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How to build your own WPEngine copycat WordPress server on Ubuntu 14.04 with an Ansible Playbook

There is no denying that WPEngine offers the fastest WordPress hosting on planet earth. They’ve invested millions into building the fastest platform possible. That’s why they charge so much money for their services. Because they are worth it. Some of us can’t afford to pay $100-$1000/mo for WordPress hosting. The good news is that if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty on a Linux command line, you can build your own server that will get you most of the way to a WPEngine class WordPress instance. There are a few key technologies that make this possible.

  • Percona DB (like MySQL)
  • HHVM – A super fast PHP VM
  • PHP-FPM – Just in case HHVM has a problem
  • NGINX
  • Varnish – Awesome reverse proxy cache
  • Memcached & APC

I think you’re probably starting to get the idea. These are the highest performers of the high performance technologies out there. We’re going to make them all work together to make your site blazing fast. It’s not all that hard and it doesn’t take very long.

All you need is a VPS or Virtual Machine running Ubuntu 14.04. Go ahead and SSH into it and we’ll get started.

How to build a WPEngine copycat server for FREE

The server you are working with MUST be able to resolve the hostnames of the sites you’re going to set up, to itself. So, if you are building this to replace a server that’s running and you don’t want to take that site down until everything is migrated, simply add hostname entries mapping the FQDN to the IP address in /etc/hosts.

First thing’s first, let’s make sure your Ubuntu 14.04 installation is updated and upgraded.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Now we need to add the Ansible ppa.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ansible/ansible

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Need to recover a FreeNAS server? How to import an existing FreeNAS iSCSI target that existed on a prior installation

Last night I noticed a new version of FreeNAS 9.3 was released. Just two days earlier I built this FreeNAS server, so I wanted everything to be up to date. When I tried to update FreeNAS via the web GUI, it errored out. As I came to find out, this was one of the bugs addressed in the update I was trying to install. It was a catch-22. So, I downloaded the installation disc, burnt it to CD, and booted the FreeNAS server from it. That errored out as well. I had no choice but to blow away the existing installation and do a fresh FreeNAS load. All of my shares and iSCSI targets were stored on a 4 disk RAID-Z array, and FreeNAS itself is installed on an 8GB USB Thumb drive. So, I expected my data to stay in tact.

When I booted the fresh installation for the first time, it automatically imported the zpool stored on the RAID array. I was able to re-create the SMB shares and point them to the /mnt folders those shares pointed to before, everything was going well. Until I got to work trying to bring my iSCSI target volumes back online. In Storage > Volumes, I could see all of the volumes that matched up with my previous ISCSI targets, but I couldn’t import them. I couldn’t figure out how to do anything with them. All of my virtual machines were stored on these volumes so I was desperate to find a solution. I did.

Have you lost your FreeNAS installation? Just recovered from a catastrophe? Recently reinstalled FreeNAS and need to get your iSCSI and other shares back? Going through a FreeNAS recovery? You’ve come to the right place.

How to import an iSCSI target volume from an old FreeNAS installation

First, let’s make sure the volumes that previously correlated to iSCSI targets are visible. Navigate to Storage > View Volumes. Here is what mine looks like.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 3.08.37 PM

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How to monitor a VMware ESXi 5 / 6 host with Check_MK & OMD

Recently I posted a guide detailing how to install OMD (Open Monitoring Distribution) on Ubuntu 14.04. Part of OMD is the Check_MK network monitoring platform. I consider it the best available in the Open Source world. Check_MK supports monitoring VMware ESXi hosts, as well as vSphere servers. It uses the vSphere API to communicate with the host, so it’s able to pull much more data than SNMP. It’s not exactly a very intuitive process to get an ESXi host added to Check_MK, but it’s very easy if you know what to do. The documentation available is sub par, at best. So, I’m going to change that! This guide applies to all versions of ESXi 5 or later. So, ESXi 5, 5.1, 5.5 and 6.

Check_MK is capable of monitoring all sorts of valuable data from an ESXi host. This includes, CPU usage, RAM usage, Datastore usage, Network bandwidth statistics, health sensors and virtual machine power state.

How to add an ESXi 5, 5.1, 5.5 or 6 host to Check MK

Go ahead and log in to your Check_MK web interface. In the Configuration navigation area of the left, click on Host & Service Parameters.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 3.23.21 PM

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How to install OMD (Open Monitoring Distribution) on Ubuntu 14.04

Open Monitoring Distribution (OMD) is an Open Source network, server, and datacenter monitoring platform and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s basically a bunch of different monitoring systems all pooled into one platform. My favorite part of OMD is that it includes Check_MK, which I think is the best monitoring interface out there. But, it’s a lot more than that. Here is a breif list of what OMD contains (there’s more than this).

  • Nagios
  • Icinga
  • Shinken
  • Check_MK
  • Multisite
  • DokuWiki
  • NagVis
  • pnp4nagios
  • rrdtool

That’s just a brief list of all the greatness that’s packaged into OMD. Every network and home lab should have an OMD installation running on a virtual machine to keep tabs on everything and alert you when something goes wrong. Today, I’ll be installing and configuring OMD on an Ubuntu 14.04 virtual machine. So, lets get started already.

Installing OMD on Ubuntu 14.04

I always like to make sure everything is updated and upgraded when I’m setting up a new server. So lets go ahead and do that.

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get -y upgrade

Now we can get to work installing OMD. Fortunately, there are OMD packages already made for some of the more popular Linux distributions, Ubuntu 14.04 included. You can see all of the available packages by clicking on this link. As of this writing, OMD version 1.20 is the latest so that’s what I’m going to install. Check and see what the latest version is before getting started.

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How To Add An iSCSI Target To Proxmox VE 3.4 And Create LVM Group

I’ve been digging into Proxmox VE 3.4 quite a bit lately. I have a FreeNAS server on my network that I use for VM storage in my lab. When I went to add an iSCSI target on Proxmox for virtual machine and image storage, it was a bit confusing. So, I thought I would put a quick step by step guide together to help other folks in the same boat. Here goes.

How to add an iSCSI target in Proxmox

First, log into your Proxmox VE 3.4 server via the web interface. Make sure Datacenter (top level) is selected in the left pane, and make sure you are on the Storage tab on the right pane. It should look like this.

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 9.08.23 PM

Now, click on the Add pull down menu, and select iSCSI.

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 9.10.31 PM

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Step By Step – Install OpenVAS 7 On CentOS 7 – Run Vulnerability Assessments and Pen Tests

Recently, I published a guide outlining how to install OpenVAS 8, from source, on Ubuntu 14. I got some feedback from some folks requesting a guide on installing OpenVAS on CentOS 7, from the binary packages available via yum. FYI, as of this writing, there are no binary packages for OpenVAS 8, hopefully they will come soon. OpenVAS is a top-knoch Open Source package for running vulnerability scans against networks and servers. Every network administration should have an OpenVAS installation tucked away on a virtual machine somewhere. It’s just so easy to monitor all of your systems for vulnerabilities, there’s no excuse not to. Installing OpenVAS from packages is much easier than installing from source. So, as requested, here you go.

How to install OpenVAS 7 on CentOS 7

Although time consuming, compared to installing from source, installing OpenVAS from binary package is a much less involved process. There are a few ‘gotchya’s” when installing to CentOS 7, mostly related to redis, which I’ll cover in this guide.

This guide assumes you have a minimal CentOS 7 server installation and you are logged into the console or via SSH.

First, we need to install a few prerequisites. To do that, run this command.

yum -y update

yum install -y wget net-tools nano

The OpenVAS binary packages aren’t included with the stock repositories. So, we need to enable the Atomicorp repository.

wget -q -O - http://www.atomicorp.com/installers/atomic |sh

yum -y upgrade

Now, we will install redis and OpenVAS 7.

yum -y install redis openvas

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How To Install OpenVAS 8 On Ubuntu 14.04 To Run Vulnerability Scans & Pen Tests

OpenVAS is one of the most amazing Open Source packages in existence. It is an Open Source fork on the Nessus Vulnerability Scanner, on steroids. If you aren’t familiar with it, let me give you a brief introduction. OpenVAS is short for Open Source Vulnerability Assessment System. it is by far the number one free network and security scanner in existence. I has a database of nearly half a MILLION exploits for nearly every operating system, web app, and device in existence, and that database is constantly being expanded and updated. Installation isn’t too bad, if you have a good guide to help you. Once installed, it’s extremely easy to use. It has a web interface that can be as easy as typing in a host name or IP address and clicking scan. Of course, you can also customize the scans and there is also a handful of pre-configured scans, some thorough, and some less thorough. Reports are generated after a scan completes, which is viewable via the web interface, or you can even generate a PDF report that is useful for a network administrator, as well as upper management, if needed. There are software packages in existence that cost tens of thousands of dollars and fall short of OpenVAS’s feature set. Now that you have a brief introduction to OpenVAS, let’s get started on installing it.

How to install OpenVAS 8 on Ubuntu 14.04

OpenVAS has packages for CentOS and RedHat, which makes it very easy to install on those platforms. It only requires a few yum commands. Unfortunately, they do not have packages for Ubuntu. However, it’s not that hard to install. I’m assuming you have done a minimal installations of Ubuntu 14.04 Server, with only the OpenSSH Server packages installed.

First, we need to get some dependencies installed.

sudo apt-get install -y build-essential devscripts dpatch libassuan-dev \
 libglib2.0-dev libgpgme11-dev libpcre3-dev libpth-dev libwrap0-dev libgmp-dev libgmp3-dev \
 libgpgme11-dev libopenvas2 libpcre3-dev libpth-dev quilt cmake pkg-config \
 libssh-dev libglib2.0-dev libpcap-dev libgpgme11-dev uuid-dev bison libksba-dev \
 doxygen sqlfairy xmltoman sqlite3 libsqlite3-dev wamerican redis-server libhiredis-dev libsnmp-dev \
 libmicrohttpd-dev libxml2-dev libxslt1-dev xsltproc libssh2-1-dev libldap2-dev autoconf nmap libgnutls-dev \
libpopt-dev heimdal-dev heimdal-multidev libpopt-dev mingw32

For the sake of making this as easy as possible, lets go ahead and become root for the installation.

sudo su

OpenVAS default installation settings requires a quick fix for redis-server.

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