2014
05.17

Recently picked up a couple Acer Aspire XC-603 desktops as they were rather cheap (£129 inc VAT on offer @ Ebuyer) but come with FreeDos which isn’t really particularly useful for most people.

A lot of reviews state that they only work with windows 8, a few others were stating they would work on windows 7 after a Bios update but that Linux can’t be used on them, I can’t speak for other Distros since I’ve not tried any (Yet at least) but Kubuntu 14.04 can certainly be installed on them.

Mine Shipped with Bios P11-A1L After changing a few Bios settings mine seemed to have no trouble booting Kubuntu 14.04 from a USB stick.

Note: if the settings below do not work for you or are missing you might need to update the Bios first, the Acer download for the Bios appears to be windows centric but I’m led to believe the driver CD downloadable from the Ebuyer product page can be booted from to flash the Bios. (I didn’t bother trying as mine was working)

For Linux try the following Bios settings.

Set the Hard-drive to ACHI mode (Advanced > Integrated Peripherals)
Set USB key emulation to HardDrive (Advanced > Integrated Peripherals)
Set secure boot off (Authentication) 
Set Launch CSM to Never (Boot options)

You should now be able to boot your Kubuntu installation media.

Once you have Ubuntu/Kubuntu You can install the XBMC Media centre following the instructions here

You will probably need to go into the sound settings on both the desktop and XBMC and change the default audio output to HDMI if you have the PC connected to a TV/Theatre system, it seems to be able to output at least 5.1 over HDMI.

 

Just for reference the Specs of this machine (Taken from the Ebuyer site) are as follows:

Processor

  • Intel Celeron J1900 2GHz
  • Quad-core (4 Core)

Memory

  • 4GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Expandable to 8GB

Hard Drive

  • 500GB SATA

Optical Drive

  • DVD Writer

Software

  • Operating System: Free DOS
  • Click here for Windows 7 drivers

Display

  • Not Included

Graphics

  • Intel HD

Input Devices

  • Keyboard and Mouse NOT Included

Networking

  • Ethernet Technology
  • Wired LAN RJ-45 port

Power Supply

  • 220 Watt

Dimensions

  • Width 369.6 mm
  • Depth 266.5 mm
  • Height 100 mm

Interfaces

  • 1 x HDMI
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x RJ-45
  • Audio Line In
  • Audio Line Out
  • 1 x VGA Port

Expansion

  • 1 x Mini PCI Express Slot

Warranty

  • 1 Year Manufacturer Warranty

 

Update: 3/7/2014 : There are mounting holes for a 2.5″ drive in the HDD bay meaning you do not need any adapters if you wanted to replace the HDD with an SSD.

Also sound over HDMI doesn’t appear to work out of the box in Kubuntu 13.10 (The lesson there is don’t go about installing the OS when half distracted by something else, Hadn’t even noticed I’d burnt a 13.10 image to my usb key instead of 14.04)

2014
05.10

Many people use VPN’s either to remote access internal networks, or Perhaps to provide an additional Layer of security when accessing the internet at an untrusted location such as a public Hotspot.

However with the increasing deployment of IPv6 it’s possible some people are not as safe as they might think.

You see it’s possible to get into a situation where if the network the user is connected to supports Both IPv4 and IPv6 but the VPN only supports one of these (most commonly IPv4) that traffic to any host using the other protocol bypasses the VPN entirely.

This is certainly true with some OpenVPN based VPN’s on windows and I suspect the problem is not unique to OpenVPN or windows for that matter either.

One work around is to temporarily disable IPv6 on the client device (assuming you can, on some mobile OS’s it’s almost impossible) this will of course mean you can’t get to any IPv6 only services, but any services using both IPv6 and IPv4 should still be reachable over v4.

Hopefully once IPv6 deployment accelerates and VPN software gets better IPv6 support this will be less of a problem as ether the VPN itself will be IPv6 enabled or it will at least be able to stop IPv6 leaking data when the VPN is established.

 

Update: 17/5/2014

Thanks to Jeremy’s comment below,  I’ve realised that this post might come across that OpenVPN does not support IPv6, I’d like to clarify that OpenVPN itself can indeed support IPv6 and force Default routes (So that even IPv6 will go via the VPN) however it requires the network hosting the VPN concentrator to support IPv6 and for the VPN to be configured to support IPv6.

It’s down to the way the VPN concentrator is configured rather than down to OpenVPN itself.   I cannot comment on other proprietary VPN solutions as I’ve not tested them.