Monthly Archives: August 2011

Penetration Testing of Linux and Statistics

Nobody is sure how many are exactly using Linux worldwide but guesstimate is 1% of the computer users.
This is excluding Linux servers which is in the majority in all the spheres including Science.
This statement is related to desktop users.
I am urging all the people using Linux desktop to register at the distrowatch affiliated organization.
Global census is mandatory to see what the exact penetration is.
The fact of the matter is millions of users are out there but getting them registered in one site is humanly impossible but if a cross section of them register reasonable guess work estimate can be arrived at.
I use several machines and a laptop with Linux on board with number of distributions (some for testing and some for my work) but I registered once with my regular machine.

My wife uses another Linux machine which is not registered and my daughter uses both Microsoft and Linux.

My household is not a typical one but I would rather reflect (not that it matters a lot statistically) an average family where husband or wife uses Linux and the other half uses Microsoft.
Current statistics are very interesting.
In a 20 million population of Sri-Lankans only 133 machines are  registered currently.
In a 1.2 billion population 2340 Indian are registered from India (208 out of 224 countries).
Monaco with 1113 comes 5th out of 224 on of the richest private cities in the world.
Vatican city comes 6th with 26 Linux machines.

What about Singapore?
119th with 150 machines.

No   Country                                           Pers      Current    Mach      P/Mpop     Mpop
103 US United States Of America       15555    133           21367     51.2            303 millions

Tanzania, North Korea, Myanmar, Ethiopia and Nigeria come last 5 (five) and Japan, Bangladesh and Pakistan behind them.

 This is revealing.
That is a big puzzle for me where Indian institutes boast that they produce lot of technocrats including Linux for  India and for the West.
That argument evaporate into thin air statistically.
Somebody from India should do a study on this.
I will talk about Sri-Lanka why we are behind in this rat race.
I will start with a real story.
Way back in 1984 when I came back from England with Two computers one Atari and the other Compact 128, I happened to visit the college where I studied celebrating its 100th year in existence.
The principal was futuristic and asked me what we should do and I promptly  said we will establish a computer unit and I told him I will get a few computers from England.
With the help of some of our old college guys in UK I manged to get the first 3 computers myself. Then the ambassador of UK was from our college and coordinating the thing was just a matter of few phone calls.
This was done without any government help.
Some years later I visited the college and the principal was different and I met him and told him I would like to see the computer unit.
I did not tell him that the early conceptual idea of starting the computer unit was mine and I physically brought the first three computers.
I just wanted see how those old computers were used and what new ones they  have added (this was before windows 95).
I was sent from  pillar to post.
First to Vice Principal, then to another teacher and another and nobody was of any help and I could not get the room opened where the computers were locked in.
In my mind I had decided I will not visit it again.
This is the type of teachers we have here and we did not have a computer course till 2 years ago.
That speaks volumes of the Education Ministers too.
Anyway I joined a private hospital in Colombo where I worked with 6 programmers and we got Unix from Singapore and used it there in dumb or black and white terminals and got the network running for the first time in Sri-Lanka.
Then within six months I joined the university and was very much involved with computers (a new hospital was built with Japanese aid) till I stepped down to  devote full time to Linux.
Why we are behind in Linux?
1. We use pirated copies even in Universities.
2. We teach them in Sinhala or Tamil and they cannot read a book on computers in English.
3. We have not trained teachers in English and IT (computer science) for over 30 years.
4. If somebody has a good idea all the other teachers come and destroy  that somebody (person) first and then the idea.
5. Our administrators including principals takes bribes to admit students with the help of some powerful politicians.
6. Politicians use teachers for political work and sometimes even malpractices at polling stations.
7. Only corrupt teachers get promoted and stay in one station till life.
8. Most evident corrupt practice is to not to teach during school hours but  to do private tuition after hours.
9. Even our professors are paid half what is paid in India.
10. Next round is to destroy the higher education and install private universities.
That is why we have only 133 guys using Linux Boxes in the entire country.
I am not at all surprised.
Very simple explanation.
We have got our priorities wrong.
Now few words about E-commerce in Sri-Lanka.
We have Electricity Board, Water Board and telecoms fully digitalized and none of them can give an accurate bill or balance sheet on the last day of the month.
I have personal experience that computer programmers fiddle with the data and produce inaccurate reports.
There is some sort of racket going on with money matters and the higher authorities neither have vigilance, know how and the necessary apparatus to make investigations.
The programmers themselves do what the teachers do kill the person first and the idea of check and balances that needs to be installed next.

When I was in the private sector there were over 100 computer mistakes  I manually detected daily including wrong blood groups and wrong blood transfusions out of over 1000 (over 10% error which is not acceptable when working with computers) reports  and my target was to make zero defect (Quality Control).

This malady has now infiltrated the private sector too. 
That is why when I do shopping check every computer entry which I ask every intelligent customer should do.
My final analysis is that we a mathematically stupid nation run by mathematically stupid Central Bank who runs the affairs in a very ordinary manner without check and balances and let the country taken to ransom by speculators, hedgers and IMF  and is equally very good at  printing various coloured notes with politicians face on them and cost of printing is far in excess of the face value of the currency note.
If we wean off these malpractices we would be able pay economic professors 3 to 4 times the current pay so that they are also not involved in corrupt practices.

LiveCD Script, Its beginning, Unity and PCLinux

Progress of LiveCDs had a bumpy ride.
The story as it is told to me is as follows;
But I do not know how true the facts are.
However, I discovered LiveCD in 2007 with PCLinux 2007 long time after its hatching.
LiveCD project was stagnant at the beginning which was understandable and had a SINGLE developer working on it.
 
That developer joined Unity Linux and all 25+ developers there decided to help him make some progress on it.  
The impact LiveCDs made on me is substantial and never waned.
In the meantime, they took the initiative to make improvements.  
For example, they gave it 64bit compatibility.  
They gave it better detection capacity.  
They took the code and gave it better international language support.  
All those things are made available for FREE to any distribution wanting to download a snapshot from SVN.
Now, if anyone has a claim to LiveCD as ‘theirs’ it would be Jaco Greefe who was the principal on the project LONG before any distributions other than Mandrake aka Mandriva even worked with it.  
The script creator Jaco Greefecame from Mandrake Project.
Texstar used Jaco’s project mklivecd and created the original PCLinuxOS 2003 release. 
This release was based on Mandrake 9.2 at the time and a few other Mandrake developers began to debug the script through the creation of PCLinuxOS.  
Mandrake was a trademarked name, so Texstar named it PCLinuxOS.
As you can see, if any one distribution has claim to mklivecd, it would be Mandrake aka Mandriva which was where the script creator/s came from. 
It’s also where the script was first made usable. 
Texstar made it into a nice package with PCLinuxOS which  is totally true.
Texstar only had 32 bit version and only supported English language.
Unity which branched off from Mandrake/PCLinux continues to improve the Live Script with 64bit and addded even udev.
Unity approach is for the Live script to work for other distributions not just for Mandriva derived distributions.
It is targeting developers and savvy guys and not newbies and users.
There have been many attempts by Unity Linux developers to get other distributions that use mklivecd involved with the development of it.  
That invitation is always open to any and all distributions that use it.
As it is Unity is struggling with manpower shortages and its development has again gone into crisis situation and stagnation. 
This is where even a good product may be lost at the end due to lack of improvements and enthusiasm.
The Goal of Unity as stated below are
 
Unity Linux targets DEVELOPERS.  
We don’t target end users.  
If end users like Unity, GREAT!  
If not, we don’t worry about it.  
Unity Linux has derivative distributions called “branches” that work to target the end user.  
Unity Linux itself is targeted squarely at distribution developers and advanced users who want to be able to use the mklivecd scripts.
Unity attempt at refining the core utilities and it is just over 300 MiB.
1. Humanity.
2. Synergy
3. BBI are only three of its derivatives.
Hope everybody get together and help Unity Linux (not the Ubuntu desktop) to keep the spirit of Unity in Diversity and have a refined product at the end of the day.
Update is long overdue.
I have used the Unity 2010.2 and made a Live USB.

I tried to fiddle with the script (mind you it is in graphic form and not command line and terminal) and mounted an iso file of a distribution which was not a Unity derivative (which I was able to do with UnetBootIn) and it failed to mount the sfs file of that distribution.

It is not of the class of UnetBootin yet but given time and effort mklivecd scripts should become the gold standard of LiveCDs.

Ubuntu’s Unity-Dream Studio- Is it a dream Come true for newbies?

Ubuntu’s Unity-Dream Studio- Is it a dream Come true for newbies?
I think so and thumbs up for this distribution which I could download overnight with 2.1 GiB.
there were only four Seeders but it was pretty fast.
Go and download it and increase the number of seeder proportion in relation to Leechers and enjoy Unity experience.
It is new experience for old hand of Linux like me who never used Ubuntu on regular basis except for demonstrations.
Regular Ubuntu users will grumble but I have told you what to do go ahead and have both old version and new version in the same box and enjoy the difference.
Sinhala capability was there which I did not test but probably need some smooth ironing which is another plus point.
It has Libre and Blender new version (Maya).
Please do not call it Apple like but call it this Linux Unity desktop.
It sure is a winner at the time of debt and cash crisis.
For good effects find a good compatible graphic card.
that may be the only thing you may have to change in your computer.
My old computer graphic was enough to take advantage of Unity.
few glitches I had with the unity CD with Terminals has been reasonably taken care of and I could load all the workplaces with a a running program and with a click it goes into full screen image.
Play with it and I do not know how far one can configure it to one’s needs but it is good as   it is why configure and make a mess?
Thank you guys and girls for doing hard work.
You guys and girls also need a rest and do not worry about complaints and by Christmas we all be saying well done to you.

How we Lose our Simple Mathematical Skills (SMS for short)

The other day I was asking a group of second year university when one buys a Mobile Phone what are the points one should consider, none of them came out with a comprehensive answer. 

 

This is a mathematical skill with practical use.

A bit of knowledge of physics is needed to get one’s calculations right.

Now they do not study physics in detail when entering Biological streams and I believe one who has no competence in maths except counting the money they earn enter the biological streams.

 

They probably do not have understanding how to invest hard earned money too.

 

I listed my priorities even though, I am the only one who does not carry a mobile in my academic community.

 

Elsewhere I have penned down my reason but in that entry  I forgot to mention how many major and minor accidents are related to use of mobile on the drive or on crossing a driveway.

 

This I call S.M.S (simple mathematical skills)

 

My reasons.

I carry a mobile when I travel and go abroad.

 

1. A light weight mobile.

 

2. Carry case and a collar and string to put round my neck so that I won’t lose  it when I am switched O.F.Fed. (On FITS of Fantasy-in other words Shopping Spree).

 

3. Battery which lasts at least 8 hours and overnight.

 

4. Processor not dual core but light and not heavy on the battery.

 

5. Possibly two (2) sims (one for the country of domicile one for the country on visit).

 

6. Possibly a radio to get local news and weather

 

7. Camera

 

8. Utilities with minimal graphic (low on battery) inputs

 

9. Email and connection to twitter (if I miss a flight to contact the airline)

 

10. All Cs- Calendar, Calculator and Currency Converter.

 

The shopping list can go on but I will stop at 10.

 

Coming back to Simple Mathematical Skills (SMS not short message system which I hate) which many of us lack when one visits a supermarket.

 

When I enter a supermarket whether here or abroad, I say to myself the stupid computer in this supermarket is slow and always record wrong data entry, I better check every entry, every point or number printed on it.

 

This I practiced for a time immemorial when I realized that the Indian shop keepers – I better put Asian without specification of the country of origin-in Southall who were open after hours,  put extra items which I did not buy, when keying in, (knowing very well English guys cannot count well) and caught a few of them and said I will report in threatening gesture and nobody had cheated me ever since even on long sojourns.

 

Then little later I realized English guys and girls cannot write  (not speak) in English too, which was very funny to me and I used to take Mickey out of them.

 

This malady of the English and Americans have invaded our country with lot of cash machines and calculators in all our shops.

 

If you do not calculate mentally what you purchased and what you paid for it is invariably you are paying a hefty amount in hidden cash to the supermarkets which you cannot recover. 

 

I am not telling that these sales girls or boys cheat you but they are overworked and key in wrong and/or key in twice when the machine or the Internet connection is slow.

Unlike in some set up abroad they (sales person) cannot take home the wrongly keyed in items and the management or the computer never check with the stock balance in shells and refund the money if mistakes are made.

Somebody who manages the computer and stocks would be (my guess) are taking home the big items wrongly keyed in or when the next delivery comes some items are not loaded as per delivery note where the stock balance states something different.

There is noway one can check this unless one scans items against the number of items in the printed bill at the outlet.

It is the onus of the buyer and not the seller.

There are no laws to enact to effect (not even in over vote counting to balance the sheets) 100% accuracy and computers cannot do this but computer programmer can balance it by surreptitiously deleting or substituting few ones ant twos.

This must be happenings in big scale in government institution who have gone completely e-commerce.


If you do not check before you leave you are the loser.

 

The other point is the print is very faint (to save the toner) and fade away in one day and one cannot read it.

 

Why we make so many mistakes in this country.

 

It is our training in mathematical skills is poorer than the English skills for so may years and it is getting worse.

 

Mental exercise is never taught but getting the answer is the only outcome tested.

 

All our good teachers with mathematical skill and with working knowledge in English have left this country and the Education department did not train any for so many years. 

 

So you better improve your mathematical skills if you need to save and avoid unnecessary losses.

 

I have seen this happening daily and that is why I thought of writing this.

 

If I start doing SMS mistakes I should retire and say Good Bye to this world since I have not trained anybody in my household to do my mathematics.

 

By the way our politicians including the election commissioner were the worse in mathematics and that is why some candidates get more votes than the registered number of votes.

 

Unfortunately due to fiddling and multiplying (three votes for an individual on the Manapa Pora or the Preferential Vote the errors are of multitudes and not on simple arithmetical proportions.

Virtual C.E.O.s

The brand of C.E.Os are going to be a bane in future with the first of the kind of Virtual C.E.O.s and I am a prototype to be named as AsokapluS who will emerge in the meantime.

Why I call successful C.E.O. is a bane and wasteful is they either get old and run short of ideas and die with the institution or they get sick and spend rest of the money on medical bill.

I am in that profession I knew of a cardiologist (? by name) who did miss his own cardiac well being and had to go abroad to get his treatment (I do not know what happened to him afterward).

But we are very good at making merry with other people’s misery and making money spinning and most of us have lost human touch and to be a manly or womanly for what is worth.

Having said that I wish Steve Job his well being in Mind and Spirit for producing wonderful gadgets and making them sell (even though I cannot afford or buy any one of them) at runaway prices and making others even Linux to emulate.

I never found fault with Apple since they produce good quality gadgets and making people to buy unlike Microsoft which lure (both legal and pirated) and produce a very bad product and making money by gunny loads.

I believe in Quality in the first instance (Total Quality Management-both internal and external customers) and get it right at the first instance rather than doing patch work (Microsoft).

Apple is trying the get it right first time round and one does not have to do it again and customers have to pay for the quality.I am not saying it is the best product (far from it) on this planet for the money one pays but its approach to quality is commendable.

Whereas Microsoft is trying to get it right for umpteenth time and still get it wrong.

In this context quality is costly but cost effective.

But at a time of debt and financial crisis we cannot do that for ever.

Customers need to buy at a affordable prices.

This is where Virtual C.E.Os all over the Globe work together with Linux Community to achieve something substantial and lasting.

Linux has teething problems but it can do small things and big things right by working together.

The concept of Virtual C.E.O.s means we work together at tandem not under close doors.

I test a distribution and report and guy on the other side of the globe read it with some meaning and work hard to get it right.

I only give little over 50% (it is currently the best and only Debian has achieved it) of the marks I allocate and make that as the bench mark for others to follow.

Why I use 50% is that to state and inspire who are on the shop floor that we have a long way to go in Total Quality Solutions.

We cannot satisfy every customer.

That is the bare bones of Linux.

Linus wanted to do that and he is still trying it.

If we think we have achieved all the best there can’t be any inspiration or incentive to be better.

It got be simple too.

It should not achieved with the cost we are going spend to reach Mars and settle there.

For the 3 years I have been crying high as well as foul at times at Linux and guys on the shop floor (Developers) do the needful and I have all the small utilities now which I did not have there years ago in my pocket as a Mini CD or in a Pendrive.

I think as a customer first, then as a developer and third as a C.E.O. unlike in a business industry like Google.

Google takes such a long time get something right because everything happens in closed C.E.O. system and there is no ecosystem there.

Failure of the HP is and the new C.E.O. coming and dishing out WebOS which was open source and the tablet with it (Baby with the bath water) and all the other paraphernalia is due to not being able to think in Virtual C.E.O.s Hat (Like me do not get high commissions for success as well as failures-America is a good example where failure is paid by the Federal coffers both business men (bankers, hedgers and speculators) and politicians (war efforts and war machine).

End result-Debt and IMF also want us to emulate America.

WebOS is the scenario where Open Source should step in and either acquire the HPs contribution as open source or re-engineer the whole thing and come out with flying colours.

What an average business C.E.O cannot do, a Virtual C.E.O can achieve with community help in no time.

That is my Concept.

We should give it a try and should not abandon WebOS.

In this context the Virtual C.E.Os contribute a lot but expects very little in return and the who community grows.

When I am gone, I am gone, but there are many more to emulate me.

For the time being, there is Linus, there is Stallman who stands tall and there is semi (business, adventure and human spirit-Mark Shttlewort0 demi god.

This has to work.

It will work.

Community will achieve.

Man progressed in this world because of his community efforts.

It was never by domination, by force or war efforts.

So we have to define this Virtual C.E.O and make many of them in all parts of the world, especially to protect the mother Earth which is vandalized from India, to China to America to this Small Sri-Lanka (to cultivate banana to rich Americans in the rain forest and protected land).

Stupid ideas in this country is plenty!

We are a Banana Republic will soon be like Dubai.

Except perhaps our neighbouring Maldives who cries foul at rich nations.

Installing Arch on a Flash Drive

I was not doing anything specific and decided to do some crazy experiment.
I begin to hate Linux CD/DVD distributions without live scripts and install only options.
Reason for is, that I have to install them to my hard disk, often having to redo the work.
This was bit of a nuisance and I thought of doing the install on a Flash Drive instead on my hard disk.
Downloaded 686 Arch Linux and booted it up.
After it booted up as root on terminal, I plugged in a Flash Drive.

Nothing happening since previously I mounted CloudUSB on this Pendrive and it filled up with Linux files and stooped due to lack of space. CloudUSB needed 4 GiB and this had only 2 GiB.

Then I mounted the Flash drive and using fsdisk prepared a boot file, swap file and a root file and fallowed instructions to the letter and installed the the ARCH Core on and installed grub and password for Arch and click OK.
The it forced me to look at the Grub file which I did and I could not exit from the command terminal.
Fortunately, I had selected Vi editor and not nano that ARCH offered (I have not used nano and it had only two editers).

I had to type I and fiddled with the command line (not used for ages and forgotten keyboard short cuts) and typed exit and quit and they did not work.
Somehow some trial and error and Esc and q (not wq) and I exited the console and booted up with Flash Drive attached. My old computer does not boot from USB but it detected the USB but went back to my hard disk MBR.

This is one of the maddest thing I have done in Linux, thank god I did not erase my MBR.
(Even then no worries Just install Mepis again or PClinux).
Anyway I mounted the flash drive and it’s boot partition and looked at the GRUB file.

What I could to find was interesting.

It was mounting hd0 and non-existing Windows, probably a reflex action and not a true detection or detective work.

It could not detect my Mepis, PCLinux in that hard disk of 80 GiBs.
These Linux guys worship windows and I was really disappointed.
In their defense the first partition was FAT with Image files stored there.

I want to mount this Flash Drive in my laptop and see what happens (My gut feeling is it won’t boot up) but it was nice thing for me to go to old ways and use Vi Editor and fsdisk for just fun.

Beauty of fsdisk is unlike graphic partition tools it reads all the cylinders and mark them and leave no un-partitioned gaps.

I am convinced even before mounting this on my laptop since this flash disk now has no fat partition but a boot partition, root and swap (500 MiB) only that one eighths of my RAM.

Sure enough it did not but only read the boot file and menu.

Still direct Linux booting is not allowed by convention and by force.

This has to change why worship FAT/MBR /BIOS?

But for newbies this is good dress rehearsal for bigger things to practice and learn without damaging the hard disk.
One has to remember the nomenclature used in numbering SATA or IDE or USB disks.
I in fact had made a mistake used a for b and I ROLLED backed and redid the procedure above three times once due to monitor going idle and I could not proceed for configuring and second I named it wrongly and used sda1 and had to ROLL BACK.

I still have an old UNIX book and if I am in trouble (many Linux) I can roll BACK to books unlike newbies with slightest problem who go to the web with a help me post and start WHIMPERING AND SAYS LINUX SUCKS.

I may write few simple books and already introductory lessons in Linux is on ebay.
But I won’t stop blog post though.
It is like writing an editorial.

Pendrive Linux My Love

The name Pendrive Linux has disappeared from the web scene but the http://www.PendriveLinux.com is there i you need some help for mounting any Linux distribution.

Long before I went in web search for 100 Linux distributions my only aspiration (inspiration too) and last thing I wanted in my possession was to have a Linux booted from a 1 GiB Flash Drive. Flash Drives were expensive then and our download speed was hopeless and only thing I wanted to bring home was a globe trotter and a Mandriva Pendrive Linux when I went abroad on a different assignment.

By that time I had (with some trial and error) got a Puppy Linux on a Flash Drive but all the efforts of preparing a Pendrive Linux were not successful.

Then of course in one of my friends room abroad I got my Pendrive Linux loaded well pass midnight and I still have it and it is still working.

All these were done on a Windows computer with gemu (Gnome emulation) executive EXE file on board.

It was a huge achievement for me then.

But I ended up buying a Laptop without Linux for one third of the price then with hard bargaining and almost fighting with the dealer.

Doing this on a Linux was painfully long process for a busy person like me and I never tried it on Linux having got few of my favorite Linux distribution in few of the Flash Drive. The again everything on FAT partitions and not on Linux partitions with boot, root, home and root permissions.

My bad experience with vendors abroad got me into firm resolve to promote Linux not in this country where use of pirated copies is the rule (which I detest as a simple Buddhist) and is Banana Republic ‘s futuristic motto (Bana is daily sermon and Na is not following or listening but not slippery plantain we eat to avoid constipation by listening to the Bana of the politician who do not practice virtues but the voter has to do that on daily basis.

I am glad to see most of the visitors are from abroad and many from USA and they get Linux and healthy dose of anti-capitalistic views which even Obama is pursuing for betterment of the down trodden masses.

My venture into Linux 100 was bumpy but and I am in a better position to talk about Linux and cloud computing.

All what you need is a CD/DVD and a Pendrive to be be cloud ready a savvy or newbie guy/girl and not Andoid Craze or HP WebOS.

However the distribution i talk about need to shed some fat (client) and become thin clients.

Follow Me.

STEPS.

What one’s needs are CD/DVD and two (2) Flash Drive and little free time and one need not do that in one go.

1. Download CloudUSB DVD (1.2 GiB).

2. Download your favorite CD/DVD of Linux distribution and copy as an iso file not as bootable Live CD/DVD.

3. Find a computer (ideally with USB booting to test your work) DVD writer.

4. Boot Up CloudUSB.

5. Use Boot DVD / USB creator; click and follow instructions.

6. Now you have a USB stick to clone many Pendrives.

7. Boot the Flash Drive with CoudUSB.

8. Go to UnetBooiIn click and follow instructions.

9. Load your favorite Linux CD/DVD containing iso file into the DVD/CD ROM.

10. Plug in your Second USB Drive

11. Give the path of the CD/DVD Rom as where the iso file is.

Wait a while and in the second USB drive you have a new Live distribution of your choice.

12. Then register your company and start selling your products (Live Linux Distributions on a stick). But do not jack the price up like our Buddhist monks who sell Bana on a pirated copy of Microsoft CD.

I have not given the finer details which vary from distribution to distribution and why I used CloudUSB is that it promote Cloud computing in style including Ubuntu One and Dropbox and it has all the utilities (FAT Client though).

In my case I use Ping Eee which has more laptop friendly utilities.