Tag Archives: linux

Simplemonitor – Python-based monitoring

While searching for a simple monitoring für my root servers, I’m stumbled over a python-based software called Simplemonitor. Other alternatives, like Nagios, or forks like Incinga etc., were a bit too much for my needs.

What is SimpleMonitor?

SimpleMonitor is a Python script which monitors hosts and network connectivity. It is designed to be quick and easy to set up and lacks complex features that can make things like Nagios, OpenNMS and Zenoss overkill for a small business or home network. Remote monitor instances can send their results back to a central location.

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Stunnel and Squid on FreeBSD 11

I don’t like to use untrusted networks. When I have to use such a network, e.g. an open WiFi network, I use a TLS encrypted tunnel connection to encrypt all web traffic that travels through the untrusted network. I’m using a simple stunnel/ Squid setup for this. My setup consists of three components:

  • Stunnel (server mode)
  • Squid proxy
  • Stunnel (client mode)

What is stunnel?

Stunnel is an OSS project that uses OpenSSL to encrypt traffic. The website describes Stunnel as follows:

Stunnel is a proxy designed to add TLS encryption functionality to existing clients and servers without any changes in the programs’ code. Its architecture is optimized for security, portability, and scalability (including load-balancing), making it suitable for large deployments.

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Using WP fail2ban with the CloudFlare API to protect your website

The downside of using WordPress is that many people use it. That makes WordPress a perfect target for attacks. I have some trouble with attacks, and one of the consequences is, that my web server crashes under load. The easiest way to solve this issue would be to ban those IP addresses. I use Fail2ban to protect some other services. So the idea of using Fail2ban to ban IP addresses, that are used for attacks, was obvious.

From the Fail2ban wiki:

Fail2ban scans log files (e.g. /var/log/apache/error_log) and bans IPs that show the malicious signs — too many password failures, seeking for exploits, etc. Generally Fail2Ban is then used to update firewall rules to reject the IP addresses for a specified amount of time, although any arbitrary other action (e.g. sending an email) could also be configured. Out of the box Fail2Ban comes with filters for various services (apache, courier, ssh, etc).

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The Linux OOM killer strikes again

As a frequent reader of my blog, you might have noticed that vcloudnine.de was unavailable from time to time. Reason for this was, that my server was running out of memory at night.

Running out of memory is bad for system uptime. Sometimes you have to sacrifice someone to help others.

It is the job of the linux ‘oom killer’ to sacrifice one or more processes in order to free up memory for the system when all else fails.

Source: OOM Killer – linux-mm.org

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Python 2.7 for CentOS 6

By default, CentOS 6 comes with Python 2.6. This is a bit outdated, especially if you take into account, that Python 2.7.11, which is the latest Python 2 release, was released in December 2015. If you are new to Pyhton, you will usually start with Python 3. Currently, Python 3.5.1 is the latest Python 3 release. So, Python 2.6 is REALLY old.

Okay, I could use another distro. Ehm… no. CentOS is the is the open-source version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It was, and it is, designed to be similar to RHEL. CentOS runs only the most stable versions of packaged software. This greatly reduces the risk of crashes and errors. The downside is… Python 2.6. Or Apache 2.2. Or MySQL 5.1. Switching to CentOS 7 is difficult, because there is no inplace upgrade.

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How to dramatically improve website load times

Over the last weeks, I’ve tried to improve the performance of my blog. The side was very slow and the page load times varied between 5 and 10 seconds. Much too long! I’ve reduced time consuming plugins, checked the size of pictures, checked CSS and HTML for misconfiguration/ slow clode and tuned the database. The page load times have not really improved.

Yesterday, I checked the httpd.conf on my webserver and found a little typo (accidentally commented line). After a restart of the Apache webserver, the page load times have dramatically improved (down to 2 – 3 seconds). What had happened?

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Stunnel refuses to work after update

Yesterday I’ve updated a CentOS 6.6 VM with a simple yum update. A couple of packages were updated and to be honest: I haven’t checked which packages were updated. Today I noticed that an application, that uses a secure tunnel to connect to another application, doesn’t work. While browsing through the log files, I found this message from Stunnel.

I rised the debug level and restarted Stunnel. Right after the restart, I found this in the logs.

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Load Balancing inbound SMTP connection with HAProxy

In my last blog post I have highlighted how HAProxy can be used to distribute client connections to two or more servers with Exchange 2013 CAS role. But there is another common use case for load balancers in a Exchange environment: SMTP. Let’s take a look at this drawing:


The inbound SMTP connections are distributed to two Mail Transfer Agents (often a cluster of appliances, like Cisco IronPort or Symantec Messaging Gateway) and the MTAs forward the e-mails to the Exchange servers. Sometimes the e-mails are not directly forwarded to the Exchange servers, but to mail security appliances instead (like Zertificon Z1 SecureMail Gateway). After the e-mails have been processed by the mail security appliances, they are forwarded to the Exchange backend. Such setups are quite common. If a load balancer isn’t used, the MX records often point to the public IP address of a specific MTA. In this case, two or more MX records have to be set to ensure that e-mails can be received, even if a MTA fails.

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Load Balancing Microsoft Exchange 2013 with HAProxy

Since Exchange 2007 client connections are handled by the Client Access Server role. With Exchange 2010, Microsoft has introduced the concept of the Client Access Server Array (CAS Array). A CAS Array is required, when internal and external client connections should be load balanced over multiple client access servers. Many client access protocols in Exchange 2010 require session affinity. This means, that the connection between the client and a particular client access server must persist. This requires application-level load balancing for Exchange 2010 and Microsoft recommends this explicitly. Microsoft dropped the concept of the CAS Array in Exchange 2013 and implemented much more logic into the Exchange 2013 Client Access Server role. There is no more need for session affinity in any client access protocol used in Microsoft Exchange 2013. Connections to a Exchange 2013 client access servers can be directed to an available server. A simple DNS round-robin works, but if a server fails, DNS would not handle this.You can use Windows Network Load Balancing (WNLB), but it has several limitations and downsides. I blogged about one of them in my blog post Flooded network due HP Networking Switches & Windows NLB. The other point is, that you can’t use it when you build a two server CAS/ DAG Exchange 2013 environment: You can’t use WNLB on servers that have the Microsoft Failover Cluster role installed. At this point HAProxy comes into play.

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Install VMware Tools from VMware repository

Today I stumbled over a nice workaround. While installing a CentOS 6 VM, I needed to install the VMware Tools. I don’t know why, but I got an error message, regarding a non accessible VMware Tools ISO.


I remembered a blog post I read a few months ago, about a VMware online repository, from which VMware tools can be installed. You can download the repository information here. The RPM for RHEL can also be used for CentOS. Simply download and install the RPM:

Now you can use the repository information to install the VMware Tools.

That’s it.

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