Bare Metal Cloud – Part 2 – KVM and NAT Port Forwarding

Building on the previous post on this topic, I will have a closer look today how to use my new and shiny bare metal server in the data center for some virtual machine fun. As the server acts as a warm standby fallback for my cloud server at home, I’ve decided to use a setup that is as close as possible to main setup. Giving Proxmox a go would certainly have been interesting, but it’s only a single server and I would have strayed too far away from my already existing setup. So I decided to go for KVM/Qemu, as it is straight forward to set-up. Also, I could just use copies of my already existing virtual machines by modifying their configurations slightly, as they will obviously run in a different IP subnet. And this is where it starts to become interesting.

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Bare Metal in the Cloud – Part 1 – Let’s Rent Hardware

So far, the public cloud has pretty much been ‘virtual machines’ for me, with varying numbers of CPUs, memory and storage, depending on the application. Recently, however, I’ve been looking for a way run copies of my home cloud based virtual machines (VMs) and Docker containers in a data center for redundancy purposes. For this purpose, renting separate VMs would be too expensive and inflexible. So, I decided to rent a ‘bare metal’ server in the cloud, and build a redundant copy of my cloud at home on top of it. This is what is referred to as a hybrid cloud, and this blog series takes a closer look at my adventures in this area.

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Ubuntu 22.04 and x11 Remote Desktop Sharing

In the previous post, I’ve been looking at how Ubuntu’s built-in remote desktop sharing works and performs when the, by now, default Wayland display server is used. While the functionality was broken in my daily build of 22.04 (which is not yet released), it was working as designed in Ubuntu 21.10, so I gave it a try there. While Wayland remote desktop sharing in Ubuntu works in principle, it’s not usable over slow Internet connections. So I had a closer look if my standard solution with x11vnc still works in Ubuntu 22.04 when switching from Wayland to the tried and tested x11 display server.

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Wayland, Remote Desktop Sharing and Ubuntu 22.04

Desktop sharing is one of the essential things I do every day. For almost 10 years now, I’m using x11vnc to get GUI access on remote Ubuntu desktops. There are many VNC servers, but x11vnc is the best I have found so far, as it works well even under extremely severe bandwidth constraints, i.e., it can easily live with 1 Mbit/s in the uplink when using the highest compression scheme. And if nothing happens on the desktop, there is almost no data transmitted. As the name implies, x11vnc is based on the x11 display server. That’s a bit of a problem these days, as all Linux distributions that use the Gnome desktop, including Ubuntu, are trying very hard for years now to switch to the newer Wayland display server. One of the problems that have plagued all attempts so far was the lack of a usable remote desktop solution. But now, it looks like Ubuntu will make Wayland the default compositor in the upcoming 22.04 Long Term Support (LTS) version. X11 is still supported, but once Wayland becomes the default, I wonder how much love x11 will still get!? So long story short, I was wondering what kind of remote desktop sharing solution Gnome and Ubuntu are proposing for 22.04 and whether it works as well as x11vnc. The answer was not as bad as I thought, but also not as good as I hoped.

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Firefox: Moving A Tab Between Windows

Only a quick note today about a Firefox feature that I discovered by accident, but which is actually very helpful: Moving tabs between windows.

So here’s the scenario: Every now and then, I want to cross reference and compare something on one web page with the content on another web page. I usually do this by dragging/dropping one of the tabs outside the browser, so a new window is opened up. These can then be put next to each other for simultaneous viewing. Nothing new here, I’ve been doing this for ages.

Once I’m done, I usually close the window with the single tab, as I don’t need it anymore. In some cases, however, I’d like to keep the tab open and in the original window again. Today, I thought “may I can just drag it back”!? And indeed, one can drag a tab from one Firefox window to another Firefox window. If it was the last or only tab of a window, the now empty window closes automatically.

Wow, I wished I had tried this earlier, this is incredibly useful!

18 Hours With 600 Grams of Battery

I like being able to work from anywhere and the only limiting factor is how long the battery of the notebook will last when I’m away from a power outlet. When I bought a new notebook August 2021, I made sure it came with USB-C Power Delivery (PD) so I could take as many spare batteries with me as I wanted to increase my time away from the desk. So one of the first things I bought once I had the new notebook was a third party battery that can charge just about any USB device, including notebooks with USB-C power delivery function. But how long would the internal and external battery power my notebook in practice? The answer: It depends.

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Downloading an eSIM – in Practice – Part 3

After the positive experience I had with my first eSIM download (see part 1 and part 2 of this series), I wanted to explore the topic a bit more, and decided to purchase yet another eSIM via the Airalo web portal and download it to my device. I did this because I wanted to see if more than one eSIM could be installed on the eSIM chip in the device, and if I could go back and forth between several eSIMs. Also, I wanted to see if I could perform the download over Wi-Fi instead of over an existing cellular connection.

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Downloading an eSIM – in Practice – Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I’ve taken a look at the process of purchasing an eSIM online for roaming purposes and then downloading it to a smartphone. In this part, I’ll have a look at some technical details such as the home network operator of the eSIM, location of the Internet connectivity, performance and other tidbits.

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Downloading an eSIM – in Practice – Part 1

Back in 2017, I wrote quite a number of blog entries about an upcoming technology: Virtual SIMs, also referred to as eSIMs. As with many network technologies, it took a number of years before things end up in the mass market. But it has finally happened, and an interesting ecosystem has grown around downloadable SIM cards. One use case that has become popular are downloadable SIM cards which replace physical SIM cards when a subscriber of a network operator buys a new eSIM enabled device. A second use case is the convenient distribution of (temporary) prepaid roaming eSIMs, which are available these days for little money. Due to their low price, they are ideal to experiment with in practice.

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An Extra Gigabyte per Minute with a Tinfoil

When I’m not in the lab and out in the field, I use tinfoil and shielded bags to reduce the signal strength, to force devices to and from lower frequency bands, to see the impact on data rates, or to increase their power output for testing. But tinfoil does not only block RF signals, it also reflects them. So I recently wondered, if I could use tinfoil to increase the datarate of my Wi-Fi link at home.

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