Notes by Akhil Saji


The importance of VPN

The importance of having access to a VPN recently dawned on me as I noticed several of the WiFi networks I rely on (primarily at work) block access to several critical tools including e-mail, Google Drive and even certain academic websites that are likely deemed traffic hungry. One way to easily bypass this conundrum is to create your own VPN on a virtual private server of your choosing. I purchased a cheap KVM VPS at starting at $2.00/month. Next, load up your favorite Linux OS (I usually opt for Debian or Ubuntu) and use the PiVPN script to install OpenVPN or WireGuard.

The PiVPN script was designed for Raspiberry Pi's however; easily works on any x86 Linux box. Make sure you have curl installed and run curl -L | bash to run the script. If you opt for OpenVPN like I did, you can add VPN profiles using pivpn add. The location of the configuration file will be shown and you can download the VPN configuration file using SCP. For MacOS I recommend using Tunnelblick as a VPN client.

Intake Fan Mod for Dell PowerEdge T20

I purchased the Dell PowerEdge T20 several years ago for an Unraid server build that I use to back up my data. One of the unfortunate design flaws of this system is the lack of an intake fan for system and specifically hard drive cooling. I had completed this mod around 2016; however, recently I had noticed that my unraid hard drive temperatures were consistently in the 102-110 Farenheight range when they had previously been much lower. I suspected that the intake fan I had installed several years ago had failed and decided to replace it. I also remembered that when I had originally purchased this unit I recall several people online looking for ways to do this exact mod so I decided to take a picture and post instructions on how to do this.

The fan I am using is the Cooler Master Sleeve Bearing 80mm Slim Fan. Installation is fairly straight forward, after removing the front panel, use either adhesive such as 3M double-sided tape or high strength string to tie the fan in place (see below). Either option works- I had originally used double-sided tape but this time opted to use suture material I had handy. After installation my temperatures returned to 92-95 Farenheight.


How to create a bootable Windows 10 usb stick on Mac OSX

I was recently putting together a low cost Windows 10 Machine for my dad (post on that to follow) and realized how non-trivial of a task it is to create a bootable windows 10 usb drive using a mac. (If you have a windows machine availiable, simply use the windows 10 installation media creation tool located here) After trying several methods I have put together a quick how-to guide on creating windows 10 installation media (usb) using the latest version of Mac OSX at the moment 10.15. This guide was adapted from this blog.

Format USB Drive

Open your terminal and identify your USB drive using diskutil list. Once identified, format the drive diskutil eraseDisk MS-DOS "WN10" MBR diskNumberHere where diskNumberHere represents your USB drive.

Copy Files

After downloading the latest Windows 10 ISO open the ISO within finder and identify the volume name using ls /Volumes

The install.wim file located within /sources/install.wim of all recent Windows 10 ISO files is now larger than 4gb therefore a simple copy function to a FAT32 formatted USB drive will not work.

First we will copy over all files except install.wim using:

rsync -avh --progress --exclude=sources/install.wim /Volumes/WN10ISO/ /Volumes/WN10

Next we will use the wimlib tool to segment and copy the files to <3800mb fragments. Wimlib is easily installed using HomeBrew (brew install wimlib) to copy over install.wim. After installing wimlib run the following command:

wimlib-imagex split /Volumes/WN10ISO/sources/install.wim /Volumes/WN10/sources/install.swm 3800

Once completed, eject your USB Drive and attempt to boot from USB on your new Windows 10 Machine.