System Overlord

A blog about security engineering, research, and general hacking.

How the Ubuntu/Dell deal will impact the market

Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has an excellent blog entry describing the way the Ubuntu/Dell deal will impact driver development, Dell's business, and Linux in general. Most notable is his assertion that the "free software approach is a better device driver development model" than the closed-source model.  I wholehartedly agree with this, because once a driver is mainlined in the kernel, the kernel devs maintain the driver interface to the kernel.  The only work left for the hardware vendor is supporting their hardware.

AOL: 8 Character Passwords?

A lot of people probably thought that AOL would be a company to keep with the times.  Apparently not, since their system only uses the first 8 characters of a password, silently discarding anything else.  Sounds like a sense of false security to me.

Circuit City: Incompetence or Negligance?

Note: While I try to keep entries here technical in nature, I feel that this warrants discussion and is relevant to the technical/Linux community.

Yesterday, my brother ordered a digital camera (Samsung S730, works great with Linux) package, including a 512MB SD card, from using the "in-store pickup" option.  Upon his arrival at the store, the employees attempted to give him only the Camera and not the card.  When he asked them to correct this, they told him him they would reverse the original transaction and process a new one at the original price. Eventually, (after much complaining about how this would screw up their inventory system) they were able to process this, however it was run as a second transaction.  As of today, his credit card shows two $140 charges from Circuit City.  Circuit City online technical support tells him there is nothing they can do, that the refund should process in 3-5 days.

How can a company be run so badly that employees in the store cannot simply process an already complete online order by simply getting the items to the customer? I have had reservations about Circuit City before, but now I will not be shopping with them, and I encourage you to do the same.


The AACS (Advanced Access Content System) is the cartel responsible for the DRM (Digital "Rights" Management) behind HD-DVD disks.  Recently, one of their encryption keys was leaked to the internet.  While I applaud the spreading of this key, it has already been revoked, rendering it somewhat useless.  I am personally quite tired of seeing the continued proliferation of software and technology designed to infringe upon my fair use rights.  I don't understand how stupid the entertainment industry execs have become.

iTunes has DRM, DVDs have DRM, and now HD-DVD and Blu-Ray have been designed AROUND DRM.  There will soon be a shift in the industry, and I, for one, hope the entire industry collapses.  I would love to see the entertainment industry turned upside down, where the end user and content are king.

The continued infringement of fair use must not continue and cannot be sanctioned by our own government.  I encourage all citizens to examine their priorities and work towards an open world, rather than continued restrictions upon what we can and cannot do.

Linux Conference Discounts

As many may know, I'm a moderator over at  We sponsor several conferences, and as a result are able to offer exclusive discounts.