zundel

Thursday 25

Linux at 20

Filed under: Open source — Tags: — zundel @ am

Linux turns 20

IBM decided in 1999 that Linux was its friend. It correctly deduced that Linux would help it sell more hardware and services.

A good read

The quiet colossus:
The Linux kernel processes almost everything you touch.

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Linux vulnerabilty

Filed under: Open source, Security — Tags: , — zundel @ am

Much in the news lately about a vulnerability in recent Linux kernels.

If you use a kernel before 2.6.39 you have no problem.
Stable distributions like Debian 6 and Ubuntu 10 have no problem.
(/proc/version)

Patches released and in the process of release for newer versions.

The kernel gets careful development, but still people do make errors.

Yet another argument for using stable distributions.

Tuesday 23

Larkin

Filed under: Poetry — Tags: — zundel @ pm

Randall Jarrell had a knack for criticism that makes you want to go read the poem.

Likewise, Francis-Noël Thomas‘s article Moving and Memorable on the newest edition of Larkin sends me out to reacquire a volume, hopefully one of the original books.

quoting Larkin:

It was Eliot who gave the modernist poetic movement its charter in the sentence, “Poets in our civilization, as it exists at present, must be difficult,” and it was Betjeman who was to bypass the whole light industry of critical exegesis that had grown up round this fatal phrase by demonstrating that a direct relation with the reading public could be established by anyone able to be moving and memorable.

Thomas and Mark Turner co-authored one of my all time favorite books: Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose; second edition recently published.

Hail, hail the end of menus

Filed under: Computers, Open source — Tags: , , , — zundel @ pm

Introducing the HUD. Say hello to the future of the menu.

HUD to replace menus in Ubuntu 12.04

I like Ubuntu again and eagerly await Ubuntu 12.04.

(And Mark’s affirmation of the centrality of the desktop heartens me.)

Menus offer discoverability: you can find out what a program does. But digging through them to issue a command takes time.

Experienced users issue commands from the keyboard rather than dig through menus.
They also start programs by typing using Gnome Do, KRunner, Spotlight, or Start menu search. Now Ubuntu brings type to execute to menus. Excellent.

Canonical has matched Apple with the quality and integration of Ubuntu.
They now out innovate Apple.

Friday 19

Et tu McAfee?

Filed under: Computers, Security — Tags: , — zundel @ pm

McAfee customers used to spread spam

McAfee’s Security-as-a-Service product Total Protection allowed attackers to use customers’ computers as spam relays.

They fixed it, but it should never have happened.
And only customer complaints brought the bug to their attention.

Wait, there’s more:

Critical hole in McAfee products still open after more than 180 days – Update

Great job auditing your code guys.
No one has every had any security problems with ActiveX?

Just don’t allow ActiveX on your systems.
Or McAfee.
Or …

Thursday 18

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Filed under: Computers, Security — Tags: , , — zundel @ pm

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

There is no security through obscurity.

Symantec admits to more exposed code

Symantec’s code got taken, and now we have reason to doubt the security and usefulnes of their products, such as: Norton Internet Security, Norton Utilities, Norton GoBack, and pcAnywhere. We also have reason to doubt Symantec’s competence. If they cannot protect themselves, how can they protect you?

If you cannot publish the source code openly and still have a secure product, then your product is only as secure as your ability to keep it secret.

Symantec says hackers stole source code in 2006

Yet Laura DiDio, an analyst with ITIC who helps companies evaluate security software, said that Symantec’s customers should be concerned about the potential for hackers to use the stolen source code to figure out how to defeat some of the protections in Symantec’s software.

Many eyes make all bug shallow.

The bad guys now have the code.
If everyone had seen the code all along,
the good guys could have fixed the vulnerabilities in the code.

RSA got owned last year. Supposedly the very best at security had a very serious breach, the full consequences we don’t yet know and probably never will.

Then there’s the black farce of HBGary and defense and government attempts at security.

As I wrote in the takeaway: “If you need security, don’t use anything these guys mentioned.”

If you like the product on the supermarket shelf that implies it will make you look young and beautiful (whether cereal or shampoo) you’ll love the security in a box at Office Depot or for download. You can no more buy security than you can buy youth. Stop falling for the silicon snake oil.

Update:
Symantec discovered (admitted) that source code stolen in 2006 does compromise the security of their product. Symantec now recommends disabling pcAnywhere until they release a final set of updates.

Symantec publishes pcAnywhere security recommendations

In addition, an attacker with cryptography knowledge could conduct man-in-the-middle attacks on encrypted connections and create unauthorised connections to remote machines, thereby potentially gaining access to whole networks.

Monday 15

Microsoft Server 8 deprecates Windows

Filed under: Computers — Tags: , — zundel @ pm

Windows Server 8: The Microsoft Server Fork

Maybe someone at Microsoft has paid attention to the various Linux servers they’ve had over the years. Or maybe they have looked over the shoulders of Linux sysadmins (explains the draft).

Digging through windows, and dialog boxes, and tabs is a damned slow and frustrating way to administer a system.

but the center-thrust of Windows Server administration was encouraged to be PowerShell-driven, rather than through the maze of administrative GUIs that have been the mainstay of Windows Server versions for nearly two decades.

Yup, a damned maze.

Linux sysadmins working at a command line with command completion, history, tech manuals, environmental variables, and sophisticated screen management (screen, wmii, i3) at our fingertips get at lot more done is less time with fewer errors.

I get frustrated every time I have to work on Windows (so I don’t).
I can’t just type a few quick queries. Check a few settings. Issue a few elegant one line commands. Then check with a few tests. And call it good.

I have today’s billing log at hand. Latest item: Read scheduler error report. Check settings. All the settings. (“grep — /etc/cron*” can tell you a lot.) Make modification. 8 minutes. Try that with Windows scheduler.

(Having spent most of the day working in the shell, I’m getting a bit frustrated typing the blog: I keep wanting to hit the tab key to complete the word I type.)

While seemingly radical for Microsoft, there is much pressure on operational efficiency, coupled to increasingly complex control options and infrastructure character of the operating system.

So what’s left? What’s Microsoft’s competitive advantage?
Windows Server was always for those that came to it a bit late or were a bit young and couldn’t type. Programmers (not cut & paste) have always hated that point and click shit in our working environment. (Can I get a shell for Tivo? Hmm, Android api… One day when I have a spare moment… February 2015?)

But if you have to type anyway (there is much fretting in basements across America) why would you use Windows? Unix, then Linux is designed for efficient typing. We’ve been perfecting it for forty years. And security.

It’s Official: The Windows Server GUI Is (Slowly) On the Way Out

(Sitting here waiting for that server’s cron to pop another error. Deliberately made only one change.)

Friday 12

Linux distros compared

Filed under: Open source — Tags: , , , , , , — zundel @ pm

Enterprise Open Source Directory – Operating Systems
GNU/Linux Distribution Timeline

Debian

One of the few really long established Linux distributions, well known for stability and its curated repository of thousands of software packages, it has formed the basis of more Linux distributions than any other.
Capable of a stable configuration that updates and remains stable. Also easy to selectively use newer packages.
Used by many large institutions, with an extensive community of users and developers, well documented, with support readily available.
With a broad developer base and not dependent on any corporate sponsor or owner, change of ownership cannot occur nor vendor lock-in.

Ubuntu

Based on Debian, Ubuntu refreshes it repositories from Debian every six months.
Ubuntu has done a great deal to popularize Linux. And has made some excellent server versions, especially the 10.04 long term support release. But recent focus on consumer appeal and a proprietary interface raise doubts about business suitability and support. The next long term support release coming April 2012 will answer some questions.

SUSE

Not quite as long established as Debian, but the oldest commercial distribution.
The free community distribution openSUSE strikes a nice balance, not cutting edge like Red Hat’s Fedora, but instead stable yet current, with readily available support.
SUSE and openSUSE have the most extensive graphical administration tools.

Red Hat

Well known with a large installed base and good stability, but subscription fees make it expensive.

Fedora

Red Hat’s free community distribution used for testing and experimenting. Not as unstable as it once was, but still not recommended for enterprise work.

CentOS

A free clone of Red Hat.
With version 6 Red Hat changed the packaging of their source code which delayed the release of CentOS 6 by most of a year. Though it has a large installed base, the small number of developers raises doubts about its ability to keep current with Red Hat source and suitability for long-term deployment.

Friday 5

Linux up, Oracle down

Filed under: Open source — Tags: , , , , — zundel @ am

Analysis from the 451 Group predicts the continued growth of Linux and decline of Oracle.

2012 to be year of Linux domination

Our analysis with survey data from 451 Research division TheInfoPro shows server spending for databases and data warehousing favoring Red Hat with Linux over Oracle with either Linux or Solaris. Out of more than 165 server professionals interviewed by TIP, 67% are planning to spend more with Red Hat on database/data-warehousing, and only 6% plan to spend less. The positive figures for Red Hat mirror negative spending intentions for Oracle, with 55% planning to spend less and only 9% planning to spend more.

55% planning to spend less with Oracle.

Linux Will Eat Oracle’s Lunch in 2012, Says Analyst

So Oracle may have more than just a bad quarter.

Oracle’s Bad Quarter: IT Spending Sign, Or Fusion Confusion?

Oracle is not the canary, nor a more up to date indicator species. Its dna is older than that. It’s the dinosaur.

Oracle support portal update could cause chaos, worry users

As customers learn the perils of vendor lock-in, the uncertainty of support, and the potential for independence, Oracle will decline.

Businesses gain experience and confidence with Linux and open source software and look less for expensive hand-holding. The stability and maturity of Linux and the many open source enterprise software packages (such as ERP and CRM systems) allow businesses to assemble their own systems. This is especially appealing to small and medium size business that cannot justify software fees.

Licensing, subscriptions, and service agreements work well for large institutions and unfamiliar technology. But with enterprise class hardware and virtual servers readily available, and rock solid and well maintained Linux and enterprise software available for download, businesses move away from constant fees to use software.

Debian Linux with stability rivaling Red Hat and much easier maintenance will grow in use, as will open source enterprise software such as Adempiere, OpenERP, Project Open, vTiger, CiviCRM, RT, Ants, and OrangeHRM.

Update
Debian passes CentOS as most popular Linux for web servers

Update
Fundamental Oracle flaw revealed
This is complicated but crucially important if you use Oracle databases.
New patches came out today (2012-01-17) but no patches exist for older versions.
This can be a time bomb for large installations and a security risk for all.

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