* Posts by Trevor Pott o_O

435 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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Malware scanners fail

Trevor Pott o_O
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@Havin_it

Well, as to what I “do,” I actually made a post about that to another commenter here:

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/post/776699 . My apologies for not rewriting the information in this comment, but it will be of sufficient length as it is.

As to what trigged my comment…your “opinion” was expressed not as an opinion, but as though it was solid, irrefutable, undeniable FACT. Two statements in particular that, if taken seriously, could lead junior systems administrators to make critical mistakes.

“Fact” number 1: “Undeniably there are apps galore available for XP that rely on the user being Admin, but there are very few that are irreplaceable, and still a good chunk of the remainder can be brought into line with a couple of crafty hacks easily found via a quick google.”

“Fact” number 2: “XP *can* be made just as secure with only the same level of commitment as most of the suggestions in the article.”

These are statements that aren’t merely opinion. They can be verified. You can measure it, test it, there are quantative and qualitative ways to determine the validity of these statements.

I will address “Fact” number 2. It is false. When I say this statement is false, I am not going to claim to be expressing an opinion. I state outright that it is a provable fact that Windows XP can not be made as secure as Windows 7. (The sole exception being if you were to remove both the power supply and network card from the computer.)

If you do not believe I have the relevant experience to make that claim, I would respectfully point you at the many and varied security companies around the world. There are whitepapers galore, as well as scientific papers published in IT security and cryptographic journals. NT6 is simply more secure than NT5. In fact, configured properly, (and if you stay the hell away from IE,) then NT6 compares favourably with both Linux and OSX for security.

If you choose to disbelieve the scientific evidence available to you, then I would strongly recommend you read this article http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/05/when-science-clashes-with-belief-make-science-impotent.ars at Ars Technica on the topic of Scientific Impotence. Even if you do believe the evidence, read the article anyway. It is both a completely excellent article, and relevant to the conversation.

Please don’t get me wrong; I am not a Windows 7 evangelist. In fact, I hate the blessed thing. I find the interface unbelievably irritating; like the ribbon bar, I prefer things “the way they were.” I resist the idea of “change for the sake of change (or new for the sake of new.)” I require a strong business case before I alter my ways. That said, there are an increasing number of reasons to upgrade to Windows 7, enough that unfortunately this year even I have to make the jump on my networks.

You have your personal experience with Bespoke and Industry-Specific Software (BISS), I of course cannot speak to that. If you have not had to deal with them much, then in my opinion, you are an exceptionally lucking individual.

As to “Fact” number 1, I must also claim it to be false. Given that I have not the resources to perform proper scientific studies with appropriate employed staticians, I must rely on the information provided me by those systems administrators with whom I maintain contact. While I recognise that my polling methodology is not completely randomised, (like individuals do have a tendency to congregate,) I have taken the time to collect my information such that I am comfortable relying on it, despite the partial lack of scientific rigour.

Here is the information on the BISS poll I conducted informally amongst the groups of systems administrators which whom I maintain contact. (This poll was conducted ten days ago as part of the research I did before writing this article.)

Group of sysadmins polled:

312 unique systems administrators responded to my inquiries.

These administrators are responsible for 542 unique networks.

Network size varies from 2 nodes to an estimated 15,000 nodes.

Respondents represent 12 different countries*

Respondents represent a wide cross section of industries**

Results of poll:

Of 542 networks, 218 ran BISS.

316 unique BISS applications were identified.

292 were identified as requiring administrative privilege.

93 were under active redevelopment or upgrade.

53 were from developers that could no longer be contacted.

All 316 BISS apps were considered critical.

All 316 BISS apps had no known alternative application.

275 were considered a threat to network stability.

*There is a disproportionate weighting towards the following countries: The USA, Canada, Sweden. (These three countries represent 48% of respondents.)

**There is a disproportionate weighting towards the private sector. (83% of respondents.)

This poll was run informally; I maintain contact with individual primarily through IRC, e-mail and instant messaging networks. There is a bias towards small and medium enterprise systems administrators. To get a proper poll and more importantly a truly proper analysis of the information provided, you would need to have it run by someone like freeform dynamics. This poll was conducted merely as an information gathering exercise so that I would not feel like I was talking out of my ass when I was writing my article.

So sir, if my perspective is skewed; there is all the information I can present to you about exactly how skewed, and what factors are skewing it.

I apologise if you felt that I was attacking you personally...I have no reason to attack you personal as I don’t know you. I do however have reason to attempt to correct false statements like that, as the articles I write, (and the comments I leave in my articles sections) are written with the hope that the information, ideas and opinions provided will help other systems administrators build better networks.

Normally an opinion expressed would not matter much; it’s just an opinion. In this case however two factors combined to cause me to respond, (admittedly perhaps too harshly.) The first being that your statements were made as statements of irrefutable fact. The second being that if anyone took your advice, (Windows XP is as secure as Windows 7, you can replace almost any BISS application with newer alternative,) then based on all the information I can obtain on the topic those systems administrators would very likely be sacrificing either a great deal of time looking for a BISS replacement that statistically isn’t likely to exist, or compromising their network security believing that Windows 7 offers no security advantages over XP.

For the record, I don’t work for Microsoft, or a company that makes any money selling Microsoft products to others. I am a freelancer for El Reg, not a full blown regular. To my knowledge have received zero information from my contact there about treating any topic lightly, talking up any product, company or organisation. I haven’t even been yelled at yet for running around the comment section taking the piss out of everyone and everything I encounter. (Somethign which I have been doing for years around here.)

So there you have it; this is every stitch of information I have available on the topic; you, and anyone else reading this article and comments thread can make your own decisions.

And just in case you forgot, you really should read this:

http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/05/when-science-clashes-with-belief-make-science-impotent.ars

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Trevor Pott o_O
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Happy

@The Original Ash

Oh come on now...

...I just got that sarcasm meter replaced.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Havin_it

Your statement: "there are apps galore available for XP that rely on the user being Admin, but there are very few that are irreplaceable” is false.

This may be true with home systems, or even a business that does little more than MS Office and Quicken. For the rest of the business world, this is flat out false. In my case alone, on 7 different networks there are 12 applications I can not replace that /require/ administrative privs to run. On Windows XP, or Windows 7. Fortunately, on Windows 7, I can run the applications in an elevated privilege mode without running the entire user context as one. This is simply not possible in Windows XP.

I'll be honest with you: the company that provides me with my day job is investing a lot of money right now working with developers to create replacements for 4 of these 12 applications. The others, insofar as I know, simply have no sponsors or developers trying to replace them. I would like to say my experience is unique, that I am simply working with "cheap bastards" or that the company "isn't stumping up for the replacement software," but the reality is that these applications have no replacements.

Talking with fellow systems administrators at enterprises and educational facilities all over the globe I hear the same story repeated over and over. There are seminars held on this fact; books galore have been written and sold.

Your statement is so dismissive and false that to those of us who have to deal with these applications and their associate problems every single day this statement is simply offensive. I would place it next to statements like “well, just use Linux; there’s an open source application for /anything/ you want to do, and they are /all/ better than the closed-source ones.”

How do you even respond to something like that? You would think that after decades of it, I would be immune, but each and every time I read something like this I am absolutely floored. Flaberghasted. Shocked to my very core. Is this trolling? Are these statements made by people trying to get the goat of real folks who have to work with this stuff? Are the statements made from a lack of knowledge, or simply a very narrow worldview?

With the open source folks, I can at least write off their statements as a sort of fanaticism based on their philosophical belief in the rightness and purity of open source. When you want something to be true bad enough, and you believe in your cause...I can understand how it is possible to tune out the bits of reality you don’t want to see or hear. As a systems administrator and a massive nerd I can even understand why they believe what they believe. There is a not insignificant part of me that wants all applications to have open source variants...good open source variants that are stable, usable and truly competitive with what’s out there. Hell, I’d even settle for “can do all the things required to get the job done.” In the real world though, there aren’t open source variants of 90% of bespoke or industry specific software.

So this is where your statement runs me against a wall. We’re talking about Windows here. I can’t see how there can be fanaticism, or a desire to believe something so hard that you are blinded to the truth. There is an absolutely incomprehensible amount of software is so badly written that it absolutely does require being run with elevated privileges. Companies all over the world are utterly dependant on them. So I have to ask you this honestly, and I hope you give an honest answer: Were you trolling sir? Because if you were then I would like to give you an internet award for it; your statement hurt my mind.

If you weren’t, then please, I would very much so love to see some (any) form of proof to back it up. If for no other reason…

…than that I want to believe.

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Mozilla and Opera call for Google open codec in HTML5 spec

Trevor Pott o_O
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I'd like to "open"

a can of whoop-ass on any and every company that tries to use the word "open" to describe anything ever again.

THE WORD HAS LOST IT'S MEANING, YOU $expletive(something_vile());

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Alt rock diva's nude snap 'leaked' to tweetosphere

Trevor Pott o_O
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@AC

Unless you are in Australia. There's a size restriction there...

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Fanboi's lament – falling out of love with the iPad

Trevor Pott o_O
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@Rik

Excellent article, sir. After having taken some time to play with the iPad myself, (admittedly only a couple of hours,) I can only say that my experience mirrors what you have described.

The iPad is a nice first effort...but it’s not there yet. Apple has once more kindly walked into the minefield first, and what I have a feeling that what other companies produce a year or so after analysing Apples mistakes will be superior. While other “tablets” have existed, the iPad is the first serious attempt at this particular form factor; this be untested waters.

For me the analogue in my experience is the iPhone versus Android test. The HTC Hero was far nicer to me than an iPhone; I think largely because Apple walked into the minefield of this form factor first, and other companies could observe, and follow.

My motto is “never buy version 1 of anything,” and that your article confirms my experiences tells me that the iPad truly is like the first version of an operating system. Hold your horses and wait for SP1; other companies will shake the bugs out for you.

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Scripted installs? So yesterday

Trevor Pott o_O
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@Chris Dixon

I would consider you a kindred spirit, sir. You are describing me, ten years ago. I have been using computers as far back as I can remember. I still have my first typed document, punched up when I was 4. By 8 I was formatting disks and reinstalling DOS, 10 saw me building my first PCs and by 12 I had a home Ethernet network with systems that had multiple OSes. (This was because at 12 we got our first connection to "the internet," as opposed to dialling up BBSes, and while Daddy was trying to figure out what this internet thing was, I was trolling Usenet, and playing with Gopher.)

I'd paid my dues by the time school post secondary was over; years of call centers, crappy bench-tech jobs and holding together the networks of the schools I attended. When I finished post secondary (and a truly awful practicum,) I got a gig as the sole systems administrator at an up-and-coming small business. It was exciting to get away from the “scut work” I’d been doing for over a decade by then, and finally have someone else’s servers to play with. Bear in mind that “someone else’s servers” at this point described a pair of P4 2.8s desktops with 2gig RAM and a whopping 120GB of desktop-class spinning storage. (Cue cheering.)

Now, I have the pleasure of working beside a very competent systems administrator and we have a bench tech of our very own. We have an in-house programmer and customer-support rep. We run 50 physical servers with over 200 VMs. We sit on 4x 100Mbit fibre pipes, and during the “busy season” we can have 2TB a day of information hitting our servers from the outside, which turns into about 50TB of data that will fly across the internal network as a result.

I also keep an eye on several other smaller networks, both home setups and reasonable-sized businesses, all who simply can’t afford their own full-time admin.

As luck would have it, I get the opportunity to play with higher-end gear through contacts I have with sysadmins working on much larger installations. I spend a lot of time reading things here on El Reg, Ars, and studying whitepapers and anything else I can get my hands on to keep my skills relevant. Thanks to good friends and better luck I have had so many chances to play with new toys that despite the day job, my knowledge isn’t strictly confined to the tools I can afford to use.

Still, you personally are essentially the “target market” of my articles. I am for all intents and purposes a Small to Medium Enterprise systems administrator, and when I write what I write…

…it’s to help my SME brethren out.

Glad you are liking the articles, and good luck with the network.

--Trevor Pott

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Chris Dixon

It is not so much "troubles encountered" as "ease of use." Ping requires more user intervention, (read: bodies pushing buttons) on the receiving computer than I like. (So does Clonezillia, btw, which I why I wouldn't recommend it for PXE distribution.) PING seemed to freak out whenever it encountered things exotic; Windows 7 for example, Software RAIDs or volumes tha spanned multiple disks.

There are work around for (some) of the issues I encountered in the Forums. There may even be work around for all of them. The truth is that it simply required more manual intervention than the alternatives, and a lot of research if you did anything even slightly off beat with it. (Also: don't even think about trying to image more than about 10 machines at a time with it. Just...don't.)

FOG on the other hand was absolutely fantastic. Brilliant even. For PXE distribution I'd put it head to head with Ghost in almost every way. Now, let's be honest with each other here; Ghost has been around a while. A long while. It has many very well paid programmers adding things to it all the time and as such Ghost can deal with far, FAR more exotic circumstances than FOG.

Still, FOG has a pretty good feature set, and can deal with probably 80% of all possible ghosting requirements out there.

I’d go so far as to say that if all you are doing is taking an image of a system and then distributing it to a set of computers that are largely the same…FOG kicks the ass of everything else out there. It’s quicker to use, easier to set up, well documented and free.

If you want to do something neat, like for example run a nightly backup of a live running Windows XP box, “genericise” the image such that you could then install it on a system with (for example) an Intel, nVidia or Via chipset should it be required…just don’t bother with anything else, go for ghost. If you want to update your images on the fly with drivers of windows updates without having to fire the image up on a test system…go straight to ghost.

To summarize:

Clonezilla is a tool for administrators that are standing in front of the computer in question, have the time to stick a physical boot disk in it and answer questions on the screen. You save the image to a flash key or a network share. You expect that if you ever have to use this image, you will be able to use a boot CD in the target computer in the same way.

FOG is a tool for taking an image of a computer, (say a prototype for a new desktop rollout of identical machines,) and then pushing it out to dozens or hundreds of systems SIMULTAINIOUSLY with no user intervention. If you are using a “genericised” Vista or Windows 7 install, then it can also be used to push out the same image to multiple systems running different hardware, either as an upgrade, or simply because you are using an image a few months old and don’t want to redo it for a new set of hardware you purchased.

WINNER is a scripted installer that lets you push Windows XP out to multiple simultaneous systems of different hardware configurations, but this is different and more complicated than imaging.

Ghost is what you use if you are lazy, have money, or want to do exotic things the others aren’t quite so good at. It’s probably the easiest to use of the bunch, but is the only “you have to pay for it” option in my list.

WDS is…a nice try…but not quite measuring up to the competition.

Getting into the really heavy hitters of enterprise desktop management we have KACE, Altris and SCCM. These do more than scripted installs or imaging; they take care of every aspect of your desktops. You pay for that convenience, but if you can afford it, they are worth every single penny.

I hope that helps!

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Jake

Have ever considered, just the once, that there might be room in this world for philosophies and approaches different than your own? You make a blanket judgment that I have been "corrupted by marketing." I have to disagree; I am platform agnostic, and a sceptic of all platforms, regardless of origin or publisher.

I simply see value (and faults) in all offerings available. Windows has it's place, as does OSX, Unix or Linux.

Not everyone has all the alternatives available to them. You might read “lack of alternatives” as “short sighted developers,” and you may well be right. Your being right or wrong about this doesn’t do a thing to enhance the number of options available to me. I am not a programmer. I can script, largely in varied languages beginning with a P, but I am not capable of sitting down and re-writing an industry specific application with two decades of development behind it. My specialty is lashing together systems that were never designed to interoperate, and doing so on as narrow a budget as humanly possible.

I can appreciate you are older, with a great deal of Unix and Linux experience, but why the evangelical approach to commenting? Is there no room in your world for different approaches to problem resolution than that which you prefer? I simply fail to understand why you are consistently adversarial.

If I have offended you in some way to cause this, I apologise.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@AC

There is another article by me around here somewhere, (or there will be soon) that talks about scripted installs. (It was part of this set.) Long story short; Microsoft is abandoning scripted installs in favour of imaging. It is done, dead, kaput. Also; RIS was a pain in the...

...that said, there is an open source application called WINNER. The website sort of looks like it might be a terrible Phishing experiment gone wrong, but the application is absolutely fantastic. Easy to use, works great...you won't be disappointed.

Altris was simply out of my price range to review. I can only review what I can get my grubby little mitts on, and I work for a small business. I dram one day of being able to afford it, but like anything VMWare that isn’t the bare-bones ESXi…that’s just not going happen.

Also bear in mind that application deployment can be done through Active Directory, or Novell’s excellent offerings. There are other systems management applications that play on an enterprise scale that can allow you to deploy applications as well.

We use Wyse clients as our physical desktops, with our staff RDPing into VMs for their real work. Wyse offers some neat tools to deploy applications to their thin clients, should you ever have the need, and they are Really Frakking Cool to play with. :D. I am still getting over the “hurray” of having tiny, solid state thin clients instead of 75 banged up 11-year-old junkers that constantly crap out damaged disks and dead DIMMs.

The downside to package-based application deployment is not only complexity but compatibility. Many applications, (especially those dang industry-specific ones made by vendors who know they are the only ones offering a product that does X) simply don’t wrap up in a nice little ball for deployment. No command line installers, no MSI…all graphical, requiring input, and probably barely functional unless you stand on your head while petting a cat and praying to Bob while holding the left shift key during the final phase of the install.

When and where you can use packaged installers, they can certainly make your life easier, especially to update a single application after you have already deployed your initial images. (I honestly find images easier for initial setup, but do use AD package-deployed apps where I can.)

I am compiling a list of these things though. If I get the chance and the go ahead from the folks in charge, then one of my later articles will review products that I didn’t have time (or the means) to before.

In the meantime, you should take your complaint up with Microsoft. That they have abandonned scripted installs with WDS is something I think was very shortsighted of them...

Stay tuned, and thanks for leaving comments!

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Anonymous Coward

Ghost's volume licensing is actually really fair. Sure, if you are buying one license it's $50 a machine, but it scales down to $16 a machine pretty fast. It's not perfect, and to be honest with you in my production environment I am going to end up using FOG and Clonezilla mostly due to cost.

Still, for anyone with a moderate budget Ghost is actually pretty cheap. It's easy to use, feature rich, and training time is virtually non existent if the IT staffer has more than 12 brain cells to rub together.

Every environment is different of course; I’ll be honest, I wish I had the money for a full blown SCCM, Altris of KACE deployment. I don’t. I barely have the money for ghost on my critical boxes; I absolutely rely on open source offerings for everything else.

Yet I have several sysadmin friends not so budget-constrained; they build the cost of ghost into every metal box they buy. For them, it’s as much a part of the base system build as the OS or Antivirus package. Each environment is unique, and while I can offer advice...there is no “one perfect solution” or “one perfect way of doing things.”

I will agree though that the smaller the business, the less sense ghost makes. At $50 a pop, Ghost looks really unattractive. At $16 a crack, that’s a cost per system that I can swallow.

When faced real enterprise-class competition from both FOG and Clonezilla, it is my opinion that Symantec need to very closely re-examine their SME pricing for Symantec Ghost Solution Suite.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Jake

30 odd years ago? Difficult to learn something before you were conceived. For the record though, I do a lot of Linux work. Just not on the desktop, as we have industry specific applications with no Linux alternative, not enough money in house to re-code them, and vendors with no motivation to port to Linux.

Welcome to working for an SME…

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Queuing for an iPad? Why?

Trevor Pott o_O
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@AC

Aesthetics are irrelevant. Functionality is king. What the person or the device looks like doesn't matter, only what he/she/it can do and how much time/money/etc. it costs to do it.

When you grow out of judging books by their cover, you not become more efficient at damned near everything, but you meet some interesting and frankly outstanding people as well.

Is something or someone that is pretty a bad thing? Not at all…it’s simply not relevant. If I have two objects to choose from /of equal functionality, cost and resource consumption/ then why not choose the pretty one? Until something is completely and utterly commoditised however, aesthetics are just not a consideration. I know for some folks it's really hard to understand...but there honestly is a huge percentage of the population that believes and lives by the concept that design just doesn't matter.

Life’s to short to get bogged down with pointlessly snubbing people or tools because of how they look.

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Site news: Track this forum

Trevor Pott o_O
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Dead Vulture

Feature requests

Oooooh! A place to publicly air my feature requests! Okay, let me dig up that e-mail...

OH GOD, WHY ALWAYS THE FRYING PAN?!?!?!?

*whack*

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Galactic pile-ups feed supermassive energy output

Trevor Pott o_O
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Sound reasoning

Intergalactic pile-ups are why we need more average speed cameras, natch.

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The art of desktop deployment

Trevor Pott o_O
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@jake

Each person has their own take. I would have agreed with your view ten years ago...but MS has really come along way. I'll be upfront about it and say that this is likely in spite of Ballmer, rather than because of him...but they have made a lot of progress.

Windows 7 is a heck of a thing. It may be "years behind unix" in some ways...but it is decades ahead of it in others. Your experience, values and philosophies have lead you to dislike (and it seems distrust) Microsoft. I can respect that, even if I may never fully understand your reasoning.

For my case, MS is rapidly becoming one of the few companies I do actually trust. They are a vicious life sucking leech, but they are a predictable vicious life sucking leech. They are quite literally the devil I know, whereas their main competition, (Apple, Google and Oracle) are erratic and unpredictable.

I can’t tell you what Jobs is going to do next; and with Apple Jobs is the only one that matters. Ellison operates a company I’ve never had to think about much in my career, and so I am only now beginning to read up on him, and take real note of his actions. From what I have read, I trust him less than I trust him far less than I trust Ballmer, but it won’t be a problem because I will never be able to afford anything Oracle makes. Google is just downright creepy. The more they put out this fake “friend of the common man” image, the less I believe them. They are trying to hard. Worse, the behind-the-scenes information, when it periodically leaks out, reveals a corporation at least as soulless as Microsoft, but convinced of their own ethical purity. What scares me even more is the power base they are amassing; even if the folks in charge now aren’t the be-all and end-all of evil…Google is a publicly traded company. Their replacements will be, and they’ll have control of all that Google has amassed in the interim.

What does that leave? The open source community? From my perspective, the open source community is laced with neuroses. To call it schizophrenic is to not even begin to diagnose it. I wrote Novell off ages ago, though I am starting to think that was short-sighted and premature. I can deal with Red Hat…I like a stable platform that changes slowly, in a careful and considered fashion with an eye towards functionality rather than “purity.”

Debian, Slackware...this is getting into the realm where the populace starts seeming to me more religious about technology rather than folks who just want to implement it and have it work. There’s a need for these folk and their product...just not where I work. I’ll be honest: I don’t have the time and the resources to futz about with anything. Whatever I use has got to work out of the box, with minimal hassle and be easy to maintain. I don’t have the time to become an expert on literally everything technological, as much I would love to. To use the more “pure” Linux distributions as anything other than glorified web/thin clients, lots and lots of expertise is exactly what is required.

So this leaves me with what I run: Microsoft and Red Hat. Microsoft because, while they are evil bastards…they are TAME evil bastards. They are so utterly predictable that their competition has spent the past ten years dancing on their faces with faceted cleats. Some of their software, once the blinders are off, is actually pretty good. Other software…not so much. Where the holes exist in Microsoft’s portfolio, I fill it in with Red Hat, and the combination has worked really well for me.

I guess we are simply doomed to forever have different criteria for choosing our applications, and our application vendors.

For future reference however, titles like “Windows confuses people” does come off as a bit aggressive. Given your utterly enormous posting history here at El Reg, I would be remarkably reluctant to dismiss you simply as “another blind, prejudiced, evangelical open sourcer with whom no rational discussion can possibly be had.” Ever now and again however, a title like that is posted…

*shrug*

It’s 4am. Less rambling, more sleep.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Inachu

Both WDS and Ghost, (and probably a few others) can be set to trigger updates after imaging.

Also, it should be noted that both WDS and Ghost offer the ability to slipstream patches into an existing image without firing that image up.

Worth looking into.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@jake

Oh, not just my articles. I'm the new guy and I totally understand my own articles not making front page. The whole "Desktop Blog" thing is new, unproven, and real estate is real estate...even if it's digital. Making the front page even once is still new enough to elicit a “dude…cool!”

I mentioned it only so that a) folks could find the other two articles in the set, and b) after ten plus years of reading the Reg, I only clued into the fact that not all the articles made the main page about, oh…four months ago? (Don’t I feel dumb!)

So either it is a new thing, or I have been missing quite a few articles over the years. Figured I’d let folk know, so they don’t miss out.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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Followup Articles

Guys, The Register posted my articles out of order. Here are articles two and three in this set:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/24/scripted_installs/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/24/imaging_lessons/

These articles didn't make the front page. (Several haven't, in fact, I've been noticing a lot of articles lately that just don't make the front page.)

For those interested, here are all the articles by me so far: http://search.theregister.co.uk/?author=Trevor%20Pott

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Jake

Honestly, the first versions of Ghost, (or at least it's predecessors,) would not image a system unless it was between disks with an identical amount of free space. (Down to the bit.) There may have been some Unix apps of the era that allowed it to be done differently, I am not sure. I'll admit to you; in the late 80s, I was not yet 10 years old, and my computer knowledge was restricted to Trash-80s, C64s, DOS systems and an Apple Mac. The only ones I had even taken apart and upgraded by that point were the DOS systems, and my very first multi-node LAN was at home using Windows 95. (My second was a large number of Apples I took care of at School.)

If the imaging solutions of the late 80s and early 90s actually allowed for more than bit-for-bit copies then it certainly wasn't so for any of the PC or Mac solutions I encountered. It wasn't until that late 90s that I started to be able to image from one partition to another of a different size.

I respect your Unix knowledge sir; your comments on El Reg say you probably have quite a bit of it, but dealing with early versions of Ghost (and it’s confederates) was just ****ing awful.

Thus…”bad old days.”

Also, on a completely separate note...why always the contrarian sir? Is there no room for artistic license or folks who think on things a little different than yourself? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good debate, and any and all comments are good things…but in these El Reg comments sections you and I seem to very frequently find ourselves at odds. It’s unfortunate.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Anton Ivanov

Look into a LiveCD called "Inquisitor."

This is was we use to "excercise our hardware." ;)

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Lusty

SCCM is one of the few enterprise-class Desktop Management tools I have actually had a chance to play with on any real scale. Let me be clear: it is FANTASTIC. It has some limitations in dealing with Linux that make it a little unfit for my purposes, but eve if it weren't...it would be out of my price range. As with everything Microsoft, it isn't the cost of the server software, but the cost of the CALs that kills you. (They are called MLs for SCCM.)

Client MLs are $40 with Server MLs reaching $430. I'll be honest with you: I can't afford that. I work for an SME; we have an annual budget of $100,000 that has to buy all our hardware, software, networking, internet connectivity (we use fibre,) and upgrade/maintain our datacenters.

For those that can afford is, SCCM is worth looking into. As are the enterprise imaging and desktop management applications such as KACE or Altris.

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Atlantis bows out with Kennedy touchdown

Trevor Pott o_O
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Atlantis.

Here is hoping that she is laid to rest in a good and proper home; well taken care of and shown the utmost of respect. She has served us well, may she now rest in peace.

Goodbye, old friend.

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Viacom vs YouTube spat slathered in F-words

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@AC

Safe Harbour provisions are supposed to be about protecting sites against accidental infringement. This gets significantly gluier when the people running the site not only are aware that regular infringement occurs, but that it is a part of their business model. Because of bungling by Google, this case may end up setting precedent which severely limits safe harbour provisions.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@AC

The "old business models" screwed everyone but the "Big Content" rightsholding companies. The content creators got screwed, the public got screwed, and even the taxman got screwed.

As both content creator and consumer; I don't want the "old business models" reinventing themselves. How could you possibly paint that as a good thing?

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Trevor Pott o_O
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On and on and on...

Two facts:

1) Google is clearly guilty

2) Viacom, (along with every other major out there) are complete twatdangles for not making their content available in a DRM-free (or at least DRM-completely unobtrusive, allowing-your-media-to-work-on-any-device-full-stop) relatively inexpensive and convenient fashion.

One of these is breaking the law, the other isn't. In my opinion, Viacom's actions should be illegal, but in the US they aren't. The copyright and patents system int eh US of A, (and around much of the rest of the world) is bady broken. It's time to overhaul it all for the modern world. A system where by content producers get paid, consumers pay a reasonable amount, (maybe even a flat fee) for as much content as they could want, and copyright is a fixed term, not tied to the life of the creator.

There may well not be a future for large corporate rights holding companies in my utopic vision of intellectual property but...

...nothing of value would be lost.

Spoken, by the way, as someone who earns at least part of his livelihood from producing content.

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Intel abandons discrete graphics for HPC

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@AC

SSDs

Intel does one thing well: Silicon

Anything else is a distraction to make it seem like they are "doing something to increase shareholder value." Very soon here, (you watch,) there will come the "focusing on our core competency." This is followed by MASSIVE layoffs, selling off or closing business units and of course, “increased shareholder value.”

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Windows 3.0 turns 20

Trevor Pott o_O
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@Test man

So...I take it liked Vista as well. Do you work for Microsoft, or is it merely a case of the religious belief that "newer is /always/ better!"

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Trevor Pott o_O
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I disagree

Windows ME should not have been.

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Adobe tilts at windmills with image apps for iPad

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@Tim Cook

First, it doesn't matter if you're Apple or not. You stood up to defend them, it's simpler to address you as though you did work for them. (Who knows, maybe, just maybe someone involved with Apple actually reads these comments.)

Second, just as you reject my definition of “open,” I reject yours. Your definition of open holds true in a world where all things are equal. All things are not equal; a company the size of Apple holds enormous influence. What they choose to include (or far more importantly, what they choose to EXCLUDE) “out of the box” goes a very, very long way towards defining what is “standard” and what is not. Apple choose to include only standards and formats and interconnectivity they hold patents on (and thus make money on,) while explicitly excluding those they don’t. When Microsoft does this, the world screams “anti-trust,” and frankly Apple’s time has come. Their consumer computing appliances have reached lofty enough heights that the exclusion of something by Apple has very similar effects to it’s exclusion by Microsoft.

An example would be FAT. If Windows were to support the ext family of filesystems out of the box, (as would befit an “open” operating system by my definition,) no one would eb using FAT for flash drives or anything else. There would be a completely cross-platform, patent unencumbered file system available for removable media. I can download an ext* driver for windows however it’s exclusion from out-of-the-box Windows means that despite the /possibility/ of it being installed, it will never see broad adoption.

Apple’s attack on Flash, VP8 and others in favour of H.264 is having a very similar effect. Just like Microsoft owning patents on FAT, Apple own patents on H.264.

In the entire history of computers, about the only application I can recall bucking this trend is Flash. (Java is a close second.) Despite it’s lack of inclusion in most operating systems, it was so very required at the beginning of the aughties that it reached ubiquity.

It is because of these social effects that I say that “the possibility that you can do something with a system” is not enough to be open. To be open you have to embrace open standards…even the ones that don’t directly make you money. Otherwise you are using your influence in one area to increase your dominance in another. I equate “open” with the idea of competition. Competition to me means that you compete on technology, features and convenience. Those ideas are anathema to the practice of lock-ins, exclusion and using one’s influence built in area A to crush competition in area B.

You are free to disagree with me; in fact agreeing to disagree is likely the only sane thing to do at this point. Still, nothing is likely to change my belief that individuals, corporations or even governments that have expanded influence compared to their peers absolutely must be held to higher standards. This includes “openness” by my definition, and it most certainly includes truth in advertising.

Since you and I can not agree on the definition of open in this context, two commenters in a thread long since dead, what hope a nation or any large group of consumers believing in the same definition? When a word has been and twisted, stretched and changed it’s meaning becomes so ambiguous that it is without meaning. “Open” has become a word that means whatever a marketing department wants it to mean. Very few people are using it to mean what I believe it should mean, few of them are even using it to mean what you claim it should mean. So when I slam Apple, or Microsoft or anyone else for claims of being “open,” it is not only because they do not meet my definition of open…

…but that it may be impossible to achieve a definition that a majority of people can agree upon.

Have a good long weekend sir, I hope the weather treats you well.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Tim Cook

Your belief that I was "spitefully attacking" Macs betrays your own bias, sir. I was non-spitefully attacking all extant platforms. There is no malice or spitefulness...merely an acknowledgement that absolutely nothing out there is truly "open." My attack is against anyone or any corporation that would attempt to call themselves "open." You say that you have the right define open. I am here to call you on that. My opinion of the definition of the word "open" is just as valid as your own, and mind would require more from Apple, Microsoft or even Linux before I considered them open. (Thou8gh admittedly the open source community is the closest of you all…and not because they open source their code. Also since quite a bit of open source software is not free for commercial use, one cannot infer that it is price that makes something open in my opinion either.)

Openness is not only being allowed to run whatever code you want, it is the ability to interoperate with other systems. It is adherence to every international standard that applies to your product. If you are an office suite, you should support ODF, OpenXML, and every and any other "open standard" that isn't encumbered with patents or liabilities. At that point do I start to consider that office package "open."

For an operating system, the stakes are higher. An OS like OSX is far more than a kernel and a windowing platform. You include all sorts of built-in applications, from Safari to multimedia programs to widgets and partition management apps. Can I run every file format in Apple's native multimedia playback apps that VLC can run? No? Why not? I accept "because they are covered in 10,000 patents." I don't accept "because we want people to use formats we have patents on." Are you even capable of understanding the difference? Other than FAT, is there a truly cross-platform file-system? Why, in the year 2010, can I not manage a Macintosh through Active Directory? (Or OpenLDAP, or...)

Apple is a multi-billion-dollar company. It has resources that I myself personally, or even most enterprises on the planet don't have. There are technologies you could, and should be incorporating into your Macs to make them more “open”, rather than getting into hypocritical word wars with Adobe.

Sit down at the table with Microsoft, and hammer out some deals to make your Macs more interoperable, easier managed by (let’s face it) the dominant enterprise server player out there, and maybe climb down from the ivory tower and work with the Linux folk to interoperate with them.

“Open” isn’t whatever you say it is. “Open” is the ability to not only run what I want, when I want, in whatever language I want, but it is the ability to interoperate with everything and anything I happen to bring along. I’m a reasonable guy; I don’t expect your Macs to interoperate with my 15-year-old clock radio, or my obscure $5 MP3 player. I do expect it to work with every single industry standard and every dominant chunk of software and hardware out there. I expect it to do this out of the box ONLY because you carry on about being “open.”

If you simply said “Apple is walled garden; we play with only with other Apple gear and certified Apple software,” then there wouldn’t be a single problem here. Quit telling the world you make “open” computers, and instead stand up for the fact that you make the best computing APPLIANCES currently available. You’d be admitting what you are, and there’d be truth in advertising.

Now before you try to nail me down once more for having a “closed mind’ or a “narrow viewpoint,” I want you to bear in mind that I am not attacking Apple’s business model, merely your advertising and “message.” Microsoft is just as “closed,” as Apple…they just don’t lie about it nearly as often. (When they do, I take the piss out of them just as hard.) Linux is a community for which I have all sorts of scorn for mouthing “open” out one side of their mouths while telling you “our way or the hiway” out the other.

I understand that from a business and even legal perspective it is really convenient to define being “open” as totally separate from being “interoperable” and offering support for “as many standards as is legally possible.” I am here to call you on that, sir.

As a consumer, as a programmer, as a systems administrator, as a company executive, as a vendor of IT services, as a reseller of IT hardware and as a writer for a tech magazine I am here to tell you that “open” is not something to be redefined according to the needs of a given company’s marketing department. “Open” means not only “the freedom to run whatever I want, whenever I want, in whatever language I want,” it means “interoperability,” and it most certainly and above all else means “support for every international standard that it is legally possible to support.”

If you want to call that a narrow viewpoint, that is your right. Understand however that your defence of your definition of the word “open” looks terribly narrow, (and hypocritical) to me. If you truly believe in your company sir, defend what they are, not what you would have them be. Apple isn’t open.

But they make some decent closed computing appliances.

P.S. This applies to iPhoneOS as much as it does to “full fat OSX.” Get into no wars crowing about your “openness” until you’ve solved that one.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Tim Cook

You may believe what you wish about the narrowness of my viewpoint; I am merely cynical. Apple does what is good for Apple, nothing more, nothing less. Those who "believe" in a company, any company, are "fanboys." Corporations exist to make money; they have no ethics, no morals, and no scruples. They are bound by law to do everything legally possible to "increase shareholder value," and as such devotion to any company borders on the insane. Corporations are not on the side of the consumers. Corporations may accidentally provide something of substantial value to a consumer, but only if there is enough competition to cause them to do so.

As to Apple being “as open” as any other platform, IT IS NOT. One aspect of Apple’s empire, specifically their “full blown” OSX is more-or-less as open as other proprietary operating systems. It isn’t close to as open as Linux, and frankly I’d absolutely love to see a breakdown of “openness” between Microsoft and Apple. I have a sneaky suspicion that even on the desktop, Microsoft would win.

You also completely ignore the fact that a company like Microsoft can get away with being closed because they offer a wide enough variety of software and hardware within their “ecosystem” that, in truth, you only very rarely have to venture outside of it.

You can call me narrow-minded all you wish, but I stand by what I said. Apple produce Fisher-Price computer systems. They make computing APPLIANCES that are designed for CONSUMERS. If I want a push-button HTPC, or a dumb web terminal, I would certainly consider a Mac. It has to one job, and do that one job well. In this appliance world Apple not only proves it’s mettle, it utterly demolishes it’s competition.

Apple need to stop fighting the battle of “open.” It’s a crock. They aren’t open. You can jiggle the figures, and try to change the definition of open to suit the claim, but the reality of it is Apple have no interest in “open” because it doesn’t make them a red cent.

What I fail to understand is why they seem to think they have to market themselves as open. If Apple went out, marketed themselves as “hey, we have a closed, walled garden computing experience...but it is exactly this sort of tight integration, vetting, and general control freakery that mean that we can guarantee you the best computing experience for [category X]” then I wouldn’t have a beef with Apple. They would be fessing up to what they are: an appliance and consumer electronics maker, and they would make a ****ing killing.

This game with Adobe, (or anyone else) of who is “open” is complete and utter bollocks. If you are proud of Apple, if you think Apple is the best, then don’t try lying about who and what they are. Stand up for their walled garden, and defend that approach. I may personally not like the approach, but IT HAS PROVEN IT’S VALUE. The current genitalia-measuring contest over “openness’ does nothing by make Apple look like the worst kind of hypocrite.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@Tim Cook.

I spent a good long while pondering if I should respond to you or not. Though I understand that trying to talk to fanboys of any stripe is often pointless (they are blind to criticism of their favorite device,) I felt that I should clear my name. To others who might read this, if not nesses airily to you.

You make the statement that I don’t know the first thing about Macs, and that my opinion is based on my “narrow view of the world.” To the first; I do actually know a fair amount about Macs. Not as much as I know about PCs or Linux boxes, I admit...but I must work with and administrate Macs every day. I even, (shock, gasp,) have a pair of the little buggers at home. (Yes, they are the girlfriend’s, but I do use and abuse them a lot myself. Knowledge is best obtained first hand, and I like to know what is I speak of when I shoot my mouth off on-line.)

As to the second, I can’t dispute that my opinions come from my narrow view of the world. From where else would my opinions come excepting my own personal experience? The marking handed to me from a multi-billion dollar company? No, my opinions are formed based on having to work with these systems day in and day out.

Mac’s play nice only with other Macs. I am certain that with enough browbeating, you can convince a Mac to work on (for example) an Active Directory network. I know because I have done it, however I have also discovered that there is less pain involved in convincing a Fedora-based system to run Mac applications, and join in the MS-network fun than there is in trying to coax that Mac into playing well with others. While I will grant you that Mac desktop and laptop computers running FIULE BORE MAC OSX are reasonably open, (there are several very annoying limitations in what I can code and using what tools,) anything running iPhoneOS is a closed platform behind a walled garden locked on a planet with it’s own shield. (Pay the toll, and be approved by the triumvirate before being allowed through the shield.)

In truth, Mac OSX (as opposed to iPhoneOS) is almost as open as Windows. I can still do more with Windows; code more things with fewer restrictions, run a greater variety of Apps. Like the Windows ecosystem, Apple locks their devices to their platform, their platform plays with their things only and any pittance of mixed-environment compatibility is offer with a desultory wave of the hand and an air of reluctance. Apple has learned it’s lessons from Microsoft well.

Linux is the only truly “open” system to code for, but it has it’s own problems. The Jihadi mentality of so many policy-setters and major-project-coders leads to fragmentation, inconsistent application behavior across even minor version changes as well as alarming differences in capability and level of bugs between similar-generation distros. The Jihadi attitude of the Linux world also makes most companies very twitchy about playing in that sandbox because they are unsure they can make money. This means that despite the advances in a lot places in Linux, (and for the fanboys, I use three different distros of Linux every day as well,) Linux is still marred by patchy application support, buggy drivers and a completely inconsistent “user experience”. (Even between version of the same distro.)

So, to Tim Cook; Mac is a walled garden sir. It’s iPhoneOS products more than others, but even the desktop world of Mac is hidden behind a veil. Microsoft is as well, however the difference is that Microsoft’s walled garden is ****ing enormous. They have at least one of everything you can possibly imagine, so you can live, work and play inside that walled garden and never have a requirement to leave it. Linux is a wide open field; populated by anarchists living in anything from castles to lean-tos, all of whom have overlapping territorial claims, and none of whom look kindly on outsiders.

For a home PC, especially for someone who wants nothing more than the experience provided them by OSX, Macs are ****ing fantastic. They are a fantastic home computing APPLIANCE, and just like iPhoneOS devices, have their niche well carved out. In a business environment, one that has to integrate with other operating systems, Macs are a burden, not a benefit.

I am open to being proven wrong, but as with so many people, I won’t believe something just because I’ve read it online. If someone wants to prove me wrong in person, show me definitively and conclusively that Macs are as “open” as the competition, prove they can and will integrate into a mixed business environment…

…well if you can do that, I’ll write the glowing article of praise and post it on EL Reg myself. Until that day however...I’ll continue to take the piss out of ALL platforms, for ALL of their failings.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@AC 15:45

I am aware that the settings change solves this, but when deploying Photoshop via network-installer to a few hundred computers, I am aware of no way to change this setting via script or pre-coded install option.

If you could enlighten me as to such, then I would be eternally grateful...

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Trevor Pott o_O
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Megaphone

No, it's not.

Listen, I abhor adobe. Acrobat and Photoshop's terrible design has required users run as administrator on my windows systems. It has means that using Photoshop under multiple users can cause profile corruption, and it stores gigabytes of temp files in places that get replicated off to the server when using roaming profiles. IF for no other reasons than these, Adobe can die screaming.

THAT SAID...Adobe have some exceptionally good and very valid points. Apple is up-and-coming; they’re Unix based, which means a real command line with some honest-to-god power behind it. (Seriously, powershell? DIAF.) With the advent of Steam For Mac, you can begin to actually game on a Mac! Since Macs started to pick up in popularity in the US, developers are starting to code for it…there’s a chance it may one day pass from being a Fisher-Price computer that runs a bunch of pretty (but ultimately useless) pre-loaded apps into a real computer platform that can run any of millions of applications for any conceivable purpose.

The problem is that to pass from the realm of Fisher-Price computing into the grow-up world the platform needs to be “open.” (Seriously, we need a better word than “open.”) I’ll define open: open is anyone being able to write anything for that “platform” using any language they know how, attaching any hardware they can code drivers for FOR ANY PURPOSE. Anything else is an attempt to impose your own moral judgements on others, and is nothing more than an expensive but restricted child’s toy.

In this failing, Apple aren’t remotely alone. I’ll gladly take the piss out of almost anyone on this. Apple act as “moral police” and “experience purity” police whilst trying desperately to use their success in one area to cement dominance in another. (If they had 75%+ of the market, this would be consider monopolistic behaviour, no questions asked. As it is it’s simply irritating and disqualifies them as a serious consideration for business computing. It also disqualifies them from my personal consideration for home computing.)

Microsoft and Oracle have ridiculous policies of “you can only use our software in combination with our other software.” You’ll never get an official licence from MS to run office on Linux, despite the fact that everything except Outlook runs great under wine. You aren’t allowed to use Office Floaty Cloud Edition from a browser in Linux, and for that matter you technically aren’t legally allowed to RDP into a windows computer from a Linux system.

If you want an example of the mainframe childishness, just watch IBM get their panties in a bunch when someone tries to run their O/S on hardware they didn’t lock you in to. If HP had an ounce of caring about the good of their customers, they’d have ported htier O/Ses off of the Itanic ages ago, and be helping their customers access a range of new hardware options that aren’t technological dead ends.

Linux distributions (and most Linux nerds) are perhaps the worst of the lot. They recognise all of the above, and so back an open source set of alternatives on one hand, while running holy jihads against the use of anything “closed” on their precious OS on the other. The irony is completely lost on them. The important part isn’t if the source is open or not, but what you can DO with the computer that is in front of you. What control do you have over you own software or hardware? If I write a closed-source driver for my New Widget, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s not as good as if I open sourced that driver, but without some form of driver you can’t use the New Widget, so I have at least opened up some form of Choice to you. As the provider of the New Widget, I may have my reasons for not open sourcing my code, but so long as I don’t unfairly restrict what my New Widget can interact with, there’s nothing to get uppity about. If Adobe finally wrote Photoshop For Linux, yet did it as a closed source application, again this WOULDN’T BE A BAD THING. I wouldn’t be AS GOOD as if it were released open source, but the mere fact that this existed for this platform has increased the choices available. There are a stupendous number in the Linux community completely unable to think like that, and they seem to spend the majority of their time fighting holy Jihads against those that do. Thus Linux stagnates and for every three steps forward it takes, it takes two steps back.

So where does this really leave me, as a business user or as an Individual? Anything running on Apple is only allowed to run at the whims of a megalomaniac, whims which are subject to change if he sees a competitive or PR advantage to be had. Microsoft/Oracle and similar will spend eternity sucking you into their “ecosystem.” Once there you learn that everything you own must be made by them or, while it may technically function, they hang the threat of litigation of the heads of everyone. The Mainframe world is similar, with the additional bonus that you are hardware locked as well as software locked. Oh, and FLOP per FLOP, it’s significantly more expensive than just about any other options, barring perhaps trying to build a super out of iPhones. Linux? A bunch of infighting children who can’t play nice amongst themselves, let alone the rest of the world.

The closest I have been able to find tolerable amongst the lot of them is Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It’s still Linux, so there’s still a lot of cursing, things not working, and running up against ridiculous moral Puritanism when trying to do just about anything…but at least I can code whatever I want for it, and Red Hat does long-term maintenance on the distro. (As opposed to the spasmodic offerings of Ubuntu or Fedora, where you are flat out better off nuking and re-installing, and then learning how /everything/ works all over again with each new revision.)

It’s ALL pants. All of it. Apple isn’t in the right, Adobe isn’t in the right, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, even Linux....PANTS, ALL OF IT.

So I level at the entirety of the software industry the very same comment I level at ISPs:

SHUT UP AND BE DUMB PIPES ALREADY.

You’re getting in my way of doing cool stuff with technology.

Thank you all, and good day.

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Novell seeks rich suitors

Trevor Pott o_O
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Microsoft Linux

Wierder things have happened.

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The nightmare users: Solving the problem

Trevor Pott o_O
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@Dirk_Diggler

I'd love it if you could enlighten me with details, kind sir.

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User Data: Here, there, everywhere

Trevor Pott o_O
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@morsey

The dark and sinister BOFH side of me happens to agree with you. Sadly, I don't get to set those kinds of policies, and neither do many sysadmins out there. For those of us who have to treat our users as though their desires and preferences matter...this is why things like roaming profiles exist.

At the end of the day, as much as I would like to rigidly enforce policies that make my job (and hence life) much easier, users very rarely listen to policy. Some sysadmins may be able to administer discipline or even fire staff for not adhering to the rules, however we sadly do not all have such luxuries.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@choccieman

"Are future articles going to touch on things like virtualised desktops and using things like portable apps to keep applications self-contained?"

Most assuredly, however not in this set. Those are topics all thier own...

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Remote access in real life

Trevor Pott o_O
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@Arkasha

The slowness issues are related to Vista and later. They do not occur all the time, only under some very specific circumstances. (Usually older routers, older copies of ISA server, etc.)

As to the RDPClip issue, here is the skinny:

In my usage scenario, I RDP from my home into a virtual machine at home. That work virtual machine is RDPed into, at any given time, about 30 different systems. Each of those systems may be RDPed into 5 or 6 of their own.

If I were to copy something large, (say a screenshot @1920x1200,) or a large quantity of text, then I could not copy anything else, (say another screenshot) until that clipboard information had propagated through the “web” of inter-connected RDP sessions. (Which in my case can be over 200 sessions spanning 30 WAN links.) If you do so, (say by hitting “print screen twice in rapid succession,) you risk “corrupting” the rdpclip service on an edge session. That “corruption” can spread to neighbours until you have to restart rdpclip on the whole array.

Most often however, it is simply a single corrupt RDPCLIP on an edge system that you must restart. If you are RDPed into a system with a “corrupt” RDP clip, then clipboard services may not work for all computers in the RDP chain. (Or they may work for some segments or “arms” of the RDP chain, but not others.)

I hope that information helps!

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@RSW

Sorry, RSW. Teamviewer was used as my canonical example of "paid-for remote access software." When I tested them out, (and there are many!) they all seemed to be more or less the same. Minor variations on features, but speed, stability, etc. were about the same.

As you would notice in my first article, I chose Teamviewer only because the CTO of my day job bought us four licences at work. As such, I have been using it for months, and felt I was better qualified to comment on it’s features than the other commercial offerings.

At the suggestion of several commenters, however, I have started tinkering with other commercial remote access applications if for no other reason than to become more familiar with them.

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The Remote Access arsenal

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@AC 09:34 GMT

They are not only the three most common, they are also three that work across all three major platforms: Windows, OSX and Linux.

I'll be honest, I gave up X11 over SSH as soon as I discovered XRDP. With XRDP, almost every operating system already has the client portion built right in. With X11 over SSH, I have to configure a pile of stuff on every new system. X11 may be technically superior; but when you are a busy (or lazy) admin, you don't want to be setting clients up on every system you use.

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Trevor Pott o_O
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@AC && Gaz Jay

As I mentioned in my first article, the "commercial offering" that I had access to was Teamviewer. I have used both Logmein and ShowmyPC as well, but in a much more limited fashion. (I.E. I use Teamviewer every single day for my day job, the other two only very occasionally.)

In truth though, I recognise that both of these offerings haven't been properly reviewed, and i am considering doing a set of articles comparing the various commercial remote offerings to each other. Do you have specific "killer features" in either of these products that you admire? Something that makes them stand out from Teamviewer, (or each other?) Or are they, (as my initial impression of them was, based on my admittedly brief exposure to them,) about on par with Teamviewer?

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Trevor Pott o_O
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A fair point.

Folks I have talked to, (both locally, and on the internet) seem to lump all remote access technologies into the banner "remote desktop." When specifying Microsoft's extensions to the ITU-T T.128 protocol however, I am almost universally heard it referred to as "RDP." There has to be a little room for artistic licence when you write, but I do wholeheartedly acknowledge that nearly any generalisation will have reasonably-sized exceptions to it.

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Where to use Remote Access

Trevor Pott o_O
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@Neil Dawson

Never heard of it. Sounds neat though...time to look it up!

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Trevor Pott o_O
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Telnet not there

Could you be more specific as to what you are seeking regarding telnet? Are you trying to get Teamviewer to operate over Telnet, (sort of like X11 in SSH?) I'm pretty sure that's not possible, as I don't think Telnet can encapsulate other protocols like that.

If you are trying to get Teamviewer to present you with a Telnet terminal (instead of the GUI,) I am not sure they have that feature available. I agree though, combining Teamviewer's "I can punch a hole through any firewall" with simply presenting you a command line that doesn't impinge upon the console GUI would be fantastic. Maybe it’s something they haven’t though of; have you considered submitting a feature request?

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Non-Flash video surges onto the web

Trevor Pott o_O
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Question about the numbers:

Aren't many of these sites releasing videos in either/or format? Flash as a wrapper around whatever codec, AND HTML5 <video>? Why does 26% HTML 5 availability automatically mean that these videos aren't being served in flash? Is the win really as big as "26% of all web video is ONLY available in HTML5," or is it "26% of the web has decided to be nice to people who use HTML and offered them up a biscuit?"

Be interesting to know...

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Atlantis blasts off on final mission

Trevor Pott o_O
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Atlantis.

Fair winds and following seas old friend. May your final flight see you safely home. Your service was exemplary, and you have made all of humanity proud. You will be missed.

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Boffins warn on car computer security risk

Trevor Pott o_O
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O RLY

"It's highly theoretical because the challenges of hacking a car are vastly more than hacking a banking system. I just can't see anyone bothering."

With the exception of every security force (public or private) on the face of this dusty little ball of rock? I guarantee you in the game of "spy vs. spy" the ability to selectively (and untraceably) cause your target’s vehicle to enter into a short argument with a semi is exceptionally attractive. For that matter, private “security forces” (such as the multi-squillion dollar mercenary corps the US uses,) will be exceptionally interested in this ability. You could probably extend that to almost any unscrupulous lobbyist working for any sufficiently cash-flush corporation.

News flash to “Independent security expert Ken Tindell:” there is an entire other world of exceptionally high stakes, unbelievably high money and ridiculous power-over-millions that gets played beyond the purview of the general public every single day. It’s not a conspiracy theory or an exaggeration; most regular folks in first or second world nations honestly have no idea whatsoever how cheap life really is. Go ask survivors of third-world genocides about this, or corner a few spies, “private security personnel” or “tactical specialists” in the employ of the large defence contractors.

Or hey, grow up on a military base. You learn right quick what the value of a life is, and it isn’t much. This research is very, very important because this research can be weaponised with the right knowledge, money, and power. Exactly the things that the people who care enough to actually weaponise it have.

Does Aunt Tilly have to worry about it on a day to day basis? Probably not...John youngpunk isn’t going to be able to pull that one off, no matter how smart he is, or how dark his basement. If, however, Aunt Tilly’s onstar happens to be easily compromisable, and there is a “target” one lane over...If you think Aunt Tilly isn’t an “acceptable loss” to the kind of sociopaths we give this power to, you live in a fantasy world.

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EU privacy watchdogs say Facebook changes 'unacceptable'

Trevor Pott o_O
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Where are the republicans?

Shouldn't there be a cloud of angry Tea Party members in here complaining how evil Europe is for trying to regulate American business, and how all government is evil because regulation is bad? Facebook is an American business, and deserves to conduct it's business without any interference whatsoever!

Come on guys, you’re letting me down here, I was all set to see some grand complaining and infighting. Did facebook not donate enough to the party? Is this why you aren’t in here like a dirty shirt defending it?

*Sigh*

Anyways, I happen to agree with the working party; default privacy settings should be set to “TELL NOONE ANYTHING.” OF course, that would leave Facebook without a revenue source. I can’t speak to any other countries, but in Canada, Facebook is huge. It’s considered as viable a method of communication as e-mail or phone by almost half our population. I know there isn’t any money in social networking sites, and Facebook will eventually fall unless it is snapped up by either Microsoft or a government.

At what point though does it become within a government’s interest to do so? What % of your population need to be reliant on that communications service before it is “too big to fail?” More importantly, how did one tiny site run by a megalomaniac ever get to the point that it was preferred by significant chunks of entire nations over more simple and robust methods like the telephone?

I have many questions about how this all came to be…

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