Does every geek take a pho­to of Google in Zürich?

Maybe not all… my col­leagues would­n’t have gone there if I would­n’t have said some­thing…

To be hon­est, I would have expect­ed some­thing a lit­tle bit more shiny/geeky/… to take a pic­ture of (any­way, if you don’t see it: I have a real smile in my face on the pic­ture, so the geek in me enjoyed tak­ing the pho­to).


Alexander Leidinger in front of Google CH
Me in front of Google CH


Google CH
Google CH


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Com­plete net­work loss on Solaris 10u10 CPU 2012-10 on vir­tu­al­ized T4‑2

The prob­lem I see at work: A T4‑2 with 3 guest LDOMs, vir­tu­al­ized disks and net­works lost the com­plete net­work con­nec­tiv­i­ty “out of the blue” once, and maybe “spo­radic” direct­ly after a cold boot. After a lot of dis­cus­sion with Ora­cle, I have the impres­sion that we have two prob­lems here.

1st prob­lem:
Total net­work loss of the machine (no zone or guest LDOM or the pri­ma­ry LDOM was able to have receive or send IP pack­ets). This hap­pened once. No idea how to repro­duce it. In the logs we see the mes­sage “[ID 920994 kern.warning] WARNING: vnetX: exceed­ed num­ber of per­mit­ted hand­shake attempts (5) on chan­nel xxx”. Accord­ing to Ora­cle this is sup­posed to be fixed in 148677 – 01 which will come with Solaris 10u11. They sug­gest­ed to use a vsw inter­face instead of a vnet inter­face on the pri­ma­ry domain to at least low­er the prob­a­bil­i­ty of this prob­lem hit­ting us. They were not able to tell us how to repro­duce the prob­lem (seems to be a race con­di­tion, at least I get this impres­sion based upon the descrip­tion of the Ora­cle engi­neer han­dling the SR). Only a reboot helped to get the prob­lem solved. I was told we are the only client which report­ed this kind of prob­lem, the patch for this prob­lem is based upon an inter­nal bugre­port from inter­nal tests.

2nd prob­lem:
After cold boots some­times some machines (not all) are not able to con­nect to an IP on the T4. A reboot helps, as does remov­ing an inter­face from an aggre­gate and direct­ly adding it again (see below for the sys­tem con­fig). To try to repro­duce the prob­lem, we did a lot of warm reboots of the pri­ma­ry domain, and the prob­lem nev­er showed up. We did some cold reboots, and the prob­lem showed up once.

In case some­one else sees one of those prob­lems on his machines too, please get in con­tact with me to see what we have in com­mon to try to track this down fur­ther and to share info which may help in maybe repro­duc­ing the prob­lems.

Sys­tem set­up:

  • T4‑2 with 4 HBAs and 8 NICs (4 * igb on-board, 4 * nxge on addi­tion­al net­work card)
  • 3 guest LDOMs and one io+control domain (both in the pri­ma­ry domain)
  • the guest LDOMs use SAN disks over the 4 HBAs
  • the pri­ma­ry domain uses a mir­rored zpool on SSDs
  • 5 vswitch in the hyper­vi­sor
  • 4 aggre­gates (aggr1 – aggr4 with L2-policy), each one with one igb and one nxge NIC
  • each aggre­gate is con­nect­ed to a sep­a­rate vswitch (the 5th vswitch is for machine-internal com­mu­ni­ca­tion)
  • each guest LDOM has three vnets, each vnets con­nect­ed to a vswitch (1 guest LDOM has aggr1+2 only for zones (via vnets), 2 guest LDOMs have aggr 3+4 only for zones (via vnets), and all LDOMs have aggr2+3 (via vnets) for global-zone com­mu­ni­ca­tion, all LDOMs are addi­tion­al­ly con­nect­ed to the machine-internal-only vswitch via the 3rd vnet)
  • pri­ma­ry domain uses 2 vnets con­nect­ed to the vswitch which is con­nect­ed to aggr2 and aggr3 (con­sis­ten­cy with the oth­er LDOMs on this machine) and has no zones
  • this means each enti­ty (pri­ma­ry domain, guest LDOMs and each zone) has two vnets in and those two vnets are con­fig­ured in a link-based IPMP set­up (vnet-linkprop=phys-state)
  • each vnet has VLAN tag­ging con­fig­ured in the hyper­vi­sor (with the zones being in dif­fer­ent VLANs than the LDOMs)

The pro­posed change by Ora­cle is to replace the 2 vnet inter­faces in the pri­ma­ry domain with 2 vsw inter­faces (which means to do VLAN tag­ging in the pri­ma­ry domain direct­ly instead of in the vnet con­fig). To have IPMP work­ing this means to have vsw-linkprop=phys-state. We have two sys­tems with the same set­up, on one sys­tem we already changed this and it is work­ing as before. As we don’t know how to repro­duce the 1st prob­lem, we don’t know if the prob­lem is fixed or not, respec­tive­ly what the prob­a­bil­i­ty is to get hit again by this prob­lem.

Ideas / sug­ges­tions / info wel­come.

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Which cryp­to card to use with FreeB­SD (ssh/gpg)

The recent secu­ri­ty inci­dent trig­gered a dis­cus­sion how to secure ssh/gpg keys.

One way I want to focus on here (because it is the way I want to use at home), is to store the keys on a cryp­to card. I did some research for suit­able cryp­to cards and found one which is called Feit­ian PKI Smart­card, and one which is called OpenPGP card. The OpenPGP card also exists in a USB ver­sion (basi­cal­ly a small ver­sion of the card is already inte­grat­ed into a small USB card read­er).

The Feit­ian card is report­ed to be able to han­dle RSA keys upto 2048 bits. They do not seem to han­dle DSA (or ECDSA) keys. The smart­card quick starter guide they have  (the Tun­ing smart­card file sys­tem part) tells how to change the para­me­ters of the card to store upto 9 keys on it.

The spec of the OpenPGP card tells that it sup­ports RSA keys upto 3072 bits, but there are reports that it is able to han­dle RSA keys upto 4096 bits (you need to have at least GPG 2.0.18 to han­dle that big keys on the cryp­to card). It looks to me like the card is not han­dle DSA (or ECDSA) cards. There are only slots for upto 3 keys on it.

If I go this way, I would also need a card read­er. It seems a class 3 one (hard­ware PIN pad and dis­play) would be the most “future-proof” way to go ahead. I found a Rein­er SCT cyber­Jack sec­oder card read­er, which is believed to be sup­port­ed by Open­SC and seems to be a good bal­ance between cost and fea­tures of the Rein­er SCT card read­ers.

If any­one read­ing this can sug­gest a bet­ter cryp­to card (keys upto 4096 bits, more than 3 slots, and/or DSA/ECDSA  sup­port), or a bet­ter card read­er, or has any prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence with any of those com­po­nents on FreeB­SD, please add a com­ment.

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Forc­ing a route in Solaris?

I have a lit­tle prob­lem find­ing a clean solu­tion to the fol­low­ing prob­lem.

A machine with two net­work inter­faces and no default route. The first inter­face gets an IP at boot time and the cor­re­spond­ing sta­t­ic route is insert­ed dur­ing boot into the rout­ing table with­out prob­lems. The sec­ond inter­face only gets an IP address when the shared-IP zones on the machine are start­ed, dur­ing boot the inter­face is plumbed but with­out any address. The net­works on those inter­faces are not con­nect­ed and the machine is not a gate­way (this means we have a machine-administration net­work and a production-network). The sta­t­ic routes we want to have for the address­es of the zones are not added to the rout­ing table, because the next hop is not reach­able at the time the routing-setup is done. As soon as the zones are up (and the inter­face gets an IP), a re-run of the routing-setup adds the miss­ing sta­t­ic routes.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly I can not tell Solaris to keep the sta­t­ic route even if the next hop is not reach­able ATM (at least I have not found an option to the route com­mand which does this).

One solu­tion to this prob­lem would be to add an address at boot to the inter­face which does not have an address at boot-time ATM (prob­a­bly with the dep­re­cat­ed flag set). The prob­lem is, that this sub­net (/28) has not enough free address­es any­more, so this is not an option.

Anoth­er solu­tion is to use a script which re-runs the routing-setup after the zones are start­ed. This is a prag­mat­ic solu­tion, but not a clean solu­tion.

As I under­stand the in.routed man-page in.routed is not an option with the default con­fig, because the machine shall not route between the net­works, and shall not change the rout­ing based upon RIP mes­sages from oth­er machines. Unfor­tu­nate­ly I do not know enough about it to be sure, and I do not get the time to play around with this. I have seen some inter­st­ing options regard­ing this in the man-page, but play­ing around with this and sniff­ing the net­work to see what hap­pens, is not an option ATM. Any­one with a config/tutorial for this “do not broad­cast any­thing, do not accept any­thing from outside”-case (if pos­si­ble)?

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Why are game console/TV com­pa­nies not imple­ment­ing this?

At the week­end a friend vis­it­ed me. We have not seen since each oth­er since a long time. As we stud­ied both com­put­er sci­ence, parts of our dis­cus­sion where off course tech­nol­o­gy relat­ed. Parts of the dis­cus­sion where about cur­rent TV’s and game con­soles (he par­tic­i­pat­ed in the design of the PS3 CPU, so he is well aware about the tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tions of the hard­ware the cur­rent game con­soles use).

Dur­ing our dis­cus­sion we talked about the soft­ware lim­i­ta­tions of such hard­ware.

Cur­rent TV’s come for exam­ple with some pre­de­fined inter­net chan­nels, but not with a real web brows­er. We think that peo­ple which keep a TV for 10 years or longer (like for exam­ple our par­ents and prob­a­bly both of us too) this will result in a loss of fea­tures after some years, because those chan­nels will get less atten­tion of case to exist at all. There is also no way to switch to alter­na­tives then, except by buy­ing a new TV (we expect that there will be no firmware update in such a case). With a real web brows­er this would not be an issue (it may be more easy to enter URL’s with a real key­board than with a remote con­trol, but let us do small steps here). Game con­soles are a bit bet­ter in this regard, but there we have the prob­lem that some web­sites are too much mem­o­ry hun­gry (they do not include the user agent of the game con­sole browsers in the same class as smart phones or tablet PCs… from the size aspect they are not, but from the mem­o­ry and com­put­ing pow­er aspect they are more sim­i­lar).

I would expect that the TV sta­tions do not want to have TVs with real­ly good browsers, because then you may not need a TV sta­tion any­more. But this is what users would use if it would be there.

Anoth­er deficit is that there is not a mail pro­gram in game con­soles and TV’s. For writ­ing mails you need a real key­board, but for a quick check if there is mail (e.g. X unread mails, or maybe even dis­play­ing the sub­ject line of the emails) or maybe to just read with­out answer­ing a solu­tion with­out a key­board con­nect­ed would already be enough.

I expect that con­sole man­u­fac­tur­ers do not want to spend mon­ey for some­thing peo­ple are not will­ing to give much mon­ey for, respec­tive­ly for some­thing where they can not make mon­ey with (an email ser­vice from the con­sole com­pa­ny would be anoth­er mail ser­vice addi­tion­al to the one for the PC and maybe addi­tion­al to the one of the smart phone… peo­ple do not need 10 email accounts, one is enough).

Anoth­er over­looked fea­ture is some kind of VoIP+Video fea­ture (at least for the game con­soles which have option­al­ly a cam­era, but IMO this is also pos­si­ble for the next gen­er­a­tion of TV’s with build-in web­cams). At least the offer­ings from Sony and Microsoft are pow­er­ful enough to come with some kind of video con­fer­enc­ing soft­ware. It does not mat­ter much if this is Skype or the Google ver­sion of this, or some oth­er wide­spread one (MS sure­ly wants to use their own stuff), it just has to be one which is in wide­spread use to be adopt­ed by the people.This does not need to be in HD, even a small video would already be much more than what is avail­able ATM.

Basi­cal­ly I gave the answer to my ques­tion (the title of this post­ing) myself (except for the video con­fer­enc­ing stuff)… but on the oth­er hand this would be some­thing which could set a prod­uct apart from oth­ers. For the PS3 this may be now one of the things which could show up in the Home­brew scene, now that the secu­ri­ty of the PS3 is com­pro­mised. For the Wii at least the email part could be eas­i­ly done. The rest… would have to catch up in case some­thing like this shows up for the PS3 and is used exten­sive­ly.

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