Making nis automounting work in Debian and Ubuntu (and BSD)

We have a problem that with recent versions of Ubuntu (16.04 and later) and Debian (8 and later) the normal way we set up automounting to mount our nis users home directories doesn’t work – apparently due to boot ordering issues. (It works fine with Red Hat derivatives). We accidentally found a solution when copying a BSD configuration…

We create a file in /etc/auto.master.d (gets read in by auto.master in the standard Debian/Ubuntu setup):

/home auto.astro
/scratch auto.scratch

Then in /etc we have:

#! /bin/sh -

if test $# -eq 0; then
    ypcat -k auto.home | awk '{print $1}'
    ypmatch "$1" auto.home


#! /bin/sh -

if test $# -eq 0; then
    ypcat -k auto.scratch | awk '{print $1}'
    ypmatch "$1" auto.scratch


Note these files are shell scripts so need to be executable!

(yes, it’s a bit odd we call the home mapper auto.astro. Historical reasons).

These seem to work reliably on Ubuntu and Debian. This setup actually came from a BSD box.

Enable pfSense web administration from WAN

N.B. you should only do this if the WAN interface is actually on a protected network!

Set up a new firewall rule on the WAN:

  • First section should be Pass, WAN, IPv4, TCP
  • Source: Restrict as appropriate (note – need multiple rules if wanting to allow multiple subnets through).
  • Destination: WAN address
  • Destination port range: HTTPS (443)

Save this.

Note that if your WAN network has private addresses on it then you also need to configure the WAN interface to allow this (bottom of configuration page, uncheck Block private networks and loopback addresses). Note that you will then see this rule removed from the firewall WAN list.

Accessing additional Exchange mailboxes using IMAP

If you are using Outlook it’s reasonably straightforward to access additional mailboxes on your Exchange mailserver. Using other clients it’s a bit more obscure. The Glasgow Exchange server can be accessed via IMAP (although it’s best to use the native exchange protocols when you can). To access a mailbox called mail_box use these settings (using Thunderbird as an example):


Note that when using an Apple or Android phone, you can access your primary mailbox using the Exchange protocol (and it’s recommended to do so). However, this is a reduced functionality mobile version which does not give access to additional mailboxes. For these, you have to use an IMAP connection (i.e. set up an additional mail account and use the settings above).

Synchronisation problems with Outlook 2010 for accounts with secondary mailboxes

We had a problem with a couple of users who kept having synchronisation problems with an Exchange (2010) server, using Outlook 2010. Some mail would not appear in mailboxes, but would appear in the web client. The sync would claim to complete ok, but looking at the Sync Issues folder there were a lot of messages of the form:

13:22:28 Error Synchronizing Hierarchy for Mailbox 'TeamShared' 
13:22:28 [80040305-54A-4DE-1900] 
13:22:28 Your server administrator has limited the number of items you can open simultaneously. Try closing messages you have opened or removing attachments and images from unsent messages you are composing.

This can occur if the secondary mailbox has a a lot of folders, which this one does – there’s a big tree of stuff in there. To solve this we turned off caching of the secondary mailbox. The details of the problem and the various workarounds are given at:

Performance problems when you try to access folders in a secondary mailbox in Outlook

Changes to GU visual identity Powerpoint templates

The latest versions of the Uni Powerpoint templates have slightly different RGB colours from the original guidelines. Looks like a improvement snuck in without telling anyone.

Colour R G B
Old blue 0 53 95
New blue 0 33 60
Old SciEng 119 120 0
New SciEng 91 101 27

For the new SciEng template the logo remains the same. For the generic Uni template the logo has been altered so the shield is the same shade as the new blue. I’ve approximately replicated this in Powerpoint 10 by altering the logo image with Brightness: -12% and Contrast: 25%. It’s not a perfect match for the other colours (comparing them to the logo that comes with the template), so I suspect there’s probably been some gamma tweaking or similar going on.

My version of the College pptx template with the school logo school_general.pptx. Has the Tower background as a title slide option. It has to be said, the green does look a little less yucky than before. Now if only they’d apply this to the website as well…