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Torvalds: I Made Community-Building Mistakes With Linux

Zenin Re:Has it been working so far? (387 comments)

The linux kernel. It's in your desktops, in your web servers, in your cell phones, in your cars, in your televisions, in your game systems, in your embedded devices... if it were to suddenly go away, the landscape of modern technology would drastically change.

Web servers and cell phones, yes. The rest, not so much.

Realistically almost no one runs Linux on their desktop. Even Unix sysadmins lean heavily to Windows (or Mac). Windows with cygwin makes a more effective Unix workstation for most all uses than does Linux.

The embedded realm (including TVs) is dominated by BSD, for license reasons if nothing else. That's if they want/need a heavy weight OS; Most embedded systems either have no OS or a small real time OS.

The only game system that runs Linux is Steam Box.

And last but certainly not least, if Linux fell off the face of the Earth today, very little would change tomorrow. The BSDs are a drop in replacement for 99.9% of Linux use cases. And frankly, would do the job better: Linux is popular despite merit, not because of it.

3 days ago

Torvalds: I Made Community-Building Mistakes With Linux

Zenin Re:Has it been working so far? (387 comments)

"...he created and manages the largest open source project ever."

Most popular, yes. Largest? Not by a long shot. As some folks are all-too-happy to remind folks, Linux is "just the kernel".

4 days ago

Eggcyte is Making a Pocket-Sized Personal Web Server (Video)

Zenin Why is this hardware? Why not just write an App? (94 comments)

Why not just run a web server App on your smart phone?

-No second device to buy, carry around, or keep charged.
-No second device to constantly "sync" with.
-Far easier to keep patched with security and feature updates.

Of course, that's putting aside all the issues around trying to run a web server on personal internet access accounts (cell, public wifi, home wifi, work wifi, any of it). The bandwidth issues of trying to share a video of your kids with your family alone will trash most any common internet connection, and that's if it'll be allowed at all (inbound port 80/443) or legal ("no servers on this connection!").

This project has Epic Fail written all over it.... So I'm sure in classic Kickstarter fashion it'll get funded 10x over it's target. Because, sheeple.

5 days ago

Flight Attendants Want Stricter Gadget Rules Reinstated

Zenin Re:That's not the reason you're being ignored. (404 comments)

Got a link?

Generally speaking, being relaxed greatly reduces your chance and severity of injury. If you can, let your body go rag-doll if you know you're going to crash (easier said than done of course...).

"Bracing for impact" is the exact opposite of being relaxed.

If anything, getting mentally absorbed in a device likely reduces injuries. And if the crash is severe enough to cause a brain injury by hitting the seat in front of you, you're going to be hitting the seat in front of you no matter how much you brace yourself. There's a reason why cars have shoulder harnesses and airbags.

about a week ago

Nixie Wearable Drone Camera Flies Off Your Wrist

Zenin Re:Bummer (63 comments)

I get what you're saying, but this project isn't likely to cause a major issue like the Phantom has.

What they are designing is going to need to be about the size of a Blade Nano QX. I've no idea how they plan to get all that technology in such a tiny quad, but assuming they do the "impact" of one of these hitting someone will be practically nothing. The micro/nano size quads just don't have the power, mass, or prop size do to significant harm (unless maybe, it actually hits you in the eye).

about three weeks ago

Apple Yet To Push Patch For "Shellshock" Bug

Zenin Re:~/.cshrc (208 comments)

It makes sense, /bin/csh was the traditional default shell of BSDish systems.

But the default shell doesn't matter, because the default shell isn't used by C library functions like system(). /bin/sh is used, no matter what your "default shell" is set to. And some foolish folks decided to go ahead and replace /bin/sh with bash.

about three weeks ago

Flurry of Scans Hint That Bash Vulnerability Could Already Be In the Wild

Zenin Re:Preempting dumb discussion (318 comments)

Trying to brush off blame with the tired old nonsense that "Linux is just the kernel, man!", just doesn't fly anymore. Hell, it never really has.

The term "Linux" is well understood to mean a family of full, complete operating systems (libs, userland, and all). When anyone is actually speaking of just the kernel, it's qualified as exactly that, "The Linux kernel...blagh, blagh".

about three weeks ago

Flurry of Scans Hint That Bash Vulnerability Could Already Be In the Wild

Zenin Re:"could be worse than Heartbleed" (318 comments)

Sure, a double fork() && exec() pattern is ideal, but it's also significantly more code and complexity (read: fat thumb bugs) than calling system("/some/command &");

And before you say it, yes actually there are tons of use cases where forking a background process is a far superior method than any alternatives. It's one of the oldest and most common Unix programming patterns in existence. Programming doesn't really change much simply because you add "on the web" to the end of your use case.

about three weeks ago

Flurry of Scans Hint That Bash Vulnerability Could Already Be In the Wild

Zenin Re:"could be worse than Heartbleed" (318 comments)

The vast, vast majority of tools do not need significant "scaling". Often just throwing a heavy weight job in the background (eg, transcoding a video file) is, and always will be, significant. Especially if you've got an auto-scaling web farm that'll just expand under load anyway. system("/big/job &") all day long.

Sure, it'll never scale to YouTube levels, but it'll scale large enough for 99% of common use cases.

The "proper" alternative architecture using message queues, etc is massively more code, complexity, and resource cost. Great if you actually need it, nothing but overhead when you don't, and you typically don't.

about three weeks ago

Flurry of Scans Hint That Bash Vulnerability Could Already Be In the Wild

Zenin Re:This exposes systemic insecurities (318 comments)

You don't need to run a "full-bore shell program" to be vulnerable.

You simply need to use the system() function of any popular language (Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, C, etc). The system() function executes /bin/sh -c to parse the string before executing it. You don't even need to pass any arguments. On every Linux distro /bin/sh IS bash. Game over.

The alternative to using a one line system() call is a few dozen lines of complex, easily screwed up systems programming as you navigate through fork(), exec(), dupe(), wait(), etc.

The real issue are Linux distributions deciding that bash was a suitable substitute for a minimal POSIX /bin/sh.

about three weeks ago

Amazon Instant Video Now Available On Android

Zenin Re:Rather cumbersome (77 comments)

You failed to note the "Google TV" text all over that app's page.

That version is only usable on Google TV, not Android.

about a month ago

Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?

Zenin Re:I think this is a good idea. (282 comments)

You try and throw it back and me and yet...Linux is one of the only "modern" production kernels that hasn't figured out auto-tuning.

Why is that do you think?

And why should I chose Linux, knowing I'll have to spend considerable time and expense to "tune" it, even for very common use cases, when other systems can tune themselves better than 95% of sysadmins and do so for free?

about a month and a half ago

Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?

Zenin Re:I think this is a good idea. (282 comments)

Better question: It's 2014, why the hell are you still manually tuning kernels?

I'm not saying you don't need to for Linux...I'm asking why you or anyone else feels this is an acceptable requirement? Is it just to keep Linux sysadmins employed?

Sure, for some incredibly unusual workloads we might not be able to expect the kernel to self-tune, but for the other 95% of typical uses they kernel really should be able to tune itself and do so far better than any human.

Seriously, why do people put up with schedulers that are so bad they not only can't self-tune...they need to be wholly replaced...and such "tuning" requirements are considered normal?!

about a month and a half ago

IT Job Hiring Slumps

Zenin Re:It would be less of an issue (250 comments)

"You can't pay less than $80k to an H1B"

BS. You have to pay the "minimum or prevailing wage in that geographic location for your particular position", which more often than not actually translates to well below the actual prevailing wage for the area and pretty much always well below $80k. It's also trivial to fudge by playing games with job titles:

Online Wage Library - FLC Wage Search Wizard

Does a "Application Software Developer" cost to much? Save a bit by calling them an "Analyst", or call them a "Web Developer" and save yourself $30k! :-/

Even in most all of the highest wage markets in the US, it's trivial to get a "prevailing wage" well south of $80k with an H1B. AND they are effectively indentured servants (a small step up from slave): They can't complain, they have no real freedom to get fed up with your BS and quit.

about a month and a half ago

DMCA Claim Over GPL Non-Compliance Shuts Off Minecraft Plug-Ins

Zenin Re:What the heck? (354 comments)

Yes and no...

  Mojang didn't originally violate any license or infringe on copyright. Bukkit were always the ones in violation (of Mojang's license and copyright infringement). ...But now, Mojang "bought" Bukkit (the name and infrastructure, but not the code assets). This is where things get weird.

Mojang/Bukkit is no longer in violation of Mojang's copyright, but neither is the Bukkit package in compliance with the GPL. Although that actually isn't clear either:

A) Mojang/Bukkit are distributing the complete "source" to Bukkit (via the decompiled Minecraft server code). Although...that decompiled code isn't under GPL...

B) Bukkit is the derivative (much like writing a GPL driver for Windows, or in general the issues of linking GPL code to non-GPL code:

Does Bukkit's license have the exception called for in the GPL FAQ linked above? Maybe, but it may not matter. Legally the exception may be considered implied because it was/is required and the distributor (the original Bukkit coders) knew/know that.

But reguardless...Mojang could easily side step the whole issue by stripping the Mojang/Bukkit distributable of all non-GPL code (ie, the decompiled Minecraft server code). So long as Mojang/Bukkit doesn't distribute GPL/non-GPL mixed binaries (ie, only distributes Bukkit source sans Minecraft source), they aren't in violation. The GPL only requires you distribute source for the binaries you distribute and it is not a violation to simply distribute source that can't be compiled or can only be compiled once "brewed" locally with non-GPL code by the end user. While that end-user can't legally distribute their non-compliant binaries, they can legally use them themselves.

And Mojang can count on the InterWebz to make available "unofficial" distributions of the needed decompiled Minecraft code and/or distributing (in violation) compiled binaries. Mojang isn't responsible for other people violating licenses (even as they benifit from the activity) and is under no obligation to expend effort or coin to pursue them. The butthurt Bukkit devs would need to do that legwork on their own dime if they cared.

about a month and a half ago

Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"

Zenin Re:I know you're trying to be funny, but... (739 comments)

Smoothly? Maybe, if you never upgrade. Linus/Linux has badly botched nearly every major transition they've done.

a.out to ELF
libc to glibc
VM flavor of the month
filesystem of the month
32bit to 64bit
sound, oh god..
MAKEDEV / devfs / udev

And that's the short list...and just the kernel. If we actually talk about the full OS (aka distributions), my's a configuration manager's worst nightmare.

What the hell, I've got some /. karma to burn:

The reality is, Linus is the quintessential asshat. Not a fraction as smart as he thinks or boasts that he is, happily takes credit for everyone else's work (while simultaneously chastising them), dismissing his own failures as the peons not able to understand his greatness. And for all this the "community" regards him as a living god.

If you look at it all honestly, it's difficult to find any "contributions" that Linux has done that weren't/aren't already done first and better by others. I'd even go so far as to say the computing world would have been better off never having been exposed to the plague that is Linux, which didn't win the market through technical merit.

about 3 months ago

Microsoft's CEO Says He Wants to Unify Windows

Zenin Re:Server 2012 already looks like Windows 8. (322 comments)

I'm sorry, PowerShell is a trainwreck of a language. Extremely unintuitive, inconsistent, cryptic.

Using a function? Call it as function($arg1, $arg2). Oh, did you write the function? Sorry, you'll have to call it as function $arg1 $arg2.

Want to pass a path to something? It's easy: -Path $path. Oh wait, $path is actually a real path and not a glob? You'll have to use -literalPath...if it's supported. Yep, we kept the same failed idea of CMD and decided argument expansion should be done by each command/function/program/cmdlet independently so that we can make damn sure nothing at all is ever consistent. There's a reason why every Unix shell, bash much included, handles argument expansion in the shell.

Sane variable scoping? Not from PS.

Want to use something from .Net? It's built in, a major selling point! Oh...sorry if the syntax is so incredibly buggered that it makes real world PowerShell/.Net code look like a bid for the Obfuscated Perl Contest. And once you get it "right", PowerShell can't grok anything beyond trivial. God help me, I had to craft and populate an IEnumerable of Tuple of String, String in PowerShell to pass to a .Net method (from DacServices). Finally crafted (looked like a spell incantation), it couldn't get through PowerShell to the method call in one piece. Flat out broken. Finally had to give up and just code a real C# console app to handle the 10 lines of code.

Want output/trace to display in the order you actually write it? When it actually happens? Better | Out-Default all of it or strange things happen.

Most sane languages, especially so-called "OOP" languages, actually stop when an exception is thrown by default. Typically with a default global catch that offers you a nice stack trace, or something. PowerShell? By default it keeps on trucking, not even a peep (bad old habits of CMD are hard to break I guess).

Misspell a variable somewhere? Or a method name? Not even a warning until runtime when it fails (but then keeps on trucking right along, happy to double down on the fail). Even Perl isn't that bad (at least with "use strict;").

PowerShell is better than CMD/Batch. But then, so is a swift kick to the head. It's a horrid language and a bad shell. Bash via Cygwin is a hell of a saner and more powerful way to use a shell on Windows. And if you ever need .Net something, do yourself a huge favor and do it from C# as a console app and call that...1,000,000,000 times better than trying to use the fugly hack of a .Net interface that PowerShell provides.

about 3 months ago

Amazon Seeks US Exemption To Test Delivery Drones

Zenin Re:Shrug. (155 comments)

Sure, but it's a much, much easier problem to solve.

For starters, flying is analogous to driving only if every road had 1,000 lanes and there were such 1,000 road lanes leading directly in any direction from any point.

Or in other words, it's not at all analogous to "traffic" as folks typically think of it. A GPS module, a few cheap sonic sensors and/or slightly more expensive transponders, with basic collision avoidance software would easily solve the problem entirely. All of which I must add, are already on board any and all drones for the simple fact you can't navigate autonomously (more or less the definition of a "drone") without it. Anything less and you have a traditional R/C model aircraft, not a drone.

about 3 months ago


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