VCSA “User name and password are required” (Expired STS Certificates)

(also, Replacing Expired STS Certificates, Replacing Expired VMWare Service Certificates)

If your VMWare vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) (at least versions 6.0, 6.5, 6.7, 7.0) web interface is suddenly telling you that “User name and password are required” no matter what credentials you fill out, then it’s quite likely your STS certificates are expired.

Check out the VMWare KB articles on checking and replacing these certificates, which, IMO – given they are self-signed in nearly every environment – should have always been replacing themselves since the invention of VCSA but for some reason, have not.

The TL;DR is this; (NB that these instructions are from the above linked articles, which at time of writing explicitly state they are for 6.0, 6.5, 6.7 and 7.0 – do not blindly attempt this stuff on newer VCSA versions)

  1. SSH to your VCSA as root
    (you did make a note of that password, right?)
  2. If you’re presented with the appliance shell (The prompt says “Command>“) rather than a bash prompt, type ‘shell‘ and press enter to get into bash.
    If you got a bash prompt right away, you can skip to step 4
  3. In order to SCP scripts to your VCSA, you’ll need to change the shell to regular bash instead of the appliance shell;
    root@VCSA# chsh -s /bin/bash root
  4. from your device, scp to your VCSA’s tmp dir;
    you@YourPC$ scp root@YOURVCSA:/tmp
  5. on the VCSA, execute the checksts script to see if your STS certificates are expired;
    root@VCSA# python /tmp/
  6. If your STS certs are expired, SCP from your device to your VCSA’s tmp dir;
    you@YourPC$ scp root@YOURVCSA:/tmp
  7. on the VCSA, execute the script to generate new self-signed STS certificates and install them;
    root@VCSA# bash /tmp/
    (you will be prompted for the password for administrator@YOURSSODOMAIN – NB that if you make a typo when entering it in this script you will need to re-run the script, backspace does not work here)
  8. Restart the many services on your VCSA (each of these will likely take a while to complete, be patient);
    root@VCSA# service-control --stop --all
    root@VCSA# service-control --start --all
    If you do NOT get errors about services failing to start, skip to step 12.
  9. If you get errors about services not being able to start (timed out, crashed on start, etc), it is likely that your appliance / service certificates have also expired. You can run the following one-liner to output all of the certificates and their expiry dates to see if their expiry dates are in the past;
    root@VCSA# for i in $(/usr/lib/vmware-vmafd/bin/vecs-cli store list); do echo STORE $i; sudo /usr/lib/vmware-vmafd/bin/vecs-cli entry list --store $i --text | egrep "Alias|Not After"; done
  10. If you have expired service certificates, run the VCSA certificate manager;
    root@VCSA# /usr/lib/vmware-vmca/bin/certificate-manager
  11. Choose option 4 or 8 – they both do the same thing, except in the event the services won’t start after replacing the certs, option 4 will roll back certificates afterwards (which will of course, under the current circumstances, likely still leave you with a broken state anyway).
  12. If you had to chsh to /bin/bash and you now want to switch it back to the ‘factory supplied’ appliance shell;
    root@VCSA# chsh -s /bin/appliancesh root

You should now be able to access and log in to your VCSA as normal – NB that if you’ve pinned the old service / CA certificates anywhere you may need to remove/update those pins.

Please Tell your MP to vote against the passage of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021

I’m not going to go into the whys and wherefores here of why the above bill is bad; there’s plenty of resources on the Internet for that already.

I was asked for a text version of the email I wrote to my MP so that others might find it easier to email their MP even if they were short on time or free hands.

My partner also wrote her own email which covers some of the points I omitted – such as women’s suffrage only being won through the – doubtless “annoying” at the time – protests of many women, and the appalling state of our criminal justice system today meaning that regulatory reform for headlines is ultimately meaningless anyway.

I provide both for you here to make it easier to rework into your own email to your MP which you must send asap given the second reading on this bill, published less than a week ago, is tomorrow (the 15th of March).

PLEASE REMEMBER: email *your* MP, and include at the bottom your name and postal address so that they can clearly see you are their constituent, otherwise your email will likely be disregarded.

It is important that wherever possible you adjust these to write personally about why this is important to you rather than just cutting and pasting our entire emails. See the RESULTS guide here How to write to your MP | RESULTS UK

V’s email:


I write to you to register my protest against the above bill, in particular the arbitrary, ill-defined and disproportionate controls on the right to protest. 

I am deeply concerned by the thought that mine and my fellow citizens rights to protest could be arbitrarily curtailed on the basis that a protest makes noise or causes disruption.  The existing legislative framework has not been proven to be faulty or flawed, it has allowed demonstrations on all manner of topics and I’ve heard and seen arguments that have altered my way of thinking. This is the entire point of a demonstration or protest – to be heard, for my voice, my argument to be brought to the attention of others. So that they can decide whether I have a point and whether they wish to agree and support that point. My right of suffrage stems from such acts of protest and demonstration and I am now using my voice to ask that you intervene to prevent this manifestly unjust intervention. 

The outrageous scenes of last night’s policing of the vigil in Clapham contrasted against those of the football fans in Scotland earlier in the week have focussed my mind on what many minorities in our country already know to be true: the police and state scarcely need any more controls or power to curtail ordinary people making their feelings known.  Your government have been clear that any “unpalatable” opinions from minorities are to be silenced. This must stop. There was no public health threat last night, not until the police acted. This was inexcusable and must not be repeated. 

The bill as proposed also includes sentencing changes. Including changes to make damaging statutes potentially carry heavier sentences than violence against women. I am aghast and astounded that such changes can be rushed through in this bill and without proper systematic review to ensure that the protection of humans over property is reflected appropriately in sentencing. 

I know that the Conservative rhetoric against anyone voicing concern over the bill and its passing will be that we are soft on crime and want criminals to “get away with it”.  I also know that whatever sentences are set out in this bill are going to be undermined and shortened because of the near-collapse of the criminal justice system due to the chronic underfunding and cuts instigated and pushed by the successive Conservative governments. Sentences written into law are meaningless when there is no resources to investigate, gather evidence, prosecute or hear cases. The delays in justice should be a priority for resolution. I urge you to ask the Government to focus on this in the coming months. 

I ask you to please vote against the passage of this bill – even if that might mean voting against the whip – until such time it has been properly scrutinised and revised as necessary so as to maintain our right to protest.

I look forward to your thoughts on this bill and the personal actions that you will take to support women in your constituency to tackle the misogyny that is so deeply engrained in our country. 

Yours faithfully,



My email:


I write to you despite knowing there is little upon which we are likely to agree in general when it comes to our politics but the situation is so dire that it would be unacceptable for me not to register my protest against the above bill.

You and I both know very well that no matter how this bill is dressed up, whatever populist vote the home secretary and prime minister are currently chasing, it’s effect will be inevitable: any subject matter the government of the day declares to be ‘annoying’ will suddenly become prohibited to protest. 

The outrageous scenes of last night’s policing of a mere vigil in Clapham threw into sharp relief what many minorities in our country already know to be true: the police and state scarcely need any more controls or power to curtail ordinary people making their feelings known to those who might otherwise choose to ignore them.

Were this legislation tabled in far away countries which we take an almost perverse pleasure in lecturing as to democracy, we could reasonably expect our foreign minister to describe it for what it is – an unacceptably broad and vaguely worded overreach designed to limit people’s democratic right to protest in the name of avoiding “annoyance”, with completely outsized maximum penalties intended to have a chilling effect on the public’s free speech.

That the govt seeks to rush through a ~300 page bill with scarcely any time to digest and properly debate it belies the fact that they know what they are up to is wrong and ultimately indefensible. The government wishes to dress this up as fulfilling a manifesto commitment – but with a little over 3 years remaining for this government, there is no excuse for this not to be done in a proper and considered manner.

There are many other areas that appear problematic with this bill which I am not qualified to speak on but on the right to protest alone I ask you to please vote against the passage of this bill – even if that might mean voting against the whip – until such time it has been properly scrutinised and revised as necessary so as to address it’s fundamental flaws.

Yours faithfully,



Disable Mouse in Vim System-wide

For reasons unknown the Vim project decided to switch mouse support *on* by default, and the Debian package maintainer decided to just flow that downstream in Deb 10. It was a… contentious change. I have no idea what other distros are doing. You’ll know you have this if you go to select text in your terminal window and suddenly Vim is in “visual” mode.

Supposedly the Vim project can’t change the default (again) because “people are used to it” (uhhhh).

The issue is that while there is an include from /etc/vim/vimrc to include /etc/vim/vimrc.local but either creating this file apparently either disables every other default option completely (turning off, for example, syntax highlighting) or the defaults will load after it (!?) if the user doesn’t have their own vimrc and override your changes.

Mostly I’m happy with the defaults, I usually just want to change this one thing without having to set up a ~/.vimrc in EVERY HOME DIRECTORY

Anyway, here, as root:

cat > /etc/vim/vimrc.local <<EOF
" Include the defaults.vim so that the existence of this file doesn't stop all the defaults loading completely
source \$VIMRUNTIME/defaults.vim
" Prevent the defaults from loading again later and overriding our changes below
let skip_defaults_vim = 1
" Here's where to unset/alter stuff you do/don't want
set mouse=

pfSense: Suricata Sync Causes XMLRPC Failures and carp backup events

Observed with pfSense 2.4.5p1 and Suricata 5.0.3 (and presumably older versions of both)

Once you enable Suricata config sync, any configuration changes take *ages* to save because Syncs basically start failing to complete – eventually falling through to timeouts.

You might start to see synchronise errors like this on the master (which will get flagged up as notifications):

/rc.filter_synchronize: A communications error occurred while attempting to call XMLRPC method host_firmware_version:


/suricata/suricata_logs_mgmt.php: A communications error occurred while attempting to call XMLRPC method exec_php:


/rc.filter_synchronize: New alert found: A communications error occurred while attempting to call XMLRPC method restore_config_section:

You might also notice that CARP is – to put it mildly – freaking out:

Carp backup event
Carp backup event
Carp backup event

And that OVPN / other packages likewise are having problems, stopping/starting/restarting because it thinks the WAN IP has changed as the CARP state flaps back and forth, with the system logging stuff like:

/rc.newwanip: rc.newwanip: Info: starting on ovpns1.
/rc.newwanip: rc.newwanip: on (IP address: ) (interface: []) (real interface: ovpns1).
/rc.newwanip: rc.newwanip called with empty interface.
/rc.newwanip: pfSense package system has detected an IP change or dynamic WAN reconnection - -> - Restarting packages.

The issue is likely that you have promiscuous mode enabled on your Suricata interfaces (because it is the *default* to enable it).

The kernel disabling and enabling promiscuous mode off and on as Suricata reloads during sync causes carnage with the sync TCP connection, CARP, and in turn, everything else.

Promiscuous mode should not be required if you are using Suricata in-line at layer 3 (i.e. on the firewall which is hosting your default gateway which is probably why CARP is running to begin with).

Simply disable promiscuous mode (at the very *least* on any interfaces you’re running CARP on which is probably all of them in an HA setup) and you’ll find things behave much better, and config syncs complete nice and fast again.

Compiling and using mk_livestatus on Nagios4 on Debian 10/Buster

Prerequisites (other than the nagios4 packages, of course!):

# apt install rrdtool-dev librrd-dev librrd8 libboost-dev libboost-system-dev

Get latest source from, at time of writing, and unpack

# wget
# tar -zxvf mk-livestatus-1.5.0p23.tar.gz
# cd mk-livestatus-1.5.0p23

Configure for nagios4, compile and install

# ./configure --with-nagios4 --prefix=/usr/local/nagios && make install

Enable the broker module in Nagios4 – add this to, eg, your nagios.cfg – first make sure that this is set to send all events to the broker:


Then configure the broker_module – here, telling it to create the socket for livestatus at /var/lib/nagios4/rw/livestatus

broker_module=/usr/local/lib/mk-livestatus/livestatus.o /var/lib/nagios4/rw/livestatus

Now you can restart Nagios4 and test that the livestatus socket is working

# systemctl restart nagios4

# echo "GET status" | /usr/local/bin/unixcat /var/lib/nagios4/rw/livestatus

And you should get something like this:


Installing (and Booting) Linux on/FROM Intel vROC NVMe

Just remember to disable Secure Boot (at least, Supermicro’s guide to vROC says that vROC is not compatible with Secure Boot), and ensure that you boot your O/S installer in (U)EFI mode, and make sure you boot in (U)EFI mode afterwards.

Otherwise, expect problems like the CentOS 7 installer complaining that something went wrong as the installer GUI starts (this seems to mostly stem from not seeing the vROC RAID device, but still seeing the member NVMe devices but being confused by the mdraid-esque nature of vROC RAID sets.)

Once you boot the CentOS installer in EFI mode, you’ll be able to see and install to your “BIOS RAID” device. The same will apply to standalone NVMe drives – which on most boards will only work if everything is done in EFI mode.

Nextcloud “Could not load at least one of your enabled two-factor auth methods” after upgrade

Seems that upgrades in Nextcloud have a propensity to break 2FA provider apps as this is apparently something that bit people going to NC15 but in our case got us after we upgraded to NC16

Far as I can tell, what happens is that you have upgraded to the latest NextCloud before a compatible version of your 2FA providers “apps” is available (why you would release without 2FA is beyond me), and so the provider apps get disabled.

When you try to log in, all you’ll see is this:

To fix this, run the following in the nextcloud web root – these sudo commands have to be run as the same UID as the owner of the config file, so if in your environment you aren’t running nextcloud under www-data then you’ll have to adjust the sudo commands as necessary to specify the correct user.

NB: that I’m running these sudo commands as root, so I don’t need any sudo pre-configuration as such to allow me to run these as www-data.

First, identify what 2FA provides your affected user has configured – so, for a user called “adminusername”:

# sudo -u www-data php occ twofactorauth:state adminusername
Two-factor authentication is enabled for user adminusername

Enabled providers:
- totp
- u2f
Disabled providers:
- backup_codes

So, what we see here is this user had both TOTP and U2F (but, tsk, no backup codes – in our experience, twofactor_backup_codes was still working, so a user with backup codes would be able to still log in – you’d still have to understand what to do to fix your install though!)

Check to see if your modules are missing:

# sudo -u www-data php occ app:list | grep twofactor
  - twofactor_backupcodes: 1.5.0

Uh-oh, no twofactor_totp OR twofactor_u2f.

Make sure your nextcloud apps are up to date:

# sudo -u www-data php occ app:update --all

Then re-enable your twofactor provider apps, so for “totp” and “u2f”, you want:

# sudo -u www-data php occ app:enable twofactor_totp
twofactor_totp enabled

# sudo -u www-data php occ app:enable twofactor_u2f
twofactor_u2f enabled

Now you should be able to log back in as normal with your 2FA.

Configuring TACACS+ authentication and accounting on IOS 15

Just the bare minimum:

! you probably have this already, if you don't; you should read up on it first
aaa new-model

! use local users, and then all tacacs+ servers, to authenticate logins 
aaa authentication login default local group tacacs+ 

! give enable to tacacs+ users 
aaa authentication enable default group tacacs+ 

! send accounting records for when logins ('exec mode') begin and end 
aaa accounting exec default start-stop group tacacs+
! send accounting records for config commands 
aaa accounting commands 15 default stop-only group tacacs+ 

! send accounting records for outgoing connections made to other systems 
aaa accounting connection default start-stop group tacacs+ 

! send system event account records (reloads etc) 
aaa accounting system default start-stop group tacacs+ 

! OPTIONAL: On a router with multiple interfaces that could be chosen to
! reach the TACACS server it is best to specify one; we use Loopback addresses
! for iBGP peering, so it makes sense to use them here too
ip tacacs source-interface Loopback0 

! define at least one tacacs server with some friendly $SERVERNAME 
tacacs server $SERVERNAME
   ! Set the TACACS+ server's ipv4 $ADDRESS (or ipv6, adjust accordingly)
   address ipv4 $ADDRESS
   ! Set the encryption $KEY to match the key configured on the TACACS+ server for this device
   key $KEY

Now: BEFORE you log off, try to log in again and make sure you can still log in with your original local credentials.

If you can no longer login after making the above changes, you’ll need to fix that first before you disconnect to prevent you locking yourself out.

vSphere Client 5.1 plugins & search: Could not create SSL\TLS secure channel

If you can’t download vSphere Client 5.1 Plugins (eg vShield), and can’t use the search in the client because of:

An unknown connection error occured. (The request failed due to an SSL Error. (The request was aborted. Could not create SSL\TLS secure channel.)

And is of no help (you already allow all SSL.Versions), and your SSL certs don’t appear to be broken or expired, then you’ve probably been bitten by some recent changes in a windows update that’s evidently changed some defaults around the minimum DH key size.

Create the following key; everything will start working immediately (you’ll need to re-enable any disabled vSphere Client plugins) as you will start permitting 512bit DH keys.


You should consider upgrading to newer versions of vSphere, but then if we all sat around doing things as complicated as that, we’d not have time for any actual work, would we.

“ isn’t renewing my certs!”

There’s been a change at some point to the JSON format that Let’s Encrypt returns challenges in.

If you have an “old” installation of that pre-dates v0.2.0, is probably doing this:

$ ./ -c
# INFO: Using main config file /home/letsencrypt/
 + Checking domain name(s) of existing cert... unchanged.
 + Checking expire date of existing cert...
 + Valid till Jun 22 16:24:00 2016 GMT (Less than 30 days). Renewing!
 + Signing domains...
 + Generating signing request...
 + Requesting challenge for

and then it silently exits.

Update it from git, move your config file to the new location:

git pull
mv config
./ -c