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Adventures Thru Linux #! 1

So here I am after around 5 years, a member of linux.com and I expect my experience to be a good one. At this momment i've tried several distros including gentoo, knoppix, ubuntu, xubuntu, slackware, puppy, fedora core, red hat, suse, mandriva, openbsd and a few others. I'm not sure why i've tried so many (maybe because my laptop is so old it's damn near fossilised) but I am installing yet another distro that I hope will be my last, atleast for a while.

Crunch Bang Linux 8.04.2 LTS is my new distro of choice. Based on Ubuntu (probably the most popular and (IMO) easiest distro to use) and with the extremely lightweight openbox WM it should be a great fit for my pentium III beast.

Here is to the start of a great future with linux and my ongoing adventures thru it. If anyone actually read this blog, my condolences to you, and i'll be back shortly with a progress report on my "adventures thru linux #!"

 

 

 

Leveraging industrial-strength Python testing

This article asks what the Python frameworks do when they introspect a test module to discover what tests live inside of it. It also looks at details like how common test setup and teardown is supported, or not supported, by Zope, py.test and nose. Learn how these testing frameworks will support your Python development.
 

Security and Linux.com

Security obviously has a high priority everywhere within the modern computer industry. There is not a single day without security patches for our own beloved software and not a day without the news of a new virus taking over billions of Windows computers.

Security was also highlighted in the webspace not long ago when phpBB.com's password database got it's security compomized. The reason of it being compromized was a miss in comunications when the security problem in the phpBB system was detected. But that's really besides the point here.

 During an interview with one of the developers of phpBB on the R&D show at www.the.newgeekorder.com the importance of having secure passwords and not to use the same password on multiple plattforms. A password should contain letters, capital letters, numbers and special characters and be at the least eight characters long to be a secure password by todays standards. 

And this is where Linux.com comes into the picture. The password system that today is operating on Linux.com does not support special characters, thus making the system much more vulnerable to brute-force and rainbowtable attacks. Why is this? What Linux.com is aiming at is becomming the largest Linux hub on the net. The front page of Linux.

Wouldn't it be good if Linux.com was secure?

 

The paradox of choice and Linux distros

I just so a forum post on how to create a new Linux distro for one's familly and friends. I think it's greate to be able to tailored GNU/Linux to one's need, but I also think that nowadays, we are often confronted to too much of this... or too many of that, and we end up in a deadlocks [when making no choice is the best option].

There's a brilliant explanation of this phenomena by Barry Schwartz. Here's a link to access the video on Google because embedding doesn't seem to work here...

Barry Schwartz: the paradox of choice, why more is less

In the mean time, I can add that I am not a supporter of uniformity. I think diversity is great, but where it really matters.

In China there's a fair few languages that are really different, and special (for historical reasons) and there's a lot of dialects that spawns from these main language families. So far so good, but then it gets really messy when people start counting the local version of a given dialect... which only differ slightly from the next town dialiect because of favoured accentuation.

 I think the same is true for programming languages andLinux distribution: having main famillies [deb vs rpm], and subs is fine, but when we start getting personalised versions that don't really add value, then it's time to stop counting.

 

DoD CAC Cards and Gentoo Linux

Because the only guide on setting up DoD CAC cards on Gentoo was lost after the Gentoo Wiki went out of commission (they are back now, less a bunch of articles), I decided to write a guide on how to get a good DoD CAC setup on your Gentoo system.

If you don't know what a CAC card is, Wikipedia has a good article on them here. It's basically an identification card for U.S. Department of Defense employees.

Software Installation

Alright, this is fairly simple. Here's what you will need:

sys-apps/pcsc-lite  USE="hal -static -usb"
app-crypt/coolkey USE="-debug"
app-crypt/ccid USE="-nousb -twinserial"

Make sure you emerge those packages with the USE flags shown above. Be aware that the hal and the usb USE flags for pcsc-lite conflict, so I recommend you enable hal and disable usb (even if you have a USB smart card reader, it will still work with HAL).

Now start the pcscd service.

/etc/init.d/pcscd start

Plugging in a CAC reader, as well as your smart card, should now be recognized. If you believe there's something wrong, you can start pcscd in debug mode from the terminal to see the output:

pcscd -d -f

Accessing CAC Enabled Websites w/ Firefox

You'll need to install a new security module under Firefox to complete this procedure. Go to "Edit" > "Preferences" > "Advanced" > "Encryption". That should bring you to this window:



Now click on "Security Devices". A new window will pop up. Select "Load" from that window and enter the information shown here:

Module Name: Anything You Want
Module Filename: /usr/lib64/pkcs11/libcoolkeypk11.so

Now click "OK". The new module that you named should now be listed. If your CAC reader is plugged in/enabled and your CAC card is inserted, you should be able to see your information underneath the module name.

Now, install some security certificates from this website by clicking each of the links:

http://dodpki.c3pki.chamb.disa.mil/rootca.html

You are now ready to login to CAC enabled websites!

 

Nagios Enterprises Announces the Availability of Support Contracts for Nagios; Discounts Through June 30th

 

 

Nagios Enterprises, LLC announces the launch of official support contracts for Nagios - the industry standard in Open Source IT infrastructure monitoring. Support plans are competitively priced for budget-conscious organizations and start at just $2,495 per year. Discounts are offered for customers who purchase support plans through June 30, 2009.

 

Saint Paul, MN (PRWEB) June 23, 2009 - Nagios Enterprises, LLC announces the launch of official support contracts for Nagios - the industry standard in Open Source IT infrastructure monitoring.

 

Nagios support plans from Nagios Enterprises provide for global coverage and flexible support options via email, our online ticketing system, and by phone in the US and Europe. Their dedicated team of support technicians ensures that expert backup is available to organizations that require non-stop monitoring of their critical IT infrastructure. Support plans are competitively priced for budget-conscious organizations and start at just $2,495 per year.

 

Discounts are offered for customers who purchase support plans through June 30, 2009. Customers who submit a purchase order by June 30th will receive 10% off list price, and a 20% discount will be given to customers who purchase online.

 

"This is an important and exciting milestone for Nagios," said Ethan Galstad, creator of Nagios and founder and President of Nagios Enterprises. "We're responding to the growing demand of requests from organizations worldwide that require official Nagios support. Support contracts provide network administrators with a backup resource when they need it, and help solidify the credibility of Nagios deployments within the organization."

 

Backed by more than ten years of active development, Nagios is an award-winning monitoring solution that has continuously grown in popularity worldwide. Nagios is stable, scalable, extensible, and it provides organizations with immense value. Most importantly, it works.

 

"Nagios is an integral part of our infrastructure," said Jared Bird, Network Security Administrator, Sunrise Community Banks. "By notifying us immediately of a service outage, we are able to rectify the issue before our customers and end users experience any problems."

 

Nagios provides a flexible monitoring platform that provides organizations with the ability to minimize the business impact of IT infrastructure outages. Features include:

 

* Comprehensive IT Infrastructure Monitoring - Monitor applications, services, servers, operating systems, network protocols, system metrics, and network infrastructure components with a single tool.

 

* Central Insight - Get a central view of the status of IT infrastructure and business processes through an easily-accessible web interface.

 

* Immediate Awareness - Immediate notifications of outages and critical events can be delivered via email and SMS. Multi-user escalation capabilities ensure alerts reach the right people.

 

* Proactive Planning - Integration with RRD-based addons provides trend and capacity planning functionality, allowing organizations time to plan for necessary infrastructure upgrades. Scheduled downtime capabilities provide for alert suppression during maintenance windows.

 

* Problem Remediation - Powerful event handlers allow failed applications, services, and servers to be automatically restarted when problems are detected.

 

* Reporting - Availability reports ensure SLAs are being met. Historical reports of alert history, outages, notifications, and alert response. Third-party addons provide additional powerful reporting capabilities.

 

* Easily Extendable Architecture - Integration with in-house and third-party applications is easy with simple APIs. Hundreds of community-developed addons extend core functionality.

 

* Stable, Reliable, and Respected Platform - Highly rewarded and recognized platform with over 10 years of active development and community involvement, and an estimated 250,000 users worldwide.

 

Long-time users of Nagios know the vital role it plays in an organization's IT operations and business needs. Support plans provide organizations that rely on Nagios with many benefits, including access to a team of professional support technicians with the expertise to meet their demanding needs. Having a support contract provides assurance that organizations have proper coverage when expert assistance is required with their IT infrastructure monitoring.

 

For more information about Nagios support plan features and pricing, visit  http://www.nagios.com/.

 

About Nagios Enterprises:

 

Nagios Enterprises provides professional implementation and support services for Nagios® - the leader in Open Source IT infrastructure monitoring. The company prides itself in supporting, promoting, and contributing to the development of Nagios and the Nagios Community.

 

About Nagios:

 

Nagios is an Open Source monitoring system that allows companies to gain valuable insight into their IT infrastructure and resolve problems before they affect critical business operations. With over 10 years of active development, an estimated 250,000 users worldwide, and frequent awards and public recognition, Nagios is the leader and industry standard in system, network, and application monitoring. To learn more about Nagios' award-winning capabilities, visit  http://www.nagios.org/.

 

Contact:

Ethan Galstad, President

Nagios Enterprises, LLC

651-278-1477

http://www.nagios.com/

 

LiMux: Where the Linux (R)evolution is today

 Note: the following is a translation of an article written in German by reporter Michael Kieffer  published in Heise On-Line on 2009-06-24.  You can read the original article in German here:

 http://bit.ly/u4tRk

When the third largest city in Germany rebuffed Microsoft, even people in the US were talking about it.  The Munich city council's decision some years ago to gradually banish Microsoft software from City Hall computers made news in American newspapers.  In the meantime, while the software revolution has quieted down, the change goes ahead with zeal. And other governmental authorities have now dialed back use of Microsoft software. But Microsoft is not conceding the field without a fight.  "We are learning," says Microsoft manager Andreas Hartl.

"We would do it again," said the vice director of the Munich project, Florian Schießl. Pictures of penguins, the Linux mascot, adorn the walls of the Munich city IT department. By mid-2012, at the latest, 80 percent of the 14,000 computers in the city administration will be moved to be Linux. Even much earlier, by the end of this year, all City Hall employees will be leaving Microsoft Word, Excel and Microsoft Internet Explorer and moving to free software, such as OpenOffice and the open-source Firefox Web browser.

In the short-term, no money was saved with the change-over.  To the contrary, the city had to absorb one-time upfront costs of 13 million Euros for the Linux Munich "LiMux" project, which the city's IT department describes as an IT evolution, not a revolution, as some observers thought.  According to vice director Schießl, an upgrade of the then-existing Windows NT4 operating system to Windows XP would have been as much as two million euros cheaper. The change-over will make financial sense only after several years, by avoiding the payment of on-going licensing fees.

In the meantime, others have followed the Munich example. The Foreign Office and the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), as well as several other cities, have placed their trust in alternatives to Windows, Word and Excel. Microsoft is unexpectedly finding itself out in the cold.  "Microsoft certainly must have thought that the city of Munich's only consideration was how to go about purchasing licenses for new Microsoft software," says Schießl. But the city administration had a different question in mind: "How much are we going to allow ourselves to become dependent on one manufacturer?" Echoing the primary concern of the open source community, Schießl explains that free software certainly "Does not mean free as in free beer."  Instead, open source offers programmers the advantage of improving the software and expanding additional applications without having to get permission from a specific company. This advantage also carries weight with other municipal governments. That is why the cities of Mannheim, Schwäbisch Hall and Treuchtlingen in Bavaria are moving at least partially to free software.

"The Munich decision has not led to masses of other city governments following Munich's example," says Microsoft manager Hartl, although he concedes that Microsoft has meanwhile been making efforts to open its Windows platforms for free software. Even Richard Seibt, of "Open Source Business Foundation (OSBF) finds that Microsoft is now heavily engaged in open source arenas. "They are serious," he says.

 

Making sure you have the correct PHP class and functions

Namespaces are a way of making sure you have the correct PHP class, constant, or function and that people using your PHP classes can be sure they're using the correct ones. These tips provide a few guidelines for building your namespaces so that you get the most out of them and PHP.
 

Working with XML and Java on Android

In this article, you will see different options for working with XML tools on Android and how to use them to build your own Android applications. Learn how to leverage XML parsers, SAX, and also how to Work the DOM.
 

Cruising on the information superhighway

It's been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  IT, though, has always tried to suggest in many ways they are the masters of a fundamental paradigm shift, and are therefore different.  However, we've seen enough now to suggest that- well, we've seen it all before.  The question remains, what does it most look like?

I've been wondering lately if we're looking at something similiar to the dawn of the motoring era.  There's a LOT of similarity.  We've had our very own reincarnation of Henry Ford (does the phrase "available in any colour- so long as it's black" sound like an operating system advert?) , and once the technology has bedded in we've seen the economy collapse. We're seeing the rise of 1930's mafia style gangs prowling the darker corners; we're seeing laws that were made for an earlier era get squeezed out of recognition.  In some countries early motor vehicles had to be preceded down the road by a person waving a flag... sounds a bit like internet censorship.  

The question is only worth asking if there's some insight in it.  The future of computing still has a lot of unknowns, but the auto industry saw the rise of a number of heavyweights, and the early monopolist lost any advantage in a few short years.  Diversity was part of the key: a vehicle for every situation, and it remains so today with ever- smaller parts of the market being catered to (sounds too like Distribution Central really) .

The auto changed our world in ways we still only partially recognise:  urbanisation relies on transport, superspecialisation relies on timely access to multiple markets.  Some of those changes are still unfolding, 100 years after the dawn of the age.  And while the world has undoubtedly sped up (look at the speed cellphones and the internet have changed the way the world communicates),  I'd guess we've got a wee way to go yet to see where computers are going to take us.  

If the similarities hold, however, I'd be expecting Linux to continue to be diversified; we're going to see even more battles over which distro is the righ one, much along the Ford vs Holden battles.  Grandma, as always, will be happy running a 40 year old OS; the teenage boys will have their cutting edge (and falling apart) distros, and some of us will have the family car one-size-fits-all distro while waiting for the more practical considerations to disappear so we can drop down to a fast and fun alternative.  Some people will consider fiddling around under the bonnet a fun activity; others, wonder why on earth you'd want to get dirty that way.

People will continue to be people, whatever.  There will always be a substantial proportion of the population that believe that if it's red, it's faster (no, that's not necessarily a reference to Fedora).   And in the end, the world is a better place because of them too; practical considerations aren't all there is to life.

 

NEWB's adventure's in Linux From Scratch

Hello again,

  I've done it, successfully built LFS. It was a major accomplishment for me. I'm proud of it. Now the question is where to go from here?. I could continue the build add users and X . I have a much more important goal as I was so overcome by errors and mistakes that I don't feel I've learned as much as I should have. Now there is not as much pressure to complete. I can gracefully move along and read man pages of programs I'm installing so I'll have a better understanding of what I've got.

  Also another point, I skipped the optimizations of the packages and want to incorporate that into the build as well.

   I've decided since talking on IRC and reading into the BLFS some that the new book will be out shortly so I'm going ahead and building the Development book this time as well.

wish me luck !

 
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