Ubuntu and Video Streaming Services

Up until now, I have been frustrated by the lack of support for video streaming services on Ubuntu. For streaming audio, there’s a Spotify snap app conveniently in the Ubuntu Store but nothing for Netflix, Hulu or others.

Today I was poking around and discovered an application called “ElectronPlayer” in the Ubuntu Software store. It supports Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, Twitch and Floatplane. I installed it on my old 2007 iMac running Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS.

To my surprise, it works very well! I highly recommend this application.

Commodore 64 (Vic 20, Pet, etc) emulator from Raspberry Pi Raspbian

I can confirm this install method (source) worked with a Raspberry Pi 4 using Raspbian Buster.
Compiles Vice and installs into /usr/local/bin. Initial launch reports a sound issue. If you go into settings (F12), there’s a sound configuration you can change to “Alsa”.

# get dependencies – this may take a long time and ~ 1.5 GB
sudo apt install autoconf automake build-essential byacc dos2unix flex libavcodec-dev libavformat-dev libgtk2.0-cil-dev libgtkglext1-dev libmp3lame-dev libmpg123-dev libpcap-dev libpulse-dev libreadline-dev libswscale-dev libvte-dev libxaw7-dev subversion texi2html texinfo yasm libgtk3.0-cil-dev xa65 libsdl2-dev

mkdir -p src
cd src
svn checkout https://svn.code.sf.net/p/vice-emu/code/trunk trunk
cd trunk/vice
make -j4
sudo make install

Ubuntu fstab; mount external drive at boot

Procedure for rescuing an Ubuntu Server when the boot file gets messed up due to a misnamed external hard drive.

Backup the current fstab file:

sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.old

List the drives:

sudo blkid

Example output:

/dev/sda1: UUID="8F1B-7691" TYPE="vfat" PARTUUID="eea0152e-f8aa-4d1f-8d44-172261edd5a2"
/dev/sda2: UUID="5be250be-a857-11e8-9dd6-a82066361186" TYPE="ext4" PARTUUID="9ba42200-226c-4e67-a667-649658dfbd0b"
/dev/loop0: TYPE="squashfs"
/dev/loop1: TYPE="squashfs"
/dev/loop2: TYPE="squashfs"
/dev/loop3: TYPE="squashfs"
/dev/sdb1: LABEL="media" UUID="746622C40BE949C9" TYPE="ntfs" PTTYPE="dos" PARTUUID="e2bd323d-a7bb-4be8-83bb-4d547fb45e37"

Edit the fstab file:

sudo pico /etc/fstab


GNU nano 2.9.3 /etc/fstab 
UUID=5be250be-a857-11e8-9dd6-a82066361186 / ext4 defaults 0 0
UUID=8F1B-7691 /boot/efi vfat defaults 0 0
/swap.img none swap sw 0 0

#Device #Mountpoint #fs-type #options #dump #fsck
/dev/sdb1 /media/usb ntfs defaults 0 0

Save, reboot.

Force Ubuntu Server to redirect http to https

If you want to redirect your web address from http to https, you will have to configure your server’s virtual host file.

Edit the virtualhost file to update the port 80 portion; replace “test.com” with your domain name:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/test.com.conf

Edit the :80 portion (in bold), replacing <ip_or_host> with your domain name:

<VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerName <ip_or_host>
        Redirect "/" "https://<ip_or_host>"

<VirtualHost *:443>
        ServerName <ip_or_host>
        DocumentRoot /var/www/whateverfolder
        SSLEngine on
        SSLCertificateFile      /etc/ssl/certs/apache-selfsigned.crt
        SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/ssl/private/apache-selfsigned.key
        <Directory /var/www/whateverfolder/public>
           DirectoryIndex index.php
           AllowOverride All
           Require all granted

Save the .conf file

Modify the default Apache config file:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

Then add the bold portion (starting with “RewriteEngine on”) to the bottom of the file. Replace example.com with your domain name.

<VirtualHost *:80>
     ServerAdmin admin@example.com
     DocumentRoot /var/www/html/example.com/
     ServerName example.com
     ServerAlias www.example.com

     <Directory /var/www/html/example.com/>
        Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
        AllowOverride All
        Order allow,deny
        allow from all

     ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
     CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{SERVER_NAME} =example.com [OR]
RewriteCond %{SERVER_NAME} =www.example.com
RewriteRule ^ https://%{SERVER_NAME}%{REQUEST_URI} [END,NE,R=permanent]

Enable the .conf files:

sudo a2ensite test.com.conf
sudo a2ensite 000-default.conf

Reboot your apache server:

sudo service apache2 restart

Test your server config in your web browser by typing in: http://www.example.com

Windows 10 and FAT32

Recently, I needed to format a thumb drive to FAT32 in Windows 10 (adding the BleemSync hack to the Sony PlayStation Classic). I could swear the last time I had to do this, the option was there. Today the only options were exFAT and NTFS. Ugh. Windows! Well, I found a nice free tool that allows you to perform this task: Ridgecrop Consultant’s FAT32 utility. Once you visit their site, click on the picture to download the utility.

There’s another option. You can type ‘cmd’ where it says “Type here to search” from the Windows 10 menu. Once the command terminal is open, type (replacing “X” with the drive letter):

Format /FS:FAT32 X:

This method will likely take hours to format the drive.

Ubuntu Server: Configure the firewall with “ufw”

Ubuntu Server’s firewall is called ufw. If you are running an Ubuntu Server, you definitely want to enable some kind of firewall to keep intruders out of your ports. They likely will perform a port scan and try to find weaknesses. You can prevent this by enabling ufw and then configuring it to open ports that need access and close ones that don’t.

Enable ufw:

sudo ufw enable

Check ufw status:

sudo ufw status

Allow a service to run (example: ftp, telnet, ssh, http):

sudo ufw allow http

Open a port:

sudo ufw allow 22

Close a port:

sudo ufw deny 22

Open a range of ports and specify TCP or UDP:

sudo ufw allow 300:310/tcp

Close a range of ports and specify TCP or UDP:

sudo ufw deny 300:310/tcp

Delete a service:

sudo ufw status numbered
#creates a numbered list of services, example:

[ 1] 21/tcp                     ALLOW IN    Anywhere                  
[ 2] 22/tcp                     ALLOW IN    Anywhere                  
[ 3] 80/tcp                     ALLOW IN    Anywhere     

sudo ufw delete 3
#replace 3 with the service you want to delete

List applications that ufw can open service for:

sudo ufw app list
#will generate a list similar to this:
Available applications:
  Apache Full
  Apache Secure

Enable an application such as Apache. This is extremely important for a WordPress installation!

sudo ufw allow in "Apache Full"

Disable ufw:

sudo ufw disable

If you somehow screwed your ufw permissions up, you can reset them all. If you are configuring with SSH, make sure to enable your SSH service before re-enabling ufw!

sudo ufw reset

Hopefully, you have configured all of your services appropriately and have a good working firewall. If somehow this exercise is messing your server up, you can always disable it with “sudo ufw disable” until you can get more help or have more time to experiment. Happy and safe computing!

Static IP address for Ubuntu Server 18.04 “netplan”

If you are using Ubuntu Server version 18.04 LTS and want to configure a static IP address, the procedure has changed for network interface configuration.

We used to configure /etc/network/interfaces but now the system uses something called netplan. If you try to configure the old “interfaces” file, it will point you to this new netplan network configuration.

Here’s how we change the network interface to use a static IP address. Edit “50-cloud-init.yaml“, replacing the text with the text below. Replace the IP address with your own ( used as an example) and then save:

sudo nano /etc/netplan/50-cloud-init.yaml
# This file is generated from information provided by
# the datasource.  Changes to it will not persist across an instance.
# To disable cloud-init's network configuration capabilities, write a file
# /etc/cloud/cloud.cfg.d/99-disable-network-config.cfg with the following:
# network: {config: disabled}
            addresses: []
              addresses: [,]
            dhcp4: no
    version: 2

Apply the changes and then reboot.

sudo netplan apply
sudo reboot

iPhone & Safari Ad Tracking

Despite what Apple says about privacy (“What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone”), ads most definitely track you on your iPhone and iPad. They also track you in every web browser, including Safari. False advertising from Apple regarding ads.

The Verge published a nice piece that shows how to limit some of that tracking. Emphasis on ‘limit’; this will not eliminate ads. Still, it’s good to do everything you can to minimize or eliminate all forms of intrusion.

To limit ad tracking on your IOS device:
Go into “Settings” on your iPhone/iPad
Select “Privacy”
Select “Advertisements”
Turn on the “Limit ad tracking”

To limit ad tracking in Safari:
Go into “Settings” on your iPhone/iPad
Find the section titled “Privacy & Security”
Turn on “Prevent Cross-Site Tracking”
Turn on the “Block All Cookies”

Block apps from phoning home when you aren’t using them:
Go into “Settings”
Select “General”
At the top, select “Background App Refresh”
From here you can allow apps to phone home via wifi, cellphone data or not at all.
Select the back button and make sure all apps are turned off.


Beyond all this, it’s better to use a VPN and Firefox, along with the Firefox addons: “Ghostery”, “https everywhere” and “Noscript Security Suite.” Regarding the “Noscript” add on, you can select it to allow scripts on pages you trust.