Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Disabling the Yum RHN Plugin

Due to the sheer number of RHEL installs we have on our network it was time to have our own Yum repo. The setup was fairly straightforward and their are many useful articles available.

Once setup and configured, testing began; both the new test systems worked perfectly. But apparently it was too soon to start slapping myself on the back, because systems already registered with RHN would error out once I removed their subscription, rather than use the local repo.

"There was an error communicating with RHN.
RHN Satellite or RHN Classic support will be disabled.
Error communicating with server. The message was:

Error Message:
        Please run rhn_register as root on this client
Error Class Code: 9
Error Class Info: Invalid System Credentials.

I did many an Internet search only to find numerous suggestions that didn't fix the problem. It wasn't until I looked at the man page for yum.conf did I see the answer. The related files portion at the bottom listed a number of other files, the important one under /etc/yum/pluginconf.d the rhnplugin.conf file. Setting it to enabled=0 stops the plugin from being used and voilĂ , the local repo was working. With each of these, I also follow up with a yum clean all just to be sure it's a fresh start.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Excel Closing Slowly

Excel seemed to open fast enough for someone in our accounting department, but its closing was glacial.

I removed all Add-ins (File > Options > Add-Ins) and even started it in Safe Mode (Run... excel /s), but it still lagged on close.

Not surprising, Excel has a default template like Word's named ExcelXX.xlb, XX being the version number of Excel, in this case it's 2010 which is version 12.

Once Excel12.xlb was renamed in C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel, the file was regenerated upon start starting Excel and from then on, it closed without hesitation.

For further troubleshooting steps, visit the overlords at Microsoft.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Changing the Default Windows Icon

I don't know about you, but always having the "orange flower" icon whenever I log into a new account on a system or use the Remote Desktop client has gotten old.

Of course, you can change the account icon by clicking on it from the Start Menu, bringing you into Control Panel > User Accounts to select Change your picture and choose from the list available or Browse for more pictures...

But if you want to change the default permanently, grab yourself a 128 x 128 bitmap (.bmp) image and name it user.bmp and dump it into: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\User Account Pictures, confirm to overwrite.

You can also add your own icons to the list offered by naming the bitmaps usertile45.bmp, usertile46.bmp, etc. and placing them in: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\User Account Pictures\Default Pictures

As you would imagine, this works for Windows Vista and 2008/R2. Still don't have a Windows 8 system to use, so you're mileage may vary with that...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Testing an External NTP Server

First off, NTP uses port 123. That was the first thing I checked when trying to telnet to one of the servers. Seems most NTP server ignore the telnet command.

Then I thought I'd use net time, but it has been deprecated in Windows 7 in favor of the newer w32tm command.

There's a litany of switches to use with it, but the /monitor /computers:server are the ones you want.

And using the command: c:\w32tm /monitor /
You will get the following output, showing it works:[]:
    ICMP: 59ms delay
    NTP: -0.1402919s offset from local clock
        RefID: 'ACTS' [0x53544341]
        Stratum: 1

You can find a huge amount of popular public NTP servers at

Monday, November 19, 2012

Finding a Linux Application Version

During a recent Wordpress installation endeavor, I needed to confirm I had the correct versions of Apache, PHP, etc., and didn't exactly know how to accomplish that. As with many things in the computer world, there are many ways to skin a cat...

This example uses Apache, which is httpd as a service (daemon in Linux-speak).

Add -v to the binary (or -V depending on the app), and this doesn't work for everything.
[root@spidey ~]# httpd -v
Server version: Apache/2.2.15 (Unix)
Server built:   Feb  7 2012 09:50:11

Use which to locate the full path of a command
[root@spidey ~]# which httpd

Use whereis to locate the binary, source and man pages
[root@spidey ~]# whereis httpd
httpd: /usr/sbin/httpd /usr/sbin/httpd.event /usr/sbin/httpd.worker /etc/httpd /usr/lib64/httpd /usr/share/man/man8/httpd.8.gz

Querying the installed package by using rpm -q
[root@spidey ~]# rpm -q httpd

You can do a locate to see everywhere on the system httpd shows up
[root@spidey ~]# locate httpd

Or a find with -name

[root@spidey ~]# find / -name httpd

And yes, I did have the correct version :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blog migration...

My previous Wordpress blog host has been shutdown, so it was time to move on. The logical choice seemed to be, it was a direct import.

Unfortunately they don't make it easy to forward your subdomain, there's a $13/yr charge (which I was willing to pay), but they drop all "www" requests. That is where all my links point as well as links from other forums and blogs. Okay stop laughing, there is over four other blogs that link here ;)

Anyway, the next choice was Blogger/Blogspot, where we are now. It was super easy to point the domain here, GoDaddy which holds my domain even has a wizard to make the forward easy as 3.14159265...

Blogspot even take imports for XML, same as Wordpress exports! But not the same format as Wordpress (Finished: Sorry, the import failed due to a server error. The error code is bX-a9cw3d). A quick search pointed me to an article at Squidoo which then pointed to an XML conversion site Wordpress-to-Blogger. There was only a little massaging to be done, reporting and the re-addition of my About page (which needed updating anyway) and now we're here...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How Good is Your Password?

This is a question that people rarely ask themselves. I know numerous people who've had mail and video game accounts hacked due to weak passwords. I'm a big fan of using passphrases and special characters whenever possible. It irks me to no end that some of my financial institution's websites don't allow special characters and even limit the password to eight digits (seriously it's 2012).

Steve Gibson, a long time security hawk and software developer, has a great website for checking out how your password will do against a brute-force attack. However, it won't tell you if it's easy to guess (like your dog's name that's all over FaceBook) or is an easily cracked dictionary word (note: stay away from words found in the dictionary).

Try your password/passphrase out here: Haystack