Stuff I'm Up To

Technical Ramblings

Git – Version Control — October 13, 2017

Git – Version Control

We have a distinct lack of version control in the relatively small development team that manages one of our business applications. One of the main challenges isn’t really related to the developers, but to the vendor that connects remotely and “fixes” things without leaving any clue as to what has been changed.

So I came up with a sneaky plan to deploy Git onto the servers and manage the versions of configuration files used by the application. I can then capture any changes and roll back as necessary.

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Tomcat log4j Errors — October 12, 2017

Tomcat log4j Errors

As I’ve been spending a lot of time with Tomcat these days I’ve tried to clear out the stderr log of error messages. One of the frustrating warnings I had to deal with was this:

log4j:WARN Continuable parsing error 208 and column 23
log4j:WARN The content of element type "log4j:configuration" must match "(renderer*,throwableRenderer?,appender*,plugin*,(category|logger)*,root?,(categoryFactory|loggerFactory)?)".

The log4j.xml file parsed correctly and was obviously working as we were seeing log output. But this error had me baffled for a while. I checked the syntax of the xml file, ensured it was sound structurally and couldn’t for the life of me spot the problem.

Turns out the order of the elements in the file is important and must match the order of the string listed above. We’d got some logger elements after the root element. A move of the root element below the logger elements and the error message went away.


Fun with NTP — October 4, 2017

Fun with NTP

One of our Debian servers had a large time discrepancy. Turned out NTP wasn’t installed or working.

After I installed ntp I still wasn’t seeing a time update. Probably because I was more than 30 minutes adrift. So I had to force an ntp update.

Install ntp and set the servers in the .conf to match your ntp servers.

$ sudo apt-get install ntp
$ sudo vi /etc/ntp.conf

Then force a time update

$ sudo systemctl stop ntp.service
$ sudo ntpd -gq
$ sudo systemctl start ntp.service

The ntpd may take a while before dropping you back to the prompt.

Forcing Tomcat to HTTPS — September 28, 2017

Forcing Tomcat to HTTPS

As our environment needs change more and more of our internal services are being forced to change to HTTPS.

Tomcat supports the deployment of services using HTTPS, but many of our vendors have taken the easy route and just use HTTP on the standard port 8080. This is now going to become a bit of a hurdle as we now need to advise clients of the change to HTTPS and the port change involved.

Securing Tomcat with valid certificates is the start of the journey and adding a connector using HTTPS is the first step. Then we need to make calls to the non-secure HTTP site redirect over to the HTTPS version.

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Horizon Client Stealing my Mouse — September 27, 2017

Horizon Client Stealing my Mouse

On my Linux VMWare Horizon client (v4.5.0 5650368) it doesn’t seem to matter what choice I make about NOT Connecting USB Devices at Startup it still continued to take over my Logitech USB Receiver.

I’d have to use the keyboard and navigate the menu so I could get control of my mouse back. Thankfully I don’t have a Logitech keyboard that uses the same receiver.

It was an easy fix, but I don’t know why it does it. The permissions to the ~/.vmware folder and files all seem OK. IT’s an easy fix of just editing the file view-preferences and amending the line or lines as follows.

$ vi ~/.vmware/view-preferences
view.usbAutoConnectAtStartUp = "FALSE"
view.usbAutoConnectOnInsert = "FALSE"


Windows, Apache 2.4 and OpenSSL — September 22, 2017

Windows, Apache 2.4 and OpenSSL

In order to make Apache 2.4.27 compliant it needs the later version of OpenSSL v1.1.0. To get this you need to install the VC15 version. The VC11 etc. do not include the later OpenSSL and fail because they are compiled with v1.0.2

  Banner           : Apache/2.4.27 (Win64) OpenSSL/1.0.2l
  Reported version : 1.0.2l
  Fixed version    : 1.1.0

This is detailed in the 16 June 2017 change log, but is repeated here as a reminder to install vcredist_x64 for VC++ 2017 which is linked on the downloads page on Apache Lounge.


Apache 2.4 TRACE – Nessus plugin 11213 — September 21, 2017

Apache 2.4 TRACE – Nessus plugin 11213

Googling for how to close the vulnerability for the TRACE method on Apache 2.4 results in lots of responses that just use a rewrite rule to respond with a permission denied message.  Even the Nessus plugin output lists the rewrite fix. Nessus doesn’t use this for it’s scans, it carries out a HTTP call for OPTIONS and relies on the server telling it what methods are available.

RewriteEngine On 
RewriteRule .* - [F]

Whilst the rewrite rule may be a valid mitigation on Apache servers, the actual vulnerability warning won’t be removed from Nessus’ results.

If you’re using Apache 2.4 then there is a config TraceEnable directive that you should use to simply turn off the TRACE method.

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Android Trusted CA Certificate — September 20, 2017

Android Trusted CA Certificate

We have been tested by some of our Android Lollipop tablets. Adding a trusted CA certificate used to be as easy as visiting the proxy portal and clicking the install certificate button.

Now these devices come up with an error complaining that there is “no certificate in file”.

Reading a lot of Android nightmare posts about converting the PEM certificate to pfx/p12 using openssl and then rooting the device and delivering the certificate into the folder for the cacerts using the command line it turned out to be far simpler.

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OwnCloud, php7.0-fpm and Memcache — September 19, 2017

OwnCloud, php7.0-fpm and Memcache

When checking out the setup for our OwnCloud system it came up with a few cautionary problems that needed to be resolved.

The problems related to environment variables and file locking.

php does not seem to be setup properly to query system environment variables. The test with getenv(“PATH”) only returns an empty response. Please check the installation documentation ↗ for php configuration notes and the php configuration of your server, especially when using php-fpm.


Transactional file locking is using the database as locking backend, for best performance it’s advised to configure a memcache for locking. See the documentation ↗ for more information.

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SMB Insecurely Configured Service — August 17, 2017

SMB Insecurely Configured Service

For the first time today I ran into Nessus plugin ID 44676.

It highlighted an “insecurely configured Windows service”. This related to a Service Discretionary Access Control List (DACL), which is a whole bag of new to me.

The guidance shows how you can use the command line to show the DACL for the service it reported the issue with.

The following service has insecure group permissions:

Bacway Windows Service (BacwayService) :
– Authenticated Users: DC

More information is given here:

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Flash Update KB4034662 —

Flash Update KB4034662

Two of our Windows 2012R2 servers constantly failed to apply Windows Updates. They’d start deploying the updates but every time a reboot was required the updates would all roll back.

After several weeks of various members of the IT team banging their heads on their desks and the walls, I stepped up and took a look at the problem. It was a real doozy. Took me ages trying to figure out what was going on.

It all turned out to be down to one update for Flash player! We don’t even use flash player on any of the servers.

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VMWare Restart Guest from Command Line — August 16, 2017

VMWare Restart Guest from Command Line

We don’t have to do this so often. So when we do I always forget the syntax.

Login as root on the host of the guest OS. Find the numeric VMID of the guest and issue a power off/on command.

# vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms | grep -i "[GUESTNAME]"
Vmid                   Name                                                             File                                                   Guest OS          Version                                                                                                      Annotation                                                                                                   
114    PaymentsTest                            [Datastore-1] PaymentsTest/PaymentsTest.vmx                                               windows8Server64Guest   vmx-10

# vim-cmd vmsvc/power.getstate 114
Retrieved runtime info
Powered on

# vim-cmd vmsvc/ 114
Powering off VM:

# vim-cmd vmsvc/power.getstate 114
Retrieved runtime info
Powered off

# vim-cmd vmsvc/power.on 114
Powering on VM: