How to Make Ubuntu Unity 2D Launcher Work with an NFS Mounted Home

Back in July I reported a bug that I was having with Ubuntu’s Unity 2D Launcher. The launcher would crash and restart constantly, chewing up a lot of CPU time. I had to switch back to the classic Gnome desktop to continue working, I can’t run Unity (3D) because of a bug in NVIDIA’s drivers that prevent icons being displayed in the launcher.

Fortunately Florian Boucault picked up the bug report and pointed out that dconf – the system that Unity 2D uses to store its configuration – does not currently work over NFS.

The workaround is to store dconf databases locally by setting XDG_CONFIG_HOME during the user login process, before X gets started. Here is a script that will do the job when placed in /etc/profile.d/

I also took the opportunity to move .ICEauthority from my home directory because I get an error that it can’t be updated every time I log in.

 

Stopping Bots From Blacklisting Your Mail Server

Most Internet facing mail servers will consult a blacklist for all incoming email, comparing the identity of the sending server to known spam sources. When you are a business you absolutely do not want to have your mail server blacklisted as your customers mail servers will simply refuse to receive email from your company.

Some of my clients run a mail server on their local network enabling them to have full control over their email system. Most Internet facing mail servers will consult a blacklist for all incoming email, comparing the identity of the sending server to known spam sources. When you are a business you absolutely do not want to have your mail server blacklisted as your customers mail servers will simply refuse to receive email from your company.

Anger Bot!
Photo From StickBus

A common cause of blacklisting, in my experience, is when client PCs are infected by malware and become part of a botnet. The owners of the botnet then use the infected machines to send out thousands of spam emails and its not long before this is noted and your connection appears on a blacklist, effectively preventing your legitimate email from getting to recipients.

To prevent blacklisting I adopt these best practices:

  1. Allow the local mail server to send email and block all other outgoing connections on port 25 at the firewall
  2. Configure the mail server to only accept connections from authenticated mail clients.

Now only legitimate users that are logged in to the mail server can send mail, any attempt by an infected machine to contact an external mail server to send email is blocked at the firewall. If PCs then become infected, the firewall logs will alert you to the outgoing connection attempts on port 25 and the infection can be dealt with.

The Small Business Internet Marketing Vacuum

Our local high streets are in trouble with many small local businesses closing due to falling sales and increasing competition from supermarkets, chain stores and internet retailers. But it’s easy to blame external factors for business failure and, to their credit, many of the small retailers that I talk to are looking forward and want improve the way that they present their business

Our local high streets are in trouble with many small local businesses closing due to falling sales and increasing competition from supermarkets, chain stores and internet retailers. But it’s easy to blame external factors for business failure and, to their credit, many of the small retailers that I talk to are looking forward and want improve the way that they present their business. They understand that they have to differentiate themselves, demonstrate their expertise, engage with their customers and provide them with a great customer service experience.

For many small retailers, part of the marketing plan is to create a presence on the internet, usually starting with a basic website and occasionally moving toward on-line selling. So, imagine yourself as the owner of a small shop and try a few google searches for information on internet marketing. Plenty of articles that are short on practical advice, any number of internet marketing courses and a sprinkling of grand ideas. Much of this information also assumes a more than passing familiarity with the internet that many shop keepers don’t have, in my experience.

I think that what small, high street retailers need is more zero-based, practical advice on internet marketing. These businesses are hungry to capitalise on the potential of the internet to improve their reach and inform new and existing customers but they lack good information and help. There is still a big opportunity here.

Can you help by pointing to good resources for small retailers on internet marketing and how they can apply it? Links to articles, case-studies or events are much appreciated. If you have any please post them in a comment.

Questioning WordPress Security – Roundup

Weaknesses in WordPress security were blamed for a rash of attacks on websites, but it turned out that problems with shared hosting setups were the problem.

Back in April news broke of a number of WordPress powered sites being compromised and redirecting visitors to malicious sites. At that time the problem seemed to be limited to Network Solutions shared hosting customers but more recently similar exploits have been encountered by GoDaddy customers. At this point it seems that not only WordPress but other PHP based software, such as ZenCart and Joomla, and static HTML websites have also been compromised.

Imprisonment
Photo From Dazzie D

I’ve been keeping an eye on this story and when I saw that the ExplictWeb Podcast were interviewing WordPress contributing developer Andrew Nacin I asked, via twitter, if they could get his comments on the issue. Sadly there was not enough time to get his response on the show, but he kindly replied to my question on his blog.

Andrew points out that Network Solutions have already owned up to the fact that it was their fault and nothing to do with WordPress, citing the problem was due to a ‘complex combination of factors‘. In a later post they explain more fully what the attackers did and I hope we also see the results of security analysts working on the problem as to what mis-configurations or weaknesses were exploited.

For those who run websites, it might be time to think about the quality of your hosting. Shared hosting solutions are cheap but it is hard to balance low-cost with security and performance.