Category Archives: Linux

PXE-booting Knoppix 7.2

I have a PXE server on my network so I can easily boot Linux live images and tools when fixing computers. Knoppix 7.2 however is unable to load a network driver on most PCs (it only works with Intel E1000 NICs) after following the standard procedure:

  1. Copy the DVD image’s contents to an NFS server
  2. Boot the DVD
  3. sudo knoppix-terminalserver, follow the assistant and select all network drivers
  4. Copy the contents of /tftpboot to your PXE server and add something like this to your pxelinux config:
    DEFAULT knoppix
     TIMEOUT 2
     PROMPT 2
     LABEL knoppix
     MENU LABEL Knoppix 7.2
     kernel knoppix72/boot/pxelinux/linux
     append nfsdir= nodhcp lang=de ramdisk_size=100000 init=/etc/init apm=power-off nomce loglevel=1 initrd=knoppix72/boot/pxelinux/miniroot.gz libata.force=noncq tz=localtime lang=de apm=power-off nomce libata.force=noncq hpsa.hpsa_allow_any=1 loglevel=1 BOOT_IMAGE=knoppix

To fix the network driver issue, apply the following diff before running sudo knoppix-terminalserver:

--- /KNOPPIX/usr/sbin/knoppix-terminalserver 2013-02-12 04:21:16.000000000 +0000
 +++ /usr/sbin/knoppix-terminalserver 2013-09-30 18:52:16.055233746 +0000
 @@ -281,8 +281,7 @@
 mkdir -p "${MINIROOT}/static"

 # Check if we need the Kernel 2.6 insmod
 -case "$KERNEL" in 2.6.*) INSMOD=/sbin/insmod ;; esac

 # Unfortunately, these are not integrated in ash-knoppix yet, so we need some shared
 # libs. :-(
 @@ -326,6 +325,7 @@
 for i in $MODULES; do
 awk -F: '{if($1~/'"$i"'/) {print $2}}' /lib/modules/$KERNEL/modules.dep
 done | sort | uniq | while read module relax; do [ -n "$module" ] && cp /lib/modules/$KERNEL/"$module" "${MINIROOT}/modules/net/00_${module##*/}"; done
 +cp /lib/modules/$KERNEL/kernel/drivers/pps/pps_core.ko "${MINIROOT}/modules/net/00_0_pps_core.ko"

 #umount "${MINIROOT}"
 #dd if="$RAMDISK" bs=${MINISIZE}k count=1 | gzip -9v > "${MINIROOT}.gz"

Using Serva with an existing PXE server

A long time ago, I set up a PXE server on my network from which I can boot all kinds of Linux tools. It uses the PXELinux boot loader to provide a menu etc. When I came across an article on how to PXE boot a Windows 7 installer using Serva, I looked for a way to integrate that into my existing PXELinux configuration.

Serva takes a Windows installer CD, patches a few files, injects a small tool into the WIM, and fires up a TFTP server and DHCP proxy. It also supports Microsoft’s BINL protocol, which lets the boot loader find out which one of boot menu entries was chosen.

I went to my Linux server and created a folder named Serva in /srv/tftp and Samba shared that. I then mapped it to Z: on a Windows machine, fired up Serva, pointed it at Z: as its TFTP root and checked the TFTP, proxyDHCP and BINL check boxes. After copying the contents of the Windows 7 ISO to a subfolder of /srv/tftp/Serva/WIA_WDS and restarting Serva, the Windows side of it all was done already.

Next, I upgraded my PXELinux to version 6.0.1 and put the following files into my tftp folder: ldlinux.c32 libcom32.c32 libutil.c32 memdisk  menu.c32 netbootme.0 pxechn.c32 pxelinux.0. Then I added the following entry to my pxelinux.cfg/default:

LABEL win7-32-de-install
MENU LABEL Windows 7 i386 DE Installer
KERNEL pxechn.c32
APPEND Serva\WIA_WDS\W7_32_DE\_SERVA_\pxeboot.0 -p Serva\WIA_WDS\W7_32_DE -o 252.s=Serva\WIA_WDS\W7_32_DE\_SERVA_\boot\bcd

-p sets the PXE root path to the install ISO root and -o 252.s sets DHCP option 252 to the full path to the BCD (making all the BINL stuff unnecessary). Two more symlinks and we’re all set:

cd /srv/tftp
ln -s Serva/WIA_WDS .
ln -s pxeboot.n12 pxeboot.0

Now the only issue that I still have is that the network share path still contains the name of the computer that originally ran Serva. This can be fixed in the BCD using a hex editor.

OpenWRT hardware recommendation: TP-Link TL-WDR3600

I recently replaced my WiFi access point, an ancient Linksys WRT54G v3.1. I was looking for something that supported simultaneous dualband, multiple SSIDs, and VLANs. I also wanted something that could run OpenWRT.

I ended up buying the TP-Link TL-WDR3600 because it met all these criteria and was available for less than 50 €. After using it for a few months, I can definitely recommend it: The wireless coverage is good, it supports Multi-SSID just fine, and the internal switch is fully VLAN-capable (and easy to configure using the OpenWRT LuCI web interface).

My only complaint is that in the 5 GHz band (5150 MHz – 5250 MHz), OpenWRT limits me to 50 mW of output power (the Linux kernel has a limit of 100 mW), even though I could legally run up to 200 mW. These lowest four channels of the 5 GHz Wifi band don’t even require TPC (transmission power control) or DFS (radar detection) in Germany, making the limitation completely unnecessary.

The TL-WDR3500, TL-WDR4300 and TL-WDR4310 are identical to the TL-WDR3600 save the radio module, so the instructions here should apply to them as well.

Here’s a short how-to on getting started with OpenWRT on the WDR3600:

Installing OpenWRT

Hook up your computer to an Ethernet port on the WDR3600.

Download openwrt-ar71xx-generic-tl-wdr3600-v1-squashfs-factory.bin and upload it using the factory web interface at (do not rename the file or it might not update).

After it reboots, renew your DHCP lease (OpenWRT uses a different subnet by default) and telnet There, run passwd to set a password, then hit Ctrl-D to disconnect. Now you can ssh root@

The first thing to do is backup the bootloader and ART partition, just in case:
dd if=/dev/$(grep '"art"' /proc/mtd | cut -c 1-4) of=/tmp/art.backup
dd if=/dev/$(grep '"u-boot"' /proc/mtd | cut -c 1-4) of=/tmp/u-boot.backup

Now you can scp root@*.backup ~/Desktop to get them off the device.

Next, install the web interface:
opkg update
opkg install luci
/etc/init.d/uhttpd enable
/etc/init.d/uhttpd start

Now you can easily configure everything the way you want it (but please don’t ask questions in the comments about the specific configuration: the OpenWRT forums are a much better place for that).

Upgrading OpenWRT

cd /tmp
md5sum openwrt-ar71xx-generic-tl-wdr3600-v1-squashfs-sysupgrade.bin
# compare it against

sysupgrade -v openwrt-ar71xx-generic-tl-wdr3600-v1-squashfs-sysupgrade.bin
The device will eventually reboot and come up with the new firmware. Your configuration should still be present.

Failsafe mode

If you’ve locked yourself out, it’s easy to get back in: unplug the device, plug it back in and as soon as one of the LEDs on the front starts flashing, push and hold the WDS button. Release it when that LED starts flashing a lot faster.

Now, set your computer to a static IP of 192.168.1.x with a subnet mask of and telnet Now you can reset your password (passwd), change configuration variables (uci), or do a factory reset (firstboot). When you’re done, reboot -f to return to the normal operation mode.


It is possible to brick your device with OpenWRT. All the commands above are provided without warranty, so use at your own risk; if you don’t know what your doing, don’t do it.

Also, it’s not that easy to get back to the original TP-Link firmware (which you would definitely need to to if you wanted to return the device to TP-Link for warranty repair.

Note that depending on local laws, flashing an alternative firmware may void your warranty altogether. Even if it does not, screwing up such a flash process yourself is sure to void the warranty anywhere…

OpenVPN for iOS

Today, OpenVPN Technologies released OpenVPN Connect for iOS. Finally, we can use OpenVPN on all major platforms. I know many of my blog readers have been waiting for this: my article on the iOS VPN API is one of the most popular articles on my blog.

OpenVPN Connect is not based on the classic GPL OpenVPN software (supposedly GPL and App Store are not compatible), but supposed to be fully compatible with any OpenVPN server running version 2.1 or higher (including IPv6 support with servers running the recently-released version 2.3). Supposedly it can even be managed using the “Custom SSL” option in iPhone Configuration Utility.

Two points I’d like to mention which might temporarily disappoint some people:

  • It currently requires client certificates (but the help promises that that’ll change soon).
  • Layer 2 tap interfaces are not supported. As I noted in my VPN API blog post, iOS provides a utun interface, which only does layer 3.

Go check it out on the App Store or have a look at Gert Döring’s Google+ post.

Update December 2013: Version 1.0.2 (just released) finally works for me. 1.0.0 didn’t work without client certificates and 1.0.1 had some weird SSL library issue where it would reject my server certificate. In 1.0.2 I was  able to just drop my .ovpn file into iTunes and was up and running immediately, including IPv6 support.

Converting Xen Linux VMs to VMWare

A year ago I wrote about how to convert from Xen to VMWare (which is a similar process to a Xen virtual-to-physical or V2P conversion). Now I found a much simpler solution, thanks to .

In this example, I’m using LVM disks, but the process is no different from using Xen disk images.

  1. Install Debian Wheezy into a VMWare virtual machine. Attach a secondary virtual disk (it will be called /dev/sdc from now on) that’s sized about 500 MB larger than your Xen DomU (just to be safe). Fire up the VM. All subsequent commands will be run from inside that VM.
  2. Check whether your DomU disk has a partition table: ssh root@xen fdisk -l /dev/xenvg/4f89402b-8587-4139-8447-1da6d0571733.disk0. If it does, proceed to step 3. If it does not, proceed to step 4.
  3. Clone the Xen DomU onto the secondary virtual disk via SSH: ssh root@xen dd bs=1048576 if=/dev/xenvg/4f89402b-8587-4139-8447-1da6d0571733.disk0 | dd bs=1048576 of=/dev/sdc. Proceed to step 7.
  4. Zero out the beginning of the target disk: dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdc bs=1048576 count=16
  5. Partition it and add a primary partition 8 MB into the disk: fdisk /dev/sdc, o Enter w Enter, fdisk /dev/sdc, n Enter p Enter 1 Enter 16384 Enter Enter, w Enter
  6. Clone the Xen DomU onto the secondary virtual disk’s first partition via SSH: ssh root@lara dd bs=1048576 if=/dev/xenvg/4f89402b-8587-4139-8447-1da6d0571733.disk0 | dd bs=1048576 of=/dev/sdc1
  7. reboot
  8. Mount the disk: mount -t ext3 /dev/sdc1 /mnt; cd /mnt
  9. Fix fstab: nano etc/fstab: change root disk from to /dev/sda1
  10. Fix the virtual console: nano etc/inittab: replace hvc0 with tty1
  11. Chroot into the disk: mount -t proc none /mnt/proc; mount -t sysfs none /mnt/sys; mount -o bind /dev /mnt/dev; chroot /mnt /bin/bash
  12. Fix mtab so the Grub installer works: grep -v rootfs /proc/mounts > /etc/mtab
  13. Install Grub: apt-get install grub2. When the installer asks to which disks to install, deselect all disks.
  14. Install Grub to MBR: grub-install –force /dev/sdc
  15. Update Grub configuration: update-grub
  16. Leave the chroot: exit; umount /mnt/* /mnt
  17. shutdown

Now you can detach the secondary virtual disk and create a new VM with it. If everything worked correctly, it will boot up.

Hashing and verifying LDAP passwords in PHP

I recently migrated a PHP web application that used LDAP for authentication and MySQL for data to something entirely MySQL based. I needed the users to be able to continue using their old LDAP passwords, so I dumped the LDAP database and grabbed the userPassword field for each user, base64_decode()d it and wrote that to a MySQL table. These password hashes start with something like {crypt}, {MD5}, {SHA1} or {SSHA1}, or in very rare cases, are plain-text.

Here’s a PHP function I wrote that, given a plain-text $password, verifies it against such a $hash. This is what you’ll be calling from your authentication script to verify a given password against the hash.

function check_password($password, $hash)
 if ($hash == '') // no password
 //echo "No password";
 return FALSE;
 if ($hash{0} != '{') // plaintext password
 if ($password == $hash)
 return TRUE;
 return FALSE;
 if (substr($hash,0,7) == '{crypt}')
 if (crypt($password, substr($hash,7)) == substr($hash,7))
 return TRUE;
 return FALSE;
 elseif (substr($hash,0,5) == '{MD5}')
 $encrypted_password = '{MD5}' . base64_encode(md5( $password,TRUE));
 elseif (substr($hash,0,6) == '{SHA1}')
 $encrypted_password = '{SHA}' . base64_encode(sha1( $password, TRUE ));
 elseif (substr($hash,0,6) == '{SSHA}')
 $salt = substr(base64_decode(substr($hash,6)),20);
 $encrypted_password = '{SSHA}' . base64_encode(sha1( $password.$salt, TRUE ). $salt);
 echo "Unsupported password hash format";
 return FALSE;
 if ($hash == $encrypted_password)
 return TRUE;
 return FALSE;

And here’s one that make a {SSHA} hash from a password (I did not implement all the other algorithms as by today’s standards, they are no longer secure). This is what you’ll be calling from your change password script to hash the password for storing in the database.

function hash_password($password) // SSHA with random 4-character salt
 $salt = substr(str_shuffle(str_repeat('ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789',4)),0,4);
 return '{SSHA}' . base64_encode(sha1( $password.$salt, TRUE ). $salt);

Integrating BIND with AD-integrated Microsoft DNS

I recently set up BIND9 to run secondary zones for an ActiveDirectory-integrated DNS server (the reason being that I hated effectively losing internet access when I rebooted my W2k8R2 server). While that was really easy (add the Linux server to the nameservers tab in DNS Admin, allow zone transfers and notifications, add slave zones in the named.conf), I thought that it shouldn’t be too difficult to also automatically replicate AD-integrated Conditional Forwarders.

While they are easily found in the DC=DomainDnsZones and DC=ForestDnsZones branch inside the AD, it turns out that the server information is stored in dnsproperty attributes containing binary data. However, Microsoft actually provides a specification for their DNS data structures, which is certainly very commendable. But as it turns out, it appears to have been written by someone who had no clue about Endianness or how many bits are in a byte (*).
The essence is: everything is Big Endian, except for IP addresses (the spec claims they are Network Byte Order, but in reality they are Little Endian), and every occurence of “1 byte” in section dnsProperty should be replaced with “4 byte”.

So after taking about two hours for something that I expected would only take a couple minutes to hack together, I ended up with 400 lines of code that generate a file you can include in your named.conf that will look something like this:
zone "" {
type forward;
forward first;
forwarders {; 2001:470:20:0:0:0:0:2; };

zone “” {
type forward;
forward first;
forwarders {; 2001:470:20:0:0:0:0:2; };
(For those curious, this sample configuration would point and at Hurricane Electric’s DNS server so that you get AAAA records, a.k.a. Google over IPv6)

After this worked, I decided to also pull my slave zone definitions through the same mechanism. It only took me a minute to do that.
zone "" {
type slave;
file "";
masters {; };
allow-notify {; };

So here we are: BIND9 as a fully-blown sync partner for AD-integrated DNS zones. To add a zone or conditional forwarder to BIND, add it to AD, set it to replicate to all DNS/domain controllers in this domain or forest, add the BIND server to the nameservers tab and allow zone transfers and notifications, and wait for the cron job to kick in.

I ended up having to write this script in PHP because Python’s LDAP module appears to have a broken SASL implementation, and you need SASL to use Kerberos for an LDAP connection.

The PHP script takes two parameters (1. the AD server’s address or the AD DNS domain name; 2. the AD base DN) and requires a valid Kerberos ticket.
The shell script (which you will most likely want to run from a cron job), which shares much of its code with my script from ISC DHCPd: Dynamic DNS updates against secure Microsoft DNS, needs to be configured with your realm, domain, base DN, user name (principal) and path to a keytab for that user (instruction on how to generate the keytab using ktutil are in the script’s comments).

(*) After doing all this, I figured that people from projects like Samba that write open source software to re-implement or interface with Microsoft products are doing an absolutely amazing job. They most likely aren’t getting any better specs than the one I found on MS DNS (if they get specs at all), and yet still somehow create almost perfect software that is a lot more complex than the simple stuff I did here.

UPDATE 2011-10-30: Apparently, AD refuses all requests from Linux clients that come in via IPv6. To force IPv4, line 7 of the PHP script needs to be changed to $conn = ldap_connect(gethostbyname($adserver), 389);, which is also fixed in the downloadable script.

How-To: Converting Xen Linux VMs to VMWare ESXi

I have a couple Linux VMs I created on Xen using xen-create-image (as such, they are using pygrub and have one virtual disk file per partition). Now I want to migrate those over to a VMWare ESXi box. To convert your raw Xen disk images to VMWare vmdk files, do this:

1. In VMWare Fusion or Workstation, do a basic install of Debian Squeeze onto a flat-file (not split into 2GB segments and preallocated) VMDK that is slightly larger than your virtual Xen disk with a separate VMDK for swap.
2. Downgrade it to Grub 1 using apt-get install grub-legacy, grub-install /dev/sda, update-grub (as Grub 2 is not compatible with /boot/grub/menu.lst files as generated by xen-create-image).
3. Shut down and make a copy of the VMDK.
4. Boot the VM back up and re-install Grub2 using apt-get install grub.
5. Edit /boot/grub/grub.cfg and replace root=UUID=xxxxxxxxxx in the linux lines with root=/dev/sda1
6. Shut down the VM and attach the VMDK you copied in step 3 as an additional disk (this will be the target disk for our conversion).
7. Boot it up and make sure that you’re getting a Grub2 screen (i.e. it is not booting from the copied VMDK).
8. Using mount, check that your root disk is sda1 (which usually should be the first disk, not the copied disk). Using ls /dev/sd*, make sure it sees the target disk as sdc.
9. dd if=/path/to/xen/vm/disk.img of=/dev/sdc1 bs=1048576
10. mount /dev/sdc1 /mnt; cd /mnt
11. nano etc/fstab: replace swap disk /dev/xvda1 with /dev/sdb1 and root disk /dev/xvda2 with /dev/sda1
12. nano etc/inittab: replace hvc0 with tty1
13. nano boot/grub/menu.lst: replace /dev/xvda2 with /dev/sda1
14. umount /mnt
15. Attach the new virtual disk to a VM and boot a rescue system. There, drop to a shell on /dev/sda1 and apt-get update, apt-get install grub
16. Reboot
17. Done!

Xen 4.0 and Citrix WHQL PV drivers for Windows

Xen 4.0 is supposed to be able to use Citrix’s WHQL certified Windows paravirtualization drivers. Their advantage over the GPLPV drivers is that they are code-signed, meaning they run on 64-bit Windows without disabling some of Windows’ security features.

UPDATE 2011-10-17: Signed GPLPV drivers are now available. I have not yet tested them, but I assume the fix below is no longer necessary.

While the Citrix drivers included in XenServer 5.5 work (after making a single registry tweak), the more recent ones included in e.g. Xen Cloud Platform 1.0 do not work right away:

If you install the XCP drivers, make that registry tweak and reboot the DomU, you’ll notice messages like XENUTIL: WARNING: CloseFrontend: timed out in XenbusWaitForBackendStateChange: /local/domain/0/backend/console/[id]/0 in state INITIALISING; retry. in your /var/log/xen/qemu-dm-*.log and Windows just gets stuck during boot and keeps spinning forever. To get it back to work, you’ll need to
xenstore-rm /local/domain/0/backend/console/[id]
xenstore-rm /local/domain/0/backend/vfb/[id]

after starting the VM (thanks to Keith Coleman‘s mailing list post!).

To automatically run these commands upon DomU start, create a script named /usr/lib/xen/bin/qemu-dm-citrixpv with the following contents

xenstore-rm /local/domain/0/backend/console/$2
xenstore-rm /local/domain/0/backend/vfb/$2

sh -c "sleep 10; xenstore-rm /local/domain/0/backend/console/$2; xenstore-rm /local/domain/0/backend/vfb/$2" &

exec /usr/lib/xen/bin/qemu-dm $*
and chmod +x it.

Then, edit your DomU config file and modify the device_model line and point it to your new script:
device_model = '/usr/lib/xen/bin/qemu-dm-citrixpv'

Now your Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 HVM-DomU is all set!

Asterisk: Remotely retrieving voicemail by pressing *

Many howtos around the internet on how to remotely access your voicemail box involve a dedicated extension reachable from the outside or an IVR menu entry. But wouldn’t it be much nicer if you could just press the * DTMF key during the announcement? Turns out, this is quite simple:

exten => s,1,Dial(SIP/1234,20)
exten => s,n,Voicemail(1234,us)
exten => a,1,VoiceMailMain(1234)
exten => a,n,Hangup()

And it even works when you’re using macros (like I am):

exten => 5551234,1,Macro(incoming-plus-voicemail,SIP/1234,20,1234)
exten => 5551337,1,Macro(incoming-plus-voicemail,SIP/1337,20,1337)

[macro-incoming-plus-voicemail] ; SIP/xxx, wait time, voicemail
exten => s,1,Dial(${ARG1},${ARG2}
exten => s,n,Voicemail(${ARG3},us)
push * during the announcement to access your mailbox
exten => a,1,VoiceMailMain(${ARG3})
exten => a,n,Hangup()