Monday, 28 November 2011

Setting up KVM on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)

After doing a KVM install on Debian Squeeze and trying to get a VM up and running, the hassle convinced me to go back to Ubuntu and their vm-builder package, which allow ones to create VMs relatively easy once the setup is complete. There is a vm-builder port for Debian, though that only works for building older versions of Ubuntu and I want to run the latest, Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot).

Starting with a bare-metal Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx) 64-bit, below is the list of commands and instructions to install and set up the KVM. Details on these instructions can be read in the Ubuntu community documentation, KVM Installation and KVM Networking:

  • sudo apt-get install qemu-kvm libvirt-bin ubuntu-vm-builder bridge-utils

  • virsh -c qemu:///system list (To verify installation, should have no errors)

  • sudo apt-get install libcap2-bin

  • sudo setcap cap_net_admin=ei /usr/bin/qemu-system-x86_64

  • sudo vi /etc/network/interfaces
    • Original file:
      # The loopback network interface
      auto lo
      iface lo inet loopback

      # The primary network interface
      auto eth0
      iface eth0 inet static

      # default route to access subnet
      up route add -net netmask gw eth0

    • Modified file:
      # The loopback network interface
      auto lo
      iface lo inet loopback

      # device: eth0
      auto eth0
      iface eth0 inet manual

      # The primary network interface
      auto br0
      iface br0 inet static
      bridge_ports eth0
      bridge_stp off
      bridge_fd 9
      bridge_hello 2
      bridge_maxage 12

      # default route to access subnet
      up route add -net netmask gw eth0
      up route add -net netmask gw br0

  • sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart

  • Running ifconfig lists the following interfaces br0, eth0, lo, virbr0

This completes the KVM installation and creation of a bridge for the VMs. Up next is replacement of the vm-builder. The one in the Ubuntu packages is faulty and also will not allow you to install Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot). So I updated to the latest, downloading the source, building and installing it. The steps below can be found in this accepted answer:

  • sudo apt-get install bzr

  • sudo apt-get install epydoc (big install here, ~400mb)

  • bzr branch lp:ubuntu/vm-builder ubzr-vm-builder

  • cd ubzr-vm-builder

  • fakeroot debian/rules binary

  • sudo dpkg -i ../*vm-builder*.deb

With that, everything is installed and vm-builder is ready to run. The easiest way is to use a script so that vm creation can be set once and repeated as desired. The only changes required being hostname, ip and maybe memory. Obtain the Ubuntu 11.10 64-bit server iso and put it in the same place as the script. The directory I used is ~/vm/basekvm:

  • cd ~/vm/basekvm

  • sudo vi
    • File:

      # Configure this before running the command
      # -- End of configuration

      vmbuilder kvm ubuntu \
      --destdir=/var/lib/libvirt/images/$HOSTNAME \
      --ip=$IP \
      --hostname=$HOSTNAME \
      --mem=$MEMORY \
      --suite=oneiric \
      --flavour=virtual \
      --arch=amd64 \
      --iso=/root/vm/basekvm/ubuntu-11.10-server-amd64.iso \
      --mirror= \
      --libvirt=qemu:///system \
      --domain=localdomain \
      --part=/root/vm/basekvm/vmbuilder.partition \
      --bridge=virbr0 \
      --gw= \
      --mask= \
      --user=myusername \
      --name=myname \
      --pass=mypassword \
      --tmpfs=- \
      --addpkg=vim-nox \
      --addpkg=acpid \
      --addpkg=unattended-upgrades \
      --addpkg=openssh-server \
      --firstboot=/root/vm/basekvm/ \

  • sudo chmod 700

  • sudo vi (Optional)
    • File:
      # This script will run the first time the virtual machine boots
      # It is ran as root.

      # Expire the user account
      passwd -e administrator

      # Install openssh-server
      apt-get update
      apt-get install -qqy --force-yes openssh-server

  • sudo chmod 777

  • sudo vi vmbuilder.partition
    • File:
      root 8000
      swap 4000
      /var 8000

  • cd ~/vm

  • ln -s /var/lib/libvirt/images/ images

The is basically a template script. You can modify it to accept console input so that you don't need to go and edit the file values, that is left for another time. The symbolic link shows the directory where the VM disk images are located once created. Below is how you would use it to create a VM:

  • sudo cp basekvm/

  • sudo vi Edit the HOSTNAME, IP and MEMORY as desired

  • sudo ./

  • virsh start myvmname

And that's it! A VM has been successfully created and started up. Give it a few minutes and then you can log in through ssh using the information in the script. If the ssh is slow to connect, try this.

Friday, 25 November 2011

KVM host with gateway guest using port-forwarding

Using the 3 rules listed here and below, a KVM host can forward all http and ssh traffic to a specified gateway guest VM:

iptables -t nat -I PREROUTING -p tcp --dport 80 -j DNAT --to-destination
iptables -t nat -I PREROUTING -p tcp --dport 22 -j DNAT --to-destination
iptables -I FORWARD -m state -d --state NEW,RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

To make it permanent, requires one to go through this page and use the following commands:

sudo sh -c "iptables-save -c > /etc/iptables.rules" (after applying the 3 commands above)
sudo vi /etc/network/if-pre-up.d/iptablesload

The /etc/network/if-pre-up.d/iptablesload file will have the following text:

iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.rules
exit 0

The KVM host will now have VM creation as its sole focus. Ensure the host's ssh port have been changed to make it accessible from outside, otherwise it can be accessed from the gateway guest.

All redirection and VM access are transferred to the the gateway guest. The guest will need to install nginx so it can act as a http proxy for other VMs. All ssh access use the gateway guest as a stepping stone to the other VMs.

Following the 3 rules, it is found the traffic essentially loops back to the gateway guest. This makes it incapable of reaching the other VMs. Applying 1 more rule after the 3 above solves this. The rule accepts all packets from the VM ip range and does not do any forwarding:

iptables -t nat -I PREROUTING -p tcp --source -j ACCEPT

Monday, 7 February 2011

A Certain Minimal QR Scanner iPhone app

A QR Code is similar to a barcode, except it contains more information and looks like a pixellated square Rorschach test.

There are a number of free QR readers in the appstore like NeoReader and RedLaser. I especially like the scanning GUI for RedLaser, which seems more streamlined than any of the apps I have tried.

A number of these apps use the open-source ZXing ("Zebra Crossing") scanner library. The library is in Java but has a number of ports which include iPhone.

To start things off, you need to download or checkout the source. Create a new "View-Based Application" project in Xcode. Inside the iphone folder of the source, follow the README on how to include the ZXingWidget project into yours.

Pay attention to the instructions, especially the direct dependency, header search path and the fact the file with the ZXing has to be a .mm instead of .m. If it does not build, you're probably missing something. You can look at the sample projects to see how they include the widget.

One last thing before moving on to the code, put the beep-beep.aiff file from the ScanTest project into your project. This is to get audio confirmation of a scan.

Inside the sole viewController of your project:

#import "ZXingWidgetController.h"
#import "QRCodeReader.h"
#import "ResultParser.h"
#import "URLResultParser.h"
#import "ResultAction.h"

- (void)viewDidLoad {
[super viewDidLoad];
[ResultParser registerResultParserClass:[URLResultParser class]];

- (void)viewDidAppear:(BOOL)animated {
[super viewDidAppear:animated];
ZXingWidgetController *widController =
[[ZXingWidgetController alloc] initWithDelegate:self showCancel:NO OneDMode:NO];
QRCodeReader *qrcodeReader = [[QRCodeReader alloc] init];
NSSet *readers = [[NSSet alloc] initWithObjects:qrcodeReader,nil];
[qrcodeReader release];
widController.readers = readers;
[readers release];
NSBundle *mainBundle = [NSBundle mainBundle];
widController.soundToPlay =
[NSURL fileURLWithPath:[mainBundle pathForResource:@"beep-beep" ofType:@"aiff"] isDirectory:NO];
[self presentModalViewController:widController animated:YES];
[widController release];

#pragma mark -
#pragma mark ZXingDelegateMethods
- (void)zxingController:(ZXingWidgetController*)controller didScanResult:(NSString *)resultString {
[self dismissModalViewControllerAnimated:YES];
ParsedResult *parsedResult = [[ResultParser parsedResultForString:resultString] retain];
NSArray *actions = [[parsedResult actions] retain];

if ([actions count] == 1) {
ResultAction *theAction = [actions objectAtIndex:0];
[theAction performActionWithController:self shouldConfirm:YES];
} else {
UIAlertView *alertView = [[UIAlertView alloc] initWithTitle:@"Text Found:"
[alertView show];
[alertView release];

The code in viewWillAppear is lifted off from the sample projects. This sets up the scanning video camera with the appropriate reader. If a scan is successful, the delegate method didScanResult will execute. The result is parsed to see if it is a URL. You set which parser to use in viewDidLoad. A parsed result can have default actions associated with it, the URLResultParser opens up the url in Safari as default. Otherwise the result is treated as text and displayed.

This app can now scan QR codes and open up URLs in Safari. There are a number of other things you can add to this, eg you can switch out the ResultParser with a UniversalResultParser that includes all the parser classes. You should take a look in the Classes folder of the ZXingWidget project to see what is available.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Setting up mail for your Ubuntu server

Need your bare-bones Ubuntu server to send out email notification and the like? Well, first you need to check what your hostname is and modify accordingly:

hostname -f

So my server's hostname is microdude, you might also get it as microdude.localdomain. You'll want to convert it into an FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name). That means I need to change my microdude to

sudo vi /etc/hostname
sudo vi /etc/hosts

The output of hosts: localhost microdude.localdomain microdude

Would now be: localhost microdude

Reboot and check that the hostname has been changed to

sudo reboot
hostname -f

After that, you're supposed to set up RDNS (Reverse Domain Name System), this helps avoid your mails falling prey to the all-powerful spam filter. You can check on this RDNS with dig which can be installed from this package:

sudo apt-get install dnsutils

This is optional, though if your mails start going into the spam folder, you'd best revisit this in the links provided.

Now to install the actual mail agent onto the server with a one-liner operation:

sudo tasksel install mail-server

The process stops at two points for user input. The first is to pick the postfix configuration for the server, select the default Internet site. The second is to set the main domain name, this should be already be filled with and all you need to do is accept.

Once finished, the postfix daemon should be running now. You need to know about two files, the main configuration file and the mail log. You don't need to mess around with the config file, since that should be set up correctly. The mail log is useful to check on whether mails have been sent or other information. Their locations:


Now you'll want to test whether mails can be sent out. An email can be typed out in the terminal using the mail command:

Subject: Do not panic, this is a test
Panic panic panic panic panic

Check the email account you sent the mail to and you should see that it is present.

Congratulations, you can now spam to your heart's content =^_^=.


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Moving Drupal from one host to another

You've got a Drupal site running and now want to move it to another server which is bare-bones. This server is luckily running Ubuntu, which makes installing the rest of the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack a one-line operation:

sudo tasksel install lamp-server

The install process will stop at one point to ask for the password of the root user for MySQL. Once the install completes, use the MySQL command-line client to add in the same database (an empty one) and user that Drupal uses.

Use mysqldump to dump out the Drupal database data into an sql file. Load it in the new database, populating it. You'll want to tar up the whole directory where the Drupal files reside (not forgetting the .htaccess) and expand it out in the same location within the new machine. You may (not) need to edit sites/default/settings.php or .htaccess for any host information changes. settings.php is also where you edit the database login information, if you decide to use different ones.

With Apache running, you should be able to hit the new Drupal site. It looks to be running but there are a few gotchas. If you are (most likely) running Clean URLs, the links don't work anymore. You'll need to disable it to get navigation working at http://hostname/?q=admin/settings/clean-urls, maybe going through http://hostname/?q=user to log in first. To set up Clean URLs again, you need to run this line:

sudo a2enmod rewrite

And edit /etc/apache2/sites-available/default, changing the AllowOverride None to AllowOverride All inside the directory with the path /var/www, or where the Drupal files live. Restart the server and you find that you can enable Clean URLs now.

The other gotcha is that the status report is complaining it can't find the PHP GD library. Apparently PHP library is installed but not configured so you run these lines:

sudo apt-get install php5 (optional?)
sudo apt-get install php5-gd

Lastly, cron needs to be set up to update the Drupal site. I use curl so the lines are:

sudo apt-get install curl
crontab -e
0 * * * * curl --silent --compressed http://localhost/cron.php

The last line is done inside the vi editor so after that, save and quit.

Congratulations! Your Drupal site is now running fine on the new machine.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Google Analytics not showing Firefox and Internet Explorer hits, only Safari and Chrome

If you find your Google Analytics is not showing any results for Firefox and Internet Explorer and everything is correct with no problems on the Javascript side, you might want to take a closer look at the GA code. It might be that all the code is in one script block like so:

<script type="text/javascript">
var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape('%3Cscript src="'+gaJsHost+'" type="text/javascript"%3E%3C/script%3E'));

try {
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker('UA-XXXXXXX-X');
catch (err) {}

The code that GA gives you to use is no mistake, you need to separate them out into two blocks:

<script type="text/javascript">
var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape('%3Cscript src="'+gaJsHost+'" type="text/javascript"%3E%3C/script%3E'));
<script type="text/javascript">
try {
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker('UA-XXXXXXX-X');
catch (err) {}

The first code block is responsible for downloading the ga.js. That file needs to be loaded up before the second code block can execute properly. If they are in the same block, the try code will fail and no exception or alert is given.

Below are three separate posts covering the same question:

The last comment here lets you know what to look for in troubleshooting Google Analytics. The GA cookies are named __utma, __utmb, __utmc, __utmz, and __utmv and if you do not have any of them, GA is not working.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Groovy Tutorial for MongoDB

Java Tutorial (

Since Groovy is based on Java, you can make use of the Java driver for MongoDB as well as go through the tutorial shown above. The code can be used as-is or modified to look more groovy.

Create a groovy file (mongo.groovy) and place the Java driver in the same directory. Edit it so the code looks like:

this.class.classLoader.rootLoader.addURL(new File("mongo-0.6.jar").toURL())

import com.mongodb.*

DBAddress address = new DBAddress("localhost", "mydb")
Mongo db = new Mongo(address)
db.authenticate('testUser', 'testPassword')

DBCollection coll = db.getCollection("testCollection")

BasicDBObject doc = new BasicDBObject()
doc.put("name", "MongoDB")
doc.put("type", "database")
doc.put("count", 1)

BasicDBObject info = new BasicDBObject()
info.put("x", 203)
info.put("y", 102)
doc.put("info", info)


for(i in 1..100) {
coll.insert(new BasicDBObject().append("i", i))

println coll.getCount()

DBCursor cursor = coll.find()
while(cursor.hasNext()) {

You can see it's just a rehash of part of the Java tutorial, the output will be a count of the number of inserted objects followed by the objects themselves.

The first line of code loads the jar file, this is useful if you're not looking to put the jar in a classpath or one of groovy's configured library paths like '~/.groovy/lib'.

Running the script is accomplished by 'groovy mongo.groovy' in the terminal. You can also type in 'groovyConsole' to load the console then opening the script and running inside it.