Well, after a couple of days of R & R from the marathon drive, mostly spent unpacking and finding where things have “gone off to”; I’m more or less functional again.
Both me, personally, as I’ve actually gotten some sleep, and me as a technical entity as I’ve been rediscovering the joys of “bit rot”. For anyone not of the geek persuasion, bit rot is what happens to your electronics as time passes and they don’t, quite. “Things change”, and that often means something that worked before is now broken.
So first off, I found that the power to the power strip that had my network gear in it was unplugged. Then, that the GFI for that outlet set was tripped. Folks had “cleaned up” the space some and it looks like they were unclear on the concept of “leave it alone” and “don’t unplug anything”. (They were, however, willing to inform me that “the internet is down” when I was on the other coast, and were unable to take the direction of “find where the power plug goes and make sure it is plugged in all the way to the wall and that the wall socket has power…)
That, however, would not have been quite enough. You see, I had a three level network set up. The ISP router (with passworded WiFi), an internal passworded WiFi with my servers on it, and an open no password WiFi that had “controls” but let you to the internet. It was that “internal passworded” WiFi router that was the issue. It had died. Likely in a fall to the floor when folks were “cleaning”… It was also the center of the internal universe of services. Sigh.
But, the “open internet” was also shut down.
After some amount of new configuring, I had basic internet back up. Then came the joy of bitrot. The most major, really, was finding that several old systems could no longer get to web pages. TLS upgrades have spread through the internet as folks discovered it was better to have a secure new version of security than be backwards compatible with “old browsers”. Fine, unless all you have on those boxes is “old browsers”. So I set out to upgrade the browsers.
No joy. First off, things were bog slow. Second, it’s hard to download a new browser when your old browser isn’t supported anymore…. Finally, some of these systems were set up a decade or two back and apparently are not thought of as worth thinking about. I am presently typing this on a Windoz- 2K box. Attempts to install a newer Opera or Firefox gave me a 32 bit exe to do the install, but attempts to run it gave ‘this is not a valid executable’. Sigh. No, I’m not going to buy a new MS license when I really don’t want to use it anyway and Linux has now gotten “compatible enough”. So a conversion of stuff off of the box is on the cards… Add “Convert everything on W2k box to Linux after building Linux server” to the ToDo list.
But wait, there’s more…
This box had been dual boot Windows / Red Hat (it’s also the GIStemp box du jour). But it has decided to only boot directly to Windows now. OK, another ‘update conversion’ on the ToDo list. Figure out how to get GRUB to show it’s face so I can choose which to boot… This is a ‘way old’ Red Hat, so will not solve my browser modernity issue. It is dedicated to a working GIStemp service only, really. With custom compiler installs and such.
Booting from a SliTaz CD lets me see both disks, so “it’s all there”, just the boot has gone a bit off…
My “boot from CD and screw security it is read-only while browsing” CDs are all now too old to have a browser that is acceptable to the world, so “make new CDs” is a ToDo as well. Except it is hard to make a CD when the drive is in use running the OS, so back to that make Windoz go… It looks like my older Opera is “good enough”, though with a couple of quirks it didn’t have before (like edit postings in WordPress now is ‘jerky’ as they have updated something to not-quite-compatible land), but may be good enough to let me at least download and burn new Disposible Linux CDs. I hope. (I think it has a r/w drive in it and not just a reader… maybe… I used the laptop last time. I’d use the new Mac my spouse uses, except it doesn’t do ‘media’ and has no drives for such things…it’s all about the cloud, you know…)
So downloading a copy of Knoppix started. And took a very long time. Seems that the boundary router is slowly retraining to know what frequencies work best on this wire (normal) and that can take a few days to get to full speed (or so the telco claims…)
Then I found that any page loads with multiple ads and such were awful slow. DNS issues. Found and got started my Raspberry Pi DNS server (in the process discovering one of the two boards was now toast… order more Raspberry Pi boards on the ToDo list…) and set it up. That then lead to DNS Wars…
OK, often folks think the “internet” is slow or the “network” is slow when it really is just that their DNS lookups are slow. In this case the telco DNS servers are not always the fastest. I built a local cacheing DNS server on a R.Pi so as to make that issue go away. Setting it back up was a bit of fun, and I found that a couple of the DNS upstream servers it had pointed to were now gone. Sigh. More bit rot. It is now up, and my tablet pointed at it and it is a nice improvement. But the Windoz box doesn’t like it as it does not have a network name when a reverse lookup is done (that MS seems to think is essential) so it will not use the DNS server as configged. “Add MS garbage to DNS server” added to ToDo list… Looking into the settings on the W2K box showed one interface with hard coded addresses for the dead internal router. Sigh. Changed it to the “open” router (add security to “open” router on ToDo list… Get longer paper for ToDo list added to ToDo list…) and all was sort of good.
Except Opera and other browsers were timing out on things and having “issues” and… well, not good. Looking into it, the hard coded DNS servers in the W2k box were essentially dead and MIA. So it was falling back through a list to things to eventually using the boundary router. I’ve temporarily fixed that via making one interface point to OpenDNS and the other point to GoogleDNS with each having a secondary of the boundary router. Now it’s much much faster and the timouts look to be gone.
And just think, I’ll get to do all this again on the Red Hat side when I get it to boot again…
But for now, I’ve got the “open” WiFi working (it’s a slow link for anyone visiting) but need to find the PW for it to make sure it is handing out sane DNS servers (IIRC it just looked up stream to the boundary router, but the ToDo list has ‘check it’ now…) and I’ve got the direct secure WiFi going with Telco DNS as served from the boundary router directly, and I’ve got my internal DNS server working for everything but Windowz2k. I’ve also got a ‘good enough’ browser / keyboard combo for making some postings, though with questionable security. (Add “make secure workstation” to the priority ToDo list… Linux CD with internal DNS server).
For now, this will do, even if this old version of Opera is a bit quirky with the WordPress editor (and down right freaks out on the ‘new’ beep bop boop crap editor).
One brick at a time the office rises from the ashes of a few years of neglect and comes back to life, as the rotted bits (like rotted ice?) melt away and are replaced with more workable bits. Oh, and Silicon Valley has lots of computer fixit places, so getting a new fan in the old HP Laptop is now on the ToDo list too.
I’m happy to have (now) reasonably fast and stable internet browsing and “good enough” article entry as I work on making the whole thing more sturdy and secure (again). Though maybe a bit less complex this time. Maybe I don’t really need three levels of WiFi and routing ;-)