Private VPNs

I travel a lot with my job, and therefore I use a range of different wifi networks. These are often secured in different ways and to different standards. Or they aren’t secured at all. I recently suffered a fairly major credit card fraud, and I don’t really know how they got the details. This has made me think that I need to be able to secure my internet activity on my own terms at times.

I have therefore set up my own cloud hosted VPN that I am currently testing. This allows me to encrypt my internet traffic between a cloud server and my laptop even if the network isn’t secure. Once tested I will post up how I have done it. My plan is to have three private VPNs, one in the UK (my home server), one in the US on a Rackspace cloud server, and one in Iceland.

Opensuse 12.3 KDE login/nvidia issues

I updated Opensuse 12.3 the other day. Caused a few issues, one was repeated crashes on login to KDE. I seem to have fixed it by adding my user to the ‘video’ group. These is also a fix for the following error.

GL applications report that they can’t operate /dev/nvidiactl.

I have had this error with certain applications trying to use the binary Nvidia drivers. Not sure if the fix is complete yet as the system seems to be a little bit sluggish and if I try to open nvidia-settings it doesn’t work. I will update when I have more info. I might re-install the nvidia drivers and see if that helps.

Update: So nvidia-settings does work, it just takes ages to open.

Minor Brainwave

I had a minor brainwave to reduce the power consumption of my home server. Take out the GPU and use the on-board GPU. This was only recently made possible by the fact that I changed my monitors and the new ones have VGA connectors as well as HDMI and DVI. Something I had failed to connect with the possibility of reducing the home servers power consumption. The upshot is that I would be unlikely to recover the cost of upgrading it to newer parts for a long time as its power consumption is like to be pretty close to any upgraded kit.

Opensuse 12.3 KDE Audio Problems

Having issues with audio on my new computer. It has HDMI output and an on-board sound card. KDE decided that it would stop playing sound and grey out all the devices. Arrrgh! Sound is frequently a sticking point with Linux. I use Opensuse 12.3 and this is how I force KDE to take another look at the system config to get sound going again.

I re-named the following files:

  • ~/.kde4/share/config/phonondevicesrcmv
  • ~/.kde4/cache-hostname/libphonon/hardwaredatabase

Renaming them makes KDE regenerate them, that got the devices back for me.

The control of the volume is still a bit flaky. it occasionally deafens me. 🙂


Computer Spring Clean and Updates

Every now and then you have to take things in hand and sort out computers. Its like spring cleaning, its also about as interesting as spring cleaning. I have recently got a new work computer. Long time overdue, but it was worth the wait. Should prove things massively. So, time for a computer inventory and some sorting out.

Retiring the old work machine means that I have an excellent case for my home server. It also has a much better power supply. The old PSU was having trouble starting all the HD up at boot and I wanted to add another 2TB. The new PSU and case is better, quieter and has enough power.

Possible upgrade to the server is on the cards. I think it would benefit from a new m’board and CPU/Ram. I am thinking a low power Celeron (35W). This would have a two fold effect on power consumption, as it would remove the need for it having a GPU (as it does currently), and the CPU would be less. Its main jobs are backup and music server, so its not over taxed. In the future I think it I will move some database tasks to it.

Current machines:

  • Work: Intel i7 3930K, 64GB, 120GB SSD, 2TB HD.
  • Home WS: 4x Opteron 8360SE, 32GB Ram, 150GB HD, 750HD.
  • Home Desktop: AMD Phenom II 1090T, 8GB Ram, 30GB SSD, 500GB HD.
  • Server: AMD Athlon 4050 (45W), 4GB Ram, 150GB Sys. 4TB Storage.
  • Windows Box: AMD Athlon 6000+, 4GB Ram, 320GB HD.

Possible upgrades. I have 3 500GB HD that I think I will add to the Home WS, I also have an ATI 6850 GPU that could go in that. The Home Desktop could do with a CPU boost, perhaps an AMD FX 8350. The Windows box is long overdue for an upgrade really. I just don’t use it very much at all. I am thinking of moving the GPU out of the WS into it. If I get back into music production then I might upgrade. That or I might save up for a Mac Mini. 😛