Infosec Scribbles

March 1, 2018

Solving Ubuntu issues on a Dell XPS 15 9560

Being more happy than not with the experience I had at work with a Dell Precision 5520 running Ubuntu, I looked closer at Project Sputnik when time came to replace my beaten up Inspiron 17R. I decided to get myself an XPS 15 based on Intel’s 7th gen platform. Of course, given the opportunity to pick, I decided against a 4K UHD screen, against a touchscreen and picked a matte cover too instead of a glossy one. That solved my biggest woes right away.

In short, I’ve never had such a good experience with a power user laptop and the Project Sputnik team deserves all the fame, praises and customer money that they are getting. To all those engineers and hackers unhappy with Windows 10 and looking into Apple or Linux-based alternatives, I suggest that you look into Dell’s offering.

Below you will find workarounds for a few software issues that I had to resolve with it to get my perfect machine. As of March 2018, this applies to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

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October 14, 2017

Linux Woes and 4K Hell

Recently I got a new Dell Precision 5520 and a TB16 dock. It came with Windows 10, and as I was quick to learn, “10” is the number of minutes it took me to decide that I would rather use anything else. This is coming from someone who has been using Windows on all non-server machines since age 7. Given the available options, I went for Ubuntu Linux.

As it turned out, Linux came with its own set of problems, and 4K or HiDPI has below usable support no matter which OS you choose.

I will maintain this post with status updates on the issues listed so that others can reuse my solutions. Another reason is that a bunch of my coworkers have decided to follow suit upon seeing Windows 10 and this is the most efficient way of helping them with the issues they are about to face.

Current setup: Ubuntu GNOME 16.04.3 LTS, 4.13 kernel.

Note: Previously this post was mentioning an -edge kernel. That was prior to 4.13 making it to LTS repos, when 4.10 used to be the default.

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May 24, 2014

Logitech Z506 10-pin connector pinout

Had to pop open my Logitech Z506 speaker the other day because reasons. Thought that this may come in handy to someone looking for which wire goes to which pin on the 10-pin connector aka connector pinout. On the picture below I marked every pin with the color of the corresponding wire. It may be hard to see on the preview but the black one is ground. Happy tinkering!

Logitech Z506 10-pin connector pinout

February 13, 2014

Writing a RickRoll shellcode

I was sitting in the lab the other day ~socializing~ with other students and we all agreed it was sad that there was no shellcode out there that would open a RickRoll. Making one seemed like a good way to procrastinate from preparing a talk on privacy while learning how to write shellcodes and the challenge was accepted. The application to have fun with was Chasys Media Player 1.1 on Windows XP SP3, no DEP or ASLR.



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February 9, 2014

Debugging MBRLockers on Windows

Ever met MBRLockers? Yes, those nasty pieces of malware which replace your Master Boot Record with malicious code and ransom you. Good news here, most of them just backup your original MBR somewhere and put one asking for ransom in its place. Today I’m going to tell you how to debug these things easily for ehmm, scientific purposes.

Simple MBR Locker

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June 5, 2013

How to take apart TG789vn and extract the parts from it

So I recently got a box full of Thomson TG789vn routers with half of them not working properly. Say “Hello” to lightnings hitting the power lines in Estonia. With nothing to lose it was decided to pop one open to see if there is any obvious damage that can be repaired. Surprisingly, there were no guides on the internet on how to open TG789vn without breaking anything, so here is one.

Stuff You Will Need

  • Thomson TG789vn router
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flat-blade screwdriver
  • Two hands and a little bit of common sense

Needless to say, before doing any of this you need to turn off your router and unplug everything from it. This will also void your warranty and I will not be held responsible for any damage you may or may not inflict upon your router.

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April 26, 2013

B-Sides London 2013

This was my second time at B-Sides London and 3rd time at a huge hacking conference. But considering countless tech meetups, Abertay Ethical Hacking Society meetings and stuff like that one could say I am a frequent goer to such events.


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April 11, 2013

Fixing broken Sublime Text hot keys

Once you start using Sublime Text, you will begin putting together a collection of plugins to simplify your life. The amount of keys on your keyboard is rather limited and Sublime is a key mapping heavy editor. Lots of comfy hot keys are used even by default. Every once in a while you will get a plugin that wants to use one of the keys that is already in use. At this point you will end up wondering why some of the default key mappings are broken and this article will hopefully help you to fix conflicting hot keys.

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April 9, 2013

How to disable Metro UI in Skype

What Skype looks like starting version 6.3

Since I had automatic updates in Skype enabled, yesterday it updated to version 6.3. As it is very common these days, the interface was “improved” to match other Microsoft’s products in their UI style, Metro UI of Windows 8. I personally can’t stand it, but in previous versions there was a switch in options to use system theme. I decided it was time to *down*grade. If you are looking for how to get rid of Metro UI in Skype and disable annoying update pop-ups, keep reading.

Please keep scrolling if you enjoy Metro UI.

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