Notepad++ Editing Linux with SFTP.

Now if you haven’t tried Notepad++ get over to and give it a go. It is once of the best text editors I have come across, not only is is light weight and gives you tabs for you files, it also has syntax highlighting for a good number of programming and scripting languages, can be run from a USB drive with out installing and On top of all that its a free download, so perfect in every respect.

Nopepad++ screen shot

Then there is the standard “compare” functions, ability to write macros, and a whole host tool for editing text.

But just a few days ago I found another function that I had not noticed before. Under the plugins one of the defaults is “Nppftp” clicking on this brings up a side panel that allows you to set up profiles for FTP and SFTP connections to remote servers.

Once you have set one up (SFTP for Linux ) and connected the remote file system will appear in a tree structure in this pane, allow you top open the files in Notepad++ edit and re-save them. And you get all the standard benefits of the application such as highlighting of code and copy paste between multiply files.

One thing to be careful of is the EOL settings, when creating new files, these defaults to windows format that will be miss read by the Linux system (look up EOL in google for more ifo on this). This can be changed either for an individual file under “Edit >> ELO Conversion >> Unix Format” on the menu bar. Or under “Settings >> preferences >> New Documents/….. ” to change the default.

So that’s one bonus point about Notepad++, but honestly even if this is not something you would use, give it a try, it has so many features over the basic notepad that comes with windows that there is something there for every one.

More Generating Test Data.

So Last time I mentioned you can generate traffice between two routers using TCP small Servers. This does work fine but there are some limitations, it can’t genetrate large amounts of traffic, it puts a high load on the CPU and it does not tell you much once it has completed.

A second method I came across is “TTCP” (Test TCP) which is avalible on many of the more recent IOS versions (11.2 upwards). This method not only gives you more control over the data that is sent, but also will provided you with infomation on how the trasfer of data went once it is complete. TTCP is also avalible for Windows and Linux/Unix, which means you can test between various end stations on the network.

It is all very simple to set up, simply at the “>” or “#” prompt type “TTCP”, and then follow the prompts. You will need to set up one router as the sender first, and then the second as the reciver. You can leave all the settings as default (you may want to reduce the “nbuf” setting as the default of 2048 can take some time to complete, espicaly on a slow link).

Once complete you will get an out put of time taken and bandwith achived among other stats. Again this is a very simple tool to give you a indication as to the state of a link, you can find more details in the below link to the CISCO site.

Cisco TTCP Document

Raspberry Pi

I am sure a lot of you have hear about these, I have been trying to get one since the day it was released but still in the queue.

Response was overwhelming and took down the sites of distributes, and this is what it is all about!

While it may not look much this is a 700mhz ARM processor, can play back Video at HD, with USB, Ethernet, HDMI output + more all on a board the size of a credit card, and for the sum of £22 ($30ish).  Perfect for a home brew media server or web server. or indeed many other hobby projects.

But it gets better the whole purpose behind this is to encourage kids to get in to programming. There are a lot of kids around that can use computers but as computers get easier to use, less of them a delving behind the screens to see how they work and more importantly how to make them work. So later in the year they will be releasing them in to the schools and collages. pre installed with tools and languages for the kids to have a play on.

One thing that hasn’t been widely covered is that when you purchase one you will be able to chose to purchase an additional unit that will be donated on your behalf to a school or other good cause. I think its a great idea, and while I will be getting one or two to play with over the next few weeks I hope for my own enjoyment and leaning experience. I hope the developers do see there dream bear fruit and get taken up by the schools and colleges to encourage the next round of IT stars.

I would encourage any one who is thinking of purchasing one to remember that they are a charity, and while the have produced something that many of us will get enjoyment from. That where possible we should try to feed back and encourage there idea of getting them in every school and collage in the country.

As soon as I get my hands on one I will be updating this blog, who knows in a month or two it might well be running from one :)


Running Unbuntu as a Diskless system.

Full Instructions from Unbuntu

Well the first question you might ask is why?

  1.  Allows you to boot a system to a second OS leaving the host hard drive untouched, this is similar to a duel boot but rather than having to set up duel boot on every device, you only need them all to have network boot enabled, and can manage the rest from a central server.
  2. Allows several hosts to boot from the same file system, very useful for some thing like “folding at home” where you might want to uses the resources of a users PC when they are away (out of hours) but do not want to have to install on to there profiles/OS. Changing the single file system updates every machine.
  3. You can build up mutiply images on the server, each streamlined for a specific job, and simply chose which one to boot to ad-hoc.

In my case I have used this for two purposes, first to run a computer cluster for disease modelling using a system called Condor, booting 16-20 users desktops to a single network image and using them to run models of disease spread for scientific papers.

And now more recently I have used the same principle for creating a GNS3 lab. I have several old laptops, as well as wife’s PC and even an old server. While at work I have access to servers and other lab equipment. I am not able to install Dynamips (GNS3’s back end), on to them all, and even if I could GNS3 runs far more stable on Linux than windows and I can’t guarantee other people will not uninstall or do any thing else that would stop it working.

The basic steps are to install Linux to a single machine, after which you copy this FS to your Server. (you need a server that supports PXE booting, TFTPD, NFS, and DHCP with PXE support)

And second set up your DHCP server to pass the name of the tftp serve along with the location on this server for a boot file.

Now there are more steps and the walk through above is a complete detailed process to get it up and running. If you have a few old boxes around you don’t know what to do with it fun to play with.  And will really help you learn the Linux FS.



A bit of perl while I’ve been away (Always including some CISCO of course).

Well no matter how many times I head back to post just lately I have never had the time. Studying been put on hold, house move on hold, and working falt out at the new job, but I have to say it has been fun.

Like I say not much studying done, but I have been playing with perl scripting latley. So rather than post nothing I thought I would share the results with you.

At work one of my teams jobs is to provision ports and reclaim ports on switchs. we basicaly write scritps during the day and then batch implement at night. So to make things a bit simpler, (and casue I was bored) I wrote a little web page using perl scripting as the back end.

Now I know I could use client side scripting to get a neater effect, and / or a stand alone program. But one thing about this was I wanted it as client friendly as possible, so decided to go for a web interface. And I have been meaning to learn a scripting language for ages so this seemed an good opportunity.

The web page is in two parts, one for provisioning ports and a second for reclaims, both can handle CATOS and IOS configs

They both still need some tidying up and I want to add some better functions to them soon, but Just so you don’t think i have disappeared here’s the link is you want to try them out. :) (they link to each other)

Port provisioning script

The reason it is set out as it is, is that for my job servers are duel link to two switch, so for each script we are provisioning 3 or 5 ports per server mostly. Also the second switch is normally a mirror of the first, so by ticking the copy check box you only then need to fill in the interface on the second switch, the vlan, speed, duplex, ilo (integrate lights out for use when server crashes to remote reboot and get access to the bios) and sub-net information will be copied from the first switch. Port description as set to the name of the server configured.

I want to put some error checking in the webpage so users can’t skip filling in fields, and then expand to allow users to alter the number of switch / interfaces on the fly.

But for now it seems to work OK, and definitely speeds up or scripting tasks.

Let me know what you think :) If you have any suggestions or would like to see the source code let me know. If you wold like a bit more in depth of what I did may be i can do a follow up artical at some point.



PS. little baby is doing great. 9 months old and I finaly understand what people mean when the say how life changing having a baby is! Miss Lilith as she is know in our house is laughing smiling and generaly making my life great. Can’t wait for the warm weather to take her out more :)

Removing old keys from the SSH known host file

When connecting to a device via SSH using Linux (Unbuntu), you may come across the following error message.

The fingerprint for the RSA key sent by the remote host is
Please contact your system administrator.
Add correct host key in /xxxx/xxxx/.ssh/known_hosts to get rid of this message.
Offending key in /xxxx/xxxx/.ssh/known_hosts:15
RSA host key for has changed and you have requested strict checking.
Host key verification failed.
lost connection

This happens when the device you are connecting to has changed it’s SSH keys, but the client you are connecting from has the original key saved. By default Linux does not update these changes (assuming a security exploit) and will just drop the connection .

Stored SSH keys are by default saved in the /home/[user]/.ssh/known_host file. So to connect to the device you need to update this file.

You can achieve this a number of ways, including using the information above and manually editing the file to remove the offending key. However it can be difficult to work out what entry in the file you need to remove.

However I came across this the other day after having use the manual method for ages. In the error message it give the line number of the key you need to change. In the case above it would be 15.

(Offending key in /xxxx/xxxx/.ssh/known_hosts:15)

You can use the following command to delete that line with out having to manually open and edit the file.

sed -i 15d ~/.ssh/known_hosts

or use

ssh-keygen -R

Both will delete the line from the known_host file that relate to the error message above. (might need a SUDO, or run as root)

Now the next time you connect to the host device, your system will behave as if it is the first time it has seen the host and ask if you want to add the key in.

It is also possible to disable key checking, however I would not suggest this as it is a security risk.


A Bit More Linux Stuff

While my CCNP studies are going well, this last week I have been setting up some more linux webservers at work, and I came across two issues. Both with simple solutions.

First was installing a SMTP relay server inside the network so websites (such as this one) can send admin  emails. Before I had been using an external smtp server, in the case of this site it was google mail, and while this is great for a single personal site it is not really the way you want to have it set up. One of the main resons of course is that by having your own internal mail server, only that one machine needs to connect to the outside.

It is actualy very easy to set this up, simply installing postfix, giving it a very basic set up. Using unbuntu and aptitude there is even a simple walk through script to get these configurations in.  Below is the default config you need to set up.

myhostname =
alias_maps = hash:/etc/aliases
alias_database = hash:/etc/aliases
myorigin = /etc/mailname
mydestination =,, localhost
relayhost =
mynetworks = [::ffff:]/104 [::1]/128
mailbox_size_limit = 050000000
recipient_delimiter = +
inet_interfaces = all
inet_protocols = all

The important one is “mynetworks = …….”

This is telling postfix that it should act as a rely from any host in these ranges that tries to use it to send mail thought it. But once you have the set up above and as long as the servers are in the ip ranges configured then you are good to go.

Just note a few things! First this is not the most secure set up, any device in the ranges can now send internet mail, this could end up a potential method of attack where malicious software attempts to send spam. Either be very care full in securing what devices can use the relay server or else think about using authentication to secure it.
Secondly if you do not have a static IP, and your mail server does not have a correct public DNS record set up, you may find some companies will refuse to accept mail from it. This is quite a standard way to prevent them getting hit by spam (Zombi clients infected with malware generally don’t have DNS records set up, company mail servers do). So if you expect to be sending lots of mail to a wide variety of internet address so make sure you sort this out.

My next step in this is to extend postfix to not only be a relay for my webservers but to become a full blown email server that revives internet mail for my domains.

The other thing I came across was mod_proxy and mod_proxy_http, A while ago before I knew what I was doing I set up some websites on a server. Now looking back I realise that my first attempt was poor and I need to build a new server up and move the sites over. But with only one external IP to play with and multiply sites there is an issue of trying to keep every thing live and working during this process. The network looks something like below.

And on the old server I have the following virtual host file.

<VirtualHost * >
# Indexes + Directory Root.
#DirectoryIndex index.html
DocumentRoot /var/XXX/
<Directory /var/XXX/>
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
Options -Indexes
AllowOverride FileInfo
Order allow,deny
allow from all

<VirtualHost * >
# Indexes + Directory Root.
#DirectoryIndex index.html
DocumentRoot /var/WWW/
<Directory /var/WWW/>
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
Options -Indexes
AllowOverride FileInfo
Order allow,deny
allow from all

So I set the first website up on my new server, but only having one external IP address, I can’t then easily forward external traffic to the new server. NAT/PAT wont work as all traffic is coming in on port 80. However the solution with mod_porxy_http is simple. Once I have set up the site on the new server and configured a virtual host for it. I can then update the virtual host file on the old server for the moved site to contain this entry.

<NameVirtualHost *
<VirtualHost *>
ProxyRequests Off
<Proxy *>
Order deny,allow
Allow from all
ProxyPass /
ProxyPassReverse /

Now although the requests are still coming in to the old server it is simply passing them to the new server and relaying the replies back. We can carry on moving each site over in turn until all the old server is doing, is acting as a proxy for all the site that are now running on the new server. We can then update the NAT/PAT if we wish to point directly to the new server and decommission the old server.

Another reason you might want to employ Mod_proxy is if you have several  heavily utilised sites that you want to run on separate hardware, but like this example you only have one public IP address. Having one physical box acting as a proxy server, you can farm out the requests to as many physical boxes as you wish. Taking this further and implementing the server load balancing that comes on many CISCO routers, along with a couple of low spec front end servers acting as proxy to your web-servers behind you can achieve, redundant, load balancing at low cost.

I have often found that set-ups that cost many 10’s thousands, can be emulated with hardware that is often already on site, and a little careful thought.

But that’s been my week so far, fun stuff :)


SDM in LINUX (Wine)

OK leaving CCNP SWITCH aside for a bit, I finely got around to setting up Linux to allow me to run SDM.

I should point out that I am not a great fan of SDM, but I do run the IOS based firewall on one of my small networks. And while I am happy to change the config of policy’s from the command line, it can be hard to visualise what is going on in 600+ lines of code. So I do fall back to it every now and then.

On the above network I have 100% Linux machines, which included those sitting in the management subnet. So up utill now if I wanted to run SDM I had to get out a windows laptop and plug it in, so for a while I have been looking how I could get this up and running.

There is no Linux SDM version but you can install SDM either on the PC or on the router.According to CISCO as long as the web browser has jarva script enabled, then if you use the version installed on the Router it will work. However despite 2 different versions of Firefox, Google Crome, and numerous attempts with Java versions. Trying this way would always hang at the same point on all three of the PC’s I tried it from. I also don’t really like the idea of running SDM from the router, it takes up space and resources and is another thing to go wrong.

So the alternative was to attempt to run SDM from with in Linux. You will read on the web that CISCO SDM is a Java based html applications, and so in theory you can simple copy the install file across from windows to Linux, move a few files around, and then open up your web browser and point it to the “launcher.html” file you will find in the install directory. However my attempt at this again proved unsuccessful. (I am not sure if this was due to the incorrect Java version I did try with a few but SDM is very fussy with Java and Linux is not so happy with multiply Java versions. (see here for instruction s for this method)

So I decided to go the whole hog and experiment with WINE. Wine for those of you who don’t know is a platform that allows you to run native windows application with in LINUX, I like to think of it as a windows emulator, however some purists will tell you this is not quite correct. But what ever it will allow you to run many windows application on LINUX, and while some people may rebel at the idea of that, I am more of the opinion if it works and gets the job done, then I don’t really have a problem.

So setting it all up.

The first thing to do is add the wine repository ( ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa) to you distribution. In Unbuntu this can either be done using the option settings in the graphical package manager software, or by running the following command.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa

Then update the repository cache, (“sudo apt-get update” from the command line).

If you are running the GUI package manager, search for wine and tick the wine1.2 install (at time of writing this is the current stable version, you should pick the latest stable). or from the cli type

sudo apt-get install wine1.2

Wine will now be installed.

You now need to get hold of CISCO SDM, Firefox 3.5 (must be 3.5 this will not work with version 3.6 due to java issues), and a copy of JAVA 6 update 11 (make sure it is this exact version SDM is very very picky).

Once you have downloaded them all, you can simple open them in the GUI, you may get an error saying that they are not executable files. Linux by default will not allow a file to be executed unless it has been set to be allowed. If you get this message simple right click, go to the properties and tick the execute box under the permissions tab. You can also run “sudo chmod +x <filename>” to achieve the same.

You should not be able to run the setup and follow the install exactly as you would under windows. Once you have installed all three, check you can open Firefox. You can find this either up in the application menu under

Wine >> wine applications >> firefox

Or you should have an short cut on the desk top (you may need to make this short cut executable like above).

You will also have a SDM shortcut on the desktop, however this will bring up the WINE IE browser which does not work, so you can’t use this direct.

Instead open up the Firefox you have just installed, and in the address bar type “c:” and hit “return” / click go. This will bring up a folder list for the Wine created windows file system. Open  “programs files” >> cisco systems >> SDM >> common files >> common files. Here you will find a file called Launcher.html which you want to open (I would also suggest add this as a short cut)

And there you are, CISCO SDM will now function as in windows, pop up boxes and all. You can even create a desktop icon that will pass the file above to Firefox if you wish.

Hope that’s of some help to people. If I get it running completely native with out the need for WINE I will be sure to let you know.


Do you like the Pretty links?

Getting the pretty Permalink’s to work on this blog has been a bit of a pain, According to word press you click on the format you want under the settings and then they should all work nicely.

so rather than have a link that looks like


you can have the same link looking like


Pretty :) right.. 😉

So how did I get it all up and running?

I found out when first trying to activate it that I came across a “page not found error” suggesting that the mod_rewrite module in Apache was not running correctly. And after lots of searching around I found it this is to do with the “Allowoveride” directive in Apache.

The default setting for the directive in the virtual site file in Unbuntu is,

<Directory />
Options FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride None

Further reading suggests that with this set to none, the .htaccess file that is needed for  mod_rewrite to be able to work will not be used.

Searching the net lots of people suggest changing this to “Allowoverride All”, which after a restart of Apache will work fine. But for a little more security I found “Allowoverride FileInfo” will achieve the same thing.

And that’s it, one little word change is the difference between it all working fine and page not found!

The same can be achieved by editing the httpd.conf and associated config files, but as I use virtual sites I prefer editing these directly.

Thank fully the old style links still work just find, the mod_rewrite simple takes the pretty version of the link and translates it back to the ugly version behind the scene. Leaving you the user with a more pleasurable browsing experience.  :)