Today’s lesson

Never, ever say “I was never…” bacause Murphy’s law will soon take its toll

Lately I’ve written I was never stopped working by an upgrade.
Well, actually I wasn’t stopped but have you ever tried working on a box that keeps swapping and thrashing at your slightest action?

I have really tweaked the computer I use at work. It’s old, and it’s overloaded. Or underpowered compared to current plain machines. It wasn’t It has 1Gb of RAM and I use it for browsing, hosting the blog I use to store issues, registration and almost everything I do for the quality management system of my company. A fairly small blog, almost entirely textual, but this nevertheless means having mysql, apache and php constantly running on the machine. Coupled with LibreOffice which is a fantastic piece of code, but everyone will agree is not one of the lightest software on the earth.


So I ended up some years ago removing most of the recent software, ending up with no Desktop at all, only IceWm as a window manager which has a resident set size of 6Mb, no file manager running in the background and almost nothing else except WordPress and its requirements Firefox and LibreOffice.

I have been asked to set up a Virtual Private Network to access the inner network of our smallish company so I planned to use my own house network as a testbed as both used NetGear consumer ADSL routers:

sudo apt-get install network-manager-openconnect-gnome network-manager-openconnect network-manager-openvpn-gnome network-manager-openvpn network-manager-pptp network-manager-pptp-gnome

I basically had to undo all the fine tuning I’ve been made during the years, upgrade the distribution to Ubuntu Xenial, fight a recalcitrant Login Manager that refuses to work and install something more traditional like lxdm – the login manager of Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment. I spent some hours of computing downtime as downloading the 1,5Gb of new packages from a 1Mbit line is not made in a coffee break; luckily I got some tests to do on our products – sands and gravel – that filled my time during the long download.

All in all I got this aging machine up and running again. It was worth the effort, my admin skills were a but rusty, even if I realized that a “real” VPN may be not feasible: I had to cross circles around an “hostile” Cisco firewall. Well, actually it’s not hostile, it happily let all inside traffig go out, but it keeps everything else out and I prefer not to touch it. It may be better to forward SSH to this aging machine and use Putty to forward some ports.

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