HOW TO : Capture network traffic on a Solaris server

If you don’t have tcpdump installed on your solaris server, you can use the “snoop” system command to capture network traffic.

Here is the command line option to capture 1000 packets of network traffic from IP on a solaris server using inteface e1000g1 and write the output to /tmp/capture.pcap

snoop -d e1000g1 -c 10000 -o /tmp/capture.pcap host

Details of the command options

  • -d : Name of the interface you want to capture traffic on
  • -c : Number of packets you want to capture
  • -o : Path to the output file
  • host : IP address of the host you want to capture traffic from and to

More details at

PS : You have to have root privileges to run this command.

HOW TO : Use awk to print values larger than certain number

Quick how to on using awk to filter results if a certain value (column) is larger than a set value.

For example, if you have a file (servers.txt) with lines in this format

a_datacenter, servers 20
 error, servers xyz
 b_datacenter, servers 21
 c_datacenter, servers 50

and you want to show only the lines that have server value larger than 20, you can do this in awk by running

grep datacenter servers.txt | awk '$3 > 20  {print ;}' | more

breaking down the commands

grep – parsing down the output to just show the lines containing datacenter

awk – $3 > 20 : Get the third variable (awk seperates text using spaces by default) and check if it is greater than 20

print – print the entire line

HOW TO : Search for a record in MongoDB based on length

Quick entry for my own records.

MongoDB is one of the popular open source document database that is part of the nosql movement. One of the applications we deployed at work uses MongoDB as an internal storage engine. We ran into an issue where MongoDB was trying to replicate data to MySQL and the replication stopped because of a size mismatch for an object between MongoDB and MySQL. Essentially MongoDB was trying to insert a record into MySQL that was larger than the defined length.

Here is the query we used to find the culprit objects. We used the awesome Robomongo client to connect to the MongoDB instance.

[code]db.some_table_to_search.find({$where:"this.some_column_to_search.length > 40"})[/code]

Breaking down the command

db -> Specifies the database you are trying to search

some_table_to_search -> Specifie the table you are trying to search

some_column_to_search -> Specified the particular column you are trying to search.

In this specific example, we were looking for entries longer than 40 characters for this column.

If you come from the traditional RDBMS world, here is a link from MongoDB comparing terminology between RDBMS and MongoDB.

HOW TO : Convert PFX/P12 crypto objects into a java keystore

We needed to add a certificate that is currently in PKCS#12 format currently into a java keystore at work recently. The typical step would be due to create an empty keystore and then import the certificate from the PKCS#12 store using the following command

[code]keytool -importkeystore -srckeystore sourceFile.p12 -srcstoretype PKCS12 -destkeystore destinationFile.jks[/code]

Note: PKCS#12 files can have extensions “.p12” or “.pfx”

The command executed without any issues, but we received the following error when we started the application server using this newly created keystore

[code] Error initializing server socket factory SSL context: Cannot recover key [/code]

It didn’t make sense, because we were able to view the certificate in the keystore and were using the right password in the configuration files.

After a lot of searching and head scratching, the team came up with the following solution

  1. Export the public key and private key from the PKCS#12 store using openssl.
  2. Import these keys into the java keystore (default format of JKS)

The commands used were

openssl pkcs12 -in sourcePKCS12File.p12 -nocerts -out privateKey.pem
openssl pkcs12 -in sourcePKCS12File.p12 -nokeys -out publicCert.pem
openssl pkcs12 -export -out intermittentPKCS12File.p12 -inkey privateKey.pem -in publicCert.pem
keytool -importkeystore -srckeystore intermittantPKCS12File.p12 -srcstoretype PKCS12 -destkeystore finalKeyStore.jks

HOW TO : Use grep and awk to find count of unique entries

I have use grep extensively before to analyze data in log files before. A good example is this post about using grep and sort to find the unique hits to a website. Here is another way to do it using grep and awk.

Say the log file you are analyzing is in the format below and you need to get the unique number of BundleIDs

[code]2013-02-25 12:00:06,684 ERROR [com.blahblah.sme.command.request.CustomCommand] Unable to execute AssignServiceCommand, request = ‘<AssignServiceToRequest><MemberId>123456</MemberId><OrderBundle><BundleId>5080</BundleId></OrderBundle></AssignServiceToRequest>'[/code]

you can use grep and awk to find the number of times a unique bundleID appears by running

[code]grep -i bundleID LOG_FILE_NAME | awk ‘{ split ($11,a,">"); print a[6]}’ | sort | uniq -c | sort -rn [/code]

breaking down the commands

grep -i : tells grep to only show the lines from the file (LOG_FILE_NAME) containing the text bundleID and makes the search case insensitive

awk ‘{ split ($11,a,”>”); print a[6]}’ : tells awk to grab the input from grep and take the 11th item (by default awk separates content with a space) and split the string into an array (a) using > as a delimiter. And finally print out the value of the array a’s sixth member

sort : sorts the output from awk into ascending order

uniq -c : takes the output from sort and counts uniq items

sort -qn : takes the output from uniq and does a reverse order sort

The output looked like this

173 5080</BundleId
12 5090</BundleId
8 2833</BundleId
1 2412</BundleId
1 2038</BundleId
1 1978</BundleId
1 1924</BundleId

HOW TO : Configure tcpdump to rotate capture files based on size

quick note for self. If you are capturing traffic using tcpdump, you can rotate the capture files based on size


explanation of the options used

-i : specify the interface you want to capture the traffic on. If  not specified, tcpdump will listen on the lowest numbered interface. i.e. eth0

-C : specify the size of the file multiplied by 1000000 bytes. In this example, the file created would be 10000000 bytes. Or ~9.8MB

-s : specify the packet length to capture. 0 (zero) tells tcpdump to capture the entire packet

-W : specify the number of files to rotate through once the files size specified in -C is reached. The files keep rotating throughout the capture

-w : Specify the path to the capture file. tcpdump appends an integer to the end of the file based on the number of files it has to rotate through.

HOW TO : Restrict access to proxied content in Apache

If you are using the mod_proxy feature in Apache to forward requests for certain content to a backend server, but want to restrict access to that content to clients originating from certain IP addresses, you can use the location feature in Apache.

The Location directive limits the scope of the enclosed directives by URL. This is very similar to the Directory directive, but the difference is that you can put controls based on the URL rather than the location of the content.

In this example, I am forwarding content destined to to an internal server at I am going to use the Location directive to restrict access to just requests originating from IP Address


<Location /testLocation>
Order Deny,Allow
Deny from all
Allow from

ProxyPass /testLocation
ProxyPassReverse /testLocation [/code]


HOW TO : Run web servers using one liners

A collection of one liners using different tools and programming languages to run a full fledged web server on any machine. They can be used to

  1. Serve files located on the server
  2. Act as server listening on a particular port. This is especially helpful if you are trying to setup a load-balancer and/or firewall and need to test access to the end points.

The criteria for the on liners was that you don’t need any additional modules other than the standard modules included with the language distributions.

NC : Netcat

netcat (nc) is pretty powerful network utility. You can start a web server running on port 8080 by simply running

[code]nc -l 8080[/code]

If you want to serve a particular file, you can do so by running

[code]while :; do nc -l 8080 < SAMPLE_FILE ; done [/code]


You can start a web server in python by running

Python 2.x

[code] python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8080 [/code]

Python 3.x

[code]python -m http.server 8080 [/code]

This command will serve up a page with listing of all the files in the directory that the command was executed in. Pretty nifty way to quickly share files


You can start a web server in perl by running

[code]perl -MIO::All -e ‘io(":8080")->fork->accept->(sub { $_[0] < io(-x $1 ? "./$1 |" : $1) if /^GET \/(.*) / })’ [/code]


You can start a web server using Ruby by running
sudo ruby -rwebrick -e ‘server = : Port = >8080
I haven’t been able to figure out how to pass an end of line in the command  line. So you need to literally pass the commands in two lines.

Scratch that.. My friend, Ray, showed me the right way to pass a line delimiter in the same command.

[code]ruby -rwebrick -e ‘server = => 8080) ; server.start’ [/code]

He even provided an additional option to define the directory you want to serve files from

[code]: DocumentRoot => ‘/some/shit’ [/code]


Starting with PHP 5.4 you can initiate a web server by running

[code]php -S localhost:8080[/code]

All of these options should work on any operating system. But I have only tried them on Linux.

Do you know how to do the same thing in other languages? Please share them in the comments section.

Credits: I collected these bits of code from the following sites

Python :

Perl :

Ruby :


HOW TO : Combine landscape and portrait page layouts in Microsoft Word

Blogging this as a “memory” note for myself 🙂

I was putting together a report for work and needed one of the pages in the word document to be in landscape mode, instead of the regular portrait mode. I thought it was a simple thing of adding a page break and applying the “landscape” layout in the page setup. But ended up either having all pages in landscape mode or in portrait mode. A bit of googling finally helped out :). Looks like the trick is to use section breaks instead of page breaks.

Here are the steps to do it in Microsoft Word 2010

  1. Add the content you want into word. In this example, I created two paragraphs, test landscape and test portrait 
  2. At the place you want to split the page format, insert a section break, by going to Page Layout –> Breaks –> Section Breaks –> Next Page 
  3. Now change the page orientation by going to Page Layout -> Orientation –> Landscape. This will only change the orientation for the current section.
  4. And voila you document now has two different page orientations 🙂