August 30, 2002
Don't Fear the GPL

Is this wrong to deprive corporations from making a profit from publicly funded software development? Hardly. Which is more deplorable: that a few profit-making software companies won't be able to make as much profit from publicly funded software, or that the public who already paid for the software once with their tax dollars will have to pay for it again when the large software company puts it into their closed-source product?

I'm all for companies making a profit. But I don't think profits should come at the taxpayer's expense, especially when that expense is paid twice over.

August 23, 2002
Rescue, Linux style

Before dealing with the tools, let's consider the reasons for rescuing a Linux system. You don't normally "reload" Linux software. Why? There is no reason to do so. As with the BSDs, Linux does not tend to corrupt itself. Nor does installing software corrupt the system, thanks to package managers, such as RPM and dpkg, which keep new software from damaging existing programs. No, you generally rescue a Linux system when a piece of hardware, such as a disk drive, has failed.

Microsoft discloses more business as usual

Microsoft Corp. said Thursday that "critical" security lapses in its Office software and Internet Explorer Web browser put tens of millions of users at risk of having their files read and altered by online attackers.

The world's No. 1 software maker said that an attacker, using e-mail or a Web page, could use Internet related parts of Office to run programs, alter data and wipe out the hard drive as well as view file and clipboard contents on a user's system.

August 21, 2002
HTML::Template Tutorial

What did I do wrong? I used ColdFusion to generate key HTML elements - I painted myself in a corner. When the person who wrote the HTML needed to change something, I was the one who did the changing. I had just assigned myself a new job on top of the one I had with no extra pay!

That's what HTML::Template is all about - the ability to keep your Perl code decoupled from your HTML pages. Instead of serving up HTML files or generating HTML inside your Perl code, you create templates - text files that contain HTML and special tags that will be substituted with dynamic data by a Perl script.

MandrakeSecure: Making the most of OpenSSH

Mandrake Linux has included OpenSSH as part of the base product since version 7.2, and available as part of the "crypto" suite since version 7.0. While telnet and rsh are still included, the use of these protocols as a remote login tool is discouraged. Using OpenSSH instead is a much better idea.

August 20, 2002
The Growing Politicixation of Open Source

As T.S. Eliot said in Murder in the Cathedral: "This last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason." No one should be forced to choose open source, any more than they should be forced to choose proprietary software. And any victory for open source achieved through deprivation of the user's right to choose would indeed be a betrayal of the principles that free software and open source have stood for.

August 15, 2002
Mac OS X hosts File

Several lookup devices are used. The most well-known is the DNS, which stands for Domain Name Server. It is a computer somewhere on your network that you can query for a host name translation. Give it a name, and it will return the address. How it works behind the scenes is not important right now. Another lookup device is a file on your computer that is simply named hosts. It is a text file with two or three columns. Basically it is a table of host names, addresses and optionally their alternate aliases. Typically a hosts file contains hosts that you personally use often enough to make it worthwhile keeping a local lookup table of them.

August 07, 2002
Next-Generation Win32 exploits: fundamental API flaws

This paper presents a new generation of attacks against Microsoft Windows, and possibly other message-based windowing systems. The flaws presented in this paper are, at the time of writing, unfixable. The only reliable solution to these attacks requires functionality that is not present in Windows, as well as efforts on the part of every single Windows software vendor. Microsoft has known about these flaws for some time; when I alerted them to this attack, their response was that they do not class it as a flaw - the email can be found here.

This research was sparked by comments made by Microsoft VP Jim Allchin who stated, under oath, that there were flaws in Windows so great that they would threaten national security if the Windows source code were to be disclosed. He mentioned Message Queueing, and immediately regretted it. However, given the quantity of research currently taking place around the world after Mr Allchin's comments, it is about time the white hat community saw what is actually possible.

Quicken and QuickBooks and Visio, oh my! (on Linux, that is)

The idea of being able to run Quicken and, more importantly, QuickBooks on my Linux system was truly exciting! Ever since fully defenestrating my desktop system back in May 2001 (it doesn't even dual boot anymore), the only program I still run on Windows is QuickBooks, which is used for my company's accounting.

August 06, 2002
Linux comes through for New York company after 9/11

"We wanted to make sure we were getting our money's worth, so we did some bench tests. We were disappointed when the server was getting saturated at about 25 machines loading (five gigabyte disk images) at the same time. We even added two more processors to the Windows 2000 server, and it actually slowed down."

Fabozzi and crew went "back to the drawing board." Having been a "Unix guy" for two decades, he decided to try Red Hat Linux and Samba on the exact same hardware configuration, and found the power that was missing with Windows. "We were able to get more than twice the machines online and loading before we experienced any saturation.

KISS Compliant Web Sites.

I also tried to make the HTML code compatible with as many browsers as I could. Although it seems that MSIE is the market leader, my research so far would seem to indicate that it is not the clear leader I had been led to believe it is. By this I mean that no single version of MSIE seemed to have more than forty percent of the market. My site statistics indicate that 74 percent of the average users (those coming direct from Google) are MSIE users. The leading browser is MSIE 6 with 34 percent. So even within the MSIE group there a quite a large number of older versions. The market is still quite fragmented. It would be unwise (not to mention dangerous) to tailor a site to one specific browser version.

FALLOUT - a follow up to The Internet Debacle

Do I still believe downloading is not harming the music industry? Yes, absolutely. Do I think consumers, once the industry starts making product they want to buy, will still buy even though they can download? Yes. Water is free, but a lot of us drink bottled water because it tastes better. You can get coffee at the office, but you're likely to go to Starbucks or the local espresso place, because it tastes better. When record companies start making CD's that offer consumers a reason to buy them, as illustrated by Kevin's email at the end of this article, we will buy them. The songs may be free on line, but the CD's will taste better.

August 02, 2002
Why Free Software's Long Run TCO *MUST* be Lower

This paper argues that the long run total cost of operations (TCO) for a suite of proprietary software must necessarily be greater than that for an equivalent suite of free software, with the TCO benefits maximised in the case of the GPL and GPL-like free software. The total cost of operation of a suite of free software is the price determined by a competitive market for a bundle of goods and services associated with that suite. Because the source code is open and not subject to limitations on development or distribution, the market for services relating to that code will be perfectly competitive. A rational vendor will use a proprietary route for a program only where releasing that program in that way will allow them to increase their profit above that which would be returned to them by the operation of a competitive market. This result should be hardly surprising, given that the express objective of copyright law is to mandate a market failure and permit software creators to extract above market rents as an incentive for the creation of that software.
Customers attempting to evaluate a free software v proprietary solution can confine their investigation to an evaluation of the ability of the packages to meet the customer's needs, and may presume that the long run TCO will favor the free software package. Further, because the licensing costs are additional dead weight costs, a customer ought to also prefer a free software solution with functionality shortfalls where those shortfalls can be overcome for less than the licensing cost for the proprietary solution.

Considering TCO

I'M AMAZED. For the first time in recent memory, I find myself in total agreement with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. According to published accounts of the Microsoft Fusion 2002 conference, Mr. Ballmer said, "We haven't figured out how to be lower-priced than Linux."

Monitor Linux routers and firewalls with MRTG

MRTG doesn't have all the bells and whistles of commercial monitoring software, but it does the job well and is definitely worth considering as part of your network monitoring activities

Linux Love

Microsoft, who I had devoted all those years to, turned out to be a two-bit whore turning tricks for my money. Microsoft never loved me. It just wanted to get it's hand in my back pocket. Linux was different. What I had to pay for with Microsoft, Linux gave me for free. That is true love.