Tyler Voll

Writer - System Admin


Today I took a dive at installing my own instance of the Elastic Stack on a Digital Ocean droplet, so that I can better test out how to utilize the stack.
While this guide will go through the steps of running Elastic Search on a CentOS droplet, it will not go into the many uses and features of the Kibana interface.
For more information on Kibana and how to utilize the visual front-end of the Elastic Stack, be sure to check out one of my previous articles, located here.


While there are guides out for the Elastic Stack, I found the majority of ones relating to CentOS were severely outdated, pulling resources from the ELK stack that were a few years old; even though some of these articles were published within the last year. What this guide will deliver is an easy to understand, step-by-step process to deploying a Elastic Stack instance that not only works, but is running their (as of the time of writing) most recent version of the stack. Although this guide is using Digital Ocean as the host of our VPS, that doesn't mean that you can't follow this guide for any normal install on your own virtual machine or on another cloud hosted environment. This walk-through is for spinning up a quick install of Elastic Stack that is public facing, to be primarily used for testing. For more information on steps you can take if you'd like to take Elastic Stack into a production installation, scroll to the end of this article for more information.

 

Read more: Install Elastic Stack 6.x on CentOS 7.x

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Whole Lot to Do About FreeNAS

Not too long ago I had a Plex server running off of my Manjaro Linux desktop, an Owncloud server off of a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian Linux, a file share off of my router, and last but not least, a long forgotten minecraft server -- untouched for years. After having to deal with each server separately, I was hoping to find a way to consolidate all of these services to one machine, hopefully making each of those services easier to manage at home. For years i've heard of a solution for this sort of dilemma, and that solution is FreeNAS. FreeNAS is an open-source operating system running FreeBSD and ZFS to create a centralized, easily accessible, and extensible place for your data. It has a web interface that allows you to manage all administrative tasks, and allows for easy creation of file shares, snapshots, replication, and servers through plugins or jails.

After hearing praises about how well FreeNAS is able to manage these types of services, I figured it was a good time to give it a go. This article gives an overview of information that should be known before starting out with FreeNAS 11, all in order to better leverage a lot of its features. FreeNAS has a lot to it, but in general, it's very easy to utilize and work with, even if you aren't very used to working with Linux or FreeBSD systems. Further in this article, we will go through the installation process, how to manage/access information on your FreeNAS server, and how Plugins, Jails, and Snapshots work on FreeNAS 11. FreeNAS isn't light on it's requirements, not just because of all the services that it can run at once, but also because of its use of ZFS, which is the file system of choice for FreeNAS. For those not used to ZFS, it is an enterprise-ready open-source filesystem, RAID Controller, and volume manager with a focus on flexibility and data integrity. When looking at the recommendations for a basic Home Media Server or a Small Office File Share running FreeNAS, we are looking at these specs to be present on the server:

Read more: Learning the Basics of FreeNAS (File Shares/Plugins/Jails)

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You’ve heard of the LAMP Stack, the LEMP Stack, and you might have even heard of the MEAN stack, but have you heard of the ELK Stack? As an aspiring Linux System Administrator, I’ve had experience deploying servers on the former stacks, but the latter I haven’t really taken the time to play with. That is, until today. Like all stacks, ELK consists of a collection of technologies that rest on top of each other, complementing each other in order to accomplish a desired end goal. The ELK Stack’s goal is to make internalizing logs and data a much easier experience for your server(s). The technologies represented in the stack consists of [E]lasticsearch, [L]ogstash, and [K]ibana.

The best way to think of these technologies is a Search Tool, a Log Router, and a Log Visualizer; all working together to help take control of your data and analytics. These tools can be crucial as they can help decide business decisions along with the future development of services. Having a strong understanding of your current data trends enables you to be more prepared and aware of how your system(s) are being utilized.

Read more: Overview of the ELK Stack and Utilizing Kibana

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For quite some time now, I've been running MacOS alongside Ubuntu. Dual-Booting was nice, because if I ever wanted to use any of the specific proprietary software that only ran on MacOS, I could do so, plus I could switch back to Linux any time if I wanted to use my system for anything else. Now that I don't have as many uses for MacOS or the proprietary software that used to hold me back, I decided that it was time to fully run Linux on my Macbook Pro. While I have been using Ubuntu 17.10 for quite some time, I wanted to try something different; and with the recent update of Fedora 28 supporting more features on Thunderbolt 3, I decided to try out Fedora 28 this time around.

My biggest issues with Linux on the MacBook Pro is that not all of the features work out of the box (primarily the Touch Pad and Keyboard and Sound for my model). I've gone through the process before with Ubuntu, but the instructions for implementing the changes to the kernel are different for a RedHat Distrobution, so this article is primarily for keeping track of the process to make it easier for others in my situation so they don't have to search or save multiple web pages to get the job done. Now, another big question that some people might have while reading this is: "Is it worth running Linux on my MacBook Pro?" This is a good question if doing some of this extra work seems tedious. For me, it doesn't seem like that much work. Overall, you will need to connect a keyboard and mouse to your Macbook Pro while you type out some commands in the terminal to get the built-in keyboard and Mouse working. Although, you are required to have those things connected while installing Fedora 28 as well, i've had to do far more work-arounds back in my Hackintosh days. As long as you prefer Linux over Darwin (MacOS), then the answer should be a clear Yes!

While this article is focusing on getting Keyboard and Touchpad control back, I will also include some other resources at the end for those who have more issues with things not working out of the box (which is very likely if you are using a different MacBook Pro model, primarily those using the Touch Bar), so that if you all need some further direction, you can still go somewhere else after here. Before starting this tutorial, make sure that you have installed Fedora 28. Although you need to plug in a keyboard and mouse into your thunderbolt ports, you shouldn't have an issue with the install (or at least I did not have any issues). While I haven't had any issues with installing Fedora and Ubuntu on my MacBook, I have had issues installing Arch Linux Distros (like Manjaro), because Calamares has issues writting the bootloader to the MacBook's NVME drive.

Read more: Fedora 28 on a Macbook Pro 2016 (13,1)

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As a SysAdmin for a Small Community, one of the biggest changes we are going through is changing host/server providers. Going from Bluehost to Digital Ocean has been a no-brainer to me for a couple of reasons: DO is cheaper, DO is a more flexible provider, and DO has a far more intuitive administrative experience (ditching Bluehost’s cPanel for a terrific dashboard). While Digital Ocean wouldn’t be the best option for larger communities that would require far more server resources, the small community I’ve been administering only has a user base of around 100-200 people. Making the switch will effectively save the community $15 a month, or $180 a year. That is a lot of savings, especially if the community itself isn’t accumulating funding to host the web server!

While I will talk about Bluehost and Digital Ocean throughout this article, they could just as easily be replaced with the names “Server #1 with phpMyAdmin” & “Server #2 with phpMyAdmin”. While I don’t intend this article being a plug for digital ocean, they have made hosting different types of servers far easier and more fun than any other host/vps provider I’ve tested before. If it helps, the Digital Ocean ‘Droplet’, as they call them, is basically just a Ubuntu Server 16.04 Virtual Private Server. If you wanted to do this, the instructions should be pretty similar throughout for any Ubuntu Server 16.04 installation.

The steps I went through while doing this migration consist of Backing up the Database within phpMyAdmin, copying all the files from the root of the forum with the current host, creating a digital ocean one-click droplet for phpMyAdmin running off of Ubuntu 16.04, importing the databases into the droplet’s phpMyAdmin, then lastly, moving over the files for the forum and making small configuration changes for the install to work properly on the new server. One of the complications that I wasn’t expecting was from migrating phpBB from a MySQL 5.6.x database into a 5.7.x database. Although, the fix for the issue I ran into was pretty simple to implement.

Read more: Migrating a PhpBB 3.2.X Forum to a Digital Ocean Droplet

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