Leopard 10.5.1 massive data loss bug / JPEG corruption

I strongly do NOT recommend to use Mac OS X Leopard in a productive environment!

The initial release 10.5 got launched on October 26, 2007. It contained a number of serious bugs which should have been addressed in the first upgrade. On November 15th Apple released the first major upgrade 10.5.1. Most people believe all serious bugs are squashed by now and start to use Leopard in productive environments. I would rather wait for 10.5.2 or even 10.5.3!

Here you’ll find an extensive article about the massive data loss bug in Leopard by Tom Karpik.
His tests are based on Leopard 10.5 and I didn’t find any information about this bug still persisting in 10.5.1. But I was pretty shocked about what happened to me last night…

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Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Tips & Tricks

Warning: This article was written by a Windows/Linux User who just started to switch to OS X after a period of 10 macless years.

Two days ago I got my new Mac Mini and finally I’m serious about switching from Windows Vista to Mac OS X Leopard. It’s just too annoying to wait 4 years for a new Windows system which is worse than it’s predecessor and which might start to get useful as of SP1 which still is not out (my standby still does not work and I gave up on installing „SP1 beta pre-RC1“ – what the hell?!!). Vista is more like a blown-up XP that does everything worse than XP. I like its user interface but not if I need to sacrifice 50% of my CPU-power on a powerful IBM T60p.

My first impression of OS X Leopard: WOW!
My second impression: If you go with all the defaults, it works like a charm. If you want to get a bit further, OS X is no way easier to fine tune as a Windows OS but still much easier as tuning a Linux.
My conclusion: Cool, Leopard rocks! But hey, be realistic, each OS got his pros and cons.

Here are my Tips & Tricks of the last two days…
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Debian Sarge2Etch Upgrade

I have upgraded Debian from Sarge to Etch on various systems and did not run into any problems. Well done, Debian guys!
The following tutorial is based on Tim Bormann’s tutorial. I give you a quick-and-dirty insight how I have done it.
Before you start, make sure you got plenty of time (an upgrade may take anything between 30 minutes and 3 hrs) and backup at least your system configuration:
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ProFTPd xferlog via MySQL

Logging your FTP transfers to xferlog with ProFTPd is a nice thing. This can easily be done by a one-liner in /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf:

This generates a nice transfer log which we could then parse for transfer statistics. But there is a much better way to accomplish this: MySQL. Let’s use MySQL for everything!
It’s pretty straightforwarded to get ProFTPd to log into a MySQL table.

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RSBAC – Kernel based process hiding

A webserver usually is the primary target to intrude into any network. If you provide web hosting services for your customers you have to provide them with a lot of features to make them happy. The main requirement for any hosting provider is PHP, probably the widest spread web scripting language out there.

Some customers only start to get happy if you give them PHP without any safe_mode restrictions, if you provide them with custom CGI scripting next to the basic good old SSI features (which in my eyes no one really needs since we got PHP) by Apache HTTP Server, if you give them FTP access and let them manage their account by themselves.

Rule Set Based Access ControlIn every feature there is always a hidden security risk. We cannot give all this to our customers without thinking about security and its consequences if a user gets hold of data which does not belong to himself or even breaks into the whole system. So, let’s start at the basics: No customer should be able to see any other running processes on the system except the ones that belong to himself. We want to hide all processes that the given customer is not allowed to see. That’s process hiding. And because on a Linux box it’s always smart to implement something from bottom up, we name it kernel based.

There is no simple solution for this problem. Some rootkits simply overwrite the ‚ps‘ command. But we want something more trustworthy, somehow deeper anchored in the system (got that?). The only kernel patch I found was the one from RSBAC.org (Rule Set Based Access Control), a full blown kernel security patch. The only feature we actually need is „CAP process hiding“.

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LEX NEO – A fanless CF-Boot Setup

This tutorial tries to show you how to setup a wonderful quiet fanless system.
I’ve bought a LEX NEO, a terribly nice Mini-ITX fanless barebone which includes an onboard bootable CF-card slot.
Thomas Bocek (nope.ch) helped me out with the following configuration.
The idea was:

  • The harddisk should only run when used
  • The whole system should be stored on a CF-card
  • We don’t want to stress our CF-card. Directories with a lot of access like /var/log should be run in RAM

We decided to install Debian Linux by USB-install, using a USB-stick instead of running some PXE network install which seems to be far more complicated.
Here’s a short HOWTO (for more detailed instructions, please check Debian USB memory stick booting:
Download boot.img.gz (7.9 MB). Also, download the official netinst image (108 MB). If you can’t find it, check http://www.debian.org/CD/netinst/ and download the stable i386 version.

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Rsync – Full System Mirroring

Rsync is a command line utility traditionally used in synchronizing files between two computers over the network, but rsync can also be used as an effective backup tool.
This article explains how to use rsync to backup your whole Linux system setup to a second drive attached to your system. You can use a removable drive, such as an external USB hard drive, so that you can store the backups in a safe place away from your working environment.

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¡ Pipo se va a América del sur !

Hola todos!
El 2 de noviembre me voy a América del sur por un viaje de 3 meses. Viajaré por Ecuador, Perú, y Bolivia.
No será posible contestar a todos vuestros emails. Si encuentro tiempo y una conexión internet, voy a publicar los fotos en la gallery.
Hasta luego!

Soon, I’m leaving for my South America trip. On 2nd of november I’m flying over to Quito/Ecuador and will be travelling around for 3 months in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
I probably won’t be able to answer all your mail. If I find some time and some internet connection, I’m going to upload my pictures to the gallery.
take care and see you soon!

Linux kernel compilation HOWTO

I’d just like to publish this small kernel compilation HOWTO’s that I once wrote and used by myself each time compiling a new kernel.
They are just quick and dirty HOWTO’s that cover the commands used to compile a kernel, nothing more than that. But I’m sure someone might find them useful.
Kernel compiling is easy! Don’t be afraid of it. Just be careful when configuring your bootloader, e.g. LILO – first think and then act, especially if you’re compiling a new kernel on a remote host where you haven’t got any physical access.

If you wish further information about kernel compilation under Debian, consult this wonderful tutorial:
http://newbiedoc.sourceforge.net/system/kernel-pkg.html
again, to make it short, really really short, here’s what to do under Debian:

Good luck and happy compiling!

PHP: class Sd_Yabd

…Yet Another Browser Detector
First I thought about calling this script ‚ExtrAgent‘, then I thought, hey,
there’s a whole bunch of other browser detection scripts around, so actually
it’s just yet another browser detector!
I have just updated this code and replaced the old function with the new class Sd_Yabd. It takes part of my upcoming PHP framework „Sourdough“ which will be released in april/may 2004.

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PHP: www-filesize

To get the filesize of a file that isn’t located on your own server is not such
an easy thing! There’s this nice function in PHP to get the size of your files,
filesize() – but it just works for local files.

This workaround should work. – kinda slow, as you need to make a connection to the
remote host, but that’s probably the only way to do it:

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PHP5 and SQLite

Currently I’m working on SourDough Framework, my light opensource framework for web-applications written in PHP. It contains a database abstraction layer I started to work on together with Rocco Siegrist back in summer 2002. This part is already pretty mature. My upcoming applications PPhlogger3 (future version of PowerPhlogger), Pigalle (picture gallery) and Yabook (guestbook) are going to work on the following database systems: MySQL, PostgreSQL and Microsoft SQL Server 2k. I have already tested them on those systems. The DB abstraction layer should also support FrontBase, Interbase, and Sybase – but this hasn’t been tested yet.

Today I ran over SQLite. I didn’t really expect a lot of this „Embeddable SQL Database Engine“, how they call it. It stores data into flat files and pretends to almost fully support SQL92.
I was interested about it and implemented another layer for SQLite in my framework. And, wow, it works! It didn’t take me more than 2 hours. Currently, YaBook already runs with SQLite as DBS. I didn’t encounter any serious problems. Well, it took me some time to realize that SQLite is typeless. Pretty funny, though.
Instead of AUTOINCREMENTs I had to use INTEGER PRIMARY KEY. Even indexes seem to work.
I haven’t done any performance testing yet, but for simple operations it should be fine. For an application like YaBook it might as well be faster than MySQL.

SQLite has been bundled with PHP5. Effectively this means that anybody, even users at share hosters with no access to their server, will be able to use SQL databases. Great!

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