Laser Blog

Articles tagged "software"

72 MS Word 2007 crash "is a feature"

Saturday 14th April, 2007

This is amazing. When warned of three new flaws in Word 2007, Microsoft were unimpressed.

a company spokeswoman ... "found that none of these claims demonstrate a vulnerability in Microsoft's Word 2007 or any part of the Microsoft Office System."

Nope, no vulnerability at all. In fact, how Word reacts to these previously unknown problems is part of a cunning plan ...

"In fact, the behavior observed in Microsoft Word 2007 in this instance is a by-design behavior that improves security and stability by exiting Microsoft Word when it has run out of options to try and reliably display a malformed Word document," the spokeswoman said.

So, how does Word 2007 improve "security and stability"? It crashes of course! How much more stable can you get? Well, how about just displaying a message which says: "I can't open this document." But let's put that aside for a moment and discuss what the customer is supposed to do next ... simple, just restart Word!

She went on to suggest that it is no big deal if Word 2007 did crash under those circumstances, a scenario that could lead to the loss of any unsaved data. "The sample code in [Aharoni's] postings cause Microsoft Word to crash, and users can restart the application to resume normal operations."

(Emphasis added.)

But what about that unsaved data? Well, you just typed it. Type it again!

Use You won't have to pay for the privilege.


70 Shell stuff: job control and screen

Monday 26th March, 2007

Now there is also tmux.
Rob. April 2015.

A look at using shell job control, plus a quick overview of what I consider to be the best alternative to job control, GNU screen.

66 Myths, Lies, and Truths about the Linux kernel

Monday 19th March, 2007

A very interesting transcript of a speech, including the accompanying slide-show, given by Linux kernel hacker Greg Kroah-Hartman on some of the Myths, Lies, and Truths about the Linux kernel

Some fascinating information is presented here.

Linux supports more devices "out of the box", than any other operating system ever has.

There are also a few very interesting paragraphs on the Linux USB code. (Greg Kroah-Hartman specialises on the kernel's USB subsystems, amongst others.) Here is a severely cut-down excerpt:

Linux now has the fastest USB bus speeds when you test out all of the different operating systems. We max out the hardware as fast as it can go, and you can do this from simple userspace programs, no fancy kernel driver work is needed.

Now Windows has also rewritten their USB stack at least 3 times ... each time they did a rework, and added new functions and fixed up older ones, they had to keep the old api functions around, as they have taken the stance that they can not break backward compatibility due to their stable API viewpoint. ... now the Windows core has all 3 sets of API functions in it, as they can't delete things. That means they maintain the old functions, and have to keep them in memory all the time, and it takes up engineering time to handle all of this extra complexity. That's their business decision to do this, and that's fine, but with Linux, we didn't make that decision, and it helps us remain a lot smaller, more stable, and more secure.

All of this, plus arguments against the "stable API" approach, plus more! Well worth a read.


50 Word Processor Review

Friday 9th February, 2007

The review itself is quite interesting. We all use word processors at some time or another. But it was these two quotes which caught my eye: is the first office suite (and word processor) to use the new OASIS OpenDocument Format, the future-proof ISO certified international standard for office documents (ISO/IEC 26300:2006).
As of 2006, ODF is the ISO certified international standard for office documents, not OXML, nor .doc. For any other vendor, it's easier to write a conversion filter for ODF than will ever be for OXML, among other reasons for the sheer sake of supporting Microsoft's backward compatibility with its previous proprietary formats over the past 18 years. Corel has announced it will support both ODF and OXML in the next WordPerfect version.

(Emphasis added.)

OXML (Open XML) is Microsoft's answer to ODF (OpenDocument Format), although the name is somewhat misleading in that it's not really open. When concerns were raised about this, Microsoft provided a covenant not to sue, an offer which was generally rejected. Underhand stuff; try and sneak it in, then promise "not to sue", a promise which turns out to be worthless anyway.


47 Apache on Linux vs IIS on Windows

Monday 5th February, 2007

A graphic illustration of why Windows is less secure than Linux. You know that old saying: "A picture is worth a thousand words"? Well here are two pictures! Both images are a complete map of the system calls that occur when a web server serves up a single page of html with a single picture.

This first image shows the system calls that occur on a Linux server running Apache.

The system calls that occur on a Linux server running Apache


And this second image shows the system calls that occur on a Windows server running IIS.

The system calls that occur on a Windows server running IIS


It's kind of self-explanatory, but there is a little more detail (including larger pictures) on the originating site.