Showing posts with label operating systems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label operating systems. Show all posts



it begins! (again.) i think living independently is good for me. i feel like a burden when living off other people, and having my own place is always nice. more or less settled in now, all the account information has been updated, bills set up etc. had a slight hitch on Thursday (08.10.15) when my old Fedora laptop finally gave up the ghost. the HDD made an ominous, bomb-like ticking noise for a few minutes, the system abruptly stopped responding, then the power died and refused to power back on. no luck with diagnostics/repairs that night or the morning after, until one last Chinese reboot convinced the machine to power on and load GRUB. from here i was able to get into Fedora, but only after about seven or eight minutes of loading and fan noise... when i actually got the window manager up, i found it responding slower than if i were sending commands via satellite from the fucking Moon. the terminal was no exception. i'd click or press a key, and literally several entire minutes would go by before the machine reflected what i'd pressed by opening a menu, showing the typed character onscreen, switching windows or whatever. with this excruciatingly slow method, i transferred my WIP novel to an SD card (it was the only irreplaceable file, i'd lost its backup on USB in the moving chaos). the machine itself is unusable and not worth buying a replacement hard drive for, so i haven't lost any data this time, but i have lost that. a new one's coming in a few weeks. it's one of these nice cheap preloaded Ubuntu ones for poor people so it should suit me fine. i don't need an SSD or fifty terabytes of disk space or 16G RAM, i just need some form of Linux laptop so i can function.

and meds. i also need lots of pain meds so i can function.

this Hallowe'en i will be speaking about transhumanism and biohacking in Nottingham, not sure of the exact place and time yet. i'll put up a post and a twatter update when i do, it shouldn't be very expensive if anyone wants to show up.

other news: next planned work is to upgrade my first ever implant, the little RFID ampoule tag i used for the various access hacks i took out of RFID Toys. it's very old and not writable or secured, so i've been wanting a replacement chip for a long time & am now in a position to replace it. (i say "replace", i really mean "install a new one and just stop using the old one because it's a pain in the arse to get things back out from under the skin of the hands and i can't be bothered".) i have a few ideas re where to source a suitable tag. will update you all as i get there.




i missed that penguin

i finally got my arse in gear and installed Linux back onto this machine. amazing how much faster the OS runs than Windows, especially if you've been putting up with the latter for any longish amount of time. i use Fedora, which has always worked out of the box for me, but i found that GNOME 3 is a bit weird and required Fedy and gnome-tweak-tool to be installed before i could turn it into something resembling a usable GUI. maybe it's meant for tablets like everything else on the fucking planet these days. (in other crap news, i lost my Kindle :( )

medication wise i am thinking about coming off the Abilify/aripiprazole. my metabolism is still slow as a snail on Valium and i still weigh more than i should, although i'm down to 10st 10lb from 11st. i can't stand being overweight, so i gave up sweets and that seems to have helped some, but not enough. might have to give up alcohol as well, possibly also red meat.

no biohacking news, sorry. that's all for now sibs. carpe corporem



i'm not complaining, but

some shit i just don't understand. viz.: your average bus driver; paid cashmoney to be at the public's service, answer questions about public transport and interact reasonably politely with plebs; universally surly, often to the point of assholery.

tech guy Navid: paid to admin the University CSD's bigass new Sun Beowulf, does not have to deal with anyone who doesn't make it to his hermitage of an office. when accosted in the corridor by yours truly, jibbering excitedly about clusters and research institutes, not only does not tell me to fuck off, but gets other tech guy Nikhil to install two machines with the Sun Grid Engine in the public labs expressly for junkieface to play with. i'm just an undergrad. i don't know if it's because i'm president of CS or because i look like a cancer victim, but that was done purely out of Navid being awesome.

i fucking love university.



six months

so ten minutes or so ago, we got an 8-node Kerrighed Beowulf cluster working with Bio-Linux. i've never had access to this sort of computing power before; 18Gb of RAM, 3Tb of storage and 10 Opteron CPUs - it's a behemoth made from nothing more than off-the-shelf components. it's utterly fucking stunning.

working this job mostly makes me think i've died and gone to hacker heaven. there's the little perks, like i can wear what i want (facial skin divers? circuits and vines drawn around my eye socket? no hair? fine by these guys) and the canteen food is somehow both dirt cheap and delicious (strawberry meringue cheesecake in a box = 50p), and the free coffee and my own goddamn lab - yep, they gave my streetscum ass a lab of my own, and i still boggle at that - but more than that, there's all the shit i'm learning. i've learned more about networking and Linux here than i coulda done in the entire summer by myself, and i've only been here a month. i can't fucking wait to see what else there is.

as if that wasn't enough, not only are they gonna be paying me in a month what i thought i'd make in the whole term of employment (i'll be able to afford my big ink way sooner than i thought), but i'm gonna get to go to Milan, to help out at one of our partner institutes for a week. i'll get to play with a huge cluster they built out of garbage.

looking back at six months ago, when i was stuck in an abusive relationship, broke as fuck, dependent on escapism and drugs to survive, i can't believe i survived that long with major depression. i was so lucky not to get any more fucked up than i did. i didn't think it was all that bad at the time, even, but looking back on it makes things these days seem like a fucking dream; i just used to always have this sense that something was wrong, that i needed to get away. i'm so fucking happy compared to back then.

if i'm asleep, i don't wanna be woken up.



the curve, or why i'm glad i'm not dead

seems like the learning curve for your first research job is pretty steep, especially one where you're expected to be almost completely independent - here, i've just been given an overarching task ("see if this cool clustered Linux workstation idea is viable for what we want to use it for") and a lab full of hardware to set it up in, plus a knowledgeable superior to ask questions of if i need it. this is my third week now, and in two weeks i've learnt:

- better bash scripting
- the structure, merits and disadvantages of cluster systems Kerrighed and openMosix
- how to use Debian-based systems, especially Ubuntu and the NERC's BioLinux
- practical (i.e. kludge) networking
- Beowulf cluster theory and architecture
- how to patch and recompile the Linux kernel
- how to use vi
- not to fear machines without a monitor or keyboard
- all about PXE booting
- how to SSH into remote machines without being a floundering idiot
- not to fear setting up your own servers
- way too much about NFS, GlusterFS, and XtreemOS/XtreemFS
- how to get around a crappily-written government wiki and edit it without the European professors who contribute to it kicking your ass for being retarded
- how to use skype (yeah, i didn't know how before.)
- how to build machines from scratch without shorting anything out or electrocuting my part-metallic ass
- the difference between IDE and SATA drives (yeah, that's another fucking duh thing i shoulda already known)
- how to network printers under Linux

...and how to use a filter coffee machine that's older than i am.

my head is so full of new stuff, i'm fairly sure i'm gonna lose a language or something to make space, like all the Japanese or Python is gonna drain out of my brain because it's full of init.d commands. this has got to be the steepest learning curve i've ever encountered, and it's fucking brilliant - i have never learned this much in two weeks, ever. the best thing is that there's so much more to go - i've got another two and a half months of this, and next week a cluster guru from Milan arrives so i can pester him with questions he'd expect from his seven-year-old kid rather than his twenty-year-old colleague. and as if all that wasn't enough, i might get to go to Milan myself to go see said guru's research institute and help him build a cluster like my prototype - Linux and hardware and a chance to practice my Italian and my favourite summer food in the whole Union, delicious chocolate semifreddo!

the downside is that i've been getting up at six and going to bed at one, so i look... frightening. i'm as white as my coffee mug and the shadows under my eyes are getting frankly Gothtacular - like i've said before, i look a bit like Bela Lugosi dressed up for an all-night rave. (i'm gonna look even worse after i shave my head for Cancer Research.) i'm pretty much permanently exhausted, but it's so utterly worth it that i wouldn't mind surviving on four or even three hours a night indefinitely if it meant this kind of knowledge access.

knowledge, people, software, freedom and fun - man, i am so fucking glad to be alive.




finally, i have some work. work that involves NuGO, the European Nutrigenomics Organisation, a Kerrighed-based Linux Beowulf cluster, and a research institute of bioinformaticists all eminently more qualified than i am (the guy i'll be working directly under has three degrees; i haven't even finished my first.) i'm not all that sure what is and isn't protected data on this, but i'm going to be developing a prototype cluster, one that implements BioLinux and Kerrighed, among other things. that's to stop me b0rking the main Beowulf before the new stuff's properly tested. i'll be writing a report that'll go all the way to NuGO on it.

this is going to be so much fucking fun!

ed. in addition, i got the ego massage of a lifetime when i found out that one of my three rival candidates dropped out of the running because "If Lepht's running for it, it's out of my depth"; the professor i worked for last summer didn't just give a good recommendation but actively told the bioinformaticists that i'd be good for the job and they should interview me; and the interviewers told me they'd already heard of me from the Computing Science department (cause of my grades and my running the CS student society), the helpdesk (cause i volunteer, natch) and through the secular society website (cause i wordpress'd it). i'm famous amongst my vast superiors!


new hardware

i finally have replacement hardware, a Lenovo laptop replete with Windows Vista. Fedora Core 9 comes out on Tuesday, so i'll be jacked up and Linified by Tuesday night and waiting to dump more newbie-hacker crap on y'all. i also have new custom ink lined up for then, and a couple new piercings doing their best to heal up within the confines of my slightly shit immune system, plus new (hot) Scottish nookie, so all in all i'm a pretty happy little bastard right now. i might even have a job.

anyway. few challenges are gonna be working with the Broadcomm chipset for wireless under Core 8 (i seem to remember that needing madwifi), making the weird combo memory card reader and the fingerprint auth device work at all - especially the fingerprinter, i'll be fucking chuffed if i can get that shit working. it's a swiper rather than a presser, too, which makes it harder to hack; i'd want to dust the keyboard, monitor and case for prints, relief one into a mould and make a gelatine finger to test that before i could say i was sure though. biosecurity is pretty cool, but we've all seen it's far from infallible.

does give me a little more trust in Windows, though, although disturbingly i don't think the regular auth protocol has been disabled in favour of fingerprints. i'd have passwords required as well as prints, or as a backup only if the prints failed, but not as an either-or option...

so kids, fingerprints are fun but won't keep the robbers away, Scots are all hardcore motherfuckers, and remember - Tramadol fucks you up.




so i'm sat in the lab, trying to follow Baal's Bum through Genesis. this isn't an easy task, especially when you've already slogged through the fucker once and you're opiated up to the nipples, and especially when you're unplugged.

that's right, it's Mental Detox Week, the seven days in every year when people like me, who fucking hate adverts, get yelled at by Kalle Lasn to turn the damn electricals off before we rot our modern brains out around our crappy, overpriced iPod headphones. i'm following it, as it happens, but not by choice.

you've all (both of you) seen me bitching and ranting about passing out in random places. it happens on the street too, and turns out that's not so good for all the shit in my pockets. i have no fucking clue how i didn't figure out this was gonna happen before it did, cause it's pretty damn obvious when you think about it, but in the space of three days i've smashed the shit out of the little iPod someone really close to me gave me a few years ago, and my one and only piece of computer hardware, my Fedora Core 8 laptop. they're both totalled, and it's 100% my own stupid junkie fault.

so i'm on my fourth day now with no Linux and no music, and holy crap am i feeling it. i'm so sick of the Windows XP boxes in the labs that i honestly have no idea how i managed to use this operating system, let alone try and hack anything with it, for so long. i'm also on the verge of stabbing someone with my penknife (yeah, all four centimetres of blunt blade we're allowed to carry here in Europe's favourite police state) - i never realised how obnoxious people are when you can hear them.

Kalle, man, you're not convincing me.



Microsoft's statistical technique

from a ZDNet Vista article:

"It's a myth that users click 'yes,' 'yes,' 'yes,' 'yes,'" said Cross. "Seven percent of all prompts are canceled. Users are not just saying 'yes.'"

yep. 93% of them don't cancel their prompts, but they don't all cancel them! UAC ROCKS!



Fedora Core 8 install guide

for newbies and the machine-illiterate... no fancy dissections here. Fedora rocks; it's free, the support community is a nonpareil, the graphics are as good as Vista and you can do more with it. it's gotta be one of my favourite OS. try it!


ODT is pretty cool, too. encrypted file storage.




three new PDF / ODT format guides by yours truly, coming up within a few days, one for Linux newbies wanting to install Fedora Core 8, a second part for Linux newbies wanting to stuff it to the gills with hacktools, and a third for anyone wanting to recreate the baby-steps of my RFID project and learn about the technology.

i'm on it, i'm on it!


ps. i'm also seeding the new Subway to Sally album, Bastard. it rocks. get to the Pirate Bay and grab you some medieval metal! - L


l's fedora project

okay, so you're running Windows. even worse, you're running Vista - no tools, no drivers, no nothing. en plus, you live under a pseudorepressive government with human rights-crushing surveillance powers and the sudden inclination to smash the shit out of every hacker and security consultant it comes across who can't prove they weren't using their tools for t3h_kr1mz, and you ran out of funding a good couple years or so - well, my friends, then you're in my (slightly overdosed) situation, and it's Linux time.

on the advice of the peeps at LSO, which you should go check out, i've converted my crap little laptop to a Fedora Core 8 box. and now begins the fight.

(dings its little wrestling bell) round one - local cripple versus MADWifi 0.9.3, FIGHT!



crypto? is that some Southern kid's name?

i'm always amazed at this. on looking at the passwords for a small section of a network, i found that despite the strict password policy, all the passwords but three - out of several hundred - were words. the policy demands alphanumerics and mixed case, so most users had a "Password123"... oy.

i asked a couple other users what the hell was with that. the response?

"Well, normal people can't remember codes."

like fuck they can't. i'm a normal person, apart from being slightly better educated than the general public, and i remember about 10 different alphanumeric codes with random punctuation marks for all the different shit i have to authenticate to in a day (use mnemonics!). if you have to use each code once or twice a day, it really isn't difficult to memorize them; and these other students only have the one system password that's enforced to be so complex. the rest of their passwords, for all the things i keep seeing them wasting their time with - Bebo or Myspace, usually (you know what i think of Bebo and Myspace) - are set by themselves, of course, and they're uniformly simple.

so what's the problem? why can't you remember one code? i guess that's a question for a psychologist. my problem with this is that when they can't remember it, they write it down; and when they write codes down, the security of our collective system is down to someone not finding the paper.

obviously, that ain't acceptable. my solution with my own citadel was to implement a token system, which i'm in the process of linking to a chip in my hand (more on that when it's more developed) - and i'm unfortunately not allowed to RFID my compatriots. but i still think the token idea stands, and i'd kill to have a say on whether or not it's implemented here.

here's how the simplest token protocol works, from the seminal textbook, Ross Anderson's Security Engineering:

you have a token, a little transponder thing that can be shaped like a key, or a button, or even embedded in your ID card or something. i have a gate, or a door. you walk up to the door, and your token sends a string to the door's reciever:

token -> gate: serial number, {serial number, onetime number}

the stuff in braces is encrypted under a key known to both the transponder and the reciever, meaning my gate can then decrypt it, check that the two serial numbers match, check that the onetime (Anderson calls it a nonce, but in my country that's slang for a child molester...) hasn't been used already (this way i know you're not just replaying someone else's earlier access attempt) and lets you in.

now, replace the gate with the logon system, and you're flying. it's a little more difficult than that, unfortunately, so i won't be seeing it around here anytime soon. unfortunately, the fact remains:this kind of system is the only way to let normal people slack off remembering their codes.

so: either ya remember your damn password, or you let a totally non-medically qualified, slightly paranoid security nut embed machinery in your hand. okay?

...where are you going?



of Vista and pot plants

Vista has proven remarkably adaptive to the Toshiba's hardware, which i still suspect was made for it. i don't like OS-specific hardware: to me it seems to be violating users' basic choice over OS, and it puts a hell of a strain on open-source users to either find compatible drivers, deal with the Rubik's cube of ndiswrapper and MadWifi installs under Linux (assuming those are even applicable, which they're sometimes not) or write their own (no, i'm not good enough to do that).

that, and other good points with dark sides, mean i can't write off Vista as the memory-hogging, shiny-fronted, dubious-underbellied OS it really is. for instance, i like the tree view in folders, i like my hardware working, i like Windows Sidebar (although Tomboy Notes for GNOME is better) and i love the wallpapers. Aero is beautiful, but slow as fuck on a limited system; i can just run it, but not for long, i think. and of course, it being Windows, all kinds of external security apps, additions and fixes become necessary. i'm still undecided, though; more later.

on, then, to today's cool thing: a simple way to get students started with propositional logic. this is the Pot Plant Problem.

you want your students to determine whether these two propositions are logically equivalent:

x: If it has rained and it's been cold, then the plant is dead.
y: If it has rained, then either it hasn't been cold or the plant is dead.

it's not a difficult one to solve:

let r: it has rained, c: it has been cold, d: the plant is dead.

x translates in FProp to:
(r /\ c) -> d
y translates to:
r -> (¬c \/ d)

truth table for x:

r c d r/\c (r/\c)->d

truth table for y:

r ¬c d ¬c\/d r->(¬c\/d)

the last rows are the same, so the two statements are equivalent; that is,
(r/\c)->d <=> r->(¬c\/d).

the reason this particular problem is useful is simple: it's "truthy", so to speak. most students will be able to "see" on some level that the two statements are logically equivalent; most will use a real-life workthrough of them to determine whether they're true, which is why meatspace analogies are so useful to (non-wired) students when teaching them something new. more on teaching the wired ones later.

(for those not sure what i'm talking about, wired refers to a person whose life is intimately connected with the world of machines and the Net, or sometimes a Net addict; meatspace is the opposite of cyberspace, and refers to the non-mechanical world.)

oh yeah - and Vista's native Mahjong is a fucking kickass timewaster.



fun with Windows Vista

so, the dark hour has come: it's Vista time. i know. i'm not looking forward to this.

background: while back, yours truly became the owner of a fancy, shiny new Toshiba laptop, Vista preinstalled. i've been trying for about three months now to get its weirdass proprietary hardware working under a combo of pirate XP Pro and Mint Bianca - to no fucking avail. absolutely zero luck.

it's finally time to bite the Vista bullet. after what this mother of an OS did to my test machines, i really don't wanna do this - i'm trying to preserve the other two ops, but it looks like i maybe don't got the HDD space for that - but i'm gonna have to do it.

damn it, now i'm gonna have to hide my machine from the Mac-wielding kids of oil-baron parents in my classes. those peeps are some serious OS snobs.

*dramatic sigh* you know, i really do love this kind of thing. i'll be letting y'all know who in my class i've shot in frustration (and it's gonna be someone, because i'm out of pain medication.)


ed. Lea, next time you're round here, can you answer back on this thread instead of the old one? just makes it easier for me to manage the comments. cheers - L