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This month's answers created by:

[ Amit Kumar Saha, Ben Okopnik, Neil Youngman, Rick Moen, Thomas Adam ]
...and you, our readers!

Gazette Matters

lists.linuxgazette.net mailing list memberships reminder

Rick Moen [rick at linuxmafia.com]

Mon, 1 Dec 2008 10:00:59 -0800

An lg-announce subscriber was evidently surprised by the monthly reminder e-mail that starts out:

This is a reminder, sent out once a month, about your lists.linuxgazette.net mailing list memberships. It includes your subscription info and how to use it to change it or unsubscribe from a list.

----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com> -----

Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2008 09:58:06 -0800
From: Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com>
To: [subscriber address]
Cc: mailman-owner@lists.linuxgazette.net
Subject: Re: Fwd: lists.linuxgazette.net mailing list memberships reminder
Quoting [subscriber]:

> I don't think its a very good idea to send out user passwords in emails.

[subscriber] --

The Mailman Web pages did advise you at the time you signed up that you should use a low-security password. That's why. Actually, here's the exact, literal quotation:

     "You may enter a privacy password below.  This provides only mild
     security, but should prevent others from messing with your 
     subscription.  Do not use a valuable password, as it will 
     occasionally be emailed back to you in cleartext."

In any event, if you do not want your password periodically sent in a reminder mail, all you have to do is disable that option for your subscription. Login at http://lists.linuxgazette.net/mailman/listinfo/lg-announce (using, yes, your subscription password), and you can toggle off that setting among others.

----- End forwarded message -----

Our Mailbag

Corrupt dpkg?

Amit k. Saha [amitsaha.in at gmail.com]

Thu, 4 Dec 2008 13:56:58 +0530

Hi all,


I am using Ubuntu 8.10. I am facing strange issues on my installation. I cannot install any package from the repo:

sudo apt-get install tar
[sudo] password for amit:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Suggested packages:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 98 not upgraded.
Need to get 0B/338kB of archives.
After this operation, 2298kB of additional disk space will be used.
dpkg-deb (subprocess): failed to exec tar: No such file or directory
dpkg-deb: subprocess tar returned error exit status 2
dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/tar_1.20-1_i386.deb (--unpack):
 subprocess dpkg-deb --control returned error exit status 2
Errors were encountered while processing:
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

This is what happens.

What might have probably caused this is that I removed 'nautilus' and put on 'Dolphin' file manager. I am not sure.

Any thoughts how can I fix this?

Much appreciated.

Thanks, Amit

Amit Kumar Saha
Skype: amitkumarsaha

[ Thread continues here (4 messages/3.89kB) ]

Teacher Throws Fit Over Student's Linux CD

Ben Okopnik [ben at linuxgazette.net]

Mon, 22 Dec 2008 10:31:42 -0500

[from austinist, via RISKS Digest]


Detention for the student and legal threats from a clueless teacher. Hilarious.

* Ben Okopnik * Editor-in-Chief, Linux Gazette * http://LinuxGazette.NET *

[ Thread continues here (10 messages/14.50kB) ]

Tesseract at Distributed Proofreaders

Jimmy O'Regan [joregan at gmail.com]

Mon, 22 Dec 2008 14:30:29 +0000

"Lectures on Russian Literature: Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenef, Tolstoy" by Ivan Panin is being proofread at Distributed Proofreaders, using OCR provided by Tesseract: http://www.pgdp.net/c/project.php?id=projectID49430d0ed814f (for anyone already registered).

The project comments aren't very promising though: "This is a tesseract test project. I know the OCR is rather gruesome - please rather work on something else than shoot me." and "This project might go through P1 twice."

(I haven't seen anything other than the usual set of OCR errors, though).

Thieves Winning Online War, Maybe Even in Your Computer (NY Times)

Ben Okopnik [ben at linuxgazette.net]

Mon, 22 Dec 2008 10:17:28 -0500

[Article in NYTimes by John Markoff, via the RISKS Digest]

Despite the efforts of the computer security industry and a half-decade
struggle by Microsoft to protect its Windows operating system, malicious
software is spreading faster than ever. The so-called malware
surreptitiously takes over a PC and then uses that computer to spread
more malware to other machines exponentially. Computer scientists and
security researchers acknowledge they cannot get ahead of the onslaught.

(Full story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/06/technology/internet/06security.html)

Gosh, that last sentence has me all terrified. "Cannot get ahead of the onslaught", even.

I remember the last time I had a virus. I downloaded it, compiled it (in a chroot-jail sandbox, just in case), and played with it for a bit - it created a neat little "/tmp/.bliss" log file for me to read. Then, I ran it again with an option that told it to go away, and it was gone.

It didn't make me feel onslaughtered (I think that's the proper verb... <barbie_mode>English is *hard!</barbie_mode>) at all. I don't know what those other people's problem is.

Seriously - it's a badly-written article, with lots of name dropping and little actual research. The author doesn't even mention Linux (or BSD, or any options beyond OS/X.) The general point is that the Bad Guys are making lots of money ripping off the poor little users... but this is just the same old three-card monty multiplied by a few million naive hayseeds just off the train. Yep, there are more con men and more suckers, as well as more unsuspecting mules. [shrug] It's called a "growing population" and "better communications". That, as always, presumes either A) an increased ability to swim with the sharks or B) accepting, however unwillingly, your role as an hors d'oeuvre . There is no option C - and never has been.

I guess the NYT needs some low-calorie filler for their Technology section once in a while...

* Ben Okopnik * Editor-in-Chief, Linux Gazette * http://LinuxGazette.NET *

[ Thread continues here (3 messages/4.94kB) ]

[SEMI-OT] This is to all the Gmail users out there...

clarjon1 [clarjon1 at gmail.com]

Fri, 12 Dec 2008 14:28:04 -0500

Hey, Gang, long time no word from me.

I was using StumbleUpon, when I came across this link:


In short, it's a notice that: a) Google has enabled you to use HTTPS only for GMail, to make it more secure, and b) There's a new tool to allow malicious users to gain access to your GMail if you don't use HTTPS/SSL mode.

To enable, click the Options link at the top of the page, then scroll down to the last option. For me, this was the HTTPS/SSL enabler.

I hope this helps someone! Take care all, and safe browsing!


What not to do when admin of Unix/Linux box

Martin J Hooper [martinjh at blueyonder.co.uk]

Mon, 08 Dec 2008 09:24:50 +0000

Im sure you guys have done at least one of the things on this list...


[ Thread continues here (4 messages/3.39kB) ]

In RI federal court - Harvard vs. the RIAA

Ben Okopnik [ben at linuxgazette.net]

Tue, 16 Dec 2008 07:45:06 -0500

Interesting court case involving the RIAA.

[ ... ]

[ Thread continues here (13 messages/45.81kB) ]

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Published in Issue 158 of Linux Gazette, January 2009