Howto disable Raspberry Pi Status LEDs with RaspberryMatic

I’m using a RaspberryPi 3 with RaspberryMatic distribution to control my HomeMatic thermostats. This distribution has a “heartbeat” functionality, which leds the green LED of the Pi light up in constant time intervals.

These LEDs are quite strong and disturb the sleep of my family. Therefore its time to disable these leds.

Connect via SSH to the RaspberryMatic installation. Edit or create the file /usr/local/etc/rc.local and add this content:

echo none >/sys/class/leds/led0/trigger
echo none >/sys/class/leds/led1/trigger

Now make this script executeable:

chmod +x /usr/local/etc/rc.local

This script is executed on each start and disables the LEDs completely. No need to use some duct tape to mask the LEDs anymore 🙂

Setup WireGuard VPN on Raspbian

I’m already using OpenVPN but heard only good things about WireGuard VPN. For my current project, I need a VPN connection to my home network. I do not want to mess with my currently working OpenVPN setup, so I tried to setup WireGuard VPN on Raspbian.

Start with updating your installed packages. Its especially important to install the raspberrypi-kernel-headers before the WireGuard installation.:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install raspberrypi-kernel-headers

I’ll use pivpn as setup script. You can install it with curl piping the script to bash like this:

curl -L | bash

However, if you don’t trust that source and doesn’t want to execute it unseen, you can also check the script content first or download the script separately to your machine first.

I’ve followed now the installation steps which are already pretty good explained by others:

What’s nice about this script is, that it will also detect installations of pi-hole running on the same machine.

I’ve used the script to setup WireGuard (as it also supports OpenVPN). I’ve selected the default port 51820 and created a port forwarding rule in my FritzBox router. After the installation completed, you’re asked to do a reboot.

Now we’ll create a new WireGuard profile using

sudo pivpn add

The script just asks for a profile name and will place the generated profiles in the users home under the config folder.

Setup on the client machine is similar. But instead of using the script for installation, we’ll use the version provided by the Debian repo. I’ve followed these instructions:

sudo apt-get install dirmngr
echo "deb unstable main" | sudo tee --append /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 04EE7237B7D453EC
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 648ACFD622F3D138
sudo sh -c 'printf "Package: *\nPin: release a=unstable\nPin-Priority: 90\n" > /etc/apt/preferences.d/limit-unstable'
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt install wireguard

I’ve transferred the created config from the WireGuard host to the WireGuard client and ran

sudo wg-quick up <ProfileName>

And it established really fast a connection. However, my problem was now that the SSH connection broke because all of the traffic to and from the client was going through the WireGuard VPN (like you would have used it for your phone when you’re in an unsecured WiFi and want to redirect all traffic through the VPN).

Luckily I was able to stop the connection by SSHing from the WireGuard VPN to the assigned IP of the WireGuard client and by using

sudo wg-quick down <ProfileName>

The question is now, how can I configure WireGuard Client to just know the route through the VPN to resources in the host network or vice versa how I can configure the WireGuard Host to provide other machines in the network a route to the connected client…

Setup external USB disk as NTFS volume on Raspbian

I intend to use an external 2.5″ USB disk formatted as NTFS volume on my Raspberry Pi. Since its rather larger (5TB) I don’t want to use MBR but GPT instead. Here’s a short list of commands I’ve used to setup the disk.

Start by identifying the connected disk:

> lsblk
sda           8:0    0  4.6T  0 disk
└─sda1        8:1    0  4.6T  0 part
mmcblk0     179:0    0 14.9G  0 disk
├─mmcblk0p1 179:1    0  1.5G  0 part
├─mmcblk0p2 179:2    0    1K  0 part
├─mmcblk0p5 179:5    0   32M  0 part
├─mmcblk0p6 179:6    0   69M  0 part /boot
├─mmcblk0p7 179:7    0  8.2G  0 part /
├─mmcblk0p8 179:8    0  512M  0 part
└─mmcblk0p9 179:9    0  4.5G  0 part

My disk is sda.

I now usually used fdisk as a partitioning tool. However, there’s a tool I can highly recommend. Its called parted and can be installed using:

sudo apt-get install parted

Since I’ll want to use ntfs as file system, I’ll need to install the ntfs drivers:

sudo apt-get install ntfs-3g

Now create a new GPT partition table:

> sudo parted /dev/sda mklabel gpt
Warning: The existing disk label on /dev/sda will be destroyed and all data on this disk will be lost. Do you want to continue?
Yes/No? yes
Information: You may need to update /etc/fstab.

Now create a new partition with ntfs. I’ll use all of the available space, so its from 0 to 100%:

> sudo parted -a opt /dev/sda mkpart primary ntfs 0% 100%
Information: You may need to update /etc/fstab.

Now format the disk in quick format with ntfs. It will label the partition as “SynoBackups”:

> sudo mkfs.ntfs -L SynoBackups -Q /dev/sda1
Cluster size has been automatically set to 4096 bytes.
Creating NTFS volume structures.
mkntfs completed successfully. Have a nice day.

This label is very helpful in identifying the partition, even when it is connected to a different USB port. Using a device like sda might point to a different drive, so its better to use the label. This is one of the big advantages of using gpt in comparison to mbr.

Let’s see the label in action:

sudo lsblk --fs
NAME        FSTYPE LABEL       UUID                                 MOUNTPOINT
└─sda1      ntfs   SynoBackups 4EE12D1B5321171F
├─mmcblk0p1 vfat   RECOVERY    525E-19E4
├─mmcblk0p5 ext4   SETTINGS    ceb0ae64-8675-406b-8eed-2244c26814c8
├─mmcblk0p6 vfat   boot        8454-E385                            /boot
├─mmcblk0p7 ext4   root0       65678398-7f53-48ec-8452-c277500fb4e8 /
├─mmcblk0p8 vfat               AC0D-3FB1
└─mmcblk0p9 ext4               ff645116-fe34-43bf-a580-b89fa963085d

Note that there’s also a more specific id, the UUID. We will use this UUID later when we configure a default mount point in /etc/fstab.

Now we’ll try to mount the new partition. Create a folder to mount the partition and mount it manually:

sudo mkdir /mnt/backups
sudo mount -o defaults /dev/sda1 /mnt/backups

Verify that the disk is mounted and try to write some stuff to it:

> df -h
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/root       8.0G  2.7G  4.9G  36% /
devtmpfs        457M     0  457M   0% /dev
tmpfs           462M     0  462M   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           462M  6.2M  455M   2% /run
tmpfs           5.0M  4.0K  5.0M   1% /run/lock
tmpfs           462M     0  462M   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/mmcblk0p6   68M   23M   46M  33% /boot
/dev/sda1       4.6T  210M  4.6T   1% /mnt/backups

> sudo lsblk --fs
NAME        FSTYPE LABEL       UUID                                 MOUNTPOINT
└─sda1      ntfs   SynoBackups 4EE12D1B5321171F                     /mnt/backups
├─mmcblk0p1 vfat   RECOVERY    525E-19E4
├─mmcblk0p5 ext4   SETTINGS    ceb0ae64-8675-406b-8eed-2244c26814c8
├─mmcblk0p6 vfat   boot        8454-E385                            /boot
├─mmcblk0p7 ext4   root0       65678398-7f53-48ec-8452-c277500fb4e8 /
├─mmcblk0p8 vfat               AC0D-3FB1
└─mmcblk0p9 ext4               ff645116-fe34-43bf-a580-b89fa963085d

> echo "success" | sudo tee /mnt/backups/file
> cat /mnt/backups/file
> rm /mnt/backups/file
> sudo umount /mnt/backups

Now we’ll add the partition to /etc/fstab so that it can be mounted automatically:

UUID=4EE12D1B5321171F   /mnt/backups    ntfs    defaults        0       2

See that I’m now using the UUID instead of /dev/sda to mount the ntfs volume to /mnt/backups. We can test the new setting:

> sudo mount -a
> df -h
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/root       8.0G  2.7G  4.9G  36% /
devtmpfs        457M     0  457M   0% /dev
tmpfs           462M     0  462M   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           462M  6.2M  455M   2% /run
tmpfs           5.0M  4.0K  5.0M   1% /run/lock
tmpfs           462M     0  462M   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/mmcblk0p6   68M   23M   46M  33% /boot
/dev/sda1       4.6T  210M  4.6T   1% /mnt/backups

I think this is a really nice change in mounting the volumes and will create a more stable configuration, regardless which USB port you’ve used to connect your drive.

Block SSH connections by origin of IP address

If you’re exposing services to the internet, you’ll notice a lot of connection attempts. To block those bots and scripts trying to login to your machine, you should use fail2ban.

However, you can also limit the range of allowed origins of the IP addresses. The company MaxMind provides a database of IP addresses and their origin contries. You can configure your machine in such a way that only certain country codes are allowed.

Start by installing the geoip client and database by using this apt command:

sudo apt-get install geoip-bin geoip-database

This database is updated automatically, when you’ve got your machine configured for auto updates.

The next step is to save this script to your machine in /usr/local//usr/local/bin/

Edit the script to your needs, e.g. by limiting the number of allowed countries. Now make this script executable:

chmod +x /usr/local/bin/

It is time to test it. Try the command with a known IP in America and one from a local network or known IP from the allowed countries:

> /usr/local/bin/
Usage: <ip>
> /usr/local/bin/
> echo $?
> /usr/local/bin/
> echo $?

Notice the different exit codes of the script. If the IP is from a country that is allowed or if it is from a local network, it will exit with 0, otherwise 1. We can use this script now to configure a filter for sshd in the /etc/hosts.allow and /etc/hosts.deny files.

Add to /etc/hosts.allow:

sshd: ALL: aclexec /usr/local/bin/ %a

As documented in the hosts_options(5) man page, the standard output is redirected to /dev/null, so that there’s no chance for you to get the output from echo. And as you want the exit status to be taken into account, you should use aclexec instead of spawn. Indeed the man page says for aclexec: “The connection will be allowed or refused depending on whether the command returns a true or false exit status.”

I’ve previously used “spawn” instead of “aclexec” but the IPs weren’t blocked. There were still connection attempts in the fail2ban log. By using aclexec, the exit code will be properly used for filtering.

Add to /etc/hosts.deny:

sshd: ALL

Please note the trailing newline. If this is the last entry in the hosts file, you’ll need to add a newline. Otherwise the role won’t be active.

Do a reboot of your machine and try to connect. You should still be able to connect 😉 Otherwise you’ll need to revert this changes locally, since you’ve successfully blocked yourself from accessing that machine.

You can have a look at the /var/log/auth.log and will see entries like this for example (blocking an IP from China/CN):

Sep 30 12:10:32 raspberrypi root: DENY sshd connection from (CN)
Sep 30 12:10:32 raspberrypi sshd[886]: aclexec returned 1
Sep 30 12:10:32 raspberrypi sshd[886]: refused connect from (

This should reduce the amount of blocked SSH connections attempts significantly, if configured to a smaller selection of countries.

Configure mail transport agent on Raspbian with external SMTP server

I want to get email notifications for actions on my Raspberry Pi using Raspbian. You could setup a separate mail server for that action but that seems to be a little bit overkill.

msmtp is a mail transfer agent which uses a configured smtp server for email transfer. This allows you to send emails via a configured smtp server (in my case from my webspace provider – by creating a new account using this link you’ll support the costs for running this blog).

Upgrade your raspbian:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Install msmtp:

sudo apt-get install msmtp msmtp-mta mailutils

Get the location of the configuration files:

> msmtp --version
msmtp version 1.6.6
Platform: arm-unknown-linux-gnueabihf
TLS/SSL library: GnuTLS
Authentication library: GNU SASL
Supported authentication methods:
plain scram-sha-1 external gssapi cram-md5 digest-md5 login ntlm
IDN support: enabled
NLS: enabled, LOCALEDIR is /usr/share/locale
Keyring support: none
System configuration file name: /etc/msmtprc
User configuration file name: /home/pi/.msmtprc

Copyright (C) 2016 Martin Lambers and others.
This is free software.  You may redistribute copies of it under the terms of
the GNU General Public License <>.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Configure the system configuration:

sudo vi /etc/msmtprc

The content of my configuration file (note the necessary changes for servers and email addresses):

# Set default values for all following accounts.

# Use the mail submission port 587 instead of the SMTP port 25.
port 465

# Always use TLS.
tls on
tls_starttls off

# Set a list of trusted CAs for TLS. The default is to use system settings, but
# you can select your own file.
tls_trust_file /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt

# If you select your own file, you should also use the tls_crl_file command to
# check for revoked certificates, but unfortunately getting revocation lists and
# keeping them up to date is not straightforward.
#tls_crl_file ~/.tls-crls

# Mail account
# TODO: Use the users username, e.g. root for system and pi for your raspbian user
account root

# Host name of the SMTP server
# TODO: Use the host of your own mail account
host <your Username provided by KAS>

# As an alternative to tls_trust_file/tls_crl_file, you can use tls_fingerprint
# to pin a single certificate. You have to update the fingerprint when the
# server certificate changes, but an attacker cannot trick you into accepting
# a fraudulent certificate. Get the fingerprint with
# $ msmtp --serverinfo --tls --tls-certcheck=off --host=smtp.freemail.example
#tls_fingerprint 00:11:22:33:44:55:66:77:88:99:AA:BB:CC:DD:EE:FF:00:11:22:33

# Envelope-from address
# TODO: Use your own mail address

# Authentication. The password is given using one of five methods, see below.
auth on

# TODO: Use your own user name fpr the mail account
user <The username of the email account you use for sending emails>

# Password method 1: Add the password to the system keyring, and let msmtp get
# it automatically. To set the keyring password using Gnome's libsecret:
# $ secret-tool store --label=msmtp \
#   host smtp.freemail.example \
#   service smtp \
#   user joe.smith

# Password method 2: Store the password in an encrypted file, and tell msmtp
# which command to use to decrypt it. This is usually used with GnuPG, as in
# this example. Usually gpg-agent will ask once for the decryption password.
#passwordeval gpg2 --no-tty -q -d ~/.msmtp-password.gpg

# Password method 3: Store the password directly in this file. Usually it is not
# a good idea to store passwords in plain text files. If you do it anyway, at
# least make sure that this file can only be read by yourself.
# TODO: Use the password of your own mail account
password <The password of the email account you use for sending emails>

# Password method 4: Store the password in ~/.netrc. This method is probably not
# relevant anymore.

# Password method 5: Do not specify a password. Msmtp will then prompt you for
# it. This means you need to be able to type into a terminal when msmtp runs.

# Set a default account
# TODO: Use the same account you've configured under account, e.g. root or pi
account default: root

# Map local users to mail addresses (for crontab)
aliases /etc/aliases

This file contains a username and password. Therefore limit its access to only root:

sudo chmod 600 /etc/msmtprc

Duplicate the config file to ~/.msmtprc if you want to provide email configuration for your user as well. Don’t forget to update the accounts accordingly.

Now configure the recipients for your systems users by setting the recipients in /etc/aliases. Make sure, that you don’t have trailing spaces behind the email addresses:


Let your computer now that msmtp should be used as replacement for sendmail by adding this content to /etc/mail.rc

set sendmail="/usr/bin/msmtp -t"

Test your configuration by sending an email from the terminal:

echo "Content of your mail" | mail -s "Subject"