The Short List #7: wpa_passphrase on #FreeBSD. Because plaintext passwords are dumb.

If you have configured wireless networks on your FreeBSD laptop/pc. You can use wpa_passphrase to make the password entries more obscure with the use of wpa_passphrase.

For example, given the following network entry in wpa_supplicant.conf:

psk=”Super Secret Plain Text Password”

wpa_passphrase can give you a psk entry that is more obscure:

$ wpa_passphrase BRUNO
# reading passphrase from stdin
Super Secret Plain Text Password
#psk=”Super Secret Plain Text Password”

Just remember to delete the plain text version when you copy paste it into your config.

Wait … Why is this stuff so hard? — Hacking the Dell DRAC

We recently “destroyed” an Dell Poweredge R720 at the office and it was to be retired to the dust bin.  We ran the Dell updates for firmware things and the machine now is completely unbootable.  Too bad, it was a very nice machine.

But, this led me down an interesting road.  I cracked open the server and started removing components one by one.  Lo and behold I noted that there was a very interesting 4 pin connector on the motherboard labeled “DRAC UART”.  Hmmm … I thought this sounded interesting.  After scrounging up a multimeter, I verified that it was indeed a 3.3 volt connection and seemed to have a ground pin as well.

I grabbed a TTL to USB converted off of my coworkers desk and proceeded to hook it up.  I was surprised and amused to find out that the Dell DRAC 7 seems to be nothing more than a fancy OpenWRT instance running on a Hitachi SH4A 32bit microprocessor.

Cadillac ZFS #FreeBSD

I had an opportunity at work to build up a new machine to do our FreeBSD builds at work this quarter and wanted to see how far I could take ZFS on high end OEM hardware.

After evaluating HP and Dell gear, I settled on the Dell r720xd as my platform to move forward.  Primarily, this was due to the lack of *real* JBOD support on the HP line of SAS controllers.  The Dell H310 has a “SYSPD” option in mfi(4) that allows one to use the raw disks and ignore the RAID capabilites.  I went ahead and modified the FreeBSD mfiutil(4) tool to allow run time configuration into this mode.

I ended up with 64G of RAM and 2x CPU: Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2630 0 @ 2.30GHz (2300.05-MHz K8-class CPU).  I stacked 12x3TB SAS drives (really just SATA drives with SAS firmware, but hey, they cost WAY MORE).

Setup the zpool with 2x raidz1 vdevs on this go around.  There was some debate between myself and other colleagues if I should have gone with 1 raidz2 pool.  It theoretically would have some better failure handling since I would have 2x parity disks in the same pool, but it seemed that I should go with 2x vdevs, each with 1 parity drive in this case because of how much write activity building 7 different FreeBSD distributions simultaneously would generate.

I ended up with a zpool that looks like this:

pool: zroot
state: ONLINE
scan: scrub repaired 0 in 0h0m with 0 errors on Wed Aug 21 15:55:09 2013

zroot             ONLINE       0     0     0
raidz1-0        ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd1p3   ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd2p3   ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd3p3   ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd4p3   ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd5p3   ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd0p3   ONLINE       0     0     0
raidz1-1        ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd6p3   ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd7p3   ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd8p3   ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd9p3   ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd10p3  ONLINE       0     0     0
mfisyspd11p3  ONLINE       0     0     0


Performance wise, this machine now spits out our production images in about 95 minutes as opposed to the 255 minutes from before.  Its a complete dead lift of hardware, new cpus, disks, more ram, different F/S, etc.  I’m pretty happy with it, but of course, its Cadillac prices, so your mileage will vary.