stop defining feature-test macros in your code
Dec 21, 2021
If there is any change in the C world I would like to see in 2022, it would be the abolition of #define _GNU_SOURCE. In many cases, defining this macro in C code can have harmful side effects ranging from subtle breakage to miscompilation, because of how feature-test macros work.
to secure the supply chain, you must properly fund it
Dec 11, 2021
Yesterday, a new 0day vulnerability dropped in Apache Log4j. It turned out to be worse than the initial analysis: because of recursive nesting of substitutions, it is possible to execute remote code in any program which passes user data to Log4j for logging. Needless to say, the way this disclosure was handled was a disaster, as it was quickly discovered that many popular services were using Log4j, but how did we get here?
open cores, ISAs, etc: what is actually open about them?
Dec 6, 2021
In the past few years, with the launch of RISC-V, and IBM’s OpenPOWER initiative (backed up with hardware releases such as Talos) there has been lots of talk about open hardware projects, and vendors talking about how anyone can go and make a RISC-V or OpenPOWER CPU. While there is a modicum of truth to the assertion that an upstart company could start fabricating their own RISC-V or OpenPOWER CPUs tomorrow, the reality is a lot more complex, and it basically comes down to patents.
On centralized development forges
Dec 2, 2021
Since the launch of SourceForge in 1999, development of FOSS has started to concentrate in centralized development forges, the latest one of course being GitHub, now owned by Microsoft. While the centralization of development talent achieved by GitHub has had positive effects on software development output towards the commons, it is also a liability: GitHub is now effectively a single point of failure for the commons, since the overwhelming majority of software is developed there.
Nov 22, 2021
A few years ago, it was discovered that the root account was not locked out in Alpine’s Docker images. This was not the first time that this was the case, an actually exploitable case of this was first fixed with a hotfix in 2015, but when the hotfix was replaced with appropriate use of /etc/securetty, the regression was inadvertently reintroduced for some configurations.
the problematic GPL "or later" clause
Nov 16, 2021
The GNU General Public License started life as the GNU Emacs Public License in 1987 (the linked version is from February 1988), and has been built on the principle of copyleft: the use of the copyright system to enforce software freedom through licensing. This prototype version of the GPL was used for other packages, such as GNU Bison (in 1988), and Nethack (in 1989), and was most likely written by Richard Stallman himself.
an inside look into the illicit ad industry
Nov 4, 2021
So, you want to work in ad tech, do you? Perhaps this will be a cautionary tale… I have worked my entire life as a contractor. This has had advantages and disadvantages. For example, I am free to set my own schedule, and undertake engagements at my own leisure, but as a result my tax situation is more complicated.
spelunking through the apk-tools dependency solver
Oct 31, 2021
In our previous episode, I wrote a high level overview of apk’s differences verses traditional package managers, which many have cited as a helpful resource for understanding the behavior of apk when it does something different than a traditional package manager would. But that article didn’t go into depth in enough detail to explain how it all actually works.
It’s time to boycott AWS
Oct 26, 2021
I woke up this morning not planning to write anything on this blog, much less anything about AWS. But then, as I was eating breakfast, I read a horrifying story in Mother Jones about how an AWS employee was treated as he did his best to cope with his wife’s terminal cancer.
don't do clever things in configure scripts
Oct 25, 2021
Recently, a new version of ncurses was released and pushed to Alpine. The maintainer of ncurses in Alpine successfully built it on his machine, so he pushed it to the builders, expecting it to build fine on them. Of course, it promptly failed to build from source on the builders, because make install did not install the pkg-config .