The big fluffy white hard-drives in the sky are said to be the future of software-but are they as sometimes as unpredictable as naughty-little-brother-like cumulonimbus clouds? The heavenly body of cloud computing has flexed its muscles prematurely as there have been a long string of major outages:
Blackout Blunder Number 1: Google’s Gmail Gaffe
Google let Gmail fail… for a time. In fact some 150,000 Gmail users logged in to their precious account only to see a blank slate. Considering Gmail is one of the cloud’s great attempts to throttle Microsoft’s stranglehold on Exchange-based enterprise email services, this was a big hit to the cloud. Thankfully Google was able to revert beyond its failed multi-layered backup strategy and reach back to archaic backup tapes-yup tapes.
There can never exist an industry in this world that can survive from making mistakes. And an industry that needs to be very meticulous in fabricating every product, service or solution can also not escape the ugly part of making blunders – I am talking quite obviously of the technology industry. There can be errors made by any and every person in this planet and technologists also cannot get away with a clean chit. Take the beginning of this very financial year for example; there was the counterfeiting of the Apple prototype iPhone. Also, reported during the same month was the blunder made by McCafe. Though it is a cliche statement it is worth mentioning here that ‘to err is human’ but should we be kind enough so as to ‘forgive the blunderers and be divine’.
The new Linux Mint 10 and Ubuntu 10.10 have recently made their presence felt in the open software operating system market and with every latest edition of an open source OS product hitting the marketplace, there is advancement and an upgrade that surely goes into them making them more user-friendly and beneficial in terms of costs and efforts. Of course, it is a smart move to make when a user shifts from windows or Mac OS X to becoming a full-time Linux user since there is not much of cost involved in using the latter.
Photo by Greg Biche
Be humanMake mistakes. Learn from them
Working on a Linux machine is a matter of proud and gravity for a lot of geeks. I could never know why! But there are a few ubiquitous mistakes which a lot of them make while administering a Linux box. If kept in mind, these mistakes can be avoided to keep a smooth work flow in a Linux environment.
Out of many, I would like to enlist a few of them;
- Root User Log in: Always try to avoid logging in as a root user, because logging in from root gives you access to all permissions which has a couple of dilemmas. The first being a probable mistake via GUI can hamper the system extensively and the second being the running of X via a root which makes a PC more susceptible.
- Avoiding updates: As a good administrator it is always expected on one’s part to keep updating your system to make it a more secure one. This will make the system more resistant to attacks hence make it more stable.
- Installing applications from different binary types: Installation of various files from .deb package and their dependencies from source, or vice-versa might not always work, because the dependencies are more complex in nature. So, it is advisable to install files from .deb package as many related applications become simple to upgrade from within the package management system.
- A server boot to X: In order to make a few administrations tasks trouble-free, the server boot to X ultimately results in memory wastage and loss in CPU cycles. This also helps in restricting the access to your system and results in utmost privacy.
- Low password strength: Passwords should always have the utmost security and their strength should be good. It is better to keep a password which is hard to memorize than keeping a password more prone to the hacking fraternity.
- Misunderstanding the file permissions: The rwx method which stands for r=read, w=write, x=execute is used to handle permissions effectively. Proper permissions can help a system in many ways while improper permissions can lead to a system getting hacked. Therefore, an administrator must have good enough knowledge of the unique code of permissions.
- Zero backup of critical configuration files: To avoid unnecessary problems, it is always better to have a backup of all important configuration files. Necessary backups include those of Samba, Apache, and MySQL.
- Ignoring log files: /var/log is the default destination for all log files. Log files are used to locate all generic errors. The use of third party applications is also growing day by day and thus an application called logwatch has come into prominence which creates various reports for us to solve the discrepancies in /var/log files.
- Neglecting the command line: It is actually a tough task to memorize all the commands and this is taken care of mostly by GUI. But at times, ignoring command lines which is faster, easier, more secure, and more reliable is a moronic decision on the user’s part. A basic understanding of the working of command lines can help a user and lead to correct judgments.
- Non-installation of a working kernel: A machine requires a kernel and its proper updating. An update of a current kernel, if it works well, is actually a better thing to do than deleting previous kernels. If an update is successful deleting previous kernels which acted as backup is advisable.
These were few of the top mistakes which a Linux administrator/user can avoid to help use the resources in a better and safer way.