Open Source News

My Google Alert for open source items is working overtime these days. Clearly open source is invading every part of our lives. That is exciting! Some of the opponents to open source in production networks claim that lack of reliable support makes open source a bad idea. However, in many (or even most) cases, support for applications can be purchased. The open source community is an excellent resource as well. Changing resources does not make the process bad. It is just different. And, how is purchasing support for open source applications different than having to purchase support contracts or maintenance agreements for commercial applications? Citrix, for example, does not provide support or product updates without some sort of paid-for contract. And for the SMB market, it is not low cost. And the up-front cost of the software is high. So what is the difference? I know, I know… Microsoft, Citrix, Symantec, etc. are huge companies that spend millions of dollars annually on research and development. However, IF an open source tool can fill the need and it is FREE why shouldn’t it be tested and implemented? I say go for it.
Next time you are looking for an application for anything, add open source to the Google search box and see what comes up.

Recent alerts:
Software Microsoft Fined $200M USD for Violating Open Source Patent
DailyTech – Chicago,IL,USA
In its early days Microsoft, oft ignored the open source movement, instead pushing for proprietary standards. However, more recently the company has made a

Open source media server debuts at Computex – USA
A small startup will debut at Computex in June its open source software for an integrated media server and home router, going up against giants including

A Consulting Firm Borrows from Kubler-Ross : Beyond Search
Open source has an important contribution to certain information technology challenges. I am pleased with open source. I am not so comfortable with the appropriation and inversion of the Kubler-Ross metaphor. In fact, the metaphor makes
Beyond Search –

TED Blog: SETI Institute is hiring: Become the project manager for
It’s also essential that s/he be a strong evangelist — able to speak inspiringly in public, and to energize, recruit and maintain engagement with key influencers in the open source coding world. The other part of the job will be
TED Blog –

How we won the open source battle
InfoWorld – San Francisco,CA,USA
By Savio Rodrigues (@SavioRodrigues) Recently the news about the inevitability of open source has been everywhere. Just today I exchanged tweets with Matt

Open Source joins European election battle
Inquirer – Harrow,England,UK
This week it appointed open source operator, Mark Taylor, to lobby candidates in the UK. It is also establishing campaigns in Germany and Spain.

Open Technologies Seen as Key to Social, Educational and Economic

Business Wire (press release) – San Francisco,CA,USA

The agreement recognizes open source technologies as key to increase access to information, communications technologies and ICT skills training in

Sonicwall IPS Blocking Flash Player

Recently, a client explained to me that he was unable to view Flash based content. He went on to say that he reinstalled Flash for Internet Explorer and Firefox. So I spent about three minutes trying the same thing thinking that he must have done something wrong. No luck, the normal “You must have Flash player installed….” message did not come up, but neither did the content.

After reviewing the issue with the client a little bit further, he explained that other users are having the same issue. Obviously, this isn’t a client computer / Flash issue.

I logged into the Sonicwall and checked the logs. Sure enough, the Sonicwall ran its daily IPS signature update and started blocking Flash. The really interesting thing is that we have pretty much no IPS configured, Sonicwall just deemed Flash unsafe. Keep an eye out for this, because if Flash “breaks” the last place you might look may be the firewall.

The IPS engine put this in the logs:

IPS Prevention Alert: MULTIMEDIA Shockwave Flash (SWF) Download 3, SID: 575, Priority: Low


Reset DD-WRT http password using SSH

So the other day I was making my usual password changing rounds on my accounts and devices. One of the things that I do change regularly is my password for DD-WRT. Somehow I changed it and could no longer access the device.

Alas, I did have SSH enabled and it let me log in using the original password that I had setup. I searched all over the place for documentation on doing this, and found nothing but people asking how to reset the actual router due to a lost password, and I wasn’t in the mood to rebuild my config. So here is the steps that I took.

1. Login to the router via ssh.
2. Type in nvram set http_passwd=
3. Then type in nvram commit

Finally, open your web browser and connect to your router. Change your password on the administration page and you are good to go.


Open Source For Non-Profits

There is statistical evidence that donations to non-profits may have increased from 2007 to 2008. reports that from January-October there was an increase of 3.72% over the same previous period. However, all data indicates that donations are dramatically decreasing in 2009. At the same time, requests for service have increased. reports that enrollment in the Oregon Health Plan may increase by 23% over the next two years. This at a time when state legislatures are slashing budgets.
In an effort to reduce overhead expenses, many agencies are turning to open source technologies. There is even a nonprofit open source initiative ( which hosted Penguin Day ( on April 25, 2009. The posted agenda lists sessions such as Introduction to Open Source Software, Open Source Content Management Systems, Introduction to Blogging, etc. NOSI also hosts frequent webinars which can be found on their webpage.
Corporate IT departments have embraced open source applications. However, many nonprofits lack internal IT staff and are unaware of the solutions that are available. Education is key to this understanding. Organizations such as NOSI and NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) are making this happen.

Joe Solomon’s blog at lays out a case-study for open source use in developing countries to solve medical record keeping.

Further reading: Open source for non-profits, Red Hat Magazine, January 2006,

Greenshot – Open Source Screen Capture

Every technician, at some time, has wished he or she could email the error message on the console screen to whatever vendor support is working on the issue. In the past you either used PrintScreen and tried to edit the picture or used Snagit. Snagit is a great tool but it is not free.
Enter Greenshot.

(from the website…)

Greenshot is a revolutionary screenshot tool optimized for productivity.

  • Save a screenshot or a part of the screen to a file within a second.
  • Apply text and shapes to the screenshot.
  • Offers capture of window, region or full screenshot.
  • Supports several image formats.

Greenshot is an open source offering that follows other free tools to replace traditional business-use applications. As of January 11, 2009 Greenshot is on v0.7 beta. The installer is a small 349KB download. Installation took less than two minutes. Similar to Snagit, Greenshot runs in the System Tray. Simply right-click on the icon and select the operation you would like to complete. Here is an example of the Capture Region output.
As soon as you click on Capture Region, a cross-hair appears on the screen. Place the mouse at the top left corner of your desired capture, click and hold the left button and drag over to the lower right corner. Release the left mouse button and you have made your capture. One handy feature is the pixel count that displays as you drag across your capture area.
Greenshot allows many save options. The default is png. The included image editor is very handy as well allowing the edition of text boxes, lines, arrows and other shapes.

Download this today and enjoy the simplicity of this great practical application!

Open Source NAS – Openfiler Update

Open Source Storage
The online debate over Open Source storage options is fast and furious. The two common names that keep popping up are FreeNAS and Openfiler. Do a Twitter search for either and you will have an afternoon full of reading.
I evaluated Openfiler (see April 7 post for Openfiler info) and have not looked back. The first box I installed as NFS storage has been running for 54 days with no data loss or corruption. The only issue at all has been the failure of one of the on-board Ethernet ports. My second box installed as iSCSI storage has been in production for thirteen days.

Hardware breakdown (retasked servers – nothing new was purchased):

filer1: Dell PowerEdge 2650, dual Intel Dual-Core Xeon 2.4 Ghz CPU w/512KB cache, 4GB RAM, dual on-board Gigabit Ethernet ports, (1) Maxtor Atlas 10k 74GB harddisk for Openfiler system, (4) Seagate Cheetah 10k 146GB harddisks for shared storage.

filer2: Dell PowerEdge 2850, dual Intel Quad-Core Xeon 2.8 Ghz CPU w/2.00MB cache, 4GB RAM, dual on-board Gigabit Ethernet ports, dual-port Intel PRO 1000 NIC (for iSCSI), (2) Maxtor 15k 74GB harddisks in RAID 1 for Openfiler system, (3) Seagate 15k 146GB and (1) Fujitsu 15k 146GB harddisks for shared storage.

Filer1 reports used physical memory of 97% while filer2 reports 8% physical memory in use. This is interesting as filer2 has a much higer load at this point. IRC chats, blogs and forums suggest Openfiler likes all the RAM it can get its hands on.

Plan Moving Forward
I will continue to use filer2 as iSCSI storage for two VMware ESX 3.5 servers. Planning to rebuild filer1 with additional RAM and add Intel PRO 1000 card. May convert storage to iSCSI for Citrix XenServer evaluation.

Ubuntu upgrade kills Dropbox

I have been a user of Dropbox for about six months now and think that it is a great service. I have it installed and running on five systems, all of which run Ubuntu.

When Jaunty Jackelope was released a week ago, I decided to upgrade all of my Ubuntu boxes. While the upgrade went flawlessly on all five systems, Dropbox died. I went out and downloaded the latest version of Dropbox which has Ubuntu 9.04 listed. Reinstalling the package did not resolve the issue. So I started playing at the command line and realized that this is really easy to fix. Here is the fixed that I came up with:

Open up a terminal and type in dropbox status and you should see a message like Dropbox isn’t running!. If you try and run dropbox start you will get another error indicating that The Dropbox daemon is not installed! and the resolution which is to start with the -i option.

So the actual command to install the daemon is dropbox start -i. Once I ran that, the daemon and Nautilus extension launched and updated immediately.

Few people are aware of the command line use of dropbox. Play around with the utility and see what I mean. The dropbox filestatus command is pretty neat. Just run it from within your Dropbox folder.


User cannot see faxes sent by other users

As a reseller of GFI products, I am very familiar with GFI FaxMaker. Almost all of my clients that use computer based faxing use GFI, but there are a few that use other solutions.

This particular client uses the server/client faxing that is built into Windows Server 2003 for sending faxes. The system has been impressively reliable and easy to use.

Recently, a new user of the fax server indicated that she was unable to see faxes sent by other users in the fax console under the Sent folder. All other users were able to view all sent faxes. The solution was simple enough if you know where to go.

Open up Active Directory Users and Computers and locate the user that you want to grant this ability to. Get the properties for the user and go to the Member Of tab. Finally, add the user to the Fax Operators group. Have the user close the Fax Console and reopen it for the changes to take effect.