Caius Theory

Now with even more cowbell…

Bash script setup

Recently I've been writing a bunch of bash scripts for various things. As some up-front safety checks I've taken to opening every script with the following:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

[[ "$TRACE" ]] && set -o xtrace
set -o errexit
set -o nounset
set -o pipefail
set -o noclobber

Other things I'm also trying to be good about doing:

And some useful reading I ran across in my quest to level up bash-scripts:

Finding cheap Microserver G8 memory

I've been wanting to drop more memory in my HP Microserver G8, but hoping to find a cheaper alternative to buying new sticks from Crucial. I needed one or two 4GB sticks, but they had to be ECC of course.

At the time of writing (May 2017), Crucial's offering for the G8 shows a 4GB stick to be £43.19, and an 8GB stick to be £81.59. This was a little more than I wanted to pay, but I was struggling to find anything on eBay or Amazon UK that I could be sure was ECC, and also cheaper.

Eventually I wondered what else had compatible memory, after all this isn't a bespoke machine. It should share the same memory specifications as plenty of other machines. The spec I was looking for was:

After a little while of searching, I happened to find the previous Mac Pro (ie. the tower, not the trashcan) also uses that specification of memory. One quick search on eBay and up turned someone selling off his 4GB sticks where he'd upgrade his Mac Pro to 8GB sticks across the board. £29 for 2x 4GB sticks is better than I was hoping for, and once fitted in the Microserver they work flawlessly.

(The onboard management software warns me that some processor features are disabled because I'm not using HP Approved memory, but it also logged that warning when I was using HP Approved memory previously and the machine worked perfectly then. No doubt it's to make IT Managers who don't like warnings spend more money with HP.)

Raspberry Pi 3 as an emergency router

Given a dead router, how do you get back online whilst you wait for the replacement part to arrive? Grab a Raspberry Pi 3 off the shelf, along with a USB to Ethernet adapter and hey presto the internet works again.

This is with a fibre modem (FTTC), using PPPoE to connect out. Plug the modem (WAN) into the RPi's ethernet port, and plug the LAN switch into the USB adapter.

First thing is to get the WAN link working, get it talking PPPoE to the ISP. Usually this will be configured in /etc/ppp/pppoe.conf (depends on your linux distro). (That'll require your username/password for your ISP usually too.)

Get it up & connected, and make sure you can ping the internet from the RPi. Then it's time to get the LAN working. Give it a static IP in the range you want shared out.

# /etc/network/interfaces
iface eth0 inet static

auto eth1
iface eth1 inet dhcp

Get a dhcp server running on the LAN connection,

# /etc/dhcpcd.conf
interface eth0
static ip_address=
static routers=
static domain_name_servers=,

And then it's time to handle WAN -> LAN traffic and the reverse. Make sure you have packet forwarding enabled, and then setup the firewall to handle NAT and also keep out undesirable traffic.

sysctl net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

iptables -F
iptables -X
iptables -t nat -F
iptables -t nat -X
iptables -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -i eth0 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p icmp --icmp-type any -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp ! --syn -m state --state NEW -j DROP
iptables -A INPUT -f -j DROP
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --tcp-flags ALL ALL -j DROP
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --tcp-flags ALL NONE -j DROP
iptables -A INPUT -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o ppp0 -j MASQUERADE
iptables -A INPUT -j DROP

Hey presto, you have a working emergency router. In testing I found my fibre connection (80/20Mb) was slower than the traffic the RPi could push, so didn't notice any difference vs my normal router. (Although I did disable a bunch of automated stuff, so there was less contention on the WAN link.)