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  Official Topic Requests
Posted by: ITZach - 03-21-2017, 09:36 AM - Forum: Topic Requests for Lecture and Lab - No Replies

Here is a list of topics that we have acknowledged members would like to learn about or we think would be good topics to learn about. Please check this list before posting a new topic request.

Updated 3/21/2017 at 09:35

  • Terminology
  • IT Basics
  • IT interactions between user end and back end services
  • Steps and process for designing large and small networks
  • IT for engineers
  • Intro to CCNA
  • Home network optimization
  • How to build a computer/server
  • System/Network security

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  Meeting Recap 3/18/2017 First Meeting!
Posted by: ITZach - 03-21-2017, 09:29 AM - Forum: Meeting Notes - No Replies

We had our very first club meeting on March 18th. It was a very small meeting with only five people including myself, but it's a good start!

I began the meeting by talking about why I'm starting this club and my vision for the club moving forward. 

Recently I have begun to explore IT on my own at home. It's something that I've always had an interest in but never really had the ability to play with. In fall term of this year I acquired some hardware which allowed me to begin to play with all manner of topics in IT. Since then I have begun to see IT everywhere I look, and I have found that it is something that provides numerous benefits in all fields of study, but particularly in the engineering fields. 

My main drive in starting this club was to provide engineering students with experience setting up and using IT systems that they may encounter in the field, or may benefit them to use in the field. I have contacted several instructors in engineering and they all agree that it would be beneficial, so here I am!

On the flip side of that is the fun factor. IT makes a great hobby that can be a lot of fun (but sometimes frustrating), but it can be an expensive hobby. I greatly hope to put together a well furnished IT lab to give students the chance to "play" with IT systems that they otherwise may not have access to. 

In the end I have two goals for this club. The first and foremost goal is to expose students to the kinds of systems they may encounter or need to setup in the field so that they will be prepared to quickly and very effectively handle the situation or need. The second goal is to create a group of students with knowledge in IT and a dedication to serve others so that the IT club may provide IT services to other students groups on campus. I believe that there are many groups on campus that will benefit from our presence that we could very easily serve.

We spent the second half of the meeting talking about what the present members wanted to get out of the club. How they would like to see the club function and so on. We spent a little time talking about some of the topics that the members would like to learn about as well.

As far as club workings goes we talked about two things. Probably the most important thing we talked about was communication. There is a great need with student organizations for solid communication. Without a solid form of communication and good communication practices the club can become chaotic and it will be hard to get things done. This will be a great challenge as I'm sure it is for many other clubs, but it is a very high priority to us. Hopefully this website will aid greatly in unifying and simplifying communication. 

The other thing we talked about was how we should distribute club time between activities and such. The plan for the club is to have planned lab activities as hands on learning as well as lecture style learning and guest speaker seminars. During the first few months to a year of the club being active we may not be able to balance between the two, but the present members expressed that they would like to see a balance between hands on learning and hands off learning. 

As previously mentioned we also talked about some of the topics the present members would like to learn about. Obviously there will be many more topics we cover, but here is a short list of the topics that were mentioned at the meeting in no particular order:

  • Terminology
  • IT Basics
  • IT interactions between user end and back end services
  • Steps and process for designing large and small networks
I anticipate that there will be many more topics that members will want to learn so I'll be setting up a section of the forum dedicated to topic requests.

Finally I briefly touched on the Constitution and the officer roles. This was mostly just an explanation of the officer roles which can be read in the constitution itself. The constitution is posted in the Constitution section of the forum and can be found here. Alternatively there is a direct link to it on our github page here.

That about wraps up the first meeting. It was a great start but I hope to see a few more faces at our next meeting! 

If there's something I missed from this meeting please let me know so I can add it. Without a secretary dedicated to taking notes things are a little chaotic at the moment.

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  Basic Web Server Command Line
Posted by: ITZach - 03-20-2017, 12:12 PM - Forum: Tutorials - No Replies

Ok so you have your web server set up, but this is your first time getting behind the wheel of a Linux system. Sure maybe you've played with command prompt in windows before, but you're genuinely scared to type anything in to this Linux system because you're afraid you'll start an all out nuclear war with Russia if you type in the wrong command. So maybe not quite that bad, but if you have no idea what you're doing then you're in the right place.

Command Line 101

Lets talk about the command line itself. Most people are used to what is known as a graphical user interface (GUI pronounced gooee) where you use a mouse to click on things and stuff happens. GUIs are generally pretty easy to figure out and understand, but now you're looking at a black screen with a very small amount of white text and you have no idea what planet you're on, that's normal. What you're looking at is known as a command line interface (CLI, GUI's more powerful father). Instead of point and click, you use a series of commands and parameters to get things done. When you run a command you are actually running a program. The parameters you add to the command tell the program specific things about what it should do. We'll focus more on parameters later.

Generally when using computers you are looking for some sort of feed back from the computer, some sort of information about what you did. With a GUI this can be any kind of feedback, from simple text, to images, or even interactive graphics. With a CLI pretty much all you get back is text. This is a hard thing for some to get used to you, but you may find that you actually prefer to use the CLI over time.

Lets take a closer look at what the command line prompt actually looks like. On most Linux systems the command line looks the same. Since we installed Ubuntu in the previous tutorial we're going to look at Ubuntu's command line. It usually looks like the following:


This prompt will usually appear at the beginning of every line. If this prompt is not there it means that you are entering text into a program and not into the command line, or the shell as it's often called. Lets pull apart the command prompt a little bit. It can give us a lot of useful information about our current session with the host.

username: The username of the user currently logged in.
hostname: The host name of the server you're connected to.
~: The directory (or folder) you're currently in.

Out of all the information, the most useful will likely be your current directory. Now you may be thinking that I used that funny looking squiggle as a place holder, but actually that's a linux shortcut, and one you'll come to love. Much like how Windows has specific folders for each user on the system, so does Linux, and the tilde (~) is the shortcut that points to the home folder of the logged in user. In our example ~ is the same as /home/username. As you move around your system, ~ will change to the directory you're currently in. 

Ok so maybe that was a mouth full. That's ok. Lets jump into some basic commands and it will begin to make sense as you progress.

Some Basic Commands

We'll start with some basic commands that take no parameters and slowly progress to more complex commands that have multiple parameters.

'whoami': Whoami simply displays your username. Sometimes it's more useful than you think.
'pwd': Pwd is short for print working directory. It outputs the directory or folder you are currently in.
'ls': This command will show you the contents of the directory you are currently in.
'ifconfig': Ifconfig is short for interface configuration. This one pertains to your network "interface". It will show you the details of your network connection including your IP.

Moving Around

In the basic commands there were a few commands that will help you orient yourself in the file system. The concept of working in a file system without any sort of graphical interface can take a bit of getting used to, but once you start moving around you'll get the hang of it. So here are some commands for moving through the file system and manipulating it. Most of these commands require an "argument" to work. These arguments will be denoted in braces with a description of the argument inside such as [your name] or [file to open]. 

A quick note of the file system syntax: Files are referenced by the path to the file. In other words you have to list all the directories you had to go through to get to that file. For example if you have a file call MyFile.txt thats inside Folder1, and Folder1 is inside Folder2, and Folder2 is inside Folder3 then the path to MyFile.txt would be /Folder3/Folder2/Folder1/MyFile.txt. In this example Folder3 is in what is called the "root" directory. You can think of a file system like a tree, where each branch is a directory. Some branches have other branches growing on them and some also have leaves where the leaves would be the files. If we follow the tree analogy then the root folder is the trunk of the tree. Here's the catch, if you begin your file path with a / then you are telling the computer that you want it to start looking in the root directory. So if you typed in /Folder2/Folder1/MyFile.txt you would get an error because the system can't find a Folder2 in the root directory, only a Folder2. This would happen no matter where you are in the system. But say you are already in Folder3 and you want to access MyFile.txt, what would you do? The system is smart and it knows which things are directories and which are files. So to get to MyFile.txt from Folder3, the path would be Folder2/Folder1/MyFile.txt. If you leave out the beginning / you are telling the system to start looking in your current directory (which again can be found with pwd) so keep that in mind while trying to learn about using your system.

Back to the original topic, lets go over some slightly more advanced, but necessary commands.

'cd [new directory]': Cd stands for Change Directory. We use it to move through the file system. If you know the path to the directory you want to get to you can change to that directory from anywhere in the system! 

'cp [file to copy] [new file]': This command is used to copy a file or directory. The first argument is the path to the file you want to copy, the second argument is the path to where you want it copied. Be aware that it may not ask you if you want to overwrite the file if it already exists!

'mv [file to move] [new file]': This command is very much like the copy command, only it removes the original file. 

'rm [file to remove]': This is the command to delete a file. 
'rmdir [directory to remove]': This is the command to delete a directory.

Still a work in progress.

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Information 2017 Official Resource Thread
Posted by: ITZach - 03-20-2017, 09:55 AM - Forum: Resources - No Replies

Free Resources

  • r/homelab - A community of people with computer labs in their homes
  • r/techsupport -  A community for giving and receiving tech support
  • W3 Schools - A great place to learn about Web languages and Web scripting
IT Suppliers
  • FiberSource - A place dedicated to fiber optic communications. Cheap cables and free shipping to the US!
  • Monoprice - Another place for cheap cables, patch panels, and other parts.

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  Tutorial Section Guidelines. Read first!
Posted by: ITZach - 03-20-2017, 09:12 AM - Forum: Tutorials - No Replies

This section is setup only for requesting and writing tutorials. Please be sure to use the search feature before you post either a tutorial or a request for a tutorial. If there is already a tutorial for a topic you would like to write a tutorial on we ask that you first attempt to collaborate with the author of the original tutorial regarding the same topic. If you would like to write a tutorial from a different perspective or using a different method please indicate that it is an alternate method in the title of the thread.

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  Basic Web Server Setup
Posted by: ITZach - 03-20-2017, 02:25 AM - Forum: Tutorials - No Replies

So you want to set up a web server huh? Why not?! It's actually not so hard and I'm going to prove it! Depending on your hardware it can take little more than 20 minutes, so lets get started!

It's easy to install and setup a web server based on a Linux operating system. My operating system of choice is Ubuntu and that is what this tutorial will cover. So here's what you'll need:

  • A dedicated computer to run your server or
  • A dedicated hard drive on an existing computer you can install Linux too (Be careful!) or
  • A Virtual Machine system you can install Linux to a VM on
  • A fresh copy of Ubuntu 16.10 (or 16.04 if you prefer long term support, the procedure will be the same) which can be found here.
  • Some sort of installation media, either a DVD or a USB flash drive (you'll need a tool to put the ISO onto the flash drive. I suggest rufus.)
  • Some patience
Once you have all that we can get started! We must first begin by getting the ISO you downloaded onto a DVD or USB (or if you're using a VM you can mount the ISO directly to the CD drive). Insert a blank DVD into your DVD drive. Find where you downloaded the server ISO image and right click on it. Select "Burn Disk Image". Be sure to check the box to verify the image after writing to be sure there were no errors and then click burn. It may take some time to burn the image.

[Image: oYndt30.png]

If you would like to use a USB drive to install the server please consult this tutorial for burning the ISO to a USB.

Now that you have your installation media we can begin installing the server operating system. 

We are installing an operating system!
If you are not careful you could lose a lot of files!

Insert your installation media into the computer you wish to install the server operating system on. Again be aware that if there is only one hard drive in the system this WILL erase that hard drive unless you have partitioned it appropriately. Proceed with extreme caution!

Now restart the computer. It should boot to the DVD or USB. If it does not you may have to consult the BIOS for your computer. You should be prompted to select your language. Use the arrow keys to scroll to your desired language (I'll be using english obviously) and press enter to select it.

[Image: 3qYlpBG.png]

Next we are given the Ubuntu installer disk menu. This disk has some other helpful features such as a memory check utility to test if the system has bad memory. This is useful to run on second hand systems. For now we just want to install the server OS so again using the arrows be sure that you highlight "Install Ubuntu Server" and press enter. Also notice the rescue broken system option at the very bottom. This can be useful if you have an Ubuntu server that won't boot or has common problems so keep that option in mind moving forward.

[Image: 7pgot8B.png]

We are now well on our way to a web server! 
Once again we are asked for our language. This is the language for the installation process. Once again scroll with the arrows and select with enter. Take note that the commands for the menus are generally written on the bottom of the screen.

[Image: yccP1eK.png]

Next it's going to ask us where we are. As stated in the description this is to help set your time zone correctly and a few other things.

[Image: kbasimt.png]

Next it's going to ask us about our keyboard. There is an option to detect the keyboard layout but I always set it manually (it only takes a few key strokes if you use the standard US keyboard). 

[Image: 1BFb8A6.png]

If you wish to auto detect your keyboard follow the on screen instructions and skip past the keyboard setup here. Otherwise keep reading. First select the country of origin for the keyboard.

[Image: M36QKAz.png]

Next it will ask us about our keyboard layout. Again I'm using the standard keyboard so I will select the default option, but if your keyboard differs select the appropriate keyboard.

[Image: v84sFxk.png]

Next it's going to load for a little while and you'll see a loading bard something like the following image. During some of these loading menus you may see a blank screen for a few minutes. That's normal for these kinds of installations so don't freak out.

[Image: TDe9gQ0.png]

Now we arrive at the important configuration options. Pay very close attention to the things you enter in the next sections. If you forget your administrative username or password it cannot be retrieved! It is very important that you are absolutely sure of your username and password so don't forget them!

First it is going to ask us for the host name of the server. The host name is how the system will refer to itself. It is also how other computers will see this server. When you log in to the server it will present the command prompt with yourname@hostname much like how email addresses work. For a first server this can be anything but I suggest not using the same name as another computer on the network. There are also a few other guidelines you should follow for this. Don't use any spaces in the name, you can use and underscore(_) to replace spaces. Numbers are acceptable but do not start the host name with a number. You should also refrain from using special characters with the exception of - and _. Otherwise it can be whatever you want. For this example we are going to use "MyFirstServer".

[Image: kVbLR6b.png]

Next the installer will ask you for your name, your real name. For our purposes this can be anything and I generally use "administrator" as it will then fill in the username with the same to make the next step easier. But this can be anything you want.

[Image: Hg16xlm.png]

Once you have entered your full name it will ask you for your username. It will automatically fill in the first word from your full name for convenience but you can change it to anything you like. Again don't use spaces in your username. Be aware that the username IS case sensitive. If your username is Administrator, typing in administrator or ADMINISTRATOR will not work! You will have to use Administrator!

[Image: EZjfomh.png]

Now comes one of the most critical parts of setting up a server, the administrator password. By default the user that you create during this process has complete access to all aspects of the server. In Linux computing we call this "root" access. This password that you set will become the keys to the kingdom so be sure that it's a strong password and that you don't forget it. By default it will hide the characters, but if you wish you can select the option to show the characters to be sure you have entered your desired password. I'm using a very basic password as an example so please use something better.

[Image: h6LeG5N.png]

To be sure that you have entered the password that you meant it will ask you to confirm your password.

[Image: jVPvEYS.png]

Next it's going to ask us if we want to encrypt our home directory. By doing so you will prevent anyone other than yourself from accessing your home directory. This means that if anyone gets a hold of your hard drive they cannot simply copy your files off of it. If you're worried about losing your files because of losing your password then I would suggest not encrypting your home directory. At home I never encrypt my home directories because I never have important or sensitive information in my home directory but the choice is yours.

[Image: Q7RdXA5.png]

Next the system will set up the clock and calendar. If you have an internet connection it should get this information automatically from a network time server. If so it will present you with a time zone and ask if it is the correct time zone. Otherwise it may ask you to set your timezone or clock automatically.

[Image: 8aZYwZi.png]

Next we move on to another crucial part of the installation. Here is where we will chose which hard drive and partition we want to install the server on to. Up until this point we have not actually made any changes to your system. This is where changes will be made to your hard drive so be very careful! It will ask us how we want to handle the partitioning and disk selection. If you plan to use an entire hard drive or an already setup partition you can simply select "guided - use entire disk", but if you need to do anything special you may have to use the manual option (not for the faint of heart!).

[Image: XSNTUtG.png]

Alternatively you can select the option with LVM (Logical Volume Manager). This may give you a little more flexibility in future installations, but for your first server you probably wont notice. If you want to learn more check out this link.

[Image: 9GqVp2Z.png]

Once we have selected our method of partitioning it will ask us which disk we would like to partition. If you have multiple hard drives or partitions they will show up on this list. For most home use cases they will be listed as SATA devices. Since I'm doing this tutorial on a virtual machine with enterprise hard drives (SAS drives instead of SATA) and the hard drive is also a virtual drive my drives show up as SCSI drives. It will work the same way for you, but your selections will vary.

[Image: H8vwM2q.png]

If you selected the option with LVM it will ask you to write changes to disk before the rest of the disk can be partitioned. This cannot be undone so be sure you have selected the right disk! It will then ask you how much of the disk you would like to use for the installation. I suggest using the recommended settings until you have a better idea of what your're doing.

If you did not select the option with LVM it weill simply start the partition manager. The LVM option ends at this same location, the only difference was the disk size configuration. It will display the changes it intends to make to the disks and asks you if you are sure you want to make those changes. Selecting yes will format the hard drive or partition and write the changes to the disk so the new OS can be installed. If you selected the LVM option there will be a few more things in the list relating to the volume manager.

[Image: w7uIUzu.png]

Next it will begin formatting the partitions.

[Image: SAlKu52.png]

And then it will begin installing the system. This part can take some time and it may seem to be stuck at times, but it is not. If it begins to take more than an hour or so it may have encountered an issue, otherwise be patient.

[Image: Tvk1Lhf.png]

After a while we get another loading bar configuring apt. Apt is what we call in Linux a package manager. It is a unified way of downloading/installing/updating/removing software. Without it installing programs in Linux can be a bit of a pain.

[Image: lODybVl.png]

It's next going to ask us if we need to configure an http proxy for apt. For most cases this is not necessary, but it may be in certain businesses or schools. If you encounter problems using apt and you're not on a home network you may need to consult your network administrator if possible. For our use we are going to leave this blank and continue.

[Image: W7Pujoq.png]

Next it's going to ask us about system upgrades. If you would like to manage updates purely on your own you can select no automatic updates. Otherwise I would suggest installing security updates automatically. The other option doesn't really apply to us. It uses a special software set to manage updates for large amounts of systems. For this tutorial I'm gong to select security updates only.

[Image: RloRdFm.png]

Now we come to probably the most important part of the install. The software selection. Ubuntu allows us to install certain pieces of software from the beginning. Luckily for us the LAMP stack is one of those pieces. LAMP stands for Linux Apache MySQL and PHP, all pieces required to run a basic web server, but more details on those later. For our basic server we want to select and install both the LAMP option and the OpenSSH Server option. To select the packages use the arrow keys to scroll through the packages and use space to add the package. An Asterisk will appear in the box as a check mark. 

[Image: wsB3TOp.png]

The M in the LAMP stack is MySQL (pronounced My Sequel). SQL stands for Structured Query Language and is a very common language for databases. MySQL is used for a large number of web applications that require storing information. For example usernames and passwords for a website may be stored in a MySQL database. Since the database may contain sensitive information it requires a login to access the database. The default user for the database is 'root' and the installer will ask you for a database password. In general it is considered bad practice to your your administrator password for the database as well, but for your first server we'll forgive you if you do.

[Image: cruZuMw.png]

[Image: yNzKkwq.png]

Next it's going to continue installing the packages for a while. This could potentially take a while so again be patient, we're almost done with the boring installations. 

At this point in the installation you may get a blank purple screen for a few minutes, this is normal but it can be unsettling at times.

Now we are at the final piece of the installation, the GRUB boot loader. GRUB will allow us to easily switch between operating systems if there are multiple installed on the same system but it could potentially cripple another operating system if it exists. In my case this is the only operating system installed so it is safe to install GRUB to the master boot record. However if you have multiple operating systems on the same hard drive you may not want to do this step.

[Image: fBb5l1f.png]

If you select yes it will install the GRUB boot loader. After that or if you did not install the GRUB boot loader it will finish up the installation and then ask us to restart the system. This is the end of the operating system installation. At this point if you used a DVD your computer will eject the DVD and you may remove it from the tray. If you used a USB you may remove the USB from the system. When you select continue your system will reboot and if everything went smoothly Ubuntu Server will start up.

[Image: VcUkYMe.png]

Once the server starts you will see a large amount of text scroll down your screen that looks like the following.

[Image: UtahhAI.png]

After a short period of time you will be prompted to log in to your new server. This is where you will need that username and password from the very beginning. Remember that the username is case sensitive. Type in your username and press enter. You will then be prompted for your password. When typing in your password it will appear as nothing is happening. This is normal, it's just a way of hiding the password. Once you have entered your password press enter, and if you entered the right username and password you will be logged in.

[Image: kDJc5jN.png]

After logging in you will see the following screen. By default it will give you some basic information about the server before giving you access to the command line. 

[Image: w5bzmum.png]

Congratulations! You have successfully installed your first server! I know at this point it may not seem very useful, but it is a fully featured web server just waiting for your creative touch. At this point if you have never used a Linux system before you should begin to get a good feel for using the command line and move around the system.

I will put together a few more tutorials for using and managing your new web server so watch for them. I will provide links to them here when they are available.

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  Bug Report Format (Read first!)
Posted by: ITZach - 03-19-2017, 07:39 PM - Forum: Bug Reports - No Replies

Please use the following guidelines for reporting site bugs.

  • Please give a good description of the bug
  • Provide a link to the section of the site you are experiencing the bug on
  • Please indicate if you were logged in or not
  • Please give the theme you are using. If you don't know it's probably the default theme

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  The Constitution
Posted by: ITZach - 03-19-2017, 06:21 PM - Forum: Constitution - Replies (1)

The constitution and all governing documents of the club are kept through SLI. They must be current at the start of every year. The current version of the constitution shall be made available for all to read. We encourage all members to read through the constitution to know their rights within the club.

The current version of the constitution is available here:

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  Resource Guidelines
Posted by: ITZach - 03-19-2017, 05:38 AM - Forum: Resources - No Replies

In order for your resource to be added to the official resource list please observe the following guidelines.

  • Give a good description of the resource
  • Provide a link to the resource if available online
  • If not an online resource please make that obvious
  • If the resource requires payment you must state what kind and how much
  • If the resource requires some sort of special standing you must state the requirements

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  Guidelines, please read!
Posted by: ITZach - 03-19-2017, 05:13 AM - Forum: Thoughts and Ideas - No Replies

This section is a place for members to express things that they would like to see happen or get out of the club. This can be anything from more frequent meetings, to specific topics lectured on, even to specific or special equipment you would like to have access to in the lab. Please keep posts on topic and please try to be as specific as possible.

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