Tech Tips

Installing Peer Guardian on Ubuntu

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Some of you might be familiar with an application called PeerBlock which is made specifically for Windows. You may also remember the older version called PeerGuardian which is also made by Phoenix Labs. Whatever the reason is for needing these types of applications, I thought it might be useful for the Linux beginners to know how to install and use this application.

Step 1

First and foremost, we need to somehow download this application to be able to use it. We have two possible places we can download from:
Debian at http://moblock-deb.sourceforge.net
Ubuntu at Debian at http://moblock-deb.sourceforge.net
Ubuntu at https://launchpad.net/~jre-phoenix/+archive/ppa

For sake of simplicity, we'll just download the files from sourceforge.

Step 2

Open Terminal (Control + Shift + I is a shortcut to opening terminal)
We need to install some additional libraries for us to actually easily package this software into something we can use.
Copy and paste the following into terminal and run each command.

sudo apt-get install devscripts debhelper po-debconf zlib1g-dev 
sudo apt-get install libnetfilter-queue-dev libnfnetlink-dev libdbus-1-dev libqt4-dev

Step 3

Extract the tarball archive so we can access the files inside of the folder:

tar xvfz pgl-2.1.3.tar.gz

Step 4

Navigate into the extracted directory:

cd pgl-2.1.3

Now we want to compile all of the files into deb packages so we can install them. Issue the following command inside the pgl-2.1.3 folder:

sudo debuild --no-lintian -us -uc -tc -b

Look within the containing directory (for me it was Downloads) and you will see the following deb packages created for us:

  • pglcmd_2.1.3-1_all.deb
  • pgld_2.1.3-1_*.deb
  • pgld-dbg_2.1.3-1_*.deb
  • pgl-gui_2.1.3-1_*.deb
  • pgl-gui-dbg_2.1.3-1_*.deb

Note: * should represent the architecture your CPU is. In my case, it's amd64 but for you it might be i386, x86_64, or something different.

Step 5

Now we finally get to utilize those newly created deb packages and bring the application to life!
Run the following commands in terminal:

sudo dpkg -i pgld_2.1.3-1_*.deb
sudo dpkg -i pglcmd_2.1.3-1_all.deb
sudo dpkg -i pgld-dbg_2.1.3-1_*.deb
sudo dpkg -i pgl-gui_2.1.3-1_*.deb
sudo dpkg -i pgl-gui-dbg_2.1.3-1_*.deb

Note: the wildcards (*) should work just fine for installing these packages. In the event they are not then replace them with the necessary text before .deb and after 2.1.3-1_

Once all of the deb packages have been install then you have PeerGuardian on your system! Hurray! We can run peerguardian by searching for it on our desktop (click the ubuntu home button for those with the default Unity DE) or we can start the application via the following:

# use this command for launching the GUI
sudo /usr/bin/pgl-gui
# use this command for the command-line application
sudo /usr/bin/pglcmd start
# ensure the application works correctly
sudo /usr/bin/pglcmd test
# we can also view stats on the applciation
sudo /usr/bin/pglcmd stats
# stop the application by running
sudo /usr/bin/pglcmd stop

Adding Oracle JRE and JDK to Ubuntu 11.10

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Problem: Need to install Oracle JRE and JDK and NOT Open JDK/JRE on Debian-style distros.

Solution:
After thumbing through countless pages I finally found the answer!

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ferramroberto/java
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin sun-java6-fonts

The code above will add java to your repository (found in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/) and store it on your file system.

We need to update aptitude so it recognizes the new repository location, so we issue the sudo apt-get update command

Finally, we need to actually install the desired software. Since ubuntu officially doesn't have the repository automatically listed we needed to add a new location. When we issue the apt-get install packagename command aptitude will query the list of known repository locations that come pre-bundled with Ubuntu or any Debian-style distro (Ubuntu included).

For those that are really interested, we can quickly cat the .list file and we will see the following:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/ferramroberto/java/ubuntu oneiric main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/ferramroberto/java/ubuntu oneiric main

The addition of the new repository location creates the file in the /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ as mentioned previously.

Installing Microsoft Fonts on Linux Ubuntu

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Even with the most recent version of Ubuntu, it still lacks the truetype font kits that come with Windows. Sometimes we might want to use Trebuchet MS, Verdana, or — heaven forbid — Arial.

This is a quick tutorial on how to install the most common windows fonts on your Ubuntu OS. We will need to use the power of terminal. For all the newbies out there fret not! Just follow closely and you will have no issues!

What We'll be Doing

We're going to be installing the msttcorefonts package which consists of the following:

  • Andale Mono
  • Arial Black
  • Arial (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Comic Sans MS (Bold)
  • Courier New (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Georgia (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Impact
  • Times New Roman (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Trebuchet (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Verdana (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Webdings

Step 1: Open Terminal

Since we'll be using terminal we need to open it. For those running Ubuntu 11.04 (or later), you can simply search for terminal via the search function in the upper left-hand corner (click on the ubuntu icon). On older versions of Ubuntu you can look for terminal under System to find Terminal.

Step 2: Install the fonts

Type the following command

$sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts

You will be promoted to agree to various licenses, just scroll down and select OK and hit enter.

Step 3: Flush Font Cache

After all new fonts are installed, we need to flush the font cache via the following command:

$sudo fc-cache -fv

Installing the Missing Font

For some reason this package is mission the Tahoma font, not sure why. But to install the Tahoma font follow the instructions below:

Step 4: Installing Tahoma

Download the font here

Locate the IELPKTH.CAB file via the GUI controls and move the font to the desktop for ease of use.
Create a folder in the desktop to house all the files that we'll need to use, call it something like tahoma.

Note: you can do this via terminal as well via the following commands:
If cd Desktop isn't working then you'll need to find your way back to your user home, typically /home/%username%/Desktop/

cd Desktop
mkdir tahoma
mv IELPKTH.CAB tahoma

Step 5: Extracting the Goods

Once we have the .CAB file, we need a way to extract the goods inside since it's a complication of files. We need to use a utility called cabextract. This utility may or may not be installed, we can see by issuing the following command:

cabextract IELPKTH.CAB

If your are promoted to install cabextract, then do so now. Otherwise, the utility will run and the .CAB file will extract to the tahoma directory we created on our Desktop.

Step 6: Copy the Font

We need to copy the two .ttf files from our extracted .CAB file into the msttcorefonts file. We can do this by issuing the following command:

sudo cp *.ttf /usr/share/fonts/truetype/msttcorefonts/

Step 7: Flush the Cache again

Flush the cache again.

$sudo fc-cache -fv

Finally

To make sure our Ubuntu OS is recognizing the fonts we recently installed, open Libre Office, Open Office, or your favorite word editor and verify the fonts show in our font list and show correctly.

Wireless Security Explained

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Wireless internet access has been around since the mid 1990s and has quickly become a hot item since then. Most computers we purchase today come with the capability to receive wireless internet signals in the form of radio waves.

Wireless Network Interface Cards or NICs for short, come in anything from a camera to a network printer. We even have NICs in our smartphones such as Android, Blackberry, and the iPhone! Wireless internet is convenient and relatively easy to setup around the home.

Security

One of the biggest criticism for wifi is its lack of security methods for keeping unwanted visitors out of your network and keeping your personal documents safe. There are now, however, several measures we can implement to keep our wireless network to ourselves.

Logging onto your router

Logging into our wireless router is extremely easy. The only thing we need to to is open up our favorite web browser and type the IP address of the router. For most routers, the IP address is either of the following:

  • 192.168.0.1
  • 192.168.1.1
    It may also be
  • 192.169.1.254

If you're not certain how to do this task, then search the web for your router and type something like, "how to log onto [router brand]" or "default login into for [router brand] router".

Once the IP is entered correctly, a prompt will show up requesting a username and password. This user name is admin and the password (if it's still default) is either blank, 1234, or admin. If the password has been changed, then enter in the proper password for the router. Note: this password is different from the password to access the internet from the router. Once on the router, look for a menu item that says Wireless Settings.

Disabling SSID

One very obvious security measure is to disable the Service set identifier or SSID. Once the SSID is disables then it would show up as Unnamed Network (or something like that). If someone wished to connect to the network then they would have to manually enter in the correct SSID for that network.

Wireless Security

Uncheck this setting and the SSID will no longer show up and everyone else will have to enter in the proper SSID.

Encrypting the Connection

Encrypting the connection is the biggest security feature of wireless networks. This basically blocks everyone from connecting to our wireless router unless the have the proper password. There are usually several different types of encryptions available to us:

  • WEP
  • WPA-PSK[TKIP]
  • WPA2-PSK[AES]
  • WPA-PSK[TKIP] + WPA2-PSK[AES]

The first one is WEP. This security method is actually deprecated for encrypting 802.11 networks and really shouldn't be used. The best option for encrypting networks is WPA2-PSK[AES] since it supports both ultrastructure networks and ad hoc networks (WPA cannot support ad hoc networks). AES is also a stronger encryption method than TKIP.

Wireless Security

MAC Filtering

MAC (Media Access Control) Filtering deals with the physical address of a wireless NIC. Our wireless cards and ethernet ports all have a physical address formatting like so: 00-00-00-00-00-00. This uniquely identifies our NICs. Generally, the first three groups refer to the manufacture of the NIC and the last three refer to the "serial number" of the NIC. Every interface, whether it's gigabit ethernet or a wifi card, must have a MAC address.

Under an option like Advanced Wireless Settings, there should be an option for Mac Filtering (I believe for Linksys routers there's an option that is called MAC Filtering).

Wireless Security

Simply label the device like Kitchen-PC and to find the MAC address do the following:

  1. Open run and type the following: cmd
  2. Once command prompt is open, type the following command: ipconfig /all
  3. Look for your Wireless LAN Physical Address and input that number into the router.

Mac addresses are highlighted below:

Wireless Security

MAC Filtering literally limits the MAC addresses that can connect to the router. This is a great security feature of most routers but should not be used alone. MAC addresses can easily be spoofed by editing the number in the registry or by using a third-party application.

Wireless Security

MAC Filtering adds an excellent layer of security to our network. When combined with disabling SSID broadcast, setting a WPA2 password and enabling MAC Filtering, our wireless networks are safe and secure. It may take a little more work to add users, but it's worth its weight in gold in the long run.

Changing the Default Login Password

Perhaps one of the most significant security measures we could implement on our routers is to change the default password for logging onto the router. In the very beginning of this tutorial, we logged into our router via the IP address. If this password is either of the following, then the password must be changed:

  • [No Password]
  • admin
  • 1234

Wireless Security

There should be some menu item that allows us to change the password to log onto the router. Most of the times we cannot change the username that logs onto the router, only the password.

Summary

Above is a common list of things that can be done to secure a wireless network for your home or very very small office. To recap we can do the following:

  • Disable DDIS
  • Encrypt Internet Connection
  • MAC Filtering
  • Changing the password to the router

Additional Things that can be Done

There are a few additional things we can implement on our router that will add an additional layer of security and content filtering for children/employees.

  • Schedule Internet Hours
  • Block sites
Scheduling hours

Scheduling hours literally limits the hours that the router will function. During the "off hours" the router will not allow internet access from any system that is connected to it (whether it's wireless or wired). This is a simple method for controlling when children or employees are able to access the internet.

Wireless Security

As you can see by the image above, we can limit the time frame for the internet to work on any given day of the week. The only contingency for this is that the time on the router be correct and that Day Light Savings Time is correct too.

Blocking Sites

Blocking malicious websites is always a must on any network. If a malicious bit of software were to infect a system on a network, it could potentially infect other systems in the same network if it's insecure. Websites that contain pornographic material, websites that reduce employee productivity, and other assorted websites can lead to malware infections.

Wireless Security

These last two techniques can be used to limit the hours that anyone may use the internet and to limit the keywords or specific domains names. This can help prevent users accessing malicious websites and accessing the internet at unwanted times.

Wireless routers are useful and convenient. Securing these devices is essential for keeping networks from being accessed by unwanted users.

My Computer is Slow!

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After a few years in the industry of fixing computers, I've learned that there's only so much that can be done software wise to speed up a computer. People often complain about slow and sluggish systems so we naturally do the following things on the software side:

  • Install Updates for the OS
  • Disable non-essential startup services and programs
  • Clean up the system of unnecessary files
  • Defragment the Hard Drive
  • Scan and clean the system registry (in windows-based systems only)

After all of this time, we notice that the system is still running slow. What could the issue be? We poke around more on the software side, we contemplate reinstalling the OS, or we think about doing other things that could potentially solve our issue. The truth of the matter is that software may not be the only thing holding the system back.

Hardware and its Limitations

A little known fact is that hardware has limitations. Software can always be tweaked until it's just right and works a certain way. Hardware, on the other hand, is extremely temperamental and cannot usually be tweaked too much before it actually died on you. There are several components that are critical to the machines performance:

  • Hard Drive
  • RAM
  • CPU
  • Memory Controller (North Bridge)
  • I/O Controller (South Bridge)

Hard Drive

Hard drives are the portion of your computer where the information is stored usually on a magnetic drive. Data on these drives are stored as magnetic spots where small read/write heads will collect information from the spinning drive.

Data on these drives is split up into tracks and sectors.

Tracks
are literally circles of sectors that sprial into the center of the hard drive
Sectors
are 512-byte pockets where data can be stored

In order for the r/w head to retrieve data that is being requested, the hard drive must spin and the r/w head must move the proper location where the data is. The mechanics of this operation takes time which causes the system to slow down.

Options to Consider
  • Consider purchasing a Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Consider purchasing a hard drive with a higher rpm

Memory

Random Access Memory (RAM) is basically like the red blood cells of the computer. The RAM stores information from software in chips that are close to the CPU. The CPU can access the information in the RAM at high speeds. The more RAM you have the more information you can hold in memory which means the faster your computer will be.

One important note on memory is OS version. Please see the table below on the minimum and recommeded memory requirements for Mac OSX, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7:

Windows XP Windows Vista Windows 7 Mac OSX 10.4 (Tiger) Mac OSX 10.5 (Leopard) Mac OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
Minimum Memory
128MB 1GB (512MB for Home Basic) 1GB for 32-bit and 2GB for 64-bit 256MB 512MB 1GB
Recommended Memory
1GB 2GB (1GB for Home Basic) 2GB for 32-bit and 4GB for 64-bit 1GB 2GB 4GB

Note: on Windows x86 (32-bit systems) the maximum amount of memory that can be used is 3GB. Even if you add a total of 4GB the OS will only see 3GB of memory.

Using this table as a reference, this will allow you to quickly see the recommended amount of RAM for your system. Be sure to check with your manufacture to see the maximum amount RAM that is allowed by your computer. See Upgrading RAM for additional information.

Upgrading the RAM on your computer will greatly increase the speed of your system in all cases.

CPU

The CPU is essentially the brain of the computer. The CPU does all of the logic for the computer and does calculations in a matter of nanoseconds. CPUs are a large part of the computer but cannot always necessarily be replaced. If you're using a Laptop or Mac then you should not attempt to upgrade your CPU. These systems are almost always tailored to match the other major components like GPU, Motherboard, Socket, and Chipset.

If you're using a PC Desktop then you can probably upgrade your CPU if you want. Although, much consideration has to go into the purchase of a new CPU.

  • Will the new processor be compatible with the current hardware?
  • Will the new processor fit my current socket?
  • Will the new processor take too many watts?
  • Will the new processor have the right specs that will work on my system?

The CPU isn't the most practical solution to increasing the speed of a system and is usually the absolute last option in any computer related issue. We do NOT advise anyone replacing their CPU without proper knowledge beforehand.

A final note

The most practical solution there is to keeping a computer running healthy is to do the following:

  • Keep OS up-to-date with the most current service packs, security patches, and other software updates
  • Regularly defragment your hard drive using Defraggler
  • Disable all non-essential system services and programs
  • Keep a working anti-virus program running at all times and keep definitions up to date (We strongly recommend Microsoft Security Essentials (it's free).
  • Regularly clean your system with Ccleaner (PC only)

The best way to boot your performance hardware wise is to upgrade your memory. Most memory chips are relatively cheap and just about anyone can install the chips themselves!

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