Archive | July 17, 2005

Too Many Choices! I can’t decide!

Slashdot carries a discussion that starts Time for a Linux Consolidation?. An anonymous reader writes “Are there too many Linux distributions currently available?” As always, with Slashdot, there’s a tradeoff between how long you want to read the answers and how much you trust their system of peer ratings. I like a threshold of 4, myself.

This is an interesting syndrome I’ve seen happen a number of times. Folks who perceive themselves to be trapped in the “One Microsoft Way” choice of operating systems, office products, PIMs and development tools long for the “freedom” of choosing other packages, ignoring the fact that they are implicitly choosing Microsoft over WordPerfect, SmartSuite, Delphi, BASIC, PostgreSQL and dozens of other choices. But when faced with the actual choice — Red Hat Enterprise or SuSE? Mandrake? Connectiva? Debian or Ubuntu? — they complain that there are “too many choices.” Utter nonsense. People chose to create yet another PIM for a reason. They may not have liked the options available, they may not have gotten along with the developers, they may wanted one specific feature or they may just have been ignorant of what was available. It’s up to the discerning consumer to figure out their optimal choice. Me, I think there’s too much shelf space devoted to high-frutose corn syrup and colored water, but bottlers seem to keep “innovating.”

Windows RDP Exploit Discovered

OSNews notes Windows RDP Exploit Discovered. “A denial of service vulnerability reportedly affects the Windows Remote Desktop Protocol.” OS News goes on to advise, “Either disable RDP or make sure you have a firewall enabled for port 3389 until a fix is available.” This is nonsensical advice. First, if you have “a firewall enabled for port 3389,” does that mean the process can’t go through the port. If so, what’s the point of running Remote Access?

The report does not identify the problem as something that could allow a malicious attacker to take over your machine, only inconvenience you with a denial of service issue, or possibly shutting down your machine. Obviously, you should turn off Remote Desktop access if you don’t need it.

There’s a stunning note on the Microsoft Security Advisory linked from the OSNews article: “Remote Desktop is enabled by default on Windows XP Media Center Edition.” What on earth were they thinking, by enabling a remote access interface on a OS designed to be used as standalone home media appliances? Is this Trustworthy Computing? Not even close.

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.