One of the issues I talked about in an earlier article was about making sure the network infrastructure was secure, That is all the cabling and networking equipment was secure. Look at the following picture and tell me if it is secure.

Actually there is a passive network tap inside with a cable going off to a computer in another room. At that other computer someone is eavesdropping or what is known at packet sniffing. The network taps make it easy to record from what you type on the keyboard to recording voip conversations. They require no power and can be made dirt cheap. The only shortcoming is that you have to be nearby to take advantage of it. It would be very easy if someone rented or had access to the office next door to use this device. They might have to punch a hole in the wall to access it unless there is some kind of socket nearby.

To record what is coming from the victims computer, some one might use a program like wireshark. You can run multiple copies of it at a time to watch several connections. Ethereal was it’s forerunner. Now there all kinds of software toolkits  for network admins to use in there work. On major project is know as Backtrack. It especially excels at dealing with wifi connections.

Now a days these types of connections are almost obsolete, but you still have to be wary of them. There is actually some good uses for network taps to test software. Network switches are becoming so advanced that the passive network taps are no longer needed per se.

For a little more information see:


Well we took the Nslu2 and installed the latest Debian Squeeze. Plan to do a series on it. The first instalment is done. You can find it at In the second instalment , plan to use it for some home automation. From there the sky is the limit. One of the interesting things about the project besides running the latest Debian on the slug is that we converted two Palm pdas to act as dumb terminals. Having done that I plan to use them with the robot and another portable computer project


Time to work a little bit on Robopet. Had two goals. First was to get the spare Palm to connect to the serial port and second to install the lightweight Boa web server. Thought that this would all go quite quickly and then off to hit the sack. But Noooooo….

Had everything up an running on Robopet. Tried to ssh into Robopet and no go. Logged into Robopet directly and found that the Ethernet port was not up and running.

$ ifconfig

lo        Link encap:Local Loopback
inet addr:  Mask:
inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host
RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
RX bytes:0 (0.0 b)  TX bytes:0 (0.0 b)

Need to look at the network settings.

$ cat /etc/network/interfaces
# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# eth0
auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp

# wlan0

# wireless is disabled for now.
#auto wlan0
#iface wlan0 inet dhcp
#wireless-essid robotworld
#wireless-mode managed
#wireless-ap 00:00:00:00:00:00
# wireless-ap any
#wireless-channel 11

Ugh.. So I decided to shut the system down. and check to make sure the nic (network interface card) was properly seated.

$ sudo poweroff

Checked out ok. So I restarted Robopet. Powered up for a few seconds and died. Tried re-powering Robopet and it would not even come up. The power supply was promptly replaced.  Rebooted the machine and so far so good.  Back to testing the ethernet port. No go. Then I noticed that I had put the nic in a pci slot that I had noticed was bad. (Got the motherboard with a whole bunch of other parts for dirt cheap, so you can not expect the stuff to be perfect). Shut the system down again and moved the nic pci card to a slot that was good. Re-powered  the unit. Checked for the card working.

$ ifconfig
eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:00:00:00:00:00
inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:
RX packets:2194 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:1550 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:531663 (519.2 KiB)  TX bytes:231313 (225.8 KiB)
Interrupt:10 Base address:0xff00

lo        Link encap:Local Loopback
inet addr:  Mask:
inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host
RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
RX bytes:0 (0.0 b)  TX bytes:0 (0.0 b)

Eth0 was working.  Time to log into Robopet again.

$ ssh robopet

Robotpet would not take my password. So I tried using the ipaddress

$ ssh

All was well.  Now to get the Pda working with the unit. The Palm pda will not work as is as a dumb terminal, so I had to install a program on to it from another computer called ptelnet.prc using a usb to serial interface.

$  pilot-xfer -p /dev/ttyUSB0 -i ptelnet.prc

That was easy. First to test the port. Strange the serial port on what is commonly known as com2:. (com1: =ttyS0)

$ sudo /sbin/getty -h -L /dev/ttyS1 9600 vt100 &

$ sudo chmod 666 /dev/ttyS1

A prompt did not show up on the Palm pda. Now what is the problem? Time to log out and restart the computer to go into the bios. Went into the bios and noticed there were two serial ports, but you could only have one port working at a time. The motherboard was set for the second port which was IR only. Changed the motherboard to use port 1 and disabled IR. Saved the settings and rebooted. Used the temp command again to test the serial port.

$ sudo /sbin/getty -h -L /dev/ttyS0 9600 vt100 &

$ sudo chmod 666 /dev/ttyS0

The login prompt came right up on the Palm pda. Logged in and all was well. Beginning to feel like Sherlock Holmes solving issues.  Sshed back into Robotpet. Now I had to make the port available all the time.

$ sudo vim /etc/inittab

Needed to uncomment on line to make that so. (i.e. remove the pound sign)


# T0:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -L ttyS0 9600 vt100


T0:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -L ttyS0 9600 vt100

Rebooted Robopet. And the command prompt came right up on the Palm pda. So far so good. Now for the second part of the project.

Apache is a fine web server, but I wanted something real light that supported what is known as CGI (Common Gateway Interface) which meant I could easily program the web interface with batch or shell files.  Boa had been around for years and would fit the bill.

$ sudo apt-cache search boa


No Boa. So I went to the web to get the source code. Downloaded the .94 version as boa.tar.gz. This was a compressed file sort of like a zip file.Time to uncompress it.

$ tar zxvf boa.tar.gz

Changed into the boa directory and read the docs. for installation.

$ sudo ./configure;make

Yeah, I would be in business soon. Waited for a while for it to supposedly compile. When it finished there was no binary or program to run. Searched through the docs and no information to glean. Frustrated. Went to to get a specific binary. There was a new compressed file. There was a comment saying there was no binary. Downloaded the new file. Uncompressed it and  ran through the compile sequence. Still no binary. Super frustrated at this point. So much for the easy part I thought would happen. Looked around launchpad a bit for a clue. Lo and behold there was a binary. I downloaded the file and then installed it.

$ wget
$ sudo dpkg -i boa_0.94.14rc20-1.2_i386.deb

I went to the web browser on another machine and typed in the url of Robopet and viola there was a web page (albeit just a directory listing).

Index of /


Index generated Sun Jul 15 15:29:52 2012 UTC

That means it worked!!!!!  Now I can use the Chumby wirelessly to access Robopet and control it. Now to get some web pages done.  Hopefully I have introduced you to some linux/unix commands that may be of use to you in the future.  Later…..


Looking at my old web server hardware docs to see what upgrades it might take. Lo and behold, a slot 1 pIII cpu could be a replacement for the old slot 1 pII cpu. Grabbed the parts bin and whoopie there was not only a pIII, but faster than what I already had. Did the swap and now the web server is so much peppier. That was so successful, we upgraded another machine with good results.

As for the web server, we restalled it from scratch. Installing the web based apps is generally easy. It is doing all the configuring and adding data that is the hard part.

Going through some of the old wifi equipment, to posibly set up a wisp using a non-wifi switch and an access point. The instructions for the access point only talked about the gui. Being curious, I cranked up telnet and was able to talk to the access point via the command line. Seems there are more options that way. Wicked.


Working on someones computer that had mswindows vista. (for some reason I want to say visa instead of vista.) I had done every thing I could to speed it up without having to redo the system. Probably only the second system I have had to redo in many many years that was not because of software change or hard disk problems.Finally had it reinstalled  and needed to download something off the web. Started Internet exploder and it was ungodly slow even with the re-image.  Went and downloaded/installed Google chrome. What a difference like going from a model tee to a decent system. Grant you I do not use Redmond Washington products if at all.

Then I tried to update the system. it would not let me upgrade it. You needed a special program to update the system. The mswindows update could not do that for me?????????   I downloaded/installed  SP2 and still had the same issue. Downloaded/installed  a free virus killer, spyware and other  software. I had to get away from the machine. Gosh, the linux os so much easier per se.


My xbox went to a better place. The hard drive was till good possibly.  Went to use it with another machine and no go.  Come to find out that you have to have special software to unlock the drive to use it for other thing. How insane!!!!  Strike two Microsoft.


Kudos to Slackware (my first Linux) for having a bootable pxe server on their install CD. Have not tried it yet. Have some old p1’s that could sure have linux on them. Just need a server (no hd required), and a system that is pxe-bootable. Most older systems do not support pxe -boot, but you can get an image (from that can be copied to floppy, usb, cdrom, or etc. Take the server and the machines to be installed and put them on a private network. Boot the server cd and when you log in type pxe setup. After answering a few questions, you will insert the boot disk into the clients to have slackware installed and boot them. From there ust follow the typical install sequence. So the  systems can access the internet, I put a router between the private network and the private network. Be sure to turn off dhcp on the router, so the clients will not try to boot from the wrong place.


One TV commercial that really makes me laugh is the one where there is a computer graveyard shown in the background. The commentator suggests that is where your pc will go if it is not fixed by the vendor of the commercial. To be honest, most computers will not go to a graveyard if linux users have anything to say about it. Computer graveyards are meccas for people who re-purpose computer equipment.


Stromboli biscuit:

Good day.