Quick and Dirty ADS-B with dump1090 server and PlanePlotter

While there are some excellent decoding and aggregations tools for linux, the available options for visualization are lackluster at best. PlanePlotter a nice commercial win utility for mapping planes with ADS-B data and grabbing ACARS messages. Since I’m running a bank of RTL DVB sticks on linux as a homebrew SDR rig, use of any graphic interface is best achieved via one of the many established network protocols. Here’s the in-a-nutshell version of feeding PlanePlotter with data from dump1090, an ADS-B decoding utility that works nicely with the linux rtl-sdr driver.

linux server
git clone https://github.com/MalcolmRobb/dump1090
cd dump1090 && make dump1090
./dump1090 –no-fix –enable-agc –net

win wks
In PlanePlotter, Options->I/O Settings-> Mode-S/ADS-B-> Beast Receiver TCP
Then, Options->Mode-S receiver->Beast receiver->Setup TCP/IP client [Server IP]:30005
Process->Start (or the little round green button in the menubar)

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13-year slow-mo train wreck

Pictured: Ballmer's Legacy photo: robynejay

The aftermath of Ballmer’s decision to finally set sail from Microsoft is a bittersweet chapter for a storied company. The organization he took charge of in January 2000 was a significant and growing force in personal computing. Windows, after all, had truly brought computing to the masses. While others had devised graphical operating systems long before Windows (anyone remember GEOS?), Gates & Co. stumbled upon the secret recipe.

Innovation and technological vision, however, are antithetical to a profit-centric culture. Having walked into many similar situations, I know how frustrating this can be for the guys stuck in the boiler-room – the same guys that would otherwise be driving innovation and endearing the community beyond a stiff and embarrassing ‘Developers!’ chant.

While I’ve never worked at Microsoft, I’m fairly positive that senior management is comprised of business school grads and back-slapping guy-smiley sales types. Individually, they get a lighthearted chuckle from their general lack of technical expertise and, as such, find the irony of running such a large technology company amusing.

On the rare occasions that ‘technical stuff’ must factor into decision-making, they call one of the ‘smart guys’ (a perjorative in my book) into a conference room to field a few select questions. Those seated at the table quickly realize that they’re in over their heads and, with only half-baked answers in hand, dismiss the summoned egghead with a patronizing and stealthily condescending, “thank god you geeks understand all this stuff!” Afterwards, since no one with a strong technical background is ever allowed to remain in the conference-room (technically proficient individuals can’t possibly comprehend business, after all), everyone shrugs off the ‘confusing technical-jargon’ and the numbers-driven decisions resume unabated. Then, golf.

Meanwhile, the guys back in the boiler-room, many of whom have been working day and night on some great new product or feature, will soon learn that management doesn’t ‘get’ the value of their recent efforts. Innovative projects are scrapped and those who long to do something new and responsive to the market are reassigned as “team-leaders ” to some stale group that maintains a rickety 20-year-old product. Of course, they’re told, “This is not a step down. You’re being given charge of one of the company’s core assets….and a promotion to team-lead to boot!” Ahh yes, the Bermuda-Triangle-like netherworld of full responsibility and zero authority known to the corporate masses as ‘team lead’.

And another one bites the dust.

Although I’ve never been in this situation myself (one of the reasons I stick with small businesses), I’ve seen it in my consulting work time and time again. This sort of culture is nearly impossible to shake out. It’s an us vs. them mindset and as long as money keeps flowing through the door, investors believe that their technologically inept golf-buddies have everything under control. Had it been a team effort with different perspectives well-represented, Microsoft might have remained inexorably dominant in the technology industry. Their profits, while likely more modest, might have also remained sustainable over the long run.

As the world watches Microsoft bail water at lightning speed, I can only hope that this particular lesson sinks in (pun intended) elsewhere. I doubt it but I can hope.

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spice console in openstack

Documentation for many openstack features exists only in the form of source code. This is a result of everything still being under heavy development. My most recent experience in divining configuration details from python source was related to the use of spice as the console protocol.

I’m told that Redhat is shipping spice enabled by default. Ubuntu still ships with vnc. Converting from vnc to spice should be easy – and it is if you know what nova is looking for. I couldn’t find any practical references in the official documentation nor in any of the various support forums.

Initially, after disabling vnc (‘vnc_enabled=False’ – this is mandatory) and adding the spice configuration options, I was getting libvirt xml files that did not containg any graphics or video stanzas. It turns out that, unlike vnc, spice needs its own tag. Here’s what needs to be appended to nova.conf to bring spice to life:

Controller Node
[spice]
enabled=True
html5proxy_base_url=http://{nova-spiceproxy public IP}:6082/spice_auto.html
keymap=en-us

Compute Nodes
[spice]
agent_enabled=True
enabled=True
html5proxy_base_url=http://{nova-spiceproxy public IP}:6082/spice_auto.html
keymap=en-us
server_listen={private IP of compute node or 0.0.0.0}
server_proxyclient_address={private IP of compute node}

Other notes:
- Be sure to comment out or remove all vnc-related options ~except~ vnc_enabled=False.
- The previous example assumes port 6082 for nova-spiceproxy.
- Ensure that the vncproxy has been disabled and that the spiceproxy is running on this port (or adjust the url’s above accordingly).
- In order to get secure (encrypted) console sessions, you’ll need to enable tls w/ spice.

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Slipstream virtio drivers into Windows Server 2012 install ISO

 

Windows administration is not my strong suit but occasionally I find myself having to coax MS products into action. I was surprised when I couldn’t find any specific guidance for slipstreaming virtio since…you know…openstack. Anyway, the following process was undertaken on a Win 2012 server (64-bit) with the resulting image also being Win 2012. Since this version of Windows appears to be little more than Windows 8 without the magnificently atrocious Metro interface, it should work on there as well…that is if you can keep random crap from popping up and stealing focus while you’re trying to work. Good luck on that.

Prep

You’ll need:

- Windows 2012 Server install ISO
- The latest signed virtio drivers for windows from RedHat. As of the time of writing, these are contained within virtio-win-0.1-59.iso
- ImgBurn or any other tool capable of manipulting ISO images. That we’re in the year CE 2013 and this functionality is not included out of the box on every version of windows is nothing short of criminal. You’re free to open the iso’s in linux and grab what you need as well.
- That’s pretty much it. Everything else, amazingly, is included with a standard windows installation.

Details

  1. I’ve found relative paths to be a bit of a foreign concept in windows-land (%WINDIR% being the-difficult-to-type exception)  so, for ease of explanation, I’ve created the following:

    c:\iso
    c:\iso\ms-iso
    c:\iso\ms-mount 
    c:\iso\virtio-iso
     
    Go ahead and put the windows and virtio iso images in c:\iso.
     
  2. Using ImgBurn or the tool of your choice, extract the contents of the windows install iso to c:\iso\ms-iso.
     
  3. Extract the contents of the virtio iso into c:\iso\virtio-iso. Alternatively, you could just mount the iso and reference the appropriate path when you reach step  #5. I’m just trying to keep this walk-through simple and tidy.
     
  4. Next, we’ll use dism to mount the wim image. From an elevated command prompt:
  5. dism /mount-image /imagefile:c:\iso\ms-iso\sources\install.wim /index:1 /mountdir:c:\iso\ms-mount
    
  6. Time to insert the drivers. Note that due to linux’s own historical baggage, the driver directory is named AMD64. In spite of the name, the drivers are perfectly compatible with all 64-bit x86-derivative platforms.
  7. dism /image:c:\iso\ms-mount /add-driver /driver:c:\iso\virtio-iso\WIN8\AMD64 /recurse
    

    I find myself recursing quite a bit when interacting with dos’ archaic shell but, alas, we’re almost through. Don’t even get me started on the wildly verbose and pseudo-random command syntax of powershell. 

  8. If all went well, 5 of 5 drivers will have successfully ‘installed’. Now we seal the deal:
  9. dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:c:\iso\ms-mount /commit
    
    
  10. Now we have to run through the same process but this time we’re updating boot.wimso that we can see the virtual drive during the install process.
  11. dism /mount-image /imagefile:c:\iso\ms-iso\sources\boot.wim /index:1 /mountdir:c:\iso\ms-mount
    dism /image:c:\iso\ms-mount /add-driver /driver:c:\iso\virtio-iso\WIN8\AMD64 /recurse
    dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:c:\iso\ms-mount /commit
    
  12. Now all that’s left is to glue the iso back together. In ImgBurn this accomplished by:
    1. Mode -> Build
    2. In the ‘Source’ section, click the ‘Browse for a folder’ icon. Select c:\iso\ms-iso.
    3. In the ‘Destination’ section, click the ‘Browse for a file’ icon. Give your iso a name and put it where you’d like.
    4. Under the Options tab on the right, set ‘File System’  to ‘UDF’ and ensure that ‘Recurse Subdirectories’ is checked.
    5. Under the Labels tab, set an appropriate label (eg., ‘win2012-virtio’) in the UDF field.
    6. Under the Advanced -> Bootable Disc tab:
      1.  Check the ‘Make Image Bootable’ checkbox
      2. Emulation Type: None (Custom)
      3. Boot Image: c:\iso\ms-iso\boot\etfsboot.com
      4. Platform ID: 80×86
      5. Developer ID: Microsoft Corporation
      6. Load Segment: 07C0
      7. Sectors to Load: 8 (for Vista and earlier, this would be 4)
      8. Patch Information Table: Unchecked
    7. Finally, click the ‘Build Image’ button on the bottom left.

All done. I’ve noticed that ImgBurn seems to be under regular development so the UI may present additional features beyond those listed here. If so, use your best judgement or google (preferred).

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And…we’re back.

The old blog theme I’d been using was very unwieldy and made adding new entries a royal pain. So, rather than changing the damned theme, I wound up just ignoring the blog and eventually pulled it offline. Maybe I’ll go back at some point and import the old blog entries. For now, though, we’ll start fresh and with a simple theme.

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