13 Oct 2000 decklin   » (Master)

I apologize for not having the time to make this shorter; it's stolen from an email (hi craigbro). I always plan to do far too much... Skip to the end, if you don't like hearing people whine about their personal lives.

How To Dissapear Completely

Well, I have my computer back. Here's the whole story...

Apparently last week some senior was working on a project and needed a DHCP server. So he started it up, but didn't configure it properly. Suddenly, the whole network grinds to a halt as people plugging their Win98 laptops in get DHCPOFFERS back from him with already-assigned IPs and non-existing DNS servers.

Here's where the bogons suddenly align themselves and impact into some administrator's skull. "Oh no, what do we do? Quick, scan the network for anything odd and cut it off!" Well, I had rather stupidly decided to expiriment with Samba that week, because the "domain controller"[1] wouldn't recognize me and set up an entry in DNS like it would for everyone else's Win98 setup. (I was trying to get this because (a) it was a pain changing my IP with NickServ and eggdrops all the time on various IRC networks, and (b) master(.debian.org) wouldn't let me log in unless I connected indirectly through some less-strictly-configured machine.)

So there the clueless-administrator-monkeys are, sweeping through our whole subnet. They hit on my machine and notice that the "windows version" is being reported as 4.2. "Oh my God! That's not possible!" (from what I was told, apparently no one knows about Samba.) Obviously whoever set this thing up is Evil and Must Be Stopped. Fortunately for them, I made a rather stupid mistake setting samba up, and put "Decklin" in the comment field. Phone calls ensue. "Do you have a student, named, uh, *squint* Decklin?" "Yes..." A few hours later I find security guards at my door.

Now, you would think that *someone* involved might have had the intelligence to contact me, ask me if I knew anything, ask me to disconnect until they figured it out, something. Fat chance. As far as they were concerned, it was perfectly acceptable to barge in and forcibly seize my equipment. I was at least handed a "warrant", which turned out to be completely full of false information. I am still trying to track down the legality of that with some other college people.

In Limbo

Naturally, the first thing I ask is when I can even find out what the hell I'm being subjected to this confiscation of property for. I'm told that I will have to wait until Monday to even make an appointment, and that the dean is out until Tuesday. Keep in mind this is Friday evening. So I run up to Res Life and find the assistant dean, who is still there but packing up to go home. "Ah *yessss*, the computer. You'll have to call me on Monday. Here's my card."

Two days pass... I get homework done far into the future and make my way through an entire Sunday Times for the first time in the semester.


So I make my appointment, finally see Assistant-Dean-guy, and get sent back to Network-Wonk-guy ("this is technical stuff, I don't understand it."). It takes quite a bit of waiting to actually *find* him. Now things get interesting. I should point out that this guy is not simply an underpaid MCSE but a senior CS professor. I hear the whole story about what happened just before I was raided. He goes on to ask me why I'm running Linux, as that's a "server" operating system, and running "servers" is specifically[2] prohibited.

I give him the 60-second version of why I will not allow any closed-source software to touch my desktop, ever. I list every open port on my box from memory and explain what they do (and don't do, without my password). This is pretty much like talking to a wall. Yeah, that's all well and nice, but it's a *server*! It could do *bad things*! I at least get him to admit it was wrong to take my property without even figuring out if I was behind the disruption or not. It's not like it takes a genius to read an IP off of DHCP packets.

Perhaps the worst part was telling him that the computer science department should be *encouraging* students to run a free operating system. He said, roughly, "well, that's probably true, but it should be disconnected from the network or behind a firewall or something." I let him know that I was very offended. Open source is not some toy or something I occasionally dabble in; it's what runs my network-life 24/7.

At this point I am offered a "deal". If I, or anyone else, wants to run Linux or *BSD or whatever, we will have to sign up, get a static IP, list exactly what daemons will be running, and leave our phone number and physical location. Of course, I thought this was completely absurd. So I said, "Fine. Just give me my property back" -- I wasn't really in a position to argue with them keeping my hardware. "Oh no, I think we'll keep your computer locked up until we have this policy written." Here I just blew up and told him in no uncertain terms that there was no fscking way that they could keep my property when I wasn't responsible for the offense on my "warrant". He gave in pretty easily. I still can't connect to the network, though.

So on monday evening I finally have my computer back. I floppy whatever's important back and forth. The ridiculous part is that my school-issue laptop has been online all weekend. No one could possible tell the difference from outside, except perhaps that port 7101 is open (and useless) on the laptop since I haven't installed XF4 yet. However, I'm not about to assume the Gestapo won't barge in at random.

Now that they couldn't twist my arm with the locked-up computer, I wrote a very strongly-worded email to Network-guy (CCing my professor, who seems to be the only one on my side, but doesn't have final word in the department). The gist of it was that I am being unfairly discriminated against, and there is no such thing as a "server" operating system -- I know exactly what I'm running and I could easily download a Win32 proxy/DHCP server/whatever and wreak just as much havoc as any Linux user.

Wednesday (the next day after), I was able to catch up with my professor, and explain myself further. He calls the other professor and I finally

get permission to connect to the network. I spent a really long time going over why I feel that having to do *anything* special just because I'm running a different OS is unfair. I'm told that the line from those who want to set up this new policy is that a "large" proportion of students and admins have screwed the network over using non-Windows operatings systems, but relatively no Windows users have done so. (Well, no shit, 90% of the people with Win98 laptops don't install software themselves).

Oh, and I forgot to mention, the kid who installed the DHCP server has had network access the whole time. And didn't have his computer stolen.


So now I'm just waiting for the policy so I can formally complain and/or threaten to sue. I'm composing a message to go out on the school spam-list in the hopes of organizing some of the people running other servers. And regardless of what happens, I will not be paying this school tuition any longer. (Yes, looking for a school the first time sucked, and I wasn't even happy with my results at the time. Looking for a place to transfer to still sucks, and I have my horrid first-semester grades hanging over me.)

[1] See, I know this is the real MS phrase, but it helps a lot if you do it like Dr. Evil says "la-ser"... ;-)

[2] Read: vaguely. In a section of policy with the heading "Web Servers".

Everything In Its Right Place

In software news, I have become extremely frustrated with the amount of important Moz chrome stuff that lives inside packages (which I don't want to rewrite or try to work on in the tree, until I dust off the minimal-browser project again) and skins (which I can muck around with). Just reorganizing files is driving me up the wall. Also started a few more aewm fixes including (finally) forking properly. The amount of bad WM_SIZE hints out there is staggering. I have actually considered adding something like -DSTUPID_TOOLKIT_KLUDGE that ignores any PSize of 200x200.

Trying to think up of a clever and/or bizarre way to implement wc for class.

The National Anthem

I still think it's incredibly amusing that I had 4 people sent into my dorm for computer-related "offenses" and not one of them recognized the DeCSS source code printed out on my door.

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