2001 03 15

                    LINUX NEWS
            Thursday, March 15, 2001


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

DVD Decryption in 7 Lines
Layoffs at Linuxgruven
SOUP, Anyone?
Ain't Kapitalism Great?

3) Linux Resources

Showing syslog in real-time
Fundamentals of Web Application Development
The Secret to Success
Anatomy of an Attack
SE Linux

4) App o’ the week

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1) Sean's Notes

A while ago (January 25th, in fact), I gave you a link to
"Underground", a book about the hackers and phreakers of the
1980's. At the time, it had been released to the online
community as a free download.


I downloaded it to my Palm Pilot, and promptly forgot it
was there.  I remembered about it when I was stuck in a
waiting room, so I started to read it.  For the next two
days, I was glued to my Pilot, fascinated by the story.

Not wanting to spoil the plot, I'll just say the book is
a series of stories, told from the viewpoint of the
crackers.  It's not glorifying their actions, instead it
spends a lot of time talking about their involvement with
law enforcement.

I don't know what drew me into this book.  Perhaps it's a
nostalgic trip through memories of the hours I spent
acquiring "secret" computer knowledge from BBS hackers.
The first time I was able to connect to a computer system
in another country from the comfort of my home was an
epiphany.  Though I didn't understand a thing about what I
saw and read, the desire to gain a deep knowledge of how
these systems worked is something that stayed with me, even
to this day.

In some ways, I think it is this quest for power and
outreach that draws people like us to Unix, especially Linux.
No more do you have to risk jail time to connect to other
computers, or break into machines to have a conversation with
other enthusiasts, but the global reach is there.  We can
peek under the hood of our machine, can simulate enterprise
class applications on a desktop, and even play the cat and
mouse game with the script kiddies out there.  (Though, the
target these days seems to be defacing web pages or causing
damage, rather than increasing knowledge).

Give Underground a shot... You may learn something about what
motivates you.  At the very least, it's a great story, and a
background on what shaped the Internet culture.  I'd also
recommend "The Cuckoo's Egg" by Cliff Stoll.  Some of its
characters are mentioned in Underground, but this one is told
from the viewpoint of the systems administrator.

Long live the penguin,


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2) Linux News

DVD Decryption in 7 Lines
DVDs have a fairly restrictive licensing scheme, and are
encrypted to boot, thus limiting their availability under
Linux. Some time ago, a fellow managed to figure out the
encryption and posted DeCSS to the Net, which allows anyone
to decrypt a DVD and watch it on Linux. Not to be out done,
some MIT students rewrote the code in only *seven* lines of


Layoffs at Linuxgruven
Linuxgruven has been the source of many questions lately...
Is it worth it to pay them for a course, in order to get
a job? Or, is it a scam? Recently, this company laid off
100 employees, and the Slashdot commentary has a lot of
insight into this event.


SOUP, Anyone?
SOAP is Microsoft's answer to distributed computing (that's
Simple Object Access Protocol). Ximian, formerly HelixCode,
is working on making sure that Linux users aren't left out
of the loop. To do this, they're porting SOAP to the GNOME
environment and dubbing it SOUP.


Ain't Kapitalism Great?
Kapital is a personal finance manager designed for KDE that
has recently been released in an online format in preparation
for an upcoming boxed release. It isn't free, but if the
screenshots are any indication of the functionality, it'll
be worth the $25.


3) Linux Resources

Showing syslog in real-time
Brainbuzz member mdnelson posted this great set of
instructions on how to get syslog to output to a virtual
terminal. Using this technique, you can see the real time
output of the logging system on your monitor.


Fundamentals of Web Application Development
Designing web applications is no walk in the park. There
are a lot of things you have to keep in mind. This article
goes into great depth on what makes a web application


The Secret to Success
Luke Ehresman, the brains behind the ever-so-cool
SquirrelMail project, gives an accounting of what it takes
to make an Open Source project successful. Remember, you
can't throw money at the developers to make them work
harder, since everyone is working on a volunteer basis.


Anatomy of an Attack
One of the best ways to learn how to protect yourself from
crackers is to think like one. This article shows packet
traces of a successful attack on a RedHat 6.2 box, along
with commentary on what's going on.


SE Linux
The American NSA (National Security Agency, or No Such Agency,
depending on who you ask) did some work to make a more secure
version of Linux dubbed "SE Linux" (Security Enhanced). The
main goal seems to be adding mandatory access controls to the
operating system in order to replace current physical security
measures being used. This secretive agency even released the
source code. Keep your eye on this site, as future articles
that explore the code itself are promised.


4) App o' the week
A reader sent in this App o' the week... Dia is a high-
quality drawing tool, along the lines of Microsoft Visio.
It is quite functional, easy to learn, and best of all, free.


(C) 2001 BrainBuzz.com. All Rights Reserved.


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