Saturday, July 22, 2006

Installing Ubuntu on a Dell PowerEdge without a CD drive

I recently purchased a very basic DELL in Australia. In the USA, it is impossible to buy a DELL server without a CD ROM and after buying a few there for various reasons, I did not think to ask when ordering the one on the phone. Well, let me assure you, no other CD drive I could get my hands on would actually work and the support staff at DELL were of no help. I even managed to get a DELL CD from a friends PC but it would not work in the server either - the server was just too fussy.
Before sending it back, I thought I would give it one last shot and purchased a 1GB USB key from a local computer dealer. Then downloaded a ubuntu ISO for a CD install. After a few trial and errors and searching on the internet, I think I have the actual instructions to get it working. Although, I am no linux kernel hacker, here goes:

1. Download the ISO that you want (in my case ubuntu 6.06 desktop)
2. Download the syslinux tool for windows (syslinux latest)
3. Optional USB format utility (from HP)
4. Copy the CD contents to your USB device
5. Unzip the syslinux and run it against your USB drive (syslinux.exe -f F:) from the win32 directory of syslinux
6. Copy these files to the root of the USB
  • vmlinuz (kernel binary) from "casper\vmlinuz"

  • initrd.gz (initial ramdisk image) from "casper\initrd.gz"

  • syslinux.cfg (SYSLINUX configuration file) rename and copy from "isolinux\isolinux.cfg"

7. Then edit the syslinux.cfg so that the vmlinux and initrd.gz now point to the root

DEFAULT /casper/vmlinuz
GFXBOOT bootlogo
APPEND boot=casper initrd=/casper/initrd.gz ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram
rw quiet splash --
DEFAULT vmlinuz
GFXBOOT bootlogo
APPEND boot=casper initrd=initrd.gz ramdisk_size=1048576 root=/dev/ram
rw quiet splash --

8. Eject the USB and you can now boot from it as soon as you go into the BIOS settings on the DELL server (F2 at boot) and set the boot order to allow the USB device to boot as a priority

Monday, July 10, 2006

Disposable email, spamcop and a trap

I will never be afraid to give out my email address again. Well, maybe not my actual address, but I will give away my sneakemail address. This service (, will allow you to generate a random looking email address like "" that you can safely give out. It is a disposable address that you can use to sign up for a given site, tag it for that purpose and then if you get any spam from that site, delete the address.
However, I have recently taken this one step further. I have created a spamtrap address that will automatically report spam to spamcop and blacklist the IP address of the hosting servers. So, instead of deleting the address, I simply re route it to the spam trap and increase the power of the blacklist.
Requires tools:
1. Sneakemail (free accounts available) Sneakemail
2. Spamcop reporting account - Spam reporting for the masses
3. Automatic report account - the trap account (Thunderbird Reporter or Lotus Notes reporter )
Then you can use your disposable email addresses as you need and have them divert to the spam trap if they start to get spammed.