a silo can never provide digital autonomy to its users
Jul 1, 2022
Lately there has been a lot of discussion about various silos and their activities, notably GitHub and an up and coming alternative to Tumblr called Cohost. I’d like to talk about both to make the point that silos do not, and can not elevate user freedoms, by design, even if they are run with the best of intentions, by analyzing the behavior of both of these silos.
it is correct to refer to GNU/Linux as GNU/Linux
Mar 30, 2022
You’ve probably seen the “I’d like to interject for a moment” quotation that is frequently attributed to Richard Stallman about how Linux should be referred to as GNU/Linux. While I disagree with that particular assertion, I do believe it is important to refer to GNU/Linux distributions as such, because GNU/Linux is a distinct operating system in the family of operating systems which use the Linux kernel, and it is technically correct to recognize this, especially as different Linux-based operating systems have different behavior, and different advantages and disadvantages.
the tragedy of gethostbyname
Mar 27, 2022
A frequent complaint expressed on a certain website about Alpine is related to the deficiencies regarding the musl DNS resolver when querying large zones. In response, it is usually mentioned that applications which are expecting reliable DNS lookups should be using a dedicated DNS library for this task, not the getaddrinfo or gethostbyname APIs, but this is usually rebuffed by comments saying that these APIs are fine to use because they are allegedly reliable on GNU/Linux.
how to refresh older stuffed animals
Feb 12, 2022
As many of my readers are likely aware, I have a large collection of stuffed animals, but my favorite one is the first generation Jellycat Bashful Bunny that I have had for the past 10 years or so. Recently I noticed that my bunny was starting to turn purple, likely from the purple stain that is applied to my hair, which bleeds onto anything when given the opportunity to do so.
JSON-LD is ideal for Cloud Native technologies
Feb 11, 2022
Frequently I have been told by developers that it is impossible to have extensible JSON documents underpinning their projects, because there may be collisions later. For those of us who are unaware of more capable graph serializations such as JSON-LD and Turtle, this seems like a reasonable position. Accordingly, I would like to introduce you all to JSON-LD, using a practical real-world deployment as an example, as well as how one might use JSON-LD to extend something like OCI container manifests.
how I wound up causing a major outage of my services and destroying my home directory by accident
Feb 4, 2022
As a result of my FOSS maintenance and activism work, I have a significant IT footprint, to support the services and development environments needed to facilitate everything I do. Unfortunately, I am also my own system administrator, and I am quite terrible at this. This is a story about how I wound up knocking most of my services offline and wiping out my home directory, because of a combination of Linux mdraid bugs and a faulty SSD.
Jan 27, 2022
A few days ago, Qualys dropped CVE-2021-4034, which they have called “Pwnkit”. While Alpine itself was not directly vulnerable to this issue due to different engineering decisions made in the way musl and glibc handle SUID binaries, this is intended to be a deeper look into what went wrong to enable successful exploitation on GNU/Linux systems.
the FSF’s relationship with firmware is harmful to free software users
Jan 22, 2022
The FSF has an unfortunate relationship with firmware, resulting in policies that made sense in the late 1980s, but actively harm users today, through recommending obsolescent equipment, requiring increased complexity in RYF-certified hardware designs and discouraging both good security practices and the creation of free replacement firmware. As a result of these policies, deficient hardware often winds up in the hands of those who need software freedom the most, in the name of RYF-certification.
delegation of authority from the systems programming perspective
Jan 18, 2022
As I have been griping on Twitter lately, about how I dislike the design of modern UNIX operating systems, an interesting conversation about object capabilities came up with the author of musl-libc. This conversation caused me to realize that systems programmers don’t really have a understanding of object capabilities, and how they can be used to achieve environments that are aligned with the principle of least authority.
glibc is still not Y2038 compliant by default
Dec 29, 2021
Most of my readers are probably aware of the Y2038 issue by now. If not, it refers to 3:14:07 UTC on January 19, 2038, when 32-bit time_t will overflow. The Linux kernel has internally switched to 64-bit timekeeping several years ago, and Alpine made the jump to 64-bit time_t with the release of Alpine 3.