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Hi there! I'm Remy, a Linux/UNIX sysadmin; my primary focus is on building high-available cloud environments in OpenStack, Azure or on premise with Ansible and Terraform (or any other configuration management tool). My keywords are OpenStack, cloud, virtualization, high-availability, scaling and clustering, security, (Open)SSL, Python, Powershell, Bash and general linux/UNIX system administration. Besides that I also develop software.

I currently work for VolkerWessels, the largest Dutch civil engineering construction company as an (Azure) cloud specialist.

I've worked as a sysadmin (in a devops role) for the Erasmus University Medical Center (a large hospital and medical university in Rotterdam), Digidentity (a Dutch certificate authority, the company that develops DigiD and other Ruby on Rails applications), CloudVPS (an OpenStack cloud provider) and a few other smaller companies. I like to design, build, document and manage large, complex and high-available systems. I'm a team player that loves to work with configuration management tools and version control systems. If I do something more than three times, I automate it. Planning, documentation, monitoring and backups are things I do first, not when the time allows it later. Last but not least I have an interest in legacy systems like the PDP-11, PDP-8 and operating systems like OpenVMS, HP-UX and old UNIX systems.

To get in touch, click here.

This is my personal website, please do note that these articles do not reflect or are based on work, opinions or policies of any of my (previous) employers. Any resemblance to reality is pure coincidence.

This site started in 2006 as my form of (public) documentation. It has grown to include software, tutorials, snippets and articles on linux/UNIX, system administration and everything related with over 10.000 unique visitors a day as of 2018-06. The URL is the phonetic way you say my name (Ray-Mii), since non-Dutch speakers always have trouble with the correct pronunciation.

Latest Items

Simple pygopherd log analyzer

20-03-2019 | Remy van Elst

Simple log analyzer for pygopherd. Fun if you have a gopherhole and want statistics. If you ever used Logwatch you'll feel at home.


Disable motd news or (parts of) the dynamic motd on Ubuntu

18-03-2019 | Remy van Elst

On Ubuntu 18.04 and up, when you login via SSH you are greeted with some news via motd (message of the day) that includes advertisements and messages from Canonical (via This small guide shows you how to disable news, (parts of) the dynamic motd or just revert back to a plain old /etc/motd file.


Site updates, now also available on Gopher

10-03-2019 | Remy van Elst

I've made some new improvements to this website, you can now view on Gopher! Building on the last site improvement, every article being available as plain text, it was easy to generate a gophermap file and bind it all together with pygopherd.


SpaceCat Launchpad v2, an awesome cool little macropad

05-03-2019 | Remy van Elst

On Reddit, Josh (from SpaceCat) did a valentines day action, 10% off your entire order. I'm eyeing a LaunchPad for a while now, both to have a small macro pad and to experiment with QMK (firmware). So I ordered the LaunchPad full kit, an assortment of Gateron key switches and a VIM keycap. This article goes over the quality, the build process and my current setup of the Launchpad.


Viewing PDF, .docx and .odt files in mutt (as text)

03-03-2019 | Remy van Elst

mutt is my email client at work. I like the simple interface, the speed and the ability to customize the workflow. Email is synced with offlineimap and sent via msmtp, addresses are in abook, and calcurse is the Calendar for meetings, no complicated setup there. One aspect I especially like is the ability to view attachments on the command line right from mutt itself. Some departments at work send emails with an attached PDF or .docx file that contains the actual message, instead of just putting the text in the email itself. Using pandoc and pdftotext in mutt, the text of the attachments is displayed as a regular mail, no interruptions in my workflow by opening an external program. This article explains how to set up your .muttrc and .mailcap to use pandoc and pdf2text to view attachments as text in mutt.


Get a JSON value with bash and sed

26-02-2019 | Remy van Elst

Recently I was asked to get one value from a json object using only shell tools. The json in question is from a dutch radio station and it lists the current song that is played. Using this together with a few shell commands and notify-send we can show the current song when it changes as a desktop notification. I'd rather use Python or jq if it has to be shell. In this case the co-worker asked to just use simple shell tools and no external dependencies.


My phone serves me 400+ ads and trackers per hour. Blokada, the best android adblocker, beats 'm all!

16-02-2019 | Remy van Elst

Recently I switched to a new phone. After a few years (!) my old phone stopped receiving calls making it time for a new one. The new phone has Android, which allowed me to install a system wide adblocker, Blokada. It works by posing itself as a local VPN, filtering advertisements, trackers and all kinds of nasty things that spy on you or bring in malware. It does not require root access on Android, it's open source and best of all, it works very well. In the first three days of usage it has blocked over 5000 ads and trackers, including 400 when I was asleep.


Split keyboards, a five year review including the ErgoDox EZ, Matias Ergo Pro and Kinesis Freestyle 2

10-02-2019 | Remy van Elst

A split keyboard is weird at first, but once you get used to it, you will never want anything else. The keyboard is made up from two halves allowing your arms and wrists to be in a natural (neutral, straight) position, instead of having an angle/twist in your wrist. I've been using split keyboards for about five years now. Over those years I've tried several different models from different manufacturers. In this article I'll talk about the three split keyboards I've used intensively and two I have only seen or tried shortly. We'll start with my current and favorite split keyboard, the ErgoDox EZ. The other two I've used are the Matias Ergo Pro and the Kinesis Freestyle 2. I discuss the UHK and Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 briefly.


Sparkling Network

12-01-2019 | Remy van Elst

This is an overview of all the servers in the Sparkling Network, mostly as an overview for myself, but it might be interesting for others. It also has a status overview of the nodes.


SSH on Windows Server 2019 (including how to sudo)

18-12-2018 | Remy van Elst

On hackernews I saw a Microsoft blog post stating that Windows Server 2019 now includes OpenSSH. In this post I'll try out both the client and server on a Windows 2019 server, including how to login as a Active Directory Domain user and how to generate and place and SSH keypair. The bonus this time is how to elevate permissions via SSH on Windows, sudo but way more complicated. This guide is also applicable on Windows 10, build 1809 and up.


OpenSSL command line Root and Intermediate CA including OCSP, CRL and revocation

17-12-2018 | Remy van Elst

These are quick and dirty notes on generating a certificate authority (CA), intermediate certificate authorities and end certificates using the OpenSSL command line tools. It includes OCSP, CRL and CA Issuer information and specific issue and expiry dates. We'll set up our own root CA. We'll use the root CA to generate an example intermediate CA. We'll use the intermediate CA to sign end user certificates.


All Items