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Yes, we need to run vulnerability scans inside the firewall

I got an innocent question last week. We’d been scanning an AIX server with Nexpose, a vulnerability scanner made by Rapid7, and ran into some issues. The system owner then asked a question: The server is behind a firewall and has no direct connection to the Internet and no data itself, it’s just a front-end to two other servers. Is there any reason to scan a server like that?

In my sysadmin days, I asked a similar question. Nobody could give me an answer that was any better than “because reasons.” So I’ll answer the question and give the reasons.

Read More »Yes, we need to run vulnerability scans inside the firewall

Don’t like paying for software? There’s an answer but old software isn’t it.

Corporations are in business to make money. That’s the premise of the classic business book The Goal, and the point of The Goal is that a lot of companies forget that.

That also means they’re not exactly happy to spend money unless there’s an obvious reason why spending that money is going to help them make more money. So that’s why you see 30-year-old minicomputers in data centers. That old system is still making the company money and with no clear financial benefit to replacing it, most businesses are perfectly happy to run the machine until the minute before it will no longer power up anymore.

That’s what makes quitting Windows XP so difficult for businesses. At this point, Windows XP and that 30-year-old minicomputer are both about as sexy as a Plymouth Volare station wagon. But they get the job done, and they’re much better than what they replaced, so the business leaders are content to just keep right on using what’s already paid for.Read More »Don’t like paying for software? There’s an answer but old software isn’t it.

Upgrading an HP Mini 110 to Linux Mint 17

Over the Labor Day weekend I decided to upgrade my HP Mini 110 netbook to Linux Mint 17. The Mini 110 can handle Windows 7, but Linux Mint doesn’t cost any money and I figure a Linux box is more useful to me than yet another Windows box. There are some things I do that are easier to accomplish in Linux than in Windows. Plus, I’m curious how my two young sons will react to Linux.

Linux Mint, if you’re not familiar with it, is a Ubuntu derivative that includes a lot of consumer-friendly features, like including drivers and codecs and other common software that aren’t completely open source. It’s not a Linux distribution for the Free Software purist, but having options is one of the nice things about Linux in 2014.

Linux Mint includes a lot of useful software, so once you get it installed, you’re up and running with a useful computer with minimal effort.

Read More »Upgrading an HP Mini 110 to Linux Mint 17

“Mario” from “Microsoft” calls the wrong guy

“Mario from Microsoft” called me last night. I’ve never heard a Mario with that kind of accent, and, I thought he worked for Nintendo. I’ll bet he gets that a lot.

“Microsoft has no reason to be calling me,” I said to “Mario.”

“Oh, we’re a Microsoft certified partner,” he said.

“That’s nice,” I said. “I’m certified too. What’s going on?”

“You are having computer issues,” he said.Read More »“Mario” from “Microsoft” calls the wrong guy

An old Windows myth looks to (finally) become reality in Windows 8

For the better part of my adult life, I’ve been dealing with the myth that if there were certain settings that could speed up Windows, Microsoft would make those settings the default for the operating system. The pundits who perpetuate this myth have their reasons for doing so, but that didn’t make them true.

Now, the difference is harder to notice today than it was when I started my career. There are things I can do to make Windows 7 run better on my 4-core, 3.1 GHz AMD64 box with 8 GB of RAM and a 100 GB SSD. But I won’t notice the cumulative effects of a few 5% improvements on that box. Not the way I did on 50 MHz 80486-based PCs in 1997.

Microsoft’s philosophy for 22 years, from Windows 1.0 in 1985 to Windows Vista in 2007, was to write the software, and if it takes a few years for the hardware to catch up with it, so be it. Windows 7 changed that–for the first time, the actual requirements for running a new version of Windows went down–and, with Windows 8, it looks like CPU requirements will hold steady, and memory usage will actually go down.

Read More »An old Windows myth looks to (finally) become reality in Windows 8

Anyone up for a $239 SSD?

The cost of a decent SSD skipped the $299 mark and zoomed all the way down below $249.

Super Talent’s MasterDrive MX is available in several capacities, but the most interesting one to people who want performance on the cheap is the 30 GB model, which Newegg is selling for $239.