Installing Plixer’s “Scrutinizer” NPMD

Plixer makes a good “Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics” (NPMD) application called “Scrutinizer“. NPMD, as Gartner calls it, mostly omeans, collecting, aggregating, and reporting on Netflow data.

Plixer provides a VMware OVF for installation of a virtual appliance. I, however, ran into a few issues with the installation:

  • I couldn’t get the install to work OVF through vCenter successfully, or at least vCenter 6.5. It would install, but when I booted it would come up to a PXE boot, rather than CentOS which the appliance runs on. The answer was to install it through the Windows vSphere ESXi client or through the web vSphere ESXi client.
  • Setting up SSL (HTTPS) during the initial install prompts wouldn’t work. Everything seemed fine, but on final boot of the Scrutinizer appliance, the HTTP/HTTPS wouldn’t come up at all. It turned out it hadn’t actually generated the certificates and files were missing. The answer is to select “no” to SSL in the initial dialog, then when fully up, log in using the “plixer” login and use the “set ssl on” option after the fact. SSL then works correctly afterwards.
  • By default it will bind to IPv6 ports and not to IPv4 ports (!) to listen for Netflow data. The solution is to log into the Scrutinizer server/guest as root and disable IPv6 per this document. Specifically, I recommend the “/etc/sysctl.conf” change as it is relatively simple to execute.
  • When logged in as “root”, doing a “yum update” is useful, though I would do the following bullet after.
  • When logged in as “plixer”, it’s useful to run the “set tuning” as well as “update packages”, though oddly it seems to run back one of the kernel updates from the last bullet.

Now I just need to figure why I’m still not seeing the packets from the ASA…

I was but the learner, now I am the “Radar Technician”…

Matt Radar Technician

Ubuntu package commands

Because Ubuntu has a mix of utilities to manage packages I constantly seem to be forgetting the options I need when I go to do basic package management. Mostly for my sake are the ones I use most regularly:

List installed packages:

List names of available packages (including those not installed):

Tell what package owns what file:

List files in a given package:

Force a package reinstall:

Show general package information:

Show package dependency information:

Good basic email advice

Professor Alan Woodward from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Surrey via The Register:

“Educate users not to open files that they are not expecting. Practice your ABCs – Assume nothing. Believe no one, and Check everything should be drummed into users – personally I preach ABCD – if in any doubt Delete.”

Incidentally internal simulated phishing is extremely effective in my experience.

Fix Apple Bonjour with Cisco autonomous APs

I purchased some used Cisco C1140 autonomous access points for my home network (autonomous meaning not lightweight or requiring a WLC). While everything seemed to be fine at first, later we noticed that printouts to our Canon laser printer were no longer working from our Macs. After some research I realized that the Macs were failing to locate the printer due to Apple Bonjour protocol issues. Google searches led to partial solutions, but most required a downgrade of the AP IOS – a no, no as a security professional.

I kept looking and it turns out my savior was actually a Chromecast user with the same issue. Two configuration changes on the APs to disable IGMP snooping had to be executed, not one:

All the prior advice was just to disable the former, which didn’t work (at least without an AP downgrade!). Adding the second line did the full trick.

You may need to disconnect and reconnect to the wireless for full effect. Since multicast IGMP has other uses, I can’t guarantee the impact in a larger environment.


Well, this may or may not work. In the end it seemed not to for me, but it’s still worth a try in your network.

Dell PERC 5i/R or H200 VMware Performance Fix

I had an old Dell PERC 5i/R RAID card laying around and wanted to use it for a home lab ESXi box (note: also works on Dell PERC H200). The card isn’t amazingly high performance, but it it’s good enough for simple RAID. Well, that is, it’s good enough performance if you change the settings. By default “write caching” is disabled – that unfortunately includes even “write caching” on the drives themselves (5i/R doesn’t have cache so it’s always “Write Through”, the H200 has cache, but is disabled by default). Therefore by default write performance is downright painful.

Fortunately it’s not too difficult to fix if you can pull together the right tools. I was lucky enough to find a post by “tonyd88” on this Dell support forum which explains the process. Below, I attempt to summarize the steps for posterity.

WARNING: If you enable write caching on the 5i/R or H200, because of the lack of battery backup (BBU) there is a risk that if you lose power mid-write, you will corrupt your disk, OS, etc. Not only use at your own risk, but ideally at least have a UPS on your system.


  • Locate a copy of “LSIUtil.exe”. The Dell RAID 5i/R was made by LSI. LSI was sold to Avago Technologies and a copy of it appears to be here, but you may need to look around in Avago’s legacy driver downloads. The latest version I have found is 1.62.
  • You’ll need to create a DOS boot disk or thumb drive with the LSIUtil.exe on it. Unfortunately explaining how to do that is a bit beyond the scope of this article. Google is your friend.
  • It is likely you will need “DOS4GW.EXE” also on the boot disk. You’ll have to find a reputable download or buy it here. This may be a potential alternative.
  • Install the Dell 5i/R RAID card in the system and boot to your newly created DOS boot disk/drive.
  • Run the LSIUtil.exe binary.
  • Select your controller. Hopefully there will only be one, but otherwise you’ll have to figure it out. Choose the number that matches and hit <enter>.
  • Select option “21”, “RAID actions” (type 21 and <enter>).
  • Select option “32”, “Change Volume Setting” (type 32 and <enter>). This submenu’s first item is the critical change:
    • On the first prompt for “write caching” type “yes” and <enter>.
    • For “Offline on SMART Data” just hit <enter> for default or change to whatever you want.
    • For “Auto configuration” just hit <enter> for default or change to whatever you want.
    • For “Priority resynch” just hit <enter> for default or change to whatever you want.
    • For “Hot Spare Pools” just hit <enter> for default or change to whatever you want.
  • At the next prompt type 0 <enter> to quit. Just continue to hit <enter> until it drops all the way out to DOS.

You’re done. Pull the boot drive and reboot to whatever OS you’re going to use on it. VMware happily uses the cards.

Fix VMware Web Client Integration Plugin for Chrome on Mac OS X El Capitan (10.11)

The latest vCenter Server 6.0 VMware Web Client Integration Plugin does not work on OS X El Capitan. The installer finishes, but silently fails due to missing libraries, libraries that probably existed in earlier OS X versions.

Because the libraries don’t exist, necessary certificates don’t get generated, and even re-running the installer from the application directory won’t solve it (including with the below hack). What you need to do is ensure the libraries will be there when the installer gets to the “Running package scripts…” section on initial install.

There are a number of possible solutions, but the below seems the cleanest and doesn’t require multiple installs.

Before installing the application, do the following:

Then run the full installer.

This will create a hack to allow the packaged libraries to be used when the package scripts get run. If it’s working correctly the “Running package scripts…” will take many minutes to run as it executes “openssl” to generate the following:

/Applications/VMware Client Integration

If it instead installs very quickly, you can be fairly certain it didn’t install correctly and probably VMware has changed something yet again. If it works, you can both upload files and deploy OVF files.

Hopefully VMware will create a permanent fix. More on why this plugin is required can be found here. How to install/upgrade the plugin itself can be found here.


Jonathon McTaggart (thank you Jonathon!) gave the following update for the latest plugin:


It appears VMware has essentially documented the same fix here, rather than fixing the installer:

The problem is, they are also suggesting you disable a fundamental OS protection temporarily as well. That is a major PIA and sadly doesn’t seem to work on macOS Sierra. I can use OVFs, but I can’t do file uploads. Apparently there is a integrated ESXi HTTP client that some are working on here (via here) that seems to offer some options. This has been a problem for over a year now…

Get RPM install date

Sometimes you don’t know when an RPM was installed – maybe it was updated, maybe it came with the system. In any case, it can be handy when debugging or even for auditing purposes. This gives an example of getting the install time for the “filesystem” package:

somehost%  rpm -q filesystem --queryformat '%{name} %{installtime:date}\n'
filesystem Mon 18 May 2015 02:57:16 PM EDT

Really all you need is the “%{installtime:date}\n”, but the name can be handy if you want to use it with “-qa” (query all). Also can be handy to put “%{installtime}” (gives seconds since epoch) on the front and run it through “sort -n” to find out order of install.

Windows 10 under Fusion sluggish

If you made the mistake of upgrading your virtual copy of Windows under Mac OS X using VMware Fusion (version 8 here), you may find Windows 10 runs painfully sluggish. The answer? Disable 3D graphics acceleration.

  • Shut down the virtual machine.
  • Bring up the virtual machine settings (⌘E).
  • Select “Display”:

  • Deselect (remove the checkbox for) “Accelerate 3D Graphics”:

  • Close out the settings, and restart the virtual machine.

If you’re like me, you’ll find it far, far more usable.


Having purchased a more modern i7 based Mac I can thankfully say this is no longer necessary.

ASA Firewall Rules of Thumb

Some important Cisco ASA firewall details I and others have learned and shared over the years:

  • Don’t use “security-level” as your method of security. In the long term at best “security-level” will cause you to block traffic you didn’t expect, at worst, it will allow traffic you didn’t want. Why? Well…
  • If you add an ACL on the “in” side of any interface (that is “into the ASA”), once it’s in the ASA, the security level doesn’t matter anymore. It’s very easy to forget this. However you can protect yourself by…
  • Always add “out” rules. Any “in” rules should be matched by “out” rules on the final destination interface. This is insurance in case you missed or were overly broad on your “in” rules.
  • Configure all of the interfaces to the same “security-level”. If you enable “same-security-traffic permit inter-interface” be careful as it allows traffic to flow to other same security levels without ACLs. You don’t want traffic to flow when you haven’t allowed it explicitly. The only exception to using different security levels might be the “outside” interface, which you may want to set to “security-level 0”. However, assuming “outside” is the Internet, ideally you want to be explicit there too. Otherwise you’re potentially setting yourself up for easy, unlogged, data exfiltration (among other things).
  • Remember that the ASA is a stateful firewall. If you establish some sort of connection out of an interface, the firewall should see that the return traffic belongs to the conversation and allow it through regardless. For the most part you don’t need to explicitly create return rules (or use the old IOS “established” trick).
  • If you’re trying to turn up a firewall on a network that existed, but was never firewalled before and you are having difficult categorizing the existing traffic, place the rules that you know are correct into the ASA, then add a “permit ip any any log” entry at the end. This will send logging of what fell to the wildcard rule to your syslog server, which you can then evaluate later. Once analyzed and missing rules in place, turn it to a “deny ip any any” and you’re done. Remember you can also do packet capture on the ASA as well.
  • Never trust a 3rd party. If they are coming into your network and saying they are properly filtering traffic toward you, filter them again anyway. First, their error could be your exploit, second you can’t assume their firewalls aren’t going to get hacked. Protect your network like it was your own child.
  • Beware of mixing ASA “access-list”s and ASA VPNs on the same firewall. Unless you want to enter “filter” hell, which generally you can only apply usefully in one direction, turn off VPN bypass with “no sysopt connection permit-vpn”. If you don’t do this YOUR VPN TRAFFIC BYPASSES ALL “access-list” RULES! Note that once you disable “VPN bypass”, your VPN traffic will appear to come from the “in” of the interface it initially arrived at. Since that’s usually “outside” and the Internet, you can have a seemingly less-than pretty mix of private addressing and public addressing to deal with on your Internet interface. This can make it cleaner to get a dedicated ASA for VPN and hang it off an arm of your firewall ASA.

The most critical thing with firewalls is don’t be lazy. Take the time to do the configuration and rules needed. It takes extra effort up front, but a failure is far more expensive.