Network Manager

I came across the NetworkManager application yesterday while looking up some information, and wish I would have found this application earlier in my Linux life! NetWorkManager accepts HAL/DBUS events, and transparently manages the network changes for a user. If you periodically switch between wired and wireless network connections, or wander between wireless access points with different signals levels, NetworkManager might be for you!

Accessing services behind a NAT

I use the OpenBSD PF (packet filter) firewall at home to protect the systems I run, and to provide access to a few services over the Internet. The services I make accessible to the Internet run on servers in RFC 1918 address space, which requires my OpenBSD gateway to perform translate IP addresses and apply inbound filter policies for the services I expose. The PF documentation describes how to do this, but I thought I would share the setup I use in case folks are interested.

To begin, you should define one or more tables and macros to make your firewall rule file easier to manage. The following example sets up one table with a list of IP addresses we want to allow to access the services we run on our network, and one macro with the external interface of the firewall:

# External interface
$ext = “hme1”

# Define a table with acceptable IP addresses
table {, }

Once the tables and macros are setup, you will need to add a redirect statement to translate the DST IP address to the RFC 1918 address your server is using for each TCP segment that matches the policy (i.e. all requests from <work> to TCP port 443):

# NAT the DST IP in all HTTPS connections from
rdr on $ext proto tcp from <work> to X.X.X.X port 443 -> port 443

Now that the redirect statement is in place (you will need to change X.X.X.X to the external IP address of your firewall), we can define a rule to allow connections to the server that runs the secure web server:

# Allow HTTPS connections
pass in quick on $ext proto tcp from <work> to port 443 keep state

Once you add the pass statement, you can test connectivity by pointing your web browser to the IP address of your firewall. I could have used a single rdr statement to NAT and filter the traffic, but I like to split these up to make things easier to read.

AMD Opteron overview

If you are interested in learning why the AMD Opteron processor is currently the top dog in the X64 server space, you might be interested in the following Anandtech article:

The article discusses the K8 architecture in depth, and explains why hyper transport rocks. I have been wanting to upgrade my Sun Ultra 10s to more modern hardware, and I think an AMD solution would be a good fit (especially since Solaris FMA now supports AMD CPUs!).

Viewing NIC information from the ESX server CLI

VMWare ESX server has a bunch of command line utilties to display and modify the ESX server configuration, and the vast majority of them are buried in the /usr/sbin directory. One useful utility is esxcfg-nics, which displays the NIC type, the virtual NIC name, and the current configuration of each NIC in a server:

$ esxcfg-nics -l

Name    PCI      Driver      Link Speed    Duplex Description
vmnic0  02:02.00 tg3         Up   100Mbps  Full   Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5704 Gigabit Ethernet
vmnic1  02:02.01 tg3         Up   1000Mbps Full   Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5704 Gigabit Ethernet

If you haven’t had a chance to play with ESX server 3.X, I highly recommend pinging your VMWare sales team to get an eval.

Monitoring Linux servers with procinfo

I recently came across the procinfo utility, and use it periodically to view system utilization and configuration data on the Linux servers I support. Procinfo is a monitoring utility that interfaces with the Linux /proc file system, and displays data such as CPU utilization, memory utilization, interrupts serviced and information on the modules that are currently loaded into the kernel. The full list of options is documented in the procinfo “-h” (print a help screen) option:

$ procinfo -h

procinfo version 18 (2001-03-02)
usage: ./procinfo [-fsmadiDSbhv] [-nN] [-Ffile]

        -s      display memory, disk, IRQ & DMA info (default)
        -m      display module and device info
        -a      display all info
        -f      run full screen

        -i      show all IRQ channels, not just those used
        -nN     pause N second between updates (implies -f)
        -d      show differences rather than totals (implies -f)
        -D      show current memory/swap usage, differences on rest
        -S      with -nN and -d/-D, always show values per second
        -r      show memory usage -/+ buffers/cache
        -Ffile  print output to file -- normally a tty
        -v      print version info
        -h      print this help

To see this nifty utility in action, you can run it without arguments to get the basic display:

$ procinfo

Linux 2.6.16-1.2122_FC5 (bhcompile@hs20-bc1-3) (gcc 4.1.0 20060304 ) #1 Sun May 21 15:01:01 EDT 2006 1CPU [fedora]

Memory:      Total        Used        Free      Shared     Buffers      
Mem:        515816      509384        6432           0       21924
Swap:       522104          76      522028

Bootup: Sat Jun 24 10:12:53 2006    Load average: 1.83 1.10 0.55 1/63 5420

user  :       0:01:21.51   1.8%  page in :        0
nice  :       0:00:16.94   0.4%  page out:        0
system:       0:01:24.18   1.8%  swap in :        0
idle  :       1:06:15.81  87.1%  swap out:        0
uptime:       1:16:05.69         context :   350192

irq  0:   1136198 timer                 irq  9:        78 Intel 82801BA-ICH2,  
irq  1:       232 i8042                 irq 10:    183597 eth0                 
irq  2:         0 cascade [4]           irq 12:       310 i8042                
irq  6:         6                       irq 14:    110425 ide0                 
irq  8:         1 rtc                  

In addition to displaying status information, you can also display the modules, devices and file systems that are present in the kernel by invoking procinfo with the “-m” (display module and device info) option:

$ procinfo -m

Linux 2.6.16-1.2122_FC5 (bhcompile@hs20-bc1-3) (gcc 4.1.0 20060304 ) #1 Sun May 21 15:01:01 EDT 2006 1CPU [fedora]

Kernel Command Line:
  ro root=LABEL=/ rhgb quiet

220 *ipv6            19 *autofs4         16 *hidp            34  rfcomm          23 *l2cap           43 *bluetooth      
133 *sunrpc           5  ipt_REJECT       3  xt_tcpudp       12 *x_tables        20  dm_mirror       50 *dm_mod         
 12  lp              25  parport_pc      34 *parport         56  floppy           8  nvram           28  uhci_hcd       
 30  snd_intel8x0    82 *snd_ac97_codec   2 *snd_ac97_bus     4  snd_seq_dummy   28  snd_seq_oss      7 *snd_seq_midi_e 
 46 *snd_seq          9 *snd_seq_device  44  snd_pcm_oss     16 *snd_mixer_oss   75 *snd_pcm         22 *snd_timer      
 10  ne2k_pci        49 *snd             10 *8390             9 *soundcore       10 *snd_page_alloc 113 *ext3           
 51 *jbd            

Character Devices:                      Block Devices:
  1 mem              13 input             1 ramdisk         
  4 /dev/vc/0        14 sound             2 fd              
  4 tty              29 fb                3 ide0            
  4 ttyS            116 alsa              9 md              
  5 /dev/tty        128 ptm             253 device-mapper   
  5 /dev/console    136 pts             254 mdp             
  5 /dev/ptmx       180 usb                                  
  6 lp              189 usb_device                           
  7 vcs             216 rfcomm                               
 10 misc            254 pcmcia                               

File Systems:
[sysfs]             [rootfs]            [bdev]              [proc]              [binfmt_misc]       [debugfs]           
[securityfs]        [sockfs]            [usbfs]             [pipefs]            [futexfs]           [tmpfs]             
[inotifyfs]         [eventpollfs]       [devpts]            ext2                [ramfs]             [hugetlbfs]         
iso9660             [mqueue]            ext3                [rpc_pipefs]        [autofs]            

As with most utilities, you can also invoke procinfo with the “-f” (run full screen) option to get a full screen display that is periodically refreshed (you can control the refresh rate with the “-n” (pause N seconds) option).