Wondershaper: The wonder of shaping your internet traffic!

wondershaper

I always end my posts with “Linux – keep it simple.” And today is one of those great days when I am using a really well made, simple, Linux tool: Wondershaper.

Wondershaper allows you to “throttle” network traffic on any interface to a desired capped speed. So, for instance, if you need to have one computer upload videos, like I am today, you will probably max out your upload speeds. The problem with this is that your wife/family/friends/office workers, etc., whomever you share internet with, will suddenly be unable to surf the web.

Or perhaps you are syncing the Android source code, and it is taking up all of your download bandwidth, making it impossible for you to watch a movie on your Vudu/Roku/name your device player.

So, if you want to have a simple to use command line tool to restrict or limit traffic on one of your Linux computers, here it is:

# wondershaper eno1 1000 500

That’s it. The name of the program is wodershaper and the arguments are: interface, download speed, and upload speed. In this case, I want wondershaper to try to throttle traffic for that machine on interface “eno1” to be 1000 kb/s down, and 500 kb/s up. Here is the expanation from the man pages for it:

wondershaper [ interface ] [ downlink ] [ uplink ]
Configures the wondershaper on the specified interface, given
the specified downlink speed in kilobits per second, and the
specified uplink speed in kilobits per second.

You do need to run this as root to have access to control the device interfaces, but this program works beautifully. It is especially handy when working with virtual machines that you wish to limit!

Linux – keep it simple.

More “Stack-able” Certificates from CompTIA!

Some changes at my work are driving me to renew and gain new CompTIA certificates. What is a bit odd about the system, however, is the “stack-able” feature. Now you can not only get certificates for completing various exams, you can now “stack” some of the certificates to get special combined certificates.

Overall it is nice to have extra fluff for the resume, but I can’t help but feeling like I’m playing Gunstar Heroes and that I’ve just combined the laser beam with the flame thrower.

In any event, by taking one test, I have not only gained a certification, but I also gained two more stack-able specialties. Added to the one I already received, I now have effectively “doubled” the amount of certificates I have, without actually doing anything extra. If this sounds odd, let me explain:

At my work, I was required to get the Linux+ and the Network+ certificates, which I did. When I renewed them a couple of months ago, I was given the new stack-able certification of “CompTIA Linux Network Professional”. I’m now a registered CLNP. However, I’m a CLNP because I have a Linux+ and a Network+. Both of which are required for my job. You cannot be a CLNP without them. But I didn’t do anything extra to be a CLNP, there is no exam to become one.

Conversely, it was “strongly recommended” that I also go back and get the A+ certification, which I did, and received the A+ certificated. At the same time, however, having an A+ with a Network+ made me a “CompTIA IT Operations Specialist” (CIOS), and having an A+ with a Linux+ makes me a “CompTIA Systems Support Specialist” (CSSS). Since I didn’t do anything extra to gain these titles, I am just wondering if they hold any weight or have any real meaning.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not objecting to these new stack-able certs, I’m just not sure I understand the purpose of them. To maintain them, you have to maintain the two or more certifications that were combined to get them. On my certifications for A+, Net+, Linux+, there is a verification number, but there isn’t one for these combined certs. I suppose you would have to look them up by requesting if the applicant is certified in the underlying certifications.

It is pretty impressive, though, that in less than six months I have taken two tests (one renewal, one new) and effectively doubled the number of certifications that I hold. Can’t complain about that!

Linux – keep it simple.

CompTIA Mobility+ certificate to be retired on December 15th.

One of the many things that my work requires is various IT certificates. In particular, they require Network+ for the job I am currently filling, and A+, Security+, and Linux+, for various other simulators at my work. So, I make an effort to keep my certifications current, and to have as many as possible, in the event that a position opens up to which I want to apply.

Now, there are a lot of certificates out there, and while I’m not intending to talk about them all here, I would mention that there are other great programs out there, other than CompTIA. For instance, I do hold an LPIC certification, as well as a SLES, and a LFCS. Two of the great things about CompTIA, however, is the fact that they are an industry standard, and that they have a pyramid hierarchy, which allows you to make current and hold numerous “lower” tier certifications by only taking the top level test.

It was a surprise to me to learn that they are retiring the Mobility+ certificate before the close of this year. Here is their take on why they should retire this certificate:

CompTIA Mobility+ certification will officially retire on December 15, 2017. The main reason for this retirement is that the job role for Mobility+ continues to merge into the Network Administrator role, and much of the Mobility+ content is covered in CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+.

What surprised me, though, was that this is the only certification from CompTIA, and one of the few certifications in general, that covered cellular data and infrastructure.

Sure, A+ does cover a lot of hardware, but it doesn’t seem to cover cellular towers, WiMAX, or even Satellite components, which are a part of Mobility+. Here in Alaska, with many wild and untamed areas of the state, various forms of wireless communications are utilized to get internet connectivity into remote locations.

Granted, Network+ does cover the majority of TCP/IP protocol stack, but cellular devices typically use odd protocols to control the transmission and reception of the TCP/IP data. The radio portions of Mobility+ helped differentiate between the various types of frequency shifting, hopping, and cells that are an integral part of the mobile world.

Of course, Security+ covers most aspects of authentication, authorization, and accounting, but in a more general sense. While it does cover wireless access, it only focuses on the typical 2.4 and 5 MHz bands and associated equipment, not covering the special needs of cellular devices. When it comes to MDM (Mobile Device Management), Security+ treats it as a footnote in section 4, in which all of section 4 is covered by less than 15% of the test. In Mobility+, however, Mobile Device Management alone is 28% of the exam!

It would seem to me that any cellular or satellite internet provider would make Mobility+ a mandatory requirement. Places like Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T would all be encouraging their technical employees to certify in this field in order to maintain their network.

What does that mean? I certainly think that the Mobility+ certificate is one worth keeping, but apparently CompTIA believes otherwise. Since it does not make logical sense to me, I can only believe that either too few people are taking the test to make it worthy of updating, or CompTIA is not earning enough revenue from Mobility+ sales to warrant it’s continued operation.

It could be that cellular technologies will be rolled into A+, Net+ and Sec+, negating the need for Mobility+, but I just renewed my Network+ and Linux+ certifications, and didn’t see any cellular references on the exam. They say that CompTIA certifications are led by the industry, and not the other way around. In a world that is becoming increasingly more mobile, I just can’t see getting rid of Mobility+.

Linux – keep it simple.

CompTIA Network+ N10-006 exam

Among other certifications, one of the certs that I needed to renew was my CompTIA Network+ exam. The current series is N10-006, and to take the test locally through Pearson View costs $295! That is a hefty chunk of change. However, I need this certificate for my work, so I had little choice but to renew the certification.

Fortunately, my work was willing to foot the bill, provided that I pass the test. Unfortunately, the test is still $295 even if I were to fail. Last time that I took this test, I just barely passed, and I didn’t want a repeat of that.

On the previous test, I was using an outdated study book that was for an older version of the test than was currently in place. Some of the areas I struggled in the most were fiber optics and wireless technologies.

This time I decided to do things right and get the latest study guide, with the intent of doing better than last time. One would think that since I’m working in the IT world, I would be up to date on the latest technology, but I guess that really depends on where you work.

In my case, most of our facilities have rules banning the use of wireless technologies. On to of that, in almost 8 years at my work, I’ve only troubleshot a fiber optic network once, and I’ve never actually installed one anywhere. However, ask me to convert base 10 to base 8, or decimal to binary, and I’m your man!

I can imagine how others in my field may fall into this trap as well. The technologies around us are changing, but our local area network is not. We are required to recertify, even though the scope of our job hasn’t changed in years. In a way, these certification requirements might seem tedious or overwhelming, but really they are a blessing in disguise, as they make is keep up with the times.

So of you are taking the N10-006 test, either for the first time, or as a renewal, here’s what I did to prepare for the test. Not saying this is the only way, but this worked for me. Not only that, but rather than barely passing, my score was decent this time.

Last time I used “exam cram” books. I guess it got me through, but I feel that those are better suited for the technician who does work on the full scope of equipment covered by Network+ on a day to day basis. I needed something with more meat on it to teach me about things I’ve never done, or done very little of. So, I purchased this book:

http://www.mypearsonstore.com/bookstore/comptia-network-plus-n10-006-cert-guide-9780789754080

I didn’t purchase it there, and of you look online, it can be found cheaper, much, much cheaper.

After buying the book, I took a highlighter and highlighted key portions in every chapter. This was a huge help to me on the day of the test, as I thumbed through the book, looking over my highlighted portions just before the exam.

The book comes with a CD and software for practice tests, but I didn’t use it. I have a Linux computer, and the software was for Windows machines. Instead, I used this free online resource to take some practice tests:

http://www.examcompass.com/comptia/network-plus-certification/free-network-plus-practice-tests

With 20 test of 25 questions each, those 500 questions gave new a feel for areas I was weak in. After each test, it tells you the questions you got right or wrong, as well as what the right answer was, which was helpful.

As for the test itself, it has changed since I took it last. Before, it was just a series of multiple choice questions. They still had many of those, but the new test implemented “simulations”, or pop up windows with diagrams and pictures of computers and consoles that you could drag and drop or type in. They seemed a bit buggy to me though, after making a selection the simulation would close, even though you were not done yet. However, opening the simulation again proved that everything you changed was still there.

Hopefully, if you are looking to take the Network+ exam, then some of these notes were useful for you.

Linux – keep it simple.