A LinuxBIOS!

So - think you can install Linux on your toaster? how about your [insert devicename here].

Oh yeah?! well how about lower level? How about the Bios? Why in the world would linux run in the Bios? Well check out these links:

Welcome to LinuxBIOS

First desktop motherboard supported by LinuxBIOS: GIGABYTE M57SLI-S4

A small piece of mind and network security. IPCop Install Review

I have been using IPCop for some time. However not to its fullest extent. I have recently upgraded my ISP and am of a mind to try more things and branch out. To me, the obvious first step to that is expanding the capabilities of my firewall and router. I had decided that I had grown beyond the capabilitis of DD-WRT and so I needed something with a little (only a little) more "oomph"

My kit includes an old box I had laying around ($100 off craigslist a year ago):

512 RAM


20Gig Drive

3 10/100 Ethernet cards


And a freshly burnt .iso of IPCop 1.4.13...

First a background:

IPCop is a derivitave of Smoothwall, another great firewall product. Indeed, I used smoothwall for a time before switching to IPCop, no real reason other than I was interested in setting up a VPN and there was a VPN server module available for IPCop.

Read more about IPCop:

IPCop Homepage

HowToForge.com: Perfect Linux Firewall


One of the things I like about IPCop is that it is very adaptable to different situations. Not just the fact that it is linux, but that it can accept add-on modules. I plan on installing CopFilter (one of those add-on modules I mentioned). And have in the past used the OpenVPN module with secure an stable success.

So I pop in the freshly burnt IPCop install cd (I love the smell of CD Burning in the morning) and it warns me that my disk will be wiped, which is fine, i expected as much, and then proceeds to lead me through my configuration options.

I took the RED+GREEN+ORANGE option because I have plans for my growing home network that include the need for a DMZ separation from my local machines. It was quite simple and very intuitive. It wasn't a "graphical" install but used text based graphics and I used the TAB key a lot - which has never bothered me. Setup was quite painless and when I rebooted I remembered the handy feature of causing the PC Speaker to sing a little song to let me know it was up and running. At first I wondered why - then I realized there were probably a lot of "headless" installs out there. Little things like that impress me, what can I say?

Overall I'd say IPCop was pretty easy to get up and running. It works well out of the box and offers loads of other features that I had found useful. One of which is that it has an option to turn itself into a DNS server for name resolution. So when I am setting up client machines I dont need to know the nameserver addresses of my ISP - i just hit my IPCops ip for name resolution. I like simple.

It also can act as a time server to keep the client boxes on-time.

Another few handy features I'm sure some will apprecaite is the proxy and dyndns. Of course these days routers need to update hostnames, and IPCop is no exception, comes built in with a DynDns updater. It also comes with a proxy page that I have not played with. From the look of it one can get an account on any proxy server and the IPCop will log into it with your supplied info and route all traffic through your proxy.

One of the more valuable aspects is the ability to do intrusion detection. IPCop comes with Snort. It has a section devoted to its logs and the ability to update Snort's intrusion detection rules very simply. It is based on an "Oink code" you can get from the Snort website. Step one in network security is discovering attacks. Snort is a very valuable tool for this.


My next step will be to install virtual servers on the DMZ and see how they run with the green network. I am considering Xen with VMWare as a plan "B". More updates to follow...


Triple Boot Blues

I goofed and zaped my Vista Partition last night.

i had the four partitions in the following order[GBs]:
OSX[50], UBUNTU[11] ,VISTA[29], SWAP[01], FreeSpace[05].
I wanted to change the order such that
VISTA[50], OSX[30],UBUNTU[15], SWAP[01].

I ended up zapping Vista. Surprisingly, some of the partition utils were able to recover something, but it was a previous partition that i had PRIOR to tri-booting. I know, odd.

So then I reinstall Vista and Office 2k7. Everything is great, 'cept for the whole MBR/Boot Loader replacement. Then I Install OSX 10.4.8 and i had totally forgotten the work around to getting OSX to install on a PC. Luckily it came back to me when i was calmer. I apply the workaround, which comprises of setting up a partition in fat32 in a partition util and then having OSX "Erase" it. It will then show up as space that you can install ISX on. I do that and i notice that I clicked on the 11GB partition (my Ubuntu install) instead of the resized 28GB partition. Grrrr, well any OSX is done, but now a new MBR/Bootloader takes over. So now i have to reinstall ALL of ubuntu(not just GRUB). I just finished, tested Vista and got this "winload missing" error. Turns out that either OSX or Ubuntu's Boot Loader reassigns the label for the artitions, so Vista was not able to find itself (lol). Quick fix, boot to Vista, go to repair and let it find the error.

Everything's good to go.




Since we're in the application posting mood today, I'd figure I'd post some of my other utils/apps here to see if they could benefit anyone. For this post, I am submitting for your review/comments my scrolling app. Originally created for my buddy Kamalot, because of the lack of scroll wheel his Mogo Mouse had. I was in a tabletpcreview forum thread that mentioned this lack of scroll wheel functionality and decided to create a scrolling app.

Title: Mo'Scroll
Description: Adds scrolling functionality to any pointing device.
-Download and run the latest build of the app.
-The MoScroll Icon will appear in the system tray.
-Hold down the right mouse button for x amount of time (by default it's 1 second, but can be adjusted) to get into scroll mode. once in scroll mode, mouse the pointing device up or down to scroll accordingly.

Code - Blademonkey.
Icons - Kamalot.
Testing - Greg, Daryl, Sean Tan, Digital Ruse.

Thanks Everyone!

Version: 0.6 Download

Version: 0.7 Download 03/19/2008
-Mouse will be locked vertically in Scroll Mode.

Version: 0.7a Download 03/20/2008
-Hold right mouse button for 3 secs to get into scroll mode.

Version: 0.7b Download 03/26/2008
-Added a timer option (default is 1 second)
-Changed the counter to be a count down.

Version: 0.7c Download 04/08/2008
-Added an option to change how to get to scroll mode in options.

Version: 0.8 Download 04/23/2008
-Changed Lock Scroll Mode counter to progress meter.
-Fixed the Hold Scroll Mode to lock vertical mouse movement.
-Added a method to switch trigger buttons (download INI).
-Fixed system tray icons to change when in scroll mode.

Version: Download 05/12/2008

-Changed Scrolling method (faster and smoother in browsers)
-Changed meter size
-Added Option to Hide "scroll on" text.

Leave feedback in the comments.


I wrote this app to try to address some of the issues of the Ink Desktop people are complaining about on this gottabemobile post:

Ink Desktop for Vista now available

You can download it here:

Written in AutoIT Script v3.2.2.0


If Ink Desktop is running, inkontop will set it as always on top and activate it.  This makes the Ink Desktop minimize all other windows (and is unfortunately necessary for the alwaysontop setting to stick).
If Ink Desktop is not running, inkontop will run it based on the information of the shortcut in the start menu.

If you have any questions, please post them as comment on this post.


Tri Boot Havoc

Let me just say that i'm liking the term I came up with of "Taggers" (Tablet Bloggers) from the other post, especially since there's a similarity between a tagger's graffiti and a tablet Pc user's ink. 

So anyways, I decided to kill of my XP partition in the hopes of getting OSX 10.4.7 installed instead.  I wanted to see how OSX would fair on my mighty Thinkpad X60 Tablet.  It turned out to be a bittersweet journey which

Much to my surprise, i had to do little in the way of hacking to get this OS to work.  A little bit of partition hacking was necessary for OSX 10.4.2 where I had to delete an existing partition and format it as a FAT32 for the OSX install program to recognize it as a partition.  Then I would be able to tell the OSX installer to delete the partition, and the remaining space could be used for OSX.  That's odd because if the space was available before OS, or if it was not specifically deleted by OSX it would not be recognized by OSX.  I guess only Apple knows how to correctly delete a partition, and they are not letting any of the other partition(er)s in on the secret {= ).

So back to the install, 10.4.7 did not have any such requirements, it detected it all in one felt swoop, which was nice.  I was, however, obligated to select the pentium SSE2 and SSE3 install options myself.  I was a little dissapointed that the installer hadn't figured out what I had.  I also chose something called JaS which seems to be something new to the OSX release, when i find out what it is I will report back.

So the install goes beautifully, almost too beautifully.  Usually a "beautiful" process is either under reporting errors or ignorant of them.  It turns out that the HFS+ partition is not your standard partition typeb that Grub (the boot loader I am using) can recognize.  As a result the only message i get is "grub Error 17" roughly translated "Cannot Mount specific partition".  And thus starts my trek into understanding Master Boot Records and Boot Loaders.  In my decade of experience, that is one of the most obscure inner workings of a computer that even the most seasoned techie will not be able to fully break down.  Mainly because it's a little disjointed, but i digress.

The grub boot loader wasn't so tough to fix, especially since i was able to do some googling from another  PC.  The reason of why grub wasn't working was a little more obscure.  In installing OSX, the order (or numbering) of my partitions seemed to have changed.  The original partition (Winxp) was partition 1, sda 1 or hd (0,1), it now became partition 0, sda 0, or hd(0,0).  This caused all of the other partition numbering to decriment by 1.  The fix was to boot to the live CD and open up the /etc/grub/menu.lst and change the old numbers to the new ones.  That seemed to have worked for OSX and Ubuntu, but not for Vista. 

Vista had it's own way of booting which seemed to have taken that new numbering scheme into consideration.  The problem is that Vista no longer uses a Boot INI and so it's not as easy to recover.  I also seems that the only way to correct this issue is to use MS specific tools from the recovery console (as opposed to being able to open the boot ini from a linux live cd).  So off the bat, not only am I not able to edit the boot sequence using a regular text editor, i can only do it from a vista tool off of the Vista install/recovery CD.  Lame, but anyways, I figured out that the old boot ini system was replaced with something called Boot Control Data (or BCD for short) and that there were a few bcd tools on the Cd i could use.  Namely BCDEdit, Bootrec, and BootSect.  The BCD data rested in a c:\Boot folder in a file called BCD (no extension).

BCDEdit will let you see what's inside the BCD file, I recommend backing up the BCD file as it may be the only thing keeping you sane.  you can create an entirely new BCD file with BCD edit, which i did.  Then BootRec will allow you to rebuild a BCD to point to an OS if it is detected, which didnt really work for me.  Finally the BootSect function allows you to reset all boot options to what they were after Vista was originally installed. 

After staying up 8 hours, the magic bullet turned out to be:
bootsect.exe -NT60 SYS c: /force
Grub, OSX, Ubuntu, and Vista were all back to functional condition, with enough spare time for me to get ready and head off to work, albeit with absolutely no sleep.