Older blog entries for mascot (starting at number 39)

31 Mar 2003 (updated 31 Mar 2003 at 23:27 UTC) »


I'm so gullible. I just ran this Bash code, as found in someone's sig on Slashdot, just to see what it did:

:(){ :|:&};:

Anyone have any idea what it does? I just know it hogged my system and ground away at the hard disk, before I hit the Reset bitton :-) Shame I can't search for it; none of the search engines count it as a valid query.


To answer my own question: I've now been informed about what I just inflicted upon my machine. It makes perfect sense if you realise that ':' isn't a special character - in this case, it's a function name. Imagine it replaced by 'foo'.

Very neat.


Ooh, lucky me. I've just received my first voting card.

The next local election is shortly after my 18th birthday, apparently.


That Intranet I keep talking about - development is still ongoing; it's in CVS now and I'm beginning to prepare (!) to release it to the general public (it's already live at the company I wrote it for, where my Dad works, and it's been GPLed from the start).

I tried to update the copy on the live server from CVS today - except the ISP had somehow managed to only enable SSH access on all machines except that server. (That machine is also the proxy server, so it gets different firewall priveliges than the rest of the network (i.e. port 80 is enabled), but it's ironic that the only machine that needs external SSH can't get it...)


We found a leaflet in the car park at my Dad's place of work. It was the instruction leaflet for a hand gun - how to load, how to fire, etc.. Worrying...


Still goes on, miraculously.

Involved in a car crash today. Some moron in a 4x4 speeding through a red light into the side of my Mum's car. No major injuries, but we're both bumped and bruised - my Mum rather worse than myself.

But it was so close to being a lot worse. If we'd been just a little bit further forwards, the impact would have been directly on my Mum's door... (shudder). The car was a write-off as it was.

(And to think I was scared about rebooting my server yesterday...)

19 Mar 2003 (updated 19 Mar 2003 at 00:17 UTC) »

God I'm scared. I'm just rebooting my server (in Germany; no physical access) with an untested patched kernel to fix the ptrace vulnerability :-$

Do I trust Alan Cox's patch not to clash with my existing multitude of patches...? Only time will tell.


PHEW! It came back up fine. Now just to see whether it's stable.

I'm now responsible for a RedHat-based dedicated server hosted in Germany, which I'm managing on behalf of a friend. I've got to be very careful to avoid killing networking (nothing worse than the realisation that you've just broken SSHD and you can't now log in and fix it!). So far it's survived, although there were a couple of hairy moments with iptables. (It's also survived a deluge of traffic when another friend (aes)'s screenshot, also hosted on that server, got posted on the front page of GnomeDesktop.org... I never realised that site was so popular!)

Discovered many stupidities in Ensim Webppliance - shame it's not open source, otherwise I'd fix the problems :-( A project idea for someone: a GPL'ed Ensim clone. Specifically:

  • Lets you create domains on the server, each with their own website and chroot environment
  • Manages the config for apache (with vhosts), sendmail (or preferably something nicer like Postfix - not an option with Ensim!), proftpd, ssh, etc. so each user can connect as though they had their own server
  • When you connect through SSH, FTP, etc. it should work out which chroot you need to be in - Ensim does this with a PAM module that looks for horrible usernames like "me@mysite.co.uk" (which most programs refuse to count as a username!) - this means "log user 'me' into the chroot environment for 'mysite.co.uk'"
  • Tracks bandwidth used for each site separately
  • Allows for different access levels for the control panel - i.e. designated Site Owners can log in to change a few things about their domain (e.g. add mailboxes); designated Resellers can log in and create a limited number of domains with limited total bandwidth, etc.

It's the sort of project I'd really like to write (or contribute to) myself. But unfortunately I don't have the time at the moment. If anyone knows of a good, free product which does some or all of the above, please tell me. I'm never happy being tied to a product which I can't fix when it breaks. (Now there's an argument for open source software which you don't hear enough in businesses...)

My complete list of university offers for anyone interested. Now I've got to pick just two :-( Probably Cambridge as first choice, and Warwick as second. But if you ask me again tomorrow I will probably have changed at least three times :-)

You've got to pick based on grade requirements: if you make the grades for your first choice, you automatically go there, and you don't get to choose your second choice if you change your mind. So this is pretty much the final decision... and I'm no good at decisions :-(

aes: hey, that should have been in my diary entry ;-)

Yes, I have been offered a place to read Computer Science at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. I've just been too busy to tell Advogato :-/ .


follower: Thanks for the pointer to FastMail; I'll certainly look into that. Their free service obviously doesn't have the features of Port995, but for a small one-off payment it seems I can get a decent service.

I haven't quite decided how I'm going to organise my e-mail yet. I need to be able to pick up new mail on the move, but I keep a fairly large archive of past mail at home. Ideally my home server would download new mail from my IMAP server, but leave a copy there, without touching the 'New' flag (so it will still download mail I've read via the Webmail interface). I can't think of a way to do this (I don't think Fetchmail supports this - it uses the 'New' flag to mark whether it's already fetched a message). I believe Fetchmail can do this with POP3, by keeping a list of message UIDs it's downloaded - anyone know whether you can do this with IMAP? It wasn't possible last time I checked.

I might have to settle with accessing my INBOX folder via IMAP across the Internet from home - not ideal, since my connection is fairly slow.

Merry Christmas!

Oh, wait, it's after midnight (here in England), so in theory it's not Christmas any more. But a Merry Christmas to those of you in lesser time zones ;-)

Where has all the time gone?

All that time I decided I had over the Christmas holidays... all these projects I was going to do... I haven't done a single one. Where has the past week and a half gone? Oh well, I'm sure I'll have time over the remaining couple of weeks [famous last words...].

Let's see... stuff to do...

  • Write "e-mail helpdesk" script for the Intranet I've written - of course, this should only take ten minutes or so, but I still haven't done it...
  • Do more coding on MyAddressBook - I had a load of ideas and bugs to fix, but they never happened.
  • Tidy up my room :-) Erm... what colour was my carpet again? I seem to have lost it beneath heaps of assorted stuff.
  • Work out what I did with my partitions; I'm sure I've got another distro hanging around in a partition in some obscure corner of my hard disk... this distro hasn't been in my GRUB menu for a while, but I might have a boot disk for it. (That's the problem with 60Gb hard disks - so big you can lose entire operating systems in it...)
  • Find out why Gentoo's NVidia module compilation pretends to apply a patch to make it work with 2.5.x kernels, but yet it doesn't work. (I'd like to try out 2.5.x, but then again, I'd like X to work too.)
  • Fix my e-mail - MyRealBox (my current free provider) seems to be introducing random four-hour delays in my e-mail. This is very annoying since I was trying to test a box to see if it had SMTP access, by e-mailing myself, and the mails didn't appear to get through. So I assumed it was broken and spent ages trying to work out why. Then, hours later, the original test messages arrived.... <sigh>. I'm thinking of moving to Port995 (the company, not the POP3/SSL port... and not free) - anyone used them? They use Linux, so hopefully they should be stable at least. And Squirrelmail, my favourite Webmail program.
  • Revise for my Physics exam shortly after I return to school... :-(

There's probably something else, but I'm too tired to remember it right now. Goodnight.

thom: thanks for the hint about module-init-utils; I've now installed the package by that name on Gentoo, but I haven't had the chance to reboot into the other kernel to try it. (Really need to look into usermode linux sometime...)

Gentoo's warnings were slightly scary - they implied that module-init-tools only worked with 2.5.x kernels, not 2.4.x, so I'd have to have two versions of insmod/modprobe etc. floating around. However, based on a bit of experimenting, the new module-init-tools appear to work fine with the older kernels. Please tell me if you know otherwise... :-)

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