basically tech

93 Shut Up I Hack You

Thursday 30th August, 2007

I still find this story hilarious.
Rob. April 2015.

This is an apparently true event which happened back in 2005. It is the (frankly hilarious) conversation which took place between an IRC user and self-proclaimed hacker named bitchchecker, who mistakenly believed that he had been kicked off an IRC channel by another user named Elch. The "hacker", childishly (ah!) refusing to believe that he had timed, threatened to hack Elch's PC, and dared Elch to give out his IP address. Elch told bitchchecker that his IP address was It's got to be read. :) This has been translated from the original German.

Edited 16/05/2010: I noticed the original link to was not working, so I replaced it with another link - this story has thankfully been preserved for posterity.


92 Samba beats windows

Monday 20th August, 2007

Old news, but interesting anyway. Tests by IT Week Labs had showed that Samba version was twice as fast as Windows 2000 Server when they tested it in 2002. The next year, Windows Server 2003 came out, and so did Samba 3, so they repeated the tests. This time Samba was 2.5 times faster.

In terms of scalability, the gains of upgrading to Samba 3 are even more striking. Last year we found that Samba could handle four times as many clients as Windows 2000 before performance began to drop off. This year we would need to upgrade our test network in order to identify the point where Samba performance begins to fall in earnest.

So, you can get something for free, which can handle many more clients, two and half times faster, or pay for something which can handle far fewer clients at a much slower rate. You would have thought it was a no-brainer, wouldn't you?


91 Analysis of a cracked Linux host

Saturday 18th August, 2007

Sadly, another case of link rot.
Rob. April 2015.

This is a fascinating analysis of a cracked Linux host. The cracker seems to have made a number of fundamental mistakes which led to the owner becoming concerned as to why some services weren't running. The owner then called in a friend (the author) who started to analyse why the server was behaving so unusually. Well worth a read.


90 Vista protects users from their own multimedia content

Monday 13th August, 2007

Amazingly, Windows Vista's content protection will protect it's users from seeing their own multimedia content.

"If there was any threat modeling at all, it was really badly done," Gutmann, from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, said while giving a talk on Vista content protection. "Once the enemy is the user and not the attacker, standard security thinking falls apart."

It's a strange world were people cannot play their HD-DVDs or listen to their own music:

While Microsoft's intent is to protect commercial content, home movies are increasingly being shot in high definition, Gutmann said. Many users are finding they can't play any content if it's considered "premium."

"This is not commercial HD content being blocked, this is the users' own content," Gutmann said. "The more premium content you have, the more output is disabled."

People actually pay money to be treated like this.


89 SCO loses!

Friday 10th August, 2007

Groklaw has the news which we already really knew in the SCO vs Novell case:

The court concludes that Novell is the owner of the UNIX and UnixWare Copyrights.

It's not quite over yet, but a big chunk of decisions which are due to be made depended on the outcome of this ruling. As Groklaw's PJ says:

That's Aaaaall, Folks! The court also ruled that "SCO is obligated to recognize Novell's waiver of SCO's claims against IBM and Sequent". That's the ball game. There are a couple of loose ends, but the big picture is, SCO lost. Oh, and it owes Novell a lot of money from the Microsoft and Sun licenses.

That's good news. Well done, Novell.


88 Microsoft Fracturing the Open-Source Community?

Tuesday 7th August, 2007

Mark Shuttleworth, the CEO of Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, thinks Microsoft has managed to fracture the Open-Source Community. He also suggests that what Microsoft is doing amounts to extortion:

"To say, as [Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that's just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game. On the other side, if Microsoft is concerned about its intellectual property, there is no one in the free software community that wants to violate anyone's IP. Disclose the patents and we'll fix the code. Alternatively, move on."

He's also noted that those companies which did make deals with Microsoft have made short-term gains, but will lose out in the long run.

"I don't think this will end well for the companies that slipped up and went down that road," Shuttleworth said. "Ultimately, it is the spirit of open source that really motivates your best developers. Developers have been abandoning Novell ever since they did the deal with Microsoft, and they have gone to Oracle and Google among others. That's unfortunate for Novell, but was a fairly predictable consequence of their decision and it ultimately portrays a lack of understanding about what it is that really empowers free software."


87 More vindication for Gary Kildall

Thursday 2nd August, 2007

Following on from my previous entry, Groklaw has unearthed an interesting snippet from the court notes:

Thirteen years before the Book was published, Mr. Kildall was quoted in a newspaper article as saying: "Ask Bill why function code 9 (in DOS) ends with a dollar sign . . . . No one in the world knows that but me." James Wallace & Jim Erickson, Bill Gates: Of Mind and Money, Seattle P-I, May 8, 1991... In his January 2007 deposition, Mr. Paterson conceded that function 9 was terminated with a "$" sign only "because that was what was in the manual. They published a manual; the manual said put a dollar sign at the end. So I followed the manual." Paterson Dep. at 130:11-131:9.


86 Was Microsoft's first OS stolen?

Wednesday 1st August, 2007

The link the article is broken, but there are other sites which still discuss this story.
Rob. April 2015.

This is interesting.

In a book on American innovation, author Sir Harold Evans wrote that DOS inventor Tim Paterson relied heavily on an existing OS called CP/M (Control Program/Monitor) created by a programmer who has since died. Microsoft in 1980 struck a licensing deal with Paterson's company -- Seattle Computer Products -- to obtain access to DOS and resell it to IBM.
In his book "They Made America", Evans writes that Paterson, in developing DOS, took "a ride on" CP/M, which was created by the late Gary Kildall. Evans also wrote that Paterson's DOS operating system appropriated the "look and feel" of CP/M, copied its user interface, and "ripped-off" CP/M.

This is not the first time that people have claimed that Microsoft used stolen software or ideas in their products. But rotten to the root? Interesting.


85 Vista sends data about users to MS

Monday 2nd July, 2007

You have to wonder how much of this sort of thing is down to the NSA.
Rob. April 2015.

Well, no surprise. Microsoft uses Vista to gather information about you. I've made many posts about this, just type "Vista" in the Quicksearch text field and press enter. So what? What can they tell?

... in excess of 20 Windows Vista features and services are hard at work collecting and transmitting your personal data to the Redmond company.

Geez, 20? That seems rather a lot. Those twenty features and services all use CPU and RAM on your PC, to snoop on you. You'll have to read the full article to find out exactly what those 20+ data mining techniques are (plus how you can bypass some of them). But surely Microsoft are a responsible company. (Actually, I couldn't type that last sentence without grinning.) Well, the Vista license agreement clearly states:

"By using these features, you consent to the transmission of this information. Microsoft does not use the information to identify or contact you."

And they say they're not going to identify you. All they say they want is your:

"Internet protocol address, the type of operating system, browser and name and version of the software you are using, and the language code of the device where you installed the software."

Heh, if they have your IP address, they have you. But they clearly stated that they won't identify you, so, problem over? Not quite.

"Microsoft may disclose personal information about you if required to do so by law or in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to: (a) comply with the law or legal process served on Microsoft; (b) protect and defend the rights of Microsoft (including enforcement of our agreements); or (c) act in urgent circumstances to protect the personal safety of Microsoft employees, users of Microsoft software or services, or members of the public,"

The good faith belief? Microsoft? Come on.


84 Linux-based websites perform better

Thursday 28th June, 2007

According to WatchMouse, a Dutch firm that monitors server performance, Linux-based websites perform better. The ZDNet article states that WatchMouse surveyed over 1500 European websites.

... although the websites it surveyed were more frequently based on Microsoft's IIS web server platform running Windows than on Apache running Linux, the latter option performed better in terms of both uptime and load time.

No surprise to me, really. The comparative complexity of the two systems will affect performance as well as security.

"Even though the companies in our study seem to prefer Windows over Linux, our research shows they would be better off using Linux/Apache-based websites," said WatchMouse's chief technology officer, Mark Pors.