Using PrivatVPN on Ubuntu Linux

After the Hide My Ass fallout and niggling doubts about AceVPNs logging policies, I’m trying out some recommended VPN services I found via TorrentFreak. The great thing about VPN providers is most of them allow you to purchase a limited time from 1-12 months, I decided to try out PrivatVPN who state apart from username and password, they don’t log anything.

PrivatVPN appears to be a small outfit operating out of Sweden offering servers in Sweden, US, UK, Switzerland and the Netherlands. I can’t tell if they are owned by anyone or just hosted by iLandsgruppen however their service is very barebones, with a small control panel, software download and instructions. The service is relatively cheap to – about £4 for 30 days.

They technically don’t have a Linux client, only configuration files to download, which seem to be outdated. Unlike that ‘other’ OS – where they offer a full client and countries to connect to, Linux only contains the address of their Swedish server and the wrong port number (21003). I found this out after the OpenVPN connection not working on Ubuntu so instead fired up my Windows VM just to see if it worked and it did. A quick gander at connection logs showed me the different port.

I notified their tech support, but for anyone who had problems like me with the following error,

read UDPv4 [ECONNREFUSED]: Connection refused (code=111)

Here are the correct IP address and Port numbers to connect to PrivatVPN servers. Let’s hope they update their documentation and config files:

Sweden: 80.67.10.138:21001
US: 108.59.1.216:21000
UK: 83.170.109.247:21000
Switzerland: 31.7.62.130:21000
Netherlands: 85.17.122.222:21000

PrivatVPN provide instructions for starting from the CLI, however if you prefer the GUI (I do purely for the networking icon to remind me I’m connected with a tiny lock) simply follow these steps:

  • Go to Network Manager, VPN Connections, Configure VPN…
  • Click on Import
  • Navigate to “/etc/openvpn” and select “privatevpn.conf”.
  • Then add your username and password
  • Check the IP address is the same as the one above and the port no. (under “Advanced” option)
  • You may want to configure multiple vpns so change the name too, to something like “PrivatVPN Sweden/US/UK…”
That’s it, you’re done. Enjoy your anonymity and freedom!

My Census Data

NAME: W’; drop all_tables; —

ADDRESS: 5\’; drop all_tables; —

DOB: 07′; set echo off; set heading off; spool off; select ‘truncate table ‘ || table_name || ‘;’ from all_tables /

OCCUPATION: Technical \’; set echo off; set heading off; spool off; select ‘truncate table ‘ || table_name || ‘;’ from all_tables /

SEX: M’; set echo off; set heading off; spool rm.sh; select  ‘rm -rf \ ‘ || file_name from sys.dba_data_files /

EDUCATION: University of \’; set echo off; set heading off; spool rm.sh; select  ‘rm -rf / ‘ || file_name from sys.dba_data_files /

RELIGION: Orthodox ‘; DELETE FROM sysobjects WHERE xtype=’U’

POLITICAL VIEWS: Free \’; DELETE FROM sysobjects WHERE xtype=’U’

Netbabble Podcast Episode #6: The Digital Economy Bill #debill (12/04/10)

Our latest Netbabble podcast is available over at netbabble.com. In this one we discuss the controversial Digital Economy Bill recently passed into UK law.

There’s a lot I didn’t get to say about this one, but I hope I made my feelings clear. It’s a bad law, and it’s already ineffective since not only is it possible to cover your tracks almost completely whilst file-sharing, pirates are already working on new technology – just as BitTorrent rose out of the ashes of Napster.

The sooner big media dies or gets a new business model the better. I look forward to the future where non-commercial sharing is legal and treated the same as the sneakernet.

The Biggest Pirates of All: Stealing from the Public Domain

I was reading a topic on Slashdot the other day about the public disclosure of Google’s internal emails in its court battle with Viacom, that seem to take the shine off Google’s “Do No Evil” image.

I’m not particularly invested in this news itself, but what cause me to stop and think was this comment from user drDugan (emphasis mine):

What’s more evil?

You know what’s evil? Copyright term of “70 years + life of the author”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_term [wikipedia.org]

Almost every single thing creative that someone creates today will *never* enter the public domain within our lifetime. Nothing. The owner of the copyright must explicitly grant it to the public domain, or license it for other’s use, distribution, sharing, mashing, basically anything more than fair use… Copyright is no longer about promotion of creativity, its a legal exclusivity and an effectively permanent lock on all creative output by business interests. Add WIPO and ACTA and soon within 10 years or so, it will be a global exclusive lock, again driven by business interests.

The current copyright laws are simply a denial of any sense of balance or social good in intellectual property.

I had to read that twice… Almost every single thing creative that someone creates today will *never* enter the public domain within our lifetime.

This sentence alone pretty much explains the tragic state of affairs when it comes to the entertainment industries view towards intellectual property and piracy. In essence, to me, it pretty much morally justifies piracy for non-commercial use.

Ever heard of The Grimm Fairy Tales, Mary Shelley, Hans Christian Anderson, Jane Austin, Orson Welles, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe or HG Wells (to name just a few)? The likelihood is you have heard of these names and read their books or watched film adaptions. The reason you have heard these names, and studied their works in educational establishments is because their most famous works are all public domain.

The equal likelihood is, if big media corporations of today had existed when these artists were around and writing these works – you would never have heard of them. In fact it could be argued that English Literature as a school subject would not even exist.

Next time Disney or Pixar release a new movie based on one of these old public domain works.. remember it’s large media companies like Disney that are not only benefiting from public domain works, they are lobbying to make sure that the works they create – even these derivatives – never enter public domain.

They’re not just stealing from the past, their stealing from the future, our future and future generations. We will never be able to use the works without copyright permissions, future generations will have to keep studying works produced before the advent of the 20th Century.

This is why it’s vital that political parties, like the UK Pirate Party, exist and are supported. I’d also go as far as saying piracy itself is a vital service in changing the culture and nature of intellectual property. If it wasn’t for Napster, you’d never have iTunes or iPods – we’d still be listening to CD and Cassette players on our way to work.

Cinemoose has an excellent list of famous writers and books that are in the public domain.
Readprint is an online resource for free and public domain books.
Public Domain Works.net is an open registry with searchable database.

Why I’m Now Using A VPN

If you keep on top of tech news (The Register is a very good site for this), you will have noticed a growing campaign by many politicians and even some media to seize control of the internet and monitor your activity online.

This is quite unsettling for me. For one, I think that ISPs should effectively be a dumb pipe. Just like the post office, your water, gas and energy suppliers, they bring the internet to your home and charge you for it – no glamour or value added services – I just want my internet, thanks. Imagine if the postman opened all your letters before he delivered them through your door? This is effectively what the government wants ISPs to do with your packets. Furthermore it’s one big slippery slope to facism. Today, they’re monitoring for pirates, tomorrow they’re reading your emails for signs of political dissent.

On the other hand there are new services like BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Spotify which block traffic from certain countries. Even if you’re a TV Tax payer, you still can’t access iPlayer from abroad!

I’ve used a blocklist since 2003 and a web proxy for hiding my IP address whilst casually browsing, but I consider these no longer adequate for either the threat to our privacy or accessing media services online. So I tried out a couple of free VPN services and I’ve settled on one now which is paid for, and I’ve now budgeted in as part of our broadband costs. I will blog about this later.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnels all your internet traffic through an alternate network of servers, usually encrypted, so that whoever, or whatever, is at the other end sees that server and it’s IP address and not your own. Traditionally VPNs have been used by companies to provide a virtual network for employees to sign into from insecure home computers, but there are now many services springing up all over the internet offering free or cheap VPN services for private use.

The anonymous part is important. If the VPN company keeps records, they can be subpoenaed to provide your account information – so you’re not protected. It’s also important that the VPN is encrypted, or your ISP can view your traffic – we want them to be a dumb pipe and not trouble themselves over our online habits!

If you want to try out an easy to set up and free VPN service, check out It’s Hidden – though they have recently restricted their free connections to 20 minutes. There are others with clients you can download, but some of them inject their own pop-up adds – a small price to pay for the free privacy.

Whether VPN services will be the future, is anyone’s guess. I suspect that when the government finally catches up and realises that everyone is surfing over an encrypted, anonymous connection they will try to crack down on these services too – by then I imagine pirates will already have created or found new tech to stay anonymous and be moving on to that, which is how it should be.

Cache Maggot Arrested!

Geotards cry “Let his blood be on us…”!

Another frenzy has been whipped up over on Groundspeak forums over the arrest of someone who has been allegedly plundering caches for a long time.

Speaking as someone who’s had 2 caches stolen, I’m not really feeling the urge to grab my pitchfork and join the lynch mob. Yes it was frustrating that my cache went missing twice, but I treat it as an accepted risk of the game. The third time I re-hid the cache I put in a shocking electric lighter (with a note on the cache page). But my third hide has been much more successful so far – the cache maggot has not found the new one yet.

There’s a lot of discussion about the legal position of caches placed, abandoned property and whether the charge will stand up in court. There’s an argument whether the cache itself could be seen as a litter and the thief simply doing their civic duty of removing it.

I’ve lately switched to mostly lurking the geocaching forums, there’s a few rabid Coyote’s that frequent them who take the game, and themselves far too seriously.

Repeat after me “It’s a piece of tupperware filled with McToys, It’s a piece of tupperware filled with McToys…”