Tag Archives: certificates

CentOS 7 Enterprise desktop setup

These are my notes for standing up a CentOS 7 desktop in an enterprise environment.


Install the EPEL repository for a better experience:

sudo yum -y install epel-release

Desktop experience packages:

sudo yum -y install vlc libreoffice java gstreamer gstreamer1 gstreamer-ffmpeg gstreamer-plugins-good gstreamer-plugins-ugly gstreamer1-plugins-bad-freeworld gstreamer1-libav pidgin rhythmbox ffmpeg keepass xdotool ntfs-3g gvfs-fuse gvfs-smb fuse sshfs redshift-gtk stoken-gui stoken-cli

Additional packages that may come in handy

sudo yum -y install http://li.nux.ro/download/nux/dextop/el7/x86_64/nux-dextop-release-0-5.el7.nux.noarch.rpm
sudo yum -y install libdvdcss gstreamer{,1}-plugins-ugly gstreamer-plugins-bad-nonfree gstreamer1-plugins-bad-freeworld libde265 x265

Enable ssh:

sudo systemctl enable sshd
sudo systemctl start sshd

Google Chrome

Paste into /etc/yum.repos.d/google-chrome.repo:

name=Google - x86_64
sudo yum -y install google-chrome-stable


It’s just easier to use PowerBroker Open from beyondtrust

sudo wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/pbiso.repo http://repo.pbis.beyondtrust.com/yum/pbiso.repo
sudo yum -y install pbis-open

Cliff notes for joining the domain:


sudo domainjoin-cli join $domainname $domainaccount 
<enter password>

sudo /opt/pbis/bin/config UserDomainPrefix $domain_prefix
sudo /opt/pbis/bin/config AssumeDefaultDomain true
sudo /opt/pbis/bin/config LoginShellTemplate /bin/bash
sudo /opt/pbis/bin/config HomeDirTemplate %H/%U

Add domain admins to sudo, escaping spaces with a backlsash and replacing DOMAIN with your domain:

sudo visudo
%DOMAIN\\Domain\ Administrators ALL=(ALL) ALL

Reboot to make all changes go into effect.


You might need to copy your domain’s CA certificate to your certificate trust store:

sudo cp <CA CERT FILENAME> /etc/pki/ca-trust/source/anchors/
sudo update-ca-trust

Drive mapping

I use a simple script to use gvfs-mount to mount network drives. Change suffix to match your domain and mounts to suit your needs.

#Simple script to mount network drives on login


for i in "${MOUNTS[@]}" 
	gvfs-mount "smb://$i"

Configure in gnome to run on startup:

Add the following to ~/.config/autostart/mount-drives.desktop, changing Exec= to the path of the above script.

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Mount network drives
GenericName=Mount network drives
Comment=Script to mount network drives
Exec=<location of mount script>

Network Config

If you wish to add static IP and configure your DNS suffix (search domain) then run


The other GUI for network configuration doesn’t have an option for search domains for some reason.


sudo yum -y install opensc pcsc-tools pcsc-lite

Be sure to install the drivers for your particular card reader. Mine came from here and here.

After installing you can test by starting pcscd and using pcsc_scan

sudo systemctl start pcscd

Vmware horizon view

Smartcard support

There is a problem with how the VMware View interacts with the opensc smartcard drivers shipped in popular Linux distributions such as CentOS and Ubuntu. View cannot load the drivers in the default configuration; therefore in order to get VMware View working with smartcards you need manually patch and compile the opensc package (thanks to this site for the information needed to do so.)

First, install the necessary development packages

sudo yum -y groupinstall "Development Tools"
sudo yum -y install openssl-devel pcsc-lite-devel

Next, download and extract opensc-0.13 from sourceforge:

wget http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/opensc/OpenSC/opensc-0.13.0/opensc-0.13.0.tar.gz
tar zxvf opensc-0.13.0.tar.gz
cd opensc-0.13.0

Now we have to patch two specific files in the source before compiling:

echo "--- ./src/pkcs11/opensc-pkcs11.exports
 +++ ./src/pkcs11/opensc-pkcs11.exports
 @@ -1 +1,3 @@
 --- ./src/pkcs11/pkcs11-spy.exports
 +++ ./src/pkcs11/pkcs11-spy.exports
 @@ -1 +1,3 @@
 +C_Finalize" > opensc.patch

patch -p1 -i opensc.patch

Next, compiling and installing:

sudo make install

Assuming there were no errors, you can now link the compiled driver to the location VMware view expects it. Note: you must rename the library from opensc-pkcs11.so to libopensc-pkcs11.so for this to work (another lovely VMware bug)

sudo mkdir -p /usr/lib/vmware/view/pkcs11/
sudo ln -s /usr/local/lib/pkcs11/opensc-pkcs11.so /usr/lib/vmware/view/pkcs11/libopensc-pkcs11.so


Install the pidgin-sipe plugin as detailed here

sudo yum -y install pidgin pidgin-sipe

Choose “Office Communicator” as the protocol. Enter your e-mail address for the username, then go to the Advanced tab and check “Use single sign-on.”

On first run all contact names were missing. Per here, simply close and restart the application.

Gnome 3

Disable audible bell

Taken from here

Disable audible bell and enable visual bell with:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences audible-bell false
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences visual-bell true

and change the type of the visual bell if you don’t need the fullscreen flash:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences visual-bell-type frame-flash


If you can find your extension via yum it tends to work better than the gnome extension site. Make sure you’re using the correct shell version from the site:

gnome-shell --version
sudo yum -y install gnome-shell-extension-top-icons gnome-shell-extension-dash-to-dock

Other useful extensions:

backslide, multi monitors add-on , No topleft hot corner, Dropdown terminal, Media player indicator, Focus my window, Workspace indicator, Native window placement, Openweather, Panel osd, Dash to dock, Gpaste


For if you have the misfortune of being in an environment that uses RSA SecurID for two factor authentication, here is the official guide

Necessary packages to be installed:

sudo yum -y install selinux-policy-devel policycoreutils-devel
  1.  Download & extract PAM agent, cd to extracted directory
    tar -xvf PAM-Agent*.tar
  2. Create /var/ace directory and place necessary files inside. Create sdopts.rec and add the IP address of the desktop.
    mkdir /var/ace
    cp sdconf.rec /var/ace
    vi /var/ace/sdopts.rec
  3. Run the install_pam script and specify UDP authentication
  4.  Modify /etc/pam.d/password-auth to add the RSA authentication agent. Insert above pam_lsass.so smartcard_prompt try_first_pass line, then comment out pam_lsass.so smartcard_prompt try_first_pass line
    auth required pam_securid.so
    auth required pam_env.so
    auth sufficient pam_lsass.so
  5. Add new system in RSA console: Access / Authentication Agents / Add new
  6. Test to make sure everything works:

Managing Windows hosts with Ansible

I spun my wheels for a while trying to get Ansible to manage windows hosts. Here are my notes on how I finally successfully got ansible (on a Linux host) to use an HTTPS WinRM connection to connect to a windows host using Kerberos for authentication. This article was of great help.

Ansible Hosts file


Packages to install (CentOS 7)

sudo yum install gcc python2-pip
sudo pip install kerberos requests_kerberos pywinrm certifi

Playbook syntax

Modules involving Windows hosts have a win_ prefix.


Code 500

WinRMTransportError: (u'http', u'Bad
HTTP response returned from server. Code 500')

I was using -m ping for testing instead of -m win_ping. Make sure you’re using win_ping and not regular ping module.

Certificate validation failed

"msg": "kerberos: [SSL: CERTIFICATE_VERIFY_FAILED] certificate verify failed (_ssl.c:579)"

I had a self signed CA certificate on the box ansible was trying to connect to. Python doesn’t appear to trust the system’s certificate trust chain by default. Ansible has a configuration directive


but even with that pointing to my system trust it wouldn’t work. I then found this gem on the winrm page for ansible:

The CA chain can contain a single or multiple issuer certificates and each entry is contained on a new line. To then use the custom CA chain as part of the validation process, set ansible_winrm_ca_trust_path to the path of the file. If this variable is not set, the default CA chain is used instead which is located in the install path of the Python package certifi.

Challenge #1: I didn’t have certifi installed.

sudo pip install certifi

Challenge #2: I needed to know where certifi’s default trust store was located, which I discovered after reading the project github page

import certifi

In my case the location was ‘/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/certifi/cacert.pem’. I then symlinked my system trust to that location (backing up existing trust first)

sudo mv /usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/certifi/cacert.pem /usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/certifi/cacert.pem.old
sudo ln -s /etc/pki/tls/cert.pem /usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/certifi/cacert.pem

Et voila! No more trust issues.

Ansible Tower

Note: If you’re running Ansible Tower, you have to work with their own bundled version of python instead of the system version. For version 3.2 it was located here:


I fixed it by doing this:

sudo mv /var/lib/awx/venv/ansible/lib/python2.7/site-packages/requests/cacert.pem /var/lib/awx/venv/ansible/lib/python2.7/site-packages/requests/cacert.pem.old
sudo ln -s /etc/pki/tls/cert.pem /var/lib/awx/venv/ansible/lib/python2.7/site-packages/requests/cacert.pem

This resolved the trust issues.

Fix wordpress PHP change was reverted error

Since WordPress 4.9 I’ve had a peculiar issue when trying to edit theme files using the web GUI. Whenever I tried to save changes I would get this error message:

Unable to communicate back with site to check for fatal errors, so the PHP change was reverted. You will need to upload your PHP file change by some other means, such as by using SFTP.

After following this long thread I saw the suggestion to install and use the Health Check plugin to get more information into why this is happening. In my case I kept getting this error message:

The loopback request to your site failed, this may prevent WP_Cron from working, along with theme and plugin editors.<br>Error encountered: (0) cURL error 28: Connection timed out after 10001 milliseconds

I researched what a loopback request is in this case. It’s the webserver reaching out to its own site’s url to talk to itself. My webserver was being denied internet access, which included its own URL, so it couldn’t complete the loopback request.

One solution, mentioned here, is to edit the hosts file on your webserver to point to for the URL of your site. My solution was to open up the firewall to allow my server to connect to its URL. I then ran into a different problem:

The loopback request to your site failed, this may prevent WP_Cron from working, along with theme and plugin editors.<br>Error encountered: (0) cURL error 60: Peer's Certificate issuer is not recognized.

After digging for a while I found this site which explains how to edit php.ini to point to an acceptable certificate list. To fix this on my Cent7 machine I edited /etc/php.ini and added this line (you could also add it to /etc/php.d/curl.ini)


This caused php’s curl module to use the same certificate trust store that the underlying OS uses.

Then restart php-fpm if you’re using it:

sudo systemctl restart php-fpm

Success! Loopback connections now work properly.

Get free SSL certificates from startssl

SSL certificates can be a pain, especially if you have to pay for them. It turs out you can get free SSL certificates from startssl.com, though, so at least your wallet doesn’t have to suffer!

In order to create an account with them, head over to https://www.startssl.com/ Their account creation process is a little strange. Follow their instructions for generating a certificate for authentication (they don’t use passwords.)

Note: if you are getting frustrated because you follow their certificate login process only to have your browser tell you there is no cert it’s likely due to some caching of the certificate error page in your browser. Clear cache and cookies (or open a browser in incognito / privacy mode) and try again to log in.

First, validate your domain using their validation wizard. Once your domain is validated, head over to the Certificates wizard to generate a certificate.

I don’t trust any website that generates private SSL keys for you, so I recommend you create your own with the openssl command (steps copied from my sophos SSL certificate tutorial) and skip the creation step on their website.

  1. Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) by creating a key and using it to generate the CSR
  2. openssl genrsa -aes256 -out <keyname>.key 2048
    openssl req -new -key keyname.key -out csrname.csr

2. Copy the content of the csr file into the CSR form box and click Next

3. If you’re lucky, you’ll be provided the key files immediately. Sometimes it takes a few hours for them to approve the certificate creation first.

4. Once the certificate is created, head over to Toolbox / Retrieve certificate. After selecting the appropriate certificate, copy everything in the box and paste it into a crt file.

5. Obtain Startcom’s intermediate and root CA files by going to Toolbox / Startcom CA Certificates. Download the “Server Certificate Bundle with CRLs” file.

6. Combine the generated certificate and Startcom certificate bundle into a single file:

cat ca-bundle.pem generated_crt_file.crt  > combined.crt

Sometimes you will need to wait 6-12 hours after getting key before installing it. This allows for OCSP to propagate as explained here. If you get certificate errors after installing, this may be the cause.

7. Profit.