AJ's Blog

Gentoo with EFIStub, encrypted BTRFS, swap, dracut or genkernel initramfs, open-rc.

Posted on by AJ Ianozi

Hello! It’s been a while since I wrote a post; life has been busy I’m working on a better blog management system and I finally got a desktop! Hopefully more updates to come both here and on Seldom.Travel! Stay tuned for more updates.

Also, I must apologize for the lack of wrapping on this blog entry. This blog will be 11 years old next month, and I plan on updating the theme soon. Please bear with me.

Recently, I built a Gentoo system with an efistub (no bootloader) and ZFS natively-encrypted rootfs. It was great until I ran into a bug on kernels below 5.14 where the zfs system would get currupted. OpenZFS’s answer was “Update to 5.14” (apparently Gentoo’s stable was 5.10), and if I’m updating out of whatever is stable I’m going all the way and trying 5.15… which isn’t supported yet for ZFS. Result? I scrapped the whole thing and decided to just use btrfs!

This is heavily inspired by this post (shout out to William for putting that together) except I plan on using btrfs with zlib compression instead of ext4, I plan on having a module-free kernel, I want an encrypted swap partition, and we can no longer use eudev (because they’re retiring it). I also don’t want to use lvm, it’s just another layer of complexity that I don’t need, and I’ll be showing how to use dracut as well as genkernel depending on the route you wanted to go. We’ll be extracting the resulting initramfs, and building it into the kernel. (Read more)

Push notifications on linux with cronjobs and smartmontools

Posted on by AJ Ianozi

Up until very recently, I was having smartmontools (and other cron processes such as backups) email me when a hard drive was failing. For some reason my already-finicky mail-forwarding setup ended up failing and I couldn’t get it to consistently send again, so I thought to myself: What other ways can I have my server notify me in an obvious way? The answer was Push Notifications!

Now, I wouldn’t attest to knowing the details behind post-notifications; my quest was for a quick and easy solution for Android: Simplepush.io.

Pros of Simplepush:

  • Super easy to set up
  • “Just works”
  • Supports end-to-end encryption
  • Works for android

Cons:

  • Costs $4 $10/yr
  • Doesn’t seem to work for iOS (works for iOS now)
  • Isn’t a self-hosted solution, if that matters to you.

I did find a free solution that would also work with iOS using Telegram, and maybe I’ll do that if simplepush.io ever disappears: Telegram API: Send Message – Personal Notification Bot

Anyway, let’s get into how I did this! (Read more)

Backups with rsnapshot and SSH

Posted on by AJ Ianozi

This is a simple schema on how I configure backups over SSH between my various servers. The howto on this stuff can be found all over the web, I’m mostly consolidating it here for my own records, in case I want to do it again later. Big thanks to a few guides on helping me put this together, if you’d like some further reading:

All devices in question run Gentoo, but this should work on anything with rsnapshot and openssh. (Read more)

Changed domains!

Posted on by AJ Ianozi

This blog is no longer using a blogspot.com subdomain! It is, however, still hosted by blogger.com. However, the blog is now under the ianozi.com domain.

If you’re in the Ianozi family and want an ianozi.com subdomain, visit ianozi.com for more details.

Dynamic DNS with Cloudflare, ddclient, and DNS-O-Matic (with Multiple Domains)

Posted on by AJ Ianozi

It’s been a very long time since I’ve updated this blog. For a while I’ve kept a separate one, AJfox.us, but the home server I’ve been using to host it failed about a year ago. I will be getting AJfox back up and running at some point, or I’ll port the posts to this site, I haven’t decided yet.

Anyway, this topic is about how to configure dynamic DNS with Cloudflare, using DNS-O-Matic and ddclient.

Reason for this post

There were plenty of guides on getting Dynamic DNS up and running with cloudflare, and one or two with DNS-O-Matic, but absolutely none for multiple domains. If you’ve found this guide by a google search, I’m assuming you already know at least what Dynamic DNS and Cloudflare are, if not you can check out the basics here: Replacing DynDNS with CloudFlare DDNS

I was trying to set up an easy way to set the DNS for multiple domains (e.g. ianozi.com and ajfox.us), which doesn’t seem to be covered anywhere online.

What is DNS-O-Matic?

To answer this question, let me quote someone who explains it better than I:

DNS-O-Matic is a service from OpenDNS for distributing dynamic DNS updates to supported authoritative DNS services. Cloudflare is one of the supported services. Source: Using DNS-O-Matic dynamic DNS updates with Cloudflare

And what is ddclient?

ddclient is a daemon that periodically updates your DNS information to a Dynamic DNS service. I’ve seen plenty of guides where people have been trying to get it working with Cloudflare, but it apparently requires patching the standard version to get it working correctly, I wasn’t able to.

Instead, I set up ddclient to sync with DNS-O-Matic, and then set DNS-O-Matic to sync with Cloudflare.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business! (Read more)

Phone status: Unlocked!

Posted on by AJ Ianozi

I got a text this morning from cricket…. They finally sent me the unlock code! I put it in and successfully SIM unlocked my Lumia. With that out of the way, I decided to de-brand and re-image my phone with the T-Mobile image using this guide… it didn’t quite work the way I expected.

First off, the torrent that the OP put together was no longer seeded, causing me to work through the Lumiafirmware website to find the image manually (for those in the US who want the T-Mobile image directly, it’s here: RM-1073 VAR NAM US T-MOBILE SL). Next, the cable I was using was failing and almost caused me to brick my phone… I eventually finally got it imaged, set up the phone, and prepared to update to Windows 10 when… It utterly failed.

….yeah, I’m done for tonight, I’m going to bed…

Updates, desktops, and windows phones

Posted on by AJ Ianozi

Hi everyone (anyone??!). It’s been 3 weeks, so I thought I’d give an update. Last time, in cellphone world:

Christian C: I already checked the information and we would need to create a case in order to get the unlock code for your phone

Me: That’s fine. How long does the case usually take to process?

Christian C: from 24 to 72 hours as much to be solved

504 hours later? Nothing.

I contacted Cricket Wireless for a status update on the 23rd which they promptly told me my ticket was status Solving, with the happy-go-lucky reply “this means this case has been taken and being solved right now =).” Last night I decided to ask for another update, which they promptly informed me that they’re waiting for a response from the phones manufacturer. I would really like to have this situated before November 18th, which is when I have to bay my next Cricket Wireless bill, otherwise I’m cutting my losses. I’m using exactly 0.0GB of data with my unlimited plan… I wish I could take advantage of this, but Cricket’s wireless network is slow and spotty, and I don’t have any reception at all at work.

Moving on, I’ve been thinking a lot about phones and workstations, and universal apps recently.

My current setup at home isn’t too complicated but at the same time isn’t very efficient. I currently have a chromebook that I use when traveling (or laying on my futon) and a desktop when just working in my room… the desktop tower takes up my entire corner-desk’s corner segment while only 3 of my 4 monitors (all under 20 inches and two of them only 1024x768) actually fit on my desk.

I’m hoping to get something more minimalistic this time around, perhaps an Intel NUC. I would also like one of those 34” 21:9 ultrawide monitors to replace my four-monitor mess…unfortunately they’re kind of expensive right now.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is trying to move everyone towards these “Universal Apps” – they’re basically a framework for apps that look the same on any Microsoft device, be it tablet, phone, or PC. It’s a great idea in theory, and there’s some programs that are already universal in the Windows store. I might try them out.

Building on that, Microsoft offers a feature in (newer) Windows Phones called Continuum, which allows you to dock your phone and use it as a full-fledged PC! Unfortunately, like many of Microsoft’s features, it may not be quite ready for production.

For Part 5 of this series, click here: Phone status: Unlocked!.

Beginning the Switch

Posted on by AJ Ianozi

This is part two of my Switching from Android to Windows series. You can check out the first one here: Switching from Android to Windows Phone!

I decided to look over some options by googling what others are doing to switch, but there weren’t many results.

I did find an article on the T-Mobile site that at least assured me I can keep my contacts and calendars but they mistakenly said that Google Drive is supported on the Windows Phone (it’s not). I’m starting to find that most apps are limited or poor quality in the Windows app store, which makes sense considering how few people use the platform.

Microsoft made an android app called Switch to Windows Phone which is supposed to give you some help with switching, but most reviews claim that transferring the files never actually succeeds. Then there’s AppComparison – something that Microsoft created to tell me alternative Windows phone apps for my android variants. I gave it a shot, but it utterly failed.

I guess I’ll try later… (Read more)

Switching from Android to Windows Phone

Posted on by AJ Ianozi

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a very, very, long time. Let me say that I actually do have tons of posts I wanted to make, it’s just that I’ve been so busy with work I haven’t had a chance. For those interested in what I would blog about if I had time, you can check out my Flickr page! I love taking pictures, and there’s tons of photos on there

So recently, I’ve been needing a new phone. The screen broke on my HTC 10 and T-mobile has been less than stellar on helping me replace it (since they stopped carrying it!). This had me thinking about looking for a more affordable phone this time around… and then I saw a Windows Phone for sale on Newegg for $20… and then, I figured I’m up for a challenge!

You see, almost nobody uses Windows Phones. Microsoft has announced that it’s no longer focusing on them, which isn’t surprising considering they only have 1% of the market share. It seems like nobody is interested in them these days, and many feel they’re heading to extinction.

So why would I even consider purchasing one of these things?

I’ve been an android user for the longest time but my first smartphone was, in fact, a Windows phone! It was a gift from a random stranger after I posted a craigslist ad asking for a free smartphone. It eventually stopped working but it always felt comfortable and fluid! The battery lasted for days at a time, and I got pretty comfortable navigating the tiles.

I also love a challenge, and a challenge this would be! To my horror, there are no google apps for Windows Phone 10 – the search giant simply refuses to support them and the chromium team ignores the constant requests for a port.

Let me tell you, I’m very invested into Google’s ecosystem right now. I use google apps for everything—I’m even writing this blog entry on a chromebook! I have a work phone with android on it, and I manage everything from my calendars to my travel time using Google’s services. While some may be worried about the hold Google has on your privacy, most don’t care because it’s so dang convinant! Let me give you an example of how I use google every day:

I wake up in the morning and check my Google Calendar. If I’m not biking, I check the bus schedule on Google then head to work. If I am biking, I sync up with Google Fit. Throughout the day, I store notes in Google Keep and jot group meetings down in Google Docs. When I’m on my lunch break, I read various articles that Google has tailored to me based on my interests while intermingling cards with bills due and packages arriving.

I haven’t really thought about how dependent I am on the big G before I thought about switching… I think it would be a neat experiment.

Just to be clear, I’m not leaving google but rather leaving Android. I have no intention of withdrawing my gmail account, calendars, and other apps, but rather will be forced to distance myself from them based on Google’s stubbornness to port. I still want to make this as easy as I can on me, and maybe I can stand as proof that Microsoft’s Windows Phone is still able to hold its on in the world of iOS and Android.

Anyway, that’s it. I guess we’ll see what happens when I get the phone squared away (because I’m kind of waiting for the company to unlock it).

For part 2 of this series, click here: Beginning the Switch.