"Money" by "Images Money" on Flickr

One to listen to: “Salary Negotiation for DevOps with Josh Doody”

A few weeks ago, during a podcast binge, I came across this podcast (Salary Negotiations for DevOps with Josh Doody on the Real World DevOps Podcast). I noted at the time that it was really good content with great advice… and then forgot about it. (Oh, and it’s not just for DevOps people!)

Fast forward to today, when one of the Admin Admin Podcast Listeners (in our Telegram Channel) announces that he’s just gone for a new job, had been offered it, and was thinking of taking the job… but that they’d offered him a package lower than he was hoping to receive. My response “Say you wanted more, see if they can meet you halfway!” The main thing I took away from this podcast was that by the time you’re in the interview stage, the company you’re being interviewed by is *likely* to have already paid several thousand pounds/dollars/euros to have you sat in front of them, so if they want you, they’ll probably pay that bit more to not have to go through that process again!

Anyway, this is a great podcast for anyone who works for an employer, is thinking of asking for a pay rise‌ or is looking for a new job, and it’s well worth a listen!

Featured image is “Money” by “Images Money” on Flickr and is released under a CC-BY license.

One to listen to: “And we’re in”


If you’ve ever wondered why you’re encouraged to use different passwords on every website, here’s a perfect example. In this episode from Cybersecurity Firm McAfee, a not-very-technical presenter asks a Penetration Tester (someone who is paid to breach a client’s own security to prove where it’s weaknesses are) to show how easy or hard it is to get into his accounts… In the end the tester goes after this presenter’s Dad’s account… and gets into his Amazon account and his Facebook account in only a couple of minutes.

He also explains some things you can do to keep an eye on these things for yourself. In general this is a fantastic podcast to listen to, and I’d strongly suggest you subscribe to it because it’s not too over-the-top, it’s not pitched at the techno-nerds (like me ;) ) it’s just … right.

What to do when your Facebook account gets hacked?

Hello! Congratulations, you’ve been hacked! Oh, OK, that’s probably not how it feels, right?

You’ve probably just had a message from someone to say that your account has been messaging loads of people, or that there is stuff on your timeline that … well, you didn’t put there.

It’s OK. It happens to a LOT of people, because Facebook is a very clear target. Many many people spend large quantities of their life scrolling through the content on there, so it’s bound to be a target, and for some reason, they found your account.

What happened?

So, first of all, let’s address how this probably happened.

  1. Most common: Someone found your password. I’ll cover how this could have happened in a bit – under where it says “Passwords – Something you know” below.
  2. Less common, but still frequent: Someone convinced you (using “Social Engineering” – again, I’ll explain this in a bit) to let them log in as you.
  3. A bit of a stretch, but it does happen occasionally: An application, service, or website you use that is allowed to use Facebook on your behalf, got compromised, and that system is using it’s permissions to use your account to post stuff “as you”.
  4. Someone got into your email account (because of one of the above things) and then asked for a password reset on your Facebook account.

Fixing the problem.

It’s easier to do this from the Facebook website, but you can probably still do all this lot from a mobile device.

Let’s solve the first two. Go into the Facebook Security Settings page, where you should change your password and boot off any sessions that aren’t YOU right now (don’t worry if there’s LOADS there – if you’ve used your phone somewhere that’s not where you are now, Facebook stores it as a new session). You can always log back into those other sessions later if you need to.

The third one can be a bit time consuming: kicking off apps you don’t use (mine was like walking into a museum!). Head into the Facebook Apps Settings page, and start clicking the X buttons to remove the apps you don’t use. Every now and then you might get a message saying that there was an error removing one of those apps. It’s fine, just give it a second and then try again. If someone has got into your account because of one of the first two, it’s probably worth checking this part anyway just in case they did something else to your account than just sending spam…

You might also want to check out your timeline, and remove the messages you sent (if they were posted to your timeline) or contact people who have been messaged to let them know you lost control of your account.

If someone got into your email and started resetting passwords then you’ve got a much worse problem, and I can’t really go into it here, but, it’s probably best to say that if they were just after your Facebook account, you were REALLY lucky. Your email account typically has the ultimate reset code for *EVERY* account password, so it’s probably best to make sure that what I’m saying about Facebook is also true for your email provider!

Making it less likely to happen again in the future.

Passwords – “Something you know”

If you’ve done the above, but you’ve picked a password you’ve used somewhere else before, then you’re kinda setting yourself up for this to happen to you again in the future.

You see, the way that most of these attacks happen is by someone getting hold of a password you’ve used on a less secure site, and then tried logging into your Facebook account with that password they’ve snaffled. Want to see how likely this is? Visit Have I Been Pwned and see if your details are in there (the chances are very very very high!) and you’ll see websites who have been breached in the past and had your details taken from there… and this is just “the ones we know about” – who knows how many other websites have been breached and we don’t know about!

You can prevent this by not using the same password everywhere. I know. It’s hard to think of a new password every time you come to a new website, and how will you remember that password the next time you get there? Well, fortunately, there’s a solution to this one – a password manager. It’s an application for your laptops, desktops and mobile devices that stores your password for you, and tells you about them when you go to login to a website.

What’s more, that password manager can create passwords for you, not like “BobIsMyBestFriend1988” but more like “za{UHCtqi3<6mC_j6TblSk3hwS” (which, unless you’re some kind of savant, you’ll never remember that)…. and then tell you about that in the future. So now, you only need to remember one password to get into the password manager, and it will tell you about everything else! So, that helps!

There are two ways to do this – run an add-on in your web browser and on your mobile devices which synchronises everything to the cloud for you, or run a separate app and synchronise those passwords yourself. Personally, as I’m a bit geeky, I’m happy doing the second, but most people reading this are probably going to want someone else to sort out the synchronising.

Second Factor: “Something you have”

What if you accidentally gave your password to someone? Or if you went to a website that wasn’t actually the right page and put your password in there by mistake? Falling prey to this when it’s done on purpose is known as social engineering or phishing, and means that someone else has your password to get into your account.

To reduce the impact of something like this, we can force someone logging in to use a “second factor” – something you have, rather than something you know, sometimes referred to as “Two Factor” or “2FA”. You might already use something like this at work – either a card with a chip on it (called a “Smartcard”), a device you plug into the USB port on your computer, or a keyring style device with numbers on. Or… you might have an app on your phone.

If you want to set this up on Facebook, you’ll need to enable it. Take a look at their help page about this!

(And if you want to know about securing your email account, check out the “Docs” column on this site for instructions about many email providers)

Game Review – Kingdomino

Today saw a new game added to our collection – Kingdomino by Blue Orange.

In Kingdomino, you play the ruler of a single square of land, and each turn you compete with the other players to select which piece you get to play into your kingdom next. Each piece has a value on it’s back ranging between 1 and 48, with the lower rated pieces having less chance of increasing the value of your kingdom, and the higher value pieces (complete with crowns) helping each patch score more points.

The game is pretty quick to pick up (match at least one side of your tile with another piece you’ve played already, maximum board size of a 5×5 grid, the crowns offer a way to score points, multiplied by the size of the patch of same-land-types) and easy enough to play that my 3-year-old managed it. Two determined adults (Jules and I) got through two games in 30 minutes. The kids took a little longer (but not by much).

Make sure you have something to tot up the scores at the end though!

Podcast Summary – Admin Admin Podcast #57

I’m back again! I’m standing in (again) for Andy as a guest presenter on The Admin Admin Podcast episode #57- Live at OggCamp talking about getting Open Source products under support in a proprietary company. The “famous” Martin Wimpress stands in for Jerry.

As I said last time I was on there, the guys who host the Admin Admin podcast are a really nice, and cover a really great range of subjects about working as a server or network administrator. They have a chat room on Telegram, so if you’re interested in being an admin, it’s worth having a listen, and then maybe join the chat room!

Podcast Summary – Admin Admin Podcast #55

This week sees the publication of The Admin Admin Podcast episode #55 in which I guest present (and guest introduce!) about network infrastructure. I also answer some questions about using certbot (the free TLS certificate provider), about where to put script files on Linux and a bit about MTU (Message Transfer Units) – although that’s a bit outside my area of expertise, so if I got it wrong, let them know!

The guys who host the Admin Admin podcast are a really nice, and cover a really great range of subjects about working as a server or network administrator. They have a chat room on Telegram, so if you’re interested in being an admin, it’s worth having a listen, and then maybe join the chat room!

Using riot.im as a bridge to Freenode

Over the last few months, I’ve been using Riot.im (the client for Matrix.org) as my primary IRC client, and access to other end-to-end-encrypted chats.

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to use my “normal” IRC nickname on Freenode, so looked into how to do it. It’s surprisingly easy, but there are a few gotchas.

Making Matrix know your password

First of all you need to message the IRC bridge bot and tell it your nickserv password: !storepass chat.freenode.net MyComplexPassword

Next, you need to chat with NickServ directly and authenticate with it: identify MyNormalNick MyComplexPassword

Lastly, you go back to your chat with the bridge bot, and tell it your nickname: !nick chat.freenode.net MyNormalNick

If, in the process of doing this, you find you can’t log in as yourself, message NickServ and tell it to release your account from being protected: release MyNormalNick MyComplexPassword

Setting topics

While the bridge bot will let you set a topic (!cmd TOPIC #channel Something) this didn’t really work for me, so instead, I use ChanServ to do it for me: topic #channel My New Topic

Just remember that you must have ops granted to you for that channel through ChanServ to be able to make such changes.

You can also set modes for people, or the channel, ban people, voice or op them through ChanServ, just send the command help in the chat to ChanServ for more guidance!

And, if you’re stuck, feel free to come ask for help! I’m (predictably) JonTheNiceGuy!

Building a Dual boot machine running Ubuntu 17.04 and Windows 10 with full-disk encryption

This post has been revised since it was initially published on 31st March due to errors found in the resulting build. It was also missing details on the shared data drive between the two machines, so has been amended to include that.

** WARNING ** This works for me – it might not for you!

The outcome of this build will leave you with the following:

Boot up, go through the VeraCrypt bootloader, enter a password for Windows, or press escape to load the Grub bootloader where you will boot (K|L|X|)Ubuntu(| Mate| Gnome).

The Windows environment will be encrypted with VeraCrypt, an open source Full Disk Encryption technology, while the Linux environment will be encrypted using Luks. The shared volume (between Windows and Linux) will be encrypted with VeraCrypt.

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT ANY WINDOWS 10 UPGRADES WILL FAIL TO APPLY AS IT WILL NOT RECOGNISE THE VERACRYPT FILE SYSTEM! To resolve this, decrypt the Windows volume, perform the upgrade, re-encrypt it, then transfer the new recovery ISO image to the boot volume, following the method below. Yes, this will take some time. No, you don’t need to decrypt the data volume. Yes, you can use that data volume to shunt the ISO image around.

Step 1:Create your partition table

My partition table, for a 320GB Disk looks (roughly) like this:

Partition 1: 20GB – Linux /Boot (ext2, plus space for ISO files for random booting)
Partition 2: 60GB – Windows C:\ (NTFS VeraCrypt)
Partition 3: 72GB – Linux Physical Volume (LVM PV, Luks Encrypted)
– logical volume 1: 16Gb Swap (Linux Swap)
– logical volume 2: 60Gb Linux (ext4)
Partition 4: 156GB – Shared Volume (NTFS, VeraCrypt)

I performed this using GParted in the Gnome Live image using the GParted. Some rational here:

  1. The first partition also allows me to add other ISOs if I want to boot them.
  2. I have 4GB RAM, this gives me some extra space to allow me to hibernate, but also… 4Gb. Ugh.
  3. I then split my Linux and Windows partitions into two equal parts.

Step 2: Use Cryptsetup to format the disk

The following steps need to be run as root.

sudo -i

Step 2a: Format the partitions as LUKS

cryptsetup luksFormat -y -v /dev/sda3

Step 2b: Open the LUKS volume

cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sda3 lvm-pv

Step 2c: Create the LVM Physical Volume over the LUKS volume

vgcreate vg00 /dev/mapper/lvm-pv

Step 2d: Define the LVM Logical Volumes over the LVM Physical Volume

lvcreate -n lv00_swap -L 16G vg00       # Define 16GB Swap Space
lvcreate -n lv01_root -l +100%FREE vg00 # Define the rest of vg00 as /


Step 3: Install your Linux distribution.

Note that when you perform your install, when you get to the partitioning screen, select “Manual”, and then pick out the following volumes:

/dev/mapper/vg00-lv01_root = ext4 formatted, mount point: /
/dev/mapper/vg00-lv00_swap = swap
/dev/sda1 = ext2, format, mount point: /boot

Select the boot volume of /dev/sda. But wait, I hear you say, Windows has a well know history of nuking Grub partitions… Well, we’ll sort that in a bit…


Step 4: Make your machine actually able to boot

Go back to your terminal session.  It should still be logged in as root. We need to re-mount all the partitions…

Step 4a: Mount your volumes

mount /dev/mapper/vg00-lv01_root /target
mount /dev/sda1 /target/boot
for i in /dev /dev/pts /proc /sys /run; do sudo mount -B $i /target$i; done

Step 4b: Swap to the “Target” filesystem

chroot /target

Step 4c: Setup your volumes to prompt for cryptographic keys

echo "LinuxRoot UUID=`blkid | grep sda3 | cut -d\\\" -f2` none luks" > /etc/crypttab

Step 4d: Update the boot volume to use these changes

update-initramfs -u

Step 4e: Ensure Grub is also installed to the MBR for testing

grub-install --force /dev/sda1
chattr +i /boot/grub/i386-pc/core.img

The first part installs grub to the boot position, even though it doesn’t like it, and the second forces the core file to be unchangeable… I’m not exactly sure of the impact of this, but it’s the only way to do the next part of this process. The last bit makes sure that you’ve got the latest grub config files installed.

Step 5: Reboot and test

Just check to make sure the machine boots OK!

You should have a booting Ubuntu derivative with an encrypted file system. Awesome.

Now let’s install Windows!

Step 6: Install Windows and Veracrypt.

You should boot from your install media, when you get to the partition selector, there should only be a single NTFS partition for it to use. Use it.

Install the latest version of Veracrypt from https://veracrypt.codeplex.com/

Once it’s installed, go to System, Encrypt System Partition/Drive, “Normal” system encryption, Windows System Partition, Multi-Boot (accept the warning), Boot Drive “Yes”, Single Disk, “Non-Windows Boot Loader” – No, and then… let it go through all the rest of the steps. There will be one stage where it asks you to create a rescue disk. Just save it for later. Once the encryption settings are collected, it will do a test (which is basically just rebooting to the boot loader, having you put in your password and going back into Windows), and then let it start performing the encryption.

Once the encryption finishes, reboot the computer, enter the decryption password and test it boots to Windows OK. Then reboot it again and press escape instead of putting in the password. It will boot to your Ubuntu system.

So, there you have it. One Dual-Boot system with encrypted disks everywhere!

Step 7: Setting up the shared volume.

After you’ve got the Ubuntu and Windows volumes sorted out, next we need the shared data volume to be organised. You’ll need Veracrypt for Ubuntu. Use the following to install the Veracrypt package for Ubuntu:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:unit193/encryption
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install veracrypt

Once that’s installed, boot back into Windows and create a new volume – perhaps V: for Veracrypt, or E: for Encrypted – your choice, but make sure you create it using the same password that you used for the Windows partition.

Format this new volume with either NTFS or FAT32 so that you can mount it under either operating system. I chose NTFS.

Now, you need to go into Veracrypt’s Settings menu, and select “System Encryption Settings”. Tick “Cache pre-boot authentication password in driver memory” (be aware, this means that if your machine is compromised when powered up, the password could be recovered), then OK. This may prompt you to accept the UAC at this point.

Next, with the mounted volume selected, go to the “Favorites” menu, and choose “Add to System Favorites”. In the screen which comes up, select the box under “Global Settings” which says “Mount system favorite volumes when Windows starts (in the initial phase of the startup procedure)”. There will be a warning about passwords that appears. Click OK.

You may, at this point, want to move certain aspects of your Windows desktop (e.g. the “My Documents” location) to the new mounted drive.

On the Linux OS, become root, with sudo, and then add the following lines to your crontab:

@reboot mkdir -p /shared_storage 
@reboot veracrypt --text --non-interactive --fs-options=uid=1000,gid=1000,umask=0077 --password="YOURSUPERSECUREPASSWORD" /dev/sda4 /shared_storage

These assume that your login user’s ID is 1000 (you can check that by running the command “id” as your logged in user), that you want to use “/shared_storage” as the mount point (it stops Ubuntu treating it as a “Mountable Volume” if it’s not in your home directory and not in /mnt or /media). These options also mean that only that user (and root) can access any of the files in that partition (although, it is only you on this laptop… right?), which means you can safely use it for any files which check user permissions before allowing you to access them (e.g. SSH keys). I then set up a symbolic link to /home/MYUSERACCOUNT/Documents into the /shared_storage/Documents directory, and /home/MYUSERACCOUNT/.ssh into the /shared_storage/SSH_Keys directory.


The following list of resources helped me out when I was struggling with what to do next! They may not be canonical sources, but they helped.

  1. http://thesimplecomputer.info/full-disk-encryption-with-ubuntu – This is what got me started on this little journey!
  2. http://askubuntu.com/questions/161689/how-do-i-get-grub2-to-boot-a-truecrypt-encrypted-mbr – How to add the Veracrypt recovery disk to your Grub boot partition. Note, I do it slightly differently to this now.
  3. http://askubuntu.com/questions/711801/i-deleted-files-in-boot-now-cant-boot-linux – I may have done this. It tells you how to put all your important files back for booting purposes :)
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1yWbBIqh1o – Walk through of installing Veracrypt to Windows 10. I used this to see some of the terms after I’d already installed Veracrypt. I don’t quite follow the same route as him though.
  5. https://www.linux.com/blog/how-full-encrypt-your-linux-system-lvm-luks – Using LVM inside Luks for the full-Linux disk (this was why I’ve re-written this post)
  6. https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Dm-crypt/Encrypting_an_entire_system – Some details around how the Luks stuff all works

I may or may not have reinstalled Windows and Kubuntu about 20 times during this process, cursing myself for starting the whole damn process off in the first place!!!