Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How to download EPEL packages that are retired

I always enable the EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux) yum repository on my Red Hat (and similar) systems.

However, some of the EPEL packages that I use freqently have been recently orphaned, then retired as per EPEL's policy. I found a way to download them manually.  Of course they're not updated but for these packages, I don't mind.  One example is nmon.  I'll show you how to manually download nmon even though it's retired.

You have two options.

The first one is to go there: (for RHEL7-x64).

The second is:
  1. First go to this URL.
  2. At the top, enter "nmon" in the search box, then press Enter.
  3. Search for the version you want.  In my case, it is the EL6 version, so I clicked on it, and it sent me to this URL
  4. On that page, there are download links for the source RPM and all the different arch.  In my case, the arch is x86_64, so I just had to click on the download link.
  5. A few seconds later, I had the rpm on my computer.  All I had to do is to use scp or WinSCP to copy it on the server that needed it, then run yum install for it.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Using Helium to copy data to another phone

Note; if you're using a Lollipop phone, look at the "Tap & Go" feature.

One very nice feature of the BlackBerry smartphones were the ability to perform a "real" full backup of your phone.  This way, you can either reset to factory settings or change phone without losing a single bit of data.  Now that we're using Android phones at work, I had to find an alternative and of course, it would not have to require the phones to be rooted.

I decided to try Helium ( and it did a good job.  However, I haven't found a good tutorial on how to use the free version.  I don't mind spending 5$ for a great application, but I thought I'd try the free version first.  The local backups were quite easy to do, but since my goal was to transfer the data to another phone, it was getting quite complex.  You cannot use cloud-based storage for your backups with the free version and you cannot tell Helium to send the data to the "real" sd card instead of the default location.  So here is what I did:

  1. Perform backup (many steps required here... well documented on the 'net)
  2. Copy "carbon" directory from my phone's storage to the SD card
  3. Removed the SD card from my current phone
  4. Inserted the SD card to the new phone
  5. Copied the carbon folder from the SD card to the new phone's storage
  6. Opened Helium on the new phone, went to the "Restore and Sync" section, selected "Internal Storage"
  7. Failure: Helium could not find any backups
I found another way which is quite simple: Use the Helium integrated web-server to perform backups and recovery from your PC.

  1. Once Helium is working, launch it an go to the three dots on the upper-right corner
  2. Tap "PC Download"
  3. Take note of the Helium Server's address (example:
  4. Open a browser on a computer that is on the same network as the phone
  5. Enter the address ( in this example) in the web browser
  6. You should see a web interface with a Restore and a Backup restore
  7. To perform a backup, you simply select the apps you'd like to backup, and then click "Start Backup". Note: your phone's messaging and calls history is located in "Messaging Storage"
    1. Make sure you make the right apps choice, because I don't see a way to decide what apps you restore using this restore (while using the app you can)
    2. I recommend leaving the "Backup App Data Only" box unchecked.  This way, the .apk are also backed up.  A lot easier when copying to another phone.
  8. This action will create a file on your computer.
  1. Peform steps 1-6
  2. You can either drag'n'drop a file in the grey window that is in the "Restore" section, labeled "Drop backup file here."
  3. You will see the list of the apps that will be restored
  4. Click on "Restore"
  5. You will probably be prompted by your telephone to allow the change of the messaging application, say yes.
  6. Wait.  It is quite long but you should get a message on your phone when the restore is completed
Pros of using Helium:
  • Does not require root
  • Free version usable for most scenarios
  • Backups of applications and data
Cons of using Helium:
  • Not very instinctive
  • Does not backup all the phone's settings
What does the Pro version offer?  According to what I've read:
  • Cloud storage for backups/recoveries
  • Scheduled backups

KeePass enforced configuration

I don't know why but despite all of my searches, I haven't been able to find a good tutorial on how to deploy KeePass with an enforced configuration (set parameters that users cannot change).

First, deployment: You can deploy the .msi and the related files using GPO, for example. But there is an easier way: simply copy the KeePass folder that contains the .exe to a network share.  Make sure only admins (only admin accounts, not your regular account). have write access to this share, all other users read-only. To do that you can install KeePass on your computer temporarily an copy the folder that is in the Program Files folder.

Second, configuration enforcement: execute the local version of KeePass that you installed for step one.  Set the parameters as you would like them, then close KeePass.  A configuration file will be created in C:\Users\$username\AppData\Roaming\KeePass\KeePass.config.xml.  You can create a copy of this file that you will name KeePass.config.enforced.xml in the KeePass directory that you've put on the network share. One thing left: remove the "<LastUsedFile>" section from your enforced.xml file ( If you don't, KeePass will not remember the last used database, forcing your users to manually open the last used database each time.  You can also delete the "<Items>" sub-section of the "<MostRecentlyUsed>" section and replace it by just by "<Items />".

Have fun!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

PC Engines APU plan

I recently decided to upgrade my home firewall (pfSense on a PC Engines WRAP) by something more recent.  The new APU system from PC Engines looked quite good so I ordered one unit of the 4-gig model.  When I received it, I tried a few things with it but lacked time.  The next time I worked on it, it was dead.  I create an RMA, returned the unit, and got a working one about 3 weeks later.  My original plan was just to upgrade pfSense and run it on more recent hardware.  My WRAP was kind of slow in the WebGUI (not that bad, I don't edit the configuration every day) and I don't think it could do a good job for an OpenVPN setup.  I looked around and also found other options for small factor computers but I decided to go with the APU when I saw that its processor had virtualization extensions.  I thought that I could try running another system, side-by-side with the firewall, allowing me to have a server that would always be on (I currently run cacti, nagios and other daemons directly on my desktop, which is not the best thing).  The goal would be to have an owncloud server at home.

The big challenge with the APU is that there is no VGA output, so the install must be done using serial console.  I had to install a tftp server on my desktop, and configure httpd to server the install files for Centos 7 and I performed the install via VNC.  Wasn't too hard.

Thes guide helped me with the install:

This website helped me to begin with Centos 7, which is quite different from 5 and 6:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Expect ugly output

Trying to install Talend using the installer and got this error:

(main.tcl:32009): Pango-WARNING **: failed to choose a font, expect ugly output. engine-type='PangoRenderFc', script='latin'


HP releases latest Service Pack for Proliant (SPP) 2014.09

HP has released its latest Service Pack for Proliant, the integrated firmware and software bundle which it will support for the next year.

New stuff:

  • Support for (at least some) Gen9 servers
  • Support for new Proliant options
  • Includes VMware driver support
  • Support for RHEL7

Thursday, June 26, 2014

New puppet book that I recently reviewed


If you're looking for a book about puppet reporting and monitoring, you should have a look at this one:

Friday, June 28, 2013

How to convert a file to a pbx-friendly format (8kHz, mono, PCM ulaw) with Audacity

  1. In Audacity
    1. Edit – preferences – import/export – When exporting tracks to an audio file – use custom mix (done once)
    2. Open source file (mp3 or flac)
    3. Select Project Rate (bottom left) → 8000
    4. File, export
    5. First time only:
      1. Select “Other uncompressed files”
      2. Click on “Options…”
      3. Choose Header → WAV (Microsoft), Encoding → U-Law
      4. On the Advanced Mixing Options, select 1 channel and add the unmapped channel to Channel 1 by clicking on the unmapped channel (it will get red borders) and then click on Channel: 1.
      5. Click OK
      6. Click OK at the “Edit Metadata” window
  2. Right-click on the output file, properties, summary, Advanced, make sure that:
    1. Channels = 1 (mono)
    2. Sample rate = 8kHz
    3. Format = CCITT u-Law

Thursday, June 06, 2013

New Puppet Book

This is a book that was released a couple of weeks ago.  You can find my name in the list of technical reviewers Puppet Beginner's Guide.