Bootstrapping PKGNG from your own repository

I’ve been building my own PKGNG repositories with Poudriere lately. Some of the benefits include:

  • Faster deployment times; You won’t have to compile every package and any needed dependencies every time you need them, all updated packages are pre-built the night before
  • Conserve bandwidth; All installations happen on the local network, so no need to access the Internet during installation, and packages are only downloaded once
  • Compile packages with the options you need; Sometimes you might want to change the default compile options used for packages, e.g. the nginx version available at does not support SPDY, or you might want to remove an option you don’t need to minimize the attack surface

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HOWTO: Small Mail Server with Salt, Dovecot and OpenSMTPD

Update: Sadly OpenSMTPD version 5.4.4 on FreeBSD broke the passwd table, I’m checking the Gills to get this fixed.

I’m a big fan of Postfix and have been using it for years, but also find it to be an overkill for some of my servers. I don’t want to have to install Postfix on my DNS management server just to send change notifications. Sendmail was good for that for a while, but I hated the configuration language. Then I read that the OpenBSD maintainers switched to OpenSMTPD as their default MTA, so I decided to give it a shot.

It turned out to be a very nice piece of software; Small, fast, stable, and very easy to customize, no more ugly m4 macros to deal with :D. Now I have a Salt formula that installs OpenSMTPD, configures it to auto-start, and disables Sendmail. I use that for all non-mail servers for report and notification emails.

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Using Your Own Router with the New @orangejo Modem

JEPpJ0BzOrange has been pretty much the only option if you wanted to get wired home Internet here in Jordan. Others are starting to come, but for now, Orange is the only one with nation-wide coverage.

I’ve had a lot of problems with them in the past, but ever since they switched to FTTC the connection has been as advertised. It’s stable, fast, and well worth the trouble of installing a land line which is always handy when you need it. If you face an issue you will have to battle with their support staff, but I’ve found that it’s loads better than their competitors; I was a victim of one of their competitors’ Wi-MAX service once, the service was not only bad, one of their support staff actually yelled at me during a support call. So you can imagine how happy I was when I finally got connected to the FTTC network.

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Recursively upgrade package dependencies with pkgng

I’ve been hosting my own pkgng repository for a few months and loving it. One thing I’ve had problems with is upgrading package dependencies. For example, I would find myself upgrading Salt without upgrade ZMQ which led to lots of issues.

To upgrade a package and all its dependencies, run the following command

What this does is get a list of package dependencies from pkgng, run them through awk to remove version numbers, then xargs runs the pkg upgrade command on all packages

ADSL in Jordan

I’ve heard various complaints from a few friends of mine about the status of Internet connectivity in Jordan, especially ADSL. So I’m writing this article to explain what is going on and why ADSL the way it is, but first, some history.

Back in pre-broadband times, people used dial-up modems to connect to the Internet. The name “modem” came from the fact that data was being modulated (Turned from digital to analog form) to be sent over the phone lines, and demodulated (Turned from analog to digital form) at the other end. This utilized the same frequencies used for regular phone conversations, this is why you could hear the weird sounds if you picked the phone up while being connected to the Internet. Given the relatively narrow frequency range used by phones this technology was limited to about 56Kbps, the best speed I got was back in 2003 which was about 5KB/s for my downloads, and that was considered fast at the time.

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Using the @ZainJo HSPA Dongle With Ubuntu Linux

After my experience with Zain’s WiMAX, I didn’t think I’d be using their service again. But Zain gave me a 21Mbps dongle (The Huawei E367) for free as to see how much better the new service is and I thought I might as well try it. I’ll be writing on my experience with the service in a separate post inshalla.

I’m a big Ubuntu fan and been using it as my primary desktop since 2007, and Linux compatibility has always been absent in the mobile Internet world. I wasn’t gonna switch my primary OS just to use a USB dongle.

After plugging it in nothing happened, didn’t see a notice on the screen, no pop-pups or anything to show that something happened. After a quick lsusb I found this:

Bus 002 Device 005: ID 12d1:14ac Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

Kudos Huawei on showing us Linux users some love. Zain gets extra points for this choice.

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