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Comment: Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score 1) 196 196

Well, it may interest you to know that courts judging "emotional distress" is not some new Internet fad. In the year 1348 an innkeeper brought suit against a man who had been banging on his tavern door demanding wine. When the innkeeper stuck his head out the doorway to tell the man to stop, the man buried the hatchet he was carrying into the door by the innkeeper's head. The defendant argued that since there was no physical harm inflicted no assault had taken place, but the judged ruled against him [ de S et Ux. v. W de S (1348)]. Ever since then non-physical, non-financial harm has been considered both an essential element of a number of of crimes, a potential aggravating factor in others, and an element weighed in establishing civil damages.

This does *not*, however, mean that hurt feelings in themselves constitute a crime. It's a difficult and sometimes ambiguous area of the law, but the law doesn't have the luxury of addressing easy and clear-cut cases only.

As to why a new law is need now, when the infliction of emotional distress has been something the law has been working on for 667 years, I'd say that the power of technology to uncouple interactions from space and time has to be addressed. Hundreds of years ago if someone was obnoxious to you at your favorite coffeehouse, you could go at a different time or choose a different coffeehouse. Now someone intent on spoiling your interactions with other people doesn't have to coordinate physical location and schedule with you to be a persistent, practically inescapable nuisance.

Does this mean every interaction that hurts your feelings on the Internet is a crime? No, no more than everything that happens in your physical presence you take offense at is a crime.

Comment: Systemd, pass II (Score 1) 166 166

Sure, no problem. If you dislike systemd that much, it certainly makes sense to move to a different software platform.

I don't particularly dislike systemd per se. I do observe the controversy around it, and the image of it and its project, painted by its opponents (some of whom have enough creds that it's unlikely that they're talking through their hats), indicates that the claimed issues are likely to be real problems, and this may be a tipping point for Linux adoption and user choice among distributions or OSes.

Your Snowden argument isn't particularly applicable in this instance, as you have access to the full source code for systemd. If you're not comfortable looking through C code, then any init system would be a problem for you. ... If you think that porting your laptop, home servers and desktops to a completely different operating system is less effort than learning how systemd works, then I can only conclude you haven't tried to learn how systemd works. Or you've severely underestimated the work involved in moving to another OS.

I did my first Linux drivers (a PROM burner and a Selectric-with-selonoids printer) on my personal Altos ACS 68000 running System III, wrote a driver for a block-structured tape drive for AUX - working from my own decompilation of their SCSI disk driver (since the sources weren't available to me initially), ported and augmented a mainframe RAID controller from SvR3 to SvR4, and so on, for nearly three decades, through hacking DeviceTree on my current project. I don't think C has many problems left for me, nor does moving to yet another UNIX environment - especially to one that is still organized in the old, familiar, fashion. B-)

As for trying to learn how systemd works, that's not the proper question. Instead, I ask what is so great about it that I should spend the time to do so, distracting me from my other work, and how doing this would meet my goals (especially the undertand-the-security-issues goal), as compared to moving to a well-supported, time-proven, high-reliability, security-conscious alternative (which is also under a license that is less of a sell to the PHBs when building it into a shippable product.)

Snowden's revealations show that the NSA, and others like them are adept, at taking advantage of problems in obscure corners of systems and using that obscurity to avoid detection. The defence against this is simplicity and clarity, avoiding the complexity that creates subtle bugs and hides them by burying them in distractions. Bigger haystacks hide more needles.

The configuration for systemd isn't buried. It's there for all to see and change, in plain text. Logging in binary form is _optional_. You can choose to direct logged messages to syslog, or use both syslog and binary, to have the "best of both worlds", albeit with the best of disk usage.

Unfortunately, I don't get to make that choice myself. It's made by the distribution maintainers. My choice is to accept it, open the can of worms and redo the work of entire teams (and hope their software updates don't break things faster than I fix them), or pick another distribution or OS.

Again, why should I put myself on such a treadmill of unending extra work? If I could trust the maintainers to mostly make the right choices I could go along - with no more than an audit and perhaps an occasional tweak. But if they were making what I consider the right choices, I wouldn't expect to see such a debacle.

Entangling diverse processes into an interlocking mass is what operating systems are all about! ;)

No, it's not. The job of an operating system is to KEEP them from becoming an interlocking mass, while letting them become an interacting system to only the extent appropriate. It isolates them in their own boxes, protects them from each other, and facilitates their access to resources and ONLY their LEGITIMATE interaction wherever appropriate and/or necessary. The job is to Keep It Simple while letting it work.

Your phrasing, and making a joke of this issue, is symptomatic of what is alleged to be wrong with systemd and the engineering behind it.

Comment: Re:Routing around (Score 2) 187 187

At a large scale, the internet was designed to route around individual problems such as this.
Can't this same principle be applied on a smaller scale?

Yes, it can. Just dig a whole bunch MORE trenches around the country at enormous cost.

The SONET fiber networks were designed to be primarily intersecting rings. Most sites have fiber going in opposite directions (with a few having more than two fibers going off in more than two directions so it's not just ONE big, convoluted, ring.) This is built right into the signaling architecture: Bandwitdth slots are pre-assigned in both directions around the ring. Cut ONE fiber run and the signals that would have crossed the break are folded back at the boxes at each end of the break, run around the ring the other way, and get to where they're going after taking the long route. The switching is automatic and takes place in miliseconds. The ring approach means that the expensive cable runs are about a short and as separated as it's possible to make them.

But cut the ring in TWO places and it partitions into two, unconnected, networks. To get from one to the other you have to hope there's another run between the two pieces, and there's enough switching where they join to reroute the traffic.

IP WANs have, in some portions, also adopted the ring topology as they move to fiber, rather than sticking to the historic "network of intersecting trees" approach everywhere. That's partly because much of the long haul is done on formerly "dark fiber" laid down in bundles with the SONET rings from the great fiber buildout (or is carried in assigned bandwidth slots on the SONET networks themselves), partly because the same economics of achieving redundancy while minimizing costly digging apply to high-bandwidth networking regardless of the format of the traffic, and partly because routers that KNOW they're on a ring can reroute everything quickly when a fiber run fails, rather than rediscovering what's still alive and recomputing all the routing tables.

= = = = =

Personal note: Back when Pacific Bell was stringing its fibers around the San Francisco Bay Area, I was living in Palo Alto. They did their backbone as two rings. There was only one section, perhaps a mile long, where BOTH rings ran along the same route. It happened to go right past my house, with the big, many-manhole repeater vault right next to the house. (I used to daydream of running my own fiber the few feet into the vault. B-) The best I had available, in those pre-DSL days, were dialup with Telebit PEP modems (18-23 k half-duplex) and base-rate (128k) ISDN.)

Comment: Re:Goodness (Score 1) 275 275

Perhaps all of that was an attempt to motivate at least a lukewarm response to the obviously coming problem so people wouldn't end up running around with their hair on fire later.

Oh I get that, I'm just saying that years of teeth-gnashing and arm-flailing has had pretty much the opposite of the desired effect.

This has been pitched as a dire and urgent danger for ages. The IPv4 address exhaustion problem Wikipedia article is nearly nine years old, for crying out loud.

This will get sorted out like pretty much every single other technical capacity issue gets sorted out: once the pain and cost of not acting becomes prohibitive, people will act, and it will cease to be an issue.

Comment: However Shall We Figure This Out? (Score 1) 295 295

This it perhaps the first severe accident of this kind in a western factory, and is sparkling debate about who is responsible for the accident, the man who was servicing the robot beyond its protection cage, or the robot's hardware/software developers who didn't put enough safety checks. Will this distinction be more and more important in the future, when robots will be more widespread?

Folks, there exists an entire and oft maligned profession that is dedicated to figuring just this sort of thing out.

This isn't some big unsolved existential question. It's a fairly dry exercise in interpreting and applying precedent in new ways. Humans are actually reasonably good at sorting out how to deal with the legalities of new things.

Comment: Re: Thanks Linus! (Score 1) 166 166

Anyway, I digress. Advantages of systemd are: [long list]

Those are all very nice things to have.

Unfortunately, for my needs, simplicity and understandability are far more important than a fast boot and feature-rich management of the runtime environment. I need to KNOW that things are being handled properly and securely. That's become far more important since Snowden showed us, not that the spooks were getting into our computers (which we'd already figured was happening), but how DEEPLY and EFFECTIVELY their technology and personnel are able to do so.

If the improved functionality is at the cost of burying the configuration and logging in non-human-readable form and entangling diverse processes into an interlocking mass under a complex and ever growing manager, the shark has been jumped.

Though Linux has been becoming (MUCH!) more usable with time, its configuration has been buried progressively more deeply under more and more "convenient and simplifying", but non-transparent, configuration management tools. Systemd is the continuation of the trend. But it is also a quantum leap, rather than another thin slice off the salami. So it has apparently created the "Shelling Point", where a lot of frogs simultaneously figure out that NOW is the time to jump out of the pot.

It's been a great ride. It had the potential to be even greater. But I think this is where it took the wrong turn and it's time for me to get serious about switching.

There's good reason to switch to NetBSD at work, on the product. (The code supporting the secret sauce is on the user side of the API and is Posix compatible, so it should be no big problem.) Porting my laptop, home servers, and desktops to OpenBSD now looks like it's worth the effort - and less effort than trying to learn, and keep abreast of, the internals of systemd.

Call me if somebody comes up with a way to obtain the key benefits of systemd in a simple and transparent manner, rather than creating an opaque mass reminiscent of Tron's Master Control Program. (Unfortunately, the downsides of systemd's approach seem to be built into its fundamental structure, so I don't expect it to evolve into something suitable, even if it's forked.)

Comment: The choice seems clear. (Score 1) 166 166

As I understand the three major forks:

One (OpenBSD) is for having as secure a desktop/server/embedded platform as the maintainers can manage - important in this post-Snowden era (as it was, all unknown, in the era preceding Snowden B-b). It is based outside the US so it can incorporate strong encryption without coming afoul of US export controls.

One (NetBSD) is for developing network internals software and networking platforms (typically ported, when possible and not part of a proprietary product, to the others and other OSes.)

One (FreeBSD), now that its original purpose of getting the code disentangled from proprietary accomplished and the other two projects forked from it, is for making an open unix-like system run on the widest range of hardware platforms and devices possible.

Unless you're using your machine for building networking equipment or it's a new hardware platform under development, the choice seems clear.

Comment: Re:... run away, screaming like little girl. (Score 0) 166 166

Are we allowed to say that out loud?

According to the first amendment, the government of the United States can't stop you.

If the denizens of the largest religion of the Unitied States (Progressivism), or at least their media spokespreachers, decide to gang-shun you, there's still the other half of the population to interact with.

Fortunately, techies usually have to deal with real-world more than social issues. Unfortunately, PHBs have control of the money and have to interact with the fanatics. Fortunately, techies are noted for not being skilled on social fads and are given much slack. Unfortunately, that slack sometimes comes with a hook: The PHB tells his techies not to be a "lightning rod" and say/post things, in a way traceable to a particular employee of The Company, that might bring down the wrath of the pressure groups, make it look like his "herd of cats" really IS crazy and repell funders and customers, or otherwise make his job harder than it already is.

Which (mainly the "crazy cats" case) is why I started posting anything that MIGHT be controversial under pseudonyms. And a reference to the PHB's order is the origin of the slashdot pseudonym "Ungrounded Lightning Rod" (since slashed down to "Ungrounded Lightning" by changes to the slashcode that limited pseudonym size). And why, now that "ULR" has a large and valuable reputation (and though that reputation might help with job searches) I STILL don't out the corresponding "True Name" on any electronic medium.

(So now you know.)

In Linus' case, I doubt that even a gang-shun by the Politically Correct would have an impact, on his finances, his social standing, or the adoption of his work or technical ideas.

(Can you imagine, for instance, the luddites , or even Microsoft's PR department, trying to get people to avoid Linux and switch to Windows or MacOS, or avoid git and switch to Clearcase, Bitkeeper, ... because Linus once said "... run away, screaming like little girl" and therefore must be a Sexist Pig? Especially, can you imagine ANY tech company using THAT slander and thus inviting that kind of scrutiny of their OWN people? B-) )

Comment: Re:He answered the most boring questions! (Score 1) 166 166

So have faith. Either he's right, and systemd will not turn out to be that bad, or his faith in systemd will end in tears, and then, he'll sit down and write a new startup management system that will kick everybody else's collective asses!

Or maybe somebody ELSE will write a kick-ass init system, and Linus will say "Hey, that's cool!" and promote it. Or the maintainers of a major distribution will adopt it. Or those of a MINOR distribution will - and user will migrate.

Linus is great. But why does THIS have to be HIS problem? The init system may have a bit of extra-special status and privilege, but it's largely NOT the kernel's problem. Along with the system call API it is THE boundary between the kernel guts and the user/demon/daemon firmament. It says to the kernel: "Thanks, I'll take it from here."

Comment: Re:Environmentalists will cause the next nuclear a (Score 3, Interesting) 122 122

Every time nuclear power comes up someone blames environmentalists for the industry's problems -- in this case before the problems have manifested. It's an article of faith.

So far as I can see there's only ever been one plant in the US that's ever been cancelled for environmental concerns is the proposed plant at Bodega Harbor, which as you can see on the map would have been right on top of the San Andreas fault. In every other case projects have been shut down after serious miscalculations in the industry's economic forecasting (e.g. lower energy prices in the 80s than anticipated in the 70s), often exacerbated by poor project management performance. In those cases environmentalists were just a convenient scapegoat for management screw-ups.

You can see that because after the very largest anti-nuclear protests in history -- against Seabrook in NH and Diablo Canyon -- the plants were built and put into operation anyway. If a company had a plant under construction that it could make money operating, that plant would get built, even if thirty thousand people turned out to protest.

Comment: Re:Iran is not trying to save money (Score 1) 364 364

Well, you have to factor in the Iranian cultural mania for disagreeing with each other. The Shah couldn't keep them under his thumb, neither can the mullahs, who have their hands full disagreeing with each other.

From a tyrant's perspective Iran is ungovernable, which doesn't mean elements in the government don't give tyranny a go on a regular basis. It's an ideal setup for producing martyrs. The futility of cracking down means you have a little space to rake some muck before official anger overcomes reason.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 805 805

The B-52 requires complete air superiority in the area that it operates because it can't hide from radar except by jamming, so just building a new version wouldn't really work. The B-1 has speed on its side (thought not as much as the original specs) and the B-2 has stealth. The tentatively named B-3 is supposed to replace all of the heavy bombers, though the B-2 will probably stick around for a few decades. That's a reasonable goal, unlike that of the F-35.

It's supposed to use mostly existing technologies instead of planning for advances as happened with (and expanded the cost and schedule of) the B-2, F-22, and F-35. Whether they can actually do that is a giant question mark, but the Air Force is allegedly targeting $500 million to $600 million per plane as the final cost.

Comment: Re:Big giant scam ... (Score 1) 805 805

I distinctly remember it being promised that the F-35 would beat anything but an F-22 in air-to-air combat, at a fraction of the price. It was not part of the original concept for the system but it was definitely sold politically as being capable of acting as a poor man's F22.

I wonder about the helmet mounted display, whether that's something you'd consider absolutely necessary in an aircraft whose job is to hit surface targets in contested airspace.

Have you ever noticed that the people who are always trying to tell you `there's a time for work and a time for play' never find the time for play?