My name is Philipp C. Heckel and I write about nerdy things.
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Posts Categorized / Linux


  • Jan 29 / 2010
  • 0
Administration, Linux, Scripting, Security

WP-UN: WordPress version update notification with cron

WordPress is a very popular open-source blog software and is used widely throughout the Internet. However, with great success comes great attack potential: like any other wide spread open-source software, WordPress is target for frequent hacking attacks and spam-bots. All the more important is it to always update the distribution to the latest release.

As Debian/Ubuntu user, I am spoiled when it comes to update management: apt-get updates most of my software, and apticron notifies me when updates are available. For WordPress however, the packaged versions of Debian/Ubuntu are really old and less adjustable which unfortunately makes a manual installation inevitable. While there are several automated WordPress update mechanisms out there, I couldn’t find a simple notify-on-update tool.

This post introduces the WordPress Update Notifier (WP-UN), a simple script that frequently compares the installed WordPress version with the latest available one. If a new version is available, it sends an e-mail to a given address.

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  • Jan 28 / 2010
  • 2
Administration, Linux

How to: Postfix as mail relay with greylisting support using SQLgrey

Greylisting is a very efficient technique for fighting spam and can reduce the spam messages in your mailbox by more than 90%. It uses the fact that most spammers only try delivering their spam-mails once, whereas real mail transfer agents (such as the ones regular e-mail service providers are using) try delivering each message up to 4-5 days before they give up.

I have always wondered why most ESPs don’t offer greylisting for their mailboxes, but only rely on less effective and resource-hungry post-retrieval filter methods. Unfortunately, my e-mail provider is one of them so that I get at least a couple of spam mails a day …

Luckily, it is very easy to set up your own mail relay with greylisting support, i.e. a mail server that simply forwards the mail to your real provider once it passes the greylist-filter.

This little tutorial describes how to set up Postfix and SQLgrey as mail relay.

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  • Sep 21 / 2009
  • 8
Linux

Dell Latitude E6400: the Ubuntu fan and noise problem

A couple of days ago, my 4 year old laptop (HP nx8220) decided that it was time to retire and refused to switch on a couple of times. Even though it works most of the time, I can’t rely on it anymore and will therefore look for new notebooks in the next week.

On my journey through the Web I looked into the details of various business notebooks. I stumbled across the Dell Latitude E6400, which looks nice and has everything I wanted. Unfortunately, it also seems to have problems with Ubuntu. In particular, the fan seems to run all the time (and not too slow, but very loud) – as many forum posts and user reviews prove [1,2,3,4].

Since I couldn’t find a solution, I decided to ask the Dell support via their support chat.

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  • Aug 09 / 2009
  • 0
Linux, Office

Extract text from PDF files

Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) has reached great popularity over the last years and is the number one format for easy document exchange. It comes with great features such as embeddable images and multimedia, but also has rather unpleasant properties. The so called Security Features represent a simple Digital Rights Management (DRM) system and allow PDF authors to restrict the file usage. Using the DRM system, authors can allow or deny actions such as printing a file, commenting or copying content.

Even though this is a good idea for some situations, most of the times, it’s just annoying: Collecting ideas for seminar papers or a thesis, for instance, is almost impossible without being able to Copy & Paste certain paragraphs from the PDF.

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  • Apr 07 / 2009
  • 2
Linux, Scripting, Security

Simsafe: Simple command-line password safe

Nowadays, it appears to me as if almost everything in the big and fancy world of IT comes with the need to sign up and create an account. Every little online tool, every social networking site and of course every instant messenger account. System administrators hits it even harder: The setup of a server machine requires to create lots of different users for every kind of service, — be it Postfix, Sendmail, Courier, MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc. Most of them require some kind of super-user password or account.

This is where a password manager comes in handy: Open the password vault by typing in the master password, put in all you secrets and crucial information, save it and be happy. As if!

Almost every password manager I found on the Web was crowded out by details so that it took minutes to add a single account. What I wanted was something like a text-file with password — and that’s what I made: A simple command-line password safe.

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  • Oct 25 / 2008
  • 3
Linux, Synchronization

Unison & multiple hosts: “Warning: inconsistent state.”

As some of you might know, Unison is this great tool that allows bidirectional synchronisation of two hosts, – no matter which operating system they’re running… Well, at least the well known ones are supported.

Since Unison can also be used to sychronise more than two hosts, it’s perfect for big amounts of data that has to be shared in a team.

A scenario like this is possible and works for me: UserA <-> Server <-> UserB.
But of course, also other users could sync with the server. Unison rocks!

Today, after reinstalling his OS, my friend got the following error message:

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  • Sep 30 / 2008
  • 48
Linux, Office, Scripting, Synchronization

GCALDaemon deb-package for Ubuntu/Kubuntu

GCALDaemon is a great tool to synchronize many of Google’s services such as Google Calendar and Contacts with your local PC. Unfortunately, the installation on Ubuntu/Kubuntu and any other Linux distribution is still not the most comfortable. For this reason, I sat down some hours and packed the tool into a deb-package and additionally added a nice command line tool to simplify some of the basics.

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  • May 16 / 2008
  • 8
Linux, Synchronization

Unison 2.27.57 on Debian Etch and Ubuntu Hardy

The good thing about the file sync tool Unison is, that it’s available for several operating systems. This is great for groups working on different systems (Mac, Linux and Windows) but want to share and synchronize files on a remote server.

Well, the bad thing about Unison on the other hand is, that its backwards compatibility is anything but great, so that you have to make sure that everybody in the team uses the same version. And this can be tricky depending on what system you are using.

My home system is Ubuntu Hardy, the remote server system is Debian Etch. Both come with Unison 2.16.13 which would be great if not Apple’s new Leopard brings the newest version 2.27.57. Long story short, I needed the newest version on Hardy and Etch.

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  • May 15 / 2008
  • 1
Linux

Switch off sound on Ubuntu before login

Most of the Ubuntu users know the situation: You’re sitting in a public place, let’s say a lecture or a cafĂ©, and you forgot to switch off the sound of your laptop. Unfortunately, you can’t avoid the first short drumming. But by using the following command, it is at least possible to switch off the longer welcome melody of Ubuntu before you actually log in.

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