“You can’t run multiple commands in sudo” – and how to work around this

At work, we share tips and tricks, and one of my colleagues recently called me out on the following stanza I posted:

I like this [ansible] one for Debian based systems:
  - name: "Apt update, Full-upgrade, autoremove, autoclean"
    become: yes
      upgrade: full
      update_cache: yes
      autoremove: yes
      autoclean: yes

And if you’re trying to figure out how to do that in Shell:
apt-get update && apt-get full-update -y && apt-get autoremove -y && apt-get autoclean -y

His response was “Surely you’re not logging into bash as root”. I said “I normally sudo -i as soon as I’ve logged in. I can’t recall offhand how one does a sudo for a string of command && command statements”

Well, as a result of this, I looked into it. Here’s one comment from the first Stack Overflow page I found:

You can’t run multiple commands from sudo – you always need to trick it into executing a shell which may accept multiple commands to run as parameters

So here are a few options on how to do that:

  1. sudo -s whoami \; whoami (link to answer)
  2. sudo sh -c "whoami ; whoami" (link to answer)
  3. But, my favourite is from this answer:

    An alternative using eval so avoiding use of a subshell: sudo -s eval 'whoami; whoami'

Why do I prefer the last one? Well, I already use eval for other purposes – mostly for starting my ssh-agent over SSH, like this: eval `ssh-agent` ; ssh-add

One to listen to: “Jason Scott is Breaking Out in Archives”


This is a fascinating episode. Jason Scott works for the Internet Archive, personally hosts a large archive of historic BBS text files, and is an engaging interviewee (plus, he talks a lot :) )

If you’re interested in how archive.org works (including how they choose disks for their storage, how content is processed and managed, whether they keep spam, how many hours of “sermons” have been stored, etc), or what happens when you get sued for USD2,000,000,000, it’s well worth a listen.

One to read/watch: IPsec and IKE Tutorial

Ever been told that IPsec is hard? Maybe you’ve seen it yourself? Well, Paul Wouters and Sowmini Varadhan recently co-delivered a talk at the NetDev conference, and it’s really good.

Sowmini’s and Paul’s slides are available here: https://www.files.netdevconf.org/d/a18e61e734714da59571/

A complete recording of the tutorial is here. Sowmini’s part of the tutorial (which starts first in the video) is quite technically complex, looking at specifically the way that Linux handles the packets through the kernel. I’ve focused more on Paul’s part of the tutorial (starting at 26m23s)… but my interest was piqued from 40m40s when he starts to actually show how “easy” configuration is. There are two quick run throughs of typical host-to-host IPsec and subnet-to-subnet IPsec tunnels.

A key message for me, which previously hadn’t been at all clear in IPsec using {free,libre,open}swan is that they refer to Left and Right as being one party and the other… but the node itself works out if it’s “left” or “right” so the *SAME CONFIG* can be used on both machines. GENIUS.

Also, when you’re looking at the config files, anything prefixed with an @ symbol is something that doesn’t need resolving to something else.

It’s well worth a check-out, and it’s inspired me to take another look at IPsec for my personal VPNs :)

I should note that towards the end, Paul tried to run a selection of demonstrations in Opportunistic Encryption (which basically is a way to enable encryption between two nodes, even if you don’t have a pre-established VPN with them). Because of issues with the conference wifi, plus the fact that what he’s demoing isn’t exactly production-grade yet, it doesn’t really work right, and much of the rest of the video (from around 1h10m) is him trying to show that working while attendees are running through the lab, and having conversations about those labs with the attendees.

TCPDump Made Easier Parody Book Cover, with the subtitle "Who actually understands all those switches?"

One to use: tcpdump101.com

I’m sure that anyone doing operational work has been asked at some point if you can run a “TCPDump” on something, or if you could get a “packet capture” – if you have, this tool (as spotted on the Check Point community sites) might help you!


Using simple drop-down fields for filters and options and using simple prompts, this tool tells you how to run each of the packet capturing commands for common firewall products (FortiGate, ASA, Check Point) and the more generic tcpdump tool (indicated by a Linux Penguin, but it runs on all major desktop and server OSs, as well as rooted Android devices).

Well worth a check out!

Podcast/Talk Summary – OggCamp “Main stage ‘Extravaganza'”

Format: Five podcasting guys standing in front of an audience. No slides. Discussion. 200ish attendees

Audio: https://latenightlinux.com/late-night-linux-extra-episode-05/

Slot: Slot 9 Saturday (Closing Session) 16:00-17:00

Notes: My first main stage show. Two questions proposed by the podcasters and a discussion with the audience. Slightly waffly on my part, mostly because I was tired. I also was taking the “mic around to the audience”. Skilfully mastered by Joe Ressington.

Well worth a listen – I’d like to know your views on anything raised in the podcast in the comments!

Oh, and at the end, I tried to make a point, but couldn’t remember the exact quote – here it is: “Be who you needed when you were younger” – Brad Montague

Enjoy :)

A bit about my day

I’ve been inspired by this post by one of the leadership team at the company I work for to talk about my working day.

  1. What time do you reach the office each day?
    Around 7:30. I typically work from home, so it’s largely adjusted by what is going on with the family before I get to my desk.
  2. Is your job varied?
    My work schedule is typically the similar sorts of tasks for a week or two, followed by documenting what I’ve done the previous couple of weeks, and then a new task for the next cycle. It means you get long enough to work on one thing before being distracted onto the next thing.
  3. Is your job creative?
    It requires creative and critical thinking to work out why things aren’t working the way you expect them to, or to fix issues for people you’ve agreed to help. It doesn’t typically involve understanding graphical design elements, user experience or visualising customer needs beyond what Visio brings.
  4. What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
    Investigating vendor products, writing Ansible playbooks, supporting consumers of my team’s output and documenting how I’ve integrated the vendor products into the environments I’m working on.
  5. Do you personalize your desk?
    I have a podcasting microphone, an Android plush toy, a lego fencer, two radio transceivers and a cardboard Millennium Falcon. Aside from that, it’s all business.
  6. Would you describe yourself as creative?
    Not particularly. I don’t really have an eye for graphical things and I’m not very good at writing prose. I can grammar check a document well though :)
  7. Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
    Not that I’m aware of. My wife probably disagrees!
  8. Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
    I work from home and don’t work directly with anyone else on the projects I’ve been assigned, but have quite a few meetings with peers and managers during the week, so I don’t feel isolated or like I’m working by myself.
  9. How many hours on average do you work a day?
    I’m contracted for 37 hours a week, but I normally work between 7.5 to 8.5 hours each day. Overall, I’m probably doing about 40 hours. Oops!
  10. Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
    Email is usually checked for an hour in the morning, then anything critical coming in during the day is handled as it comes in, so probably another 30 minutes or so then. I’m usually on two or three 30 minute online meetings during the day, and there’s probably three or four 15-45 minute calls. Depending on the complexity of the meetings and calls, I might be multi-tasking on other activities during those calls or meetings though.
  11. Do you use social media much for work?
    Not really. I tend to do more by email or phone.
  12. What do you enjoy most about your work?
    Every day is a new challenge, and I get lots of opportunities to help people – whether thats colleagues taking the output of my work, peers looking for guidance in areas I have experience, or being able to help vendors understand how we use their products.
  13. What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
    I use Google Music to create instant playlists based on what mood I’m in – usually starting from something like Iron Maiden, Metallica or Linkin Park. If I’m not listening to music, I’ll be listening podcasts, of which I have lots of feeds to select from, or to my local Amateur Radio repeater (GB3WP).
  14. What do you do for lunch?
    Working from home, I tend to eat with my wife and daughter (when she’s not at pre-school).
  15. Do you socialize with work colleagues?
    When we have team meetings, I’ll go out with colleagues.
  16. Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
    No. My career has been pretty good to me – I started working in retail, specialising in radio products while I was at school and university, when I came back from uni, I went into an office, and learned a bit about sales and financials, and then ended up working for IT firms doing technical support, initially remote support, then on-site, and then for a helpdesk. I progressed from there into server support and then network security. The whole path has gone just right for me, changing at the point when things started to get stale or when I wanted a change. I’ve been exceptionally lucky!
  17. What is your last task of your day?
    Usually finishing up any unsent emails.
  18. How do you like to relax after work?
    I run a yearly conference and a monthly tech meetup. I watch TV with my wife and we play board games.
  19. Do you keep checking email through the evening?
    Nope. I used to, when I had an operational role, but now I don’t need to.
  20. Do you take work projects home with you?
    I work from home, so, technically yes. It’s rare that something from work intrudes into my home life though.
  21. What would you say to your 20-year old self?
    Nothing! 20 year-old me was a bit of an idiot, but without what he did, I wouldn’t be where I am today!
  22. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
    I like my job, so I don’t think I’d do anything else.
  23. What device did you use to answer these questions?
    Fujitsu E736 running Windows 10
  24. Do you use your own personal device for work?

Talk summary – Amateur (Ham) Radio – What’s it all about?

Format: Slide deck from a laptop standing next to a pillar in the open area. 10 attendees.

Slides: https://jon.sprig.gs/blog/post/slideshow/amateur-radio

Video: None

Slot: Day 2 (Sunday) Slot 4 12:30-12:55

Notes: Very quick summary of what you can do with Amateur Radio. Trying to encourage people to take up Amateur Radio from an Open Source mind set. Followed up with two attendees, one who was licensed, another who might get a license. Felt good :)

One to read: Automating backups on a Raspberry Pi NAS

One to read: “Automating backups on a Raspberry Pi NAS”

human head, brain outlined with computer hardware background

In the first part of this three-part series using a Raspberry Pi for network-attached storage (NAS), we covered the fundamentals of the NAS setup, attached two 1TB hard drives (one for data and one for backups), and mounted the data drive on a remote device via the network filesystem (NFS). In part two, we will look at automating backups. Automated backups allow you to continually secure your data and recover from a hardware defect or accidental file removal.

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This was automatically posted from my RSS Reader, and may be edited later to add commentary.