Part Two: Creating a custom Arch Linux live USB

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Outcome: To make changes to a previous Arch Linux live system with relative ease, and install a display manager.

There have been a number of people posting comments on one of my previous posts, Creating a custom Arch Linux live USB, asking how to further configure the system once the base system has been built, with most questioning how to update the live system without doing a complete rebuild, and auto starting a display manager/desktop environment.

Hopefully, this post will cover that.
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Arch Linux ARM (native) install on N900

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Arch Linux ARM N900

Outcome: To dual boot Arch Linux ARM on a newly created partition on the Nokia N900

The geek inside me loves Arch Linux. I’ve got it installed on all my boxes, booting from a USB stick, on a tablet, and now I have it in my pocket thanks to the N900 which I’ve just obtained for the 5th, 6th or maybe 7th time; maybe it’s time to keep notches on my bedpost, at least then I’ve got something to be keeping track of.

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Disabling PHP functions on a per virtual host basis

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Outcome: To disable various PHP functions, in a shared hosting environment,
per domain/vhost, as opposed to affecting the whole server.

Update: 4th February 2014
Due to the lack of activity with Sunhosin PHP patch, many are
considering the project to be ‘dead’.
This post is still releveant to those using the patch and older versions of PHP.

One of the first things I do when setting up Apache and PHP on my server is to disable all the PHP functions I do not need in the hopes of thwarting the effects of PHP shells which may make their way onto my server.

A PHP shell is a script coded in such a way that it can allow control over a server, including reading, modifying, and uploading files, via a simple web based interface using certain PHP functions which are enabled by default.
If your file permissions are too open, or you use a weak root password, full shell access can then be obtained by opening up SSH, or dropping a copy of netcat, or the like, on the server.

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Creating a multiboot USB stick using syslinux

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aLive Multiboot USB

Outcome: To create a USB stick that contains multiple GNU/Linux (Linux) distributions using syslinux as the boot loader.

Last Update: 18th February 2014

I love to play around with different Linux distributions; I find certain ones to be better suited at certain tasks, but having to switch between, and carry around, a key chain full of USB stick is not really practical, or something I can afford.

Thankfully, syslinux allows me to easily create a single, multi distribution USB stick, which is my little geeky life saver: whenever I’m asked to do a bit of repair work on a friends computer, I can bring along a single stick full of maintenance goodness; and also, if I’m away from home and don’t have my laptop with me, I can boot up my beloved, live version of Arch Linux customised with all my usual programs and files (see my ‘howto’ if you’re interested).

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Configuring Firefox for enhanced privacy and security

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I love Firefox.
The sheer number of customisations it offers is more than enough to keep me jumping ship; being a security and privacy freak, it allows me to control exactly what it’s doing and how, enough so to put my paranoia of entering the deep, dark web to a slight ease.

This is what this post is here to offer: ways to configure Firefox through about:config, and using extensions to increase the privacy and security aspects. It is mainly for my future reference for when I’m re-installing Firefox so my choices my not suite everyone, but hopefully others may find it useful.
Any input or extra tips are greatly appreciated.

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Copying directories using Java

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I had my head banging against the wall recently with a project I am working on; what I thought would be a relatively simple task turned out to be quite the opposite, well for a new comer to Java at least: copying one directory to another using Java.

After a relentless search I came across a number of different approaches using varying techniques, all of which were either poorly documented, used out dated components, or had me reaching for my dunce hat.

I did eventually find a solution, it didn’t quite fit my needs perfectly so I have modified slightly and included within my FileUtils class which also allows directory creation; creds go to the anonymous author on exampledepot.


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Extracting FLV streams from a pcap file

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Outcome: To extract flash streams, from sites such as youtube, from a packet capture.
These steps can also be used to extract many files, such as PDFs and MP3s.

Required tools: Perl, tcpdump, and tcpflow.

I’m quite interested in network forensics and one thing I’ve always wondered was if it is possible to extract flash, and RTMP streams from a packet capture; whilst I haven’t had much luck yet with RTMP streams (any one know how?), I have managed to sucessfully extract a flash video being streamed from YouTube, thanks to a handy perl script and blog post on

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