Thursday, January 22, 2009

Project of the Week

I decided that since I've stopped posting regularly (unfortunately!) I'm going to start post about a Project of the Week. Essentially, this will be some project that I accomplish, either over the entire week or just on a weekend. Posting my experiences will both help me remember it, and provide a reference for myself. And maybe someone else will enjoy reading about it as well :)

This week's was easy: set up my Ubuntu server with SSH and an IP address manager daemon that would allow me to admin the server remotely, and elimiate the need (for the most part) for the splitter box I have between my Mint desktop and the server itself. This is mainly for convenience, of course, and the fact that the splitter box often cuts off access to the mouse/keyboard and makes the monitor look yucky.

Of course, installing Ubuntu Server edition (CLI only!!) was a breeze; the installer is far more stripped down (it made me nastolgic for Slackware), but still very straight forward. It may scare the Linux n00b, but anyone who has installed a few Linux distros in their time would be comfortable with it.

So next up, I wanted to be able to SSH into my box from anywhere. This is both for convenience, and as I mentioned, removes the need to directly interact with the computer, which is a pain when it's sharing a monitor with my main Linux desktop (which, just to mention, is Mint :3). In order to accomplish this hardly daring feat, I created an account with, which is a free service and allows you to add your computer as a "host". I can't remember if there is a limit to the number of hosts you can add, but I'm inclined to say there is, since they have account upgrades that you need to pay for.

After doing this I installed ddclient (sudo apt-get install ddclient), which is essentially a daemon that keeps track of when your dynamic IP address changes, and notifies DynDNS of the change. DynDNS then updates you host so, voila, your hostname always resolves to the right computer! During the installation Ubuntu automatically configures ddclient for you, more or less. There is a small amount of hand-configuration, but you need only to change a few lines, and you're off and running!

After doing all this (extremely hard (; ) work, you should be able to directly SSH into your server box and admin from any computer you wish.

The next project I'm considering will be a bit more complicated, and more programming-oriented than server-oriented, so hopefully slightly more interesting :)

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