Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Mimecast 550 Administrative Prohibition - Envelope Blocked

We had this error come up at work as follows:

Reporting-MTA: dns;<server>Received-From-MTA: dns;service31.mimecast.comArrival-Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2014 19:54:08 +0000
Final-Recipient: rfc822;<email address redacted>Action: failedStatus: 5.5.0Diagnostic-Code: smtp;550 Administrative prohibition - envelope blocked -

The reason for this was because I had set on the server-side for a mailbox to auto-forward to an external email address. Of course you can do it via the mailbox rules but these can sometimes be a bit unreliable.

So instead you can set it via one of the Exchange tabs in the Active Directory. You do first have to create an SMTP contact though, because it can only forward to another AD object.

After I did this, the above error was produced from Mimecast, our email relay service.

It is easily fixed. First, I synchronized our Active Directory with Mimecast. This usually happens twice a day, I think, so now I was going to force the change. Simply go to Services, Directory Sync, Synchronize LDAP Data.

I then went to the relay settings to configure an exception. I expected the synchronization to have done that but there was no sign of the external email address. So I just added it anyway. Here were the steps: User Directory, Profile Groups, Relay. I then added the external email address.

That's it! After that, the problematic messages disappeared and forwarding worked very swiftly as it was meant to.

Does TeamViewer Work If Logged Off?

The answer is "no". It will drop the connection because logging off kills all active processes.

The answer is to get the other person to use either the full TeamViewer version or a special version called "TeamViewer Host for Unattended Setup". This runs as a service and so can survive logging off and even a reboot.

You can get it here:

TeamViewer Downloads

For me, it was no good because I was unable to watch it being installed i.e. if you are already running TeamViewer, you cannot install any other version of TeamViewer at the same time!

As the remote user was typically PC-illiterate, it was too big a risk to guide them through the install over the phone. I have learned over the years not to be overconfident in a user's abilities!

Connection Test Tracert Batch File

One of our home workers complained that her connection to RDS is always dropping.

Incidentally, I connected to her PC via Team Viewer and also had dropped connections too.

Team Viewer and RDS connect differently. I'm quite sure RDS uses higher range ports (3389?), it is also SSL. Team Viewer I am not sure but it may be port 80.

This all leads me to believe it has something to do with her ISP. Her ISP, of course, deny this.

I decided to modify the earlier ping test batch file. For one, our RDS gateway won't return a ping which is a good thing. However, it is possible to do a tracert to it so I've created a batch file that will first create then append to a file the current date and time and then add the results of the tracert command.

The idea is that she double clicks this file whenever she gets a connection problem, in order to help create a log of the state of her connection between us and her at the time.

Here's the code. If you're not aware, just copy and paste it into a text file then rename the text file to have extension ".bat" - I wish I could show you some sample output but I'm in Linux so that bat file won't work!


  1. @echo off
  2. echo --- >> c:\docume~1\j.smith\desktop\tracelogs.txt
  3. echo --- >> c:\docume~1\j.smith\desktop\tracelogs.txt
  4. echo %date% >> c:\docume~1\j.smith\desktop\tracelogs.txt
  5. echo %time% >> c:\docume~1\j.smith\desktop\tracelogs.txt
  6. echo Running connection test
  7. echo This window will disappear when the test is complete
  8. echo Don't do anything else in the meantime
  9. tracert >> c:\docume~1\j.smith\desktop\tracelogs.txt
  10. echo --- >> c:\docume~1\j.smith\desktop\tracelogs.txt
  11. echo --- >> c:\docume~1\j.smith\desktop\tracelogs.txt
  12. ------------------------------------------------

Replace "j.smith" with the user's AD username. I chose the desktop as the location because the user can create documents there, unlike the rest of the machine which is logged down (she is not a local administrator). Replace with the site of your choice.

You can also loop this continuously, there's a few ways to do that, but on some older machines it may cause the fan to kick into overdrive!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Export Active Directory To CSV - Users To Excel

It is very useful indeed to keep a copy of all Active Directory users and associated info in a spreadsheet. One of the greatest uses is to easily know the SID of a user when you have to start editing the registry and finding their relevant sub-key.

You can get all this info using Powershell.

First you need to install the free Dell/Quest "ActiveRoles Management Shell for Active Directory" which is a set of free Powershell commands you can use to interrogate your Active Directory and get information from it. Get the download here.

After that, simply open up Powershell, load the snap-in and then execute the command to import the data to a csv. Here's exactly how:

add-PSSnapin quest.activeroles.admanagement
Get-QADUser -SizeLimit 0 |Export-Csv c:\users.csv

You'll see there's a ton of info, nearly 100 columns if I remember correctly!

Microsoft Outlook Crash Log Location

You may be interested to know that Outlook and other Office apps keep a store of detailed crash logs when they crash. Yes, there is always the event viewer but there is much more if you look in the right place.

For Office 2007 on Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 and above at least, you can look in the location:


There will be an individual folder for each crash. Just looking at the date time stamps alone is useful.

Can't Print Secured PDF File

Someone at work told me they couldn't print a pdf file that was showing as "secured" in the title bar. I think it may have given an error message too.

It was a little strange because she had two secured pdf files and one of them she could actually print. That was an anomaly really.

Both files came from the same person and clicking the padlock symbol within Adobe Reader showed that printing rights (as well as others) had been restricted.

While there are ways to break the security of pdf files, I was not willing to go to these lengths in a professional work environment. I told the user to speak to the originator and tell her not to secure these pdf files.

How To Open a 3GB Text File

At work the other day we ran a trace on an application that produced a massive log file in no time at all. It nearly crashed the server!

Luckily, we avoided disaster but I still needed to open the file so I extract the small part of it I needed.

If you simply double click a huge text file in Windows you will wait a long time as it tries to load the entire thing into memory.

What you need is a program that will load it to some temporary disk space. You might wait a short time for it to open but you can normally start looking through it immediately, even while the rest of the file is still loading.

I looked around and found a few. One person recommended TextPad. I have not gotten around to trying it but apparently it will do the job.

The one I used first and was sufficient for my needs was Large Text File Viewer. On first running it, it looked a lot like some kind of hacking application! I was a little worried by that but it worked absolutely fine and did a great job. I was able to scroll down to the time period of the log file I needed, select the text I wanted and save to a new file.

UNC Path Contains/Containing Spaces Doesn't Work

You are probably familiar with UNC paths such as \\servername21\departmentfolder\subfolder1\subfolder2\.

They are the best way to refer to network locations although many users prefer drive letters. Personally, I think that's lazy and it really takes zero brain effort to learn how UNC paths work. I find it differs greatly depending on the culture of the office how brain dead or smart the users are!

But what if your path contains a space e.g. \\LONFDB21\Marketing\Images\Stock Image 30123.jpg   ?

Then it often won't work. Windows will see a space as marking a separation and therefore the path will end at the "k" in "Stock". So if you need to send a UNC path to someone, you need to do one of the following:

  • double quotes around the UNC path
  • "<" and ">" around the UNC path
  • replace spaces with %20 (this seems to work better in browsers, I've found it unreliable elsewhere).
So above, I could use, for example:

<\\LONFDB21\Marketing\Images\Stock Image 30123.jpg>


"\\LONFDB21\Marketing\Images\Stock Image 30123.jpg"

You'll find that MS Office programs will also hyperlink correctly if you do it in this manner.

Exchange 2003 Mailbox Permissions Report

The boss asked me to produce a report of all mailbox permissions.

We're currently on Exchange 2003 which has minimal functionality, certainly no fancy reports or anything! In fact, I'm not sure later versions do either.

I looked around and there are a couple of ways.

The best, report-wise, is to use a program from Quest (now owned by Dell) called Quest Security Explorer. This allows for all manner of fancy reports about various security/permissions parameters of your infrastructure. It's no free but you can get an evaluation license which may be enough for your needs.

The downside is that you need to install on your local workstation some kind of Exchange extensions, in order for the program to communicate properly with your Exchange Server. I tried to fish around for our disc but eventually gave up.

There is also a tool called ADModify which I just could not get to work in our environment. Here is a tutorial if you are interested.

Luckily, I found a Powershell command that will produce a report. In my last post I mentioned how to redirect Powershell screen output to a text file and I use this technique here. I used this script which I obtained from this page (click here if you want the longer explanation from the author). This script will dump all info to the screen, see my previous blog post for how to redirect the output to a text file.

It worked a treat although the report is quite ugly. But it gives all the information needed.

Redirect Powershell Output To A File - PS1

Powershell scripts can be saved in files with extension ".ps1". Double-click them and the OS will run them in Powershell.

But what if you have a script that outputs a lot of information to the screen and you want it in a more usable form such as a text file that you can send to others?

In DOS, there is a command ">" that let's you do this. There is something similar in Powershell.

Let's say your script is called script.ps1 then you can do:

powershell.exe -File c:\script.ps1 >> C:\outputfile.txt

and it will spit out the output and put into the file called outputfile.txt.

I will show you an example in my next blog post.

Powershell Install Folder XP

I had installed Powershell on my XP machine some time ago but couldn't find it!

Here is the location:


Public Folders Contacts Group

I recently rebuilt the XP machine of someone at work. Naturally, he complained that his Outlook configuration had been restored to it's original state.

This is often a gripe with people at work when they lose configuration settings. These settings should be done by the user. But all too often they don't bother to learn it themselves or they do but still forget. All too often they can't be bothered to really figure it out. This is the point at which IT staff become nothing more than servants.

Anyway, he was used to seeing his contacts in a public folder in an arrangement of groups.

I could not work out how he managed it but eventually realized that this can only be done with the use of categories. You can see from the below screenshots exactly how to do this:

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Linux Best File Copier - Copying Files Unreliable MD5

I wrote earlier that I was quite disappointed at how unreliable file copying has been in my quite limited recent experience of Linux. I simply found that the copies were not the same as the originals when checking using Linux's built-in checksum calculator Terminal command: md5sum.

I was on the lookout for a file manager/copier that would do a better job.

Many people recommended rsync -c but I discovered that it is a common misconception that it performs a verification after the copy has been done. This is simply not true.

In fact, I looked long and hard and several people had the same need as me but I could only find one solution:

I found a program that performs copying and checksum verification called Safe File Manager. The only problem is: I'm scared to run it!

The site does not look very professional and the owner of the site seems to be anonymous. In days gone by I would happily use such a program but these days I run a business and I am extremely careful about installing untrusted software that could potentially capture my passwords and ultimately compromise my livelihood. It's a great shame as this program really looks like it would fit the bill.

As an aside, I also discovered that the terminal command sync will force writes to a device. I think this will be handy as I earlier got the distinct impression that writing to USB devices seems to lag and I wonder if some of the md5 mismatches were because the data had not yet been fully copied yet. This command might help me.

Linux - How To Create a Batch File

The final step - making the shell script "executable"
Back in the days of DOS I used to make batch files all the time, in fact I still do in Windows even today.

I wanted to know how to do this in Linux. Right now I have to launch KeePass by typing each time:

mono /home/me/KeePass/KeePass.exe

It's not too much of a pain but I want to save any time where I can. The more convenient it is to reach my tools, the more and better I'll use them.

So I've read up and things work a little different in Linux.

I already knew I needed to make a "shell script". I've seen these marked with ".sh" and even tried to make my own earlier but it didn't work. Unlike DOS/Windows, the extension does not change the way the file is treated. In fact ".sh" is just used as a nice way of telling the user what kind of file it is. I'll tell you how to tell the OS what to do in a minute.

First I start by opening gedit, the text editor.

Then I type the following:

#! /bin/bash
mono /home/me/KeePass/KeePass.exe

Then save it with whatever name I want. Finally, I right-click it, Properties, Permissions tab then check "Allow this file to run as a program". That tells the OS what to do with it. There is a terminal method to do this called "chmod" but I need to read up on it again on exactly how it works.

That's it, now this file will execute as if I were typing that second line directly in a Terminal window.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Download ISO Free

Today downloaded the ISO for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. I have been meaning to install this so I can get to grips with what is the leading enterprise Linux distribution (the other one is SUSE Linux Enterprise by Novell).

It was very confusing. Apparently it is a 30 day trial. And yet I read elsewhere that it is nothing like traditional Microsoft/other corporate licensing in that actually anything derived from Linux, being GNU, must therefore be free to all. So apparently Red Hat Linux is actually free, it's just that you pay to get the updates. Given that many Linux distros are so stable they don't even need updating necessarily, it's almost effectively free if you look at it that way.

You must first register at Red Hat's web site (click here to register, link opens in a new window). After that, you get the ability to download ISOs. I registered as a personal account.

I downloaded the RHEL server (as opposed to desktop), 32-bit ISO of version 6 (I think it is actually 6.5 but I'm unsure till I install it). It took me a while to find this version, there are many other strange and different versions (including betas, minimal boot discs and add-ons) that I just wasn't interested in!

Here is the download I got:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server (v. 6 for 32-bit x86)
Filename: rhel-server-6.5-i386-dvd.iso
MD5: 04a1fa06a6b7e70cd586535eea83c0ef

Other versions you may be interested in:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server (v. 6 for 64-bit x86_64)

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation (v. 6 for 32-bit x86)

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation (v. 6 for x86_64)

I intend to get my Red Hat Linux certification. Hopefully all I need to do to prepare is get a good book and practise with this installation! As you can see, there is also a workstation version but it's much more important to get experience of the server platform.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Linux Mint External Hard Drive Read Only

I tried to create folders and copy files to an external hard drive of mine.

Actually, it's not an external hard drive. It's a hard disk caddy that I plug SATA drives into.

It's one of these unbranded Chinese models. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be a reputable brand making these, not that I've seen anyway. Even in Windows XP it can be a little troublesome and require replugging or power cycling.

But for Linux, I can read from it fine but I cannot write to it at all.

I heard it could be due to an old ntfs driver so I searched the Software Repository for "ntfs-3g" but saw it was already installed and presumably being used.

By the way, I've had no such issues with USB memory sticks.

I also tried right-clicking and "Open Folder as root" but this didn't work either. I just couldn't write to the drive. Sometimes I'd get "input/output" errors.

I guess this device is just incompatible with Linux. That's no big deal really. I have other, proper external hard drives.

I've got to admit though, I'm a little worried about the way Linux handles external devices, especially those of FAT32/NTFS format. In doing my research, I've read some horror stories about it scrambling existing data!

In the end, I inserted a USB stick with data on it that I didn't care about and copied the files. I had a chance to use the terminal command "cp" to copy across. I then ran md5sum to check that the files had been copied perfectly.

In fact they weren't! One of them, a big one around 1 gig, was not copied and I got different MD5 checksums! I copied it again using the GUI and had the same problem! I tried replugging the USB stick and I got read only errors again! Finally I replugged it once more and could write to it again, copied with the gui once more and the checksums failed. I tried again with the cp command and FINALLY the MD5 checksums matched!

Why these MD5s did not match, I do not know. I have heard that Linux likes to use write caching a lot. So you think the file has been copied but it's still really just catching up...who knows?

Perhaps there are better ways to do all this. I am treading on new ground, after all. Best I don't become TOO reliant on Linux just yet...! Oh, I miss Windows XP already! :D

Outlook Duplicate Meetings In Calendar

At work, one of the PAs asked me why calendar entries would often be duplicated. We run Exchange 2003 with Outlook 2007 clients.

Now it was some time ago so I forget the exact reason why but it is basically a bug and there are two ways to stop it.

The first is to fix the account. The problem occurs because there is a bug in the account. To fix the bug, you must move the mailbox from the existing mail store to another mail store and then move it back again.

The second is to simply upgrade Exchange. This bug is found in version 2003. When you move to Exchange 2007 or later, this problem will disappear.

In the end, we chose to do nothing because an upgrade of Exchange is due over the next few months anyway. I did not want to move mailbox from one store and back again. I saw it as too big a risk for something that is just an annoyance and for which a fix is not business critical but simply "nice to have".

Some of you may think a mailbox move to be trivial but I've learned that the most trivial things can easily raise new, more serious implications. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Failure Notice Does Not Like Recipient - 550 Bad CT IP Reputation

If you get an email bounce back with the error "failure notice does not like recipient" then it's an easy one.

It means that the email server of the company of the person you are trying to reach has rejected your email based simply on your sending email address (more correctly, the IP address).

Most big companies use some kind of reputation checking service. For example, Mimecast is one of the huge ones (in fact, Mimecast is a much bigger overall email solution). There are others too and just like credit checking companies, there are a handful of big global hitters when it comes to reputation checking.

If you get this message then it is usually a problem with your sending IP address. There may even be a further message such as "550 Bad CT IP Reputation". In this case, the "CT" actually refers to the blacklisting company, CommTouch.

You need to visit the big reputation keepers, check your reputation and, where bad, raise a request to be white-listed.

Some of the major ones are Commtouch, Mimecast, Spamhaus, AOL and others. You can find larger lists of them online. Here's one such blog post containing the big hitters. If your company cannot send email to external clients then you need to go to all the reputation checkers and tell them to whitelist your IP address.

We had this problem ourselves when we changed our company internet connection. The new IP we received just happened to be on a blacklist!

One Week on Linux Mint - Is It Time To Ditch Windows?

Every Sunday I perform by weekly backups. It's a good habit I've gotten into recently. I back up a Truecrypt container of my personal data (excluding media, which is just too big).

Ordinarily I would do this from my XP machine but I stopped using XP last week. So this week marks the first week I need to do that from my new Linux box!

I guess the process will be much the same. I'm still not fully "migrated" to Linux. I have, on purpose, not saved too much data to this installation. I still feel like XP is my "base".

I know this cannot change overnight. It's likely that I will go some time, maybe 6 months, before I fully do. In fact, I am starting to think that I will never fully move away from Windows and, anyway, why should I? I think it's a state of perfection many are trying to reach for no really good reason other than a sense of accomplishment.

Let's face it: a great many programs (including open source) are made only for Windows. And because I use my brain and actually think before I click, I don't ever get viruses on Windows anyway so there's no reason there for me to abandon it.

My ideal situation would be to invest in another machine or two in the near future so I can have separate Windows and Linux machines (without having to swap hard drives out) as well as a spare for trying out new distros.

Linux is great, I love it. But there's no such thing as the perfect OS. And there's no reason not to enjoy multiple operating systems either.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Mount ISO Without Reboot

I had a machine to rebuild at work. I put the OS on and started to install applications again. I tried to install MS Office 2007 (yes, we are behind the times!) from a network location but the install just gave up after barely a minute. Seems the install files were corrupt or something.

So I decided to download Office 2007 again, from the official Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center. This is a site you can log into to get your product keys and downloadable software for which you are licensed.

Unfortunately, only an ISO was available. I like ISOs, they are nice and self-contained but I did not want to burn a disc and nor did I want to install iso mounting software on the user's PC. So I needed to install the iso mounting software on my own PC, mount the ISO and copy the mounted files into the network location from where I could try installing again.

I installed Daemon Tools, my usual favorite, and when it finished it wanted me to reboot the PC! I know for most of you that is not a problem but the computer I've inherited at work takes an age to boot up, plus I had a lot of apps opened.

Luckily, I found a freeware program online that could not only mount ISOs but would do it without requiring a reboot: MagicISO. It was just what I needed and worked perfectly!

Outlook Safe Mode Switch Add-ins Turned Off

I have known for a while that Outlook has a number of switches. At work we use 2003, a pretty ancient version but these switches have existed even going back Outlook '97!

One of the most common ones was "/cleanviews", I remember Outlook commonly going crazy and having to run that switch.

Anyway, at work we use an add-in with Outlook that is problematic. I wanted to investigate disabling it altogether. I already knew that "safe mode" was a way of running a bare bones Outlook.

It goes like this:

outlook.exe /safe

But what I did not know is that there are various safe modes you can run. For example, this command:

outlook.exe /safe:3

will disable add-ins but leave the rest of the Outlook client the way it was. It won't mess with pre-defined views and other customizations.

Sadly, this command did not do what I needed it to do. I think our group policy overided it or something and so we could not disable the add-in that way.

Instead, I had to run "outlook.exe /safe" instead.

I also created a batch file to automate it and give the users an icon to click on.

Linux Mint Install Wine 1.6 NOT 1.4

My Linux learning experience continues!

The other day I installed Wine using the software repository. Until now, I had assumed that it would report the latest (at least stable) versions. This is not the case! It seems the Software Repository itself does not update, not by default anyway.

I had installed version 1.4. But it made Thunderbird Portable (a Windows app) crash on opening. I discovered this after a little googling showed me that this was a bug that was fixed subsequently in version 1.5.8 of Wine.

So, I decided to install version 1.6 which is also the latest stable version. But how to upgrade? There was no option in Software Repository.

Now I understand already that the terminal command "apt-get" is some kind of way to install programs and all their dependencies. I think it works by keeping a local copy of approved repositories that you can add to (taking care, of course) and then poll for various applications and their dependencies to be downloaded.

But all I could find was info on installing apps and nothing on upgrading them. In the end, I decided to uninstall Wine 1.4 using the Software Repository and then re-install it (v1.6) using the terminal window. I hoped that uninstalling it wouldn't unwind a ton of dependencies that would then break when trying to reinstall. A lot more complicated than your typical Windows uninstall and reinstall methinks, and a lot more to potentially go wrong.

So after uninstalling, I opened a terminal window and type in the following commands (thanks to this site):

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wine1.6
sudo apt-get install winetricks

It went well. In fact, I had noticed after uninstalling that the Wine menus were still there. Strange, I thought. It made sense after running the commands above: the procedure actually uninstalled Wine 1.4. Pretty smart, eh? I'm not sure why it never really got uninstalled but at least the commands I used took care of that. I've attached the output below if you want to read it (my username is "user").

After that, I re-ran Thunderbird Portable and it worked pretty well. Only downside was it can't handle an IMAP connection - it crashed again - but it can handle POP3 fine. I actually just put a dummy account there as my main use for it is for locally stored mail I've moved from another installation of this application. I don't intend to use it to send and receive new email.

Here's the terminal window output:

user@computer ~/Desktop $ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa
[sudo] password for user: 
You are about to add the following PPA to your system:
 Welcome to the Wine Team PPA.  Here you can get the latest available Wine betas for every supported version of Ubuntu.  This PPA is managed by Scott Ritchie and Maarten Lankhorst.
 More info:
Press [ENTER] to continue or ctrl-c to cancel adding it

Executing: gpg --ignore-time-conflict --no-options --no-default-keyring --secret-keyring /tmp/tmp.b7487HkSGR --trustdb-name /etc/apt/trustdb.gpg --keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg --primary-keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg --keyserver hkp:// --recv 883E8688397576B6C509DF495A9A06AEF9CB8DB0
gpg: requesting key F9CB8DB0 from hkp server
gpg: key F9CB8DB0: public key "Launchpad PPA for Ubuntu Wine Team" imported
gpg: no ultimately trusted keys found
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg:               imported: 1  (RSA: 1)
user@computer ~/Desktop $ sudo apt-get update
Hit precise Release.gpg
Get:1 precise Release.gpg [316 B]                    
Hit stable Release.gpg                                   
Hit precise Release                              
Get:2 precise Release [11.9 kB]                      
Hit stable Release                                       
Hit precise Release.gpg                             
Get:3 precise-updates Release.gpg [198 B]           
Get:4 precise-security Release.gpg [198 B]         
Hit precise/partner i386 Packages                
Get:5 maya Release.gpg [198 B]                  
Hit stable/main i386 Packages                            
Ign precise/partner TranslationIndex             
Get:6 precise/main Sources [6,389 B]                 
Ign stable/main TranslationIndex                         
Get:7 precise/main i386 Packages [7,494 B]           
Ign precise/main TranslationIndex                    
Hit precise Release                                 
Get:8 precise-security Release [49.6 kB]           
Get:9 maya Release [18.6 kB]                    
Get:10 precise-updates Release [49.6 kB]            
Get:11 maya/main i386 Packages [18.1 kB]        
Get:12 precise-security/main i386 Packages [377 kB]
Ign precise/partner Translation-en_GB            
Hit precise/main i386 Packages                      
Hit precise/restricted i386 Packages                
Hit precise/universe i386 Packages                  
Hit precise/multiverse i386 Packages                
Hit precise/main TranslationIndex                   
Hit precise/multiverse TranslationIndex             
Hit precise/restricted TranslationIndex             
Hit precise/universe TranslationIndex               
Ign precise/partner Translation-en               
Ign precise/main Translation-en_GB                   
Ign precise/main Translation-en                      
Get:13 precise-updates/main i386 Packages [769 kB]  
Ign stable/main Translation-en_GB                        
Ign stable/main Translation-en                           
Get:14 maya/upstream i386 Packages [10.6 kB]    
Get:15 maya/import i386 Packages [42.0 kB]      
Ign maya/import TranslationIndex                
Ign maya/main TranslationIndex                  
Ign maya/upstream TranslationIndex              
Err precise Release.gpg                         
  Something wicked happened resolving '' (-5 - No address associated with hostname)
Ign precise Release                             
Ign precise/free i386 Packages/DiffIndex        
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Get:16 precise-updates/restricted i386 Packages [11.5 kB]
Ign precise/free TranslationIndex               
Get:17 precise-updates/universe i386 Packages [235 kB]
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Ign maya/import Translation-en_GB               
Ign maya/import Translation-en                  
Get:18 precise-security/restricted i386 Packages [4,620 B]
Ign maya/main Translation-en_GB                 
Get:19 precise-security/universe i386 Packages [93.5 kB]
Ign maya/main Translation-en                    
Ign maya/upstream Translation-en_GB             
Ign maya/upstream Translation-en                
Get:20 precise-security/multiverse i386 Packages [2,650 B]
Hit precise-security/main TranslationIndex         
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Get:21 precise-updates/multiverse i386 Packages [14.4 kB]
Hit precise-updates/main TranslationIndex           
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Hit precise/multiverse Translation-en_GB            
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Err precise/free i386 Packages                  
  Something wicked happened resolving '' (-5 - No address associated with hostname)
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  Something wicked happened resolving '' (-5 - No address associated with hostname)
Fetched 1,722 kB in 12s (139 kB/s)                                            
W: Failed to fetch  Something wicked happened resolving '' (-5 - No address associated with hostname)

W: Failed to fetch  Something wicked happened resolving '' (-5 - No address associated with hostname)

W: Failed to fetch  Something wicked happened resolving '' (-5 - No address associated with hostname)

W: Failed to fetch  Something wicked happened resolving '' (-5 - No address associated with hostname)

W: Failed to fetch  Something wicked happened resolving '' (-5 - No address associated with hostname)

W: Failed to fetch  Something wicked happened resolving '' (-5 - No address associated with hostname)

W: Failed to fetch  Something wicked happened resolving '' (-5 - No address associated with hostname)

E: Some index files failed to download. They have been ignored, or old ones used instead.
user@computer ~/Desktop $ sudo apt-get install wine1.6
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
  libosmesa6 wine-gecko2.21 wine-mono0.0.8 wine1.6-i386
Suggested packages:
Recommended packages:
The following packages will be REMOVED
  wine1.4 wine1.4-common wine1.4-i386
The following NEW packages will be installed
  libosmesa6 wine-gecko2.21 wine-mono0.0.8 wine1.6 wine1.6-i386
0 upgraded, 5 newly installed, 3 to remove and 51 not upgraded.
Need to get 94.5 MB of archives.
After this operation, 95.2 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? Y
Get:1 precise/main wine-gecko2.21 i386 2.21-0ubuntu1~ppa1~precise1 [20.8 MB]
Get:2 precise-updates/main libosmesa6 i386 8.0.4-0ubuntu0.7 [1,146 kB]
Get:3 precise/main wine-mono0.0.8 all 0.0.8-0ubuntu1~ppa2 [46.6 MB]
Get:4 precise/main wine1.6-i386 i386 1:1.6.1-0ubuntu1~ppa1~precise1 [24.8 MB]
Get:5 precise/main wine1.6 i386 1:1.6.1-0ubuntu1~ppa1~precise1 [1,189 kB]
Fetched 94.5 MB in 7min 4s (223 kB/s)                                         
(Reading database ... 144278 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing wine1.4 ...
Removing wine1.4-i386 ...
Removing wine1.4-common ...
Processing triggers for man-db ...
Processing triggers for hicolor-icon-theme ...
Processing triggers for desktop-file-utils ...
Processing triggers for bamfdaemon ...
Rebuilding /usr/share/applications/bamf.index...
Processing triggers for gnome-menus ...
Processing triggers for libc-bin ...
ldconfig deferred processing now taking place
Selecting previously unselected package wine-gecko2.21.
(Reading database ... 142968 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking wine-gecko2.21 (from .../wine-gecko2.21_2.21-0ubuntu1~ppa1~precise1_i386.deb) ...
Selecting previously unselected package wine-mono0.0.8.
Unpacking wine-mono0.0.8 (from .../wine-mono0.0.8_0.0.8-0ubuntu1~ppa2_all.deb) ...
Selecting previously unselected package wine1.6-i386.
Unpacking wine1.6-i386 (from .../wine1.6-i386_1%3a1.6.1-0ubuntu1~ppa1~precise1_i386.deb) ...
Selecting previously unselected package wine1.6.
Unpacking wine1.6 (from .../wine1.6_1%3a1.6.1-0ubuntu1~ppa1~precise1_i386.deb) ...
Selecting previously unselected package libosmesa6.
Unpacking libosmesa6 (from .../libosmesa6_8.0.4-0ubuntu0.7_i386.deb) ...
Processing triggers for hicolor-icon-theme ...
Processing triggers for man-db ...
Processing triggers for desktop-file-utils ...
Processing triggers for bamfdaemon ...
Rebuilding /usr/share/applications/bamf.index...
Processing triggers for gnome-menus ...
Setting up wine-gecko2.21 (2.21-0ubuntu1~ppa1~precise1) ...
Setting up wine-mono0.0.8 (0.0.8-0ubuntu1~ppa2) ...
Setting up libosmesa6 (8.0.4-0ubuntu0.7) ...
Setting up wine1.6 (1:1.6.1-0ubuntu1~ppa1~precise1) ...
Setting up wine1.6-i386 (1:1.6.1-0ubuntu1~ppa1~precise1) ...
Processing triggers for libc-bin ...
ldconfig deferred processing now taking place
user@computer ~/Desktop $ sudo apt-get install winetricks
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
  ttf-umefont gettext wine-gecko1.4 ttf-unfonts-core
Use 'apt-get autoremove' to remove them.
The following packages will be upgraded:
1 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 50 not upgraded.
Need to get 151 kB of archives.
After this operation, 13.3 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Get:1 precise/main winetricks i386 0.0+20130707~precise1~ppa1 [151 kB]
Fetched 151 kB in 1s (114 kB/s)      
(Reading database ... 144407 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to replace winetricks 0.0+20120308 (using .../winetricks_0.0+20130707~precise1~ppa1_i386.deb) ...
Unpacking replacement winetricks ...
Processing triggers for hicolor-icon-theme ...
Processing triggers for desktop-file-utils ...
Processing triggers for bamfdaemon ...
Rebuilding /usr/share/applications/bamf.index...
Processing triggers for gnome-menus ...
Setting up winetricks (0.0+20130707~precise1~ppa1) ...
user@computer ~/Desktop $ 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Check Website Status Multiple Locations

Our company web sites were reported to be down momentarily. I didn't know if this was just a sporadic issue with routing from a handful of places around the world, and therefore out of our control, or something much worse.

I needed to test connectivity to our sites from multiple locations around the world. Instead of using multiple proxies, there are web sites that will do the tests for you. Some are good and some are useless.

This one I found in the end was pretty good. It does a test from various global locations and even reports how long it took to download X number of bytes and other useful stats:


Just enter your site url into the box and click the "Check" button.

beserver.exe high cpu

We got an alert at work that our backups server running Backup Exec 10 was using a lot of memory.

I RDPed to it and checked out Task Manager. There was a process, beserver.exe using a lot of RAM and CPU. Backups were still running.

I returned after they had completed and nothing had changed.

CPU and memory usage were high but CPU wasn't 99% or anything like that.

So I googled it and it turns out that this can be due to a faulty component, and can be fixed by uninstalling and reinstalling it.

But to me that seemed like too big a risk. Sounds great in theory but I know that things break if you tinker with them. I also noticed that this has been happening sporadically for months and yet no backups have failed because of it. In the end I chose to leave it as it was. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

More info here:

The Backup Exec Server service (beserver.exe) consumes an excessive amount of memory and shows high CPU Utilization

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

1/8 g2 autoldr drive wr

I saw this message "1/8 g2 autoldr drive wr" on the LCD display of our LTO tape drive at work. I had no idea what it meant.

The key is the "wr" part. That means that the device is still writing to tape so the tapes cannot yet be ejected.

After the write is finished, the tapes will then rewind. Luckily this doesn't take too long

Mac Fan Noisy

I know almost nothing about Macs, in fact I still hate the way they appear to have only one mouse button! In fact, you can control them like two buttons but it still looks and feels like one!

Anyway, we have some Macs at work although I don't support them much. We do have a spare, old one lying around. It runs a very old version of Mac OS X, I think Tiger or Leopard or something.

Anyway, I had to reset the admin password on this Mac. Incredibly, you can do that quite easily and gain access to the computer. I see this as very poor security. PCs don't let you do that unless you have access to a special password reset boot disc.

Anyway, the Mac was very noisy with the fan on many occasions. It turns out that to stop this you need to pull the plug from the Mac, wait a few seconds and then put it back in and turn it back on again. Simply turning it off and then turning it on (while leaving the cable in) doesn't work!

Terminal Services Manager Stays Minimized

I couldn't see my Terminal Services Manager application that I use to monitor our RDS servers at work and see who is logged on and with which applications.

I thought the app had crashed so I killed the tsadmin.exe task and reopened it. But it looked the same, like a minimised application.

It turns out that the application was running fine, it just could not be seen. The window was drawn outside the bounds of my display.

To fix it, I just went to this registry key:

HKCU\\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Terminal Server\TSADMIN

and deleted the "Placement" value.

That's it! It worked fine after that.

Monday, 13 January 2014

7zip Linux Download

I use 7zip on the PC. It's the best zip program out there, miles better than Winzip, plus it's free.

Luckily, it also exists for Linux. It's hard to wade your way through the tons of different installers but if you have Linux Mint then either go to the software repository or go here for the pzip i386 (32-bit system) Debian installer in .deb format (this is basically a nice installer package).

Personally, I like to download files so I can install them again without having to download a ton of files (my internet connection is quite slow).

The file in question is p7zip-full_9.20.1~dfsg.1-4_i386.deb. Download it then double click it to install.

Yes, you can run it on the command line. Or just use the GUI and right click files/folders to create archives. Among other compression formats available will include zip and 7z, the latter is unique to zip.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Linux Mint Update Manager Levels

I decided to go ahead and run Update Manager. It wanted to download and install around half a gig of updates.

The update process went quite well, only two files had a conflict where I already had a file but the update wanted to overwrite it. Apparently the default is to keep things as they are but seeing as I had barely used the system, I decided to let the update overwrite them with their own. Ordinarily, I would go with the system default and keep my files instead.

I was worried about updating the kernel but I needn't have been. The Update Manager assigns updates various levels from 1 to 5. At the 1 end are the most safe and tested updates. At the 5 end are the most risky ones.

Linux kernel updates are in level 5. By default, Update Manager only shows and allows updating of levels 1 to 3. If you decide to change this (which I probably won't), just right-click the Update Manager icon in the system tray and select "Preferences" and there is an option to show them. You have to have Update Manager already open in order to get access to the "Preferences" option.

The pic shows my own updates at work!

How To Take Apart Hard Drive

I have three old hard drives that used to contain media but also personal data. I ran an erasing program on them that overwrote every sector (I think it was DBAN but I forget exactly).

Anyway, I was curious to actually take the hard drives apart as well.

But first I needed a special screwdriver:

A Torx T8.

Torx means it has a star shaped head. T8 refers to the size.

The screwdriver was tiny so I ran into trouble when taking the platter off the spindle - the screws were just too tight.

So I wrapped some tape and bulked up the end with tissue and wrapped more tape around to make a big handle. It worked! lol!

I got into trouble trying to remove the arm, luckily this link was very helpful:
GEEK-TO-YOU: How to take apart a hard-drive (humor included) by darman12

I had no idea that hard drives contained a pair of very strong rare earth (neodymium) magnets. Pretty cool stuff!

VLC is unable to open the mrl - VLC Player Error in Linux Mint

I got this error when trying to play DVDs in VLC media player.

Never had any problems with this in Windows. Just Ctrl-D to "open disc" and then press <Enter> and the DVD starts to play no problem.

But when trying in Linux Mint I kept getting an error about nothing being found:

Playback failure:
DVDRead could not open the disc "/dev/dvd".
Your input can't be opened:
VLC is unable to open the MRL 'dvd:///dev/dvd'. Check the log for details.

So I did some googling and it turns out that /dev/dvd is not where the DVD is mounted. Instead, it was mounted to /dev/sr0. I think the same goes for any other mounted media e.g. /dev/sr1 etc.

So all I needed to do was change /dev/dvd to /dev/sr0 in the field in VLC Media Player appropriate box when doing Ctrl-D and all was fine after that.

You can get around this by creating a symbolic link to remap sr0 to dvd, using the following command:

sudo ln -s /dev/sr0 /dev/dvd

I learned this here.

It's been a while since I learned about creating links with "ln". More info here: Q & A: The difference between hard and soft links.

Linux Mint Find Kernel Version/Determine Kernel Version

If you want to know your Linux kernel version, open a terminal window and type:

uname -a

For example, I'm running Linux Mint Maya and I get the following output:

Linux computer 3.2.0-23-generic #36-Ubuntu SMP Tue Apr 10 20:41:14 UTC 2012 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

That means my kernel is version 3.2.0-23.

Incidentally, I recently found this list of useful commands for system info, I will have to check some of them out over the coming days!

uname -r
rfkill list

EDIMax ew-7811un driver Linux Mint/Ubuntu Wireless LAN 8192 Realtek

Well I just had one heck of a learning experience just now!

You recall that the latest Linux Mint wouldn't work with my wireless USB dongle, nor with my mobile broadband dongle. So I went back to the latest LTS release (Maya) which works with my mobile broadband fine.

However, my wireless STILL did not work. I got it working once for a handful of minutes before it stopped. But mostly it would just keep trying to connect with no success.

Anyway, I got round to googling this and apparently this is a known issue. Normally, the native wireless drivers with Linux are supposed to be pretty good but in this case not so!

The native driver is a "module" called rtl8192cu. It must be removed and replaced, in this case with one called 8192cu.

I found a lot of sources of info on this, links will follow but here is my simplified explanation.

First, you can see the wrong driver in action if you use command lsmod which shows all currently loaded modules.

Pull the USB thing out and manually unload the module too using terminal window command:

sudo modprobe -r rtl8192cu

Also, blacklist this module so it never gets loaded again. You need to edit the file:


Add the lines:

# Blacklist native RealTek 8188CUs drivers
blacklist rtl8192cu
blacklist rtl8192c_common
blacklist rtlwifi

By the way, it's the first time I edited a file, it wouldn't let me! gedit is like the "Notepad" of Linux. You need to launch it with admin rights by typing into a Terminal window:

sudo grep

Then go and open that file and edit as mentioned.

OK that's the dodgy driver taken care of. Now to download the new one.

Forget the EDIMAX site, the driver there is old. You can go to the Realtek site instead. The link to the driver is here.

I found it and it was called ""

However, all the links are to FTP sites and my ISP blocks them! I found them at two other places:

the first one incidentally has a good explanation of what we are doing right now, too!

You can unzip them by opening a Terminal window and typing:


I was worried that these files might not be legit but the first link is to a guy who works at a university in the public sphere, I figure that this file must be legit. In any case, the MD5 checksum for both is:


meaning these files are identical from both sources so most likely the real deal.

Incidentally, in Linux you don't need to download a program to run a checksum, simply go to a folder and type:

md5 *

and it shows all the checksums for you. Pretty neat, eh?

The idea then goes to find a file inside the extracted folder called

As typically for many Linux installations, you have to run this with some kind of admin rights, so the right command is:

sudo bash

I was about to do this but read that when the Linux kernel is updated (think of it as like going from Windows XP SP2 to SP3) that you have to run this again. I then read some more and apparently you need a patch when you hit Linux kernel version 3.11.

So I checked my kernel version using a cool command:

uname -a

I had kernel 3.2. So I am well away from having to do patching and all that business. What's more, I found a package that will automatically stop me having to reload this driver with each kernel update, all the way up to 3.11. So I installed this instead.

Check it out, it's a cool installer package (.deb): Wireless Drivers package by Tim.

Then I plugged the USB dongle back in and it worked a treat! The wireless connected quickly. Incidentally, before I had some strange signal strengths showing such as a far away router being full strength and a nearby one having nothing. But with the new driver, the signal strengths are accurate!

If I run lsmod, I can now see the new 8192cu module listed. It loads automatically when I insert the USB device. I read somewhere you can also load it manually with command:

sudo modprobe 8192cu

However, it's not necessary. I also read somewhere you need to add to a file called "/etc/modules" the word "8192cu" so that it loads after a reboot. However, I found that this simply isn't necessary. But if you get problems, feel free to do that.


  1. take out the dongle and check for the old module, disable it if it's still running
  2. run the installer package
  3. put the dongle back in, check the new module is running then run your new wireless driver!
These links were REALLY useful to me:

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