January 2010 Archives

Pressing questions about the iPad

  • Posted on January 28, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Apple has done it. It released another product free of imperfections and by doing this got another license to print money. Congratulations! Here are my most pressing questions about the new iPad.

  • Will it run GNU/Linux?
  • How can I get root access?
  • Where are the tools to unlock it and install decent software on it?
  • Does it support PDF, TXT, OGG, Theora and other open formats?

Tell me whenever all of these questions are answered. Until then please do not bother me with religious bullshit. Thanks!

Remote Administration is Fun!

  • Posted on January 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm

In theory we all live next to the cloud and system administration could not be happier. You use the Net all of the time. You never need to go anywhere any more. All system are connected and you just need to log on and get started. Right. No.

  • First of all the remote management ILO interface disappears when being connected to by TCP ECN. The TCP/IP stack of the management module is simply broken. Deactivating TCP ECN.
  • After trying different ways to connect to the console, we settle for Internet Explorer 8 (we had to install Java, of course). Two other machines with Debian, Firefox and Java failed (despite ILO’s generous offer). The ActiveX plugin version of the KVM console failed, too.
  • The oybbql shpxvat UC server features Broadcom NetXtreme II BCM5709 Gigabit Ethernet cards with a proprietary firmware (bnx2-09-4.0.5.fw). This means that the Debian net-install CD is next to useless unless networking gets working.
  • The Debian installer likes to have its USB media with the firmware on the first prompt. If you fail to supply the media (mounted via ILO) at the first prompt, /dev/sda1 won’t be mounted (it only tries to mount /dev/sda instead).
  • Finally, the installer is working and has network. Unfortunately the ISP forgot to tell us the IP address, netmask and which one of the two NICs is patched (actually both are patch, but only one gets routed).
  • Meanwhile the ILO module kicked our session (the browser window closed). The session is still active, but the window is closed and can’t be reopened. You have to reset the ILO module in order to clear the session (rebooting the server does not help).
  • Rebooting.
  • Hoping for the best.

It’s fun, you should try it, too.


  • Since we mounted an USB device for the firmware GRUB got confused and a reboot showed “error 15” (file not found).
  • The Debian installer nicely ejected the CD, so it’s impossible to reinstall without asking for remote hands putting the bloody CD back into the drive.
  • Reinstalling…

Done. It worked. The system is able to reboot all by itself. Now let’s sync a few GBs of data from one server to another.

Korrekte Deklaration dieser Webseite

  • Posted on January 26, 2010 at 10:58 am

Die Internetausdrucker schlagen wieder zu. Man fordert Sendezeitbegrenzungen für „Internetsendungen”, also Webseiten. Der AK Zensur hat sich den Vorschlag genauer angesehen. Die Ergebnisse sind haarsträubend. Internet-Zugangs-Anbieter (a.k.a. Access Provider oder ISPs) und Anbieter von Webspace (a.k.a. Hosting Provider) werden mit den eigentlichen Inhalteanbietern (a.k.a. Autoren und -innen) gleichgesetzt. Access Provider müssen Inhalte blockieren, die sich nicht an die hiesigen (deutschen) Jugendschutzbestimmungen halten. Betreiber von Blogs müssen künftig Inhalte entfernen, „die geeignet sind, die Entwicklung von jüngeren Personen zu beeinträchtigen”. Zusammengefaßt liest sich das so:

  • Man verlangt nach einer weltweiten Kennzeichnung aller Inhalte des Internets in ab 0 Jahre, ab 6 Jahre, ab 12 Jahre, ab 16 Jahre und ab 18 Jahre. Ich bin sicher, daß es dafür länderübergreifend eindeutige Richtlinien gibt, die sich leicht umsetzen lassen. Immerhin verdammen ja auch alle Staaten der Welt Terrorismus und den Drogenhandel.
  • Man verlangt nach einer weltweiten Sendezeitbegrenzung für Internetinhalte (beispielsweise nur zwischen 22 und 6 Uhr, wenn ab 16 Jahre). Im Anbetracht der diversen Zeitzonen im Internet ist das eine sportliche Herausforderung.
  • Man möchte über den Umweg des Jugendschutzes die deutsche Pornoindustrie stärken. Anbieter, die sich nicht den Regeln unterwerfen, wandern ins Ausland, werden geblockt und überlassen damit den deutschen Anbietern den Markt. Die Novellierung des Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrages ist daher eine versteckte „Abfuckprämie” für Inlandpornographie.

Diese Webseite ist übrigens nur für ein Publikum ab 18 Jahren gedacht. Es befinden sich kritische Inhalte und Verlinkungen zu diesen auf diesen Seiten. Das ist unvereinbar mit dem Jugendschutz, denn es kann die Entwicklung von jüngeren Personen beeinträchtigen (sprich sie könnten eine eigene Meinung entwickeln, und das ist bei Wahlen an den Urnen unerwünscht). Weiterhin darf diese Webseite aus Jugendschutzgründen nur zwischen 2200 und 0600 abgerufen werden. Als Zeitzone gilt die des abrufenden Webbrowsers.

Post-It Phone Record Tapping

  • Posted on January 21, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Did you notice that government agencies crave for more and more data concerning its citizens? Of course you did, you are already under surveillance. Every time an agency calls for more powers it assures that all means necessary are taken to avoid abuse of data and procedures. When it comes to the harsh reality all of these promises falter like wooden houses in a tsunami. All you need is a post-it and talking to the right people.

The FBI was so cavalier — and telecom companies so eager to help — that a verbal request or even one written on a Post-it note was enough for operators to hand over customer phone records, according to a damning report released on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.

We’re surrounded by kind beings and everyone wants to help. Unfortunately the Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions™. The report from the US-of-A Department of Justice has all the details. This is illegal, plain and simple. Law enforcement breaks rules and promises about privacy. The danger of the many laws against terror clearly outweigh the benefits of these laws. It seems that no one is willing to think before acting (this is equally true for law enforcement and companies dealing with requests for data extraction). All it takes is to demand proper authentication and forms. If you run a business you will need records to keep track of when and why you violated the rights of your customers. If you fail to do this, then you are as guilty as the FBI offices in question.

Things that just work

  • Posted on January 12, 2010 at 10:34 pm

A lot of people dream of gadgets, software and hardware that just works. Just like that. Complexity is the enemy of this simple concept. Our office features an Redundant Array of Coffee Machines (RAIC level 1, parallel brewing). In theory we have four coffee machines. One is broken and features the highest complexity, the third one is slightly less complex and works, the last two are quite simple and never broke down.

Passenger Ruby on Rails Server Error

Rails deployment that just works.

Software can be complex, too. Note the year 2010 bug in various applications. Even one of my projects featured a year 2010 bug (technically it was a January bug which would have happened always in January). The screenshot shows a nice example of an optimistic Apache module used for deploying Ruby on Rails code. If you count internal server errors as productive tasks, then the module is absolutely correct – a fine example of deployment that Just Works™.

Whenever I hear the word passenger I have to think of Dexter. I don’t know why.