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* Posts by Trevor_Pott

3627 posts • joined 31 May 2010

Sysadmins! There's no shame in using a mouse to delete files

Trevor_Pott
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Re: However, on FreeBSD

@Ramazan

"Each with some shell/awk/find/etc quirk."

Some diverge more from "what you're used to" than others. The beauty of learning bash and other POSIX-like shells as "baby's first CLI" is that there are just so many that more-or-less follow the same rules. You don't have to relearn an entire CLI interface to get the job done (like moving from bash to CMD.) You mostly just have to internalise the exceptions and differences.

PowerShell is different for me here I think largely because a lot of the tools I got used to using with *nix operating systems aren't there. Chaining also works slightly differently, with the weird emphasis on OO shell structures, there are just some things that require a different headspace. (Linear scripting and I are just fine, but OO starts to wander outside my bailiwick.)

More to the point, some of the fundamental assumptions about system usage are different in Windows versus most POSIX systems. Flat-text configuration as one example. (Though I must point out that more and more I can just feed XML into PowerShell-compliant apps and that works. It’s a start.)

Where I start really getting outside my comfort zone though are programming-language CLI shells. Cshell, Rhino, etc.

That’s all a really long way of saying “I think it really matters which CLI is your first.” You never forget your first, and it deeply influences how you view and interact with CLIs forever. Using something like Bash is grand, because it’s close enough to all the other POSIX shells that you can adapt quickly.

Using a real outlier on the POSIX branch might not be as good; the mental list of “exceptions” to what you perceive as “normal” might be significantly higher than otherwise.

I can’t find much empirical research into the difficulties of learning (specifically) shells – nor the deltas imposed on cognition by different POSIX shells – but there is plenty into similar areas. GUI design – as one example – has had billions put into fundamental research on “how far from what someone first learned” you can stray before they get really uncomfortable or have a hard time. Similarly, keyboard design…even the design of musical instruments.

How much those “little differences” matter amongst similarly structured CLIs really could boil down to “which CLI you learned first!"

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Trevor_Pott
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Pint

Just so we're clear here - and I think it's important to be - I don't have a problem with a Linux administrator who decides he wants to run his own Linux systems in a GUIless fashion. In certain circumstances (embedded, high-density-every-MB-of-RAM-matters, ultra-high security requirements) I can understand why it might be necessary or desirable.

But I do take issue with those administrators who feel it is necessary to lash out against others who choose to maintain a different set of tools on their servers. I especially have issues with those – like yourself – who can offer nothing excepting rhetoric to back up your decision.

Your arguments are consistently based on unproven assumptions about human learning patterns that simply don’t hold up to empirical testing. You even trot out appeal to authority without defining that authority in anything but the vaguest of terms. “More experience than me” is one you use…except there are plenty of Linux administrators in senior positions with decades more experience than me who agree with my take on this.

You bust out the “no true Scotsman” fallacy by implying that anyone who doesn’t agree with you isn’t a “real” systems administrator and – by virtue of disagree with you – obviously doesn’t know what they are talking about. That borders carefully on merging no true Scotsman with argument from personal incredulity.

Other sysadmins can do whatever they want. If however they want to belittle the rest of us for choosing not to limit our options, I believe it is incumbent upon them to do a damned through job of explaining their position, and backing it up with primary sources.

The whole debate has certainly devolved into ad homenim on both sides. Separate from my professional disagreements – and they certainly appear to be pretty fundamental – I believe your approach to this has been pretty damned douchey. You repeatedly assert yourself as superior in knowledge, character and professional capability without offering anything to back it up.

You attack me and my credibility based on assumptions and your own personal predjudices. I think that’s pretty damned douchy. Instead of attempting to have a rational debate about the topic you have made assertions grounded in obvious logical fallacies followed by personal and professional ad homs.

So if I obtain the impression that you, personally, may be unwell please understand that this analysis is entirely separate from the professional disagreement occurring regarding the use (or not) of GUI administration tools in various circumstances.

I am perfectly willing, capable of (and in fact, rather enjoy) having the CLI/GUI/Both debate in a dispassionate, professional setting backed by plenty of evidence, experimentation and so forth. That said, when I believe that you personally are a giant dong, don’t be surprised if I troll you.

After all, I have to do something amusing while yum runs 1064 package updates...

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Trevor_Pott
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And I completely disagree with you on your points.

A GUI is a tool; it has a place, even on production servers. You haven't offered anything to explain why it shouldn't be there excepting your own personal bias.

Your arguments are based entirely off the base that "proper sysadmins use the CLI." The GUI thus being equivalent in your version of the universe to training wheels. Again; I disagree. Your entire perspective on the GUI vs CLI debate is pretty cracked. Listen carefully here: GUIs are perfectly fine things for administering servers, production, testbed and otherwise. So are CLIs. Better to have the option of both.

Quit limiting yourself, and for the love of His Noodly Self, quit advocating the limitation of others, just because you want to believe in the sacred power of your secret nerd club. No, the CLI is not "what a proper sysadmin uses, to the near exclusion of the GUI." I fundamentally reject that premise. I also reject the idea that you need to be tossed into the CLI deep end to learn the CLI.

More to the point, I reject your unspoken assertion that people are only "experienced administrators" when they agree with your views on how systems administration should be done. Seems to me there are quite a few very experienced administrators - myself included - who disagree with you.

So I’m back to “I want to know how your brain works.” Preferably with some DNA samples so I see if the issue is socialised or genetic.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: Mr Pott...

But...but...this was my trolling article! Chris even came up with the most trolly possible title!

Clearly I need to spend more time under my bridge.

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Fear not, Linux admins: There are TOOLS to help you

Trevor_Pott
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Why would clients have to "run things" at all? Excepting under exceptional circumstances - such as a power outage during a certain type of cron job - everything from Windows to Linux "just works."

Why should they use Windows and not Linux? I flat out don't understand the difference here other than your own prejudicial snobbery about keeping Linux "pure." I can – and do – walk users through Webmin on Linux just as easily as Windows. I will use the best tool for the job, not whatever tool makes narrow-vision nerds feel less “polluted.”

You make the argument that in order to learn Linux, one needs to learn ALL of Linux, from the ground up. You go from knowing nothing to knowing damned near everything with no stops in between. There should be nothing to help you, nothing to guide you, nothing to ease your transition. You simply study really hard, memorise everything and it is one, or it is zero.

I say bullshit. Your entire argument is bullshit. There is no requirement for that. A GUI can – and does – help someone learn the differences between operating systems. It can ease the transition.

What’s more, I know your argument is bullshit because I have seen dozens of living, breathing, regular human beings make the transition form Windows to Linux because of GUIs. GUIs helped them learn about things like “the differences in file structure” and “different naming conventions” while still using a relatively familiar environment.

GUIs – Webmin, Gnome, Unity or otherwise – have never in my experience prevented someone from learning the command line and continuing on to a more in depth knowledge of Linux and its fundamental differences from Windows. Quite the opposite; they made the transition a hell of a lot less intimidating.

In the end, they don’t use only one or the other interface. They use both. GUIs and CLIs. If that makes you – or anyone else – feel put upon because there are people who didn’t learn as you learned, didn’t suffer as you suffered…cope.

A hammer is for nails, a screwdriver for screws. Use all the tools in your toolkit; don’t limit yourself, or others.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: That argument doesn't stack up

Special bonus question: where exactly am I making a "value judgement" in my post?

I do not consider the GUI “better” than the CLI. I do not consider the CLI “better” than the GUI. That means I am not making a value judgement about either of these tools; I believe they have their own separate and distinct uses.

Where exactly am I making a value judgement there?

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: That argument doesn't stack up

Okay, even before I sit down to really nitpick this...can I get a dime bag of whatever you're smoking? I cannot connect any of your statements to reality.

“Combined bouquet of MCSE, RHCE and A+ Networking?” Um…what? I have two MCP exams? I think? They were necessary to get a discount on Microsoft Action Pack licensing.

At what point have I ever "fawned over powershell?" I loathe powershell. I think it's fantastic that powershell is something Microsoft is investing real resources in...but how - unless you are engaging in some serious mental gymnastics - does that translate into "fawning over ?"

“Liking my vendor too much?” Who is “my vendor?” I like to believe I am an equal opportunity offender, thank you very much. I criticise and employ cynicism in the general direction of everyone. Except possibly Intel; Intel haven’t actually done anything I consider overly stupid, malicious or anti-consumer in at least three or four years.

Regarding “claiming to write for Linux admins,” I don’t write the titles. The sub-ed does. That aside; a Windows admin who is dipping their toes into Linux is now a Linux admin, albeit a junior one.

Regarding GUIs, well…I wrote an article on that. Just for you.

TL;DR on that future article: I think people who limit themselves to “CLI OR GUI” without the mental capability to conceptualise “CLI AND GUI” are placing themselves at a complete disadvantage. But hey, if you want to cut off your happy bits because your religion told you so, far be it for me to tell you otherwise.

But if you want to spend yoru days spraying your religion around to the detriment of others, don't get all shocked and shaken if I think you're a complete twatdangle.

Cheers!

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Trevor_Pott
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@dz-105 well, your solution doesn't work for everyone. Most of my customers don't have local IT staff. They're too small. As for me, I don't live in front of a PC. So when I'm out socialising, I do rather enjoy the ability to not have to either leave where I am to get to a PC or try to fix something in bash from a smartphone.

But hey, if you get a real kick in the knickers from punching bash commands into a touch screen, you go right ahead. Me, I’ll accept the ~25MB of RAM per VM that running Webmin costs me.

My free time is just worth more to me than the “purity” of eschewing GUIs for…what exactly? I still haven’t gotten a good reason from anyone that wasn’t pure rhetoric.

“I love Apple because they’re just better than Microsoft” sounds exactly the same to me as “GUIs are evil because command lines are just better.” I’ll keep on using both, not limiting my options, and see where that takes me…

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Trevor_Pott
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@dz-105 I don't see what that's odd. Vic has a good point. Sometimes you are just walking someone through something over the phone. Usually when you are *gasp* not in front of a computer (Maybe you discovered members of your preferred gender and decided to experiment with organic entertainment.)

If you are on call, you have to provide support; but the ability to provide said support wihtout having to remote in and do it yourself can be sanity-saving.

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Trevor_Pott
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Actually...now that I look at a fully up-to-date Sendmail module, it might be that only two sections of twelve are "dangerout/useless." From what I can see "Sendmail Options" and "Network Ports" directly edit the .cf. The rest seem to edit include files that don't get clobbered every time I regenerate the M4.

That's actually doing better than I remember...

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Trevor_Pott
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Webmin's other big use for a production server is management of the crontab and log rotation. You can easily do both from the cli, but I find the visual representation of information easier to parse large amounts of data "at a glance."

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: postfix or something else?

Webmin module for postfix is quite good...unless you want to use LDAP...

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Trevor_Pott
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I think we have a misunderstanding here; I don't use the Webmin module to edit any part of sendmail that would typically be part of the .cf. I use the M4 generator in the webmin module to exit those. I use the aliases and virtuser and so fort to edit those parts of the config that are in includes.

But you are correct; there are widgets in that sendmail config module that are flat out bad. They edit the .cf directly. And I would not ever recommend using those chunks of that module. It's useless! As soon as you touch the M4 config - which is how all config changes are "supposed" to be generated - then it wipes out our .cf; including any changes to the cf that you made with the sendmail module.

So just don't use those bits. I don't. But I do find it a convenient way to edit M4, edit "include-filed" items like aliases and virtuser, as well as manage the queue.

We are both right here, I think. There is value to the Sendmail module; but not ALL of it. It does edit the cf directly, which it should not do…but there are still other parts of the thing that work properly. I see no reason to throw the whole module away based on that; you just need to know it – and Sendmail – well enough to know what bits you cannot use.

I’d be far happier if they’d just pull the section that directly edit’s the cf out altogether…but I’ve simply ignored that for so long I just don’t notice it any more.

Maybe I need to do an article on that? "Webmin's sendmail module; which areas are safe, which break the rules."

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: "All other things being equal it is much easier to hack Linux."

A) I have hacked the current Windows Servers. 2008R2 (fully patched) as well as 2012. (They fixed the bug.) Sometimes you just dtumble across zero-days...

B) Considering Linux systems are oftem left unpatched as "fire and forget" systems, sure, I'll buy that more people manage to bust into a webapp on a Linux system than compromise Windows. Busting out of that web app to compromise the Linux system? I doubt that.

It also still isn't comparing like for like. Compare a modern Windows to a modern Entriprise Linux. Out of the box, fully patched...firewall off. That is not a contest Windows wins.

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Trevor_Pott
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Linux

Re: When I set out and learned Unix[tm] back when, I freed myself from windows.

@AC

I get the difference between GUI and CLI. I just don't make the value judgement that one is "better" than the other. I don't see the point in writing long treatises on CLI apps or CLI systems administration largely because of the community attitude issues.

I spend months at a time neck deep in the command line, getting work done. Then I’ll spend months working on GUI-based systems. I don’t see the difference, really. The CLI is more powerful and far more flexible, but a GUI is easier and obfuscates a lot of the scut work that – frankly – I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about micromanaging.

So when I write things for a sysadmin blog I have some choices about who I target. Unix/BSD admins are few and far between. Even given that this is a tech site of some repute, they will still only make up a tiny fraction of the readership. I could write things aimed at them…but would they – or anyone else – care?

My experience with most Unix/BSD admins falls into a one of a small number of categories. They discount what I have to say because (one or more of the following):

1) I’m too young

2) I didn’t go to the right school and/or get the right degree

3) I choose to also work with Linux and Windows

4) I use a version of Unix they don’t approve of

5) They are crotchety old coots who just don’t listen to anyone.

So I could target this small niche of my potential audience who won’t listen to anything I have to say no matter what…or I can target someone else.

So what about Linux admins? Why not target them? Every now and again I make the attempt. Truth be told though, it’s a pain in the ass.

In truth, the majority of Linux admins I meet are actually good people with good critical thinking skills and the ability to function in society. They are rational and able to socialise in an acceptable manner.

Unfortunately, the Linux community attracts a highly disproportionate quantity of irrational individuals, tunnel-vision OCD folks and paranoids. They ruin it for everyone.

Take the absolute hatred that some have for GUI administration tools. There is no rational reason for the vitriol that these people spew against this class of tool. I have never encountered rabid ad hominem attacks against a gardener for using an automated sprinkler instead of watering every inch of the lawn by hand; yet within the Linux community it is everyday practice to attack people for using a GUI, the “wrong” distro, a given package rather than another…even tabbing conventions regarding comments in a config file!

I would want to deal with these people on a regular basis why, exactly?

So yeah, I’ll talk about GUIs. I’ll talk about Windows. I’ll discuss interfaces and applications instead of my favourite new way to combine grep with a neat new regex I discovered. I do that because I get more out of the community feedback writing about the GUI-enabled world than I do the CLI-only world.

Windows, Apple and mixed GUI/CLI Linux admins seem pretty open to careful, considered debate of a problem. They will come up with helpful – even novel – solutions to problems. I learn as much from commenters in these threads as I do from documentation.

A Linux article or forum thread is just bickering. Endless, circular, heated, hostile bickering. It's fun once in a while...but really, I'm starting to get too old for it.

That said, I will say what I have said many times before: I am entirely open to requests and suggestions regarding what I write about. If someone has a particular topic in mind that they would like me to address, I would be entirely willing to do so if I felt it were within my capabilities.

To date, I’ve had several requests for looks at virtualisation, Windows apps, Apple administration and so forth. No formal requests for Linuxy anything. Just a lot of complaining that I’m “biased,” “a Windows loving Microsoft shill,” and even some conspiracy theories about how I’m part of “the machine” designed to keep Linux in the shadows.

Some people…

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: @postfix or something else?

@Gerhard Mack

Thank you for the link; I will give it a more in depth look tomorrow. At first glance, it looks like a walk-through focused on creating a postfix filterserver using a local LDAP setup. I'll poke at it some and see if I can figure out how to tie it back to Active Directory instead of a local LDAP setup. If I can figure it out, I'll do up a howto.

It would be nice to have a simple way of front-ending an exchange (or other) mail system using Active Directory as the user interface. Easy in Sendmail, but so far I've never made it work without Postfix using PAM to do LDAP lookups.

If I can make it as simple as sendmail...that's a huge step forward!

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Trevor_Pott
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FAIL

"All other things being equal it is much easier to hack Linux."

What

The

Fuck?

If you honestly believe this - honestly and truly - please go back to the article proper and select "email the author." I will post for you a CentOS 6.2 Virtual Machine DEFAULT INSTALL hosted on an external IP address. I will use *NONE* of the security measures mentionned in this article. I will even turn the firwall off.

You can hack away to your heart's content. I will monitor all of the packets in and out (naturally) to see exactly how you "hack" my off-the-shelf, completely unsecured virtual machine. I will bet you a barrel of ale you cannot do it.

On the other hand, I could post a Windows 7 system (fully patched) default install to an external address and with the firewall turned off I don't even need you to hack it. Within a week an IP address from China will have done it for you.

Hell, there are a few hundred IRC servers where you can buy zero-day software to do exactly that for $100 USD.

"Easier to hack Linux" my ASCII.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: For [Insert Diety here] sake

@gerhard mack

In situtaions like this - where I happen to know what IPs that most people are coming from - I whitelist the IPs. In fact, I generally have the DNS names whitelisted alongside some dynamic DNS deployments for remote/home users.

Works wonders for more than just SSH. SIP phones for example…

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: @postfix or something else?

@Gerhard Mack

Postfix seems to work out-of-the-box if the LDAP server is located on the same system as postfix itself, and that system is configured to talk to it, etc.

In my experience, getting sendmail to talk to an LDAP server is two lines in the M4 configuration. I don't have to configure PAM, the LDAP config file or anything else. Sendmail can be set up to talk to a remote LDAP server without having to involve or configure another thing on the Linux box.

Postfix only ever seems to work with a remote LDAP system if the Linux box is itself configured to authenticate against that LDAP domain. I prefer to not have to join my servers to the domain in order to do simple lookups.

That said, if you happen to have a link to any chunk of the postfix manual (or a decent walkthrough) that can show me how to set up postfix to a Windows Active Directory server without having to get the rest of the Linux system authenticating against AD, I'd be greatly indebted!

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: postfix or something else?

@eulampios please try someday to front-end an LDAP-based email service with Postfix. Exchange is common, but I have LDAP QMail systems in the wild as well. Sendmail is significantly easier to set-up in as a simple mailfiter for LDAP-backed systems. (You want to be able to have the MTA do LDAP lookups so that you can do simple things like reject mail for addresses that don't exist, and banhammer systems that repeatedly try multiple non-extant addresses.)

Similarly on many Linux distros - CentOS is a great example - you don't need to "set up" sendmail at all. You simply "yum install apache php sendmail" and suddently your PHP scripts can send e-mail out. (In my case, i trap all outbound mail with an edge device and apply whatever filtering I need to there, but the principle of "it Just Works" remains.) If you need to make minor changes in Sendmail, use the M4 config (text-based) or the Webmin module.

Postfix is only easier if you are actually using it to host e-mail, rather than simply to process email. (In which case; Postfix all the way; never use Sendmail to host email!)

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: For [Insert Diety here] sake

@David D. Hagwood

Would you look at that? Amidst the dross; a sysadmin emerges! Yes sir, someone who understood exactly where I was going with "don't run the thing on a standard port" without having to have it explained. You don't run RDP on 3389 and you sure as all get-out don't run SSH on 22.

Them is the honeypot ports. Security through obscurity isn't security at all...but a minor dollop of obscurity is useful in catching the obvious idiots who like to eat your CPU cycles with their useless TCP packets!

Blows my mind that this apparently needs to be explained to "senior Linux administrators," but what're ya going to do, eh?

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: postfix or something else?

@eulampios where exactly did I say that postfix couldn't or wouldn't use spamassassin, mailscanner, clamav or other?

I said you didn't need postfix to use them. The implication was not that postfix cannot use these technologies, but that postfix is more complicated to configure than sendmail. The further implication of that statement is that postfix is generally A Better Option, but that using the more complex tool isn't necessarily always required.

I wouldn’t want to run a full-bore business off of Sendmail – though I do admit that my PERSONAL email server is Sendmail – Postfix or QMail are better options than Sendmail for an actual email server.

That said, if I am not using the system to store emails – merely to send them on behalf of a web server, or to filter-and-forward (with or without LDAP lookups) – then I prefer to use the simpler tool. It is kinder to future admins who in most cases won't have 30+ years *nix experience.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: postfix or something else?

Postfix isn't required for a great many cases. Such as when the local mail elements are being used to mail reports on behalf of a web application, or when you are using the Linux system's mail subsystem only as a pre-filter front-ending another system. (ClamAV + Mailscanner + Spamassassin, etc.)

They make for good, cheap, easy pre-filters for Exchange, for example.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: @ Trevor Pott 's reasoning

@eulampios: ClamAV is actually quite terrible at finding website compromises. It does find some however, and is better than nothing. LMD does a far better job, but isn't included in the primary repositories.

The issues of the type I am discussing are neither "you must be logged on as root and download some Trojan by using Linux as a desktop" issues nor are they 0-days. In nearly every case, malware on Linux occurs because someone forgot to - or couldn't, because of chained dependencies - patch.

In most cases it is a flaw in some PHP application that an admin has installed on their Apache setup. A privilege escalation bug or some other issue allows someone access to the webserver. They then alter the extant CMS/Application/whatever to include links to malware, typically as part of a drive-by-download attack targeting Windows (though increasingly Mac) users.

In general, this sort of malware does not compromise the Linux system itself. IMHO, anti-malware trying to defend the Linux operating system itself is completely pointless. Every available anti-malware package for Linux is so woefully inadequate that if and when your Linux system is compromised you nuke the whole thing are start over. (It’s quicker than defanging the thing.)

No, anti-malware on Linux is almost exclusively for cleaning e-mail and cleaning compromised websites. Generally compromised websites targeting windows systems.

I wouldn’t prescribe anti-malware for Linux for the same reasons as I would Windows. Frankly, Windows anti-malware is far more robust. It has to be; Windows has so many deep flaws (and is such an attractive target due to market share size) that there are many vectors to infect the OS itself.

Linux has a smaller attack surface in getting at the OS + core packages proper. That said, when it is infected, it’s pretty much a total loss. When a Windows system is compromised, even a half-assed Windows admin can clean the thing in ~80% of cases with less than an hour’s applied effort. (Assuming you ignore “the progress bar is going” in the effort calculations; most admins go do something else while waiting for progress bars.)

When a Linux system is compromised, this isn’t really the case. In these instances the malware is generally (by necessity) significantly more complex than your typical Windows software, written by people who know far more about the OS than the sysadmin trying to defend the thing.

Comb through the logs for long enough, test permissions and run fuzzers on enough things and you might figure out what was compromised, how, how many friends it downloaded, what they affected, etc. Then you can kill it pretty easily. In that timeframe however you could just have backed up your core configs/data, reinstalled and been on your merry way. (This isn’t remotely as easy on Windows; even with folder redirection, AD, etc, backing up configs can be a PITA.)

So, to re-cap: anti-malware is generally necessary on Linux for the two most common roles that Linux sees. Namely, e-mail (either as a pre-filter or actual server,) or web hosting. The actual usefulness of anti-malware is different than it would be on Windows, but it is still recommended nonetheless.

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If you use the M4 config editor, it will indeed blow away all other changes in the .mc. I don't know that I'd ever "ignore that fact," Vic. It's pretty much the way M4 is support to work. If you use tools that edit the .mc directly - or you enjoy going in and editing the .mc by hand - then do not use the sendmail module in webmin. Period.

That said, I was taught emphatically to never edit the .mc file in sendmail directly. In fact, I have been berated and mocked by sendmail devs for doing so. If I go onto a sendmail forum for help, or I try the mailing list, etc...I am repeatedly and forcefully told that I am never to do anything outside of M4. M4 is where configuration changes are "supposed" to be made, and so I make them there.

Things like virtuser and aliases as generally include files nowadays, so I can use the Sendmail webmin module to edit those without clobbering my config every time I touch M4. This means that the Sendmail module will allow me to do things “properly,” which means that when I need support from the community, I have at least a snowball’s chance in a neutron star of getting it.

That said, I would never berate someone for editing the .mc directly. There are so many different ways to do something in Linux that I don’t feel it’s my place to tell someone that their method is “wrong,” so long as it works consistently for them. I don’t have the jihadi attitude about such things that is so prevalent amongst Linux nerds.

So if you are following the “rules” as laid out by the Sendmail devs, you are using M4 to generate ever config change, with aliases, virtuser, generics etc pulled out as includes so they don’t get clobbered by M4 regeneration. In that case, I highly recommend the Sendmail module, because it works…even when something else edits the M4 or the includes.

If however you edit the .mc directly, the sendmail module in Webmin will screw up your Sendmail something fierce and you should stay away from it!

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: @ Trevor Pott 's reasoning

Linux systems never get compromised? That's a larf. They most certainly do; almost always through some badly coded PHP something or other. (To be fair, they also tend to compromise windows systems.)

Yes, you generally need anti-malware on Linux systems. If for no other reason than to ensure that your web applications haven't been hijacked by someone looking to poison the rest of the net. Or do you have even the remotest shred of evidence to say that every single compromised website is IIS based? How do you dismiss a decade's worth of evidence that shows several thousands new LAMP systems compromised every month?

I’m legitimately curious.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: Who is this article aimed at?

Article is aimed at Windows admins who are cautiously branching out by deploying a few Linux systems.

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Sendmail module on webmin has "M4 configuration." Use that, then have it build your .mc. I have been using it for >5 years, works like a hot damn.

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Dell readies Linux Ultrabook for autumn release

Trevor_Pott
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Re: @Trevor and your technical honesty

@eulampios the point of the list is to allow you to do your own homework. I do have a few other things to do with my time. Suffice it to say that should you go feature-for-feature Debian to Windows and set up that Debian install so that the repo files for all of those possible features were installed locally it owul dbe about the same size as Windows core. I can make most assuredly make a comparably equipped Linux into something smaller than Windows Core…but only if I use the option to leave the repo files on the internet on a “download as needed basis.”

So in short: the point of the list is to point that you are being intellectually dishonest if you do not compare like for like. I do install CentOS systems that are roughly comparable to Windows Core in size all the time. Once the repos are copied locally, (most of these systems are “fire and forget,” and you want your future self to have the repo files 10 years down the road,) it is generally within a few hundred megs of a Windows Core install.

As to trying to back yup your hatred for Microsoft/Dell…are you seriously trotting out product naming as a way of attempting to attack them? Really? There goes your credibility.

Regarding the price that Dell pays per Windows license, I have absolutely no idea which version of Windows that is for. I would have to go back and check to be certain. I am under the impression it is Home Premium, with Pro being $43.

As to supporting links for that information: use Google. This is fairly broadly available information, and I am not remotely inclined to do your homework for you. I am under the distinct impression that I could provide you a contract signed in blood by Michael Dell and Steve Ballmer and you still wouldn’t buy it. It doesn’t fit your conspiracy theory and you aren’t interested in evidence outside that box.

Naturally of course this would make you incapable of believing in my “technical honesty,” because I am able to look at the facts available to me and draw a conclusion that doesn’t involve a secret conspiracy to keep Linux sidelined. Worse, I am able to look at the available evidence and believe that Microsoft’s operating systems may well be legitimate, worthy competition for Linux in most circumstances!

Horror!

Now, if only both of those opinions weren’t supported by not only the plurality of available evidence as well as the majority of sysadmins serving companies both small and large. I might buy your “oppressed by the man” theories then.

As it stands however, support for the conspiracy theory is fractional at best. Support for “Microsoft is incapable of competing with Linux on a technical level” is slightly higher, but still fractional. You might as well be standing there screaming into the void that Climate Change is a conspiracy and there “is still broad scientific debate.”

The support of less than 5% of subject matter experts does not make for broad debate at all. More to the point, it borders on clinically paranoid to believe that hundreds of organizations and hundreds of thousands of people are all working together to promote climate change/keep Linux down/whatever else.

Instead, you should start looking at the issues raised by the people who make the decisions to fund – or not – front line Linux offerings and ask yourself how they can be resolved. Linux won’t be ready for the desktop – and sold as such – until the issues at hand are dealt with.

Also: for the record…anecdotal evidence when discussing hardware compatibility is irrelevant. “But it works for me!” means nothing. The subset of hardware you’ve worked with is only ever going to be a fraction of what’s available. More to the point, you have repeatedly demonstrated that what you expect from your hardware is different than people like me…and the kinds of people who have to sell and support equipment on the market.

Your life is one narrow slit through which the world can be perceived. What the Dells of this world have to cope with is far vaster. Try to bear that in mind next time you start worrying about the conspiracy.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: @Trevor

@eulampios There is no “selective judgment of the Linux flaws.” I praised Linux as well as criticized it. I use it as well as Windows. I have a long history of discussing the benefits and flaws of all platforms; you seem incapable of making the distinction. I believe that you have succumbed to brand-image tribalism, and that it is distorting your perception of reality.

Here is a list of all the roles and features available in Windows Core. They may not be role or features you would use, but when you haughtily try to compare your bare-bones install of Linux to Server Core you are being intellectually dishonest. As mentioned above, the install size for Windows Core includes an entire local repository required to install every single feature and role on that list. These are not merely “cut down” versions of those features, either…they are the full versions; the best Microsoft can bring to bear.

Microsoft hasn’t released for the public a “Debian squeeze”- size version of Windows – though builds do exist – however Server Core is a certainly a mid-range option. It has a lot of the shiny ripped out to optimise performance and lower attack surface. More to the point; Server 2012 does it better than Server 2008 R2 did; Microsoft has learned, and they are adapting fast.

Dell doesn’t have a Windows compensation plan because their margins are already razor thin. If you want to scream at Dell, please learn the economics of Tier 1 PCs first. Dell put together a PC and include an operating system then sell it to you below their cost. That might not make sense to you, but it is true. Where they are making their money per unit – what brings the PC out of the red and gives them those few precious points of margin – are the add-on applications like Anti virus trials or the Office 2010 trial.

These applications only run on Windows. So what is Dells’ choice here? They can sell you the same hardware for more money - at which point people who don’t understand the economics of Tier 1 consumer PCs start screaming – or they can simply choose not to offer them at all.

They can’t ship you a PC without an OS, because then they would be taking a loss on that PC. (Because they can’t ship you pre-installed trail versions of the software that is actually providing them revenue!)

So they spend the ~$35 to put Windows on the computer (that’s all that Dell pays per Windows license,) and add trial software that they receive ~$300 for.

That’s why this Ultrabook is such an interesting play; Dell is actually subsidising Linux on the desktop by doing this. They will lose money on every unit sold. But they are doing it anyways.

There is no giant conspiracy excepting in your own mind, sirrah. There is simply the crappy reality of economics. There are no frakking margins in selling hardware whatsoever. Dell’s requirement to maintain an American workforce (for government contracts, etc.) means that they can’t simply work a bunch of Chinese people to death and live off 1% margins. They need 3-4% per system of they are done.

So Dell takes the deal with the unsavoury software companies and installs the trial versions. In exchange we get support staff who almost know what they are doing and speak a language we can almost comprehend, with a slightly higher chance of not having worked some child to death in a labour pit full of toxic chemicals.

For that, you have to put up with a computer that ships with Windows. Which you can uninstall. The alternative – which is unpalatable to consumers everywhere – is paying $30 or $40 more per system.

The “free market” decided. You decided. Your choices shape the decisions of companies like Dell...and their competitors.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: @Trevor

@eulampios Careful now, your bias and intellectual dishonesty is showing. Windows Core does a hell of a lot more than Debian squeeze. Yet you insist on comparing them, why? Windows Core's more direct comparison is CentOS 6 without X installed. The install size and default RAM requirements, just by the by, are nearly identical in that situation. Also note that Windows Core - like all Windows since Vista - is an image based installer. It installs an image of a default instal that contains its complete package repository. So all that you need to add any of the features included with the OS is copied to the disk at that time, not pulled from a remote repository.

It is of interest to me that you can't make technical distinctions like this.

Furthering my concern regarding your bias is that you brush aside valid concerns regarding the state of Linux’s desktop readiness with a thinly veiled conspiracy theory. Let me try to spell something out for you here: the problem with Linux on Tier 1 hardware is the chicken and the egg.

Linux takes more money to prototype and eventually support in a desktop environment due to limited hardware support. (All of us “pretentious” people demanding things like graphics cards that work well enough to play games or run multimedia without artifacts.) The costs on this won’t go down until more Tier 1 OEMs offer Linux on their devices, thus having a vested financial interest in bringing requisite pressure to bear on device manufacturers to provide proper support.

Without pressure from Tier 1s, device manufacturers have no reason to provide support, so there is crappy driver support which in turn means that Tier 1s don’t want to ship Linux.

Compare this to Microsoft where Microsoft itself is the size of two or three Tier 1 players on its own. Here Microsoft can lean on manufacturers right alongside the Tier 1 OEMs. There are thus good reasons to ship Microsoft on your hardware.

No conspiracies are required here; shipping Microsoft instead of Linux is a sound financial decision.

So for this reason I will support Dell’s Linux Ultrabook. This is Dell taking a risk. They are inserting themselves into this chicken-and-egg cycle here. They will not make money on this Ultrabook and they know it…but they are doing it anyways. They are giving open source a chance here by attempting to create a market that can eventually bring the kind of pressure to bear on manufacturers that the Microsoft ecosystem to exert.

Dell’s move here might well be one of the only chances that open source gets this decade for a real, honest to god chance at becoming something real in the desktop space.

And you – with your well demonstrated pro-open source, anti-Microsoft bias – want to piss on that olive branch? Out of what…some offence taken at actions a decade ago that you mistakenly believe indicate back room collusion must still be occurring today?

Wow.

Just...wow...

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: @Trevor

Maybe my Linux complaints are pretentious. Oh well, so be it. When I pay money for something, it had damned well better deliver. Whether that be hardware or software.

Unlike some, I don’t seek out “free, as in beer.” I do have a philosophical soft spot for “free, as in speech,” however I prefer “actually works” to both. When I encounter an open source project that I end up using, I typically find a way to donate money to it.

With RHEL, this is straightforward: I pay for support. Other projects – such as CentOS or Apache – require me to hunt a donation button. On occasion, I even run into someone who outright refuses to let me donate (the Notepad++ guy springs to mind.) In general however, I believe that a man’s labours deserve to be rewarded. I don’t like to owe anything to anyone; legally or morally.

By the same token, I expect anyone working on anything to have pride in their work. I expect every person who undertakes a task – from flipping burgers to writing a kernel – to give it the absolute best they possibly can. If and when I encounter professional apathy I take my custom elsewhere.

Is demanding commitment and quality pretentious? I suppose only the reader can answer that. I can honestly say that I try very hard to meet the same standards I set for other people. When I slack off, I am typically quite unhappy with myself and end up feeling guilty enough to kick my own ass back into working hard.

So this colours how I approach computer selection. Be it software or hardware, I expect whatever I am putting on my systems to work and work well. For the most part, Linux does. But Linux is certainly not perfect. There are flaws and there are areas that need improvement.

Some of these areas are things that open source developers can do nothing about; they rely on vendors to pull their socks up and do the right thing. While these issues may not be the “fault” of the open source community, failure of vendors to work with the open source community does in fact diminish the value of Linux (and similar projects) when trying to create a workable, production-ready environment.

Similarly, there are issues within the open source community itself. Communications issues, personality conflicts, jihads about every which little thing. These issues come to a head in the weirdest ways. An upstream developer outright refusing to make a minor change for philosophical reasons, the result of which is that their package has to either be maintained by a third party in order to make it into certain distributions or that it simply never does.

Security updates can lag behind for these sorts of reasons too, as can bugfixes. How many times have I had to completely reinstall an anti-spam VM with a newer distro because bloody ClamAV and Fedora/Ubuntu/RHEL couldn’t get whatever communications issue they have solved enough to get the latest ClamAV versions into the repo? For the record: this happens about once every 8 months.

Criticising the open source community – and the vendor community – for failing to work together isn’t blasphemy. It isn’t an attack on you, personally, your beliefs or some sort of failure in my critical thinking capability.

There are flaws in Linux. There are flaws in Windows. There are flaws in every flavour of Unix, VMS, OSX and any other operating system, application, business process, economic model, political philosophy and so forth that you care to name.

To allow yourself to become so completely wedded to anything – corporation, operating system, philosophy, political ideology – that you take every criticism as a personal slight is to limit your own thinking and ability to objectively consider alternatives.

I believe it is morally, ethically, philosophically and economically wrong to alter our expectations regarding software and hardware to suit what is available. I far prefer the model where we as consumers, systems administrators and business owners continually hold the products we purchase and the projects we support to ever higher standards.

This – in my opinion – is what drives innovation. Voting with out wallets is one tool; providing support in terms of manpower, knowledge or otherwise is another. Continually pushing barriers and never being satisfied with “good enough” is how we get “better.”

You make comments about how a “comparable” windows setup needs more resources than a Linux one. I call utter bullshit on that. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but in the past ten years, Microsoft got this “ambition” thing down pat. Windows 7 can kick some serious ass, even on low-spec machines.

If you want to go even lower spec, there’s Windows core for servers, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone for ARM. Believe it or not, these systems pack quite a punch, even on systems I wouldn’t have thought it possible for them to operate on.

Feature for feature, I honestly believe that Windows can match Linux for performance. It is only with a great deal of intellectual dishonesty (comparing a stripped down Linux GUI with zero bells and whistles to a full-fat, all-the-shiny-on Windows GUI, for example) that you can really make Linux come out ahead.

I can make Windows 7 (classic mode) about as responsive on my crappy single core P4 1Gig as XFCE in CentOS6. Then again, I’ve got 15 years as a Windows admin, and at least 10 working with Linux. I know what I’m doing in both arenas.

Despite this, standing up and saying “hey, you know what, you’re wrong about Windows” doesn’t make me a Windows fanboy. My posting history – in the comments as well as my articles, my personal website and my twitter account – will verify that.

I’m an agnostic; I care about the best tool for the job, period.

So I maintain: sometimes that’s Linux…but just as often not. Windows owns the desktop for a reason, though Linux is slowly getting better.

Dell being willing to support an Ultrabook shipping Linux is huge. It could mean that we will finally see the kind of pressure we need brought to bear against vendors to finally bring Linux the rest of the way towards a true competitor with Microsoft on the desktop.

Apple is in the mix too; what works for Apple should more-or-less work for Linux, and Valve’s nice Steam-for-Ubuntu announcement brings yet another 800lb gorilla into the fight. (Indeed, I am of the opinion that the Valve console rumours will end up being a Steam-for-Ubuntu box on a fixed set of hardware…but that is probably just wishful thinking on my part.)

The point is: an open source philosophy and happy thoughts aren’t enough to make Linux truly competitive on the desktop. Slapping recalcitrant vendors around with a trout is periodically required. In the history of Linux as an operating system, “the community” has had precious few victories in this regard. Now, with Google, Apple, Dell and Valve having vested interests in Linux/Unix drivers, we might finally see the kind of hardware support that “pretentious” folk like me demand of our systems.

At that point, a prominent presence on the desktop becomes a very real possibility.

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Re: @Trevor

@eulampios

I don't think you hold your operating system choices to much of a standard. "2D is good enough?" No. A properly set up system will deliver me 200fps on my games, even when running in WINE.

You talk a lot about how much "better" Linux is than Windows, but at the same time simply pooh-pooh any desire I have to actually utilise the performance of my hardware as irrelevant.

If all you are looking for is a flat, basic, 2D environment that can run a command line…then Linux will do that on just about any hardware. I’m sorry to tell you however that this isn’t good enough. This isn’t “working.’

My phone provides superior performance to that.

A desktop needs to be able to do everything I throw at it. Compile code, run 3D simulations, play games, remote into other computers, run virtual machines, run peripherals, browse the internet, play multimedia, serve as a communications center, teleconference with people around the world, operate a colour calibratable monitor using DDC/CI, and so very much more.

Bare bones basic functionality is fine…for a child’s toy. Any desktop I use – or deliver to a customer – is going to be able to make full use of its hardware. In the Linux world that pretty universally means not relying on the drivers built into the kernel.

If all you want is a palm pilot, grand. I need me a proper smartphone. If all you want is Windows 3.1-era tech, grand. I want colour calibrated real-time 3D with blinding FPS and 10.2 smell-o-vision in sensesurround. Anything less than the ability to use every single feature of the hardware I purchase is a failure of the installed software.

So I'm not a "fan" of any software. Or any development houses. I'm not emotionally attached to any operating system, application or programming philosophy. I use whatever works and works best. What helps me get the most productivity for the least amount of money, effort and support hours.

Sometimes that is Linux, but just as often…it’s not.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: Ultrabook with Ubuntu and Steam for Linux?

Why wouldn't I persist? Windows XP/2003 wasn't much better, stats-wise. How much time did we spend back then finding exactly the right driver ToE to work, or for that video game to not crash? We don't think of it like that, because "that's just the way it is." I look at Linux the same way. Most people don't go all the way, get every hardware element to work as its designers intended. I do. It's part of being a sysadmin; it simply comes with the job.

"It passes packets" ian't good enough; I want tcp offloading. "The desktop works in 2D" isn't good enough; I want my games in WINE to be delivering 200fps. "Works" and "works properly" are separate concepts; and the latter is very much hit-or-miss in the Linux world at the moment.

This may be largely due to vendors being douches - isn't it always? - but it still degrades the value of Linux in a desktop role.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: Ultrabook with Ubuntu and Steam for Linux?

I've probably installed Ubuntu, Fedora or CentOS on 200 different hardware configurations in the past 3 months. ~95% of them "work," where "work" is defined as "meets the minimum functionality for that device. ~60% of them actually work, where "work" is "utilises the full functionality of a device, such as TCP offloading or full 3d graphics."

~5% of hardware configurations won’t work at all, and require a component swap. Such is my life with Linux; and the diversity of hardware I work with.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: Linux = Good idea, Ultrabook = Bad Idea

They do. I have several. My favourite is the Asus Transformer. As I recall, Android is a Linux distribution, and the Asus Transformer very much so runs on an ARM processor.

I get 12 hours of typing into an RDP session while it is using WiFi to connect through my cell phone to the internet. Oh, and it's generally charging said cell phone off the USB port most of that time...

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: strange hardware

Side note: I also find it funny that I have gotten stupid, autistic, hive-minded and freetard as insults on a number of occasions.

Criticising Microsoft

Criticising copyright maximalism

Explaining the science of climate change

Explaining that it actually violates the laws of physics for cell phones to cause cancer

Providing evidence that conclusively disproves vaccines cause autism

Providing a list of evidence to support the argument that publicly funded health care systems are in fact significantly cheaper per citizen while providing higher levels of care when compared to the privatised American model.

I leave the conclusions to be drawn from this as an exercise for the reader.

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Trevor_Pott
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Linux

Re: strange hardware

What does 2D get me? Not the games I want to play! If I was going to use 2D, I might as well stick to Webmin. 2D is never a solution.

As to my articles being mostly about Windows...it's what I use the most! I may use Linux on servers and on my personal desktop, but Microsoft is still the bulk of the deployed ecosystem. I have a few Apple shops; and there may be an Apple article or two in the works. (I haven't decided.)

Writing Linux articles? That's tricky business. I have a lot to say about Linux…but I really just don’t have the inclination to deal with the Linux community. The chest-thumping die-hard Microsoft fans are a hard enough group to stomach. I am both a stupid, autistic, “hive-mind” freetard because I dare criticise Microsoft…and a paid shill because I dare praise them where and when praise is due.

Given that I “write what I know,” (I.E. my experience,) and that Apple is rapidly displacing Microsoft on the desktop (and Linux on the server) and am faced with a conundrum; which group do I tackle next? Make even the smallest mistake – either a technical error, or *gasp* choosing the wrong distro/not compiling from source/use the wrong package manager/whatever and the Linux crowd will discover whether or not my soul does indeed blend.

the other option is to wade into the squirming masses of fanbois and lose all faith in humanity. At least with the Windows die-hards I know exactly what I’m getting. I’ve lived that world for decades; I know how they think, how they troll and how to troll back.

So not writing about Linux; fear? Trepidation, at the very least. If I go start shifting what I write about over towards the Linux work I do…then I really won’t have enough “glowing praise” articles to keep the pengunistas happy. There will be honest criticism; something that – from experience – triggers apoplectic rage.

But just for you, I’ll write one tonight. We shall see.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: Ultrabook with Ubuntu and Steam for Linux?

@Chemist: I am aware how much Linux's hardware support has increased over the years. By the same token, I am describing issues I am having right now, today, with hardware varying between 6 years old and brand-new-COTS equipment. This equipment ranges from cheap-as-derp to high-end-server-gear.

I am sorry to have to say it, but in my professional capacity as a systems administrator based on more than a decade's everyday experience with Linux (in many incarnations) there are still significant hardware issues that plague support. You cannot simply buy any old off-the-shelf system and have it work properly. For all the ills and evils of Microsoft's business strategies, hardware support remains superior within the Microsoft ecosystem.

@eulampios

First off, Intel Video Drivers (especially for anything Nahalem or Older) are ass. they are not regular ass, they are as special kind of ass for which an entirely separate wing of hell was created.

nVidia anything is...well...Torvalds said it well. AMD isn't far behind. There are some binaries that work well in some configurations...and in others mysteriously cause X to lock hard, requiring me to drop to command line, INIT 3 and then INIT 5 again.

This is nothing like the stability of Windows 7 on (for example) my Alienware MX18. I haven’t rebooted that thing in about 6 months. Lots of hibernating and suspending, not a single reboot. Still runs my games like a charm.

I’ve had issues with TCP offloading using Broadcom-based NICs, as well as older Intel NICs. This used to be a big issue under Windows 2003, but went away (mostly) on these same cards with Server 2008 R2. For love nor money I can’t get them to behave in CentOS unless I kill all the offloading with fire.

I have issues with Adpatec RAID cards under Linux. Specifically 3805 series cards with the latest firmware. I have had all sorts of problem with Ricoh card readers under both Ubuntu and FC17 and there is a very special place in my heart reserved for the trauma induced by trying to get various flavours of barcode and slip printer to work.

Oh, and I have a whole 5-page unpublished article on the rageface caused by CentOS 5/6 and some Intel Atom board I bought a dozen of. There is some absolutely bizarre bug in the NIC drivers. If you have an add-in-gigabit Ethernet card, then every single device on the same broadcast domain must talk at the same speed, or the NIC freaks out and throttles everything to 1Mbit/sec.

No, I don’t understand it etiher. Yes, this is a switched environment. No, I’m not crazy, this is completely reproducible across multiple pieces of hardware, and verified by four other sysadmins.

If I have a 1Gbit NIC attached to a gigabit switch and there is a 100Mbit –only device on that same switch, this Atom box will suddenly not communicate at anything faster than 1Mbit until you reboot it. That’s with all the offloading turned off, everything. Both NICs on the system (both Intel-based, but different models) will behave this way. Use only one NIC? No problem. Use a Broadcom or Realtek instead of an Intel for the add-on? No problem.

Damned if I know why, but it was frustrating as hell and cost me about a week of my life.

I run into these things all the time with Linux. I used to run into this crap with Windows…but most of that went away around the time Server 2008 R2 started becoming mainstream.

Understand me here; I’m not bashing Linux. I use it all the time. But I have yet to find a distro – any distro – that I can simply install on any random bit of hardware I pick up at the local computer shop and start playing games.

Run a webserver with Webmin, or a nice ridiculous DPI firewall? Usually. (Except for that one NIC bug…)

But “just works” desktop? Linux just isn’t there yet, sorry. Maybe with moves from companies like Dell and this Ultrabook, one day it will be.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: Ultrabook with Ubuntu and Steam for Linux?

The honest truth? Support. Specifically driver support for graphics.

Dell releasing an officially supported Linux notebook has a much higher chance of releasing it with a combination of Distro version and hardware that actually has driver support that isn't complete ass. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of dealing with shitty driver support on Linux. (I’m look at you, nVidia, Intel and AMD!) I want the damned thing to “just work.”

Linux does what I need it to do in nearly every case…except for the hardware support. It’s terrible. It’s Vista-right-at-release terrible, and its been that way for ages. Even Apple can’t get these guys to play nice with the graphics drivers, for $deity’s sake!

So I am not going to put myself up against Apple for quality control here. I am not arrogant enough to believe that I am capable of vetting hardware on the level of a corporation worth a significant chunk of Europe. Nor do I have the raw money required to buy prototype models for testing on a regular basis!

Dell however stands a reasonably good chance of being able to work this out. They have experience trying to do the hardware thing for Windows with a diversity of devices that would make Apple weep in terror.

So would I like a Linux device provided to me wrapped in a nice little bow and with driver updates handled by the vendor? You bet your ass!

Look, I’m not into open source because I’m a giant nerd wanting to tinker with Linux’s internals all day long, program some widget, compile packages from source or futz with a config file.

I want to use Linux because Windows 8 is asstastic. Worse, Microsoft’s recent actions have proven to me that they refuse to listen to SME clients and as such I cannot bet my business on them. I want to use Linux because I need to exit the Microsoft ecosystem based on trust issues, not philosophical ones.

But I still want a similar alternative. One where a vendor provides me an OS that simply works; where updates are pre-vetted by the vendor and where common software configurations are well tested.

To be honest, Android is more and more filling this role for me. Apple is also ready for the enterprise. But Android docking stations are rare as hen’s teeth, and they don’t support multiple external displays. Apple is simply too expensive for me to run my business on; we’re still too small yet.

So that leaves me looking for at vendor that will provide me with a Linux notebook, desktop and other such things. I don’t need Microsoft to run my business, nor do I feel I can trust them with my company’s future. But I like a lot of the things that used to be part of the Microsoft ecosystem. I’m hoping that this move by Dell – combined by others such as Steam porting to Ubuntu – are the first steps in building a business-class user endpoint ecosystem surrounding a mainstream Linux distro.

Why won’t I “just install Linux on another notebook?” Because I’m voting with my wallet here. To tell Dell “more of this, please.” To encourage a mainstream vendor to take a risk, to provide me the ecosystem and support that I want to see. I’ll buy this because its there…and I want more like it.

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Re: Ultrabook with Ubuntu and Steam for Linux?

I can drive. Frankly, if I am forced to choose between a 12hr (each way) road trip with my wife through some lovely mountains and national parks (oh no!) and buying a Macbook...

...then the gas and wear+tear on my vehicle is totally worth it.

After all, even with the distance travelled to obtain the device, it'll still be cheaper than the Mac. I'm sure the fact that my clients will request I bring back several dozen to cover off their needs will make it a worthwhile trip. Ubuntu is really catching on up here. Maybe if enough of us try to register our shiny new Dell ultrabooks from Canada, Dell will relent and allow us to purchase them (and support them!) here in Canada.

It isn't the perfect solution...but it beats having to use a Mac.

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Trevor_Pott
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Linux

Ultrabook with Ubuntu and Steam for Linux?

That's my next device sorted. Well done, Dell...and thanks!

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Microsoft posts first-ever quarterly loss

Trevor_Pott
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Re: The hits will..

What if they sack Ballmer, only to put Sinofsky in charge. To you want that? Really?

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Microsoft hires former Hillary Clinton adviser as top strategist

Trevor_Pott
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Bass Ackwards

Microsoft is hiring PR people to spin their bad decisions. What they should be investing in is smart, talented, plugged-in people to help them talk to their customers, from the individual to the HPC datacenter operator and then make good decisions based on that data. Instead, they make decisions aimed solely at "the majority."

Everyone is - at some point - not a member of "the majority," and so by only targeting the highly visible fuzzy blog, you alienate everyone, eventually. By better learning the microcosms of your own customer base; what minorities want, and then building products (and licensing schemes) that can and do cater to multiple niches simultainiously, Microsoft would not need PR of this calibre.

Ah, but what am I saying? I forget that today's mantra is "this is designed for the majority of users participating in the Microsoft spy-on-your-mouse clicks program, so it is scientifically the best possible design!" Anyone who disagrees – or feels that maybe they are in one of those nasty niches – just needs to “get over themselves” and “learn to adapt.”

Everyone doing everything exactly the same thing using exactly the same device in exactly the same manner is the unquenchable, data-driven future! Just don’t dare interpret the data from using a different set of assumptions or biases...that's blasphemy!

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Dell details plans for 'remixed' software strategy

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Re: Follow the leader

Disagree. HP are trying to be Oracle and IBM simultainiously. HP doesn't seem to want a broad software portfolio; they just want to milk the ever living **** out of it at ridiculous margins, in single-quarter or less turnarounds.

Dell are doing something else altogether. Services are a part, but software is a much bigger part of the future (seemingly) than at HP, and I expect the hardware side to remain bigger than it is at IBM. I think Dell really are setting about making something new here; slightly different than anything that has really been tried before.

To be honest, the more I learn about their plans, the more respect I have for Dell. If they can execute even reasonably well, I think they’ll do fine. They have witnessed the commoditisation of their hardware business, and are branching out.

Good for them; it’s about time.

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Lowery: The blue-collar musician at the eye of the copyright storm

Trevor_Pott
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Re: Boilerplate freeculture arguments, I'm afraid

Re: Boilerplate freeculture arguments, I'm afraid

If you want to roll copyright law back to just-post-VCR, and then start increased enforcement, I'd support you. The issue at hand however is more complicated. Copyright enforcement in practice may not catch every infringement online, but it does get many individuals. This includes many innocents are forced to pay a significant chunk of their life's savings to defend themselves when their use of the material was clearly in the bounds of fair use. (Not to mention the practise of copyright trolling; shaking down innocents for money with the mere threat of a copyright case.)

Copyright law allows for harsher punishments, and it doesn't have the limitations it did before. If we allow the kind of omnipresent surveillance required to catch every copyright infringement, we're basically ruining the lives of a significant chunk of our population for a minor civil infringement. The punishments have become so disproportionate, the techniques used in enforcement so inaccurate (high % of innocents) that I simply cannot support enforcement expansion.

And what if we do? Now we monitor everyone all the time - guilty until proven innocent! - for infringement...but society has gotten nothing in return. Copyright holders in this future have power to ruin a man; in return, society sees nothing but the continued diminution of fair use and no new works entering the public domain.

You demand enforcement without any consideration regarding the consequences of that enforcement. Libertarianism for your chosen cause; the burden of externalities upon the rest of society. Your arguments are based off rhetoric and elitism. Intellectual property holders are "special" to you; their needs come before others.

I sense a pattern in your vitriol and ad hominem attacks, Andrew. You consistently rise up in defence of any cause in which there is a call to have an industry begin to pay the cost of something it has externalised for decades. You level claims of catastrophism at those who disagree with you. You question their sanity, their motivations, I have even seen the odd conspiracy theory article.

You have even come very close to saying outright in your last comment that I am incapable of critical thinking because I look at the same data as you, draw some of the same conclusions, but not all. “Your brain doesn’t work right if you don’t agree with me” is a recurring theme.

This is not a good look, Andrew. I have presented you with several arguments that you simply brush aside without addressing, only to assert that I am not addressing your issues because I don’t agree with you.

So let me be explicit here: I am presenting to you a slippery slope argument. A slippery slope argument can be a logical fallacy, but only if a mechanism by which the chain of events is to take place is not provided, nor evidence that this chain of events is likely.

I do thus address your issues. I believe that your concerns are invalid, because were society to follow your suggestions then I firmly believe there would be very negative consequences; ones that society would be nearly powerless to undo. What’s more, I believe there is compelling evidence to prove that these consequences will indeed occur; and a long established history to back it up.

My argument is backed by literally thousands of peer-reviewed papers from the top minds in their field. (Dr. Michael Geist, University of Ottawa being one excellent example.) My argument is based on experimental evidence: we have seen maximalism tried, and failed. On the other hand, societies that reject it are flourishing.

So you are 100% correct in that this entire debate mirrors the debate you engage in over climate change, amongst others. Where other people decry a series of likely consequences to actions, and demand that corporations pay externalities associated with their businesses in an attempt to reduce or eliminate the possibility of those consequences becoming reality, you take up the fight.

Even when the overwhelming bulk of scientific evidence is against you – re: climate change – you can, will and do simply dehumanise your opponents. (Catastrophists! Autistics! People incapable of “proper” thought!)

At the core, the debate – be it climate change or intellectual property – has the exact same fundamental philosophical divergence between us:

I argue that the consequences of any social policy must be thoroughly examined, tested and subjected to expert consensus. In areas where consequences for inaction are disproportionately negative for society at large, regulation should be used to ensure the welfare of the many, preferably whilst avoiding too dramatic an impact on the few. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

You argue that social policy should be as “hands off” as possible; that “the market” should decide. Governments should intervene only when the status quo of an industry is changed; when they can no longer externalise a cost they had traditionally been able to. The moral right of the few outweighs the needs of the many.

We can go around and around here Andrew. At the end of the day, I believe that the social policies you propose will have dire consequences. I believe those consequences are significantly more dire for significantly more people in our society than the extant arrangement.

Simultainiously, I believe that society has not yet reached the optimal balance between the needs of society and the needs of creators. I believe there are a great many changes that need to take place if intellectual property is to serve everyone in society fairly.

Apparently however, the changes I would see implemented – the balance between the needs of the many and those of the few – is anathema to you. You argue only extant implementation, demanding a change-and-see approach with no examination of consequences excepting as they would apply to the group you consider “more equal” than the majority. By considering the many; by examining the consequences of your approach and seeking to minimise them, I am a catastrophist.

If that is your view of me, so be it. I cannot continue to go round with you on this topic; we are diametrically opposed on a fundamental philosophical level. We will continue to disagree vehemently about nearly everything higher level than that.

What has come from this however is the understanding that I simply shouldn’t reply to your articles; our viewpoints are so divergent the conversation can lead to nothing excepting animosity and logic loops.

So cheers sir; we’ll have to find other topics to discuss in the future. Ones where we are less divergent in our views.

P.S.: regarding copyright and international law? International law recognises that it is separate and distinct from traditional property. Thus why - so far - there are time limits on it. Despite the massive push to make it perpetual. So I maintain my position that it is not "property" in the morally perpetual sense that you continually use. It is a temporary monopoly granted to ensure that a creator can see economic reward from something that – ultimately – belongs to society at large. But now we’re back to fundamental philosophical disagreements…and apparently different interpretations of extant law filtered through those philosophies...

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Gamer fails STAM roll, dies after 40-hour Diablo III stretch

Trevor_Pott
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40 hrs?

Who could tolerate 40 hours of Diablo 3? I just...what...I don't even...

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Metro, that ribbon, shared mailboxes: Has Microsoft lost the plot?

Trevor_Pott
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Pint

Re: Yawn

Your prejudices and preconceptions about people and their motivations blind you to the truth evident in simple discourse.

No, I do not believe that I am agitating for change within Microsoft. I suggested that you could do so. If you - as you claim - talk every single day with IT representatives from the world's most powerful companies, then you are in a position to agitate for change should you desire it.

I however am in no such official position. I run a consulting company aimed at small and medium enterprises; the company itself being a small business. Whatever influence I have in this world comes entirely from the influence my words may – or may not – have on my readers here on The Register...and the conversations I have with my friends in the Seattle area when I drive down for inebriation and merriment.

The Register may be English, but I am Canadian; a Canadian who lives within easy driving distance of Redmond and who happens to be more than familiar with the ins and outs of licensing.

In addition to systems administration and writing for The Register, I have extensive experience in project management…some of which has included designing licensing programs alongside my clients; the software some of them provide being industry-essential within their niche, and utterly unique. Some even make quite a bit of money, despite being small businesses with a handful of staff. (Though growing, in most cases.)

In short: you have demonstrated a remarkably deficient understanding of “who I am” and “what I do,” despite this information being readily available. You make assumptions about my motivations, beliefs, philosophies and technical practices based upon nothing more than blatant misinterpretation of printed information and your own cracked view of reality.

I am sorry to inform you but people – myself included – do not always easily conform to the pre-canned formulae which you seem to believe govern human thought. That a person believes one thing – or advocates a thing – does not mean they believe some other thing that you have convinced yourself must inevitably be related.

Of course, there remains the possibility that you are not in fact subject to a fractured conceptualisation of the basic functionality of human dynamics. You could simply be an internet troll, attempting to get a rise out of me in a truly banal and unskilled attempt at trolling.

In that case, I would like to politely request that you bugger off. I have nothing against trolling whatsoever, but please either do a good job or go home. A proper troll should seem credible at first glance, and again at second. They should be nearly impossible to tell from someone who is dead serious.

A troll’s argument should be well structured, logical, backed by a mountain of evidence that is difficult to pick apart…but purposefully built upon a single faulty premise that they then utterly refuse to acknowledge. They should seem completely rational with the exception of that one faulty premise; without a doubt it is the most successfully in driving individuals raised to respect critical thinking completely fucking batshit insane.

The problem here is that I don’t detect anything even resembling critical thinking in your posts. There is nothing other than ad homenim attacks backed by rhetoric and vitriol. Your “arguments” are possessed of innumerable logical fallacies.

In short, your posts aren’t witty or well grounded enough to be part of an amusing trollish back-and-forth, nor are they actually broken enough to be the basis of a flame-of-the-week. Instead, they are merely annoying; resurrecting dead threads so that you can get the last word in a vain attempt to obscure the amount of sheer butthurt you are experiencing over being so utterly, abysmally wrong.

That’s inconsiderate to the other Register readers who have posted in this thread. When they check their “My Topics” page, this damned turkey keeps coming back to the top, with nothing new nor entertaining. Simply butthurt on your behalf.

For my part, I’m calling an end to my participation in the thread. With any luck, you respect your fellow Register readers enough to do the same.

Cheers to you, and many apologies to the other members of this thread. Sorry for resing it this one last time, but the sheer mediocrity of these posts has irritated my inner troll.

A pint for you all.

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Trevor_Pott
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Re: Yawn

Well there's the issue then; I've only had to contact Microsoft for support regarding SQL Server twice, and they were acceptibly mediocre about support both times!

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Microsoft pops preview of 'biggest, most ambitious' Office yet

Trevor_Pott
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Re: "The application suite has been rewritten from the ground up"

Notepad ++, actually. It's brilliant.

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