Enterprise Unix Roundup: Apple Says 'Switch,' From Tux Page 3

By Michael Hall (Send Email)
Posted May 12, 2005

Main     In Other News     Recent Updates     Tips of the Trade

Recent Updates

  • Vulnerabilities in the network analyzer Ethereal could lead to buffer overflows, the precursor to assorted exploits, from remote users. So far we've seen updates from Mandriva, Debian, and Gentoo.

  • Mail server CommuniGate Pro was updated to version 4.3, ending a series of recent betas. The new release includes bugfixes and enhancements, such as a presence server.

  • A U.K. security group says the IPSec protocol suffers from a severe vulnerability that allows attackers within a network to render encrypted traffic as plain text with only moderate effort. Although it's specific to Unix, it has broad ramifications that will probably interest anyone running a VPN or other IPSec-aware applications.

Tips of the Trade

Identifying hardware without having to physically open the box is a tremendous time-saver, and the right utility will tell you more than a physical examination of the hardware.

A particularly useful software utility for this is dmidecode. dmidecode reads information about a system's hardware as it is described in the system BIOS, according to the SMBIOS/DMI standard. (SMBIOS stands for System Management BIOS, while DMI stands for Desktop Management Interface.) dmidecode reads specs like system manufacturer, model name, serial numbers, CPU data, types of expansion slots, and pretty much everything on the mainboard, like so:

root@windbag:~# dmidecode 
# dmidecode 2.6
SMBIOS 2.3 present.
36 structures occupying 1128 bytes.
Table at 0x000F0800.
Handle 0x0000
        DMI type 0, 20 bytes.
        BIOS Information
                Vendor: Award Software International, Inc.
                Version: 6.00 PG
                Release Date: 10/05/2000
                Address: 0xE0000
                Runtime Size: 128 kB
                ROM Size: 256 kB
                        PCI is supported
                        PNP is supported
                        APM is supported
                        BIOS is upgradeable
                        BIOS shadowing is allowed
                        ESCD support is available
                        Boot from CD is supported
                        Selectable boot is supported
                        BIOS ROM is socketed
                        EDD is supported
                        5.25"/360 KB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
                        5.25"/1.2 MB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
                        3.5"/720 KB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
                        3.5"/2.88 MB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
                        Print screen service is supported (int 5h)
                        8042 keyboard services are supported (int 9h)
                        Serial services are supported (int 14h)
                        Printer services are supported (int 17h)
                        CGA/mono video services are supported (int 10h)
                        ACPI is supported
                        USB legacy is supported
                        AGP is supported
                        LS-120 boot is supported
                        ATAPI Zip drive boot is supported

And this is just a tiny snippet! The total output is several hundred lines. One useful aspect of dmidecode is that it tells you what kind of memory is installed and what is supported:

Handle 0x0006
        DMI type 6, 12 bytes.
        Memory Module Information
                Socket Designation: DIMM1
                Bank Connections: 0 1
                Current Speed: 70 ns
                Type: DIMM SDRAM
                Installed Size: 256 MB (Single-bank Connection)
                Enabled Size: 256 MB (Single-bank Connection)
                Error Status: OK
Handle 0x0007
        DMI type 6, 12 bytes.
        Memory Module Information
                Socket Designation: DIMM2
                Bank Connections: 2 3
                Current Speed: 70 ns
                Type: Unknown
                Installed Size: Not Installed
                Enabled Size: Not Installed
                Error Status: OK

dmidecode runs on Linux, BeOS, the BSDs, and on Windows under Cygwin. It can also run on other machines when included in a home-built customized Knoppix disk. Simply boot up Knoppix on the machines you wish to examine.

Carla Schroder writes the Tips of the Trade section of Enterprise Unix Roundup. She also appears on Enterprise Networking Planet and Linux Planet, covering Linux from the desktop to the server room, and is the author of the Linux Cookbook.

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