Enterprise Unix Roundup: Has JBoss Sold Its Soul? Page 2

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Sep 30, 2005

Main     In Other News     Elsewhere in the Corral     Tips of the Trade

In Other News

» We at Enterprise *Unix* Roundup like to think that we're on top of the world of Unix, that we have our fingers on the pulse of all that is geeky and laden with command lines.

So imagine our surprise when we heard that Unix was dead.

This cheery bit of news came out of Orlando but was reported most closely by the Indian publication The Economic Times. Before we scrambled around to find our black clothes and other mourning apparel, we delved more deeply into the story to see who was pronouncing the time of death. When we saw it was someone from analyst group Gartner, we stopped reaching for the black armbands and grabbed a margarita instead.

The declaration of doom came from none other than Donald Feinberg, who said that in less than five years, Linux and Windows would be the only two operating systems out there. Feinberg, making a speech at the 2005 Annual Teradata Partners User Group Conference and Expo in sunny Orlando, Fla. also seemed to backpedal in the same speech, adding that it might be as much as 10 to 15 years before Unix would be completely dead.

The coverage of the speech wasn't too deep, but it seems Feinberg's logic was that development shops would be too busy developing Linux applications to bother with Unix development. Normally, Gartner spends a lot of time (and a lot of Microsoft's money) debunking Linux, so this turnaround was surprising. Much as we love the Linux, it is interesting that so many analysts and pundits think it must succeed at the cost of some other operating system, namely one of the Unix variety.

Vendors have been beating it into our heads that we must upgrade to the latest and greatest. If that were the case, we'd be lined up at the Unix funeral procession, too. But simply put, if it ain't broke, why fix it?

We think Linux will do well just fine on its own, thank you, and simple inertia will keep Unix going for quite some time.

» Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 has EAL 3 certification, which is all-important for the U.S. government's Common Criteria Evaluation & Validation Scheme.

Apparently, the people in Cary, N.C. are busy little worker bees because they're working on the next certification, EAL 4, for RHEL 5, even though that version of Red Hat's enterprise product is still a year away.

The push, and the money, for this certification is coming from none other than IBM and the Trusted Computer Systems (TCS). TCS' cross-domain security applications are being worked into the future RHEL 5, which will be the first Linux distribution with TCS's capabilities. Hence the working ahead for the next EAL certification.

With all that potential government customer base, who can blame Red Hat?

» Mandriva is still busy in the OEM space, this week having signed a deal with NEC to launch a line of preloaded enterprise-level servers.

After last week's Dell laptop announcement, which seemed more hype than reality, we'll patiently wait to see what comes out of this news.

» Expect big news from the startup Zimbra on Monday. The code for its open source collaboration suite is on its site for a testdrive, and we recommend giving it at least a quick perusal.

Elsewhere in the Corral

Recent relevant articles about enterprise Unix

Tips of the Trade

Brute-force attacks on open ports are an unfortunate fact of life on the Internet. They are usually obvious — you'll see large numbers of failed login attempts for nonexistent users in your logs:

Sep 21 07:49:31 server1 sshd[3214]: Illegal user postmaster from
Sep 21 07:49:35 server1 sshd[3216]: Illegal user party from
Sep 21 07:49:38 server1 sshd[3218]: Illegal user michael from
Sep 21 07:49:41 server1 sshd[3220]: Illegal user amanda from
Sep 21 07:49:48 server1 sshd[3224]: Illegal user rpm from

Or like this:

Sep 22 04:43:02 server2 sshd[26474]: (pam_unix) check pass; user unknown
Sep 22 04:43:02 server2 sshd[26474]: (pam_unix) authentication failure;
logname= uid=0 euid=0 tty=ssh ruser= rhost=
Sep 22 04:43:03 server2 sshd[26474]: Failed password for invalid user info from port 44819 ssh2
Sep 22 04:43:05 server2 sshd[26477]: Invalid user test from
Sep 22 04:43:05 server2 sshd[26477]: Address maps to mail.kis.net, but this does not map back to the address - POSSIBLE BREAKIN ATTEMPT!

Strong passwords are an effective defense, since most of them are automated attacks that use dictionary words. But wouldn't it be nice to block these attacks dynamically, before they ever get to a login prompt? Well, with the excellent DenyHosts program, you can. DenyHosts is a Python script that parses authentication logs, then makes entries in /etc/hosts.deny to block the offending IPs.

DenyHosts is simple and flexible. The main configuration file is /etc/denyhosts.cfg. You can set it to block all services, or just SSH with BLOCK_SERVICE = ALL or BLOCK_SERVICE = sshd. SECURE_LOG points to the logfile you want to monitor; on Linux systems this is usually either /var/log/auth.log or /var/log/secure. DENY_THRESHOLD sets the number of allowed login attempts from the same IP. Don't set this too low, or you might lock yourself out. Five to 10 works for most folks.

It's a good idea to whitelist allowed IP addresses in /etc/hosts.allow. You can purge entries after a period of time, which keeps your hosts.deny file from growing uncontrollably. DenyHosts gives you the best of all worlds: the flexibility to log into your servers from wherever you want to and the ability to dynamically block bogus traffic.

DenyHosts runs on all Linuxes, FreeBSD, and some Unixes, too. Download it from denyhosts.sourceforge.net.

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. She is the author of the Linux Cookbook and the upcoming "Linux Networking Cookbook."

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