware available when it was released.

Wiring Fibre Channel for Arbitrated Loop

We have a small Fibre Channel SAN with three servers, a switch and a dual-controller RAID enclosure. With only a single switch, we obviously couldn’t connect all servers redundantly to the RAID system. That meant, for example, that firmware updates to it could only be applied after shutting down the servers. Buying a second switch was hard to justify for this simple setup, so we decided to hook the switch up to the first RAID controller and wire a loop off the second RAID controller. Each server would have one port connected to the switch and another one to the loop.

Back in the old days, Fibre Channel hubs existed for exactly this purpose, but nowadays you simply can’t get them anymore. However, in a redundant setup, you don’t need a hub, you can simply run cables appropriately, i.e. in a daisy-chain fashion. The only downside of not having a hub, the loop going down if one server goes down, is irrelevant here because you have a second path via the switch. For technical details on the loop topology, you can have a look at documentation available from EMC.

To wire your servers and RAID controllers in a fashion resembling a hub (only without the automatic bypass if a server goes down), you need simplex patch cables. These consist of a single fibre (instead of two, like you are used to) and have a connector that looks like half of a regular LC connector. You can get them in the same qualities as regular (duplex) patch cables and in single- and multi-mode as needed. For pictures, look at Fibertronics. They are somewhat exotic, so your usual cable dealer might not have them, but they exist and are available from specialized fiber cable dealers. As you are wiring in a daisy-chain fashion, you need one simplex cable per node you want to connect.

Once you have the necessary cables, you wire everything by connecting a cable from the output side of the FC port on the first device and connecting it to the input side of the FC port on the second device. The second device’s output side connects to the third device’s input side and so on, until you have made a full loop by connecting the last device’s output side to the first device’s input side. How can you tell the output side from the input side? Some transceivers have little arrows or have labels “TX” (output) and “RX” (input). If yours don’t, you can recognize the output side by the red laser light coming from it. To protect your eyes, never look directly into the laser light. Never connect two output sides together, otherwise you may damage the laser diodes in both of them. Therefore, be careful and always double-check.

That’s it, you’re done. All servers on the loop should immediately see the LUNs exported to the by the RAID controller.

In my setup however, further troubleshooting was required. The loop simply did not come up. As it turns out, someone had set the ports on one FC HBA being to point-to-point-only and 2 Gbit/s mode. After switching both these settings to their default automatic mode, the loop went up and data started flowing. My HBAs are QLogic QLE2462 (4 Gbit/s generation) and QLE2562 (8 Gbit/s generation), and they automatically negotiated the fastest common speed they could handle, which is 4 Gbit/s. Configuring these parameters on the HBA usually requires hitting a key at the HBA’s pre-boot screen to enter the configuration menu and doing it there, or via vendor-specific software. I didn’t have access to the pre-boot configuration menu and was running VMware ESXi 6.0 on the servers. The QConvergeConsole for my QLogic adapters luckily is also available for VMware. It is not as easy to install as on Windows or Linux, unfortunately. You first install a CIM provider via the command line on the ESXi host, reboot the host and then install a plugin into VMware vCenter server.

Snom VoIP phones: OpenVPN and multicast audio

Snom voice-over-IP phones have a built-in OpenVPN client, and they can also have audio transmitted to them via multicast. However, in my case a phone logged into OpenVPN did not play back audio received from the local ethernet network

I had multicast reception configured correctly on the phone:


(Remember that you need to push the Apply button at the bottom of the page and then the Save button at the top of the page for the setting to actually take effect.)

To diagnose the problem, you can use multicast pings. Running

ping -I eth0 -t 2

on the local network showed no reactions from the phone. However, running

ping -I tun2 -t 2

on the VPN server showed responses from the phone. So clearly the phone wanted to do multicast exclusively via VPN. The cause of this was the following line in my OpenVPN config on the server:

push "redirect-gateway def1"

The obvious solution was to replace this line with routes that excluded the multicast IP addresses:

push "route"
push "route"
push "route"

While this worked, the phone wouldn’t complete booting up the next time I power-cycled it. So I switched back to the old OpenVPN config and instead turned on multicast routing on the VPN server:

apt-get install smcroute
echo 'mgroup from eth0 group' > /etc/smcroute.conf
echo 'mroute from eth0 group to tun0 tun1 tun2' > /etc/smcroute.conf
service smcroute restart

Multicast audio now works and it even goes across the VPN.

Below you can find some commands that use FFMPEG to send the multicast audio:

ffmpeg -re -i song.mp3 -filter_complex 'aresample=16000,asetnsamples=n=160' -acodec g722 -ac 1 -vn -f rtp udp://
ffmpeg -re -i song.mp3 -filter_complex 'aresample=8000,asetnsamples=n=160' -acodec pcm_mulaw -ac 1 -vn -f rtp udp://
ffmpeg -re -i song.mp3 -filter_complex 'aresample=8000,asetnsamples=n=160' -acodec pcm_alaw -ac 1 -vn -f rtp udp://

Interestingly, you don’t even need to set the rtp_codec_type setting — the phone automatically determines the codec from the stream. I wasn’t able to get the Opus codec working though, the phone just makes crackling noises when I tried.

OpenMPI and SLURM CPU pinning

The SLURM scheduling and queueing system pins processes to CPUs. This worked great with OpenMPI 1.6, but OpenMPI 1.8 introduced its own pinning policy. As a result, our jobs ended up running very slowly because all jobs that used less than a whole machine ended up getting pinned to cores 0 through n, where n is the number of cores requested by a job.

Fixing this is pretty simple: just disable OpenMPI’s pinning so that the MPI processes inherit the scheduler’s pinning. To do that, add the following to your job script:

export OMPI_MCA_hwloc_base_binding_policy=none

Obviously, as a more permanent and more fool-proof solution, set that setting in the OpenMPI config file on all of your compute nodes, have the scheduler set that environment variable, or put it into your module file for OpenMPI.

Leserbrief “Bargeld”

Im Februar 2015 forderten eine Reihe von Politikern, Bargeld-Transaktionen oberhalb von 5000 Euro zu verbieten, um Geldwäsche und Finanzierung krimineller Aktivitäten zu verhindern. Um auf die Probleme verdachtsunabhängiger Datenspeicherung hinzuweisen, verfasste ich einen Leserbrief, den die Süddeutsche Zeitung am 15. Februar 2016 abdruckte:

Weiterer Baustein

[Wie bei der Vorratsdatenspeicherung für Telekommunikation belegen Studien auch der Einschränkung des anonymen Bargeldverkehrs keinen nennenswerten Nutzen für die Verhinderung von Straftaten.] Auch das organisierte Verbrechen arbeitet heute weitgehend bargeldlos. Beim Bargeld dürfte die Obergrenze nur ein erster Schritt zur vollständigen Abschaffung sein, ein weiterer Baustein der umfassenden Überwachung aller Bürger.
Datensammlungen durch und für den Staat sind grundsätzlich kritisch zu sehen: wer weiß schon, was eine Regierung in 15 Jahren mit den heute festgehaltenen Daten anstellt? [Als dystopische Beispiel sei an die Volkszählung 1930 in den Niederlanden erinnert: sie erfolgte erstmalig auf Lochkarten, weshalb die Deutschen 11 Jahre später den Lochkartensortierer nur auf die “Religionszugehörigkeit”-Spalte einstellen mussten, um systematisch mit ihren grausamen Taten zu beginnen.]

Michael Kuron, Frickenhausen

Der erste und letzte Satz sind leider der redaktionellen Kürzung zum Opfer gefallen, wofür ich Verständnis habe. Dennoch möchte ich sie hier samt Quellen erwähnen.

Triple-booting a Clamshell iBook

I have a first-generation Clamshell iBook, manufactured in January 2000. These shipped with 64 MB of on-board RAM, a 6 GB hard drive and a CD drive.
I got it in summer 2005 when my high school decommissioned these computers. Running Mac OS X 10.3.9 at the time, it was still a very usable computer, especially after I upgraded the RAM to 320 MB. I used it as my main computer for a year and a half, until I replaced it with a new Intel-based Mac.

Now, in 2016, I found a 40 GB IDE laptop hard drive and decided to put that into the Clamshell and try to make it usable again.
As usual, iFixit has a good tutorial. You have to take the entire machine apart and end up with around 50 screws, but it’s surprisingly easy. You only need a Torx T8, a Philips #1 and a 5mm nut driver.
Now, on to putting some operating systems on the hard drive.

Installing Mac OS X 10.4

Here is what you need:

  • Mac OS X 10.4 retail install DVD
  • Mac OS X 10.3 retail install CD (the first one is sufficient). Any other bootable Mac OS X 10.3 CD might also work.
  • USB hard drive

Officially, Tiger is only supported on the latest revision of the Clamshell iBook, which has FireWire and a DVD drive. Mine only has a CD drive and does not support USB booting, which makes things exceedingly difficult.

  1. Take an image of the 10.4 install DVD and save it onto the USB hard drive using a different Mac.
  2. Boot the Clamshell off the 10.3 install CD
  3. Open up Disk Utility. Partition the disk with the following sizes and names: 16 MB linux-boot, 2 GB linux-swap, 12 GB linux, 20 GB Macintosh HD, 6 GB Install. Make sure to select the Install OS 9 drivers checkbox.
  4. Plug in the USB hard drive.
  5. Clone the 10.4 install image onto the Install partition on the internal drive.
  6. Open a Terminal and bless the hard drive: bless --folder "/Volumes/Install/System/Library/CoreServices" --bootinfo "/Volumes/Install/usr/standalone/ppc/bootx.bootinfo".
  7. Using the Terminal, pico /Volumes/Install/System/Installation/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg/Contents/OSInstall.dist and remove the PowerBook2,1 from the badMachines list.
  8. Open Startup Disk and set the iBook to boot from the Install partition.
  9. Reboot
  10. Install 10.4 onto the Macintosh HD partition, deselecting all printer drivers and languages you don’t need in order to save some space.
  11. After the reboot, run Software Update a few times.

Installing Mac OS 9.2.2

Here is what you need:

Mac OS 9 is really easy to install, you just copy it to the hard drive.

  1. Mount the CD or image and copy System Folder and Applications (Mac OS 9) from the root directory to your Macintosh HD.
  2. Open the Startup Disk preference pane and select Mac OS 9.2.2.
  3. Reboot.
  4. If you used the NetBoot image, you will be asked for user name and password. Use NBUser and netboot.
  5. In order to disable the password prompt, go to the hard drive, System Folder and move the contents of Control Panels disabled to Control Panels. Now open the Multiple Users control panel, go to options and set it to local authentication. Then, disable multiple users entirely.
  6. Download and install QuickTime 6.0.3 for Mac.
  7. Open the Startup Disk control panel and select Mac OS 10.4.
  8. After the reboot, open the Classic preference pane and select the system folder on Macintosh HD.

Now you can use Classic and you can also do a native boot.

Installing Debian Linux 8 “Jessie”

Mac OS 9.2.2 hasn’t received updates in almost 15 years, and Mac OS X 10.4 is also 7 years beyond its update cycle. So how about a current operating system?

Here is what you need:

Except for the partitioning, the installation is quite straight-forward.

  1. Insert the CD and boot it by holding the C key while turning on the computer.
  2. Proceed through the installer.
  3. When asked for the partitioning, set the 16 MB partition to be NewWorld Boot and set the bootable flag. Set the 2 GB partition to be swap. Set the 12 GB partition to be ext3 and mounted at /.
  4. When asked for the packages to install, choose the Xfce desktop. It’s lightweight enough to run on this old hardware.
  5. After rebooting, run nano /etc/apt/sources.list and add the non-free repository to all entries in the file. Then, install the AirPort firmware: apt-get install linux-firmware-nonfree.

The resulting Debian install mostly worked for me, except for two things:

  • the AirPort card does not show up in NetworkManager
  • Fonts are a bit messed up. Bitmaps are drawn to the screen just fine.

I’m still looking for solutions to these two things.

Configuring the yaboot bootloader

Right now, your computer will boot into Linux all the time.
While the yaboot loader prompts you to hit x to boot into Mac OS X and m to boot into Mac OS 9, that doesn’t work as expected.
Instead of booting into Mac OS X, my iBook booted into the install partition.
And instead of booting into Mac OS 9, my iBook booted into Mac OS X.

So run nano /etc/yaboot.conf and adjust the macosx= line so that it refers to the same partition as the macos9= line. Exit the editor and run ybin -v to apply the changes. That fixes the first problem.

Now, reboot into Mac OS X and open the Startup Disk preference pane. Select Mac OS 9.2.2 and reboot.
While rebooting, hold down the option key and select the Linux partition at the boot picker.
Run nano /etc/yaboot.conf again and add brokenosx to a new line. Once more, run ybin -v.

Now, each boot loader entry does what you’d expect. The trick here is that brokenosx causes yaboot to directly load the Mac OS X booter for the macosx= entry. The macos= entry, on the other hand, will still cause the blessed system folder to be booted.

Fixing Mac OS 9 after installing Linux

One problem is still there: When you try to boot Mac OS 9, you are greeted by a blinking floppy with a question mark. This happens because the Debian partitioner destroys the Mac OS 9 drivers for the HFS+ partitions. However, the drivers can be reinstalled.

You need:

  • Mac OS 9 install CD. Any other bootable Mac OS 9 CD might also work.


  1. Insert the CD and reboot the iBook while holding down the C key.
  2. Open Drive Setup, highlight the internal hard drive, go to the Functions menu and click Update Drivers.
  3. Reboot

Resetting the Startup Disk

Whenever you touch the Startup Disk preference pane in Mac OS X or the Startup Disk control panel in Mac OS 9, your system will no longer show the yaboot prompt when you turn it on. To fix that, do the following:

  1. Hold down the option key while booting and select the Linux partition
  2. Run ybin -v

Fixing Linux problems is an excellent article that explains how to fix most issues that Debian has on PowerPC. For example, to fix the font rendering troubles, create an xorg.conf file (switch to a text terminal, run init 3, Xorg -configure, cp /root/ /etc/X11/xorg.conf) and insert Option "RenderAccel" "false" into its Device section.

Migrating JIRA to osTicket

We were running JIRA as a ticket system for tech support and as a knowledge base. While this works, it’s not ideal, so we’ve decided to switch to osTicket. Of course, we wanted to migrate all issues, comments, attachments and issue links. JIRA has a good REST API, and osTicket has a rather simple database schema, so I’ve created a PHP script to do the migration, which you can obtain at

This script is not meant as a black-box solution. It can only get you started in creating your own migration script, as every JIRA setup is different. Before you start, create all staff accounts in osTicket and make sure they have the same user name as in JIRA. Then, set up OAuth for JIRA as explained here: Two-legged OAuth between PHP and JIRA. Add your MySQL password and the mail domain you use to identify staff accounts to the scripts (if you don’t have a common mail domain for staff accounts, you’ll need to edit the logic to identify staff accounts based on group membership). Specify your tech support project key and give the map of knowledge base project keys to osTicket KB category IDs. Run the scripts on the command-line and copy the resulting attachments folder to your osTicket server (note that you’ll need the Attachments on Filesystem plugin and configure it to use the attachments folder).

The scripts are rerun-safe and transactional. If you want, you can remove the jira_id columns from the ost_faq, ost_ticket_thread and ost_file tables after you finish the migration.

To ensure that links continue working as much as possible, add the following redirects to your web server config:

# Redirect JIRA issues
RedirectMatch permanent ^/jira/browse/(TECH-[0-9]+) /osticket/jira-redir.php?key=$1
# Redirect all other JIRA pages
RedirectMatch permanent ^/jira/ /osticket
# prevent access to attachments folder
RedirectMatch ^/osticket/attachments/ /osticket/file.php

Put the following file into your osTicket folder and call it jira-redir.php:

require_once 'bootstrap.php';
require_once INCLUDE_DIR . 'ost-config.php';
if (substr(DBHOST,0,1) == ':')
 $mysqli = new mysqli("localhost", DBUSER, DBPASS, DBNAME, 3306, substr(DBHOST, 1));
 $mysqli = new mysqli(DBHOST, DBUSER, DBPASS, DBNAME);

$stmt = $mysqli->prepare('SELECT ticket_id FROM ' . TABLE_PREFIX . 'ticket WHERE number=?');
$stmt->bind_param("s", $_GET['key']);

$url = 'http://';
if ($_SERVER['HTTPS'])
 $url = 'https://';
$url .= $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'];
$url .= dirname($_SERVER['SCRIPT_NAME']);
$url .= '/scp/tickets.php?id=';
$url .= $ticket_id;
header("Location: " . $url, true, 301);