This mornings maintenance activities have been completed. Primarily kernels were updated on a number of machines and a number of non-kernel updates applied as well.
I rebooted mail and ftp/www today at 1:15 PM Pacific time because it was the quickest way to stop a virus from propagating.
Last night I went to CraigsList looking for a cheap streaming device, preferably a Wii console, and I’m not sure if I went to the right place (I went to www.craigslist.com). I got a banner telling me I’d won an Ipad and then it sent me to a bunch of surveys which were virus laden and managed to infect the Mac workstation I use with four viruses, (this is the first time I’ve seen viruses successfully infect a Unix based system since 1995). It actually infected some aspect of TenFourFox, a PPC power of Firefox web browser. If I shut the browser down the virus is inactive.
Sophos anti-virus detected it, but at least when run from an ordinary user account it wasn’t able to delete it. I’m running a full-scan now from the System Admin account with more aggressive settings on the scan hoping that will remove it, if not I’ll have to go virus hunting manually.
At any rate, if you go to CraigsList and get a screen telling you that you’ve won an Ipad, DON’T FOLLOW THE LINK, close the tab and start over.
If you find your mail session in Pine or an IMAP client suddenly goes read-only, or if you see the “delete” button disappear on web mail, that is a symptom of this virus because it causes your browser to open an IMAP session with your account information and that interferes with your real session.
And actually there were two copies of MyDOOM and two other viruses and I don’t at this point know which was doing what. But whatever these are, they exploit something in Firefox and can affect Mac’s (and I’d be willing to bet by extension Linux since the protections and privileges of the two operating systems are pretty much the same).
Eskimo North will be undergoing some necessarily disruptive maintenance early Saturday February 16th, shortly after midnight. I will be upgrading Linux kernels on a number of machines which requires a reboot on the upgraded machine. Additionally, mail, which has NFS dependencies on the upgraded machine will need to be rebooted.
The reboots should only entail a brief outage of several minutes, however, the mail server will need about ten minutes (it’s an older machine and work is in progress to replace it) but occasionally it does not go down smoothly and requires an in person kick in which case that will add about half an hour to the mail downtime.
The machines being rebooted that will have service impact are Iglulik which serves files for all the other machines, ftp/www, shellx, and ultra7/mail.
If you are on one of the other shell machines and shortly after midnight your session freezes, if you just wait it out it should come back within about five minutes.
Shellx will first experience a freeze like the other shell machines while Iglulik reboots, then it will be rebooted and you will need to re-login.
After a boot, nx may require several attempts to connect successfully. It seems to come alive in stages and takes longer than the rest of the server to stabilize.
The outage this morning resulted from a failed core network component upgrade in Isomedia’s network. For reasons yet unknown, the upgrade caused the piece of equipment to turn all ports down and they had to manually turn them back up to restore service. The outage lasted approximately 50 minutes.
I appreciate the transparency I’ve gotten from them thus far. Unanticipated stuff happens at times but they reacted quickly. They will now do these updates during regular maintenance windows just in case.
An date outage at Isomedia’s co-lo facility affected us this morning. I don’t know much in the way of details because none were given on their site other than it was restored at 6:50 AM.
What is Cloud Computing?
If you’re reading this from a PC, you’ve got a computer with an operating system and probably dozens to hundreds of applications that you use to do whatever it is you do with that PC. Bringing up a web browser and reading blogs is just one of them.
If you want to write a letter, you’re going to probably bring up Microsoft’s Word and compose it. Whatever it is you want to do, chances are it will require some application that you paid some company for. An application that may from time to time require upgrading, and eventually you’ll have to pay for that.
Or, instead you could use what is called a thin client, this is just a program that allows you to connect to some remote computing facility and use your keyboard and monitor as if you were right there. In our case, Eskimo North uses something called ‘NX’ to provide that functionality and we are also working on providing that capability to some other thin clients.
Using this, let’s say you wanted to write a letter, now your computer no longer has to be equipped, instead you’d connect to us with your NX thin client, go to Applications->Office->LibreOffice Writer, and compose your letter. If you setup a printer, then you could print from that program on our server to your printer. Alternatively, you could setup Google Cloud Print and print to a cloud printer.
With this situation, you no longer have to pay for a word processor, or upgrade it when it’s obsolete, or so any sort of hardware or software maintenance beyond what is necessary for your thin client to work and that is minimal.
An additional plus, you wouldn’t need to learn MacOS, Windows, and Linux OS’s and their applications as the interface and application would be identical no matter which platform you are working from. Eventually we hope to expand this to any HTML5 compliant browser equipped device which will open it up to smart phones, tablets, etc.
A larger cloud computing provider would have a huge network of computers providing the service but it would be transparent to you. Ours is still pretty small but we’re working on that.
There is an advantage to small. A huge network of millions of inter-networked computers is also a huge network to properly secure. When you put something on Amazon’s or Google’s clouds, who knows how many computers your data is spread across. Hopefully they are all secure, and I hope the same for my network but it does seem like that job grows with the size of the network and it is frankly those concerns that have prevented me from offering some new services I would like to offer, I need to get the security issues nailed down first.
One thing we do differently here is that we don’t mine your data to target advertising to you or for any other purpose. We view your data, you content, whether it be web, e-mail, files in your directory, as yours and respect that. I hope this is a viable commercial model, a model for those who wish to have their privacy and the ownership of their content respected. Only time will tell. You all vote with your feet. I just want to be clear that what I am building here is quite different from what others are building in that respect. I always appreciate your feedback.