Thursday, May 20, 2010

SSL Certificates from the Command-Line

If you've ever wondered how to easily inspect a certificate from the command line, look no further than openssl.

openssl s_client -connect hostname:port

If you ever need to look up several hosts at once and want to report the ones which will expire before a given date, try this script:

thresholdDate="June 30, 2010"
(for hostAndPort in $(< $hostFile )
               $(date -d "\
                              $(echo blah |\
                                 openssl s_client -connect $hostAndPort 2> /dev/null |\
                                 sed "1,/Server certificate/ {d}; /subject/,$ {d;};"|\
                                 openssl x509 -text 2> /dev/null|\
                                 grep "Not After"|\
                                 sed "s/.* : //"\
  if (( $( date -d "$dateStr" +%s ) <= $( date -d "$thresholdDate" +%s ) ))
    echo ${hostAndPort%:*}\|$dateStr
done)| column -s "|" -t

Right now, there's not much error checking in this script. And, I'm not doing any TLS stuff. The hostFile just contains host:port pairs, one host per line.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Moving from MyWeb to Live@Edu

The personal webhosting service offered to all UGA affiliates is called MyWeb. It offers only 200mb of storage. The advantage is that javascript, iframes, etc. are allowed, which is not the case for many free website hosting tools, especially the fancy WYSIWIG ones. So, I haven't convinced you that MyWeb has value? Well, consider redirecting your myweb page to your live@edu profile,Spaces page, or other site that you do maintain. Here's how:

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0;url=">
  • Save the file on your computer with a name of index.html
  • Log into your MyDrive web interface at
  • Navigate to the Home@UGA->www folder
  • From the File menu on the right, select Upload
  • Click Choose File and select your newly created index.html file
  • Click Upload

You could also choose to only redirect certain directories of your site by adding a similar index.html file in the subdirectories that you desire to redirect.

Making Linux Talk Microsoft live@edu


Our new mail solution will be Exchange 2010 in the form of Microsoft's Live@edu hosted environment. Sounds swell for Microsoft lovers. But, what about us Linux folk? What clients can we use to have as rich an experience as the Microsoft crowd? What to do? Sometimes, the best or only answer for users of any operating system is to use the web interface. Mostly, we'll explore the thick client options in this article.


Evolution hacks seemed to work against Exchange 2007. But, all webdav has been yanked from 2010. I almost lost hope.

The best solution I've come across is Thunderbird + Lightning + xdata-provider. Lightning adds calendar functionality to Thunderbird. The xdata-provider add-on extends the Lightning to interact with the Exchange 2010 calendar. Thunderbird will speak IMAP to Exchange to fetch mail. Lightning/xdata-provider will handle the calendar.

What you'll need

  • Thunderbird
  • the Lightning add-on (available as the "lightning-extension" package in Ubuntu)
  • xdata-provider add-on for Thunderbird


Thus far, I've had trouble editing Exchange calendar events in Thunderbird. Nor have I been able to reply (accept/decline) event invitations. Essentially, it has proven useful only for adding new events. I don't even think it has alerted me

Instant Messaging

Empathy provides Instant Messaging capabilities for your live (MSN) account.

Cloud Storage / Collaboration

As for SkyDrive, the best solution is to forget about it (until a Linux client comes along) and use DropBox. Same goes for Office Live Workspace, which will greet you with an "Windows users only" error anyhow.

A couple nice features of SkyDrive is that you can do light editing on Office documents without downloading them. The other is the SSO (single-sign-on), which saves you a click or two.

Blog / Simple Web Site.

I see no point in using Spaces, since there are better blog tools out there and this tool is in no way branded to affiliate one to UGA or any easier to use because of our agreement. Your spaces account must be unique in the namespace, which already has millions of users.