Easy Push Notifications With

The Pitch Wouldn't it be great if there was a simple way to send a notification to your phone(s) with just a curl call? Then you could get notified when a script completes, a server reboots, a user logs in to a system, or a sensor connected to Home Assistant changes state. How great would that be?? (pronounced notify) provides just that. It's an open-source, easy-to-use, HTTP-based notification service, and it can notify using mobile apps for Android (Play or F-Droid) or iOS (App Store) or a web app.

Cat a File Without Comments

It's super handy when a Linux config file is loaded with comments to tell you precisely how to configure the thing, but all those comments can really get in the way when you're trying to review the current configuration. Next time, instead of scrolling through page after page of lengthy embedded explanations, just use: 1egrep -v "^\s*(#|$)" $filename For added usefulness, I alias this command to ccat (which my brain interprets as "commentless cat") in my ~/.

Create Virtual Machines on a Chromebook with HashiCorp Vagrant

I've lately been trying to do more with Salt at work, but I'm still very much a novice with that tool. I thought it would be great to have a nice little portable lab environment where I could deploy a few lightweight VMs and practice managing them with Salt - without impacting any systems that are actually being used for anything. Along the way, I figured I'd leverage HashiCorp Vagrant to create and manage the VMs, which would provide a declarative way to define what the VMs should look like.

Tailscale on VMware Photon OS

You might remember that I'm a pretty big fan of Tailscale, which makes it easy to connect your various devices together in a secure tailnet, or private network. Tailscale is super simple to set up on most platforms, but you'll need to install it manually if there isn't a prebuilt package for your system. Here's a condensed list of the steps that I took to manually install Tailscale on VMware's Photon OS, though the same (or similar) steps should also work on just about any other systemd-based system.

K8s on vSphere: Building a Kubernetes Node Template With Packer

I've been leveraging the open-source Tanzu Community Edition Kubernetes distribution for a little while now, both in my home lab and at work, so I was disappointed to learn that VMware was abandoning the project. TCE had been a pretty good fit for my needs, and now I needed to search for a replacement. VMware is offering a free version of Tanzu Kubernetes Grid as a replacement, but it comes with a license solely for non-commercial use so I wouldn't be able to use it at work.

Gitea: Ultralight Self-Hosted Git Server

I recently started using Obsidian for keeping notes, tracking projects, and just generally organizing all the information that would otherwise pass into my brain and then fall out the other side. Unlike other similar solutions which operate entirely in The Cloud, Obsidian works with Markdown files stored in a local folder1, which I find to be very attractive. Not only will this allow me to easily transfer my notes between apps if I find something I like better than Obsidian, but it also opens the door to using git to easily back up all this important information.

ESXi ARM Edition on the Quartz64 SBC

ESXi-ARM Fling v1.10 Update On July 20, 2022, VMware released a major update for the ESXi-ARM Fling. Among other fixes and improvements, this version enables in-place ESXi upgrades and adds support for the Quartz64's on-board NIC. To update, I: Wrote the new ISO installer to another USB drive. Attached the installer drive to the USB hub, next to the existing ESXi drive. Booted the installer and selected to upgrade ESXi on the existing device.

Enable Tanzu CLI Auto-Completion in bash and zsh

Lately I've been spending some time getting more familiar with VMware's Tanzu Community Edition Kubernetes distribution, but I'm still not quite familiar enough with the tanzu command line. If only there were a better way for me to discover the available commands for a given context and help me type them correctly... Oh, but there is! You see, one of the available Tanzu commands is tanzu completion [shell], which will spit out the necessary code to generate handy context-based auto-completions appropriate for the shell of your choosing (provided that you choose either bash or zsh, that is).

VMware Tanzu Community Edition Kubernetes Platform in a Homelab

Back in October, VMware announced Tanzu Community Edition as way to provide "a full-featured, easy-to-manage Kubernetes platform that’s perfect for users and learners alike." TCE bundles a bunch of open-source components together in a modular, "batteries included but swappable" way: I've been meaning to brush up on my Kubernetes skills so I thought deploying and using TCE in my self-contained homelab would be a fun and rewarding learning exercise - and it was!

Secure Networking Made Simple with Tailscale

Not all that long ago, I shared about a somewhat-complicated WireGuard VPN setup that I had started using to replace my previous OpenVPN solution. I raved about WireGuard's speed, security, and flexible (if complex) Cryptokey Routing, but adding and managing peers with WireGuard is a fairly manual (and tedious) process. And while I thought I was pretty clever for using a WireGuard peer in GCP to maintain a secure tunnel into my home network without having to punch holes through my firewall, routing all my traffic through The Cloud wasn't really optimal1.

Snikket Private XMPP Chat on Oracle Cloud Free Tier

Non-technical users deserve private communications, too. I shared a few months back about the steps I took to deploy my own Matrix homeserver instance, and I've happily been using the Element client for secure end-to-end encrypted chats with a small group of my technically-inclined friends. Being able to have private conversations without having to trust a single larger provider (unlike like Signal or WhatsApp) is pretty great. Of course, many Matrix users just create accounts directly on the matrix.

Cloud-hosted WireGuard VPN for remote homelab access

For a while now, I've been using an OpenVPN Access Server virtual appliance for remotely accessing my homelab. That's worked fine but it comes with a lot of overhead. It also requires maintaining an SSL certificate and forwarding three ports through my home router, in addition to managing a fairly complex software package and configurations. The free version of the OpenVPN server also only supports a maximum of two simultaneous connections.

Virtually Potato migrated to GitHub Pages!

After a bit less than a year of hosting my little technical blog with Hashnode, I spent a few days migrating the content over to a new format hosted with GitHub Pages. So long, Hashnode Hashnode served me well for the most part, but it was never really a great fit for me. Hashnode's focus is on developer content, and I'm not really a developer; I'm a sysadmin who occasionally develops solutions to solve my needs, but the code is never the end goal for me.

Script to update image embed links in Markdown files

I'm preparing to migrate this blog thingy from Hashnode (which has been great!) to a GitHub Pages site with Jekyll so that I can write posts locally and then just do a git push to publish them - and get some more practice using git in the process. Of course, I've written some admittedly-great content here and I don't want to abandon that. Hashnode helpfully automatically backs up my posts in Markdown format to a private GitHub repo so it was easy to clone those into a local working directory, but all the embedded images were still hosted on Hashnode:

Federated Matrix Server (Synapse) on Oracle Cloud's Free Tier

I've heard a lot lately about how generous Oracle Cloud's free tier is, particularly when compared with the free offerings from other public cloud providers. Signing up for an account was fairly straight-forward, though I did have to wait a few hours for an actual human to call me on an actual telephone to verify my account. Once in, I thought it would be fun to try building my own Matrix homeserver to really benefit from the network's decentralized-but-federated model for secure end-to-end encrypted communications.

Automatic unattended expansion of Linux root LVM volume to fill disk

While working on my vRealize Automation 8 project, I wanted to let users specify how large a VM's system drive should be and have vRA apply that without any further user intervention. For instance, if the template has a 60GB C: drive and the user specifies that they want it to be 80GB, vRA will embiggen the new VM's VMDK to 80GB and then expand the guest file system to fill up the new free space.

Setting up Linux on a new Lenovo Chromebook Duet (bonus arm64 complications!)

I've written in the past about the Linux setup I've been using on my Pixel Slate. My Slate's keyboard stopped working over the weekend, though, and there don't seem to be any replacements (either Google or Brydge) to be found. And then I saw that Walmart had the 64GB Lenovo Chromebook Duet temporarily marked down to a mere $200 - just slightly more than the Slate's keyboard originally cost. So I jumped on that deal, and the little Chromeblet showed up today.

Fixing WSL2 connectivity when connected to a VPN with wsl-vpnkit

I was pretty excited to get WSL2 and Docker working on my Windows 10 1909 laptop a few weeks ago, but I quickly encountered a problem: WSL2 had no network connectivity when connected to my work VPN. Well, that's not entirely true; Docker worked just fine, but nothing else could talk to anything outside of the WSL environment. I found a few open issues for this problem in the WSL2 Github with suggested workarounds including modifying Windows registry entries, adjusting the metrics assigned to various virtual network interfaces within Windows, and manually setting DNS servers in /etc/resolv.

3D Modeling and Printing on Chrome OS

I've got an Ender 3 Pro 3D printer, a Raspberry Pi 4, and a Pixel Slate. I can't interface directly with the printer over USB from the Slate (plus having to be physically connected to things is like so lame) so I installed Octoprint on the Raspberry Pi and connected that to the printer's USB interface. This gave me a pretty web interface for controlling the printer - but it's only accessible over the local network.

Finding the most popular IPs in a log file

I found myself with a sudden need for parsing a Linux server's logs to figure out which host(s) had been slamming it with an unexpected burst of traffic. Sure, there are proper log analysis tools out there which would undoubtedly make short work of this but none of those were installed on this hardened system. So this is what I came up with. Find IP-ish strings This will get you all occurrences of things which look vaguely like IPv4 addresses:

BitWarden password manager self-hosted on free Google Cloud instance

A friend mentioned the BitWarden password manager to me yesterday and I had to confess that I'd never heard of it. I started researching it and was impressed by what I found: it's free, open-source, feature-packed, fully cross-platform (with Windows/Linux/MacOS desktop clients, Android/iOS mobile apps, and browser extensions for Chrome/Firefox/Opera/Safari/Edge/etc), and even offers a self-hosted option. I wanted to try out the self-hosted setup, and I discovered that the official distribution works beautifully on an n1-standard-1 1-vCPU Google Compute Engine instance - but that would cost me an estimated $25/mo to run after my free Google Cloud Platform trial runs out.