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Ask Slashdot: Linux Login and Resource Management In a Computer Lab?

dougmc Re:A lot of complexity, a little gain? (98 comments)

I've used lots of multi-user linux boxes over the years and never noticed that a few bad users ruined the experience for everybody else.

I did ... but this was 25 years ago at college when hardware was scarce (we had 1 MB disk quotas!) and the computer system was used to do all sorts of things that people just couldn't do from their own personal computers (i.e. access mail, news or the Internet.)

Users policed each other back then to a degree, but there wasn't much you could do to make a bad user behave unless the sysadmins backed you on it, and they'd only back you if they explicitly broke the rules set down. And often you didn't even know who a user was -- if they sat at a console you'd know who they were, but if they dialed in you might just know their user name and often that gave no clue who they really were. (The sysadmins knew, but they wouldn't share.)

But now ... most of the things that caused problems can be done from anybody's own computer, or from a PC down in a lab somewhere. True multiuser systems are kind of rare nowadays, and most users probably don't deal with them where back then we had little choice.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Linux Login and Resource Management In a Computer Lab?

dougmc A lot of this seems superflurious ... (98 comments)

If you're giving your users access to the machines, they should be able to use them. And if you can't trust them to use them responsibly, don't give them access.

If it were me, I'd secure the boxes normally, set up some resource usage rules (guidelines?) and see what happens. If problems happen often, then maybe look into something automated to enforce the rules, but if not, then you're done.

As for renicing stuff done by remote users, I'm not sure this is a good idea, but if you want to do it you can renice sshd itself, and to be thorough you can also renice crond (if you give them access to cron/at.) But do keep in mind that nice (and ionice) can't do magic with an overloaded system -- they help, but they don't do magic.

As for commercial systems, I haven't really seen this as being a big problem outside academia. Multiuser *nix systems where different people are competing for resources is kind of rare in the commercial sector, as it seems like the trends lately are to have enough hardware, often dedicated, and to enforce limits through voluntary compliance (and have their boss talk to them if it's still a problem.)

That "have their boss talk to them" bit may not work so well for students, but still, I would wait for a problem to appear before I put too much effort into solving it.

Instead, put your efforts into proper sysadmin stuff -- stay up to date on patches, look for problems (especially security ones), make sure backups work, help users with problems, etc. If there's any troublemakers, talk to them, and if they don't shape up after a few warnings, kick them out. (And make sure the policies permit that!)

You can enforce limits on specific users through pam and sshd_config and some other mechanisms, but I'd suggest leaving that for later. Anything you do that will limit what people can do will eventually keep them from doing what they legitimately need to be doing.

yesterday
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The View From Inside A Fireworks Show

dougmc Re:Cool video (200 comments)

Crappy camera work? I take it you'd do better?

It's not like it's an easy place to put an expensive camera into. Anything bigger than a small R/C plane and they'd have stopped the fireworks entirely -- and personally, I'm sort of surprised that they didn't when they saw this craft up there. The odds of having the craft hit by a shell and crashing into the water were significant as well.

And it's quite dark, so we're stuck with high iso mode.

Personally, I thought it was quite excellent for what it was.

about three weeks ago
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The View From Inside A Fireworks Show

dougmc Re:Illegal and Dangerous? (200 comments)

FAA limits model aircraft to a height of 500 feet

No it doesn't.

The 400 (not 500) foot figure comes from FAA advisory circular 91-57 made back in 1981, and the key thing about this is that it's *advisory*, not mandatory.

The AMA safety code says "Not fly higher than approximately 400 feet above ground level within three (3) miles of an airport without notifying the airport operator." -- but those are just safety rules for AMA members (and a good idea for everybody) -- but they do not have the force of law behind them.

Now, the FAA may change the laws in the future, but so far ... this 400 foot ceiling people talk about does not exist. (Some places have restricted airspace ... that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about this blanket 400 foot height limit people keep bringing up that doesn't exist.

about three weeks ago
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30% of Americans Aren't Ready For the Next Generation of Technology

dougmc Re:And this surprises... who? (191 comments)

I'm not sure "grandma" is synomous with senior citizens, but I guess it's as close as we're going to get real data on.

But either way, even if they "aged into being a senior citizen" ... there's still more of them using the Internet than not. Yes, they are often terrified of viruses and the like, and if they aren't they should be ... and I recall fixing up my mother in law's computer on a regular basis because it was riddled with crap ... but she still used it. She loved it.

And the "riddled with crap" problem isn't restricted to senior citizens. My children's computers have similar problems, and that's why I refuse to even let them use mine and set them up with their own ...

That said, if I had it all to do again today ... I might have set my mother in law up with a Chromebook or tablet or something instead, something that's pretty resistant to all the crap. I think it would do most of the stuff she wanted to do. My kids are digital natives and they want more than a tablet or Chromebook will provide -- but even so, that covers much of what they want too.

about three weeks ago
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30% of Americans Aren't Ready For the Next Generation of Technology

dougmc Re:Funny (191 comments)

There's a difference between blindly trusting random crap you find on the Internet and not ever using it at all.

At least in my circles, the truly smart people fit into neither category. That said, if you must pick one or the other ... the latter is preferable.

But that's a false dichotomy ... even better is being able and willing to find things on the Internet, but having the wisdom to tell what's crap and what might be crap (and therefore needs to be confirmed) and what's probably accurate (but keep in mind, it still might not be.)

about three weeks ago
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Washington Redskins Stripped of Trademarks

dougmc Re:I just dont get it (646 comments)

I just don't get it -- Liberals are always talking about live and let live. they get all upset when people dont respect their lifestyle. but at the same time they attack those who they disagree with

Let me explain it then ...

You've got this term "liberals". This term is expected to describe some group of people -- either you've labelled people with this term, other people have labelled people with this term, or maybe people have labelled themselves with this term ... it doesn't matter.

And you're now surprised that people identified by this term do things that seem contradictory or mutually exclusive?

Well, that's easy to explain ... this group is full of individuals with their own beliefs and goals. You or others have thrown them all into this bucket called "liberals" but that doesn't magically make them all behave the same. The reality is, even among "liberals" there is a wide range of beliefs, and when you say "get all upset" and "at the same time attack" -- you're generally talking about different individuals.

Individuals are often hypocrites, yes, but "liberals" (or "conservatives", or members of any other group) are not hypocrites simply because one individual does one thing and another individual does a contradictory thing.

about a month ago
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Has the Ethanol Threat Manifested In the US?

dougmc "I seem to get better mileage with all-gas" (432 comments)

I seem to get better mileage with all-gas

Not surprising -- gasoline has a higher energy content than ethanol -- 34 vs 24 MJ/L.

So you really are getting less energy when you buy a gallon of E10 or E15 vs. a gallon of pure gasoline.

about 2 months ago
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Cable TV Prices Rising At Four Times the Inflation Rate

dougmc Re:AT&T land line (286 comments)

There are at least 3 VOIP providers that charge under $10 per month, including fees, which includes all of the US and Canada + and 60 minutes to about 40 counries.

I've currently got VoIP through Google Voice. I paid $20 one time to port my number over and no other fees. Service has been perfect, using an OBI box to handle it.

Alas, google is discontinuing this any day now. But it was a great deal.

about 2 months ago
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Cable TV Prices Rising At Four Times the Inflation Rate

dougmc Re:AT&T land line (286 comments)

with no change in service.

$7 in 1997 seems too cheap.

Did you get metered service back then? I remember that being an option where you only got X calls for the month and that reduced the price by like 75%.

Of course, even then you had to not pay extra for caller ID or touch tone (really? touch tone was extra?!?!?!) to get it that cheap. I suspect that there is some change in service between these two figures.

about 2 months ago
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EA Ending Online Support For Dozens of Games

dougmc Re:If they programmed it correctly (329 comments)

Sure, but I'm not sure that I'd call their use of Gamespy back in the day as a mistake.

Instead, it was a business decision with benefits (they don't need to roll their own and it already enjoyed a large customer base) and risks (the service might go away or be changed.)

Had they they benefits of your 20/20 hindsight, they might have made a different decision, but given the information that they had at the time ... it sounds like a good decision. And really, even if they'd known that the service was going away in 2014, they might have still made the same decision -- Gamespy served a need, and for a long while it served that need better than anything else available.

about 2 months ago
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EA Ending Online Support For Dozens of Games

dougmc Re:If they programmed it correctly (329 comments)

My point is that EA is incompetent. Would you like to disagree?

Nice combination of loaded question and strawman.

EA is incompetent because they didn't write Gamespy's servers for them in such a way to make them easy to migrate? Nevermind that the 1) EA didn't write them at all, and 2) the servers don't even need migrating -- the problem is that Gamespy is turning them off, presumably because they're not making them money any more.

Maybe EA made a mistake back when in actually using Gamespy ... but at the time, Gamespy was quite popular, and if this was a mistake, it was a mistake made by many companies.

These games use Gamespy's servers to find other users who want to play, then once found the computers involved talk amongst themselves. EA isn't running servers for these games that I know of, but even if they did ... Gamespy is still being used to find other users.

With Gamespy disappearing, EA can't just "migrate its servers to another host" to fix the problem. They have to update all the games and release patches, mucking with code that they haven't touched in many years. All this for a game that barely sells any copies at all any more.

In this case, I think EA is making a wise business decision. So no, in this case, EA is not incompetent.

about 2 months ago
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EA Ending Online Support For Dozens of Games

dougmc Re:If they programmed it correctly (329 comments)

It doesn't take a "megacorp" to need to go to all that trouble.

Even a relatively small company is likely to go through a similar process when their entire company depends on this system and it's complicated enough to span multiple computers. They probably won't have a dedicated team for it (and note that anything that requires a dedicated team is not pocket change, even for a megacorp) but it still requires a lot of resources -- it's usually way more than just rsyncing some stuff around, though if the OS is *nix, there's likely to be some use of rsync in there somewhere.

You really don't have a valid point, as the point you're trying to make doesn't even apply to the situation we're discussing at all, because EA doesn't own Gamespy's servers. What EA would need to do here is pay programmers to pull their old game source code out of mothballs and update them to support something other than Gamespy -- and this is likely not a trivial matter at all, and needs to be repeated for each game. Games that aren't making EA more than a tiny bit of money any more.

about 2 months ago
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Glenn Greenwald: How the NSA Tampers With US Made Internet Routers

dougmc Re:First (347 comments)

And don't forget that the hardware itself may be compromised.

about 2 months ago
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Glenn Greenwald: How the NSA Tampers With US Made Internet Routers

dougmc Re:First (347 comments)

Ultimately the only way we'll ever end NSA malfeseanse (or CIA malfeseanse for that matter) is if we can somehow expose what they do

... and this has already happened, with new stuff coming to light all the time.

And so far, most people don't really seem to care. Not enough to do anything about it, anyways.

about 2 months ago
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Glenn Greenwald: How the NSA Tampers With US Made Internet Routers

dougmc Re:First (347 comments)

I think we're screwed.

Only if you keep on reelecting the same old crooked politicians over and over again. The NSA can't control who you vote for.

1) who knows how far NSA has its fingers into everything. If they've hacked the voting machines ... perhaps they *can* control who we vote for.

2) it doesn't have to be the NSA. They may have the most resources and the most support from our government, but China could do similar things. And the part about getting back doors into open source software doesn't require a government agency at all.

The most recent poster child of vulnerabilities that nobody noticed was of course Heartbleed, but who knows how many other problems either 1) have been detected but not reported to anybody, or 2) were deliberately added but made to look benign? And it's always possible that the vulnerabilities aren't where you think they are -- for example, the idea of hacking the C compiler to detect when it's compiling /bin/login and adding a back door if it is is decades old, and it's only one of oodles of possible scenarios.

about 2 months ago
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Glenn Greenwald: How the NSA Tampers With US Made Internet Routers

dougmc Re:First (347 comments)

You can't trust open source either.

Devices like these often have "binary blobs" that aren't open source and could contain backdoors (one of the reasons RMS has been rallying against them, but probably not the primary reason), but even more fundamentally than that, it would be naive to assume that the NSA can't hire programmers to contribute to these projects and that they can't be good enough at what they do to make a backdoors that would pass a code review without being detected.

That said, at least with open source you have the chance to find such things, so there is that. But either way ... I think we're screwed.

about 2 months ago
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EA Ending Online Support For Dozens of Games

dougmc Re:If they programmed it correctly (329 comments)

Again, by your definition, in the real world ... almost nothing is programmed correctly.

And I imagine that Gamespy is far more than a single server. The server side is probably at least a rack of servers, with databases and who knows what else. And it's owned by a totally different company than EA, a company that wants to shut it down (probably because it doesn't make them any money) so it's not just a matter of "migrating a server".

Companies often spend weeks planning migrations of their services, and often the migration itself takes dozens of people weeks to complete. They often test their migrations on totally separate hardware just to make sure they understand all of the issues that might come up and make sure they can overcome them.

And even with all that planning and testing and redundancy ... they often still screw something up.

Blame it on being programmed poorly if you want ... but it's reality.

about 2 months ago
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EA Ending Online Support For Dozens of Games

dougmc Re:If they programmed it correctly (329 comments)

Longer than "rsync --archive --verbose /var/www/html/. new-host:/var/www/html/." takes to type.

But again, that's the extreme simple case. That'll serve you well for somebody's 1993 web site, though their "contact us!" form may require a little more work (though I do realize that this form doesn't fit into the "just static files" restriction I mentioned.)

But even back in 1993 that was simpler than most "real" services. Scott Adams gave a nice example of how people viewed complexity back in 1994 (and it's still accurate.). You can argue that anything that is complicated is not properly programmed ... and that's fine, but then again ... by that definition, the vast majority of stuff must not be properly programmed.

I don't know how complicated Gamespy's services are, I don't know how it's built. But I seriously doubt it can be replicated with a simple rsync to the new server. (Unless you rsync *everything*, and the new server has similar hardware to the old server and will sit at the same address in the same datacenter.) And of course EA doesn't even own Gamespy so they can't rsync it to begin with.

about 2 months ago

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