Oh boy, things are starting to look good!

Analytics, Switching, Hardware and more Remote Access!

PhoenixNet-Labs Jan 6, 2022
Happy new year! Here's to hoping 2022 is as eventful as 2021!

Lots of stuff to go over;

  • UniFi Switching (Even more equipment!)
  • Apache Guacamole (No, not the food.)
  • HP Flexible Thinclient T520 (Oh yes, it's here!)
  • Capturing Analytics (Thanks for your data! Just Kidding!)

UniFi Switching:

I got a super nice USW-16-PoE for Christmas from my boyfriend! The last piece of hardware I needed for my networking stack!

Ah, now that looks like a networking stack!

Few hiccups while installing though, figured I'd mention them:

  • First, everything seemed alright, except for the SFP port. It's link wouldn't establish between my UDMP and itself.
  • Second, once I got the link to establish (I had to manually configure the port to 1gbps on both ends.) I went to update and it decided to get "stuck" updating.
  • Third, after force-rebooting the switch, no lights came on at all for at least 10 minutes, then the link lights came on but not the screen.
  • Fourth, the screen came on, but it was showing that the switch is un-managed.
  • Finally, I just rebooted it again and magically, everything was fixed. It turned on, synced up with the UDMP and then behaved itself.

Not sure what enduced that behavior, but I guess that's the "UniFi Experience".

Overall, not a bad mid-tier switch! Glad I got the PoE version, lots more PoE+ ports for future cameras, APs, phones, or etc.

Apache Guacamole:

While "appropriately using my downtime at work" I was getting tired of having to start a VM, establish a Wireguard VPN connection, and then RDP into my desktop.

I figured, cut out everything in the middle of the equation, and jump straight to a RDS session. So that's exactly what I did, using Apache Guacamole!

Apache Guacamole enables an IT administrator to relay RDP sessions, SSH sessions, and VNC connections via a browser.

A visual explanation of Apache Guacamole

I configured Guacamole to authenticate via LDAP to my AD server, and to use DUO for 2FA to ensure all connections to my lab were authorized.

Configuring Guacamole to use LDAP was by far, the trickiest part. It's not "easy" if you're missing steps, i.e. disabling LDAPS (KEY PROBLEM).

Once I had that down, the rest was a cakewalk.

Signing into Guacamole via LDAP using DUO as 2FA.

HP Flexible Thinclient T520:

Finally got this little guy in the mail! Super cute for such a fair price of $35!

It's so tiny and cute, yet full of potential!

As always, I ran in head first on this one. Boy was I in for a surprise.

First off, HP's custom flavored "Windows 8 IoT" is super weird. They install a bunch of HP proprietary applications tailored for connecting to a centralized management server for managing fleets of these things.

Second, they use EWF and FBWF (File-Based Write Filter) out of the box. Basically, in a nutshell, you can absolutely make changes to the OS and write files, but when you reboot everything resets back to it's original (or non-existent) state.

So I decided to make a bunch of changes unbeknownst to me that FBWF was on and then I went to reboot post-domain join and all of my changes got nuked.

After that, I decided that Windows 8 probably isn't the best choice anyway, so you bet I went and nabbed an installer for Win10 IoT Embedded Enterprise.

Thing is, HP doesn't like admins like me to install an OS they aren't entitled to, so I got slapped in the face with this fun message:

Oh joys...

Me being me, I followed some wack-procedure online and presto, it shut up!

Oh, and of course I had to license it, so I bought a license for $23 off some Ukrainian website. Totally legit, right?

Note the sketchy looking profile picture... Thankfully I used Privacy to create a one-time use card.

And, voila! Activated!

Honestly shocked that worked, only took him 4 hours to deliver the key via email.

I ended up putting the little guy in my living room entertainment center to act as a light-weight PC for the couch, just-incase I need to show something off, or perhaps work from the couch?

Plausible Analytics:

Now, I know, I know, Analytics scary, you're collecting data on us!?

But that's not my goal, I'm merely interested in seeing what my demographic is! I want to see where you all are from, and how long you actually stare at the page while reading these blog posts.

For all I know, you could be a 5 year old with the attention span of a goldfish and you just stumbled upon my site by complete random chance.

I've chosen Plausible as my analytics platform, it's non-intrusive and only collects basic statistics like a generalized location, platform, and reading time.

I've also chosen to self-host my platform, so that only I have access to the data collected. I don't want anyone misusing the data, even if it is generalized. Again, my goal isn't to sell this data, or use it maliciously, I'm just curious!

I've so-far setup the following sites to collect data:

  • gsheps.com

  • gsheps.net

  • gsheps.org

  • phoenixnet.tech

  • blog.phoenixnet.tech (That's you!)

  • cdn.gsheps.com

  • and of course, onlysheps.com

That's about it for now, so thanks again for reading!

Meta / Author's Notes:

I've been really happy writing these blog posts on a monthly basis. They really keep me motivated to keep doing things in my lab, and to continue to improve my skills.

Lately, I've been thinking about monetizing the platform with advertisements or something like that for a nice "passive income" but I've decided against that, as there are much better ways of going about asking for something from you all.

With that, I'm pleased to say that I will be accepting sponsorships.
If you want to see more content like this from me, then consider sponsoring my learning experience with a subscription!

Note: these subscriptions are going to have 0 benefits, and are purely just for sponsorship purposes.

So-far, everything I've done, start-to-finish has been either out of pocket, or been generously donated by friends and family. I just want to say thank you to those who have generously donated to me in the past, or might in the future!

Feel free to reach out to me via email, I always love to chat and would love to hear your thoughts!



IT Specialist, Otter enthusiast, Plastic Guitar Aficionado | 🏳️‍🌈 | 22

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