Posts Tagged ‘file’

KVM Virtual Machine RHEL 8.3 Linux install on Redhat 8.3 Linux Hypervisor with custom tailored kickstart.cfg

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Reading Time: 6minutes


If you don't have tried it yet Redhat and CentOS and other RPM based Linux operationg systems that use anaconda installer is generating a kickstart file after being installed under /root/{anaconda-ks.cfg,initial-setup- ks.cfg,original-ks.cfg} immediately after the OS installation completes. Using this Kickstart file template you can automate installation of Redhat installation with exactly the same configuration as many times as you like by directly loading your /root/original-ks.cfg file in RHEL installer.

Here is the official description of Kickstart files from Redhat:

"The Red Hat Enterprise Linux installation process automatically writes a Kickstart file that contains the settings for the installed system. This file is always saved as /root/anaconda-ks.cfg. You may use this file to repeat the installation with identical settings, or modify copies to specify settings for other systems."

Kickstart files contain answers to all questions normally asked by the text / graphical installation program, such as what time zone you want the system to use, how the drives should be partitioned, or which packages should be installed. Providing a prepared Kickstart file when the installation begins therefore allows you to perform the installation automatically, without need for any intervention from the user. This is especially useful when deploying Redhat based distro (RHEL / CentOS / Fedora …) on a large number of systems at once and in general pretty useful if you're into the field of so called "DevOps" system administration and you need to provision a certain set of OS to a multitude of physical servers or create or recreate easily virtual machines with a certain set of configuration.

1. Create /vmprivate storage directory where Virtual machines will reside

First step on the Hypervisor host which will hold the future created virtual machines is to create location where it will be created:

[root@redhat ~]#  lvcreate –size 140G –name vmprivate vg00
[root@redhat ~]#  mkfs.ext4 -j -b 4096 /dev/mapper/vg00-vmprivate
[root@redhat ~]# mount /dev/mapper/vg00-vmprivate /vmprivate

To view what is the situation with Logical Volumes and  VG group names:

[root@redhat ~]# vgdisplay -v|grep -i vmprivate -A7 -B7
  Segments               1
  Allocation             inherit
  Read ahead sectors     auto
  – currently set to     8192
  Block device           253:0


  — Logical volume —
  LV Path                /dev/vg00/vmprivate
  LV Name                vmprivate
  VG Name                vg00
  LV UUID                VVUgsf-FXq2-TsMJ-QPLw-7lGb-Dq5m-3J9XJJ
  LV Write Access        read/write
  LV Creation host, time, 2021-01-20 17:26:11 +0100
  LV Status              available
  # open                 1
  LV Size                150.00 GiB

Note that you'll need to have the size physically available on a SAS / SSD Hard Drive physically connected to Hypervisor Host.

To make the changes Virtual Machines storage location directory permanently mounted add to /etc/fstab

/dev/mapper/vg00-vmprivate  /vmprivate              ext4    defaults,nodev,nosuid 1 2

[root@redhat ~]# echo '/dev/mapper/vg00-vmprivate  /vmprivate              ext4    defaults,nodev,nosuid 1 2' >> /etc/fstab


2. Second we need to install the following set of RPM packages on the Hypervisor Hardware host

[root@redhat ~]# yum install qemu-kvm qemu-img libvirt virt-install libvirt-client virt-manager libguestfs-tools virt-install virt-top -y

3. Enable libvirtd on the host

[root@redhat ~]#  lsmod | grep -i kvm
[root@redhat ~]#  systemctl enable libvirtd

4. Configure network bridging br0 interface on Hypervisor

In /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0 you need to include:


Next use nmcli redhat configurator to create the bridge (you can use ip command instead) but since the tool is the redhat way to do it lets do it their way ..

[root@redhat ~]# nmcli connection delete eno3
[root@redhat ~]# nmcli connection add type bridge autoconnect yes con-name br0 ifname br0
[root@redhat ~]# nmcli connection modify br0 ipv4.addresses ipv4.method manual
[root@redhat ~]# nmcli connection modify br0 ipv4.gateway
[root@redhat ~]# nmcli connection modify br0 ipv4.dns
[root@redhat ~]# nmcli connection add type bridge-slave autoconnect yes con-name eno3 ifname eno3 master br0
[root@redhat ~]# nmcli connection up br0

5. Prepare a working kickstart.cfg file for VM

Below is a sample kickstart file I've used to build a working fully functional Virtual Machine with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.3 (Ootpa) .

# Run the Setup Agent on first boot
firstboot --enable
ignoredisk --only-use=vda

# Use network installation
#url --url=
##url --url=

# Use text mode install

# System language
#lang en_US.UTF-8
keyboard --vckeymap=us --xlayouts='us'
# Keyboard layouts
##keyboard us
lang en_US.UTF-8

# Root password
rootpw $6$gTiUCif4$YdKxeewgwYCLS4uRc/XOeKSitvDJNHFycxWVHi.RYGkgKctTMCAiY2TErua5Yh7flw2lUijooOClQQhlbstZ81 --iscrypted

# network-stuff
# place ip=your_VM_IP, netmask, gateway, nameserver hostname 
network --bootproto=static --ip= --netmask= --gateway= --nameserver= --device=eth0 --noipv6 --onboot=yes
# if you need just localhost initially configured uncomment and comment above
##network В --device=lo --hostname=localhost.localdomain

# System authorization information
authconfig --enableshadow --passalgo=sha512 --enablefingerprint

# skipx

# Firewall configuration
firewall --disabled

# System timezone
timezone Europe/Berlin

# Clear the Master Boot Record

# Repositories
## Add RPM repositories from KS file if necessery
#repo --name=appstream --baseurl=
#repo --name=baseos --baseurl=
#repo --name=inst.stage2 --baseurl= ff=/dev/vg0/vmprivate
##repo --name=rhsm-baseos В  В --baseurl=
##repo --name=rhsm-appstream --baseurl=
##repo --name=os-baseos В  В  В --baseurl=
##repo --name=os-appstream В  --baseurl=
#repo --name=inst.stage2 --baseurl=

# Disk partitioning information set proper disk sizing
##bootloader --location=mbr --boot-drive=vda
bootloader --append=" crashkernel=auto tsc=reliable divider=10 plymouth.enable=0 console=ttyS0 " --location=mbr --boot-drive=vda
# partition plan
clearpart --all --drives=vda --initlabel
part /boot --size=1024 --fstype=ext4 --asprimary
part swap --size=1024
part pv.01 --size=30000 --grow --ondisk=vda
##part pv.0 --size=80000 --fstype=lvmpv
#part pv.0 --size=61440 --fstype=lvmpv
volgroup s pv.01
logvol / --vgname=s --size=15360 --name=root --fstype=ext4
logvol /var/cache/ --vgname=s --size=5120 --name=cache --fstype=ext4 --fsoptions="defaults,nodev,nosuid"
logvol /var/log --vgname=s --size=7680 --name=log --fstype=ext4 --fsoptions="defaults,nodev,noexec,nosuid"
logvol /tmp --vgname=s --size=5120 --name=tmp --fstype=ext4 --fsoptions="defaults,nodev,nosuid"
logvol /home --vgname=s --size=5120 --name=home --fstype=ext4 --fsoptions="defaults,nodev,nosuid"
logvol /opt --vgname=s --size=2048 --name=opt --fstype=ext4 --fsoptions="defaults,nodev,nosuid"
logvol /var/log/audit --vgname=s --size=3072 --name=audit --fstype=ext4 --fsoptions="defaults,nodev,nosuid"
logvol /var/spool --vgname=s --size=2048 --name=spool --fstype=ext4 --fsoptions="defaults,nodev,nosuid"
logvol /var --vgname=s --size=7680 --name=var --fstype=ext4 --fsoptions="defaults,nodev,nosuid"

# SELinux configuration
selinux --disabled
# Installation logging level
logging --level=debug

# reboot automatically


# Tune Linux vm.dirty_background_bytes (IMAGE-439)
# The following tuning causes dirty data to begin to be background flushed at
# 100 Mbytes, so that it writes earlier and more often to avoid a large build
# up and improving overall throughput.
echo "vm.dirty_background_bytes=100000000" >> /etc/sysctl.conf

# Disable kdump
systemctl disable kdump.service

Important note to make here is the MD5 set root password string in (rootpw) line this string can be generated with openssl or mkpasswd commands :

Method 1: use openssl cmd to generate (md5, sha256, sha512) encrypted pass string

[root@redhat ~]# openssl passwd -6 -salt xyz test

Note: passing -1will generate an MD5 password, -5 a SHA256 encryption and -6SHA512 encrypted string (logically recommended for better security)

Method 2: (md5, sha256, sha512)

[root@redhat ~]# mkpasswd –method=SHA-512 –stdin

The option –method accepts md5, sha-256 and sha-512
Theoretically there is also a kickstart file generator web interface on Redhat's site here however I never used it myself but instead use above kickstart.cfg

6. Install the new VM with virt-install cmd

Roll the new preconfigured VM based on above ks template file use some kind of one liner command line  like below:

[root@redhat ~]# virt-install -n RHEL8_3-VirtualMachine –description "CentOS 8.3 Virtual Machine" –os-type=Linux –os-variant=rhel8.3 –ram=8192 –vcpus=8 –location=/vmprivate/rhel-server-8.3-x86_64-dvd.iso –disk path=/vmprivate/RHEL8_3-VirtualMachine.img,bus=virtio,size=70 –graphics none –initrd-inject=/root/kickstart.cfg –extra-args "console=ttyS0 ks=file:/kickstart.cfg"

7. Use a tiny shell script to automate VM creation

For some clarity and better automation in case you plan to repeat VM creation you can prepare a tiny bash shell script:

VM_DESCR='CentOS 8.3 Virtual Machine';
# size is in Gigabytes

virt-install -n "$VMNAME" –description "$VM_DESCR" –os-type=Linux –os-variant=rhel8.3 –ram=8192 –vcpus=8 –location="$ISO_LOCATION" –disk path=$VM_IMG_FILE,bus=virtio,size=$IMG_VM_SIZE –graphics none –initrd-inject=/root/$KS_FILE –extra-args "console=ttyS0 ks=file:/$KS_FILE"

A copy of script can be downloaded here

Wait for the installation to finish it should be visualized and if all installation is smooth you should get a login prompt use the password generated with openssl tool and test to login, then disconnect from the machine by pressing CTRL + ] and try to login via TTY with

[root@redhat ~]# virst list –all
 Id   Name        State
RHEL8_3-VirtualMachine   running

[root@redhat ~]#  virsh console RHEL8_3-VirtualMachine


One last thing I recommend you check the official documentation on Kickstart2 from CentOS official website

In case if you later need to destroy the VM and the respective created Image file you can do it with:

[root@redhat ~]#  virsh destroy RHEL8_3-VirtualMachine
[root@redhat ~]#  virsh undefine RHEL8_3-VirtualMachine

Don't forget to celebreate the success and give this nice article a credit by sharing this nice tutorial with a friend or by placing a link to it from your blog 🙂



Enjoy !

Short SSL generate new and self-signed certificates PEM, view and convert to and from PKCS12 to java key store cookbook commands cheat sheet

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Reading Time: 2minutes


Below is a short compilation of common used openssl commands (a kind of cookbook) helpful for sysadmins who has to commonly deal with OpenSSL certificates.

Lets say you have to generate new certificate / key and a PEM files, prepare self-signed certificates, show CSR / PEM or KEY ssl file contents, get information about certificate such as expiry date a type of encryption algorithm or sign certificate with self-signed authority convert PEM to PKCS12, convert from PKCS12 file format to .PEM, convert java X509 to java key store SSL encryptionor convert java key store format certificate to PKCS12, then below will be of use to you.

1. Generate Private RSA Keywith 2048 bits

# openssl genrsa -out $ (hostname -f) .key 2048

2. Create CSR file

# openssl req -new -key $ (hostname -f) .key -out $ (hostname -f) .csr

3. Create a Self Certified Certificate:

# openssl x509 -req -days 30 -in $ (hostname -f) .csr -signkey $ (hostname -f) .key -out $ (hostname -f) .crt
Enter password:

# openssl rsa -in key.pem -out newkey.pem

4. Show CSR file content

# openssl req -in newcsr.csr -noout -text

5. Get Certificate version / serial number / signature algorithm / RSA key lenght / modulus / exponent etc.

# openssl x509 -in newcert.pem -noout -text

6. Server certificate as CA self signeded

# openssl ca -in newcert.csr -notext -out newcert.pem

7. Generate a certificate signing request based on an existing certificate

# openssl x509 -x509toreq -in certificate.crt -out CSR.csr -signkey privateKey.key

8. Convert .pem / .key / .crt file format to pkcs12 format

# openssl pkcs12 -export -in newcert.pem -inkey newkey.key -certfile ca.crt -out newcert.p12

9. Convert pkcs12 pfx to common .pem

# openssl pkcs12 -in mycert.pfx -out mycert.pem

10. The Formats available

# openssl x509 -inform the -in certificate.cer -out certificate.crt

11. Convert a pkcs # 7 certificate into PEM format

# openssl pkcs7 -in cert.p7c -inform DER -outform PEM -out certificate.p7b
# openssl pkcs7 -print_certs -in certificate.p7b -out certificate.pem

12. Convert X509 to java keystore file

# java -cp not-yet-commons-ssl-0.3.11.jar org.apache.commons.ssl.KeyStoreBuilder pass_for_new_keystore key.key certificate.crt

13. Convert java keystore file to pkcs12

# keytool -importkeystore -srckeystore keystore.jks -destkeystore intermediate.p12 -deststoretype PKCS12

Hack: Using ssh / curl or wget to test TCP port connection state to remote SSH, DNS, SMTP, MySQL or any other listening service in PCI environment servers

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

Reading Time: 5minutes


If you work on PCI high security environment servers in isolated local networks where each package installed on the Linux / Unix system is of importance it is pretty common that some basic stuff are not there in most cases it is considered a security hole to even have a simple telnet installed on the system. I do have experience with such environments myself and thus it is pretty daunting stuff so in best case you can use something like a simple ssh client if you're lucky and the CentOS / Redhat / Suse Linux whatever distro has openssh-client package installed.
If you're lucky to have the ssh onboard you can use telnet in same manner as netcat or the swiss army knife (nmap) network mapper tool to test whether remote service TCP / port is opened or not. As often this is useful, if you don't have access to the CISCO / Juniper or other (networ) / firewall equipment which is setting the boundaries and security port restrictions between networks and servers.

Below is example on how to use ssh client to test port connectivity to lets say the Internet, i.e.  Google / Yahoo search engines.

[root@pciserver: /home ]# ssh -oConnectTimeout=3 -v -p 23
OpenSSH_7.9p1 Debian-10+deb10u2, OpenSSL 1.1.1g  21 Apr 2020
debug1: Connecting to [] port 23.
debug1: connect to address port 23: Connection timed out
debug1: Connecting to [2a00:1450:4017:80b::200e] port 23.
debug1: connect to address 2a00:1450:4017:80b::200e port 23: Cannot assign requested address
ssh: connect to host port 23: Cannot assign requested address
root@pcfreak:/var/www/images# ssh -oConnectTimeout=3 -v -p 80
OpenSSH_7.9p1 Debian-10+deb10u2, OpenSSL 1.1.1g  21 Apr 2020
debug1: Connecting to [] port 80.
debug1: connect to address port 80: Connection timed out
debug1: Connecting to [2a00:1450:4017:807::200e] port 80.
debug1: connect to address 2a00:1450:4017:807::200e port 80: Cannot assign requested address
ssh: connect to host port 80: Cannot assign requested address
root@pcfreak:/var/www/images# ssh -p 80
ssh_exchange_identification: Connection closed by remote host
root@pcfreak:/var/www/images# ssh -p 80 -v -oConnectTimeout=3
OpenSSH_7.9p1 Debian-10+deb10u2, OpenSSL 1.1.1g  21 Apr 2020
debug1: Connecting to [] port 80.
debug1: connect to address port 80: Connection timed out
debug1: Connecting to [2a00:1450:4017:80b::200e] port 80.
debug1: connect to address 2a00:1450:4017:80b::200e port 80: Cannot assign requested address
ssh: connect to host port 80: Cannot assign requested address
root@pcfreak:/var/www/images# ssh -p 80 -v -oConnectTimeout=5
OpenSSH_7.9p1 Debian-10+deb10u2, OpenSSL 1.1.1g  21 Apr 2020
debug1: Connecting to [] port 80.
debug1: connect to address port 80: Connection timed out
debug1: Connecting to [2a00:1450:4017:80c::200e] port 80.
debug1: connect to address 2a00:1450:4017:80c::200e port 80: Cannot assign requested address
ssh: connect to host port 80: Cannot assign requested address
root@pcfreak:/var/www/images# ssh -p 80 -v
OpenSSH_7.9p1 Debian-10+deb10u2, OpenSSL 1.1.1g  21 Apr 2020
debug1: Connecting to [] port 80.
debug1: Connection established.
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_rsa type 0
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_rsa-cert type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_dsa type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_dsa-cert type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_ecdsa type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_ecdsa-cert type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_ed25519 type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_ed25519-cert type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_xmss type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_xmss-cert type -1
debug1: Local version string SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_7.9p1 Debian-10+deb10u2
debug1: ssh_exchange_identification: HTTP/1.0 400 Bad Request


debug1: ssh_exchange_identification: Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification: Referrer-Policy: no-referrer

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification: Content-Length: 1555

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification: Date: Wed, 30 Dec 2020 14:13:25 GMT

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification:

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification: <!DOCTYPE html>

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification: <html lang=en>

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification:   <meta charset=utf-8>

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification:   <meta name=viewport content="initial-scale=1, minimum-scale=1, width=device-width">

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification:   <title>Error 400 (Bad Request)!!1</title>

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification:   <style>

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification:     *{margin:0;padding:0}html,code{font:15px/22px arial,sans-serif}html{background:#fff;color:#222;padding:15px}body{margin:7% auto 0;max-width:390px;min-height:180px;padding:30px 0 15px}* > body{background:url(// 10
debug1: ssh_exchange_identification: 0% 5px no-repeat;padding-right:205px}p{margin:11px 0 22px;overflow:hidden}ins{color:#777;text-decoration:none}a img{border:0}@media screen and (max-width:772px){body{background:none;margin-top:0;max-width:none;padding-right:0}}#logo{background:url(//www.g
debug1: ssh_exchange_identification: no-repeat;margin-left:-5px}@media only screen and (min-resolution:192dpi){#logo{background:url(// no-repeat 0
debug1: ssh_exchange_identification: % 0%/100% 100%;-moz-border-image:url(// 0}}@media only screen and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio:2){#logo{background:url(//
debug1: ssh_exchange_identification: color_150x54dp.png) no-repeat;-webkit-background-size:100% 100%}}#logo{display:inline-block;height:54px;width:150px}

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification:   </style>

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification:   <a href=//><span id=logo aria-label=Google></span></a>

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification:   <p><b>400.</b> <ins>That\342\200\231s an error.</ins>

debug1: ssh_exchange_identification:   <p>Your client has issued a malformed or illegal request.  <ins>That\342\200\231s all we know.</ins>

ssh_exchange_identification: Connection closed by remote host


Here is another example on how to test remote host whether a certain service such as DNS (bind) or telnetd is enabled and listening on remote local network  IP with ssh

[root@pciserver: /home ]# ssh -p 53 -v -oConnectTimeout=5
OpenSSH_7.9p1 Debian-10+deb10u2, OpenSSL 1.1.1g  21 Apr 2020
debug1: Connecting to [] port 53.
debug1: connect to address port 53: Connection timed out
ssh: connect to host port 53: Connection timed out

[root@server: /home ]# ssh -p 23 -v -oConnectTimeout=5
OpenSSH_7.9p1 Debian-10+deb10u2, OpenSSL 1.1.1g  21 Apr 2020
debug1: Connecting to [] port 23.
debug1: connect to address port 23: Connection timed out
ssh: connect to host port 23: Connection timed out

But what if Linux server you have tow work on is so paranoid that you even the ssh client is absent? Well you can use anything else that is capable of doing a connectivity to remote port such as wget or curl. Some web servers or application servers usually have wget or curl as it is integral part for some local shell scripts doing various operation needed for proper services functioning or simply to test locally a local or remote listener services, if that's the case we can use curl to connect and get output of a remote service simulating a normal telnet connection like this:

host:~# curl -vv 'telnet://remote-server-host5:22'
* About to connect() to remote-server-host5 port 22 (#0)
*   Trying… connected
* Connected to aflpvz625 ( port 22 (#0)

Now lets test whether we can connect remotely to a local net remote IP's Qmail mail server with curls telnet simulation mode:

host:~#  curl -vv 'telnet://'
* Expire in 0 ms for 6 (transfer 0x56066e5ab900)
*   Trying…
* Expire in 200 ms for 4 (transfer 0x56066e5ab900)
* Connected to ( port 25 (#0)
220 This is Mail Pc-Freak.NET ESMTP

Fine it works, lets now test whether a remote server who has MySQL listener service on standard MySQL port TCP 3306 is reachable with curl

host:~#  curl -vv 'telnet://'
* Expire in 0 ms for 6 (transfer 0x5601fafae900)
*   Trying…
* Expire in 200 ms for 4 (transfer 0x5601fafae900)
* Connected to ( port 3306 (#0)
Warning: Binary output can mess up your terminal. Use "–output -" to tell
Warning: curl to output it to your terminal anyway, or consider "–output
Warning: <FILE>" to save to a file.
* Failed writing body (0 != 107)
* Closing connection 0
root@pcfreak:/var/www/images#  curl -vv 'telnet://'
* Expire in 0 ms for 6 (transfer 0x5598ad008900)
*   Trying…
* Expire in 200 ms for 4 (transfer 0x5598ad008900)
* Connected to ( port 3306 (#0)
Warning: Binary output can mess up your terminal. Use "–output -" to tell
Warning: curl to output it to your terminal anyway, or consider "–output
Warning: <FILE>" to save to a file.
* Failed writing body (0 != 107)
* Closing connection 0

As you can see the remote connection is returning binary data which is unknown to a standard telnet terminal thus to get the output received we need to pass curl suggested arguments.

host:~#  curl -vv 'telnet://' –output –
* Expire in 0 ms for 6 (transfer 0x55b205c02900)
*   Trying…
* Expire in 200 ms for 4 (transfer 0x55b205c02900)
* Connected to ( port 3306 (#0)

The curl trick used to troubleshoot remote port to remote host from a Windows OS host which does not have telnet installed by default but have curl instead.

Also When troubleshooting vSphere Replication, it is often necessary to troubleshoot port connectivity as common Windows utilities are not available.
As Curl is available in the VMware vCenter Server Appliance command line interface.

On servers where curl is not there but you have wget is installed you can use it also to test a remote port


# wget -vv -O /dev/null –timeout=5
–2020-12-30 16:54:22–
Resolving (…, 2a00:1450:4017:80b::200e
Connecting to (||:554… failed: Connection timed out.
Connecting to (|2a00:1450:4017:80b::200e|:554… failed: Cannot assign requested address.

–2020-12-30 16:54:28–  (try: 2)
Connecting to (||:554… ^C

As evident from output the port 554 is filtered in google which is pretty normal.

If curl or wget is not there either as a final alternative you can either install some perl, ruby, python or bash script etc. that can opens a remote socket to the remote IP.

VIM Project (VI Improvied IDE Editor extension to facilitate web development with vi enhanced editor

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Reading Time: 4minutes

I use VIM as an editor of choice for many years already.
Yet it's until recently I use it for a PHP ZF (Zend Framework) web development.

Few days ago I've blogged How to configure vimrc for a php syntax highlightning (A Nicely pre-configured vimrc to imrpove the daily text editing experience

This enhancements significantly improves the overall PHP code editing with VIM. However I felt something is yet missing because I didn't have the power and functunality of a complete IDE like for instance The Eclipse IDE

I was pretty sure that VIM has to have a way to be used in a similar fashion to a fully functional IDE and looked around the net to find for any VIM plugins that will add vim an IDE like coding interface.

I then come accross a vim plugin called VIM Prokject : Organize/Navigate projects of files (like IDE/buffer explorer)

The latest VIM Project as of time of writting is 1.4.1 and I've mirrored it here

The installation of the VIM ProjectVIM extension is pretty straight forward to install it and start using it on your PC issue commands:

1. Install the project VIM add-on

debian:~$ wget
debian:~$ mv project-1.4.1.tar.gz ~/.vim/
debian:~$ cd ~/.vim/
debian:~$ tar -zxvvf project-1.4.1.tar.gz

2. Load the plugin

Launch your vim editor and type : Project(without the space between : and P)
You will further see a screen like:

vim project entry screen

3. You will have to press C within the Project window to load a new project

Then you will have to type a directory to use to load a project sources files from:

vim project enter file source directory screen

You will be prompted with to type a project name like in the screenshot below:

vim project load test project

4. Next you will have to type a CD (Current Dir) parameter
To see more about the CD parameter consult vim project documentation by typing in main vim pane :help project

The appearing screen will be something like:

vim project extension cd parameter screen

5. Thereafter you will have to type a file filter

File filter is necessary and will instruct the vim project plugin to load all files with the specified extension within vim project pane window

You will experience a screen like:

vim project plugin file filter screen

Following will be a short interval in which all specified files by the filter type will get loaded in VIM project pane and your Zend Framework, PHP or any other source files will be listed in a directory tree structure like in the picture shown below:

vim project successful loaded project screen

6. Saving loaded project hierarchy state

In order to save a state of a loaded project within the VIM project window pane you will have to type in vim, let's say:

:saveas .projects/someproject

Later on to load back the saved project state you will have to type in vim :r .projects/someproject

You will now have almost fully functional development IDE on top of your simple vim text editor.

You can navigate within the Project files loaded with the Project extension pane easily and select a file you would like to open up, whenever a source file is opened and you work on it to switch in between the Project file listing pane and the opened source code file you will have to type twice CTRL+w or in vim language C-w

To even further sophisticate your web development in PHP with vim you can add within your ~/.vimrc file the following two lines:

" run file with PHP CLI (CTRL-M)
:autocmd FileType php noremap <C-M> :w!<CR>:!/usr/bin/php %<CR>
" PHP parser check (CTRL-L)
:autocmd FileType php noremap <C-L> :!/usr/bin/php -l %>CR>

In the above vim configuration directovies the " character is a comment line and the autocmd is actually vim declarations.
The first :autocmd … declaration will instruct vim to execute your current opened php source file with the php cli interpreter whenever a key press of CTRL+M (C-m) occurs.

The second :autocmd … will add to your vim a shortcut, so whenever a CTRL+L (C-l) key combination is pressed VIM editor will check your current edited source file for syntax errors.
Therefore this will enable you to very easily periodically check if your file syntax is correct.

Well this things were really helpful to me, so I hope they will be profitable for you as well.
Cheers 🙂

How to redirect / forward all postfix emails to one external email address?

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Reading Time: 3minutes


Lets say you're  a sysadmin doing email migration of a Clustered SMTP and due to that you want to capture for a while all incoming email traffic and redirect it (forward it) towards another single mailbox, where you can review the mail traffic that is flowing for a few hours and analyze it more deeper. This aproach is useful if you have a small or middle sized mail servers and won't be so useful on a mail server that handels few  hundreds of mails hourly. In below article I'll show you how.

How to redirect all postfix mail for a specific domain to single external email address?

There are different ways but if you don't want to just intercept the traffic and a create a copy of email traffic using the always_bcc integrated postfix option (as pointed in my previous article postfix copy every email to a central mailbox).  You can do a copy of email flow via some custom written dispatcher script set to be run by the MTA on each mail arriva, or use maildrop filtering functionality below is very simple example with maildrop in case if you want to filter out and deliver to external email address only email targetted to specific domain.

If you use maildrop as local delivery agent to copy email targetted to specifidc domain to another defined email use rule like:

if ( /^From:.*domain\.com/:h ) {
  cc "!"

To use maildrop to just forward email incoming from a specific sender towards local existing email address on the postfix to an external email address  use something like:

if ( /^From: .**/ )
        dotlock "forward.lock" {
          log "Forward mail"
          to "|/usr/sbin/sendmail"

Then to make the filter active assuming the user has a physical unix mailbox, paste above to local user's  $HOME/.mailfilter.

What to do if your mail delivered via your are sent from a monitoring and alarming scripts that are sending towards many mailboxes that no longer exist after the migration?

To achive capturing all normal attempted to be sent traffic via the mail server, we can forward all served mails towards a single external mail address you can use the nice capability of postfix to understand PCRE perl compatible regular expressions. Regular expressions in postfix of course has its specific I recommend you take a look to the postfix regexp table documentation here, as well as check the Postfix Regex / Tester / Debugger online tool – useful to validate a regexp you want to implement.

How to use postfix regular expression to do a redirect of all sent emails via your postfix mail relayhost towards external mail servers?


In /etc/postfix/ include this line near bottom or as a last line:

virtual_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/virtual, regexp:/etc/postfix/virtual-regexp

One defines the virtual file which can be used to define any of your virtual domains you want to simulate as present on the local postfix, the regexp: does load the file which is read by postfix where you can type the regular expression applied to every incoming email via SMTP port 25 or encrypted MTA ports 385 / 995 etc.

So how to redirect all postfix mail to one external email address for later analysis?

Create file /etc/postfix/virtual-regexp


Next build the mapfile (this will generate /etc/postfix/virtual-regexp.db )

# postmap /etc/postfix/virtual-regexp

This also requires a virtual.db to exist. If it doesn't create an empty file called virtual and run again postmap postfix .db generator

# touch /etc/postfix/virtual && postmap /etc/postfix/virtual

Note in /etc/postfix/virtual you can add your postfix mail domains for which you want the MTA to accept mail as a local mail.

In case you need to view all postfix defined virtual domains configured to accept mail locally on the mail server.

$ postconf -n | grep virtual
virtual_alias_domains =
virtual_alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/virtual

The regexp /.+@.+/ applied will start forwarding mails immediately after you reload the MTA with:

# systemctl restart postfix

If you want to exclude target mail domains to not be captured by above regexp, in /etc/postfix/virtual-regexp place:


Time for a test. Send a test email

Next step is to Test it mail forwarding works as expected

# echo -e "Tseting body" | mail -s "testing subject" -r ""

Deny DHCP Address by MAC on Linux

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Reading Time: 4minutes

Deny DHCP addresses by MAC ignore MAC to not be DHCPD leased on GNU / Linux howto

I have not blogged for a long time due to being on a few weeks vacation and being in home with a small cute baby. However as a hardcore and a bit of dumb System administrator, I have spend some of my vacation and   worked on bringing up the the and the other Websites hosted as a high availvailability ones living on a 2 Webservers running on a Master to Master MySQL Replication backend database, this is oll hosted on  servers, set to run as a round robin DNS hosts on 2 servers one old Lenove ThinkCentre Edge71 as well as a brand new real Lenovo server Lenovo ThinkServer SD350 with 24 CPUs and a 32 GB of RAM
To assure Internet Connectivity is having a good degree of connectivity and ensure websites hosted on both machines is not going to die if one of the 2 pair configured Fiber Optics Internet Providers Bergon.NET has some Issues, I've rented another Internet Provider Line is set bought from the VIVACOM Mobile Fiber Internet provider – that is a 1 Gigabit Fiber Optics Line.
Next to that to guarantee there is no Database, Webserver, MailServer, Memcached and other running services did not hit downtimes due to Electricity power outage, two Powerful Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS)  FPS Fortron devices are connected to the servers each of which that could keep the machine and the connected switches and Servers for up to 1 Hour.

The machines are configured to use dhcpd to distributed IP addresses and the Main Node is set to distribute IPs, however as there is a local LAN network with more of a personal Work PCs, Wireless Devices and Testing Computers and few Virtual machines in the Network and the IPs are being distributed in a consequential manner via a ISC DHCP server.

As always to make everything work properly hence, I had again some a bit weird non-standard requirement to make some of the computers within the Network with Static IP addresses and the others to have their IPs received via the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) and add some filter for some of the Machine MAC Addresses which are configured to have a static IP addresses to prevent the DHCP (daemon) server to automatically reassign IPs to this machines.

After a bit of googling and pondering I've done it and some of the machines, therefore to save others the efforts to look around How to set Certain Computers / Servers Network Card MAC (Interfaces) MAC Addresses  configured on the LAN network to use Static IPs and instruct the DHCP server to ingnore any broadcast IP addresses leases – if they're to be destined to a set of IGNORED MAcs, I came up with this small article.

Here is the DHCP server /etc/dhcpd/dhcpd.conf from my Debian GNU / Linux (Buster) 10.4


option domain-name "pcfreak.lan";
option domain-name-servers,,,;
max-lease-time 891200;
class "black-hole" {
    match substring (hardware, 1, 6);
    ignore booting;
subclass "black-hole" 18:45:91:c3:d9:00;
subclass "black-hole" 70:e2:81:13:44:11;
subclass "black-hole" 70:e2:81:13:44:12;
subclass "black-hole" 00:16:3f:53:5d:11;
subclass "black-hole" 18:45:9b:c6:d9:00;
subclass "black-hole" 16:45:93:c3:d9:09;
subclass "black-hole" 16:45:94:c3:d9:0d;/etc/dhcpd/dhcpd.conf
subclass "black-hole" 60:67:21:3c:20:ec;
subclass "black-hole" 60:67:20:5c:20:ed;
subclass "black-hole" 00:16:3e:0f:48:04;
subclass "black-hole" 00:16:3e:3a:f4:fc;
subclass "black-hole" 50:d4:f5:13:e8:ba;
subclass "black-hole" 50:d4:f5:13:e8:bb;
subnet netmask {
        option routers        ;
        option subnet-mask    ;
host think-server {
        hardware ethernet 70:e2:85:13:44:12;
default-lease-time 691200;
max-lease-time 891200;
log-facility local7;

To spend you copy paste efforts a file with Deny DHCP Address by Mac Linux configuration is here
Of course I have dumped the MAC Addresses to omit a data leaking but I guess the idea behind the MAC ADDR ignore is quite clear

The main configuration doing the trick to ignore a certain MAC ALenovo ThinkServer SD350ddresses that are reachable on the Connected hardware switch on the device is like so:

class "black-hole" {
    match substring (hardware, 1, 6);
    ignore booting;
subclass "black-hole" 18:45:91:c3:d9:00;

The Deny DHCP Address by MAC is described on distribution lists here but it seems the documentation on the topic on how to Deny / IGNORE DHCP Addresses by MAC Address on Linux has been quite obscure and limited online.

As you can see in above config the time via which an IP is freed up and a new IP lease is done from the server is severely maximized as often DHCP servers do use a max-lease-time like 1 hour (3600) seconds:, the reason for increasing the lease time to be to like 10 days time is that the IPs in my network change very rarely so it is a waste of CPU cycles to do a frequent lease.

default-lease-time 691200;
max-lease-time 891200;

As you see to Guarantee resolving works always as expected I have configured – Google Public DNS and OpenDNS IPs

option domain-name-servers,,,;

One hint to make is, after setting up all my desired config in the standard config location /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf it is always good idea to test configuration before reloading the running dhcpd process.


root@pcfreak: ~# /usr/sbin/dhcpd -t
Internet Systems Consortium DHCP Server 4.4.1
Copyright 2004-2018 Internet Systems Consortium.
All rights reserved.
For info, please visit
Config file: /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf
Database file: /va/home/hipo/infor/lib/dhcp/dhcpd.leases
PID file: /var/run/

That's all folks with this sample config the IPs under subclass "black-hole", which are a local LAN Static IP Addresses will never be offered leasess anymore from the ISC DHCP.
Hope this stuff helps someone, enjoy and in case if you need a colocation of a server or a website hosting for a really cheap price on this new set High Availlability up described machines open an inquiry on


Reinstall all Debian packages with a copy of apt deb package list from another working Debian Linux installation

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

Reading Time: 11minutes


Few days ago, in the hurry in the small hours of the night, I've done something extremely stupid. Wanting to move out a .tar.gz binary copy of qmail installation to /var/lib/qmail with all the dependent qmail items instead of extracting to admin user /root directory (/root), I've extracted it to the main Operating system root /directrory.
Not noticing this, I've quickly executed rm -rf var with the idea to delete all directory tree under /root/var just 3 seconds later, I've realized I'm issuing the rm -rf var with the wrong location WITH a root user !!!! Being scared on what I've done, I've quickly pressed CTRL+C to immedately cancel the deletion operation of my /var.


But as you can guess, since the machine has an Slid State Drive drive and SSD memory drive are much more faster in I/O operations than the classical ATA / SATA disks. I was not quick enough to cancel the operation and I've noticed already some part of my /var have been R.I.P-pped in the heaven of directories.

This was ofcourse upsetting so for a while I rethinked the situation to get some ideas on what I can do to recover my system ASAP!!! and I had the idea of course to try to reinstall All my installed .deb debian packages to restore system closest to the normal, before my stupid mistake.

Guess my unpleasent suprise when I have realized dpkg and respectively apt-get apt and aptitude package management tools cannot anymore handle packages as Debian Linux's package dependency database has been damaged due to missing dpkg directory 




Oh man that was unpleasent, especially since I've installed plenty of stuff that is custom on my Mate based desktop and, generally reinstalling it updating the sytem to the latest Debian security updates etc. will be time consuming and painful process I wanted to omit.

So of course the logical thing to do here was to try to somehow recover somehow a database copy of /var/lib/dpkg  if that was possible, that of course led me to the idea to lookup for a way to recover my /var/lib/dpkg from backup but since I did not maintained any backup copy of my OS anywhere that was not really possible, so anyways I wondered whether dpkg does not keep some kind of database backups somewhere in case if something goes wrong with its database.
This led me to this nice Ubuntu thred which has pointed me to the part of my root rm -rf dpkg db disaster recovery solution.
Luckily .deb package management creators has thought about situation similar to mine and to give the user a restore point for /var/lib/dpkg damaged database

/var/lib/dpkg is periodically backed up in /var/backups

A typical /var/lib/dpkg on Ubuntu and Debian Linux looks like so:

hipo@jeremiah:/var/backups$ ls -l /var/lib/dpkg
total 12572
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Jul 26 03:22 alternatives
-rw-r–r– 1 root root      11 Oct 14  2017 arch
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 2199402 Jul 25 20:04 available
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 2199402 Oct 19  2017 available-old
-rw-r–r– 1 root root       8 Sep  6  2012 cmethopt
-rw-r–r– 1 root root    1337 Jul 26 01:39 diversions
-rw-r–r– 1 root root    1223 Jul 26 01:39 diversions-old
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root  679936 Jul 28 14:17 info
-rw-r—– 1 root root       0 Jul 28 14:17 lock
-rw-r—– 1 root root       0 Jul 26 03:00 lock-frontend
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Sep 17  2012 parts
-rw-r–r– 1 root root    1011 Jul 25 23:59 statoverride
-rw-r–r– 1 root root     965 Jul 25 23:59 statoverride-old
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 3873710 Jul 28 14:17 status
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 3873712 Jul 28 14:17 status-old
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Jul 26 03:22 triggers
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    4096 Jul 28 14:17 updates

Before proceeding with this radical stuff to move out /var/lib/dpkg/info from another machine to /var mistakenyl removed oned. I have tried to recover with the well known:

  • extundelete
  • foremost
  • recover
  • ext4magic
  • ext3grep
  • gddrescue
  • ddrescue
  • myrescue
  • testdisk
  • photorec

Linux file deletion recovery tools from a USB stick loaded with a Number of LiveCD distributions, i.e. tested recovery with:

  • Debian LiveCD
  • Ubuntu LiveCD
  • SystemRescueCD
  • Trinity Rescue Kit
  • Ultimate Boot CD

but unfortunately none of them couldn't recover the deleted files … 

The reason why the standard file recovery tools could not recover ?

My assumptions is after I've done by rm -rf var; from sysroot,  issued the sync (- if you haven't used it check out man sync) command – that synchronizes cached writes to persistent storage and did a restart from the poweroff PC button, this should have worked, as I've recovered like that in the past) in a normal Sys V System with a normal old fashioned blocks filesystem as EXT2 . or any other of the filesystems without a journal, however as the machine run a EXT4 filesystem with a journald and journald, this did not work perhaps because something was not updated properly in /lib/systemd/systemd-journal, that led to the situation all recently deleted files were totally unrecoverable.

1. First step was to restore the directory skele of /var/lib/dpkg

# mkdir -p /var/lib/dpkg/{alternatives,info,parts,triggers,updates}


2. Recover missing /var/lib/dpkg/status  file

The main file that gives information to dpkg of the existing packages and their statuses on a Debian based systems is /var/lib/dpkg/status

# cp /var/backups/dpkg.status.0 /var/lib/dpkg/status


3. Reinstall dpkg package manager to make package management working again

Say a warm prayer to the Merciful God ! and do:

# apt-get download dpkg
# dpkg -i dpkg*.deb


4. Reinstall base-files .deb package which provides basis of a Debian system

Hopefully everything will be okay and your dpkg / apt pair will be in normal working state, next step is to:

# apt-get download base-files
# dpkg -i base-files*.deb


5. Do a package sanity and consistency check and try to update OS package list

Check whether packages have been installed only partially on your system or that have missing, wrong or obsolete control  data  or  files.  dpkg  should suggest what to do with them to get them fixed.

# dpkg –audit

Then resynchronize (fetch) the package index files from their sources described in /etc/apt/sources.list

# apt-get update

Do apt db constistency check:

#  apt-get check

check is a diagnostic tool; it updates the package cache and checks for broken dependencies.

Take a deep breath ! …

Do :

ls -l /var/lib/dpkg
and compare with the above list. If some -old file is not present don't worry it will be there tomorrow.

Next time don't forget to do a regular backup with simple rsync backup script or something like Bacula / Amanda / Time Vault or Clonezilla.

6. Copy dpkg database from another Linux system that has a working dpkg / apt Database

Well this was however not the end of the story … There were still many things missing from my /var/ and luckily I had another Debian 10 Buster install on another properly working machine with a similar set of .deb packages installed. Therefore to make most of my programs still working again I have copied over /var from the other similar set of package installed machine to my messed up machine with the missing deleted /var.

To do so …
On Functioning Debian 10 Machine (Working Host in a local network with IP, I've archived content of /var:

linux:~# tar -czvf var_backup_debian10.tar.gz /var

Then sftped from Working Host towards the /var deleted broken one in my case this machine's hostname is jericho and luckily still had SSHD and SFTP running processes loaded in memory:

jericho:~# sftp root@
sftp> get var_backup_debian10.tar.gz

Now Before extracting the archive it is a good idea to make backup of old /var remains somewhere for example somewhere in /root 
just in case if we need to have a copy of the dpkg backup dir /var/backups

jericho:~# cp -rpfv /var /root/var_backup_damaged

jericho:~# tar -zxvf /root/var_backup_debian10.tar.gz 
jericho:/# mv /root/var/ /

Then to make my /var/lib/dpkg contain the list of packages from my my broken Linux install I have ovewritten /var/lib/dpkg with the files earlier backupped before  .tar.gz was extracted.

jericho:~# cp -rpfv /var /root/var_backup_damaged/lib/dpkg/ /var/lib/


7. Reinstall All Debian  Packages completely scripts


I then tried to reinstall each and every package first using aptitude with aptitude this is done with

# aptitude reinstall '~i'

However as this failed, tried using a simple shell loop like below:

for i in $(dpkg -l |awk '{ print $2 }'); do echo apt-get install –reinstall –yes $i; done

Alternatively, all .deb package reninstall is also possible with dpkg –get-selections and with awk with below cmds:

dpkg –get-selections | grep -v deinstall | awk '{print $1}' > list.log;
awk '$1=$1' ORS=' ' list.log > newlist.log
apt-get install –reinstall $(cat newlist.log)

It can also be run as one liner for simplicity:

dpkg –get-selections | grep -v deinstall | awk '{print $1}' > list.log; awk '$1=$1' ORS=' ' list.log > newlist.log; apt-get install –reinstall $(cat newlist.log)

This produced a lot of warning messages, reporting "package has no files currently installed" (virtually for all installed packages), indicating a severe packages problem below is sample output produced after each and every package reinstall … :

dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'iproute' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'brscan-skey' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libapache2-mod-php7.4' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libexpat1:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libexpat1:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'php5.6-readline' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'linux-headers-4.19.0-5-amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libgraphite2-3:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libgraphite2-3:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libbonoboui2-0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libxcb-dri3-0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libxcb-dri3-0:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'liblcms2-2:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'liblcms2-2:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libpixman-1-0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libpixman-1-0:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'gksu' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'liblogging-stdlog0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'mesa-vdpau-drivers:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'mesa-vdpau-drivers:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libzvbi0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libzvbi0:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libcdparanoia0:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libcdparanoia0:i386' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'python-gconf' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'php5.6-cli' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package 'libpaper1:amd64' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed
dpkg: warning: files list file for package '' missing; assuming package has no files currently installed

After some attempts I found a way to be able to work around the warning message, for each package by simply reinstalling the package reporting the issue with

apt –reinstall $package_name

Though reinstallation started well and many packages got reinstalled, unfortunately some packages such as apache2-mod-php5.6 and other php related ones  started failing during reinstall ending up in unfixable states right after installation of binaries from packages was successfully placed in its expected locations on disk. The failures occured during the package setup stage( dpkg –configure $packagename) …

The logical thing to do is a recovery attempt with something like the usual well known by any Debian admin:

apt-get install –fix-missing

As well as Manual requesting to reconfigure (issue re-setup) of all installed packages also did not produced a positive result

dpkg –configure -a

But many packages were still failing due to dpkg inability to execute some post installation scripts from respective .deb files.
To work around that and continue installing the rest of packages I had to manually delete all files related to the failing package located under directory 


For example to omit the post installation failure of libapache2-mod-php5.6 and have a succesful install of the package next time I tried reinstall, I had to delete all /var/lib/dpkg/info/libapache2-mod-php5.6.postrm, /var/lib/dpkg/info/libapache2-mod-php5.6.postinst scripts and even sometimes everything like libapache2-mod-php5.6* that were present in /var/lib/dpkg/info dir.

The problem with this solution, however was the package reporting to install properly, but the post install script hooks were still not in placed and important things as setting permissions of binaries after install or applying some configuration changes right after install was missing leading to programs failing to  fully behave properly or even breaking up even though showing as finely installed …

The final solution to this problem was radical.
I've used /var/lib/dpkg database (directory) from ther other working Linux machine with dpkg DB OK found in var_backup_debian10.tar.gz (linux:~# host with a working dpkg database) and then based on the dpkg package list correct database responding on jericho:~# to reinstall each and every package on the system using Debian System Reinstaller script taken from the internet.
Debian System Reinstaller works but to reinstall many packages, I've been prompted again and again whether to overwrite configuration or keep the present one of packages.
To Omit the annoying [Y / N ] text prompts I had made a slight modification to the script so it finally looked like this:

# Debian System Reinstaller
# Copyright (C) 2015 Albert Huang
# Copyright (C) 2018 Andreas Fendt

# This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
# it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
# the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
# (at your option) any later version.

# This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
# but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
# GNU General Public License for more details.

# You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
# along with this program.  If not, see <>.

# —
# This script assumes you are using a Debian based system
# (Debian, Mint, Ubuntu, #!), and have sudo installed. If you don't
# have sudo installed, replace "sudo" with "su -c" instead.

pkgs=`dpkg –get-selections | grep -w 'install$' | cut -f 1 |  egrep -v '(dpkg|apt)'`

for pkg in $pkgs; do
    echo -e "\033[1m   * Reinstalling:\033[0m $pkg"    

    apt-get –reinstall -o Dpkg::Options::="–force-confdef" -o Dpkg::Options::="–force-confold" -y install $pkg || {
        echo "ERROR: Reinstallation failed. See reinstall.log for details."
        exit 1
done working modified version of Albert Huang and Andreas Fendt script  can be also downloaded here.

Note ! Omitting the text confirmation prompts to install newest config or keep maintainer configuration is handled by the argument:


-o Dpkg::Options::="–force-confold

I however still got few NCurses Console selection prompts during the reinstall of about 3200+ .deb packages, so even with this mod the reinstall was not completely automatic.

Note !  During the reinstall few of the packages from the list failed due to being some old unsupported packages this was ejabberd, ircd-hybrid and a 2 / 3 more.
This failure was easily solved by completely purging those packages with the usual

# dpkg –purge $packagename

and reruninng on each of the failing packages.

Note ! The failing packages were just old ones left over from Debian 8 and Debian 9 before the apt-get dist-upgrade towards 10 Duster.
Eventually I got a success by God's grance, after few hours of pains and trials, ending up in a working state package database and a complete set of freshly reinstalled packages.

The only thing I had to do finally is 2 hours of tampering why GNOME did not automatically booted after the system reboot due to failing gdm
until I fixed that I've temprary used ligthdm (x-display-manager), to do I've

dpkg –reconfigure gdm3


 to work around this I had to also reinstall few libraries, reinstall the xorg-server, reinstall gdm and reinstall the meta package for GNOME, using below set of commands:

apt-get install –reinstall libglw1-mesa libglx-mesa0
apt-get install –reinstall libglu1-mesa-dev
apt install –reinstallgsettings-desktop-schemas
apt-get install –reinstall xserver-xorg-video-intel
apt-get install –reinstall xserver-xorg
apt-get install –reinstall xserver-xorg-core
apt-get install –reinstall task-desktop
apt-get install –reinstall task-gnome-desktop


As some packages did not ended re-instaled on system because on the original host from where /var/lib/dpkg db was copied did not have it I had to eventually manually trigger reinstall for those too:


apt-get install –reinstall –yes vlc
apt-get install –reinstall –yes thunderbird
apt-get install –reinstall –yes audacity
apt-get install –reinstall –yes gajim
apt-get install –reinstall –yes slack remmina
apt-get install –yes k3b
pt-get install –yes gbgoffice
pt-get install –reinstall –yes skypeforlinux
apt-get install –reinstall –yes vlc
apt-get install –reinstall –yes libcurl3-gnutls libcurl3-nss
apt-get install –yes virtualbox-5.2
apt-get install –reinstall –yes vlc
apt-get install –reinstall –yes alsa-tools-gui
apt-get install –reinstall –yes gftp
apt install ./teamviewer_15.3.2682_amd64.deb –yes


Note that some of above packages requires a properly configured third party repositories, other people might have other packages that are missing from the dpkg list and needs to be reinstalled so just decide according to your own case of left aside working system present binaries that doesn't belong to any dpkg installed package.

After a bit of struggle everything is back to normal Thanks God! 🙂 !


Cracking zip protected password files on GNU/Linux and FreeBSD

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Reading Time: 3minutes


Its not very common, but sometimes it happens you have to crack some downloaded file from or some other big torrent tracker. An example scenario would be downloading a huge words dictionary (a rainbow tables) dictionary etc., which was protected by the author with a password and zipped.

Fortunately Mark Lehmann developed a software called fcrackzip which is capable of brute forcing zip protected file passwords straight on UNIX like operating systems (GNU/Linux, FreeBSD).

fcrackzip is available from package repositories on Debian and Ubuntu Linuces to install via apt:

linux:~# apt-get install frackzip

fcrackzip is also available on FreeBSD via the ports tree and can be installed with:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/security/fcrackzip
freebsd# make install cleam

On Debian it's worthy to have a quick look on the README file:

linux:~# cat /usr/share/doc/fcrackzip/READMESee fcrackzip.txt (which is derived from the manpage), or fcrackzip.html

There is a web page with more information at or

A sample password-protected .zip file is included as "". It's
password has 6 lower case characters, and fcrackzip will find it (and a
number of false positives) with

fcrackzip -b -c a -p aaaaaa ./

which will take between one and thirty minutes on typical machines.

To find out which of these passwords is the right one either try them out
or use the –use-unzip option.


Cracking the password protected sample file on my dual core 1.8 ghz box with 2gb, it took 30 seconds.

linux:~# time fcrackzip -u -b -c a -p aaaaaa

PASSWORD FOUND!!!!: pw == noradi

real 0m29.627s
user 0m29.530s
sys 0m0.064s

Of course the sample set password for is pretty trivial and with more complex passwords, sometimes cracking the password can take up to 30 minutes or an hour and it all depends on the specific case, but at least now we the free software users have a new tool in the growing arsenal of free software programs 😉

Here are the options passed on to the above fcrackzip command:

-uTry to decompress with the detected possible archive passwords using unzip (This is necessery to precisely find the archive password, otherwise it will just print out a number of possible matching archive passwords and you have to try each of the passwords one by one. Note that this option depends on a working unzip version installed.)

-c ainclude all charsets to be tried with the generated passwords

-bSelect brute force mode – Tries all possible combinations of letters specified

-p aaaaaainit-password string (Look up for a password between the password length 6 characters long)

FCrackZip is partly written in assembler and thus is generally works fast, to reduce the CPU load fcrackzip will put on the processor its also capable of using external words dictionary file by passing it the option:

-DThe file should be in a format one word per line and be preliminary alphabetically sorted with let's say sort

Also fcrackzip supports parallel file brute force, for example if you have 10 zip files protected with passwords it can paralelly try to brute force the pwds.

As of time of writting frackzip reached version 1.0 and seems to be pretty stable. Happy cracking.
Just to make sure fcrackzip's source is not lost somewhere in the line in the long future to come, I've created a fcrackzip download mirror here

How to remove ‘active contents’ from PDF file on Linux / Strip Active Contents from PDF

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Reading Time: 3minutes


I'm updating my Autiobography (CV) with my latest job eployeers, technology expertise and certifications and usually use the EuroPassCV standard web service to update already generated PDF files.The service as web based application service allows easy edit from the web as most web services which is quite handy and then allows Export to DOCX or PDF file format. So far so good but today I faced a really weird problem after, I've used successfully EuroPassCV service  and downloaded the PDF to my computer and tried to submit my Curriculum Vitae application to SAP's Successfactor newly created account for the purpose I faced a weird I error saying

"The system does not allow files with Active contents. Please …"


Of course if this error message was received on a Start-up application on Application upload that would be fine, but come on this is SAP's Successfactors, it cannot accept a standard generated PDF from EuroPass which nowadays is a standard for CV here in Europe and hosted on of official European Union website

To me this is a clear signal SAP needs an experienced ICT specialists and Quality Assurance testers like me to fix their mess and I will be willing to help them if they contact me until its too late for them, but let me go back to the topic of this article which was how to remove active contents from a PDF file 🙂

So first lets make clear what is Active content in a file ?

Active contents is content that includes programs like Internet polls, JavaScript applications, stock tickers, animated images, ActiveX applications, action items, streaming video and audio, weather maps, embedded objects, and much more. Active content contains programs that trigger automatic actions on a Web page without the user's knowledge or consent.
Active contents (Macros) could exist in many file formats that are used daily in most companies / organizations daily, active content can be contained in documents such as MS Excel,  Word, PDF, PowerPoint and so on.

So why does some applications disable document support for Active contents?

Well just for the reason of security, Active contents could often be some kind of malware or crapware and they can mess up with the web application (in case of bugs) or even mess up with server software if it is a complex warm like behavior exploiting some kind of vulnerability.
One thing to say about active contents removal on file upload by applications is that this practice could only be tolerated if the organization had already adapted a security through obscurity which most likely is the case with SAP's Successfactors and many other applications out there.

So next question is how to  Panicea (Resolution) Active Contents existing in a PDF file

Assuming you have a GNU / Linux Desktop or server with ghostscript package installed (which is the case by default with virtually any modern Linux distribution), removing Active Contents from PDF to make possible file to be submitted to the picky Security Conscious application with a single command:

gs -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOUTPUTFILE=CV-Georgi_Dimitrov_Georgiev-Europass-20190718-EN-noact-content.pdf -dBATCH CV-Georgi_Dimitrov_Georgiev-Europass-20190718-EN.pdf

After that the stripped active contents PDF file would succeed in uploading to web app.