Ramblings & ephemera

Bad passwords for SSH

From Christian Seifert’s “Analyzing malicious SSH login attempts” (SecurityFocus: 11 September 2006): First, we analyzed the login names that were used on the login attempts. During the sample period, there were 2741 unique account names ranging from common first names, system account names, and common accounts to short alphabetical strings captured by the system logger. […]

My reply to those “You sent a virus to me!” emails

On Saturday 17 April 2004, I received the following email from someone I didn’t know: > Hello, > > I am not sure who you are but our security detected a Netsky virus in an > email that you sent. Whether a personal message or a spam, please make > attention to the fact that […]

Great email sig about operating systems

Saw this in an email sig: Microsoft: Where do you want to go today? Mac OS X: Where do you want to go tomorrow? Linux: Are you coming or what?

Cultural differences between Unix and Windows

From Joel Spolsky’s “Biculturalism” (Joel on Software: 14 December 2003): What are the cultural differences between Unix and Windows programmers? There are many details and subtleties, but for the most part it comes down to one thing: Unix culture values code which is useful to other programmers, while Windows culture values code which is useful […]

My new book – Linux Phrasebook – is out!

I’m really proud to announce that my 3rd book is now out & available for purchase: Linux Phrasebook. My first book – Don’t Click on the Blue E!: Switching to Firefox – was for general readers (really!) who wanted to learn how to move to and use the fantastic Firefox web browser. I included a […]

Unix specs vs. Windows specs

From Peter Seebach’s Standards and specs: Not by UNIX alone (IBM developerWorks: 8 March 2006): In the past 20 years, developers for “the same” desktop platform (“whatever Microsoft ships”) have been told that the API to target is (in this order): * DOS * Win16 * OS/2 * Win32 * WinNT * WinXP * and […]

Ubuntu Hacks available now

The Ubuntu distribution simplifies Linux by providing a sensible collection of applications, an easy-to-use package manager, and lots of fine-tuning, which make it possibly the best Linux for desktops and laptops. Readers of both Linux Journal and TUX Magazine confirmed this by voting Ubuntu as the best Linux distribution in each publication’s 2005 Readers Choice […]

Unix vs Windows: NYC vs Celebration

From David HM Spector’s Unfinished Business Part 2: Closing the Circle (LinuxDevCenter: 7 July 2003): The UNIX world is the result of natural evolution, not the outgrowth of a planned community. UNIX is a lot like New York City: dynamic, always reinventing itself, adapting to new needs and realities. Windows is a lot like Celebration, […]

Virtual-machine based rootkits

From Samuel T. King, Peter M. Chen, Yi-Min Wang, Chad Verbowski, Helen J. Wang, & Jacob R. Lorch’s “SubVirt: Implementing malware with virtual machines ” [PDF] (: ): We evaluate a new type of malicious software that gains qualitatively more control over a system. This new type of malware, which we call a virtual-machine based […]

Ballmer says Windows is more secure than Linux

From Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols’s “Longhorn ‘Wave’ Rolling In” (eWeek: 20 October 2004): The questions led into a discussion of Linux, with Bittmann observing that there’s a market perception that Linux is more secure. “It’s just not true,” Ballmer responded. “We’re more secure than the other guys. There are more vulnerabilities in Linux; it takes longer […]

Google on the Google File System (& Linux)

From Sanjay Ghemawat, Howard Gobioff, & Shun-Tak Leung’s “The Google File System“: We have designed and implemented the Google File Sys- tem, a scalable distributed file system for large distributed data-intensive applications. It provides fault tolerance while running on inexpensive commodity hardware, and it delivers high aggregate performance to a large number of clients. … […]

Unpatched Linux, 3 months; unpatched Windows, 20 minutes

From Bruce Schneier’s “Linux Security“: I’m a big fan of the Honeynet Project … Basically, they wire computers up with sensors, put them on the Internet, and watch hackers attack them. They just released a report about the security of Linux: Recent data from our honeynet sensor grid reveals that the average life expectancy to […]

My new book – Hacking Knoppix – available now

Knoppix is one of the great innovations in open source software in the last few years. Everyone that sees it wants to use it, since it is that rarest of software tools: the true Swiss Army Knife, capable of use by unsophisticated, experienced, and wizardly users, able to perform any of several hundred (if not […]

Tim O’Reilly’s definition of open source

From Tim O’Reilly’s “Lessons from open source software development”, Communications of the ACM 41 (4): 33-7: Open source is a term that has recently gained currency as a way to describe the tradition of open standards, shared source code, and collaborative development behind software such as the Linux and FreeBSD operating systems, the Apache Web […]

Nothin’ like nerdy Microsoft humor

In January 2002, I was running for the position of Vice President of the St. Louis Unix Users Group. On the SLUUG listserv, someone proposed that those running for office come clean on any ethical lapses. Here’s what I wrote: Fine … I’ll go first and admit my ethical lapses. I used to use Windows. […]

Problems techies are good at solving

Linux kernel hacker H. Peter Anvin, quoted in MIT Technology Review’s “Linus’s World“: “When the BitKeeper fiasco broke, it turned what had previously been a political problem into a technical problem,” he says. “We’re a lot better at solving technical problems.”

Closed vs. open source

From "Editing audio in Linux": On proprietary platforms, eventually you’ll run into "you can’t do that." On open platforms, you’ll run into "you have to learn more to do that."

Crack Windows passwords in seconds

This is an oldie but still a goodie – or a baddie, if you use or depend on Windows. Back in 2003, researchers released tools that enable the cracking of Windows passwords in an average of 13.6 seconds. Not bad, not bad at all. CNET has a nice writeup titled Cracking Windows passwords in seconds, […]

BSD vs. Linux

As a Linux user, I don’t have a lot of daily experience using BSD. Oh sure, I use it on a couple of servers that I rent, but I certainly have never used it on the desktop. And while I certainly understand the concepts, history, and ideas behind Linux very well (although there’s always more […]