Speed up

Maybe you have noticed that this page loads faster than before – especially faster than it did the last two weeks or so. Maybe you wonder too, why there was this downtime at the end of march.

I won’t go into many details, but gnegg.ch (and a whole lot of other stuff) is now running on a brand new server (slightly faster machine) with Gentoo Linux using a 2.6.4 Kernel.

This due to some sucker hacking into the older machine last march, installing a quite destabilizing rootkit (thanks for that… this lead me to notice the crack quite fast…), modifying a lot of html-files and php.ini so that nearly every page served contained a IFRAME utilizing a IE exploit to install some kind of dialer (the IFRAME linked to forced-action.com). The wonderful and gratifying work of this unknown and soooo cool guy caused me to return home from vacation to do some rescuing work.

This is not the usual stinking phpNuke-Exploit (we were not running any phpNuke anyway) as this would not lead to a rootkit getting installed.

Again: Many thanks for your “hard work”, dear anonymous hacker. You got me the much needed opportunity to finally install Gentoo. And not only that: You even got me a faster Server to work on (to prevent any further downtime during reinstallation of the new OS). Now that this episode finally has come to an end, I will have a look at those disk-images I took from the compromised machine. Let’s see what I find out.

All this fuss about Gmail

When reading the news on the web, one thing is in all mouths: Googles email service gmail. What I cannot understand is the fuss about gmails privacy policy. The following two points are what everyone seems to be so upset about:

Residual copies of email may remain on our systems, even after you have deleted them from your mailbox or after the termination of your account.

I ask you: So what? Just imagine how this service is going to work: Google has thousands of computers running – that’s their philosophy. For me it’s jsut clear that the whole concept would not work if there where just one copy of each email message available. Think of it: Every message that enters the system surely is replicated among the many cluster nodes at google. This is a going-on process. And it’s just the same with a deletion: Once you delete the message, this process must be replicated among the cluster nodes. It’s just not feasible to instantly remove a message on 100’000 computers. And: While receiving and displaying a message to the user must have absolute priority, processor time and network usage can be saved if deletion requests in the cluster are handeled with lower priority.

For me, this clause does not mean: “We will keep your mail forever because we want to know everything you do and you are”, but “to provide the optimal service for you, there may be some technical limitations that prevent a message from being immediately deleted from 100’000 computers at the same time”. It’s great that google tells us about this. What about hotmail? Can they guarantee instant deletion? Don’t they run a cluster?

Google’s computers process the information in your email for various purposes, including formatting and displaying the information to you, delivering targeted related information (such as advertisements and related links), preventing unsolicited bulk email (spam), backing up your email, and other purposes relating to offering you Gmail.

This is so plain simple. Tell me of one webbased email service that does not to the very same thing. The thing everyone is concerned about is the “delivering related information”-thing. But this does not mean that the computer or anyone else really “reads” your email. It just tells you that the content that is displayed on your webbrowser is analyzed and that targeted advertising is added. Tell me about any other webbased email service that does not do that.

So for me this is a whole lot of hot air and really injust: Where the privacy policies on other services just don’t tell you those (obvious) things, google’s is and everyone complains about. I hate the press.

Why o why is my harddrive so small?

I have the whole windows profile on its own NTFS-Partition that I’ve mounted to the “Documents and Settings”-Folder, so I can easily copy my clean windows image over the current system partition without losing any data. So my profile is about a year old where the system partition is quite clean.

Yesterday I’ve asekd myself why my the free space on my profile partition is shrinking and shrinking over time without me installing that much stuff (and removing it from time to time). Just per accident I found out: It’s windows installer: Whenever I’m installing one of those .msi-Files (or .EXE-Based InstallShield installers using MSI technology), a whole lot of junk gets into my profile and is never removed:

  • *.msp: msp-Files are like MSI-Files, but are used to patch an existing installation. I currently have 253 MB’s worth of msp-Patches in my profile (Local SettingsTemp. Value: Unknown because Windows Installer is not nearly documented enough
  • msi*.log: Logfiles of MSI-Installations. No value whatsoever. I have 106 MB worth of MSI-Logfiles in my profile.
  • *.msi: Whenever I install and MSI-File (or an exe-based MSI-Installer), the MSI-File is copied somewhere. Although it’s not in the profile, I’ve 217 MB worth of spare .MSI-Files on my harddrive – not counting the ones I have downloaded to my download-directory.

So: I have about 600 MB worth of data which hs no real purpose on my computer and I don’t know whether I can delete it or not as MSI is not really documented (there’s just some technical documentation for developers available).

Another nice sample of how strange Windows Installer can be: All CHM-based help-files recently stopped working with an Windows Installer Message asking me to provide the path to pgadmin2.msi – a postgres frontend which I have already deletetd ages ago – just now that I have removed the msi-installer from the original download directory, MSI wants to access it when doing things that don’t even remotely have to do with the file it asks for. Why?

Microsoft: If you sell us your installer technology as the non-plus-ultra solution for the old problems with overwritten dlls, incomplete installations and such: Please fix your tool or at least document it enough!

RealPlayer – Useable again?

The last time I’ve installed RealPlayer was back in 96 or so. Since then the have added more stupid icons, popup windows, sales-pitches and such useless features with every new release, while they went great lengths in hiding the free download, giving the impression, that one has to pay to view realvideo content.

It looks like they finally saw that being nasty and cluttering users systems with trash does not get them anywhere…

Not that you get the impression I’m actually visiting the linked page regularly, but it was linked on slashdot today.

Quote of the day

While reading LWN today, I stopped at the following quote as posted in this weeks PostgreSQL Weekly News:

While there was some subversive discussion about source control
programs arching through the mailing lists this week, those with an eye on
the CVS repository noticed several interesting changes come down the pike.

With the whole war going on about Subversion or arch being better, this phrase is just great.