Saturday, September 23, 2017

OpenDNS IP Updater for Dynamic Networks - ddclient in Debian

I've been trying out OpenDNS's web content filtering. This computer is used (stress tested!) by two children, and I didn't want them straying onto any nasty sites.

The only problem is that my ISP gives me a dynamic IP address- which changes now and then, and when it does, content filtering stops.

Somebody suggested a Linux IP updater.

The updater uses ddclient, so the first thing to do is to install that from the Debian repository. The installer offers a lot of configuration options, but just click through those because you're going to add a custom configuration file from the link above, replacing the one that is written to the etc/ddclient.conf file.

These are the configuration settings I used:
## account-configuration
DNS-O-Matic is an OpenDNS service that detects your IP address- which is then fed to the OpenDNS server and updated if it has changed. (You change the checking interval by editing /etc/default/ddclient).

(In Debian at least the default setting seems to be for ddclient to run as a daemon, and there doesn't appear to be a need to add anything to start it.)

Login=the email address that serves as your OpenDNS login:

Password=your OpenDNS password, inside single quotes:'password$' (Apparently ddclient is written in Perl and special characters must be in quotes in Perl, and OpenDNS insists on at least one special character in password.) *see warning below.

opendns_network_label is the name you have given to your network on the OpenDNS settings page: for me it was Home. (NB If you have spaces in your network label, they must be replaced by underscores.)

So the final three lines were:
You can test if the updater is working by running
# ddclient -verbose -file /etc/ddclient.conf
For me the updater didn't work at first- my IP address changed but OpenDNS wasn't updated.The above command gave the following error message:
updating: authorization failed Unauthorized FAILED
After an hour or two of Googling, I eventually stumbled upon a solution at DynDNS Community Forum: *apparently ddclient doesn't handle special characters well (even in quotes), and I had several in mine.

I changed my password for something with only one special character (a boring old $- they seem to be acceptable), and my IP address was updated in the OpenDNS settings, so everything seems to be working OK now.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Can't reply to comments in Blogger?

You'll need to enable third party cookies.


In Google Chrome, you can add an exception for third party cookies in Privacy > Content settings, rather than allowing all.
In Firefox I found that it was Privacy Badger causing the problem by blocking the cookies. Moving the slider to Allow fixed the problem.
I had already allowed third party cookies in Firefox, because blocking them caused a problem on a particular website (can't remember where), but it is also possible to block them and add exceptions in Preferences >Privacy > History > Use custom settings for history.

Update 2:

If you have blocked third party cookies in Firefox, add an exception for
Note: https

Stop code: NTFS file system

"Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart."

Over and over again- the dreaded boot loop.

Here's how to fix it*. (The bad news is you'll need access to another Windows 10 computer, assuming you haven't already created a Windows 10 installation DVD or USB drive.)
  • Set the computer to boot from USB or DVD, depending on the media you created, either from the BIOS, or by tapping F8 while booting, which on this computer gave me boot medium options.
  • Boot from the Windows Media DVD or USB drive you created. 
  • Click on Repair your computer at the bottom left of the window. 
  • Click on Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command prompt
  • Type in "diskpart" and wait a few seconds. 
  • In Diskpart, enter "list vol". 
  • Look for the volume label of the main partition on the HD- it will be NTFS and many GB. On this computer it was E.
  • Type "exit" to get out of Diskpart. Run Chkdsk on the main partition. In this case it was "chkdsk e: /f"
Thanks to td512 at superuser for the info which helped me identify the correct drive letter to use.

* The root cause may be an interrupted power supply or a failing hard drive. In this case I suspect a faulty power cable. If disk errors are the result of a failing hard drive, the fix may be temporary.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Low volume on YouTube in Firefox on Debian Stretch

I was watching a couple of videos on YouTube today, and noticed that the volume was very low, even with the volume controls in YouTube and Gnome turned up to full.

I found the solution was to go to Sound settings and click on the Application tab. Firefox output is via CubebUtils, the level of which was set much lower than the main output volume.
Raising the output level of CubebUtils until it matched the main output volume resulted in a much louder volume, with CubebUtils output rising and falling in sync with the main volume control up to 100%.
I don't know whether the low output setting for CubebUtils was the result of one of the less technically minded users of this computer meddling with the settings (one of the main users is only three!), or the result of an update to Firefox or Debian, but if you too are suffering from the same issue, maybe this post will help.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Battery critical settings in Gnome

There used to be a setting in Gnome Power Management Preferences which would change the action when the battery was critically low: suspend, hibernate, shutdown.

If you have looked for such a setting today in Gnome 3, because, for example, your laptop doesn't come out of suspend, you won't have found one.

You might have looked on the internet for how to change the setting, and found advice to use dconf-editor and browse to org > gnome > settings-daemon > plugins > power, only to find that there is no setting for critical battery action any more.

If you are lucky, you might have put the right search terms into the search engine of your choice and found that you now have to edit /etc/UPower/UPower.conf.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bluetooth in Debian Testing (Stretch)

I wrote previously about how Bluetooth file transfer from an Android mobile phone doesn't work in Debian Testing (Stretch), and gave a workaround I'd found.

The issue is a release critical bug, still open at the time of writing. However, there is a permanent fix available.

Obviously if you are installing Debian Stretch after this date, the bug may have been fixed, but here is the fix for anybody who needs it:

# systemctl --global enable obex

 Arch Linux forum was where I found it- thanks go to them.

For me, file transfer does not work unless I have the Bluetooth settings dialogue window open.
As the Gnome help for Bluetooth doesn't seem to have been updated since Gnome 2 (!), I have no idea whether this is a bug or a feature.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Debian stickers

I bought some Debian stickers a few years ago for my laptops, and wanted to get one for my new computer, but the company I purchased them from doesn't seem to exist any more.

I found another company selling them, but the minimum order was just under $10- too much to pay.

Then I found what I wanted on Ebay for just over a quid, including postage.