02/03/2024

Using KeeAgent with Cygwin OpenSSH

As I said in the previous post I’m in love with Cygwin… but I’m also in love with Keepass… and I also live with ssh… so how to make my life easier?

The answer is simple: KeeAgent

KeeAgent is a Keepass plugin that can work as a ssh agent, in this way:

  1. you can save you ssh private keys in a safe and encrypted Keepass database –> NO MORE PRIVATE KEYS ON FILESYSTEM
  2. you don’t have to deal with ssh private keys passphrases, because they’re stored in the Keepass entries where you’ll save private keys –> NO MORE UNENCRYPTED PRIVATE KEYS
  3. you can easily retrieve publish keys to authorize on hosts without searching like a hound on your filesystem, in a couple of clicks KeeAgent will provide them

Apparently the setup of all this thing may seem complex, in reality it’s quite simple:

  1. download and install KeeAgent from https://github.com/dlech/KeeAgent/releases
  2. in KeeAgent options (Tools -> Options -> KeeAgent) put this string into “Cygwin/MSYS Integration” Path
    %UserProfile%/.keeagent.sock
  3. restart Keepass and check if there’s the file .keeagent.sock in your home and it’s a socket file
    file ~/.keeagent.sock
  4. export SSH_AUTH_SOCK variable and put it on your .bashrc file, the value of the variable should be the path of the socket file you set at the point number 2.
    echo "export SSH_AUTH_SOCK=~/.keeagent.sock" >> ~/.bashrc
  5. make sure you have installed Cygwin OpenSSH and you’re not using Windows ssh

The setup is complete, now you only have to create key entries in your Keepass database, attach private key files, fill the password field and enable those entries to be loaded with KeeAgent.

For more details check the super clear KeeAgent documentation.

17/02/2024

Windows home as Cygwin home

Working as a GNU/Linux sysadmin means working all day long on a terminal, it doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a server, a container or a Kubernetes cluster, and for me terminal means Cygwin.

Microsoft made huge changes since Windows 10 to make it easy to work with GNU/Linux on a Windows workstation, think about OpenSSH available by default or WSL, but for me Cygwin is still the 1st choice, no virtualization, no  WSL network issues, (almost) all the GNU/Linux utils available, fast and native to Windows.

But sometimes having two home directories (one for Cygwin, one for your Windows user) is not convenient at all… but there’s a solution for that, it’s easy and it’s fast and do not involve any workaround or symlinks, you can tell Cygwin to use the Windows home directory as a Cygwin home.

For doing it you simply have to edit the /etc/nsswitch.conf file and change the db_home variable, using as value “/%H”, here’s the result:

tas@tas ~
$ grep ^db_home /etc/nsswitch.conf
db_home: /%H

The next terminal you’ll open will have its home into “C:\Users\<user>” or if you are a Cygwin lover “/cygdrive/c/Users/<user>” ;)

18/09/2023

Windows 11 is PITA

Finally after 11 years with my old gaming PC I made it! I finally got a new build with a brand new Ryzen 5 CPU!

Maybe I’ll make a post about it, specially for some power consumption considerations, but now it’s PITA time, to be precise it’s Windows 11 PITA time.

Yes, I installed Windows 11 on this new pc, Windows was an obvious choice for a gaming pc, and Windows 11 was the only choice that made sense for a new configuration.

But yes… Windows 11 is a PITA (for those who don’t know this means “Pain In The Ass”), there are many reasons for that, maybe I’ll post about them while I’ll encouter them, but for now let’s start with the first PITA example: default app selection for a certain type of file.

I know it’s not a new thing, also Windows 10 had this problem, but you can solve it easily with a few click here and there, but Windows 11 added a new layer of complexity on top of that.

Right now I spent half an hour finding how could I open PNG files by default with IrfanViewe (btw go to https://www.irfanview.net/ and install it, it’s the best image viewer and basic editor on the planet) because by default Windows 11 associate .png file with the Microsoft Photo app (which is really bad and slow compared to IrfanView).

The main problem is that the .png file are not listed in the default app (Microsoft Photo), same goes for .png file extention, and you can’t uninstall the Microsoft Photo app using the Windows Apps window.

But thanks to PowerShell and administrator rights you can do it.

  1. open PowerShell with administrator rights
  2. use “get-appxpackage *photos*” to get the details on the default app for photos
  3. use “get-appxpackage *photos* | remove-appxpackage” to uninstall the default app for photos.
  4. try to open a png file and select IrfanView as a default app.

04/09/2023

Slow Cygwin TTY

Maybe I’m the last user on earth using Cygwin (I doubt it considering the project is well maintained and its newsletter is very active) but lately I noticed that opening the terminal window takes really long time.

After digging a little bit I found the problem came from my working pc logged on an Active Directory domain (for instance I’m not an AD lover… but that’s another story) and obviously Stackoverflow had the solution (I’m quite surprise we didn’t found the cure for cancer or the meaning of life on it… yet).

https://superuser.com/questions/877051/cygwin-from-windows-is-very-slow-laggy/1183283

I report it here just in case some day Stackoverflow will be bought by some lunatic billionaire that will decide to turn it into ashes…

Rough solution:

$ mkpasswd -l -c >/etc/passwd
$ mkgroup -l -c >/etc/group
$ echo 'passwd: files' >> /etc/nsswitch.conf
$ echo 'group: files' >>/etc/nsswitch.conf

More elegant solution

$ cygserver-config
Generating /etc/cygserver.conf file

Warning: The following function requires administrator privileges!

Do you want to install cygserver as service?
(Say "no" if it's already installed as service) (yes/no) yes

The service has been installed under LocalSystem account.
To start it, call `net start cygserver' or `cygrunsrv -S cygserver'.

Further configuration options are available by editing the configuration
file /etc/cygserver.conf. Please read the inline information in that
file carefully. The best option for the start is to just leave it alone.

Basic Cygserver configuration finished. Have fun!

19/09/2022

Re: The State of EVE Online – Summer 2022

Recently I read this really interesting post by Dunk Dinkle, the leader of one of the biggest alliances in Eve Online, and a great guy, check his awesome speech during the latest Eve Fanfest 2022.

Essentially Dunk made some observations about Eve and suggested a couple of radical solutions, or at least suggestions on how to make the game more interesting, in this post I would like to give my point of view on his observations.

The game is too hard for newbies.

Well, let me say it loud and clear, Eve always been hard for newbies for anyone who didn’t started to play from the early beginning.

I started in 2007, left the game after a month, then I gave it another opportunity in 2014, I fell in love and I continued to play since then.
What Dunk perfectly described (the struggle for the newbie to keep the pace with other older players) is exactly what I felt for at least 2 years, and just like me it was what everyone experienced in Eve until CCP introduced the damn skill injectors (which are the root of all problems in Eve imho, more on that later).

Did it was fun? Not exactly, or better, not directly, because this continue run to reach the level of the other players around me triggered a lot of other small objectives and mid-term goals, and all of these were the real fun part of Eve, not sitting in a damn gatecamp in a blingy T3C or BS.

Obviously in the meantime you can’t just sit in a station spinning a corvette while waiting to finish your skills, you can always join fleets and make experience, and this is where corps and alliances can help.
When I started Eve almost every alliance (well maybe except NC. and PL and other “elite pvp” groups :\ ) have fittings for newbies with T1 cheap ships which every player could fly easily; now most of them removed this opportunity among their doctrines (maybe not Brave, but a lot of alliances made this choice) because “you can buy PLEX and inject”, and that’s wrong imho.

From my perspective alliances should encourage new players to grow slowly and gradually without skipping the steps that every Eve player experienced before the introduction of the damn injectors.
It’s a learning process that make you feel capable to fly an expensive ship BEFORE you will be able to get you butt into that ship, it worked perfectly for years and years since 2016, I don’t understand why now it should be different.

A 3rd solution

Honestly I highly appreciate a leader of a big group that dares to suggest unpopular solutions to fix the game problems.

Regarding the solutions Dunk gave I have some doubts, starting the game from scratch can lead to the very same result and so many people invested so much of their time and money in the game that I doubt many will follow this route.

Reducing the game area can be interesting, but maybe you can achieve a similar result removing the factors that limit the players ability to move around and attack each other, for example rollback the cyno changes, make remote regions easier to attack (think about drone regions), putting NPC systems with stations in every single region at capital jump range from lowsec (or other NPC systems).

But I have a 3rd solution, an unpopular, painful but healthy solution:

  1. remove skill injectors and extractors from the market and limit their usage
  2. turn back injected SP into skill injectors (there should be some log about it in the CCP infrastructure) and give each character one free SP complete remap for not injected SP trained after the introduction of injectors
  3. rollback ore changes and rorqual changes back to the golden rorqual age
  4. remove keepstars and get back to the old titan and supers dedicated characters

Injectors

Let’s begin with the starter dish: remove skill injectors and extractor from the market (online and CCP store) and limit their usage.

Usually when I suggest to remove injectors people reply “it will be bad for new players”, well no.

First of all the vast majority of the people which took advantage from injectors were not new players but experienced players, who had huge wallets and no way to spend the ton of isks they made during years and years of gameplay.
Except for few rich guys the vast majority of new players can’t afford to constantly buy injectors with real money, but the main point is that this kind of behavior is totally pointless.

There are so many skills and skill levels in Eve that you can’t simply say “ok let’s inject this skill and then I’m ok”, no it doesn’t work like that and every Eve player perfectly knows this.
After you trained a skill there’s another fundamental skill, and then another one and another one and so on, the list of important skills is endless and using injectors is not a solution.
Besides of that from a isk/sp ratio injectors are really bad, it’s way better to train normally with +5 implants, so it’s better to invest into PLEX or MCT certificates than injectors.

There will be injectors flowing through the game still (see next point), so I will suggest a strong limitation on their usage to help new characters, for example limit their usage to characters with less than 5M SP.

Injectors rollback

Now the first course.

I know, this will be painful, it will cause a lot of people to complain, some of them will leave Eve but if the game will survive it will be stronger and will be able to live for another 10 years at least.
This will solve a lot of the “proliferation” problems in Eve, caps, supers, titans, rorquals, bots (this is another historical Eve problem, injectors rollback is not a solution but it will help to make the bot users life harder); it will cause a temporary but huge drop in capital and supercapital ships price, but this will push people to use them.

Rorqual and ore rollback

A nice juicy main course :)

Let’s be honest the golden age of rorquals mining in nullsec was one of the best moments in Eve history from every perspective.

It gave a huge push to mining, to industry, to trading, but also to pve (more capitals means more ratters) which consequently resulted in a huge push to pvp (more ratters means more gankers, but also more people willing to commit their dread and carriers and faxes into war, or even solo pvp with them).

Ok back in those days there were a lot of “defence fleets” to save rorquals, but let’s look to the bigger picture, it was all content, on one side we had defence fleets, ot the other we had the “bomber and kiki booshing nightmare” which was one of the best content creator factors since ages!

From a mining and industry perspective active rorquals have never been a problem, the problem was their proliferation, which was caused by injectors, not by rorquals themself.
One of the historical problems in Eve is that mining is worthless unless you have a large amount of accounts, we have this huge and fun and fundamental part of the game almost completely ignored by the vast majority of players because it’s worthless if you have one of two accounts, and this means that also all the other activities related to this (industry, ships and equipment trading and hauling, BPO research, invention etc etc…) are ignored by a lot of players.

Rorqual active mining opened all these pillars of the game to everyone, before that a player with one or two accounts will barely be able to build a cruiser or a battleship, after that almost everyone potentially could build a capital, or a super (with more patience) or a titan (with a HUGE amount of patience), these things literally opened all these career paths to a lot of new people.
As I said the only problem with rorqual mining was proliferation, but that’s an issue regarding skill injectors.

Keepstars

And finally the dessert.

Keepstars are gorgeous, keepstars are powerful… but keepstars (with injectors) lead to supercapital proliferation.

In theory a huge amount of supercaps is great for content, they gave Eve those epic superbattles (which I found so boring btw… but that’s my personal opinion) that made the game famous among the entire videogame industry, but they’re also the key component of what we call “supercap umbrella” that in some case killed the content.

Honestly I’m not sure if this is good for the game, imho remove keepstars and rollback the game to the previous mechanic (each titan char should be permanently in space inside the ship) will reduce the number of titan/super pilots to a more sustainable level, not all the players would be willing to pay a subscription to leave the chars abandoned in space inside a huge (and barely usable) ship, just like before the introduction of keepstars.

Conclusion

That’s all, I’m not a pro player, I’m not one of the oldest Eve veterans, I’m just a regular nullsec grunt with a couple of accounts and half a billion of skill points in his characters (not a single one injected), I love Eve and it’s the game that I played the most in my entire videogame career since C64.

This is only My2Cents on some of the key problems the game has today, maybe I missed something, maybe there are better solutions, but that’s how I feel about it after playing for so long and after trying almost everything the game has to offer.

I hope you enjoy the meal :)

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