HowTo: Setup an account to have SFTP access but not SSH access

locked-icon-28008For those of us who like to outsource work, there comes a time where your developer needs access to your server to upload files, but you don’t want them to have shell access to execute commands.

You are probably also wanting to prevent them from seeing your other data on the server too, so we need to prevent them from being able to go outside of their Home folder. This process is called “chroot jailing” them to a specific folder.

Here is how you setup an Ubuntu 16.04 server to do just that.

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HowTo: Stop GRUB preventing auto-start of the OS after a previous boot failure

A picture of a GRUB... geddit?

The GRUB boot menu by default will generally show its menu for about ten seconds before automatically booting the OS, but if something goes wrong, or an over-zealous party interrupts the boot process because he thought it had hung, the OS will tell GRUB that.

Now that’s all well and good, but GRUB’s default action in such an instance is to abort the automatic timeout and stay at the GRUB boot menu waiting for a manual action, such as entering recovery mode.

On systems that are unattended or without keyboards, this proves to be very annoying and generally you’d like the OS to boot up anyway despite the reported failure.

So here’s how you can fix it.

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HowTo: Install Flumotion Streaming Server on Ubuntu 14.04

Flumotion Logo

Flumotion Streaming Server is a great open-source application that is available in the Ubuntu repositories that can easily allow you to broadcast a live stream from a video camera, or broadcast pre-recorded media. The end-user can view this media in any capable HTML5 web browser such as Google Chrome.

Unfortunately Flumotion (version 0.10.0-1 at the time of writing) relies on some deprecated Twisted Python network functions that prevent the software from working properly on any release of Ubuntu from 13.04 and upwards.

The obvious solution is to simply install Flumotion under Ubuntu 12.04 but then you will find that Flumotion in the 12.04 repository is buggy and out of date anyway, requiring you to update Flumotion from the official developer PPA to the stable release that is already in Ubuntu 14.04.

There is a way to get Flumotion working properly under Ubuntu 14.04 however, without too much fuss. Essentially all you need to do is downgrade the three affected Twisted Python packages down to 11.1.0, which is the version from Ubuntu 12.04.

Here’s how you do it.

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HowTo: Install the XScreensaver packages on Ubuntu

The XScreensaver packages are a series of fancy alternate screensavers that have a popular history. They are much more enjoyable than the boring default Ubuntu screensaver which is just… a black screen.

The Hypertaurus XScreensaver

Unfortunately the XScreensavers package hasn’t really been updated in awhile and doesn’t integrate very nicely into the current flavours of Ubuntu without some manual tweaking, so that’s exactly what I’m going to cover right here.

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HowTo: Setup Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) to automatically erase storage devices via PXE boot

Darik’s Boot and Nuke (abbreviated as DBAN) is a popular tool used by many organisations and individuals to securely erase hard-drives prior to disposal, or perhaps just to fix Windows problems ;) . It typically comprises a small 15MB ISO image that you can burn to CD or make a bootable USB stick from so you can boot up a PC on it and set about erasing all detected storage devices.

Erase HDD

When you’re doing a lot of machines, however, booting a CD is tedious, especially when you accidentally scratch the disc and need to burn a new one. Using a USB stick and either misplacing it, or forgetting to remove it before erasing starts means you lose the content of the boot stick too.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to simply boot DBAN from the network so it’s always available whenever you need it and have it automatically use your preferred options instead of being manually run each time?

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HowTo: Install the IBM Notes 9.0 client on Ubuntu 64-bit

IBM Notes (formerly Lotus Notes) is a corporate email and database collaboration tool. It’s still popular and widely used, and at the time of writing is now up to version 9.0.

IBM Notes 9 Logo

Unfortunately IBM have a bad habit of assuming no-one uses 64-bit operating systems (yes, even in 2014), so with the exception of the Apple OS X version which doesn’t have a 32-bit version at all, IBM continues to compile the Linux and Windows versions as 32-bit only applications.

Installing the 32-bit Linux version does not work on 64-bit Ubuntu/Debian systems “out of the box” because of some hard-coded 32-bit only pre-requisites. This article will describe how to modify the installer so that it will work on 64-bit systems.

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HowTo: Rename multiple TV episode files with one command

So, you’ve procured a number of files that represent a pre-recorded television series and they are typically named something like this:

MyTVShow.Original.S01E01-720p.HDTV.x264-ImAwesome.mkv
MyTVShow.Original.S01E02-720p.HDTV.x264-ImAwesome.mkv
MyTVShow.Original.S01E03-720p.HDTV.x264-ImAwesome.mkv
MyTVShow.Original.S01E04-720p.HDTV.x264-ImAwesome.mkv

You’d like to rename them to look something like this instead:

MyTVShow S01E01.mkv
MyTVShow S01E02.mkv
MyTVShow S01E03.mkv
MyTVShow S01E04.mkv

Normally you’d tediously edit each filename and rename them manually, but to do so individually across a large folder will take a long time. Surely there’s a way to rename them all in a more convenient manner?

There certainly is! And with just one command too…

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HowTo: Resize an LVM partition on a GPT drive after expanding the underlying array

Scenario: You have an Ubuntu Linux server. The storage system is a large RAID array, partitioned as a GPT disk and it has two partitions on it – a small boot partition and the second partition is setup for use with LVM with one or more Logical Volumes in it.

You’re starting to run out of space and intend to expand the system by adding one or more disks to the array. Once you’ve done this, you will obviously need to extend the partition to use the new space, but GPT is a slightly different kettle of fish to regular partitioning, and being a server you don’t have a GUI to use traditional tools.

So how do you do this?

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HowTo: Launch and terminate an Impress (PowerPoint) presentation from a Terminal

The scenario is simple: You have a kiosk or display machine showing information, eg: a self-updating webpage. On a schedule you want to launch an Impress or PowerPoint presentation on the display which will loop. You want that loop to only run for a few minutes before terminating and going back to what was originally being displayed.

How do you do this?

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HowTo: Fix Apt-Get failing with a “Method did not start correctly” error

So, you decide to install a new package on your system, or perhaps update your system with some outstanding updates. You either use the Software Centre or the Apt-Get command from a terminal to do this and you are suddenly greeted with the following error:

Failed to exec method /usr/lib/apt/methods/
E: Method  has died unexpectedly!
E: Sub-process  returned an error code (100)
E: Method /usr/lib/apt/methods/ did not start correctly

And everything stops. Repeating the command produces the same error over and over.

What just happened and how do you fix this?

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