Elementry OS · Linux Distribution

ElementaryOS: An evaluation

I recently had to install Linux on my parents’ computer. They’ve been running Ubuntu with LXDE and were NOT happy with it. The desktop configuration kept breaking and sometimes, it wasn’t usable at all. I laid down some basic criteria for the operating system I was going to install:

  1. It must be intuitive and easy to use even for non-technical folks.
  2. No terminal. If I have to use the terminal to set things up, the distribution loses points.
  3. The distro must work out of the box without a problem. Basic applications included should be useful.
  4. Good hardware support.
  5. No trying to optimize performance for hardware. I decided to buy more hardware for better performance.

The fight was between Manjaro, Elementary OS, and Debian(For some Reason). Ubuntu desktop broke far too often for me to even consider it. I eventually settled on ElementaryOS because I’ve been hearing really rave reviews about it and I was unsure about Manjaro because I wasn’t confident enough that my parents could troubleshoot any problems that might crop up.

Continue reading “ElementaryOS: An evaluation”

Ansible · Configuration management · Debian · Debian 8

Installing and configuring Ansible on Debian Jessie

Ansible is shipped with Debian through the official repository. The Ansible version available through Debian repository is 1.7.

In this article let’s assume the following details for the machines

Server – Hostname: server, IP :

Node1 – Hostname: node1, IP :

Node2 – Hostname: node2, IP :

Continue reading “Installing and configuring Ansible on Debian Jessie”

Raspberry Pi · Raspbian

Installing Raspbian Jessie on Raspberry Pi

Raspbian is a free Operating system for Raspberry Pi based on Debian. The latest version is codenamed Jessie. There are 2 flavours of Raspbian – Raspbian Jessie Pixel and Raspbian Jessie lite.


Raspbian is available as prebuilt image from the official repository . The 2 different flavours of Raspbian can be downloaded from the following links

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Linux Distribution · Raspberry Pi

Building a Raspberry pi kiosk

One thing many people want to achieve with a Raspberry Pi is a functioning simple web kiosk. Combined with a touchscreen, it could potentially replace ATM machines. Yes, it’s high time we switched to low cost, secure ATM kiosks based on easily available commodity hardware. ATM machines and Kiosks mostly run a Windows XP (!?) on a machine that’s configured to launch only one application and in the event the application crashes, the system shuts down and sends an alert to the bank staff. This can easily be done with a Raspberry Pi. The system should have no problem delivering the complete set of functionality, should be fairly easy to deploy, maintain and secure on a large scale and hey, Raspberry Pi is so tiny, we’ll be spoilt for space inside the ATM machine. (More cash, Yay!). I’m not even going to elaborate on the savings on electricity (go figure!).

RPi awesomeness
By Chris Sheppard on Flickr

The idea of this exercise is simple. You start the system and you get dumped onto a web browser with a specific site loaded. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. If the web browser crashes, the system attempts to restart the browser or dies trying >:D

We also need this kiosk thing to be gentle on system resources. So we’ll use lightweight (albeit effective and powerful) applications. The ingredient list is as follows:

  1. Auto Log-in: nodm
  2. Auto X start: we use a simple .xsession file
  3. Window Manager: We’ll be using the full awesomeness of matchbox
  4. Browser: uzbl. Haven’t heard of it? You should totally check it out.
  5. Splash screen: fbi. Yea I know how that sounds. 😛

Let’s see how to set each one of these babies up

Continue reading “Building a Raspberry pi kiosk”

Information Security · OpenVPN · Ubuntu 14.04 · VPN

Accessing AWS VPC instances using OpenVPN-NL


  1. Amazon VPC CIDR (the /16 one) – is our example

  2. Ubuntu 14.04 instance launched in a public subnet with EIP attached

  3. EIP of the above machine – is our example
  4. SSH connection to the Ubuntu instance

Setting up the server

We are going to use a distribution of OpenVPN called OpenVPN-NL (http://openvpn.fox-it.com/) because it has more secure defaults than the standard OpenVPN installation that is distributed with Ubuntu. Also, OpenVPN-NL makes use of mbed-TLS (previously PolarSSL) instead of OpenSSL because of its compactness and ease of auditability (is that even a word?). Run all following commands as the root user: Continue reading “Accessing AWS VPC instances using OpenVPN-NL”