Thursday 27 July 2006

Syndication is here!

I am just finishing up a couple issues reported by Feed Validator, otherwise, we are in business. Atom (and the various RSSes) is pretty easy to generate. You just have to be careful. And since all my current data was already in a database, generating the feed every time there's a change to the news feed is pretty much trivial.

Let's Syndicate!

Well, it's finally come time. Out with the .plan file, in with the .xml file! Out with finger, in with Atom!

I am currently working on building and testing my Atom feed. Atom seems to be the most robust of the syndication formats and only slightly "trickier" then RSS 2.0 or 0.91 so I'm trying it.

Sunday 9 July 2006

Bad update kills authentication

Well, Debian has finally punched me in the jaw. After the last few years have been so good to me, apt-get upgrade finally broke something painful. I went to run the update today and there was a new libnss-ldap package in there which has a bug in it. So, once I updated to the "latest", no auth worked. Everything was broken. Everything.

After some dicking around, I finally checked and sure enough, I still have all my old package files so I rolled-back libnss-ldap to the previous version and the system is back up.

Now, yes, I am running "testing" and not stable, but the new libnss-ldap does not work. What the heck is tested about that? That sounds like the package maintainer didn't even try it before it got moved to testing from unstable. Argh!

Well them's the breaks. We're back up and there's a couple quirks to resolve but otherwise, we're okay. Life goes on...

Thursday 6 July 2006

Crazy Media Conversion!

There's is a hella tight mod for KDE called "audiokonverter" which adds a context-menu in Konqueror to, you guessed it, konvert audio! Get it, "konvert" is "convert" only with a K! Hahahhahaha! Those KDE kids, they're so kfunny!

Okay, shenanigans aside, it's nice. It will descend recursively since we all keep our music in properly structured folders, prompts for destination folder (where it recreates the same folder structure), and then the appropriate quality level (e.g. 1-10 for Oggs but bitrate for MP3). Works great! Requires the encode/decode utilities for whatever formats you want. Even handles the tags properly (at lease for OGG and MP3 which I've tested).

Audiokonverter! It's your daddy!

Monday 3 July 2006

IM, Just Another Unix Service

My latest adventure has been in trying to get Jive Wildfire to authenticate against PAM instead of LDAP directly. The reason for this is that this is a more manageable authentication scheme for two reasons (which any sys admin should know already):
  1. The (XMPP) service does not have to be reconfigured for different environments (e.g. passwd files vs kerberos vs ldap),

  2. No separate password database.

My concern re: #1 is that there is some interest in running an Instant Messaging (IM) service at work but little support for getting a kerberized service. The server (Jive Wildfire) support for it is tentative at best and client support is none (e.g. ticketed authentication) so why bother? I'd have to setup key entries for the service to talk to the KDC and basically do a lot of work whereas the Pluggable Authentication Module (PAM) system is there and ready. Heck, even if the server-side support was better, the complete lack of GSSAPI/Kerberos support on the client side is a killer.

So on to #2 which is the main reason for doing any of this at all. Managing seperate password databases means system users have to have a login and password for every service and manage their passwords seperately. Since this doesn't happen (with normal users), everyone just uses the same password for everything and they use the same password for years and years. It's bad enough with the sys admins doing the same thing for core services, but that's a whole other issue.

Anyhow, I had initially setup Jive Wildfire (then Jive Messenger) to authenticate directly against my LDAP directory specifically to avoid the problems with #2. It worked well. But now faced with managing an IM server for work, I have the same two problems. Maintaining a separate password database is going to mean zero user buy-in but if I can say "just use your IRMACS password" then it won't be a problem. So that gets us back to how to setup the auth to integrate with the Kerberos system. The answer is "I dunno" or PAM.

So, PAM, you little bastard, what's the deal? It turns out Jive Wildfire doesn't have PAM support either natively or as a proper plugin (e.g. loadable at runtime) so what we need is this Java module called Shaj. Put the Java library, the .jar file, and the platform-specific library, the .so file, into wildfire/lib. Then configure Jive to use "Native Authentication":


And voila! Right? WRONG! I couldn't login, my client kept crashing, this "Shaj" thing was screwed. I went back and forth, back and forth, and just to get to the point where I knew what to do (above) but it ust didn't work. Something was odd since I was finally able to login to the admin interface but still nothing on the client.

It turns out that, naturally, after having been flailing around in the dark in the first place, my client had finally bit the dust. Something just got fubar between the removing and adding accounts and the server going up and down and up and down... After I stomped all my kopete config files, it worked great! Auth against PAM! Beauty!

So now I still have to test one last feature... Can I change my system password through my IM client? Does that just change my IM password (e.g. is it stored by Wildfire) or does it change my system password? Does it work at all? What about if I change my system password, is that reflected immediately in the IM login?

All I know is that "it should work (tm)"

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