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Plug Computer: Part 4 Lift Off

June 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Getting Putty to work with the dream plug and JTAG and SSH

Lets just get this bit out the way. I can confirm that the instructions here do work. It  is a pain but you only have to do it once and it works.

Upgrading the DreamPlug

So to recap, the plug computer seem a cheap way to have your own bit of the cloud both in terms of capital cost and running costs.

The DreamPlug works. I know this because I can log into it through the JTAG connection. I also know it has an old version of bare bones version of Debian (Lenny) on it. Usable but not for much.

The first thing I wanted to do was upgrade the OS to something more recent but still stable. So Debian Squeeze seemed a likely candidate. There are a number of ways to change the OS on the DreamPlug. You can even multiboot from external memory be it SD card or USB stick. I wanted to keep the interfaces free so that meant storing it on the internal memory. Again there are (probably) a number of ways to do that, however since the internal memory is just an internal SD Card I decided to remove it and reimage it. Removing the four rubber pads from the DreamPlug gives you access to four small screws. Remove this and the case comes apart pretty easily revealling the SD card.

Images can be found for varios sizes of SD at the NewIT website. I used the instructions from the website to copy the image across from my laptop to the SD card. This involved using a linux command shell and I used the OpenSUSE build for that.

Booting the device through with the JTAG attached showed no problems so on to the next stage.

Joining the network

Out of the box, the DreamPlug is configured to to use DHCP to get an IP address. Connecting it to my network via ethernet posed no problem and it picked an ip address. Looking at my Fritz!box router allowed me to determine which one and from that point on I could connect via ssh rather than the JTAG module using Putty. At this point you are going to have to learn how to use a text editor with a command line interface. I haven’t used one in years but you are not going to get anywhere without using one. I used “vi” but there are others available. My intention was to give the DreamPlug a static IP address and this along with other sytem changes requires changes to a number of text configuration files. However after following the instructions here and here it steadfastly refused to stick with the address I gave it. (actually i had misconfigured the “interfaces file” as it turned out. The perils of using command line text editors made abundantly clear). In the end I reserved an addess in the Fritz!Box router and tied it to the MAC address the DreamPlug. The Fritz!Box has a “sort of” DNS server. You cannot change the domain name which is “fritz.box” unless you hack under the skin. I could not be bothered changing it so the local IP address resolved to the DreamPlug hostname appended to the domain name. dreamplug.fritz.box for example. From this point on, the DreamPlug hardware has become inconsequential an it behaves like a standard Debian linux machine connected to the internet. I followed this HOWTO to set the server up. This gives me a Webportal to manage the server and I no longer feel like I have to do keyhole surgery using Putty. I haven’t thought about any other functionalty for the DreamPlug yet – such as a media server for example as I am still playing with what I have already installed. But what I do have is a fully capable server sitting next to my toaster in the kitchen. The hardware is not a consideration now as it behaves as any normal server would. Don’t believe me – Try here if you don’t believe me (assuming it is still working :-)).

The only remaining hardware related things to do will be to turn off the laser bright LED’s and the Bluetooth and Wireless connections. They draw power, I don’t need them for now and they are security attack vectors.

Opensuse 12.1 Fritz!box 7390 and VPN – did it

April 8, 2012 Leave a comment

So the idea was to be able to access my Fritz!box 7390 router from the outside via VPN and to be able to do this on my Samsung NC10 which now runs solely on OpenSUSE 12.1. The Fritz!box comes with an IPSEC installed and AVM provide a bespoke VPN client (in german) for Windows7 to work with it. It isn’t that stable and it is limiting in what you can do with it. When it comes to OpenSUSE they provide nothing and you are on your own. Suggestions in comments indicated the Shrew VPN client would be the way to go. As a straight replacement on Win7 it works fine. You have to manually edit the configuration file. It is pretty simple job to cut and paste the relevent details from the Fritz!box configuration file to the Shrew file. This option only allows you to route to your home network only. Getting it to route through the Fritz!box out to the internet (which I wanted to do) is a bit more problematic. You will need to edit the Fritz!box config file and the and the Shrew file directly to alow this to happen. Anyway, after some experimentation it works.

So on to OpenSUSE 12.1. The theory says you just copy the shrew config file over and just use it in the linux client. Before that there are a couple of things you need to do. Obviously you need to install Shrew from the repository. This should bring in the IPSEC packages too. Before you even start Shrew you need to run IKE. If you want to run it automatically you will need write a script. I couldn’t be bothered so I run it from a terminal. From that point on Shrew behaves like the Windows version….. except that it didn’t. For some reason I couldn’t fathom domain numbers were not resolving to IP numbers. Shrew has the option to automatically find a DNS server and secting that did the trick. So I can now VPN through the Fritz!box to the internet using OpenSUSE. It should have been easier though. Next job might well be to get my Xiaomi MIONE phone to VPN through it.

Categories: AVM, Fritz!box, Linux, OpenSUSE 12.1, VPN

Opensuse 12.1 Fritz!box 7390 and VPN. How do you do it?

January 10, 2012 8 comments

OK here is a challenge for some of you. This is an area (one of many) where I know nothing so bear with me. When running Windows on my laptop I can VPN into my Fritz!box 7390. A Friz!Box Windows app generates a configuration files that you load into the router through the in web interface and into the Fritz!Box VPN client. It sounds a little complicated but the configuration only has to be done once. From then on you just fire up the client when you are in a remote location and it connects. Simples.
So now to my question. How do I do this in OpenSUSE 12.1? I tell you what I have tried so far. I have installed KVPN – the KDE VPN client. This allows you to instal the file – which I have to generate under windows (is there a Opensuse 12.1 equivilent process for this too?). There is even a special profile just for Fritzboxes that allows KVPN to import the file. At this point I demonstrate my ignorance (again). KVPN wont work with just the Fritz!box file. It uses IPSEC (I think) so I have downloaded IPSEC files and the IPSEC tools file. This fixes some “racoon” of the errors but I still get a “bind” error. Since both the Fritz!box and OpenSUSE have strong German influences there is a lot of support in the German forums. But my German is weak and Google Translate has not been a friend to me in this matter. So if there are any kind souls out there who know what I need to be doing then please tell me what I need to do. Answers in German are fine. There is one condition however. If the solution involves excesive command line activity, file editing or log dumping then I probably won’t do it as it would defeat the point I was trying to prove in my earlier post. Point and click solutions will certainly given a try. Failing that I might explore the OpenVPN route so any neat solutions here are also welcome.

So while I wait, the HD2 still wants to play

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Yes, so while I wait for my new phone, I haven’t forgotten the HD2. There is life in the old girl yet. As you might know from my earlier posts I use an AVM Fritz!Box Fon WLAN 7390 (yes it is a bit of a mouthful) router. Like all routers it just sits there and does its job. Thing is it does a lot of jobs. It is also a DECT phone base-station and seamlessly integrates land-line and VOIP. There is also an Android app called FRITZ!App Fon. What this does is make your Android phone become a DECT handset allowing you to make or pick up landline or VOIP calls via WIFI. The problem was the app wouldn’t work with y HD2 which was disappointing. The phone would pick up or connect a call but you could hear anything. Not any more! I am not sure if it is because the app is updated or the MIUI ROM is doing something. But whatever its is, it now works perfectly.

The router also acts as a Media Server and there is an app for that as there is for the router’s call register.

AVM Fritz!box 7390 & IPv6

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Just a quick update. AVM have released a firmware update for the 7390. I tried it last night.  There are even more features available now and some important fixes. Most notably, they have improved IPv6 implementation. It now seems to be working to the extent that I could test it.

Updating the Fritz!box is a very simple process and no settings were lost. Excellent.

Categories: AAISP, AVM, Fritz!box, IPv6, Modem, Router, VOIP, WIFI

AVM Fritz!box Fon

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Now I have got an internet connection (and it is still working) that next stage was to take another look at the home network. The first thing to consider was the Modem/WiFi Router. For most people, these are pretty mundane gadgets that are either on or off. Certainly this  was the case for me and I had always used the one supplied by BT. I would have used the one supplied by BE too  – at least to start with. But AAISP assume you will want to use your own. You can order one from them but you probably find a better deal elsewhere. This was the view I took.

So what to buy. Trying to get up to speed with the current technology, it seemed anything that supported AnnexM, Wireless N and had three ethernet ports and a usb would do the trick. Scouring the web for a router that could meet the requirements brought up the usual suspects such as Netgear etc. It is very hard to get enthused about them as they are all much of a muchness. There were a couple of reviews that leapt out though. What they had in common was the highly rated and frankly bizarrely named Fritz!box Fon 7390. It is manufactured by AVM and yes they are a German company. It is claimed to be the most popular brand in Europe. What sets it apart, putting its appearance to one side, is the extraordinary amount of functionality and features it has. It is not cheap but when you take these into consideration it really is value for money. Yes it is a router (DSL or cable) but it also integrates voice communications in a very usable way and acts as a DECT base station. You can even pick up calls from your Android phone when it is in wireless range. My sipgate VOIP service integrates seamlessly with my landline to the extent that I don’t realise I am using it. With the amount of international calls made in my house this been a real saving. It also acts as an answering machine (and will email the message to you), ftp server, media server, etc, etc, etc…

Rather than reproducing other people’s work, I would recommend reading THIS REVIEW. I agree with everything said there and the VPN works too.

The downside of the Fritz!box? Well in the UK there aren’t too many suppliers and certainly one let me down. Consequently, most support forums are in german although there is a growing english speaking presence. In any case, Google translate does a reasonable job these days and I have never needed support because the thing just works. It is comparatively expensive but you could also consider the 7270 which has pretty much the same functionality. The FB is also one of the few consumer routers (and certainly one of the cheapest) to support IPv6 and AAISP are one of the very few ISP’s to implement IPv6. However, they don’t seem compatible at this time so I have stuck with IPv4 for now. I am certainly not in my comfort zone here and it seems a missed opportunity. So anyone with any advice here would be welcome.

Other than that there isn’t much else to say. It sits in the corner doing its job. It just happens to be a much larger job than your average router does. Oh, and it looks like a 1950’s scfi spaceship too.

Categories: AAISP, AVM, DECT, DSL, Fritz!box, IPv6, isp, Modem, Router, VOIP, WIFI
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