Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon Tribe 4

Ubuntu 7.10/Gutsy Gibbon is still Alpha Software.  That being said, I've been running it on my laptop and run into a few snags.

The first, and most annoying (partly because it's by design) is the removal of the orinoco_cs driver from the kernel package.  Apparently they thought everyone would move to hostap.  Apparently they didn't do their homework: Lucent Technologies Orinoco cards are NOT supported by ANY driver other than orinoco_cs.  That means my wireless card is effectively useless under the 2.6.22-ubuntu kernel series.

Why am I using a PCMCIA wireless card?  Well, I'd bet it has something to do with the bcm43xx driver continuing not to work properly.  No surprise there, however... the hardware is broadcom, so what can anyone do but hang their head in shame?

Yesterday I was updating Gutsy and a new ATI driver came down for xorg... so imagine my surprise when, today, I boot my system and get a full black screen.  Ooops, looks like the new ati driver is broken.  I'm about to go file a bug report on that.  Running on the so-slow vesa driver right now, but at least I could get back in.

At this point, I'm back to using a generic video driver and the Feisty Fawn kernel... hopefully there will be some pending updates to repair things.


Running as Root: It's really NOT Okay.

LinuxBrainDump.org has an article on the 10 Linux Commandments.  The most controversial of these is "Thou shalt not log in as root".  I'd like to take a moment to point out some of the flaws in the belief that it's okay to run as root -- as well as some of the risks you face by running as root.

  1. Being compromised as a non-root user still leaves your data vulnerable.  This is completely TRUE.  Your data is vulnerable either way.  Your data is your most valuable asset: OSs can be reinstalled, data cannot.  This is why we have DVD+Rs, Backup Drives, etc.  Use them: they protect you against attackers, stolen computers, hard drive failures, and (done properly) fires, tornadoes, and floods.  Amazing technology.
  2. A user can still send spam mail and other annoyances.  This is true as well.  Unless you have a high security system where no users can have executables (i.e., a noexec /tmp and /home) any user can bring in an executable and run it.
  3. Most home computers are single user machines.  Probably not anymore.  I know my girlfriend has an account on my machines.  Other people I know have been granted guest accounts, and I've got multiple accounts for testing things.  Root would have access to all of this, a normal user only to their own account.
  4. It's no worse to be compromised as root than as a user.  Completely false.  An attacker with root can cover their tracks much better than a user.  A root attacker can create new accounts, modify system binaries, and otherwise damage much more of the system.  And, of course, they can do all of the above.  An attacker with root can also craft custom packets to exploit other systems on your LAN.  Also, a root attacker could run a packet sniffer on your network and read traffic.  A compromise is bad, root access is a nightmare.

Long story short: it still makes sense not to run as root.  Mac OS X, Linux, and Unix have always run this way.  Windows Vista has even moved away from users being given administrative privileges by default.  "Allow or deny?" was not added because it looks cool: running as a non-privileged user is REALLY better.  Don't be fooled into thinking it's okay because it's only a workstation: security is important everywhere, especially around your data.


2007 San Francisco LinuxWorld Expo

I just returned from the 2007 LinuxWorld Expo in San Francisco.  This was my first LWE, and I had a great time.  I was out there on behalf of LinuxQuestions.org, the Linux community site I am a moderator on.  Though more business- than community-oriented, it's still a great event to get to know others in the Linux community and marketplace as well as keep up on the latest technology (how anyone keeps up on it ALL is beyond me).


Linux Gaming

The Micahville blog has an excellent article on why Linux should not be dismissed as a serious gaming platform.  It lists 17 awesome games for Linux, many of which I have not even heard of.  I'm going to give some of them a try later.  I'd really like to hook up a joystick to my computer again to hit up FlightGear.


Windows Guy tries Ubuntu 7.04 -- Part Deux

On July 17, I reported on the self-proclaimed "Windows Guy" giving Ubuntu Linux a try.  Well, it's been two weeks and boy, does he have a lot to say.  Fortunately for the Linux community, it's almost all good.

His experiences are summarized nicely:

"In the end I’ve been very impressed with Ubuntu. After two weeks of banging under the hood and using it as often as I can, it has shown itself to be stable, fast and customizable. Hardware support is solid and application support is good. It is a tweakers paradise. I can work at work and and home. If I had to I could use it as my day-to-day system and not have many regrets. I’m still not as comfortable with it as I am in Windows, but I’m getting there. I may not be a convert yet, but I am a fan."