Configure Sophos UTM to forward e-mail for internal clients

If you’re in a situation like mine you have an ISP which stubbornly blocks port 25. You can get around this by using SSL/TLS of course but configuring each server can be a pain. The solution, in my case, is to turn my UTM into an e-mail relay server and simply have each node point to it for SMTP.

The process wasn’t as straightforward as I had hoped. Below are the steps to accomplish this:

First, enable the SMTP proxy by going to E-mail Protection / SMTP.

Next, go to the Relaying tab and configure allowed relay hosts. For my setup I went to the Host-based relay section and added each individual host that I want to have use my UTM for e-mail relaying.

Lastly, you must configure your UTM to send e-mails out to your ISP’s mail relay since by default the UTM tries to send e-mails out itself on port 25, which in my case is blocked. Do this by going to the Advanced tab and scrolling down to smart host settings. Configure the mail relay server, credentials, and port required there.

That part was fairly straightforward; however the spam protection feature of the UTM was preventing any messages sent to the UTM from being sent to the internet.

After much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth (including adding an SPF record for my domain) I discovered that the solution was to ensure that outgoing mail shows the node’s name in the From: field. If your server’s name is server, the from should always be I haven’t dug into why, but oh well! It works.

Manipulate EXIF data with jhead

From time to time I find I need to edit the date taken metadata on pictures. I’ve discovered that jhead is a wonderful tool to accomplish this. It has many options, but the ones I use most frequently are the following:

  • mkexif Create EXIF data for a picture that does not contain it
  • -ft Set picture’s filesystem modified date to match the EXIF date taken contained in the picture
  • dsft Set the EXIF date taken date of the picture to match the modified time of the filesystem for that picture

You can use wildcards, which is super convenient. To create metadata for all JPG files in a current directory:

jhead -mkexif *.JPG

I like to use touch in conjunction with jhead to set exif picture taken times for files that don’t have any metadata but I know the date they were taken:

jhead -mkexif *.jpg
touch -t 201410201700 *.jpg
jhead -dsft *.jpg

For pictures which have correct metadata but incorrect modified date (downloaded pictures, for example) simply do the following:

jhead -ft *.jpg


Unzip multiple files into a single directory

Occasionally I have a need to unzip multiple zip files into a single directory, renaming any files with duplicate names so all zip contents end up in the same directory. I accomplish this in a lazy fashion with find and unzip.

First, put all the zip files you need to extract in the same folder. I used find with the -ctime flag to find files created today (as those are the ones I want.) I use the -exec flag to execute a command on the resulting files; in this case, the unzip program with the -B flag, which doesn’t overwrite files with duplicate names, and the -d flag to specify which folder to extract to:

find *.zip -ctime 1 unzip -B {} -d example/ \;

This finds and unzips all my files, but there is a catch: files with the same filename have been renamed with tildes at the end of each file, for example pic1.jpg~. I do another quick find operation to simply tack .jpg to the end of each of these files

find example/ -name "*~*" -exec mv {} {}.jpg \;

The result is a directory full of the files you desire. My case is very simplistic as it assumes that all files in each zip file are of the same extension. You could use something like awk to parse the result of find command and re-add appropriate extensions, but I won’t detail that here (see laziness reference above.)


Convert xenserver .xva file to raw disk image

What if you want to migrate a VM that’s been living on Citrix Xenserver to a different linux machine running vanilla Xen? The process isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Fortunately thanks to Eriklax over at github there is a fairly easy way to convert xenserver’s .xva virtual machines to other formats, via xva-img.

The first step is to download and install xva-img from github.

cd xva-img-master
cmake .
sudo make install

When trying to compile this on my Linux Mint Cinnamon machine I ran into the following errors:

CMake Error: your CXX compiler: "/usr/bin/c++" was not found.   Please set CMAKE_CXX_COMPILER to a valid compiler path or name.
xva-img-master/src/sha1.cpp:20:25: fatal error: openssl/sha.h: No such file or directory
 #include <openssl/sha.h>

I had to install the build-essential and libssl-dev packages in order to successfully compile and install xva-img.

Now that it’s installed, create a directory and extract your .xva file into it.

mkdir my-virtual-machine 
tar -xf <.xva file> -C my-virtual-machine 
chmod -R 755 my-virtual-machine

Once that’s finished (it might take a while – it took over an hour for me) the last step is to convert the extracted directories into a raw disk file.

Note:  when you extract your VM tar creates subfolders for each hard disk attached to the VM. You will have to run this command for each Ref folder that was generated as part of the image extraction process.

xva-img -p disk-export my-virtual-machine/Ref\:1/ disk.raw

It took a while for some reason, but it did eventually generate the desired image.

Now that I have a raw disk image I can transfer it to an LVM partition for use with xen:

sudo dd if=win8.1.img of=/dev/desktop-xen/Win8.1 bs=64M


Convert xenserver installation to software RAID-1

Update 2/28/2015:  I have a newer article explaining how to do this in Xenserver 6.5.


After having a hard drive nearly die on me and threaten to obliterate the VMs living on it I realized it would be a good idea to have my xenserver installation live on a RAID array.

Following this guide I was able to successfully migrate my running xenserver installation to a software based RAID 1, with a few tweaks. In my case I wanted to migrate from a single old drive to two newer ones.

Below are the steps I took to accomplish this.

Partition the new drives

This assumes that your current drive resides on /dev/sda, and your two new drives are /dev/sdb and /dev/sdc.

sgdisk -p /dev/sda
sgdisk --zap-all /dev/sdb
sgdisk --zap-all /dev/sdc
sgdisk --mbrtogpt --clear /dev/sdb
sgdisk --mbrtogpt --clear /dev/sdc
sgdisk --new=1:34:8388641 /dev/sdb
sgdisk --new=1:34:8388641 /dev/sdc
sgdisk --typecode=1:fd00 /dev/sdb
sgdisk --typecode=1:fd00 /dev/sdc
sgdisk --attributes=1:set:2 /dev/sdb
sgdisk --attributes=1:set:2 /dev/sdc
sgdisk --new=2:8388642:16777249 /dev/sdb
sgdisk --new=2:8388642:16777249 /dev/sdc
sgdisk --typecode=2:fd00 /dev/sdb
sgdisk --typecode=2:fd00 /dev/sdc

The third partition (VM storage) had to be tweaked a bit since these are larger drives than the current xenserver installation. I simply used gdisk instead of sgdisk for this task.

gdisk /dev/sdb
n #create new partition
<enter> #accept defaults for partition number, first, and last sectors
t #select partition type
3 #select partition number 3
fd00  #set for raid
w   #write changes to disk

Repeat above steps for the other disk (/dev/sdc in my case)

Create the RAID arrays for each partition

mdadm --create /dev/md0 --level=1 --raid-devices=2  /dev/sdb1 /dev/sdc1
mdadm --create /dev/md1 --level=1 --raid-devices=2 /dev/sdb2 /dev/sdc2
mdadm --create /dev/md2 --level=1 --raid-devices=2 /dev/sdb3 /dev/sdc3

Watch array build (optional)

cat /proc/mdstat

Alternatively you can use the watch command to get a real time update of the raid build:

watch -n 1 cat /proc/mdstat

Format & mount the array

mkfs.ext3 /dev/md0
mount /dev/md0 /mnt

Copy the root filesystem to the new array

cp -vxpr / /mnt

Install bootloader on the new disks

mount --bind /dev /mnt/dev
mount -t sysfs none /mnt/sys
mount -t proc none /mnt/proc
chroot /mnt /sbin/extlinux --install /boot
dd if=/mnt/usr/share/syslinux/gptmbr.bin of=/dev/sdb
dd if=/mnt/usr/share/syslinux/gptmbr.bin of=/dev/sdc

Generate new initrd image

chroot /mnt
mkinitrd -v -f --theme=/usr/share/splash --without-multipath /boot/initrd-`uname -r`.img `uname -r`

Modify boot file

Edit /mnt/boot/extlinux.conf and replace every mention of the old root filesystem (root=LABEL=xxx) with root=/dev/md0.

vi /mnt/boot/extlinux.conf
:%s/LABEL=<root label>/\/dev\/md0/


Keep the old drive in, but make sure to boot from either one of the member drives of your new array.

Create storage repository

Create new local storage repository with the new RAID array similar to here.

xe sr-create content-type=user device-config:device=/dev/md2 host-uuid=<UUID of xenserver host> name-label="RAID-1" shared=false type=lvm

Migrate VMs / disks

Migrate any disk images or VMs living on the old drive to the new array.

If these VMs / disks are not powered on or being used, it is as simple as pulling up xencenter, right clicking on the VM and clicking move then  select new storage repository.

If the VMs are online you can live migrate them to a different xenserver, then live migrate them back to the proper storage repository.

Remove old storage repository

Following instructions found here.
Note: In my case the transfer returned a strange error but was still successful. I had to restart the XAPI toolstack in order for it to let me remove the old storage repository.

xe sr-list name-label="<name of SR to remove>"
xe pbd-list sr-uuid=<UUID of SR above>
xe pbd-unplug uuid=<UUID of pbd above>
xe sr-forget uuid=<UUID of SR>

Final reboot

Shutdown, disconnect the old drive, and boot back up from the new array. Success.

Configure e-mail alerts (optional)

Now that you have a working RAID array you might want to receive e-mail alerts if there are problems with the array.

First, build an mdadm.conf

mdadm --detail --scan > /etc/mdadm.conf

Modify mdadm.conf to add your desired e-mail address for notifications

sed -i '1i MAILADDR <e-mail address>' /etc/mdadm.conf

Thanks to this site for the sed -i 1i trick.

Lastly, enable the mdadm monitoring service. I found via this site that this is fairly easy to do.  Simply enter these two commands:

service mdmonitor start
chkconfig mdmonitor on

Xenserver uses ssmtp to send e-mail. You can follow this guide on how to set it up for SSL if you happen to have an ISP that blocks port 25 (as I do.) Otherwise modify /etc/ssmtp/ssmtp.conf to suit your needs.

You can generate a test event from mdadm to make sure e-mail is configured properly:

mdadm --monitor --test /dev/md0 --oneshot

To get e-mail alerts to work right I had to ensure that FromLineOverride was NOT set to yes (default). I also had to add this line to /etc/ssmtp/revaliases:

root:<e-mail address being sent from>

Update 02/03/2015:  A commenter made me realize I forgot a step – copying the Control Domain OS to the new Raid array. I’ve added that step above, after the “Format & Mount the array” section.

Update 02/17/2015: If you are using Xenserver 6.5 you might come across the following error message when trying to create RAID arrays:

mdadm: unexpected failure opening /dev/md0

If this happens, load the md kernel driver like so:

modprobe md

It should then let you create your arrays.

Manipulate dd output with sed, tr, and awk

While improving a backup script I came across a need to modify the information output by the dd command. FreeNAS, the system the script runs on, does not have a version of dd that has the human readable option. My quest: make the output from dd human readable.

I’ve only partially fulfilled this quest at this point, but the basic functionality is there. The first step is to redirect all output of the dd command (both stdout and stderr) to a variable (this particular syntax is for bash)

DD_OUTPUT=$(dd if=/dev/zero of=test.img bs=1000000 count=1000 2>&1)

The 2>&1 redirects all output to the variable instead of the console.

The next step is to use sed to remove unwanted information (number records in and out)

sed -r '/.*records /d'

Next, remove any parenthesis. This is due to the parenthesis from dd output messing up the math that’s going to be done later.

tr -d '()'

-d ‘()’ simply tells tr to remove any instance of the characters between the single quotes.

And now, for awk. Awk allows you to manipulate certain pieces of a text file. Each section, separated by a space, is known as a record. Awk lets us edit some parts of text while keeping others intact. My expertise with awk is that of a n00b so I’m sure there is a more efficient way of doing this; nevertheless here is my solution:

awk '{print ($1/1024)/1024 " MB" " " $3 " " $4 " " $5*60 " minutes"  " (" ($7/1024)/1024 " MB/sec)" }'

Since dd outputs its information in bytes I’m having it divide by 1024 twice so the resulting number is now in megabytes. I also have it divide the seconds by 60 to return the number of minutes dd took. Additionally I’m re-inserting the parenthesis removed by the tr command now that the math is correctly done.

The last step is to pipe all of this together:

DD_OUTPUT=$(dd if=/dev/zero of=test.img bs=1000000 count=10000 2>&1)
DD_HUMANIZED=$(echo "$DD_OUTPUT" | sed -r '/.*records /d' | tr -d '()' | awk '{print ($1/1024)/1024 " MB" " " $3 " " $4 " " $5/60 " minutes"  " (" ($7/1024)/1024 " MB/sec)" }')

After running the above here are the results:

Original output:

echo "$DD_OUTPUT"
10000+0 records in
10000+0 records out
10000000000 bytes transferred in 103.369538 secs (96740299 bytes/sec)

Humanized output:

9536.74 MB transferred in 1.72283 minutes (92.2587 MB/sec)

The printf function of awk would allow us to round the calculations but I couldn’t quite get the syntax to work and have abandoned the effort for now.

Of course all this is not necessary if you have the correct dd version. The GNU version of dd defaults to human readability; certain BSD versions have the option of passing the msgfmt=human argument per here.

Update: I discovered that the awk method above will only print the one line it finds and ignore all other lines, which is less than ideal for scripting. I updated the awk syntax to do a search and replace (sub) instead so that it will print all other lines as well:

awk '{sub(/.*bytes /, $1/1024/1024" MB "); sub(/in .* secs/, "in "$5/60" mins "); sub(/mins .*/, "mins (" $7/1024/1024" MB/sec)"); printf}')

My new all in one line is:

DD_HUMANIZED=$(echo "$DD_OUTPUT" | sed -r '/.*records /d' | tr -d '()' | awk '{sub(/.*bytes /, $1/1024/1024" MB "); sub(/in .* secs/, "in "$5/60" mins "); sub(/mins .*/, "mins (" $7/1024/1024" MB/sec)"); printf}')

Verify backup integrity with rsync, sed, cat, and tee

Recently it became apparent that a large data transfer I did might have had some errors. I wanted to find an easy way to compare the source and destination to make sure that they were identical. My solution: rsync, sed, cat and tee

I have used rsync quite a bit but did not know about the –checksum flag until recently. When you run rsync with –checksum, it takes much longer, but it effectively does something similar to what a ZFS scrub does – it runs a checksum of every source file and compares it with the checksum of each destination file.  If there is a mismatch, rsync will overwrite the destination file with the source file to correct it.

In my situation I performed a large data migration from my old mdadam-based RAID array to my brand new ZFS array. During the transfer the disks were acting very strange, and at one point one of the disks even popped out of the array. The culprit turned out to be a faulty SATA controller. I bought a cheap 4 port SATA controller from Amazon for my new ZFS array. Do not do this! Spring the cash out for a better controller. The cheap ones, this one at least, only caused headache. I removed it and used the on-board SATA ports on my motherboard and the issues went  away.

All of those shennanigans made me wonder if there was corrupt data on my new ZFS array. A ZFS scrub repaired 15.5G of data! While I’m sure that fixed a lot of the issues, I realized there probably was still some corruption. This is how I verified it

rsync -Pahn --checksum /path/to/source /path/to/destination | tee migration.txt

-P shows progress, -a means archive, -h is for human readable measurements, and -n means dry run (don’t actually copy anything)

Tee is a cool utility that allows you to redirect output of a command both to a file and to standard output. This is useful if you want to see the verification take place in real time but also want to analyze it later.

After the comparison (which took a while!) I wanted to see the discrepancies. the -P flag lists each directory rsync checks as well as which files it detected. You can use sed in conjunction with cat to weed out the unwanted lines (directory listings) so that only the files with discrepancies are left.

 cat pictures.txt | sed '/\/$/d' | tee pictures-truncated.txt

The sed regex simply looks for any line ending in a / (directory listing) and removes that line. What is left is the files in question. You can combine the entire thing into one line like so

rsync -Pahn --checksum /path/to/source /path/to/destination | sed '/\/$/d' | tee migration.txt

In my case I wanted to compare discrepencies with rsync and make decisions on if I wanted to actually fix the issues. If you are 100% sure the source is OK to remove the destination completely, you can simply run

rsync -Pah --checksum --delete /path/to/source /path/to/destination

ZFS remote replication script with reporting

In my experimentation with FreeNAS one thing I found lacking was the quality of reports it generated. I suppose one philosophy is that the smaller the e-mail the better, but my philosophy is that the e-mail should still be legible. Some of the e-mails I get from FreeNAS are simply bizarre and cryptic.

FreeNAS has an option to replicate your ZFS volumes to a remote source for backup. As far as I can tell there is no report e-mail when the replication is done, although there may be a cryptic e-mail if anything failed. I have grown used to daily status e-mails from my previous NAS solution (Debian with homegrown scripts.) I set out to do this with FreeNAS and added a few added features along the way.

My script requires that you have already created an appropriate user and private/public key pair for both the source and destination machines (to allow for passwordless logins.) Instructions on how to do this are detailed below. You can download the script here.

Notes and observations

I learned quite a bit when creating this script. The end result is a script that e-mails me a beautiful report telling me anything that was added or removed since the last backup.

  • I used dd for greater speed as suggested here
  • I learned from here that the -R switch for ZFS send sends the entire snapshot tree.
  • The ZFS diff command currently has a bug where it does not always report deleted files / folders. It was opened two years ago, closed, and then recently re-opened as it is still an issue. It is the reason my script uses both ZFS dff and rsync – so I can continually see the bug in action.
  • When dealing with rsync, remember the / at the end!
  • In bash you can pipe output from a command to a variable.
  • When echoing above variable, make sure you enclose it in quotes to preserve formatting.
  • Use the -r flag in sed -r for extended regex functions
  • In my testing the built in freeNAS replication script didn’t appear to replicated the latest snapshot. Interesting…

Below are the preliminary steps that are needed in order for the script to run properly.

Configure a user for replication

Create users

Either manually or through the FreeNAS UI, create a user that will run the backup script. Create that same user on the remote box (backup server.)

Generate RSA keys

Log into local host and generate RSA keys to allow for passwordless login to the system

cd .ssh

Make note of the filenames you gave it (the default is id-rsa and

Authorize the resulting public key

Log into remote host and add the public key of local host in ~/username/.ssh/authorized_keys where username is the user you created above. One way to accomplish this is to copy the public key on the main server and paste it into the authorized keys file of the backup server.

On the main server

(assuming the keyfile name is id-rsa)

cd .ssh

Copy the output on the screen in its entirety

On the backup server

Paste that public key into the authorized_keys file of the backup user

cd .ssh
vi authorized_keys

Allow the new user to mount filesystems

FreeNAS requires you to specifically allow regular users to mount filesystems as described here.

  1. In the web interface under System > Sysctls > Add sysctl:
    Variable: vfs.usermount
    Value: 1
    Enabled: yes

Grant ZFS permissions to the new user

In order for the dataset creation (full backup) feature to work the user we’ve created needs to have specific ZFS permissions granted as outlined here.

Run this command on both the main and backup servers:

zfs allow backup create,destroy,snapshot,rollback,clone,promote,rename,mount,send,receive,quota,reservation,hold storage

where backup is the new user and storage is the dataset name. I’m pretty sure you can make those permissions a little more fine grained but I threw a bunch of them in there for simplicity’s sake.

Configure HP iLo (optional)

My current backup server is an old HP Proliant server equipped with HP iLo. I decided to add a section in my script that, when enabled in the variables section, would have the script use iLo to power the machine on. If you do not have / wish to use iLo to control your backup server you can skip this section.

First, create a user in ILo and grant it Virtual Power and Reset permissions (all the rest can be denied.)

Next, copy the .pub file you created earlier to your computer so you can go into iLo web interface and upload it. Make sure an iLo user exists and the last part  (the username) of the public key file matches exactly with the user you created in HP iLo.

When I first tried this no matter what I tried I couldn’t get passwordless login to work. After much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. I finally discovered from here that the -f and -C options of the ssh-keygen command are required for iLo to accept the key. I had to regenerate a private/public key pair via the following options, where backup is the user I created in iLo:

ssh-keygen -b 1024 -f backup -C backup

Refresh owncloud file cache

I came across an issue with owncloud where I had manually placed files in my user directory but the files were not showing up in owncloud. I found from here that you can access the owncloud console directly and trigger a re-scan of your files.

To trigger a re-scan, open up a terminal session to your owncloud server and run the following command:

php /path/of/owncloud/console.php files:scan --all

This will trigger a re-scan of all files for all users. You can replace –all with a userid if you just want to scan a specific user’s folder instead.

Xenserver – The uploaded patch file is invalid

It has been six months since I’ve applied any patches to my Citrix Xenserver hypervisor. Shame on me for not checking for updates. The thing has been humming along without any issues so it was easy to forget about.

In trying to install xenserver patches today I kept getting this error message no matter what I tried:

The uploaded patch file is invalid

After deleting everything I could (including files hanging out in /var/patch) I realized that I was simply Doing It Wrong™. D’oh!

When applying xenserver updates, the expected file extension is .xsupdate. I had been trying to xe patch-upload the downloaded zip file, whereas I was supposed to have extracted those zips before trying to upload them.  This quick little line unzipped all my patch ZIP files for me in one swoop:

find *.zip -exec unzip {} \;

Once everything was unzipped I was able to upload and apply the resulting .xsupdate files without issue.