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  • Jay Versluis 3:59 pm on November 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Categories: Mac OS X ( 1 )

    How to launch Mac Apps on your External Display by default 

    Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 13.53.03

    Even on the best computers there are some things you only do every once in a blue moon – at which point you’ve forgotten what you did last time to make it work. Setting up a second display with your MacBook is such a case. Here’s what worked for me when I installed my Thunderbolt Display last year. We’ve just added another one in our office – here’s to doing it again in the future.

    When you plug that beautiful 27″ puppy into your MacBook Pro or Air it works without any trouble: the dock is at the bottom of both displays, and even the menu bar seems to follow you onto whichever monitor you click. Magic!

    Apps however remember which monitor they were launched on last, and if you’ve never had a second display attached to your system then most of them will default to that little laptop screen instead of your new desktop centre piece. This is not an issue if you simply close the lid on your laptop because your graphics card only sees a single display.

    If you do use both displays though, there is a way to tell your Mac which one to launch an app on by default. And here’s how to do that:

    (More …)

     
  • Jay Versluis 11:10 am on November 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Windows ( 8 )

    How to restart Windows via RDP 

    Windows IconWhen you’re connected via RDP to a remote Windows machine, the Restart and Shutdown options are not there. Instead they’ve been replaced with only a lonely disconnect option to end your session.

    To restart or shutdown your remote machine we’ll have to use the command line’s shutdown command. Here’s how.

     

    At the Command Prompt (searching usually brings it right up) type

    shutdown /r /t 0

    This will restart Windows. /r means “restart”, and /t specifies the time in seconds (zero in our case).

    If you’d like to shutdown the machine instead, type

    shutdown /s

     

     
  • Jay Versluis 11:50 am on November 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Categories: Linux, Plesk ( 51 )

    How to install Plesk on CentOS 7 

    Plesk-LogoInstalling Plesk on CentOS 7 hasn’t changed drastically from earlier versions, however CentOS is different than its predecessors. I’ve written an article about how to install Plesk on CentOS 6, but that was 3 years ago and thought it’s time for an updated version.

    Well here it is: Plesk 12, meet CentOS 7.

     

    Plesk Documentation

    Much of what I’m telling you and more is documented on the Parallels Plesk website:

    On the left hand side you’ll find a link to the current documentation, as well as handy links to purchase a license if you need to. The link will also answer your questions about the different editions of Plesk and direct you to the Parallels Forum.

     

    One-Click Installer

    The Plesk one-click installer is a script that downloads itself and determines the correct Plesk version for your OS. You won’t accidentally pick the wrong version for your distribution. Paste this and the installer will download the latest version of Plesk (12 at the time of writing):

    wget -O - http://autoinstall.plesk.com/one-click-installer | sh

    If you get an error message, wget may not be installed. Rectify this pitiful situation like this:

    yum install wget

     

    To download older versions of Plesk you can download the one-click-installer file and run it with the option –show-all-releases. This will give you the option to specify your desired Plesk version with –select-release-id. For more information, run the file with the –help option.

    I’ve noticed that the installer is much quicker than on previous versions of Plesk and is finished in under 10 mins (as opposed to half an hour previously). This is presumably due to many packages that are pre-installed with CentOS 7, so not much time is spent downloading stuff. Nice!

    Once finished the installer will give you a URL to login with – usually consisting of your IP, like https://10.1.2.3:8843

     

    Opening Ports for Plesk

    On CentOS 6 and prior the firewall rules were set via iptables. This service is gone and has been replaced with firewalld in CentOS 7. We still need to open ports to speak to Plesk via a browser. The two important ones to open here are 8443 and 8447:

     firewall-cmd --zone=public --add-port=8443/tcp --permanent
     firewall-cmd --zone=public --add-port=8447/tcp --permanent
     firewall-cmd --reload

    The –permanent option makes these rules “stick” upon restart.

    These are not the only ports Plesk needs to function, for a full list please see this KB article:

    There is usually no need to open other ports if you install the Firewall extension in Plesk, as this will manage the underlying service for you (and apply the necessary open ports). To do this, head over to Tools and Settings – Updates and Upgrades and install the Firewall Extension (under Additional Plesk extensions).

    Next head over to Extensions select the Firewall Module. Select “Enable Firewall Rules Management”, followed by another enable button. Now Plesk will manage the firewall for you and open all ports ready for web and email traffic.

     

    Add Atomic Repo Power (optional)

    If you’d like to supercharge your server, now’s a good time to install the Atomic repos. These will give you access to many additional tools such as pre-compiled OSSEC HIDS and additional PHP versions:

    wget -q -O - http://www.atomicorp.com/installers/atomic.sh | sh

     

    Loggin in for the first time

    With your dedicated IP handy, the installer script will have given you something like https://10.1.2.3:8443. Surf there and be presented with the Plesk login screen.

    But what are your credentials? I’m glad you asked: the first time you login to Plesk you can do so with your server root credentials. This even works on subsequent sessions, however Plesk creates an admin user for which you will specify the password during your first session.

    It is strongly recommended that you use that admin user for Plesk administrative tasks. You can also create additional administrators in Plesk once you’re up and running – so there’s no need to share your super secret password with colleagues and clients.

     

    Correcting your IP address (optional)

    It can happen that Plesk does not detect the correct IP address on your server. This was never the case in CentOS 6, but I’ve noticed this in CentOS 7. In my case the Plesk installer thought that the local loopback address was my main one (127.0.0.1) – which of course it was not.

    You can usually correct this on first login, but just in case you need to do this from the command line, check this helpful KB article:

     

    License Key and Additional Components

    You need a license to operate Plesk. You’ll get this either from your server provider (if Plesk is part of your deal), or you can buy one directly from Parallels. You can also run Plesk as a 14 day trial version. If you don’t enter this you can still use the Plesk interface but you’ll be limited to a single domain and several options are unavailable.

    In case you’re missing menu items that you had expected to be there, it’s probably a license issue.

    I find it helpful to head over to Tools and Settings (or the Server Tab) – Plesk – Updates and Upgrades and install several additional components, such as

    • Health Monitor
    • Migration Manager
    • Firewall (under Additional Plesk Extensions)
    • Watchdog (under Additional Plesk Extensions)
    • Spam Assassin (under Mail hosting features)
    • Kapersky Anti Virus (under Mail hosting features)

    You can also install Fail2ban from this menu if you like – I personally rely on OSSEC to deal with intrusion detection and choose not to use Fail2ban at this point.

     

    That’s it! Have fun with Plesk ;-)

     
  • Jay Versluis 4:33 pm on October 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Categories: Mac ( 2 )

    Rehearse your Yosemite Upgrade before you go live 

    Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 17.49.01

    Updating to the latest version of OS X is tempting – but there’s always a risk that some of your older apps may stop working. If only there was a way to “rehearse” the update process on a dummy system.

    I’m happy to tell you that there is, and it’s neither as expensive as a brand new computer, nor as time consuming as recreating your entire system from a time machine backup. In this article I’ll show you how.

    Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

    • 1x external USB drive, bootable (Seagate Backup Plus, WD My Passport, any of those – USB 3 preferred)
    • 1x copy of Shirt Pocket’s SuperDuper (don’t judge them by their name)
    • 1x fresh pot of coffee
    • patience and 1-2hrs of uninterrupted time

     

    The Principle

    Copying your entire hard drive and isolating every file takes a long time – especially if you don’t have USB 3 (like me). Transferring 500GB or more will take over 24 hours, perhaps longer. No can do.

    Enter SuperDuper! It’s a utility with which you can do something even better. I got hold of a copy a few years ago when I replaced my internal MacBook Pro hard disk with an SSD. The free version does a complete clone, but it also has a feature called Sandbox which you can access when you buy the full version.

    Sandbox does not copy all files over to an external drive. Instead, it copies user and system files and leaves the rest untouched. It still creates a bootable volume, so all mission critical data is isolated (including Mac apps like Safari, Mail, iMovie, etc). But all your other 3rd party apps, as well as your Documents and Desktop are shared and remain untouched.

    When I say shared I mean that after you’ve finished creating the Sandbox on an external drive (or even an internal partition) you’ll be able to choose which system you boot into and access all your data either way.

    This is done cleverly by creating symbolic links to your internal drive for everything that the external drive would need to access. It’s like shortcuts in Windows.

     

    Creating the Sandbox Drive

    Grab your external drive, plug it in and erase it using Disk Utility (Applications – Utilities – Disk Utility). Make sure your partition is Mac Extended Journaled flavour (not NTFS or anything else).

    Next, download a copy of SuperDuper from Shirt Pocket. You need to buy the full version to get access to the Sandbox feature. However, if you’re strapped for cash and have a lot of time on your hands, you can still perform a full clone instead – that’s part of the free version. It just takes a little longer.

    Start SuperDuper and you’re presented with a dialogue similar to this:

    Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 15.48.58

    Under Copy select your current (internal) drive. In the other dropdown select your target (external) drive. You’ll see several options in the third drop down which reads “Sandbox – shared users and applications” in my screenshot. Select this option.

    Other options include a full backup, as well as Sandbox – shared users. The latter copies all your 3rd party apps so will take more time, and it’s not necessary for our exercise here. Hit Copy Now and grab a coffee – this could take some time.

    SuperDuper will go ahead and erase your volume and will tell you when it’s finished.

     

    Booting into the Sandbox

    With your external drive still attached, head over to System Preferences – Startup Disk. Select your external drive here. Hit Restart and your Mac will boot into the external Sandbox. This will take a little longer than usual, simply because the read speed from an external volume is much slower than an internal SATA drive – especially if you’re used to an SSD or Fusion Drive.

     

    Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 15.53.40

     

    Once restarted you may not notice any other differences. Dropbox didn’t want to work for me, but other than that my system looked exactly like I had left it. With one big and important difference of course: under Applications I can now see many of my app icons with a small arrow in the bottom left corner:

     

    Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 11.13.52

     

    That arrow indicates a symbolic link (shown here on Parallels Desktop, Poedit and Sculptris). If I were to launch one of those they would be started from their original location, i.e. my internal hard disk. Other apps like Safari and Photo Booth don’t have an arrow – those are started from my external drive because they’re classed as “system apps” and have been copied over.

    If an upgrade like Yosemite comes along it will overwrite all those system apps and other system files – but only on the external drive. If this messes anything up then all I have to do is head over to System Preferences and boot into my internal drive again – still untouched, still running Mavericks and still working fine.

    Now you can “test upgrade” to Mavericks on the external drive and see if all is working. Take your time and test everything thoroughly. I found that the older drivers for my Wacom Bamboo 1st Generation are no longer working – my Intros 4 however has a different driver and is still working fine (contrary to what I thought at first when I made the video).

     

    Upgrading the Sandbox to Yosemite

    There are probably better guides out there that tell you exactly how you upgrade, so I’ll just give you a few pointers:

    • open App Store
    • head over to Updates (or click that massive Yosemite mountain on the front page)
    • download the installer
    • wait

    Once the 5+GB have downloaded (straight into Applications – Install OS X Yosemite.app) you may want to copy this file to a safe place. This will save you a second download when you decide to install Yosemite for real. This installer will be removed automatically when Yosemite has finished – so now’s your chance to grab it.

    And one final tip: you may need to install Java for OS X in case some of your apps don’t start under Yosemite. If that happens OS X will show you a little dialogue box and direct you to the following link when you click More Options: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1572

     

    Done with Yosemite?

    If you want to go back to your previous system, simply head over to System Preferences – Startup Disk again and select your internal drive, then restart. No matter if your sandbox is still plugged in or not, you’ll be back on Mavericks with no system changes.

     

    Updating the internal drive (when you’re ready)

    If you’re happy that your system will survive the update, go ahead and update via the installer, or download the installer again from the App Store. This will take some time (again).

    If you’re impatient, you’ll be pleased to hear that SuperDuper also offers to copy changes from the Sandbox back to the internal drive. It will tell you all about this in the documentation, under the section “Maintaining a Sandbox”. It’s worth the read.

     
  • Jay Versluis 8:24 am on October 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Categories: Plesk, Screencasts ( 49 )

    How to create Scheduled Tasks in Plesk 

    In this video I’ll show you how to create Scheulded Tasks in Plesk. I’ll explain where to find them (for admins and customers), how to execute them and what all those cryptic fields mean. I’ll also show you how to mute the output of the commands you execute so you won’t be bothered with emails you didn’t ask for.

    Scheduled Task is another name for Cron Job, and it’s something you want to run on a regular basis, like a script file. Plesk itself does not execute your task. Instead it will give you a nice interface to add the parameters you need for the Linux crontab command (or the equivalent on Windows, I believe it’s called at or schtasks).

     

    Cryptic Numbers

    The cryptic numbers in each field are crontab parameters. Numbers for those fields correspond to their description (i.e. 0-59 for minutes, 0-23 for hours, etc).

    One thing of note (and confusion) is how to define endless repetitions. We can do this with the asterisk and slash combinations.

    • * means “every”, as in “every minute”, “every hour”, “every day”
    • */4 means “every 4″, as in “every 4 hours”
    • 5-11 means “every number in between”, such as 5,6,7,8,9,10,11

    To find out more about the crontab command, head over to a great nixCraft article here:

     

    Muting Output

    By default Plesk will send you an email with any output a script or command may generate. You can avoid this by diverting all output to /dev/null. This is a virtual partition that magically makes things disappear.

    In the video I’m using a fictitious script /var/script.php. To divert its potential output I would use

    /var/script.php > /dev/null 2>&1

     

    A note about Script Files

    If you’re executing BASH, PHP, Python or any other script, make sure your files contain the she-bang at the very beginning to that your server can find the correct path. Here’s an example for how a PHP script should start:

    #!/usr/bin/php

    Note that web files that are designed to run in a browser cannot be called that way. You need to call those using cURL or wget.

     

     

     
  • Jay Versluis 8:56 am on October 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Plesk, Screencasts ( 49 )

    How to add Custom Buttons in Plesk 12 

    In this screencast I’ll show you how to create Custom Buttons in the Customer Control Panel in Plesk 12. These are direct links to URLs you can provide with the same look and feel as the rest of Plesk.

    Custom Buttons allow you to create links within Plesk or to external sources, like your website or a contact form. If you’re a developer you can even read out parameters that are passed with the URL (such as customer’s domain name). You can link to external sources as well as other areas of the Plesk Panel – including destinations you’ve created with extensions.

     

     
  • Jay Versluis 10:27 am on October 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Windows ( 8 )

    How to auto-start programmes in Windows 

    Windows7

    Remember the humble Autostart folder in Windows 3.1? You could simply add shortcuts to your favourite “apps” or documents to it which would automatically launch when Windows started. Except we didn’t call them “apps” in those days.

    It’s still possible to use this handy feature in Windows XP, Windows 7 and even Windows 8.1 – however the way to accomplish the same goal has changed slightly over the years.

    In this article I’ll show you how to do it. Before we start, have a shortcut to the programme in question ready on your Desktop. We’ll drag it into the appropriate folder in a moment.

     

    Windows XP

    • right-click START, then select EXPLORE
    • double-click Programs, revealing several shortcuts and a Startup Folder
    • double-click Startup
    • drag your shortcut into this folder

    The next time you restart Windows XP, your shortcut will be executed, starting the programme. Likewise, if you’d like to remove something from the auto-start routine, simply remove the shortcut from this folder. Happiness.

    PS: Windows XP has had its day and is no longer supported since April 2014.

     

    Windows 7

    Very similar to Windows XP (see the animated gif at the top for a demonstration):

    • click START, then select All Programs
    • find the Startup folder and right-click it
    • a new window will open up
    • drag your shortcut into it

    Next time you start Windows 7 your “app” will be started automagically. Remove the shortcut if you no longer need it to prevent it from being launched on startup.

     

    Windows 8.1

    Things have drastically changed in Windows 8.1, but with a bit of finesse we can get there just the same:

    • open Internet Explorer (not a joke)
    • type the following into the URL bar shell:startup
    • a new Explorer window opens up
    • drag your shortcut into it

    And again, if you no longer need it, simply remove the shortcut from that folder. This also works on Windows 8.

     

    Further Reading

     
    • cheesypt 6:45 am on November 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      on Windows 8.1, you say “a new Explorer window opens up”
      I just got thrown into Bing search

      • Jay Versluis 7:01 am on November 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Very good point cheesypt, there was a colon missing. Try it again with
        shell:startup
        I’ve corrected the article.

  • Jay Versluis 9:27 am on October 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Categories: Plesk, Screencasts ( 49 )

    Setting up Plesk Mail on iOS 8 (iPad) 

    In this screencast I’m explaining how to setup your iOS Device for use with Email Accounts created in Plesk 12. I’m also explaining how to map IMAP folders from your email account to the relevant folders on your iOS Device.

    For this demo I’m using an iPad 3 running iOS 8, but the process is the same on your iPhone and iPod Touch and older versions of iOS.

    It’s a rather complex setup (as dealing with email accounts usually is) and has caused me and my customers major headaches in the past. I hope this video can alleviate such pains. If setup properly, Plesk Mail is a pleasure to deal with and works very reliably.

    Sadly iOS Mail does not discover the settings it needs to work with your Plesk Mail automatically, but with a bit of help and guidance it’s easy to get it working. Let me show you how.

     
  • Jay Versluis 7:21 am on September 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Categories: Plesk, Screencasts ( 49 )

    Setting up Plesk Mail on Mac OSX Mavericks (10.9) 

    In this screencast I’m explaining how to setup Mac Mail for use with Email Accounts created in Plesk 12.  I’m also explaining how to map IMAP folders from your email account to the relevant folders on your Mac.

    It’s a rather complex setup (as dealing with email accounts usually is) and has caused me and my customers major headaches in the past, I hope this video can alleviate such pains. If setup properly, Plesk Mail is a pleasure to deal with and works very reliably.

    Sadly however Mac Mail cannot discover the settings it needs to work with your Plesk Mail automatically, but with a bit of help and guidance it’s easy to get it working. Let me show you how.

    I’ve created a similar screencast to show you how this works in iOS:

     
  • Jay Versluis 7:09 pm on September 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Categories: How To ( 27 )

    How to open up your Samsung NC10 

    Here’s a great video by Floppydonkey on how to open up your Samsung NC10 (and NC150). This comes in handy if you’d like to replace the hard disk.

    The tools we need are a small philips head screwdriver, a small flat screwdriver or spudger, and a tough finger nail.

    In a nutshell, and VERY CAREFULLY:

    • turn your little buddy over onto a soft surface (lid closed, top down so that the back is facing you, headphone sockets face left)
    • take off the battery
    • loosen all screws, including those marked KEYBD (leave the ones for the memory flap)
    • where the battery once was, take the flat screwdriver and pop the two black plastic clips, just next to the two metal parts (inwards). Those are the two main clips that hold the tiny plastic body together.
    • take a tough fingernail and pop the back of the laptop where the battery sat (between those metal clips)
    • once done, lift the right side of the back first, leaving the headphone sockets
    • this is a bit fragile, but the whole back will lift off to the left
    • take out the cover from the headphone sockets
    • you’re done!

    The hard drive is held with one screw, simply take it out and slide the hard disk to the right, off the connector. It’s enclosed in a shelf of sorts, which is held onto the drive with two screws opposed the connector.

    Put everything back together in reverse order.

    Good luck!

     
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