Posts Tagged ‘terrible times’

Saint Markianos and Martyrios a church reader and sub-deacon holy martyrs for Christ – The feast of Sub-deacons

Sunday, October 25th, 2020

Reading Time: 6 minutes

saint-Markian-and-Saint-Martirios-cleargymen-church-martyrs-3rd-century
Saint Markianos (Saint Markian) and Martyrios are little known saints in the Western realm and there is too little of information in English about this two early martyrs who lived circa year 340. What is special about them is that besides being a strong confessors of the True Eastern Orthodox faith, they served in the Church as simple 'reader' and 'sub-deacon'. This two designations were very much respected in the early Church as sub-deacons were usually the ones who have served in the Church inseparable as a Church service helpers to the patriarchs or some high clergy as Metropolitans and Bishops. We have many saints in the Church that are from a simple warriors as Saint Georg and Saint Dimitrios the Wonderworker (The MyrhBringer) to monks, bishops, patriarchs and pretty much all kind of people from the society from the begger to the richest and most famous kings and queens. However it is rare to meet in the ( Act of the Martyrs – latin: Acta Martyrum), to find  canonized saints that were in the lowest step in Church hierarchy as a simple 'psalm' and holy writtings reader or a sub-deacon. A Sub-deacon for those who don't know is a pearon that is a like a servant helper to the priest or bishop) that has been responsible for helping with the Church service and resolution of material and administrative needs of the christian community.
Usually in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the church reader or sub-deacons were and asre still called hipodeacon or "ipodiakon" in Greek / Slavonic church language), they didn't have the right at that early ages of christianity to publicly teach on faith matters or do apologetics (defendings of faith), however this 2 saintly man Markianos and Martyrios seem to have been a burning with the power of the spirit of God in their heart and the situation they were put in when the Church was under persecution and the patriarch Paul of Constantinople I (was patriarch from 340 ~ 350 AD). Saint Paul removed from his Church headship sent to Exile in Armenia and some time after drawned. He is commemorated in the Church on 6th of November. Hence considering situation St. Markian and Martyrius had to either defend and die for the faith or be scared and run away far in the caves or distant places of the empire such as villages on the outskits far away from the center city Rome …

The Heresy of Arius has been the most modern and the new modified faith claiming Christianity gathering followers in a viral way, and due to that the Arians have been in position where most of the public authorities in the Roman empire has been on their side against the Orthodox Christians.

Marcian_and_Martyrius_the_notaries_of_Constantinople-circa-355AD. 

Due to that in the church communities in near and distant lands of empire, the Arians were fiercely persecuting the Orthodox, and for a time even Emperor Saint Constantine The Great were deceived by their hypocrisy. It was terrible times for true confessors of faith. But not only Arians were persecuting Christians, as paganism were still deeply rooted in many of the lands and the Edict of Mediolan who gave equal rights to the religion in AD 313 was not strictly followed and senators of Roman regions with Paganist beliefs, were also harshly raising persucutions against their enemies the Christians who according to them are destroying the ancient culture and beautfy of paganism, not venerating the old pagan gods and against the wicked debauchery customs who were followed by pagans in 3rd / 4th century.

beheading-of-saint-Martyrios

Practically everyone who have admitted publicly Jesus Christ as a Creator of the World and a Son of God one hipostasys of the Holy Trinity God The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, were captured put to prison and quickly executed, if they don't turn out from their christian beliefs.

Arians has taken a lead even more with the set on the throne of Emperor Constantius II the son of Constantine I-st, as he has also fallen in the Arianism* heresy and who has taken in the court as a close advisory Eusebius and Philip who due to their half-pagan half-arian half superstitious understanding of the world have led a fierce war against Christianity and did a lot of evils to Christ Church.

* Arianism – believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who was begotten by God the Father, and is distinct from the Father (therefore subordinate to him), but the Son is also God the Son but not co-eternal with God the Father. Arian theology was first attributed to Arius (c. AD 256–336), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria of Egypt.
saint-Markian-and-Saint-Martirios-cleargymen-church-martyrs-3rd-century.jpg
Until dethronment of Patriarch Paul I, St. Markianos and St. Martyrios have been a notaries of St. Paul (a typist to the patriarch and a kind of personal secretaries of the Patriarch) besides serving as Church reader and sub-deacon. They were famous for their time with their warm preaching of the Words of God – the Gospel of the Christ following the example of the apostles. Due to the raising heresies they also take an active part in writting many documents against the heretical "arians" and so called "macedonians" who teached anti-christian teachings who were newly invented and unknown to the ancient church teachings. They've had a special gift from God to be able to speak in a way to defend the faith so noone with his knowledge or high-education couldn't stand overcome them in disputes on church matters and many times they have disputed with Arian heretics exposing their fallacy (delusions) putting them to shame.

After the exile of Patriarch Paul heresy-archs arians turned their poisonous hatred against the patriarch two pupils Markianos and Martyrios. Craftly acting they acted slyly with a craftul lie and promised them a lot of gold a good place in the emperor's court, to raise them in the church hierarcy (in the part of the church which was already confessing arian heresy) and give them a lot of privileges from the king with the condition to accept, support and confess arianism.

But God's servents despised everything from this world, rejected the offered golden gifts, preferred eternal Heavenly honors than short and vain worldly and even laughed at them.

As Arians saw nothing can't convince them to their malice teaching, heretics condemned them to death, which was desired by the confessors (which remembered well the exile and the manly martyrdom of their teacher St. Patriarch Paul) and with all their being desired to be with Christ in the Eternal prepared palaces, where life will be without end in never ending bliss as promised by Christ in the Holy Scriptures. They preferred Christ more than the temporary life enjoyments.

saint_Markian-and_Martirios-orthodox-icon

When brought to the place of the execution of their false made accusement and sentence for being blasphemers of Christ, two saints asked for a small time
to pray. Brough up their eyes to the heaven and prayed with the words:

" – Oh Lord, who have unseenly created our hearts, who arrange all our deeds – "He formed the hearts of them all; he understands everything they do." (Psalm 33:15), receive with peace the souls of your servents, because we're mortified for your name – "Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." (Psalm 44:22). We're joyful that you give us such a death, we depart from this life because of your name. Let us to participate in the eternal life in You, the source and giver of life."

Praying with this words, they bowed their holy heads and under sword and was killed by beheading by the unfortunate arians because of their confession of the divinity of Christ as true uncreated Son of God who existed before all ages before the creation of the world as we Christians believe to this date.

Some of the Christians took their holy relics and buried them outside the Melandissia Gate of the Constantinople. Later Saint John of Chrysostom built a church in their name over the place of their miracle-working relics. There the sick for many ages received divine healings  of different incurable diseases by the prayers of the holy martyrs of God, Praised in Trinity in all ages.

By the prayers of your Holy Martyrs St. Markianos and Martyrios Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us !

40 Days since our beloved brother in Christ (ipodeacon Georgi Nedev) has presented himself in God

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Holy Mount Athos st. Georgi the Glory Bringer - Zographus Monastic main Church
Holy Mount Athos st. Georgi the Glory Bringer – Zographus Monastic main Church

I start this post with the St. George Zographus Monastery’s main Church as the Zographus Monastery on Holy Mount Athos was our brother Georgi last eartly place he wanted to spend the remaining of his eartly life.

Today it’s the 40th day since our brother in Christ (ipodeacon) Georgi Nedev has presented his humble soul to our Saviour Jesus.

ipodeacon Georgi Nedev on a Bishop Church service holding the metropolitan sceptre

This is the only picture I have of our brother Georgi

His living was as humble as his departure from this life and his passing I believe in the eternal life with God.
Georgi had the severe desire to become a monk in Holy Mount Athos and has multiple friends in there which loved him and often prayed for him.
Now on this 40 day in our Bulgarian monastery in Holy Mount Athos, Saint George – The GloryBringer (Zographus) monks will be serving a requiem service (Panihida – as we say in Slavonic)

His departure was striking and sudden for of us in the Church community here in Dobrich’s Holy Trinity Church, as well as not less shocking for the Holy Mount Athos Zographus monks Christian community who loved our brother sincerely.

Some short biographic facts about our brother ipodeacon Georgi Nedev are here
Unfortunately the bio-facts I know about Georgi are very little, as I only knew him for a couple of years. Even though the short time I used to know him, I can say I was blessed through him and I’m exteremely grateful to him, it was through him I’ve learned a bit more about Holy Mount Athos and our Bulgarian monk community that is in Zographus, as well as some very minor details concerning the spiritual Church life that I’ve never thought about.
It was thanks to him I was being encouraged on numerous times in terrible times of desparation and loss of faith and track in life.

Thanks to him I was being explained for a first time, how one can go for a pilgrimage journey to Holy Mount Athos and how one can get the pilgrim’s permit documentation related to going there called in greek diamontirium
He also told me about numerous miracles about Holy Mount Athos, and explained me one needs to pray to the Holy Theotokos Virgin Mary and ask her that is being allowed to enter this holy place.

This last lent, even though his sickness Georgi was regularly visiting the evening services in the Church and was dilegent in his spiritual life.

I remember him expressing his enormous joy the last time I saw him on a Holy Liturgy for he took the Holy Communion.
After the Church service, I asked him how is he, his answer was; I’m not feeling well, but praise be to God! for I was able to take the Holy Communion

Many times when I asked him what are his future plans, he used to answer I don’t know anything, it’s all in the God’s will (hands) for me.

You can see yourself how great his dedicated for God was by his own words.

As our priest, who used to be his confessor said, “Georgi was a righteous man and God took him early on”.

Let eternal be your Memory beloved brother Georgi now and Forver and Ever! Amen!


How to check if your Linux WebServer is under a DoS attack

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Reading Time: 4 minutes
There are few commands I usually use to track if my server is possibly under a Denial of Service attack or under Distributed Denial of Service

Sys Admins who still have not experienced the terrible times of being under a DoS attack are happy people for sure …

1. How to Detect a TCP/IP Denial of Service Attack This are the commands I use to find out if a loaded Linux server is under a heavy DoS attack, one of the most essential one is of course netstat.
To check if a server is under a DoS attack with netstat, it’s common to use:

linux:~# netstat -ntu | awk '{print $5}' | cut -d: -f1 | sort | uniq -c | sort -n|wc -l

If the output of below command returns a result like 2000 or 3000 connections!, then obviously it’s very likely the server is under a DoS attack.

To check all the IPS currently connected to the Apache Webserver and get a very brief statistics on the number of times each of the IPs connected to my server, I use the cmd:

linux:~# netstat -ntu | awk '{print $5}' | cut -d: -f1 | sort | uniq -c | sort -n
221 80.143.207.107 233 145.53.103.70 540 82.176.164.36

As you could see from the above command output the IP 80.143.207.107 is either connected 221 times to the server or is in state of connecting or disconnecting to the node.

Another possible way to check, if a Linux or BSD server is under a Distributed DoS is with the list open files command lsof
Here is how lsof can be used to list the approximate number of ESTABLISHED connections to port 80.

linux:~# lsof -i TCP:80
litespeed 241931 nobody 17u IPv4 18372655 TCP server.pc-freak.net:http (LISTEN)
litespeed 241931 nobody 25u IPv4 18372659 TCP 85.17.159.89:http (LISTEN)
litespeed 241931 nobody 30u IPv4 29149647 TCP server.pc-freak.net:http->83.101.6.41:54565 (ESTABLISHED)
litespeed 241931 nobody 33u IPv4 18372647 TCP 85.17.159.93:http (LISTEN)
litespeed 241931 nobody 34u IPv4 29137514 TCP server.pc-freak.net:http->83.101.6.41:50885 (ESTABLISHED)
litespeed 241931 nobody 35u IPv4 29137831 TCP server.pc-freak.net:http->83.101.6.41:52312 (ESTABLISHED)
litespeed 241931 nobody 37w IPv4 29132085 TCP server.pc-freak.net:http->83.101.6.41:50000 (ESTABLISHED)

Another way to get an approximate number of established connections to let’s say Apache or LiteSpeed webserver with lsof can be achieved like so:

linux:~# lsof -i TCP:80 |wc -l
2100

I find it handy to keep track of above lsof command output every few secs with gnu watch , like so:

linux:~# watch "lsof -i TCP:80"

2. How to Detect if a Linux server is under an ICMP SMURF attack

ICMP attack is still heavily used, even though it’s already old fashioned and there are plenty of other Denial of Service attack types, one of the quickest way to find out if a server is under an ICMP attack is through the command:

server:~# while :; do netstat -s| grep -i icmp | egrep 'received|sent' ; sleep 1; done
120026 ICMP messages received
1769507 ICMP messages sent
120026 ICMP messages received
1769507 ICMP messages sent

As you can see the above one liner in a loop would check for sent and recieved ICMP packets every few seconds, if there are big difference between in the output returned every few secs by above command, then obviously the server is under an ICMP attack and needs to hardened.

3. How to detect a SYN flood with netstat

linux:~# netstat -nap | grep SYN | wc -l
1032

1032 SYNs per second is quite a high number and except if the server is not serving let’s say 5000 user requests per second, therefore as the above output reveals it’s very likely the server is under attack, if however I get results like 100/200 SYNs, then obviously there is no SYN flood targetting the machine 😉

Another two netstat command application, which helps determining if a server is under a Denial of Service attacks are:

server:~# netstat -tuna |wc -l
10012

and

server:~# netstat -tun |wc -l
9606

Of course there also some other ways to check the count the IPs who sent SYN to the webserver, for example:

server:~# netstat -n | grep :80 | grep SYN |wc -l

In many cases of course the top or htop can be useful to find, if many processes of a certain type are hanging around.

4. Checking if UDP Denial of Service is targetting the server

server:~# netstat -nap | grep 'udp' | awk '{print $5}' | cut -d: -f1 | sort |uniq -c |sort -n

The above command will list information concerning possible UDP DoS.

The command can easily be accustomed also to check for both possible TCP and UDP denial of service, like so:

server:~# netstat -nap | grep 'tcp|udp' | awk '{print $5}' | cut -d: -f1 | sort |uniq -c |sort -n
104 109.161.198.86
115 112.197.147.216
129 212.10.160.148
227 201.13.27.137
3148 91.121.85.220

If after getting an IP that has too many connections to the server and is almost certainly a DoS host you would like to filter this IP.

You can use the /sbin/route command to filter it out, using route will probably be a better choice instead of iptables, as iptables would load up the CPU more than simply cutting the route to the server.

Here is how I remove hosts to not be able to route packets to my server:

route add 110.92.0.55 reject

The above command would null route the access of IP 110.92.0.55 to my server.

Later on to look up for a null routed IP to my host, I use:

route -n |grep -i 110.92.0.55

Well hopefully this should be enough to give a brief overview on how, one can dig in his server and find if he is under a Distributed Denial of Service, hope it’s helpful to somebody out there.
Cheers 😉


How to enable AUTO fsck (ext3, ext4, reiserfs, LVM filesystems) checking on Linux boot through /etc/fstab

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Reading Time: 3 minutes
How to auto FSCK manual fsck screenshot

Are you an administrator of servers and it happens a server is DOWN.
You request the Data Center to reboot, however suddenly the server fails to boot properly and you have to request for IPKVM or some web java interface to directly access the server physical terminal …

This is a very normal admin scenario and many people who have worked in the field of remote system administrators (like me), should have experienced that bad times multiple times.

Sadly enough only a insignifant number of administrators try to do their best to reduce this down times to resolve client stuff downtime but prefer spending time playing the ztype! game or watching some porn website 😉

Anyways there are plenty of things like Server Auto Reboot on Crash with software Watchdog etc., that we as sysadmins can do to reduce server downtimes and most of the manual human interactions on server boot time.

In that manner of thougts a very common thing when setting up a new Linux server that many server admins forget or don’t know is to enable all the server partition filesystems to be auto fscked during server boot time.

By not enabling the auto filesystem check options in Linux the server filesystems did not automatically scan and fix hard drive partitions for fs innode inconsistencies.
Even though the filesystems are tuned to automatically get checked on every 38 system reboots, still if some kind of filesystem errors are found that require a manual confirmation the boot process is interrupted and the admin ends up with a server which is not reachable remotely via ssh !

For the remote system administrator, this times are a terrible times of waitings, prayers and hopes that the server hardware is fine 😉 as well as being on hold to get a KVM to get into the server manually and enter the necessery input to fsck prompt.

Many of this bad times can be completely avoided with a very simple fix through /etc/fstab by enabling all server partitions containing any filesystem to be automatically checked and fixed in case if inconsistencies or errors are found by fsck.ext3, fsck.ext4, fsck.reiserfs etc. commands.

A very typical default /etc/fstab file you will find on many servers should look something like:

/dev/sda8 / ext3 errors=remount-ro 0 1
tmpfs /dev/shm tmpfs defaults 0 0
devpts /dev/pts devpts gid=5,mode=620 0 0
sysfs /sys sysfs defaults 0 0
proc /proc proc defaults 0 0
/dev/sda1 /home ext3 defaults 0 0

Notice the line:
/dev/sda1 /home ext3 defaults 0 0

The first column in the example contains the device name, the second one its mount point, third its filesystem type, fourth the mount options, fifth (a number) dump options, and sixth (another number) filesystem check options. Let’s take a closer look at this stuff.

The ones which are interesting to enable auto fsck checking and error resolving is provided usually by the last sixth variable (filesystem check option) which in the above example equals 0 .

When the filesystem check option equals 0 this means the auto fsck and repair for the respective filesystem is disabled.
Some time in the past the dump backup option (5th option in the example) was also used but as far as I can understand today it’s not that important in modern GNU/Linux distributions.

Now having the above sample crontab in order to enable the fsck file checking on Linux boot for /dev/sda1 , we will need to modify the above line’s filesystem check option be 2, e.g. the line would afterwards look like:

/dev/sda1 /home ext3 defaults 0 2

Setting the 2 as an option for filesystem check is necessery for every filesystem which is not mounted as a root filesystem /

In above example /etc/fstab you already see that auto filesystem fsck is enabled for root partition:

/dev/sda8 / ext3 errors=remount-ro 0 1
(notice the 1 in the end of the line)

Finally a modified version of the default sample /etc/fstab which will check the extra /dev/sda1 /home partition would look like so:

/dev/sda8 / ext3 errors=remount-ro 0 1
tmpfs /dev/shm tmpfs defaults 0 0
devpts /dev/pts devpts gid=5,mode=620 0 0
sysfs /sys sysfs defaults 0 0
proc /proc proc defaults 0 0
/dev/sda1 /home ext3 defaults 0 2

Making sure all Linux server partitions has the auto filesystem check option enabled is something absoultely necessery!
Enabling the auto fsck on servers always makes me sleep calmer 😉
Hope it helps your too. 🙂


Reboot Safely a frozen (hanged up) Linux Server with Magic SysRQ Key combination

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Reading Time: 2 minutesLinux Magic SysRQ Key picture

Being a remote system administrator for many years from now, I’ve experienced many times sudden Linux crashes, mostly caused by system hardware overloads.

This is a common thing especially on busy Web Servers with (Apache/MySQL). Situations like this are really messy and many times in order to bringt the server back online, one has to either physically go to the Data Center or contact the Technical support to request a server reboot.

In this terrible times, data loss might occur if the Server reset button is used to cold reboot it.

Happily in 99% of the cases the data loss which might occur could be prevented with Linux’s kernel capability to support the Magic SysRQ key !

Having the Magic SysRQ key functionality being supported in Linux in past times wasn’t that common, thanksfully these days this has changed andlmost every Linux distrubution supports this handy feature.

Now you might wonder what is the magic with those Magic SysRQ key ?

Let me explain, Magic SysRQ is a kernel level functionality which supports even completely crashed Linux systems with the horrifying:

Kernel Panic
message to be properly shutdown.

Using Magic SysRQ instead of the mostly used indiced cold reboots is really advantageous, as all the opened files by programs on the crashed server which hanged will be properly saved and closed and thus possible data loss caused by the sudden server crash will be minimized.

One other good thing about the Magic SysRQ Key keyboard combination is that initiating the Magic SysRQ could be made blindly (no need for server monitor or display to present any error messages on the failed server).

Now to check if the magic sysrq is enabled on a server one should issue the command:

Here are some Magic SysRQ keyboard combinations one can use in case of server failure:

ALT+SYSRQ+M to dump memory info;
ALT+SYSRQ+P to dump processes states;
ALT+SYSRQ+S to sync disks;
ALT+SYSRQ+U to unmount all mounted filesystems;
ALT+SYSRQ+E to terminate processes;
ALT+SYSRQ+I to kill all processes
ALT+SYSRQ+U to try to unmount once again;
ALT+SYSRQ+B to reboot.

I would skip to explain what each of the keyboard combinations will do as I believe the above description explains it well.

One classics of combinations one might want to issue on a failed Linux server supporting the Magic SysRQ would be:

ALT+SYSRQ+R
ALT+SYSRQ+E
ALT+SYSRQ+I
ALT+SYSRQ+S
ALT+SYSRQ+U
ALT+SYSRQ+B

The ALT+SYSRQ+REISUB key combination is very popular among system administrators.
Also Magic SysRQ is heavily used by kernel developers as it includes many handy debugging options.

If you try the Magic SysRQ key on older servers and you realize it doesn’t react you will have to recompile the linux kernel and enable the CONFIG_MAGIC_SYSRQ kernel time compilation option.

The Magic SysRQ can also be initiated remotely on a properly running server 😉 by initiating:

server:~# echo b > /proc/sysrq-trigger

This command would be useful if you want to just have fun and test that magic sysrq works on your system for sure 😉

To sum it up using the Magic SysRQ will guarantee your locked up, server a Safe Reboot and will hopefully save you a lot of time for backups recovery.