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Month: March 2009

WordPress and special characters

Today when I was adding an article, I was getting really upset with WordPress, I just wanted to add some simple characters and have it printed AS IS.

When working with WordPress and using special characters like a redirection symbol ” > ”  or something enclosed in it’s on tag  like “<dev>” it will get hosed while editing in “HTML” mode. You could insert syntax to stop it from doing that, but it’s much easier to add a post with such things in “Visual” mode first. Then switch over to “HTML” mode if any other special tags are needed.

SWAT in 60 seconds

Q. What is SWAT?
A. It’s the “Samba Web Administration Tool”

Q. What can I use it for?
A. (shrug )Maybe to quickly setup a SAMBA server etc. 😉 from following my previous howto.
A2. It does have some good info even if you don’t use it for your SMB configuration.

We all know it’s best to use the command line interface (CLI) when learning something,
and most GUI tools don’t give you all the options anyway. However, it’s nice to have a GUI tool when you’re in a rush or you just want to try something new without digging for hours.

This article assumes you have already installed SAMBA.  See my previous article if you haven’t.

According to the SWAT docs, it will overwrite you current SMB.conf,
so you may want to backup your current one first.

# Backup the current smb.conf
sudo cp --preserve=context /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/samba/smb.conf.pre-swat

# Install the SWAT tool
sudo yum install -y samba-swat

# Set the service to launch and start it up
sudo vi /etc/xinetd.d/swat (change the disable from yes to no)
sudo /sbin/service xinetd restart

# Browse to

* Addtional Info:

SAMBA – Home Directory Shares Made Easy

Q. What is SAMBA?
A. “Samba is a Free Open Source Software suite that provides seamless file and print services to SMB/CIFS clients.”

Q. Where is SAMBA’s home?

Q. Why did you bother writing this?
A. Several reasons, mostly to help myself and others.

Note: You may want to copy/paste this into a txt file for easier reading.

This “entry level” guide will show you how to configure SAMBA in order to let users
browse their home folders under Linux via Windows.

Please note: I write these guides under RHEL/CentOS. However, they should work under any distribution. You still may need to tweak things a little. ;0)

I’m also assuming you have sudo rights. You shouldn’t work from root!

If you’ve installed the default settings for SELinux, it will be in “Enforcing” mode.

# To check your SELinux status. (1 = Enforcing, 0 = Permissive)


# If you wish to change the state from Enforcing to Permissive temporarily


If you wish to change it permanently between reboots, alter the /etc/selinux/config file to say Permissive
If you wish to keep using SELinux, I’ll provide the extra step to work with this guide,
other wise just ignore the SELinux “setsebool” command.

NOTE: Review the /etc/samba/smb.conf for addtional SELinux settings.
# Install the SAMBA server.


# Add a user for testing the SMB/CIFS Shared Home directory.


# Configure the user “sambatest” smb password.


# Backup the /etc/samba/smb.conf file prior to any changes.
# Edit the smb.conf file and set your “workgroup” / “netbios name” if needed.


workgroup = workgroup (this is Windows default group)
netbios name = CENTOS (don’t forget to uncomment this line)

# Set the SMB daemon to start on boot up. (for levels 2345)


# Start the SAMBA daemon.


# OPTIONAL (if using SELinux)


# You’ll want to edit your iptables/firewall rules to allow connections.
# I would recommend locking this down to local network hosts etc.
# I’ll assume your trusted hosts are on a network.

-A RH-Firewall-1-INPUT -m state --state NEW -m udp -p udp -s --dport 137 -j ACCEPT
-A RH-Firewall-1-INPUT -m state --state NEW -m udp -p udp -s --dport 138 -j ACCEPT
-A RH-Firewall-1-INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp -s --dport 139 -j ACCEPT
-A RH-Firewall-1-INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp -s --dport 445 -j ACCEPT

# From Windows, browse your “workgroup” network and you should now see “CENTOS”
# Simply log in with the account/smbpasswd you’ve created.

Additional Info:

* Official Samba 3.2.x HOWTO and Reference

* SELinux Guide
Copying / Moving files and retaining SELinux Contexts – See section “5.10. Maintaining SELinux Labels ”

* Dan Walsh’s SAMBA / SELinux info

* IPTables

Hacking Experts Exchange

Over the years, Experts Exchange has become quite the repository of tech advice, where people go to ask questions, then the experts compete to give the best answer and win the asker’s vote.  It’s a pretty slick system, I suppose, if you are an ‘expert’, and your goal in life is seeing your username at the top of a list on their site, or if you have a question and have been unable to find an answer to it on any of the completely free message boards across the internet.

Whatever your reason for paying the fee to join their site, you have probably run across one of their pages if you have been searching for answers to a technical problem online.  Their search engine placement has been historically good for a wide variety of key words and phrases.

A Bit of History

You have also probably run across Expert Exchange’s efforts to protect their paid content from the casual observer. If you are like me, you have seen them at the top of a search results page, cussed them out in your head, then moved on to the next result.  That is because you know they often seem to have people asking the exact same thing you are in search of, and they seem to have people who have provided answers/solutions, but when you go there you are asked to pay to see the answers.  But being the freebie seeking geek you are, you haven’t ever signed up for their site.

I remember that it used to be they would obfuscate their experts’ answers to a question with Javascript.  That worked for a few minutes, until Firefox gained popularity and it became really easy to turn off Javascript.

For a long time, I thought that they had ended up removing their experts’ answers altogether.  However, I learned that Experts Exchange is using a simple visual cue to make you think this so that you won’t find the coveted content for which they take great lengths to protect (and charge you $12.95 a month for access to).

The Hack

The secret is, if you just keep scrolling down the page, you will see all the answers to the question at the top of the page!  What they do to make you think there is nothing there is show several empty bars of “Expert Comment” and “Accepted Solution”, followed by a “Sign up to view this solution” section, making you think the content is hidden.  Below that, you will see a ton of “footer links”, making you think you are at the bottom of the page. However, keep going, and you will find the hidden pot o’ gold.

Why would they do this?  Because they need Google to be able to crawl their content so they can maintain the excellent search engine placement they usually have.  If they only showed the question, and not the answers, they would have much less worthy text to index, so it really behooves them to have that text shown somewhere in plain view. Obfuscating it with Javascript or CSS will only end up hurting them because Google looks at those things as ‘trickery’ due to the fact that they can be used for keyword stuffing.

This isn’t to say I don’t advocate paying for their service.  I actually had the company I used to work for pay the fee a few years ago, but didn’t find myself using it that much, so I didn’t ask them to renew it.

In summary, scroll scroll scroll your way to the bottom of the page when you find an Experts Exchange result while troubleshooting on the Internet.