Dell XPS 15 (L502x) DVD CD-ROM drive problem

2013/01/06 2 comments

I’m running Windows 8 on my DELL XPS 15 with 256GB (3 seconds Windows boot time, any questions? :D).

So after some sleep and wake-up cycles of windows my CD drive HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GT50N was not able to read DVDs / CDs anymore.

When a CD was installed the drive was spinning up very slowly and silent and just 2 loud movements of the optical slide and then nothing. No CD was identified at all.

Additionally, no error message was shown. Very strange.

So, i booted into my CentOS to verify the behavior. And, surprisingly, the same error occurred and the system was not able to read any disk.

I rebooted into Windows again, and as the behavior was still the same, powered of the laptop. Removed the battery and power connection. Waited for like 5 seconds, and bazinga.. the drive was working again, like nothing happened before.

As i never had these problems before, i think it might be some kind of energy-saving by Windows 8, which disables the drive and doesn’t wake up the drive completely, leaving it in an unusable state.

Hide your source IP with emails relayed by postfix

2013/01/03 1 comment

I hate giving to much information with emails i send. If you are using a native E-Mail client (e.g. Outlook, Thunderbird, ..) you will most likely relay your email to a mail provider.
E-Mail clients are very chatty programs and do not hesitate to give out as much information form the sender as possible. These includes at least:

- Source IP address (the outgoing IP address of your pc)- Your E-Mail client software (Outlook, Exchange Server aso.)
– The version of your used software

Attackers can use these informations to create specialized attacks against your infrastructure, as your email header provides info that f.e. you are using an old Outlook version with know vulnerabilities.

To prevent this information disclosure i perform the following header_checks on my postfix:

/^Received:/    IGNORE
/^User-Agent:/  IGNORE
/^X-Mailer:/    IGNORE
/^X-MimeOLE:/   IGNORE
/^X-MSMail-Priority:/   IGNORE
/^X-Spam-Status:/   IGNORE
/^X-Spam-Level:/    IGNORE
/^X-Sanitizer:/     IGNORE
/^X-Originating-IP:/    IGNORE

Just add these entries to your header_checks file (e.g /etc/postfix/header_checks) and add

header_checks = regexp:/etc/postfix/header_checks

to your /etc/postfix/main.cf

Thats it! Outgoing mails have now all your internal details removed.

Caution!

To prevent your mails being blocked by the Exchange spam filter, never ever remove the Message-ID with policies like above. Otherwise your e-mails will always arrive in the Junk-Mail folder!

Homebuilt Network Access Storage (NAS) for $900

2012/05/14 Leave a comment

The Setup

I decided to put all my files on an external NAS. As I am using gigabit ethernet, this should be a great option to move away from direct attached storages (e.g. eSATA).

First i needed a itx case with lots of space for harddisks. I have choosen the Lian Li PC-Q25B as it has space for up to 7 3,5” harddrives or 5 3,5” harddisks (HOTPLUG) and 2 x 2,5”  mounted on the bottom of the case. It even has a backplane which connects to your power- and sata cables. With the included rubber suspensions the harddrives lie perfectly save in the cage. The quality of the case is outstanding, all accessories, fans & screws are included. The price is around 140$ or EUR111.

As board i use a Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 (~130$ / EUR 100) with one PCI-Express slot for the raid controller, 2 memory slots, gigabit ethernet and a AMD E350 CPU onboard. The board is also good quality and comes with the IO shield.

The memory i choosen is 4GB of Corsair PC1333 in 2 x 2GB bars (30$ / EUR24). I later recognized the board doesnt support dualchannel as long as you use the onboard video chip so it doesn’t matter if you use only one bar. On thing to note is that the board uses at least 256MB video ram, so dont size your memory to small.

For the powersupply i have choosen a 350 Watt powersupply to have enough energy for the board and the harddisks. I bought a Xilence XP350 (~39$ / EUR30)

As harddisk for the operating system (CentOS) i selected a  OCZ Onyx OCZSSD2-1ONX32G 32GB solid state drive (72$ / EUR 56). This is good for fast OS operations (bootup) and is quite alot space for the OS.

The storage harddisk for my raid 5 setup are 4 x Western Digital WD20EARX 2TB for 137$ / EUR 107 each.

Dont use/buy a Silicon Image Raid

The Gigabyte motherboard and all other onboard-cpu-ITX boards dont come with a raid controller onboard. An other option would be a board with a core2duo socket and the intel ICH raid controller onboard. I didn’t want to buy an extra CPUs and Fans and that stuff so i have choosen to use a pci express raidcontroller.

Dont buy any of the SIL based raid controllers. They are fakes and not real raid controllers. They only support windows (or real old linux) and the raid is done by the CPU!!

Here comes the trick: Buy a Dell PERC 5/i raid controller card. This card is just missing the io shield as it normaly sits inside the server next to the harddisks. The port is a PCIe port. You can then remove the card holder, and put a default io shield on it (screw it, glue it,..). This card is available with 256MB cache and starts at 40$ /EUR 32). This card is a REAL Raid controller and is designated for SAS drives, which need a lot more io than a SATA disk. Anyhow, don’t buy any SIL based card! I tested 2 cards with the SIL3124 chips. On Linux you will see the harddisk one-by-one, on windows you will see…nothing.. wait… i setup a Raid 5 in the bios, booted windows and no new harddrive? the solution was simple. The “Raid” controller was so slow that it needed 90hours to initalize the raid! Wow, and the write performance is REALLY bad, ~15MBs. So forget any SIL adapter, buy a used DELL card instead. One thing: Dont buy a card with external SAS ports, it wont have any internal ports. You need a internal multilane port (This looks like a very wide sata port).

To get the ports from the SAS multilane to normal SATA connectors you will need a Multi Lane 4i,1x SAS 32p cable ($14/EUR 9).

I installed CentOS with an USB stick with the netboot image and installed the OS over the network. This was just straight forward.

With the RAID5 i now got a 6TB volume wich i formated with XFS to gain 400GB (you will loose them with EXT4)

You have to create the partition with parted as fdisk doesnt support GPT partitions (bigger than 2TB).

Samba tuning

The samba i tuned as follow:

        socket options=TCP_NODELAY IPTOS_LOWDELAY
min receivefile size=16384
use sendfile=true
aio read size = 16384
aio write size = 16384
aio write behind = true
dns proxy = no

Don’t use the RCVBUF or SNDBUF variables. They are just hell to find out and will mostly lower your throughput.

The test

The throughput is straight on (80MB/s) and the CPU load on the E350 is.. 100%

So, this is another feature of onboard modules. the overhead has to be handled by the kernel.

The temperature is stable at 65° celcius / 149°F

The price

But i can live with that. I paid around $900 / EUR 700 for a complete NAS with very good throughput. Some qnap storages just start with that prices without the harddisks.

Categories: Storage Technologies

Internet Explorer, self signed certificates, shortcuts / pinned sites and the missing “Continue to website”-link phenomenon

2012/04/17 1 comment

Wow, Microsoft did a great job with introducing a new shortcut feature for websites with the extension .website

This will bring a lot of enhancements if you are a browser masochist and like to have pain accessing Intranet pages with self signed certificates.

So the default problem of websites with self signed certificates (admin consoles, switches, storage devices.. you name it) is the annoying popup, warning you to not access the site but rather close your browser.

Now, as used-to-microsoft-polemic-messages-admin you just go ahead and install the certificate in the trusted cert store, add the URL in the “Intranet” zone and drag-and-drop a link to you desktop and BAM.. the link is not working as you thought.

What happened? The “Continue to website (Not recommended)” link is missing. So how should you be able to access your trusted internal website with a self-signed cert if there is no option to continue?

Have a look into the shortcut you created to your site. Funny thing that link is saved as “.website”. As you might know, until now all internet shortcuts had the “.url” extension. Microsoft changed that and introduced the more secure and featuref**ing extension “.website”

Microsoft had and still has a lot of security problems which forces them to implement strange security “features”, like blocking every active content on not explicit allowed URLs (Windows 2003/2008 Strong Security enabled), blocking downloads you requested to force you to click again,… or rendering shortcuts to websites with “spoofed” insecure, certificates unusable.

If you create a shortcut to a website now, IE creates the file and sets some policy settings in it. If a website uses a self signed certificate, the browser checks the shortcut, and sets something like “Block Access, Self signed”. You can check that by changing contents of the shortcut (with notepad++ or similar) and save it. The next time you open it, Internet Explorer disables it again and writes it back to the file when the browser is closed.

Solution:

Delete all the website shortcuts created with Internet Explorer and create your own ones:

  1. Right-click on your Desktop and select “New- Shortcut”
  2. Enter the target URL e.g. http://www.google.de
  3. Enter the name for the link
  4. Click OK to finish the wizard.

This creates a file with a .url extension, which opens like charm.

You can also create new shortcuts with notepad.

  1. Create a new text file
  2. Put the following content in it:
  3. [{000214A0-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}]
    Prop3=19,11
    [InternetShortcut]
    URL=http://YOURURL
    IDList=
  4. Save it as <filename>.URL

That’s it. Your links are working again. Just prevent using the .website format.

Xtreamer Sidewinder 2 – The neverending story ENDED

2011/10/16 4 comments

I hope you have followed my contact with the very unusable Xtreamer Support and with the very unprofessional service. The story goes on:

I received an answer today. Another automated email:

16th Oct 2011 @ 6:58 AM

Xtreamer.net Shop Said:

Dear Sir,

Please provide us by mail to: rma.xtreamer@gmail.com
Shipping confirmation by scan pdf of stamped postal receipt showing shipping details: date, sender, recipient & shipping cost.

Our Logistic Dept. can check parcel arrival only by postal receipt details.

Xtreamer Sales Team

Wow. Who guessed that. So, they dont even have control at all.

Why the hell did I wrote the RMA NUmber on the Package. Should that not be attached to my account as soon as the package arrives? Why dont they know my adress again?
Additonally they want a shipping approval. There is not thing like that if you ship cheapest to China WITHOUT Tracking. They clearly stated that in their RMA Policy to not send with tracking number.
So this is my answer:

Sirs,

as you stated in you return policy a shipment has been chosen without tracking.
I also wrote RMA #917 in bold letters on the package, so can it be this hard to locate my package?

I sent it with DHL on 19.09.2011.
Here is my Address: xxx

And YES i know i will only get 10 EUR back from you for the shipping, but NO FRICKING PACKAGE SERVICE brings a package to Hongkong below 15 Euro.

Sirs, the device died 2 MONTH ago! With your extreme slow support and delay on any of my request your company makes a really bad impress. Could you please show that your support works and send me an answer in 24h hours?

EDIT: 2011-10-07

Wow, i received an automated mail again. This is getting rediculous …

Re: RMA 917

17th Oct 2011 @ 5:57 AM

  Xtreamer.net Shop Said:

Dear Andre,

Thank you , we received your Scanned pdf confirmation.

As soon as our Logistic Department will confirm that your package was received at warehouse, your replacement device will be commence for shipping, and we will notify you by mail in your order, tracking number and shipping details.
Refund for shipping cost will be issued as well upon RMA policy.

Best Regards,
Xtreamer Sales Team

EDIT: 2011-10-24

Its nearly two weeks so let’s send another reminder.

Did you reveive my package.

24th Oct 2011 @ 4:01 PM

  You Said:

Dear Sirs,

would you please be so kind and check your Logistic Department. Its OVER A MONTH now. I could have brought it with a rowing boat in that time.

Thank you

To be continued…

EDIT: 2011-10-26

Re: Did you reveive my package.

26th Oct 2011 @ 9:36 AM

  Xtreamer.net Shop Said:

Dear Andre ,

We will investigate this issue , No reply yet from DHL.

As soon as we will get answer we will confirm you, no delay.

Your patience is highly appreciated .

With best regards,

Xtreamer Sales Team

EDIT: 2011-11-19

Where is my xtreamer 2?

19th Nov 2011 @ 10:28 PM

  You Said:

Dear Sirs,

its now nearly 2 months since i sent you my xtreamer 2. I fullfilled everything you wanted, sent you the postage information and everything you need. But still i have not heard from you since then. Is this your kind of customer support?

Please answer me asap, when i will receive my replacement xtreamer 2.

Thank you

EDIT: 2011-11-25

Re: RMA 917 xtreamer 2- shipped DHL 173xxxxxxx

25th Nov 2011 @ 1:48 PM

  Xtreamer.net Shop Said:

Dear Andre,

Your replacement SW2 device was shipped, Via DHL Hong Kong.
You can track your parcel within 24 hours at: http://www.dhl.com.hk/en.html

Delivery expects within 5-10 days, depending on how far you are from our distribution center in Hong Kong, We cannot promise delivery date as this matter is out of our control and Handled by third party.
Please confirm delivery, thank you in advance.

Best Regards,
Xtreamer Sales Team

EDIT: 2011-11-28

Its unbelievable! The replacement unit arrived just after 3 MONTHS of waiting. Nevertheless i received a replacement, this is the last xtreamer device i bought. I’m a very unpatient person who likes fast reacting support and moderate waiting times between all steps of a support call. I’m very disappointed how everything worked, and i went from a xtreamer entheusiast to a xtreamer avoider. Thanks for making this happen.

EDIT: 2011-11-29

Re: Refunded (shipping cost)

29th Nov 2011 @ 10:12 AM

  Xtreamer.net Shop Said:

Dear Andre ,

We have refunded your account within 10euro (shipping cost ) .

Refund refference :
11/29/2011 10:10:46 Credited to credit card Credited to credit card € (10.00)

Thank you ,
Xtreamer team

At least i got some of my money back, and the package was declared as Sample of Replacement which made me avoid additional tax and customs payments.

Still waiting for an answer…

2011/10/11 1 comment

On 20th of September i sent the package with DHL to Hong Kong.
I wrote my case id on the package and did everything they wanted. But i didn’t received any info if the device arrived yet. My unpatience forced me to sent a request on my shop account today.

Lets see when and what they will answer. Maybe somebody from DHL is transfering the package with a rowing boat to china… Who knows?

I have to wait. Again.

The Story continues: http://integer13.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/xtreamer-sidewinder-2-the-neverending-story/

Delayed dead on arrival

2011/09/20 6 comments

D**n! After two days of operation my SW2 died. I tried some emergency recovering, which didn’t worked at all as the motherboard seem to fail distributing the power properly.  So no boot-up, no USB Boot, Nothing. And I’m pissed.

So, what else to do as to visit the forum, and ask for help. Nobody else had the same issue like me, but other people were writing about crashing SW2 with installed harddisks.

EDIT 22.09.2011: It seems that there are more and more people having the same problem like me..

But maybe i’m just wrong. So, after some questions and and answers (yep, only the same emergency revocery), nobody can help me, I have to open a RMA request.

I opened one and entered every information they needed. Ordernummer, when did i order, problem description and so on..  and then.. waited, for 3 days, 4 days, 5 days.. no answer. Naughty me, writing in the forum again, if someone could please respond to my request. I was immediately answered by the “global admin”, that it takes up to 10 workdays as I can read in the RMA rules. So 14 days until I will just receive a response to a request? I was so excited after 10 working days what will happen next? Do I receive a new one? Did they send it already?

After 14 days i reached my maxium of impatience. So I wrote in the forum again. if somebody please would answer to my request. Again, i got and immediate answer from the admin, that the forum is not such a place for these kind of posts. WTF? What kind of customer relationshit is this? I wrote him back, that this IS the right place for these issues. And they should take care about their additude. Suprisingly i got an answer to my RMA request, after this post. It was the Global Admin who answered my request -.-

Please fill out this form to start the RMA process. WTF? 16 days waiting for NOTHING? That nobody on Xtreamer clicked on the reply button?

This is the mail:

Dear Valued Customer,

We received your RMA request # xxx in our system.
Next steps will include:
• Fill out RMA form-

http://gator884.hostgator.com/~xtreamer/rma/RMA-Form.pdf

IMPORTANT – Incomplete form will not be processed therefore; an RMA# shipping authorization will not be issued.

• Print, scan or take a good quality picture of the form while its open (you cannot save it with your details).
• Mail it back to us: rma.xtreamer@gmail.com for check & documentation, this form should be accepted in our system not later than 72 hours from receiving this mail.
• After getting shipping approval by mail, you will be required to put one copy of this form inside the box and keep one copy for your records.

Kindly notify us within your account order mail.

Thank you in advance, your cooperation is mostly appreciated

Xtreamer Sales Team

OK, I fill everything out (4 Pages) and send it to them.

Next day I got the answer, that was really fast.

<snip>

Please provide us by mail to: <address>@gmail.com
Shipping confirmation by scan pdf of stamped postal receipt showing shipping details: date, sender, recipient & shipping cost.
Kindly use ONLY REGULAR POST MAIL. (Not express mail/ tracking number), according to our check shouldn’t cost more than 10.00 Euro.
• Mention your full name and phone number
• Order number (also on outside package)
• Write your Return Material Authorization number on the outside of the box in bold letters.
• Put one copy of filled RMA form inside the box.

<snip>

A gmail account? OK..

Wait, 10 Euros for a package to Hongkong? “according to our check shouldn’t cost more than 10.00 Euro” What check is that? A normal package costs 15 Euros to Hongkong (Without tracking).  Should i wrap paper around it and send it as letter?  So, better to ask if i should really send it as letter:

Upon Xtreamer RMA policy we refund for shipping cost UP TO 10.00 Euro.

Please note:

All WARRANTY CLAIMS ARE VOIDED IF A PRODUCT IS RECEIVED UNDER ANY OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:

A. Product was damaged during transport as a result of bad packaging.

So you have to pay what ever a package to Hongkong costs, you will reveive only 10 Euros back.

Whatever, I have sent it today and I’m waiting for response now.   It will definitely take 2 more weeks until the device arrives.

If you buy a SW2 and it fails, don’t expect to have a working unit in less than 2 months.

Before it died I was able to made some test. Here ar some results:

  • PRO: Fortunately it has a WEB GUI which allows you to upload Mediafiles with acceptable Speed.
  • PRO: The wireless works very well and has also acceptable speeds.
  • PRO: You can watch full BD Movies over the LAN
  • CON: The GUI is extreme slow
  • CON: The player produces bad judder playing 24p HD movies (It should automatically change to 50hz refresh rate)
  • CON: The Windows File Sharing services is still slow as hell (like 1-2MB/s, and yes it has Gigabit LAN)
  • CON: The Xtreamer online services are very unstable. They crash all the time while trying to watch online movies or just while scrolling them.

I’m so happy to still have my SW1, which I will keep for now.

 

The story goes on.. : http://integer13.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/still-waiting-for-an-answer/

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.