Posts Tagged "security"

*nix Tip of the Day: Dynamic DNS

Bonjour logo

It's nice to have DNS records for all of your computers. It's a giant pain in the ass to remember IP addresses, especially if you're on something like a cable connection, where the IP address is dynamic (but only changes every month or two). Now, you could go ahead and use DynDNS or No-IP or something. But those are lame. You have to use a subdomain of one of their domains, and you have to use their software to update. You might be wondering if there's a better way. Well, there is. Standard DNS supports updating, it turns out. In BIND, this is managed through the allow-update parameter. I had some free time this week after I finished finals, so I went ahead and set it up, along with the other trimmings required for Wide-Area Bonjour. It's cool, so I thought I'd post a bit.

The most important resource for all of this stuff is dns-sd.org. Aside from a couple of minor errors that I corrected and an update for OS X 10.5+, this Tip will be based off of the guides from that site. So credit to them.

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*nix Tip of the Day: VMS

Okay, so this is maybe a little unusual, but today's "*nix Tip of the Day" isn't about Unix/Linux/etc. at all. Instead, it is about their antiquated archenemy: VMS. First, a little bit of history:

History

Way back in 1970, the PDP-11 was hot stuff. Ken Thompson, Dennis Richie, Brian Kernighan, and others at Bell Labs were writing what would become Unix for the PDP-11 (well, for the PDP-7 at first, but nobody talks about that). Unix was a huge improvement over what DEC shipped with the PDP-11, DOS-11 and RT-11. This couldn't stand, so Dave Cutler at DEC designed VMS. It was a new operating system, with lots of fancy features, like networking and, uh, lots of upper-case letters.

VMS and Unix sort of battled on. Or so some people would have you think. Really, Unix won early on and VMS stumbled along with corporate financing and an obnoxiously difficult-to-use interface. It passed from DEC to Compaq to HP, from the PDP-11 to the Alpha to the Itanium. And it still lives on, churning away in scary back-rooms here and there.

Current Events

So, why do I bring this up? Well, as some of you may know, Harvey Mudd College has a few VMS machines around. The most well-known of these (to students) is thuban, which is a 667MHz DEC Alpha running OpenVMS 7.3-2. Today, I had the, uh, interesting experience of using it, and thought I'd share my impressions with my readers. You can see the proof of my VMS skills at my VMS homepage. That's right, I'm on the Internet. And on DECnet.

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WordPress 2.8.1

Just in case anybody cares, I've upgraded the site to the latest and greatest (WordPress version 2.8.1). No user action is required at this time.

Also, the code behind the blog is now valid HTML5, and there's a Google Friend Connect widget so you can participate in discussions without creating yet another account (woo!).

New GPG Key

As you may have seen around the Internet, there was a fairly significant break in the SHA-1 hash function, which is used by default in GnuPG. This is worrisome, since GPG/PGP signatures are one of the only things I'd actually trust to verify somebody's identity online. So I've generated a new key with a 2048-bit RSA primary (for SHA256 and SHA512 support) and a 4096-bit ElGamal encrypting key (which took about 15 minutes to generate, so better be worth it). The key ID is CB8AA0FF, and the fingerprint is 5C35 D713 3E10 9A19 FFFC F58A 68E8 3B57 CB8A A0FF …

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Air Travel

So, I'm currently in San Clemente for a couple of days before going back to Claremont. As usual, the trip cross-country was fun. Lots of hours in a tin can. Anyhow, something amusing happened at T.F. Green when I was leaving. TSA got confused by my backpack in the X-Ray machine (understandable, since it's got a zillion wires and such in it). So they start going through it and they find that I brought a copy of Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist. The guy then ignores the rest of my bag, pulls out the book, and runs it through …

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*nix Tip of the Day: sudo

I've mentioned sudo in these tips before. It's a neat little utility for executing commands as somebody else. Well, today I bring you a handy guide I found on using sudo. I already knew most of the stuff, but some of it was new, and it looks pretty good as a starter for new users. So enjoy this article on sudo basics by A.P. Lawrence.