Check If You Have DNSChanger Malware

An estimated 275,000 computers are infected by the DNSChanger malware. Users who have the five year old malware may lose their Internet connection on Monday, July 9. If access to the Internet is ok, the other scenario is, they could be redirected to another website.

So, how do you know if your computer is infected by the DNSChanger malware? There is an organization called DNS Changer Working Group (DCWG) which launched a new tool to check if your computer is infected or not.

Just go to http://www.dns-ok.us/ to check if your PC’s health.

If the box in the resulting website is green, your computer is ok. If the box is red, your computer is infected by DNSChanger. Now, it’s highly unlikely that my Ubuntu desktop contains the DNSChanger malware. Here’s the snapshot of my result.

If you have the malware, you can run any of these free tools to remove DNSChanger.

Get Your OwnCloud

There are several free cloud services available out there. Dropbox, Google Drive, Ubuntu One, JustCloud, ZipCloud, to name just  a few. They’re all great. They all have one thing in common, they store and share files and documents on the cloud.

If there’s one thing that bothers people about cloud services, it’s privacy. People worry about placing sensitive data on the cloud. How about running your own cloud? Well, get your own cloud with OwnCloud. OwnCloud is an open-source cloud software solution that you can install yourself.

You can install it on your own desktop, your server at home, your VPS server on the Internet, or anywhere there is a PC or computer. You decide where you want it. The best thing about ownCloud, no one has access to your sensitive data. Just you.

I’ve been running ownCloud for about a month now. It’s great. I am able to upload and share any files that I want, from pictures, videos and documents.  I can access these files from any computer, from any location around the world. There is no need for me to carry a USB stick anymore. All I need to do, is access my browser and access my files online.

In addition, OwnCloud allows me to play music and movies online. It organizes my pictures into galleries. It has a calendar, contacts, and a host of other applications that can be installed with just one click of a button. So, get your own cloud with OwnCloud.

Permissions To Webroot

I was wondering about the best way to implement and give permissions to webroot, also known as the root directory of your web server. I’m familiar with Ubuntu’s structure, so I’ll use Ubuntu’s default webroot directory, which is /var/www.

Based on numerous documents and discussions I’ve read online, the proper way to give permissions to webroot is to (1 ) add a user to the www-data group, (2) change webroot’s ownership to www-data, (3) give all members of www-data group read and right access.

ulysses = user
webroot = /var/www
www-data = user and group for Apache

Here are the commands to run from the Terminal.

Step 1

Add new user to the www-data group.

sudo adduser ulysses www-data

Or

Add existing user to the www-data group.

sudo usermod -a -G www-data ulysses

Step 2

Make www-data the group owner of /www/data

sudo chown -R ulysses:www-data /var/www

Step 3

Give members of www-data permissions.

sudo chmod -R g+rw /var/www

That’s it. Pretty straightforward.

Linode Kicks Ass

Get a web server running within minutes. Choose a Linux distro, resources, and node location. That’s essentially Linode in a nutshell. I signed up with Linode about two weeks ago. I’ve been playing around with it since then. I can happily say that I’m very impressed with Linode. It has exceeded my expectations.

If you want total control of your web server, Linode VPS is really the way to go. You will be asked to choose server size when you sign up. They come in many configurations. I chose Linode 512. You also need to choose a data center location. There are six data centers worldwide. I choose the one in Fremont since I live in California.

So far, I’m loving the guaranteed server resources. My websites are running faster . I chose Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 32 bit because it’s a Linux distro I am very familiar with. Apparently, 57% Linode users have chosen Ubuntu as well. I already transferred a couple of domains over to Linode. The websites are screaming.

I plan to migrate more websites later. If you are curious about how Linode works, here is a short list of features to get you started:

  • Full ssh and root access
  • Guaranteed Resources
  • 4 processor Xen instances
  • Out of band console shell
  • Dedicated IP address, premium bw
  • Six datacenters in the US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific
  • HA and Clustering Support
  • Bandwidth pooling
  • Managed DNS with API

Sell Downloaded MP3 In Europe

European courts are saying that you can sell your downloaded MP3s just like your older CDs. The same legal battle is finding its way in the US court system. Some interesting notes from Maximum PC:

Basically, the top EU Court says that digital downloads are just another distribution model and for all intents and purposes, are the same as selling software on physical media such as a CD (which could already be resold). Of course, the court says that if you sell “used” software to someone else, you need to destroy the copy on your computer, or else you’re breaking the law.

The main issue is that companies don’t really have a way of knowing if a sale happened and/or a copy of the music has been destroyed. In the meantime, it’s going to be interesting how this issue gets resolve in the US court system. I bet the future ruling leans towards the music industry since money rules.

Thunderbolt Cables Are Still Expensive

Ever wonder why Thunderbolt cables are expensive. It’s not because Apple sells it exclusively for $49. Not anymore. Now, a few companies are selling Thunderbolt cables at roughly the same price. Even worse, some manufacturers are charging for $10-$20 more.

So, what gives? Ars Technica explains why the Thunderbolt cable will stay costly for a couple more years. The Thunderbolt cable uses a Genum transceiver, which is made from silicon germanium, an expensive semiconductor process, typically found on telecom equipment.

The cost of making the transceiver is high, coupled with other chips found in the Thunderbolt design. The cable also contains a separate microcontroller, power management and voltage regulation chips, which provide 3 volts power internally and 15 volt to power other bus devices.

Currently, there are 4 chips found inside a Thunderbolt cable. Plans are underway to combine the transceiver and microcontroller chip, as well as combine the power management and voltage regulator chip into one. It will cut the number of chips from 4 to 2.

In addition, the cable also uses high quality copper cable to meet the 10Gbps bi-directional data rate requirement. As most know, copper is expensive, which explains why it is a favorite for thieves to steal nowadays.

Nevertheless, consumers are stuck with the current Thunderbolt cable cost, a cable that’s still considered first generation. Costs will go down later as manufacturers find way to cut manufacturing costs, at the same time without sacrificing performance.

Apache mod_spdy

Are you looking for ways to increase the speed of your website? Apache has a new module called mod_spdy which is a new networking protocol spawned by Google. Howtoforge has the install tutorial. It requires that you have access to your own web server, like a VPS or a home server.

SPDY (pronounced “SPeeDY”) is a new networking protocol whose goal is to speed up the web. It is Google’s alternative to the HTTP protocol and a candidate for HTTP/2.0. SPDY augments HTTP with several speed-related features such as stream multiplexing and header compression.

To use SPDY, you need a web server and a browser (like Google Chrome and upcoming versions of Firefox) that both support SPDY. mod_spdy is an open-source Apache module that adds support for the SPDY protocol to the Apache HTTPD server. This tutorial explains how to use mod_spdy with Apache2 on Ubuntu 12.04.

The instructions looks fairly easy.

More proof? Here’s a video showcasing mod_spdy.

PHPVirtualBox

PHPVirtualBox is a web-based program that allows you to control a remote Virtualbox GUI. PHPVirtualBox is ideal for systems that don’t have remote GUI access. Access is done via a browser. Remote virtual machines can be started and stopped, shutdown, and rebooted. In addition, snapshots can be taken, deleted and restored remotely via the browser. Howtoforge.com goes over the installation of PHPVirtualbox in this short article.