27 Oct

nfsen + debian + apache = d’oh

I was re-doing one of my lab monitoring tools, a VM that hosted too many sparse and poorly maintained pieces of software. Now re-homing each bit onto its own VM (partially for sanity) – I ended up re-installing the excellent NFSen (a netflow monitoring tool/frontend for nfdump).

The software includes a directory named ‘icons’ in the web root, which doesn’t seem insane to me. What is insane, however, is Apache’s decision (by default!) to include an alias for a folder named ‘icons’ in the root. That means that without knowing it, the NFSen icons folder was being redirected to /usr/share/apache2/…/ whatever. That caused a headache.

To find this out, I ran:
cd /etc/apache2
grep -iR /usr/share *

This told me about the dang alias file, /etc/apache2/mods-available/alias.conf

I went into that file, commented out this dumb default, reset apache and now it’s away laughing.

14 Oct

QoS for your Linux Plex box

FireQos in action

FireQos in action

When Jim Salter┬áposted about FireQos the other day, it made me take note. FireQos is a unix’y firewall ‘for humans’. In my day job, QoS is a complex and multi-faceted thing, requiring tonnes of design, thought and understanding to implement correctly (not to mention hardware). It has dramatic effects on network traffic when set up correctly, but that usually means end-to-end config across a domain, so marking at one end of the network translates to actions all the way through. That’s a bit much for home.

I was interested, as I had a problem. Behind my TV I have an Intel NUC, with a little i3 processor and 802.11n wifi. I use it to torrent things, run a Plex server and be a multi-purpose Linux machine for my own needs the rest of the time. (OwnCloud is still running on the Raspberry Pi 3, mind you). When I was pulling down a delicious new Debian image at 12MB/s, and trying to watch something on Plex (via the PS4), things got a bit choppy. Try to VNC into the box from my laptop to throttle the torrent was always annoying, it could take minutes for the screen to refresh if a very hearty download was going on. Like most nerds, the slightest delay caused by my own setup was slowly tearing me apart.

This is where FireQos comes in. With a very simple install and a couple of minutes of settings out of the way, the performance improved dramatically. All I did was prioritise the traffic for Plex, SSH, VNC and browsing over torrents/anything else – and like magic, everything works smoothly altogether – with no throttling on the torrent client.

Remember before where I said QoS really needs to be end-to-end in the network to make a difference? In this case, not true. By simply tweaking the Linux handling of packets, things have gotten much better with the rest of the network unaware anything is happening. Obviously, this would improve if I had a router that was also participating in the fun, but I don’t.. Yet. At the moment, if another device tries to use the network when a full torrent storm is going on, it’s toast.

Anyhow, check out the FireQos tutorial here, and give it a crack yourself. There’s basically no risk, go nuts.

Here’s my fireqos.conf file, so you can copypasta it if you like.