Things That Moved Me In 2016 – Part 2: Linux

Apart from mobile networks, another topic that I write about quite often these days is Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular. Ever since I jumped into the Linux world in 2009 it’s been a thrilling and liberating experience and 2016 has been no different. So here’s part 2 of my summary of what moved me in technology in 2016.

Disaster Recovery

You hope it never happens but it does eventually: Your notebook or that of a family member breaks or gets stolen. The device and all data on it is lost without any chance of recovery from that device. It happened to me in January when the notebook of my wife was stolen while she was traveling. But I’ve been preparing for this over the years and I had her system partition and all data safely backup-up. Within 30 minutes I had a spare notebook up and running with the backup of her system partition. Restoring the 500 GB of data took a bit longer due to the limited speed of the USB drive. But after a couple of hours I had a 1:1 clone of her stolen PC with only 2 days of data lost. Details of the story can be found here. Since then I’ve further enhanced my backup/restore procedure and now have a spare SSD to which I only have to replicate the latest data backup. In 15 minutes I can now deliver a fully working identical copy of our work PCs with all data restored.

New Ubuntu LTS 16.04

Every two years, Ubuntu delivers a new long term release. This year I was keen to update early as I had a nasty kernel bug in my 32-bit Ubuntu 14.04 installation that grew worse and worse the more RAM I installed in my notebook to run more virtual machines simultaneously. To my great relief, the kernel bug was gone after installing the 64-bit version of Ubuntu 16.04. So finally I could enjoy 16 GB of memory and run 3 virtual machines simultaneously without running into trouble. So apart from the kernel bug was it worth upgrading? ‘It depends’ is the classic answer and you can find the details here.

The File Explorer and SSH for Remote File Access

One thing that must have been there for years without me noticing is that Ubuntu’s file explorer can access remote files over SSH. Fully encrypted, and with password or certificate authentication it’s easy to use and a great extension to just using ssh to get to a shell on a remote system. Copying files with SCP from the shell is great but doing it via the file explorer is, in many cases, far more convenient. It doesn’t sound like much but in practice it makes a huge difference.

VPN Leaks – Where there is light, there is shadow

One thing that has not been fixed until today is a pretty nasty VPN bug in Ubuntu 16.04 which unfortunately makes the DNS resolver circumvent the VPN tunnel and thus exposes DNS queries to the local network if IPv4 and IPv6 is used on the local network. This is one of the main things that a VPN is supposed to protect the user from. As nobody seemed to care I came up with my own fix. It’s quick, it’s dirty, but it works.

There we go, this is what moved me in the Linux domain in 2016. In the final part of have some noteworthy miscellaneous stuff.