SELinux is the devil

I always use CentOS in the cloud because it’s stable and awesome for server-grade applications (web server, webdav, samba…etc)  I use Ubuntu or a Debian derivative on the desktop because the packages are more up to date and I don’t mind living on the edge at home.  (Plus – interacting with  CentOS and Ubuntu both on a daily basis keeps me sharp!)

So I tweeted this recently:

Spent two hours troubleshooting strange Apache behavior on a new VM before discovering SELinux was enforcing. Fuuuuuucccccckkkkkk! I gotta stop disabling SELinux and learn to set it up properly

TL;DR: …because I forgot to disable SELinux on the new VPS. 

There’s nothing more frustrating that performing rote operations that have worked 100 times before only to be stopped cold for no obvious reason.

I have another VPS set up almost the same (same OS – CentOS 7) and I kept comparing directory structures and installed packages wondering why everything was working on the old machine but not the new one.

After an entirely unacceptable amount of time (unacceptable to me – I expected this to be easy!) I turned to Google and started throwing random phrases at the search engine:

  • “apache no write permissions”
  • “apachectl doesn’t display”
  • “apachectl -S not working”

Not until I stumbled across this link, did I even THINK about SELinux (that’s how long it’s been since I set up a new CentOS machine)

Now I know the proper thing to do is to spend some time wrapping my head around SELinux and understanding how it works.  Then I could set it up so it enhances my security instead of making me feel stupid and frustrated.  But instead I usually opt to just turn it off.

So – long story short – if you see this line in your apache logs:

PHP Warning:  blah blah blah: failed to open stream: Permission denied in blah blah blah /var/www/html/blah.php

and you KNOW your permissions are correct…

Turn off SELinux.  That evil beast.

In Defense of Thanksgiving

I posted this to Facebook. I was my second try at taking out my frustrations on Christmas Creep. I called out a number of specific violations, but never tagged those offenders or really did anything about it. This one wasn’t as strong as the original.

In defense of Thanksgiving:

In order to reclaim Thanksgiving as a national holiday, we at the Defense of Thanksgiving Tradition Society hereby proclaim a moratorium on the following:

There will be no Christmas music until at least Thursday night. Seriously 102.1FM??

There is no reason for a Countdown to the 25 Days of Christmas. The 25 Days of Christmas IS a countdown. And it occurs in December. Don’t get greedy ABC Family. Oh, and by the way, Finding Nemo, Harry Potter and Willy Wonka have nothing to do with Christmas.

The Lexus “December To Remember” Sale occurs in December. What’s so hard to understand? It’s got December right there in the title! And Back off Acura, who the hell is buying someone a car as a present for Christmas anyway?

There shall be no Christmas Tree Lighting Events until we’ve properly digested our Thanksgiving meal. Got that Crocker Park? And don’t look so smug Downtown Cleveland. You just made it.

Thanksgiving is a great American holiday. It combines food, football and drunken relatives. Thanksgiving is not an afterthought and we demand it’s return to eminence as an actual holiday celebrated in November.

No more will we tolerate the retailers who insist on pushing us from “Trick or Treat” to “O Christmas Tree” without stopping so much as to smell the turkey.

Dear Santa

My take on Christmas Creep. Originally posted on Facebook,  I wanted to write something hateful, full of swearing and insults. In the end I changed it to more of a “letter to the editor” type of thing.  Don’t think the irony of signing the letter, from “All of Us” was lost on me. If it’s good enough for the mice in that Christmas special, it was good enough for me here.

Dear Christmas,

We wanted to drop you this note to remind you that we still like you.

We also wanted to ask you to maybe reconsider subverting other holidays.

It seems that we have been lax and allowed you to overtake Thanksgiving. The general fear is that you will be coming for Halloween next. Rest assured we will not allow this to happen.

We see you creeping further up the calendar. It was bad enough that you took a wonderful extra day off and perverted it into a blood-thirsty, riot-inducing spectacle that we’ve renamed “Black Friday”, but now – in typical Christmas fashion, Black Friday begins before Thanksgiving dinner is over.

Stop it.

Enclosed, please find a calendar. Please note that your holiday is officially celebrated near the end of December. We would appreciate if you could restrain advertising and celebrating your holiday to the month in which it occurs. No other holiday usurps more of the calendar than you. You are fast approaching becoming a season. We feel that Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter would not welcome a newcomer. And if your aspirations are to replace Winter then we need to remind you that you would become responsible for February, and frankly, we don’t think even you could handle that.

In closing, please realize that further infractions will result in us having to take more drastic action in returning Christmas to it’s once family-oriented origins.

Don’t make us put Santa in a headlock.


All Of Us

You Can’t Change the Wallpaper!?

Windows 7 Starter Edition is the devil.

Talk about luck. I guess I can never say I’ve never been lucky. Yesterday we picked up two netbooks (one for Ashley, one for Carrie) for the low, low price of $75 a piece.

WHAT? Yeah, no shit. Apparently, Walmart is getting rid of all their old stock and was selling off their stock at ridiculous prices (75% off!)

They’re both Acer Aspire One’s. One is purple (Ashley) and the other is blue (Carrie). They came stock with Windows 7 Starter edition.

Whatever. I didn’t even let Carrie’s boot all the way up before I was wiping that shit off and installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix. It took a while to figure out the wireless card – but as of now – she’s surfing the internet from anyplace in the house with her new laptop.

Ashley’s was a different story. I had to bring it to work (because I ran out of time last night) and set it up to dual-boot. (Linux/Win7) I don’t want Ashley using Windows any more than she has to, but there are times when she must use IE for school (total bullshit, but whatever).

Ubuntu installed without a hitch and I rebooted to get all the useless trial-ware off the Windows side. Goodbye McAffe Trial. See ya Office 2007 60-day student edition.
Later Netflix (Really? We need a Netflix icon?) Bu-bye Ebay…

I got everything set up nicely and went to give Ashley some nice new wallpaper.

But how?

Really? Where the fuck is the desktop image/background/wallpaper properties?

I finally gave up and looked it up online, thinking there must be some magical incantation to change the wallpaper. What did I find out? Something far more sinister.

You can’t.

That’s right, goddamn it, you can’t change the wallpaper on Windows 7 starter edition.

WHAT THE FUCK? Changing your wallpaper is considered a “premium” feature that requires a higher version of Windows 7. HOLY SHIT!! I am so fucking glad that I don’t have to deal with this shit.

Sorry Ashley. If you need IE, you can log into this sterile looking Win7 desktop.
But when you’re done – come on back to a full-featured netbook OS (complete with wobbly windows, anti-aliased fonts and spinning desktop cube-ish-ness)
If I was less tech savvy and had spent even the low, low price that we spent, I would be pissed.
What a load of shit, Microsoft.