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Microsoft Reaper

Shortly after the first news appeared, that Microsoft was in the process of buying Github, a new Github repo appeared –

The Github Evacuation Center.

This repo quickly soared to the #1 spot in the “Trending” area on Github, and as this was politically inconvenient, it was removed by Github without notice or reason given.

Sadly, I expect this to be the future of Github, now, no more transparent bastion of Open Source and code.

Wired Magazine has an article saying as much, and laments that it’s inevitable that Github will be come more restrictive, take down controversial repos, and stop hosting projects which are not in Microsoft’s interest.

When I saw the photo at the right, my first reaction, was “Yes! But why only Skype and Mojang?!” – So, this prompted me to write, on the spur of the moment, the following letter as a comment on the Github issue:


The row of doors isn’t nearly long enough. This has been going on for 4 decades.

A few notable examples from memory, without having to research or refer to the many books about Microsoft and/or Bill Gates:

From the eighties:

Quarterdeck systems – QEMM – (Quarterdeck Extended Memory Manager) a utility which made better / efficient use of DOS “High” memory above 640K. Microsoft cloned a vastly inferior version of the product, and bundled it for free with a newer version of DOS, thus killing the market for the product.

From the nineties:

Digital Research – DR Dos – a superior DOS clone. Microsoft introduced a vaguely-worded dialog box, in it’s apps (eg, early MS Word [UPDATE: Windows 3.1]) which it displayed when it figured out it was running on top of DR dos, which used simple FUD (without any actual faults) to scare people away from DR DOS.

The code to detect DR DOS, was encrypted and hidden, and was obviously written to do nothing but target a competitor – this was discovered and dubbed the infamous AARD code, written about by Andrew Shulman and covered in countless publications including Dr Dobbs, etc

Yet no DOJ inquiry or any other action was taken, despite obviously breaking several laws against anticompetitive behavior, and then hiding it (shows intent).

From the 90s / 2000s:

Novell, Word Perfect (Maybe MS was just after Provo, UTAH? JK) – Both these stories are more well known –

WordPerfect was the only real competitor to the mediocre-at-best MS line of productivity apps (no incentive not to be mediocre, that way they can sell you a new copy every year or two of the product you already bought, and call it an “Upgrade”) – and MS killed the superior WordPerfect Write and Quattro Spreadsheet products with a weak “Look-and-feel” lawsuit – which they LOST, but not until the parent company was destroyed and unable to recover.

Novell is a more involved story, but suffice it to say that they again, like QEMM, built a successful product on DOS’s shortcomings – which then simply acted like product feature vetting for MS, so they could build / buy or copy the solutions that Novell introduced, thus rendering Novell redundant (in the British sense).

From the 2000s / 2010s:

Borland – Despite a vastly superior suite of developer products, MS poached it’s head developer and architect, Anders Heijlsberg, to be their head architect for .NET. His first task was to specifically copy several key innovations from Borland, which supposedly (according to MS) didn’t violate any copyright or IP agreements from the departing Borland – although this was controversial, again, lawsuits or the threat thereof were used effectively by MS to prevail.

This Rant / Diatribe

Sorry, I got carried away – 🙂

This was written on impulse, as a reaction to the door photo, completely off the top of my head in about 20 minutes, without so much as a quick Google to check dates, so forgive me if the above has minor issues to correct – I will update if I need to make corrections, but I do know from memory, that it’s essentially correct.

I remember these events over 3-4 decades, because of the MS’s consistently appalling and astounding behavior, that has continued unchecked, and remains to this day still unpunished and unaddressed, despite a slap on the wrist from our country’s DOJ, and from Europe, who’s various efforts to stop MS’s anticompetitive behavior were ineffective at best, and simply encouraged them to play brinkmanship at worst and improve their knowledge of the line, so they could push it.

I write this because MS’s behavior, as I slowly learned by experience of living though the above events, and the light slowly dawning on me that this was a pattern, and not just one or two coincidental events, is what motivated me to start my company, and try and have a higher bar for ethics and how to treat one’s competitors – and to encourage, foster, and sponsor more egalitarian software products and superior technical solutions in the process.

Republish

Feel free to republish this, along with the reaper image (it doesn’t make sense without it), wherever you see fit.

Sincerely,
Joseph Wolff
Founder and CEO
eRacks Open Source Systems
Founded 1999
eracks.com

We have our code on Github too. We’re looking for where we’re going to move.

Maybe we’ll self-host, or use our colo and hosting resources to host a new Git-like startup for Open Source?


j

Update 6/7/18: corrected software that raised DR DOS dialog box (Windows 3.1), added references to AARD and FUD.

 

June 7th, 2018

Posted In: Open Source

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https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/02/specs-for-first-intel-3d-xpoint-ssd-so-so-transfer-speed-awesome-random-io/

UPDATE 3/25/17 JJW:

The M.2 Optane won’t be readily available until later this year or likely 2018 – but it’s a good space to watch, as in our experience the internal interconnect technology and architecture will surely improve, to catch up with the underlying 3D X-Point silicon technology.

j

February 10th, 2017

Posted In: Uncategorized

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Mozille BrowserID / Persona Dies

A Sad Day – Mozille BrowserID / Persona Dies

It’s a sad day – the best of the federated Authentication Providers, without its own agenda or privacy issues, has shut down, due to the public’s apparent lack of interest and / or awareness.

Mozilla Persona, which started life several years ago as BrowserID, was the only one of the OpenAuth-based Authentication providers that didn’t insist on being logged in to a commercial site in order to be authenticated by proxy at the time – with all the privacy issues that entails.

Although it’s no secret that The Public is notorious for not caring about (or not even being aware of) privacy (or at least sacrificing it in favor of convenience), it’s unfortunate that the Mozilla Foundation has chosen not to spend the time, effort, and money to educate the public, as it has chosen to do with its other products.

Here are some relevant excerpts from the shutdown page:

FAQs

A website I use requires Persona for login, what should I do?

You will need to contact the site owner and ask about their plans for migrating away from Persona.

Mozilla staff can find more information about the progress of migrating internal sites on this mana page.

Why is persona.org being shut down?

Our metrics show that usage of persona.org is low, and has not grown over the last two years.

Hosting a service at the level of security and availability required for an authentication system is no small undertaking, and Mozilla can no longer justify dedicating limited resources to this project. We will do everything we can to shut it down in a graceful and responsible manner.

What will happen in the meantime?

Between now and November 30th, 2016, Mozilla will continue to support the Persona service at a maintenance level: Security issues will be resolved in a timely manner and the services will be kept online, but we do not expect to develop or deploy any new features. Support will continue to be available on the dev-identity mailing list and in the #services-dev IRC channel.

All websites that rely on Persona will need to migrate to another means of authentication during this time.

What happens after that?

On or after November 30th, 2016, the services hosted by Mozilla on persona.org will be taken offline. This includes the persona.org website, the javascript shim, the fallback IdP and identity bridges, and the hosted verifier.

Mozilla will retain control of the persona.org domain and will not transfer it to a third party. This is a security measure to protect websites that have not completed their migration away from the service.

All user data stored on the persona.org services will be destroyed, including registered email addresses and password hashes. Since the privacy of user data is of utmost importance to Mozilla, we will not transfer it to any third parties.

What about the code?

All of Persona’s code — core, bridges, shims, and more — is open source and remains available on github. Though this marks the end of Mozilla’s direct involvement in Persona, we encourage others to continue learning from and building upon our work.

Migration Suggestions and Guidelines

The following alternative login options are available for sites migrating away from Persona. We will continue to update this page throughout the year.

We intentionally designed Persona to expose email addresses rather than opaque identifiers, which should ease the transition to other systems that provide verified email addresses.

Mozilla-hosted sites may find additional, staff-login-specific migration options on the internal mana page.

Delegated Authentication Providers

Many large email and service providers offer delegated login for third-party applications, including Google, Facebook and GitHub. Indeed, we have found that many sites currently using Persona also offer login via one or more of these services. While these services do not offer equivalently-strong privacy guarantees to Persona, they are a convenient and secure choice for users since they avoid the creation of a site-specific password.

We plan to offer delegated authentication with Firefox Accounts some time in 2016. If you’re interested in adding Firefox Accounts as a login option to your site, please reach out to us on the dev-fxacct mailing list.

Site-Specific Accounts

Many web frameworks offer password-based user accounts functionality out-of-the-box. Although it requires users to create and remember yet another password, it can be a good choice for users who do not have (or do not wish to share) an account with a delegated authentication provider.

For existing users who previously authenticated with Persona, you could consider authenticating them through Persona again to confirm their email address, then prompting them to create a site-specific password.

Passwordless Email Login

As an alternative to setting a site-specific password, you can allow users to login directly via email link, as described in this article and implemented by libraries like passwordless. This can avoid the security implications of users having to create and manage another password, and may be a good fallback option when used in combination with delegated authentication providers.

Self-hosting Persona

Since the code for Persona is open-source, it would be possible for reliers to self-host an instance of the service that is dedicated to their own use.

This approach is not recommended most reliers. Persona has a large and complex codebase that has not seen significant development in several years, and Mozilla will not provide security or maintenance updates after 30th November 2016.

More?

We encourage affected reliers to document any alternative solutions here and to discuss them on the dev-identity mailing list, so that others can benefit from their experience.

  • The Portier open source project attempts to replicate much of Persona’s user experience, while being easy to self-host, even on the free tier of PaaS providers like Heroku. Similar to Persona, Portier supports identity-bridging to Gmail. It falls back to passwordless-style login links for everyone else.

Taken from:

https://wiki.mozilla.org/Identity/Persona_Shutdown_Guidelines_for_Reliers

 

We at eRacks wil be looking into Portier for our own usage, as well.

j

January 9th, 2017

Posted In: authentication, News, Open Source

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wdred8tb wdredpro_nas_hero-png-imgw-1000-10008TB WD Red and RedPro drives are now available in the dropdowns on all eRacks NAS Systems, and are available on select other eRacks systems, and of course all eRacks systems by custom quote –

If you don’t see it on the system you want, just ask & we’ll quote you!

j

December 3rd, 2016

Posted In: Backups, NAS24, NAS36, NAS50, NAS72, servers

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yak-597862_960_720 (1)Don’t talk back – !

..But the latest Ubuntu 16.10 is now available on all ‘eRaks’ Systems – 🙂

j

November 1st, 2016

Posted In: Linux, Operating Systems, ubuntu

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pc-bsd-operating-system-gets-renamed-to-trueos-follows-a-rolling-release-modelThe former PC-BSD Desktop offering from ixSystems has now morphed into TrueOS Desktop –

It’s a rolling-release BSD Distro based on FreeBSD-CURRENT with many improvements, changes, and enhancements including security, LibreSSL, drivers, and more – Read about it, here: https://www.trueos.org/

We’re currently doing an eRacks/HUMBOLDT for a customer with it – Exciting!

j

November 1st, 2016

Posted In: Development, FreeBSD, New products, Operating Systems

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cloudThis is what we’ve been saying for years now – that the best path to the cloud is to:

  1. Own your core / foundation infrastructure and hardware, at least one server worth, and
  2. Architect it properly with DRY DevOps best-practices and repeatability, to scale into the cloud as needed to meet spot demand

Here’s the reference:

The Hybrid Cloud Helps Midsize Companies CompeteThis e-book is based on insights and recommendations by the Ventana Research, benchmark research report, “Business Technology Insights: Six Key Trends in Optimizing IT for Competitive Advantage.”

Source: The Hybrid Cloud Helps Midsize Companies Compete: Networkworld White Paper

December 23rd, 2015

Posted In: How-To, servers, Uncategorized

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hard_disk_drive_05Many of you may know this already, but:

  • We build all our systems to order, and
  • We only use factory fresh, new components in our new systems.

This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but it still needs to be said.

Why?

About 4-5 times a week, we get emails like the one at the end of this page –

Offering “Clean pull” components for low prices in large lots – At best, these would be considered “Refurb” components, but are really just plain used.  They have a much shorter (or no) warranty period than new components – they’re also often factory seconds or grey market parts, sold sideways to dodgy suppliers so that they can build systems cheaper.

We do not use these suppliers.

So again, we always use 100% new and factory-fresh components in our new-system builds – (on occasion we sell our B-Stock systems, which are clearly marked as such, and what they are – reconditioned, etc).

Some of the additional ways it is possible to cut corners on building and assembling IT equipment, in addition to used or refurbished parts, is to use factory lot-ends, factory seconds, factory defects with a “Workaroundable” defect – this is how Dell got their start – they would buy large lots of, say, NIC cards (This was before motherboards came with them onboard!), with a known defect, and write (and pre-install) the Windows driver for it – almost always unbeknownst to the end-user, or disclaimed in fine print in the EULA that the customer is forced to accept.

In this market, with plenty of storage servers, with large numbers of 3.5″ hard disk drives, this is especially tempting for some box-builders to use components such as these – again, we do not do this, and *always* purchase new parts only, from reputable, nationally-known suppliers of components and computer parts for our servers, especially such as hard disks, etc.

We consistently see product out there in the marketplace which is built with these dodgy components, and have many times been asked by our new customers to help them bring these products up to spec with new parts, and re-test and burn-in to ensure reliability and a fighting chance at a full product lifetime.

Best,
Joe

Joseph Wolff
Founder and CTO
eRacks Open Source Systems

Here is the example email:

Clean Pull HDD offer ( Lot# ST4815)
90 days warranty
Payment Bank wire only
EXW- CA USA

Seagate ST3120025ACE 120GB IDE 3.5" Qty 820 pcs take all deal @ 5.00 each
Seagate ST3120026AS 120GB 7200RPM SATA 3.5" Qty 1700 pcs  MOQ 500 pcs + @ $ 9.00 each
Seagate ST3320310CS 320GB SATA 3.5" Qty 2400 pcs MOQ 1000 pcs + @ $ 13.50 each
Seagate ST3320311CS 320GB SATA 3.5" Qty 1400 pcs MOQ 1000 pcs + @ $ 13.50 each
WD WD2500AAVS 250GB SATA 3.5" Qty 4000 pcs  MOQ 1000 pcs + @ $ 12.00 each
WD WD3200AAJS 320GB SATA 3.5" Qty 4500 pcs MOQ 1000 pcs + @ $ 14.00 each
WD WD2500AAVS 250GB SATA 3.5" Qty 4700 pcs MOQ 1000 pcs + @ $ 12.00 each


Axxxxx

Global XXX Enterprises,INC909-360-9993email: axxxx@xxxenterprises.net
email: xxxenterprisesusa@gmail.com
Walnut, CA 91789 USA
www.enterprises.net

Call/Email to us for large qty discount .

AGS  WTS /WTB  :
We carry a wide range of products. Please contact us for your other requirements........
Hard drive ( Pull/refurb/New) , CPU ( Pull/New), Laptop/Tablets ( Refurbished/New)
Memory, Monitors,Keyborad , Mice ,Networking Products ,Printer,  ETC

November 15th, 2015

Posted In: Uncategorized

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ubuntu-1510Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf is now available on all eRacks systems.

Ubuntu 14.04 is also still available, as it is a Long Term Release (LTS) with a longer support window.

As always, if you want a different release, or even a beta, alpha or “Daily build” release, we’ll be happy to accommodate – just place it in the “Notes” field when you place your order or request a quote.

j

 

November 2nd, 2015

Posted In: Linux, ubuntu, Ubuntu 14.04

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Zenbook with beverage - IMG_20131019_231446531Minty Zenbook

I am typing this on a nifty new eRacks/ZENBOOK13, with Linux Mint15 installed.

This is a slightly newer rev of the very pretty Asus Zenbook line, with twin 128GB SSD modules installed in a small carrier which screws into the standard 2.5″ HD space (it could also be replaced or upgraded with one of our standard HD/SSD choices, here: http://eracks.com/products/laptops/ZENBOOK13/)

This post will walk you through what we had to do for the installation, with the details.

Installation Cookbook

  1. Boot to an Ubuntu 13.04 install disk. (13.10 should work, or Ubuntustudio works too, that’s what I used).  For some reason, the Mint installer doesn’t install the default EFI boot choice properly, so you have to start with Ubuntu, then replace it with Mint. Read on.
  2. Using gparted (fdisk could work, too), delete the partition tables on /dev/sda and /dev/sdb, and replace the GPT-based partition tables with with msdos-type partition tables.
  3. Install Ubuntu on the 1st of the two SSDs. Don’t worry about the 2nd disk (_yet_).  Be sure to check the “Install with LVM” box after you select the default “Erase and install…”.
  4. Reboot into Ubuntu, and note the partitions cerated.
  5. Boot into a Mint 15 Install disk.
  6. Install Mint15 into the same partition structure – in other words, do NOT select the default “erase and install…” , but rather the “Something else” choice, and tell it to put the root partition on the same partition you noted in step 4.
  7. Install rEFInd (http://www.rodsbooks.com/refind/) from a rEFInd install disk, that you downloaded and burned from there. (I used v0.74). Be sure to install it in the /boot/efi partition (typically /dev/sda2) created earlier. The reason to install rEFInd, is it’s an invaluable tool to use to boot from any EFI-capable location on your computer, and will be used later on.  I put mine in EFI\refind\refind_x64.efi
  8. Be sure to also copy shell64.efi into /boot/efi/EFI/tools/, so rEFInd can find it, and show you the EFI Shell choice & icon.
  9. Boot from rEFInd.
  10. Choose the EFI shell.
  11. Using the bcfg command, (help -v bcfg is your friend!), list the boot choices, and verify that “ubuntu” is there.
  12. Add “mint” as a boot choice, pointing to EFI\linuxmint\grub64.efi – mimic the way the “ubuntu” boot choice is done.
  13. Reboot into the boot menu (hold Esc down during the Asus logo) and verify that “mint” and “rEFInd” are there.
  14. Test them both out – rEFInd should also give other interesting choices you can try out.
  15. You should be able to launch Mint from either the “Mint” choice in the Asus boot (holding Esc), or from the Mint choice in rEFInd.
  16. Optionally, you can add the 2nd SSD (mentioned in step 3) to the main volume using LVM, to use the full 256GB.

That’s it!

Wrap and Beverage

I must say, this is a BEAUTIFUL machine – I want one myself!

Between the FullHD display, and being roughly the same thickness and sizeas the magazines I often carry into any given bar / restaurant here in Los Gatos, this is a joy compared to my regular 1920×1080 Asus laptop..

…And it beats the heck out of a tablet..

…And the battery life seems great, it barely made a dent in the hour or so I spent surfing with it while drinking my beverage of choice at one of the local establishments here.

…And did I mention it’s screaming fast, with the i7 CPU and 10GB RAM?!

Bon Appetit,

j

 

 

October 20th, 2013

Posted In: How-To, Laptop cookbooks, New products, News, Open Source, Products, ubuntu

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