Articles

Articles

Robbert Haarman

2010-12-11


Introduction

The Internet is a fantastic place, where people freely speak their minds. This leads to some really interesting texts being available online. On this page I provide links to articles and other things that various people have written.


Linux is on the Desktop, and it's Cheap!

GNU/Linux is on the desktop, and it's cheap! Z-Tech Shop (yes, that's a company, and no, I'm not affiliated with them) has a nice overview of applications for Linux, including screenshots, refuting the common belief that GNU/Linux lacks applications for common tasks or is only suitable for geeks and people running servers. Z-Tech also sell desktop computers with your choice of Linux distro for US$75. They are refurbished and the hardware is not top of the line, but I still think it's a great deal for many people.


Evolving a Better Keyboard Layout

Here's an experiment by someone trying to evolve a better keyboard layout using something resembling genetic algorithms. I find his approach very interesting, although I have my doubts about his work estimation functions having any real significance. It's good to see that the Dvorak layout scores well, though. :-)


The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security

Marcus J. Ranum wrote an editorial discussing the six dumbest ideas in computer security. It mostly boils down to taking a reactive rather than a proactive approach. I think the points he maker are rather good; they are very radical but very right. There's a lot more on computer security on his site.


OpenBSD Security Features

This presentation (by Theo de Raadt) gives a good overview of the security features in OpenBSD (beyond what's already outlined on the OpenBSD security page). It covers W^X, random stack displacements, random canaries to detect stack smashing, random library base addresses, random addresses for mmap and malloc operations, guard pages, privilege revocation, and privilege separation. One thing it doesn't cover is systrace.


Free Books on the Internet

The Man Also Known As "I'm Batman!" made a blog post lamenting the quality of printed computer books, including a list of classics that are now available for free on the Internet. Another list can be found at Free Programming and Computer Science Books. There are also a number of projects that make available books not related to computer science, such as Project Gutenberg (which AKAImBatman also links to).

Some of my favorite books available online are:

Of course, with so much good information available on the Internet (e.g. at Wikipedia) in non-book form, I sometimes wonder what we still need books for. One reason I came up with is that future archeologists are far more likely to figure out how to get knowledge from books than from our electronic systems. Note to self: print out website when the apocalypse comes.


FreeBSD, KDE and Me

I've gotten bored with all the talk about Linux vs. Windows, and whether or not Linux can replace Windows on the desktop. Windows is not a Real OS, and Linux is not for Real Users. This article provides a refreshing look on things by comparing the applauded KDE (running on FreeBSD to the applauded Mac OS X.


Inductive user interfaces

A short rant by Paul Thurott about MicroSoft's task-based user interface. In short, he applauds the way Windows lets you perform tasks on objects without having to worry about the application to use for those manipulations. Arguably, choice of application has become a non-issue in the Windows world as most PC's come with a MicroSoft application for every task. Yet, I think a task-based UI is a Good Thing, and something other systems could learn from.


Books: 'Hegemony or Survival'

Noam Chomsky, besides being one of the fathers of linguistics, is also known for his political opinions. It so happens that I agree with many of his views. The above link is to a question and answer session hosted by the Washington Post, in which Chomsky answers questions mainly about his opinions on the USA's foreign policy.


Bill Gates: Unplugged

I find this news.com.com [sic] interview with Bill Gates very interesting. I have always awed Bill Gates for his achievements, and in this interview he provides quite some insightful remarks. This is one of the times I wish I had a weblog so I could share my thoughts with all who care to read.


Operating-system comparisons

Some history and comparisons of VMS, MacOS, OS/2, Windows NT, BeOS, and Linux by the famed Eric S. Raymond. It features some sharp insights about Good Things and Bad Things in operating systems.


Journal File Systems

An article on Linux Gazette about journaled filesystems. It is a good introduction to the key concepts and motivations of (journaled) filesystems.


Reiser4

A description of the upcoming version 4 of the Reiserfs. The current Reiserfs kicks ass, and Reiser4 is going to be even better! Besides an explanation of the filesystem, the article also contains some highly political language, and some `creative' artwork.