Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Linux - 4.11.2 Released

I updated my computer to the linux-4.11.2 as it becomes available in the
repositories. In my opinion it is a good idea to always update to the
latest available stable kernel. Along with the kernel, linux-firmware
updates were also available. Again, any new updates to hardware drivers
are welcome.

Monday, May 22, 2017

How To Downgrade The linux-kernel In Arch linux

What do you do if your linux kernel upgrade did not go well? What if after an upgrade which includes the kernel, you can't boot your system?

You should downgrade to an older, working linux kernel still in the cache. Using a fairly recent Arch linux install medium, you can mount the root partition to /mnt. Then chroot into the system.

$ arch-chroot /mnt /bin/bash

It is assumed you keep at least one other version of the linux kernel in the cache. You can check in /var/cache/pacman/pkg. At least downgrade linux, linux-header and any kernel module you have. To downgrade:

$ pacman -U linux-x.xx.xx-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz  linux-headers-x.xx.xx-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz

Exit by typing exit. Reboot. You should be able to boot now.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Cure's Pornography: Song Review

    Pornography is the last track in The Cure's Pornography album. The album itself was released May 1982. It featured electronic sounds and a claustrophobic mood throughout. It's the fourth album of the group and the most potent song in their body of work.

Pornography,n. obscene pictures, writings, drawings, motion pictures,
 videos, or the like intended primarily to cause sexual
 arousal and having little or no artistic merit.
From the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
A hand in my mouth
A life spills into the flowers
We all look so perfect
As we all fall down

"What the world around us thought of as pornographic, we didn't. People's bodies aren't pornographic. What was pornographic, to us, was the way that people treated each other and how political systems destroyed people and that kind of intolerance. That's what we were trying to get across."  - Lol Tolhurst, drummer

In an electric glare
The old man cracks with age
She found his last picture
In the ashes of the fire
An image of the queen
Echoes round the sweating bed
Sour yellow sounds inside my head
In books
And films
And in life
And in heaven
The sound of slaughter
As your body turns

But it's too late
But it's too late

One more day like today and I'll kill you
A desire for flesh
And real blood
I'll watch you drown in the shower
Pushing my life through your open eyes

Perhaps the band wants to leave a note of hope here.

I must fight this sickness
Find a cure
I must fight this sickness

In a world where they are killing drug users, this song throws its accusation of hypocrisy at those who satisfy their bloodlust at the expense of people who have real problems.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How To Update Your Intel Drivers [Arch linux]

If you are using Intel chipsets and processors, you have to update your drivers. This is how to set that up easily in Arch linux.

Use the package manager to download intel-ucode.

$ pacman -S intel-ucode                         ## this will be downloaded from community repositories and get updates automatically if there's a new version

To set this up automatically and you don't have a custom kernel (if you have one, then YOU should know how to set this up) run grub-mkconfig.

$ grub-mkconfig

This will edit your grub.cfg file and add a line for the intel-ucode.img file.

After running it you can check the grub config file with:

$ sudo less /boot/grub/grub.cfg                 ## you should scroll down and look for instances of this line up to the end of the file.

           echo    'Loading Linux linux ...'
        linux   /boot/vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/mapper/vol1-root rw 
        echo    'Loading initial ramdisk ...'
        initrd  /boot/intel-ucode.img /boot/initramfs-linux.img
P.S. Unless you know what you're doing, you should not edit the grub file manually.

Is This The Beginning Of The End For President Donald Trump?

Hearing the word impeachment seriously in an entertainment show will
perk up concerned people anytime. Impeachment calls somebody to account
and when addressed to the most powerful man in the world, everybody
wants to listen.

Last week, beginning with the testimony of Sally Yates, the former
assistant attorney general, and definitely not ending with the firing of
FBI director James Comey, Donald Trump's days took a decidedly downward
turn. James Comey had been investigating Trump since the US elections of
2016 for his campaign staffs' connection to the Russians. Sally Yates
was apparently fired because she was looking into Trump's National
Security Adviser's connection to foreign influences. Both were just
doing their jobs.

Today, the assistant attorney general appointed Robert Mueller as
special prosecutor to investigate the Trump-Russian scandal. President
Trump has a formidable challenge in the person of Robert Mueller, a
former FBI director and a highly respected member of the president's own
political party. Mueller served as FBI director for as long as J Edgar
Hoover.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

WCry Ransomware In The Hands of Criminals and Thieves

Wcry Ransomware infected around 300,000 computers all over the
world. Blame is going round and around. The vulnerability or bug taken
advantage of by the hackers of this malware has a patch. Microsoft
provided the patch last March to users. Not all Windows machines updated
and those that forego the update got screwed. Some compared them to the
anti-vaccines people. Microsoft pointed its fingers to countrys who are
stockpiling bugs like this in order to weaponize them. Much like the
dreaded viral diseases and keeping the weak samples in a vault just in
case they need to produce vaccines for them. The NSA is preparing for
that scenario when nation-states would use them to wage war.

Wcry was stolen. It was stolen by criminals. Now criminals have a
weapon of mass destruction. When everything our civilization does
depends on computers, this situation sucks. Aaand it's just starting.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Is The Intel Chip In Your Motherboard a backdoor?

Ever since Damien Zammit revealed Intel's Active Management Engine, a self-contained microcontroller, there have been calls for declaring this for what it is - a backdoor to your computer.

AME or ME (Management Engine) is a microcontroller, a fully independent CPU apart from the main CPU you know and control. It cannot be disabled. It is active even if your computer is in hibernation or turned off (as long as it's connected to the main outlet). It is placed there to help IT enterprise to manage computers remotely. This is a problem with the enterprise and this is Intel's solution.

Some points to remember about Intel's Management Engine:
  • It has full access to your computer's memory and everything it is connected to by TCP/IP; it can control memory and all peripherals.
  • It can send and receive network signals even if the computer is turned off or through a firewall.
  • It can't be disabled in new Intel chips. In Intel Core2 and newer processors.

I have a problem with the last point. If this is not a malicious feature (the intention is to help in management) the feature should be optional. If Management Engine is a security feature and should therefore be default and persistent then I object to it. In any case, the firmware to Management Engine is proprietary. Nobody but Intel can see and modify it. With the recent WNCry ransomware attack, I will hate to see Management Engine turned over to malicious parties.