18 Dec 2009

Configure Postfix with Relay host and SMTP Authentication

So you want to do something simple like monitor your hard drives S.M.A.R.T status. You go to install the smartmontools package on Ubuntu and your prompted to install Postfix, and your faced with having to setup a mail relay, what a drag.

This is a simple walkthrough on the changes you need to make after Postfix is installed relay all mail generated on your system to an external mail server that requires SMTP Authentication.

When your prompted by the postfix package configuration choose Local Only, the wizard won’t let you setup authentication so we’re going to add the rest manually. Choosing Local Only will only create a basic main.cf for you. Once the install is complete do the following.

Assume Ubuntu 9.04

Add the following lines to /etc/postfix/main.cf

relayhost = [host3.green-light.ca]:587
smtp_sasl_auth_enable = yes
smtp_sasl_password_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/sasl_passwd
smtp_sasl_security_options =

Create a new file called /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

[host3.green-light.ca]:587  user:password

Give that file proper permissions

sudo chown root:root /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd; sudo chmod 0600 /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

Create the hash database from your sasl_passwd file.

sudo postmap hash:/etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

Reload postfix with your new settings

sudo postfix reload

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14 Dec 2009

Thunderbird 3 Released in Time for Christmas

Thunderbird turned 3 this month and has definitely matured. We’ve been recommending Thunderbird 2 for years and have been using the developer release of 3  internally for over a year now. It’s great!

If your using Outlook or god forbid Outlook Express (OE is a non stop virus smorgasbord, switch to anything else, today) you’ll want to download Thunderbird 3 and give it a try see the difference. It auto imports all your mail, contacts and settings for you during the setup. It does however take a different approach to “features”.  For instance, if you want a calendar visit the Mozilla Lightening Project to download the necessary add-on.

  1. Download and install Thunderbird 3, run through the import wizard to get your mail, address book and settings from Outlook.
  2. Visit the Mozilla Lightning Project in your favorite browser, from the nightly section choose which your Operating System, Right click and SAVE the lighning.xpi file to your desktop.
  3. Going back to Thunderbird click Tools > Add-ons > Click the “install” button and select the lightning.xpi file.
  4. Once the file is loaded you will be asked to restart, when Thunerbird is started back up you will have a calendar built right in.

If you would like an expert to help please call our support line @ 14036689184, support for Thunderbird is free for our hosting customers. For everyone else Remote Desktop Support is only $1.00 a minute, so take advantage of it. If it’s your a first time the first 10 minutes are free

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14 Dec 2009

French Military Using and Contributing to Thunderbird Development

Those of us who work in the Technology field daily see the value of mature Open Source projects every day. They are better designed, with tighter engineering and more robust frameworks and underpinnings.

The French Military seems to agree. When they encountered the need to build additional secure components for use internally Microsoft Outlook just didn’t cut it. I would assume their lack of transparency and the shear manageability of the Outlook/Office bloat had the French Military Software Engineers pulling their stockings up and running straight for the hills.

After branching their own version of Thunderbird into TrustedBird some of the advancements they made have worked their way back into Thunderbird 3, making it better for everyone.

If your using Thunderbird 2 today, you’ll most likely want to upgrade to 3.

  1. From Thunderbird Click “Help” > “Check for Update…”  you’ll be prompted through the update process.
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13 Dec 2009

Encrypted Monitoring with Zenoss

For years we have been using  Zenoss to monitor our managed systems with great success. One of its key features is the ability to use SSH to monitor remote servers. SSH by its very nature has been subject to  far more scrutiny over it’s life then protocols like WMI and SNMP, it is by its very nature meant to be exposed to the internet. By tunneling our monitoring over SSH we are able to leverage that security for our customers and our own peace of mind.

Getting SSH tunneling working in  Zenoss has always been a bit more work then it needed to be. Here is how we accomplish it, these instructions are valid as of version Zenoss 2.5, we’re monitoring an Ubuntu server in this example.

Assume: Ubuntu 9.04, Zenoss 2.5 installed via deb package.

  1. First you are going to need to install the required zenpacks to monitor your Ubuntu server completely. The Ubuntu ZenPack needs you to create the container /Devices/Servers/SSH/Linux/Ubuntu before you install it.
    1. You need the Linux Monitor, Linux Monior Add-on and Ubuntu Zen Packs.
    2. Install them in the order I’ve listed them previously by going to Settings > Zenpacks > Click the menu Arrow on the left and select “Install ZenPack…”.
    3. It’s counter intuitive but you have unzip the file before you upload it or else the install will fail , giving you a head scratching error.  Zenoss could do more to either auto unzip the ZenPack for you, or at least make the message somewhat informative as to why it’s failing.
  2. Once you’ve installed all ZenPacks you can begin to add the device you would like to monitor. Click “Add Device”  and fine the “Easy Add..” in the top right corner.
  3. After adding the hostname select “Linux Server (SSH)” and type in your ssh login details.
  4. Find the Device in the Device list and move it into the /Devices/Servers/SSH/Linux/Ubuntu class.
  5. Navigate to the device and select “Manage” > “Model Device”, this will allow you to collect rudimentary information.
  6. Return to Zenoss and Model the device again, twice. The first pass will identify the Linux distribution, the second will gather specific information for that distribution.

That’s it, in less then 10 steps. Rinse and repeat as required.

Updated: to remove steps involving installation of python monitoring scripts as per Matt’s comments below.

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