NSA: Please Turn off the Lights When You Leave. Nothing to See Here.

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz shows how the general public can take action to truly protect their privacy using GnuPG with Evolution email. Read the details.

Mailvelope for Chrome: PGP Encrypted Email Made Easy

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz officially endorses what he deems is a truly secure, easy to use PGP email encryption program. Read the details.

Step off Microsoft's License Treadmill to FOSS Linux

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz reminds CIOs that XP Desktops destined for MS end of life support can be reprovisioned with FOSS Linux to run like brand new. Read how.

Bitcoin is NOT Money -- it's a Commodity

Linux Advocate shares news that the U.S. Treasury will treat Bitcoin as a Commodity 'Investment'. Read the details.

Google Drive Gets a Failing Grade on Privacy Protection

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz puts out a public service privacy warning. Google Drive gets a failing grade on protecting your privacy.

Email: A Fundamentally Broken System

Email needs an overhaul. Privacy must be integrated.


Cookie Cutter Distros Don't Cut It


The 'Linux Inside' Stigma - It's real and it's a problem.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Turn a Deaf Ear

Linux Advocate Dietrich Schmitz reminds readers of a long ago failed petition by Mathematician Prof. Donald Knuth for stopping issuance of Software Patents.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Microsoft Windows 8.1 Legacy (x86) - UNSAFE FOR GENERAL USE

by Dietrich Schmitz

You are reading this wondering what that means. Google Engineers have, in earnest, attempted to bolster Chrome for Windows by placing it in their own crafted (Not Microsoft -- they don't have one) security sandbox.

Despite their best efforts, they have posted to their Chromium developer website that they cannot guarantee your security if you use Microsoft Windows.

Here is their disclaimer:

Other caveats

The operating system might have bugs. Of interest are bugs in the Windows API that allow the bypass of the regular security checks. If such a bug exists, malware will be able to bypass the sandbox restrictions and broker policy and possibly compromise the computer. Under Windows, there is no practical way to prevent code in the sandbox from calling a system service.

In addition, third party software, particularly anti-malware solutions, can create new attack vectors. The most troublesome are applications that inject dlls in order to enable some (usually unwanted) capability. These dlls will also get injected in the sandbox process. In the best case they will malfunction, and in the worst case can create backdoors to other processes or to the file system itself, enabling specially crafted malware to escape the sandbox.
That's quite troublesome when you think about it. Google Engineers post up a 'caveat' -- their legal disclaimer, if you will.

Simply put, Windows 8.1 legacy (x86) uses a legacy code base going all the way back to the Windows 2000 WinNT kernel.

Microsoft cannot fix the security issues which are under eternal attack unless they completely rewrite the operating system from the ground up. Enterprise is 'married' to the operating system with applications which must run 24x7. Microsoft cannot rewrite the code which is heavily depended upon. They have a dilemma and they really don't want you to know about it. They just keep diverting your attention to 'the attackers' away from themselves as though they have no responsibility.

This is the cost of using proprietary software. Unlike Open Source Linux, no one can see the code of Microsoft Windows, review it, inspect it for defects -- FOR MICROSOFT EMPLOYEE EYES ONLY.

This is the disadvantage that one accepts when agreeing to the Microsoft software licensing terms. Microsoft own the code -- the Licensee does not.

So, why not consider making a switch today to Gnu Public Licensed Linux and own the code? It's yours for free and it is so secure, I'll even say Fedora 20 Linux is the safest operating system on the Planet.

Fedora 20 Linux running LXDE

Be safe with Fedora Linux.

I stake my reputation on it.

-- Dietrich

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Debian, Ubuntu Cave In: Standardize on Systemd

by Dietrich Schmitz

It's almost too painful to watch.  Really.  

Whenever Debian gets around to getting off their collective hands and coming to grips with reality, it's as though a new Pope were being selected and we are all waiting with great anticipation for the 'smoke signal' indicating a decision has been made.

Good grief.  This is what constitutes progress for Linux.  It's really border-line funny how Debian committees work through the pros and cons of adopting Upstart vs. systemd.

Do these Folks realize they are running the risk of becoming irrelevant in their inaction while the earth continues to turn on its axis?  Seriously, systemd is a foregone conclusion and while it took time for me to digest the technical issues during the past year, I do see its importance.

The thing is, this does represent not only a technical advancement, but also galvanizes the Distro community into a level of conformance which begets standardization.

Oh there's the standardization word again.  I said it.

Let me pose a hypothetical question for you developers out there:

What would happen if you dropped all of your current development efforts on your Distro X and enlisted to work on one mainstream Top 5 Distro, such as Fedora?

Think about that question for a moment.  What would you be giving up and what would you be gaining?

The initial knee-jerk reaction might be to say "I'd be losing my right to choice".  But would you?

Is the act of being independent and creating variation 'because I can' and "it's my right" of higher importance than say putting forth the effort to build a superior singular Distro?  Imagine if you would, hundreds, thousands of developers going to work on one Distro.  Leveraging the intellectual resources and manpower would be amazing.

But wait, all of that 'variation'?  It would fall to the wayside and we as developers could all focus on working with one software API, one file hierarchy structure.  The effect would be the same as if overnight we all chose Android and focused on application development in that ecosystem.

Honestly, I wonder where Linux will wind up and hope that if consolidation occurs as I predict, more effort will be redirected to a single Distro which can be forged, annealed, hardened to become as popular as Windows.

The success of Windows is as much about a monopoly as it is about one standard, one api, which was embraced and flourished.  Microsoft Windows legacy 8 is aged and I believe we have reached a turning point where Corporate Enterprise knows it must do something to unshackle itself from a marriage to an ever-restrictive proprietary solution.

Mark Shuttleworth acts like a defeated Man in his Losing Graciously concession to adopting systemd.  It's silly.  Look at the big picture.

One Distro, one API, with thousands of developers behind it, is a powerful thing.

-- Dietrich 

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Bitcoin is NOT Money -- it's a Commodity

by Dietrich Schmitz
Bitcoin is NOT Money.  It is a 'virtual commodity'.

If the title of this story seems confusing, you are not alone.  It confused me for a while but after several months of research and study, I have come to fully agree with how Finland and China both reached the same conclusion: Bitcoin is NOT money -- it's a commodity.  Consensus is building around the globe and all indications point to Bitcoin becoming uniformally treated as such, which is good as it removes the current cloud of 'legal uncertainty' surrounding its ongoing use.

You may, then, be wondering if this makes using Bitcoin less attractive to use for, say, making on-line web payments.  Quite the opposite.  If you've read my previous post Use Bitcoin: Credit Cards Weren't Designed for the Internet, you'd have reached the conclusion that making payment at web merchants which accept bitcoin payment through intermediaries such as Coinbase is infinitely safer than the inherent security risk of using a credit card, for example.

The Federal Reserve has just rendered an official decision on treatment of Bitcoin -- Dietrich:

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