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+ - Book Review: "FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials", by Michael W. Lucas-> 1

Submitted by Saint Aardvark
Saint Aardvark (159009) writes "(Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review. Disclaimer to the disclaimer: I would gladly have paid for it anyway.)

If, like me, you administer FreeBSD systems, you know that (like Linux) there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to filesystems. GEOM, UFS, soft updates, encryption, disklabels — there is a *lot* going on here. And if, like me, you're coming from the Linux world your experience won't be directly applicable, and you'll be scaling Mount Learning Curve. Even if you *are* familiar with the BSDs, there is a lot to take in. Where do you start?

You start here, with Michael W. Lucas' latest book, "FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials". You've heard his name before; he's written "Sudo Mastery" (which I reviewed previously), along with books on PGP/GnuPGP, Cisco Routers and OpenBSD. This book clocks in at 204 pages of goodness, and it's an excellent introduction to managing storage on FreeBSD. From filesystem choice to partition layout to disk encryption, with sidelong glances at ZFS along the way, he does his usual excellent job of laying out the details you need to know without every veering into dry or boring.

Do you need to know about GEOM? It's in here: Lucas takes your from "What *is* GEOM, anyway?" (answer: FreeBSD's system of layers for filesytem management) through "How do I set up RAID 10?" through "Here's how to configure things to solve that weird edge-case." Still trying to figure out GUID partitions? I sure as hell was...and then I read Chapter Two. Do you remember disklabels fondly, and wonder whatever happened to them? They're still around, but mainly on embedded systems that still use MBR partitions — so grab this book if you need to deal with them.

The discussion of SMART disk monitoring is one of the best introductions to this subject I've ever read, and should serve *any* sysadmin well, no matter what OS they're dealing with; I plan on keeping it around for reference until we no longer use hard drives. RAID is covered, of course, but so are more complex setups — as well as UFS recovery and repair for when you run into trouble.

Disk encryption gets three chapters (!) full of details on the two methods in FreeBSD, GBDE and GELI. But just as important, Lucas outlines why disk encryption might *not* be the right choice: recovering data can be difficult or impossible, it might get you unwanted attention from adversaries, and it will *not* protect you against, say, an adversary who can put a keylogger on your laptop. If it still make sense to encrypt your hard drive, you'll have the knowledge you need to do the job right.

I said that this covers *almost* everything you need to know, and the big omission here is ZFS. It shows up, but only occasionally and mostly in contrast to other filesystem choices. For example, there's an excellent discussion of why you might want to use FreeBSD's plain UFS filesystem instead of all-singing, all-dancing ZFS. (Answer: modest CPU or RAM, or a need to do things in ways that don't fit in with ZFS, make UFS an excellent choice.) I would have loved to see ZFS covered here — but honestly, that would be a book of its own, and I look forward to seeing one from Lucas someday; when that day comes, it will be a great companion to this book, and I'll have Christmas gifts for all my fellow sysadmins.

One big part of the appeal of this book (and Lucas' writing in general) is that he is clear about the tradeoffs that come with picking one solution over another. He shows you where the sharp edges are, and leaves you well-placed to make the final decision yourself. Whether it's GBDE versus GELI for disk encryption, or what might bite you when enabling soft updates journaling, he makes sure you know what you're getting into. He makes recommendations, but always tells you their limits.

There's also Lucas' usual mastery of writing; well-written explanations with liberal dollops of geek humour that don't distract from the knowledge he's dropping. He's clear, he's thorough, and he's interesting — and that's an amazing thing to say about a book on filesystems.

Finally, technical review was done by Poul Henning-Kamp; he's a FreeBSD developer who wrote huge parts of the GEOM and GBDE systems mentioned above. That gives me a lot of warm fuzzies about the accuracy of this book.

If you're a FreeBSD (or Linux, or Unix) sysadmin, then you need this book; it has a *lot* of hard-won knowledge, and will save your butt more than you'll be comfortable admitting. If you've read anything else by Lucas, you also know we need him writing more books. Do the right thing and buy this now."

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+ - The Password? You Changed It, Right?->

Submitted by (447981) writes "Right at this moment, there's a swarm of little password guessing robots trying for your router's admin accounts. Do yourself a favor and do some logs checking right away. Some European ISPs have been forced to do some ad-hoc reconfigs to end user equipment recently, so do check you equipment. And of course, this turned up in my lap while I was on my way back from a most enjoyable passwords conference — traces of what appears to be a distributed password guessing efforts. Read on for data and the beginnings of analysis."
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Comment: No longer OOXML ISO compliant then? (Score 2, Informative) 110

by (#48505821) Attached to: Microsoft's Age-Old Image Library 'Clip Art' Is No More
If I remember correctly, the OOXML ISO standard that was rushed through some years back included specifications for a clipart library not entirely unlike the Microsoft Office one. I suppose this move means that Microsoft has give up on adhering to its wholly-owned ISO standard.

Comment: Wiped out by new diseases perhaps? (Score 2) 57

by (#47796987) Attached to: DNA Reveals History of Vanished "Paleo-Eskimos"
A non-violent mass die-off could suggest something along the lines of a population's first exposure to a new disease (as in one nobody in the population has any immunity for) of some sort, perhaps several. Slightly more modern examples include native american populations that essentially disappeared during the early days of European exploration and settlement of north america.

+ - Password Gropers Hit Peak Stupid, Take the Spamtrap Bait-> 1

Submitted by (447981) writes "Peter Hansteen reports that a new distributed and slow-moving password guessing effort is underway, much like the earlier reports, but this time with a twist: The users they are trying to access do not exist. Instead, they're take from the spamtrap address list, where all listed email addresses are guaranteed to be invalid in their listed domains. There is a tiny chance that this is an elaborate prank or joke, but it's more likely that via excessive automation, the password gropers have finally Peak Stupid."
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Comment: The Linux Foundation is not actually that evil (Score 1) 164

by (#47029537) Attached to: 30-Day Status Update On LibreSSL
Unfortunately the summary gets several important facts wrong, including the status of support from the linux fooundation -- last status is ongoing discussions, not total ignore as the post summary says. And you can see what Bob actually said in the video jason Tubnor uploaded to youtube The real Bob Beck on OpenSSL talk

+ - Have you changed your password lately? Does it even matter?->

Submitted by (447981) writes "Do frequent password changes actually matter security wise? Or do they just make us pick the minimum complexity password the system will accept? I want your opinion. In his latest piece, Peter Hansteen wants your opinion on common security enforcement practices and even offers a poll about enforced password changes. Let loose the debate rage!"
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Comment: Re:Merged back or fork? (Score 4, Informative) 379

by (#46798679) Attached to: OpenSSL Cleanup: Hundreds of Commits In a Week
The work by the OpenBSD developers happens in the OpenBSD tree. Whether or not the OpenSSL project chooses to merge back the changes into their tree is yet to be seen. Given the activity level in the OpenSSL tree lately I find it more likely that the primary source of a maintained open source SSL library shifts to the OpenBSD project. To the extent that portability goo is needed it will likely be introduced after the developers consider the code base stable enough.

Comment: Re:I would think (Score 5, Informative) 379

by (#46798661) Attached to: OpenSSL Cleanup: Hundreds of Commits In a Week
This is actually the OpenBSD developers diving in because the upstream (OpenSSL) was unresponsive. If you look at the actual commits, you will see removal of dead code such as VMS-specific hacks, but also weeding out a lot of fairly obvious bugs, unsafe practices such as trying to work around the mythical slow malloc, feeding your private key to the randomness engine, use after free, and so on.

It would look like it's been a while since anybody did much of anything besides half hearted scratching in very limited parts of the code. This is a very much needed effort which is likely to end up much like OpenSSH, maintained mainly as part of OpenBSD, but available to any takers. We should expect to see a lot more activity before the code base is declared stable, but by now it's clear that the burden of main source maintainership moved to a more responsive and responsible team.

+ - What is it that you want to learn about OpenBSD 5.5?->

Submitted by (447981) writes "In the upcoming OpenBSD 5.5 release there will be a number of improvements, including a whole new traffic shaping system, automatic installer improvements and the switch to 64-bit time_t.

But OpenBSD has been the source of lots of innovation and improvements in BSD and Unix in general over the years, and in preparation for his two BSDCan tutorials, Peter Hansteen asks, What do you want to learn about OpenBSD 5.5 (and possibly future directions)?"

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Comment: Also, OpenBSD's PF modedd w/incompatible licenc (Score 1) 268

by (#46741221) Attached to: Apple's Spotty Record of Giving Back To the Tech Industry
Apple's main interface to the opensource world is through the FreeBSD project, which is how they also drew in PF, the OpenBSD packet filter and most likely shipped more copies of that code than any other consumer. However, they made some changes that they contributed back to the world #ifdef'ed with their own incompatible license. I wrote about that a couple of years back for Call for Testing magazine, see

+ - Yes, You Too Can Be An Evil Network Overlord - On The Cheap With OpenBSD, pflow ->

Submitted by (447981) writes "Have you ever wanted to know what's really going on in your network? Some free tools with surprising origins can help you to an almost frightening degree. Peter Hansteen shares some monitoring insights, anecdotes and practical advice in his latest column on how to really know your network. All of it with free software, of course."
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