Option to NOT save PPTP VPN Password (Ubuntu 11.10)

If you are running Ubuntu 11.10 and are using Network Manager to connect to a PPTP VPN, you may notice that once you enter a password, it is auto-saved for future use. Mysteriously, there isn’t a check box to NOT save the password. If you are connecting to the VPN with a 2-factor authentication system (such as OATH which generates a unique pin-code with each login), you have to manually re-edit the configuration file each time. That’s a huge pain.

Anyway, here is the quick fix. Simply open the VPN configuration script:

nano -w /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/[your_vpn_name]

and change “password-flags=0″ to “password-flags=2″.

That’s it! I googled for several days (literally) until I found this bug report covering the issue. Either I’m a bad Googler (fact), or lots of information isn’t readily available on this topic. I hope this helps someone in need.

Cloud Foundry CLI (VMC) Setup on Debian Squeeze

For the those of you who, like me, are new to Cloud Foundry and Ruby development, deploying your first Cloud Foundry Ruby application via VMC can be unnecessarily frustrating. The trouble stems mostly from sparse information scattered across the Internet and *especially* from incomplete and partially incorrect documentation provided by VMware when you sign up for a Cloud Foundry Beta account.

In this post, we aim accomplish the following things:

  1. Get your system ready with the pre-requisites for the Cloud Foundry CLI
  2. Install VMC (the CLI)
  3. Create and deploy a simple Ruby app
  4. Test and verify

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Debian Router/Gateway in 15 Minutes

A multitude of reasons exist as to why one would want to build a custom router vs. suffer with the performance, reliability issues, and limitations of an off-the-shelf solution. In the spirit of keeping this post short, I won’t launch into a long diatribe on the pros and cons of each here, but I have plenty of thoughts on this, so if you are interested, just ask.

What we are about to do is configure an incredibly fast and stable router/gateway solution for your home/office in about 15 minutes. (Note: This post assumes you already have your machine loaded up with a fresh copy of Debian 5.0 Lenny and you have the two needed NICs installed.

First, let’s make three initial assumptions:

  • eth0 is the public interface (the Cable/DSL modem is attached to this NIC)
  • eth1 is the private interface (your switch is connected to this NIC)
  • All of the client computers, servers, WAPs, etc. are connected to the switch

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eAccelerator Installation on Debian

Today’s post covers the joys and benefits of opcode caching.  If you have a very active site, this caching method can provide a great deal of relief to your servers by significantly reducing load averages and CPU utilization.

How does it work?
It’s quite simple, actually.  Without caching configured, each time a PHP-based page is requested by a user, the server gathers all of the needed files and “compiles” them into a result which it can understand and deliver.  This result is known as “opcode”.

The technique of opcode caching preserves this generated code into a cache so compilation only needs to happen once and then can be used over and over again for numerous requests by numerous users.

Why eAccelerator?
Several PHP caching choices exist including APC, Zend, and XCache.  I’ve chosen eAccelerator based on numerous reports such as this one which show its distinct performance advantage and also in large part due to the personal recommendation of seasoned server architects such as RackerHacker.

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VirtualBox on a Headless Debian Server

I’ve got too many computers.  It’s become increasingly difficult to convince people “I’m not *that* nerdy” when I have servers and wires laying around everywhere.  A consolidation project is in order.

For this exercise, our goal is to combine a Linux file server and a Windows workstation elegantly into one machine.  “Windows?!?!” you gasp in horror?  No need to be alarmed; I use Linux/BSD exclusively on servers and Mac OS X on my desktops.  I have only one very specific need for a standalone Windows machine, so let’s leave it at that for now.

The Linux file server is headless and of course doesn’t run X-Windows or any other GUI.  I need to have a full Windows environment available which I can RDP into at any time.  I first experimented with Xen which is a solid enterprise solution but overkill for this project.  Next, I spent a significant amount of time with KVM which is easy to set up but has a bit of quirky management in my opinion.  Finally, I settled upon Oracle VirtualBox; it’s free, fast, and can be elegantly controlled at the command line.

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