eRacks Systems Tech Blog

Open Source Experts Since 1999

The latest Linux Mint release, 19.3, codenamed ‘Tricia’, is now available on eRacks Desktop  and Laptop systems.

Simply select the ‘Linux Mint 19 latest’ choice from the OS dropdown, and we’ll get it done for you.

If you want the slightly older 19.2 release, or any other custom installation, just let us know in the “Notes” field, and we’ll do it.

Also, FYI, Linux Mint is mostly a Desktop system, but we’ll be happy to install it on any system you choose – just let us know and we’ll do a custom quote for you. (Or, again, just put it in the “Notes” field when you place your order).

j

January 1st, 2020

Posted In: Linux, Mint, News, Operating Systems, ubuntu, Uncategorized

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Fedora 31 is now available on all eRacks systems.

Simply select “Fedora 31” in the OS dropdown – if you don’t see it on the system you want, let us know and we’ll see if it’s available / compatible.

FWIW, The performance reviews have been underwhelming:

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=fedora-31-benchmarks&num=1

But for decades, software executives have ignored better/faster in exchange for bloated/slower, with the excuse that since the hardware is faster now, it’s OK :-/

Grr.

j

 

November 5th, 2019

Posted In: Fedora, Linux, News, Operating Systems, Uncategorized

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The latest (non-LTS) Ubuntu 19.10, Eoan Ermine is now available on all eRacks systems.

Here are the Release Notes for it.

Simply select it from the OS choices in the “Operating System” dropdown while configuring your eRacks system.

UPDATE Feb 2020

As always, we can also install the pre-release / beta version of the next Ubuntu release, code-named Focal Fossa, which will indeed be an LTS release, and is scheduled for April 23, 2020 –

Just say you want Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa in the “Notes” field when you pace your order.

j

October 25th, 2019

Posted In: Linux, News, Operating Systems, ubuntu, Upgrades

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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: Open Source, Technology

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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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https://solace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/docker-logo.pngDocker, Please – “Available for both Windows and Mac” Are you kidding?

This reminds me of the legendary line from the Blues Brothers movie:

“We got BOTH kinds of music – Country AND Western!”

Sheesh.

Lame – it’s all based on Linux!  And Open Source!

Docker runs natively on Linux – the only way to get it to run on Windows and/or Mac, is to run it inside a VM (Virtual Machine), running Linux.  Ahem.

So apparently that’s what this does, although you couldn’t tell by the name, the marketing blurb, nor the description.

DOCKER TOOLBOX

The Docker Toolbox is an installer to quickly and easily install and setup a Docker environment on your computer.

Available for both Windows and Mac, the Toolbox installs Docker Client, Machine, Compose and Kitematic.

Source: Docker Toolbox | Docker

Sigh.

j

October 9th, 2016

Posted In: Linux, Open Source, Technology, Uncategorized

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