How to store sensitive data in Linux with Vault

Vaults is a sophisticated security tool used to keep various types of data (authentication keys, login info, etc.) safe. In this guide, we will show you how to use it to store and encrypt basic information. However, understand that Vault can also be used to store complex secrets like AWS passwords, API keys, SSH keys, and database login info. For more information on what you can do with the Vault tool, please check out their documentation.

Installing Vault on Linux

The Vault app needs to be installed on the system before we can go over how to use it to store secrets on your Linux system. To start the installation, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. After that, follow the installation instructions down below that correspond with the Linux operating system you currently use.

Generic binary instructions

The generic binary installation is the best way to go on most Linux distributions, as it does not require any hard work to get going. There’s no need to mess with the Snap runtime, or dependencies like in the Arch Linux AUR. To start the installation of the Vault generic binary file, begin by downloading the latest release with the wget command below.

wget https://releases.hashicorp.com/vault/1.3.1/vault_1.3.1_linux_amd64.zip

After you’ve finished downloading the Vault ZIP archive, it is time to use the unzip command to decompress the binary. Using the unzip command, extract the file.

Note: Unzip is a standard utility used to extract ZIP archive files from the Linux command-line. If you do not have the Unzip app installed already, please head over to Pkgs.org, and click on the “unzip” package under the distribution you use to get started with it.

unzip vault_1.3.1_linux_amd64.zip

Once the unzip command is run, a binary named “vault” will appear in your home directory. At this point, you must move this binary file into the /usr/bin/ directory, so that it can be called like any other program on the system.

sudo mv vault /usr/bin/

When the “vault” binary file is in the /usr/bin/ directory, you will be able to use the app by running the command below in any terminal window.

vault

Arch Linux AUR instructions

The Vault app is in the Arch Linux AUR. If you are using Arch Linux, you can get the app working by entering the following commands below.

sudo pacman -S git base-devel

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/trizen.git

cd trizen

makepkg -sri

trizen -S vault-bin

Configuring the Vault server

The Vault app is a server that runs so that you can access your keys in a friendly web user interface. It can also be run on a network, and keys can be accessible over the internet; however, in this guide, we will only cover the local server.

As Vault is a server, on Linux, it needs to run from a terminal window. The problem is that running a terminal server can be confusing, especially if you’re new to Linux. To make things easier, we’re going to create a script that can run the server on the system without any need to fuss around.

To create the script open up a terminal window and use the touch command and create a blank file called vault-server.sh.

touch vault-server.sh

After creating the vault-server.sh file, open it up in the Nano text editor.

nano -w vault-server.sh

Paste the code below into the Nano text editor.

#!/bin/bash

vault server -dev > ~/vault-server-info.txt

Save the edits with Ctrl + O, and exit with Ctrl + X. Then, update the permissions of the file with the chmod command.

sudo chmod +x vault-server.sh

Accessing Vault

To access Vault, open up a terminal window and execute the script file with the command below.

./vault-server.sh

Upon launching the script, you will see a readout of the server in the terminal. However, this readout is ever-changing, so we’ve also piped it to a text file in the home directory. This text file is vault-server-info.txt.

Note: each time you launch Vault, the vault-server-info.txt will change. You must check it and copy the new token or login will not work.

Once the server is running, open up the Linux file manager, click on “Home,” open vault-server-info.txt, and copy the code after “Root Token:” to your clipboard. Then, launch your favorite web browser and go to the URL below.

localhost:8200/ui/

Log in with the token key you copied from vault-server-info.txt.

Stop the server

Need to stop the Vault server? Click on the terminal window currently running the script and press Ctrl + C.

Using Vault to store secrets

Now that the server is up and running, follow the step-by-step instructions below to learn how to keep your secrets safe in the Vault.

Step 1: Ensure you are logged into the Vault web UI in the web browser. Then, click on “Secrets” at the top of the page.

Step 2: Locate “Cubbyhole” and click on it with the mouse. Cubbyhole is the default secret engine that you can use for arbitrary data (passwords, personal info, access codes, etc.).

Step 3: Inside Cubbyhole, you will see a message that says, “No secrets in this backend yet.” Find the “Create secret” button, and click it with the mouse.

Step 4: Upon clicking “Create secret,” a pop-up will appear. In the pop-up, find “Path for this secret” and fill it out to describe the secret. For example, to store a “secret” containing your FTP server password, you’d write “FTP password” in the path box.

Step 5: Following the path, find “Secret data.” From here, find “key.” In the key box, enter a reference to the secret you’d like to store.

For example, if you are storing your FTP server password, you might enter the username to the server in “key.” If it is a note, you could write “note #1,” etc.

Step 6: Find “value” and enter the text you want to keep a secret. Once again, if, for example, this is a password (like an FTP server password), enter the password in the “value” box. Alternatively, fill out your note, API key, or anything else you’d like to secure as a secret.

Once all fields are filled out, click “Save” to save the secret to the Vault. To access your saved secrets, ensure the Vault server is running, log into the Web UI, and click on “Cubbyhole.”

 

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Wallpaper of the Week: Watchtower at Sunset

WPOTWSunsetLighthouse

This week’s wallpaper is an image of a lighthouse seen from the water. The lighthouse rises out of a jumble of metal “Y” shaped objects that protect it from the water. Fog rises off the water, the sky is lavender sunset colors. The lights are all glowing in the lighthouse and the green lens at the top of the tower is sending its beacon out into the evening.

Icons are visible in most areas of the image. Read More

How To Add Audio Narration To a Powerpoint Presentation

PowerPoint is an app that enables you to create and deliver an engaging presentation to an audience. But what if the audience is not in the same room or you are sending it as a link or attachment?

This is why adding audio narration to PowerPoint slides timings is helpful and useful. You can record the narration from inside your presentation so that it plays while viewers watch. Adding voice-over narration to your Powerpoint presentation or video will turn it into evergreen stand-alone content.

This article will discuss how to add audio narration to a Powerpoint presentation for Windows 10.

Test Your Default Microphone

The first thing you will need is a working microphone. Most computers today come with a built-in microphone. If you plan to use your computer default microphone, you don’t have to take additional steps to add a microphone.

However, you do want to make sure it’s working and loud enough to hear. To set your default microphone, test it to make sure it’s working. To customize the properties, follow the steps below.

  • Start by typing Settings in the search bar.
  • Click on System > Sound.
  • Look under Input for options to configure your microphone. Click the dropdown menu under Choose your input device to assign your default microphone.
  • If you only have one microphone, there is nothing to select. To open additional microphone settings, click on Device properties > Additional device settings.
  • Enable or disable speaker and access audio driver information under the General tab.
  • The Listen tab enables you to allow or deny your mic to listen to the speakers.
  • Adjust the microphone volume and balance settings under Levels.
  • Change the default sample rate and bit depth under the Advanced tab.
  • If enabled on your computer, Spatial sound can enhance the audio experience. 

To test your microphone, go back to the Input section. If it’s not working, you can use the Troubleshoot button to try to resolve the issue.

Install a USB Microphone

  • To enable your microphone, first, plug in the USB microphone to your computer. Then right-click on the volume icon on the taskbar. 
  • Click on Sounds.
  • Under the Recording tab, choose the microphone you want to set up and click Configure
  • Under Configure your Speech Recognition experience, click on Set up microphone.
  • When the setup wizard starts, choose the type of microphone you are installing and click Next.
  • The next screen you see will provide tips for using your microphone and some text to read to test your settings. 
  • Follow the instructions from the wizard and test the microphone to make sure it is working correctly.  

Set USB Microphone As Input Device To Use

If you want to use the external USB microphone you just set up to record your narration, you need to set it as the input device.

  • Right-click on the volume icon on the right side of the taskbar and click on Open Sound settings.  
  • From the Sound Settings window, scroll down to Input and tick the box under Choose your input device
  • Select your USB microphone as the input device.

Rehearse & Take Notes

Now that your microphone is set up and tested, instead of jumping right in and starting to record, take the time to practice what you are going to say.

Take notes, write out a script, and rehearse the timings to save time, minimize errors, and ensure that your audio sounds fluid and natural.

Now you are ready to start recording.

Turn On the Recording Tab (Office 365)

  • To turn on the Recording tab, navigate to File, click Options > Customize Ribbon > Recording > OK.

How To Record An Audio Narration For One Slide

The easiest way to add audio to your PowerPoint presentation is to record one slide at a time. 

  • Start by selecting the slide where you want to add the audio.
  • Navigate to Insert > Audio > Record Audio.
  • Choose a name for your voiceover and replace Recorded Sound with the name.  
  • To start your recording, click the button with the red dot. Read from your script and click the stop button when finished. 
  • The stop button is the middle square and will be highlighted in red while you are recording.
  • To hear your recording, press the play button. If you like how it sounds and want to keep it, click OK.
  • You can also hear the audio by clicking on the embedded audio icon on your slide. It will open a bar underneath where you can play your audio.
  • You will now have a visible audio icon on your slide. To hide this icon for your final presentation, click on it. 
  • Click Playback in the top bar navigation, and tick off Hide During Show.

Record An Audio Narration For An Entire Slideshow (Office 365)

  • Click on Recording from the top navigation, and then Record Slide Show
  • Choose either Record from Current Slide or Record from Beginning. The slideshow will open in the Recording window.
  • There are buttons on the top left for recording, pausing, stopping, and playing. Click on the red, round button to start recording. There will be a three-second countdown for you to get ready.
  • The slide you are recording will show up in the main pane of the window. To advance to the next slide, use the arrow on the right side of the window. To move to a previous slide, use the arrow on the left. Powerpoint with Office 365 will automatically record the time you spend talking on each slide. This includes any animations you have set up.
  • Use the buttons on the bottom right-hand side of the screen to toggle your microphone, camera, and camera preview on or off. If you choose to re-record part or all your narration, Powerpoint will erase the old version to enable you to record again.
  • When you finish recording, click on the square button at the top left-hand corner of the recording window.
  • The timings for each slide will show up in the Slide Sorter view. To see your timings, click on View > Slide Sorter.
  • See the timings under the slides from the Slide Sorter view in the image below.

Preview Your Slide Show

  • To preview your slideshow with your narration, animations, and timings (set up before you started recording), click Slide Show from the top bar navigation. Make sure you are on the Home tab.
  • Choose From Beginning or From Current Slide.
  • To hear the audio for a single slide, go to Normal view, click on the sound icon and click Play. Note that recorded animations won’t show up when previewing from a single slide.

Manually Set Slide Timings

  • You can also manually set your slide timings to sync with your narrations. To do so, select the slide from Normal View and then click on Transitions
  • From the Timing group, select the After check box under Advance Slide.
  • Enter how long you want the slide to stay on the screen before moving onto the next. Do this for every slide you want to use manual timings.

Publish Your Presentation For Sharing

You can save your presentation as a Powerpoint Show (.ppsx) or a video to share it with others. When a viewer opens a slideshow file, it will immediately open in slideshow mode.

To save your presentation, go to File, Save As and select the format from the dropdown menu.

If your presentation is huge and you want to send it as an email attachment, you might need to compress the file. A better option is to upload it to Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive, and send the link to the desired recipients.

How to watch YouTube in picture-in-picture mode on the iPad

YouTube Red is YouTube’s premium version which gives users access to exclusive content. It’s not exactly popular. In addition to exclusive content, YouTube Red also has a picture-in-picture mode that allows users to watch videos in a floating player on their devices. The feature is great but not really something worth paying a monthly bill for. If you’d like to watch YouTube in Picture-in-picture mode on the iPad, you need to install a free app called Pipifier. It works for all web videos, and it works for YouTube.

YouTube Picture-in-picture on iPad

This only works if you’ve enabled Picture-in-Picture on the iPad. To enable it, open the Settings app and select Home Screen and Dock. Select Multitasking and turn on Picture in Picture.

Since YouTube limits its Picture-in-Picture feature to YouTube Red, we’re going to need an app called PiPifier. Install it from the App Store.

Once installed, open Safari and visit YouTube. This is where it gets tricky because when you open YouTube in Safari, it automatically redirects you to the app. Go back to Safari and try to force the desktop view. You can do this by tapping the AA button in the URL bar and selecting the option to request the desktop website.

Once you have YouTube open in Safari, the hard part is over. Open a video and then tap the share button next to the URL bar. From the menu, select Run PiPifier.

The video will minimize to a floating player in the bottom right corner. You can now press the Home button to exit Safari. The video will continue to play.

The player can be docked to any one of the four corners of the screen. If you close it, the video will continue to play in Safari or pause where you left it off. To resize the player, pinch outward on it.

If you’re having trouble getting Safari to not open the YouTube app, you can try uninstalling it if you don’t use it that much. You might also have heard of a little feature on iPadOS called Slide Over that lets you access an app within another app. It’s not the same as picture-in-picture but it’s a fairly reasonable way to watch YouTube videos while working in a different app. It’s a lot easier to use than opening videos in Safari and then sharing/sending them to the app. It’s odd that YouTube has decided to limit this feature to its premium service since there are obvious workarounds for this on both Android and iOS.

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How to add podcasts to a mobile device with Linux

A fan of podcasts? Have a mobile device but also like to listen to podcasts on your Linux desktop or laptop? Follow along with this guide as we go over how to add podcasts to your mobile device with Linux.

Note: Gpodder works best with Android devices. Apple devices can work but not recommended.

Installing Gpodder

There are many different ways to consume podcasts on the Linux platform. However, Gpodder has an easy to use UI, which is good for beginners. Though, before we go over how to set up syncing, we must demonstrate how to install Gpodder.

Ubuntu

On Ubuntu Linux, the Gpodder client is effortless to install as it is in the “Universe” software repository. To install it, open up a terminal window and use the Apt command below.

sudo apt install gpodder

Debian

On Debian, it is possible to install Gpodder from the “Main” software repository. To install it, launch a terminal and use the Apt-get command below.

sudo apt-get install gpodder

Arch Linux

For Arch Linux users, Gpodder is in the “Community” software repository. To install it, use the Pacman command below.

sudo pacman -S gpodder

Fedora

Every version of Fedora Linux has Gpodder available. To set up the app on your system, use the Dnf command below.

sudo dnf install gpodder

OpenSUSE

On OpenSUSE Linux, Gpodder is available to users via the “Packman all” software repository. To install, start by launching a terminal and adding in the repo.

15.1

zypper addrepo http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Leap_15.1/ packman

15.0

 zypper addrepo http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Leap_15.0/ packman

Tumbleweed

zypper addrepo http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/ packman

Finally, install the Gpodder app with Zypper.

sudo zypper install gpodder

Flatpak

Gpodder is on the Flathub Flatpak store. To install the software on your Linux PC, ensure that you have the Flatpak runtime set up on your PC. For more information, check out this guide.

With the Flatpak runtime up and running, open up a terminal window and use the commands below.

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

flatpak install flathub org.gpodder.gpodder

Downloading podcasts

Before being able to sync podcasts from the Gpodder app to your favorite mobile device, you will need to have podcast episodes downloaded on your computer. To do that, you will need to have podcast shows set up in Gpodder.

Setting up podcast shows in Gpodder is simple thanks to the easy to understand user interface. Click the “Subscriptions” menu and add your favorite show. Or, if you’re having issues figuring out how to subscribe to podcasts in Gpodder, follow this guide here.

After you’ve subscribed to your favorite podcasts in the Gpodder app, it’s time to download some podcasts. Click on the “Podcast” panel, and select a show. Then, download an episode to your computer. Be sure to repeat this process until all of the podcast shows you want to listen to have been downloaded through the Gpodder app.

Adding podcasts to mobile via Linux file manager

Arguably the best way to add podcasts to a mobile device on Linux is with the file manager, as almost every Linux file manager has support for mounting mobile devices such as Android phones, tablets, and even iPhones.

To add your favorite podcasts to mobile via the Linux file manager, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step 1: Open up the Linux file manager.

Step 2: Plug in your mobile device into the USB port on your computer.

Step 3: Access your device and put it into MTP mode so that the files on it can be accessible to the Linux file manager.

Step 4: Go to the downloaded podcast file in Gpodder, and right-click on it with the mouse to open up the right-click menu. In the right-click menu, locate “Send to” and select it. Then, click “Local folder.”

Step 5: Use the file browser to save the podcast file to your home directory. Do this for every episode you want to send to the mobile device.

Step 6: In the Linux file manager, click on “Home” to go to the home directory. Then, drag the podcast MP3 file(s) and put them on your mobile device.

Adding podcasts via the Gpodder app

While Gpodder’s device support isn’t great with new smartphones, it still exists and can be used if you don’t like adding podcasts via the Linux file manager. To use the sync feature, do the following.

Step 1: Click on the “Gpodder” menu. From there, find “Preferences” and click on that.

Step 2: Inside “Preferences” locate “Devices” and click on it to access the device settings.

Step 3: Using the device menu, set up your mobile device with Gpodder. Then, close the “Preferences” window.

Step 4: Find the “Extras” menu and click on it. Then, click the “Sync” button to send all downloaded podcasts from Gpodder to your mobile device.

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