martes, 24 de agosto de 2010

My Linux Computer is Acting Weird


A few days ago, thanks to one student, I realized that something funny was happening with my Linux netbook.

He said that it was weird that I was unafraid of USB viruses when I used my computer. Because of that comment, as in a Joycean epiphany, I discovered that THERE MUST BE SOMETHING TRULY WRONG with my netbook. Let me explain:

Since I installed Linux, I haven't seen a blue screen of death--Not even a flash of the scary blue. That's WEIRD.

It is also very strange that my Linux system keeps showing me invisible files stored in USB drives. I am not talking of hidden files. I am talking of many folders that I haven't created; they appear spontaneously when I plug in my USB drive onto any Windows computer. Of course, in Windows, I have no problem because the hideous files remain unseen. What's more: the antivirus constantly tells me that my USB drive is clean. Yet, when I use the flash drive in Linux, I can see them: lots of folders, sometimes with cryptic names, sometimes executable files with the name of my real folders. They are viruses! How am I supposed to have peace of mind if this Mandriva Linux OS keeps showing me how infected my USB drive actually is?

Moreover, it's very weird that my Linux computer refuses to behave as a normal Windows computer. I can get rid of those viruses in two clicks. I do not have to disable system restore...I do not have to boot in safe mode, mess up with the Windows registry, nor run full scans that take forever. Why is Linux so strange?

But here comes the most remarkable thing: my computer, regardless of the quantity of viruses I store in my USB drive (if I decide not to delete those files, of course), keeps WORKING, unaffected by the frightening threats! Now, that is TRULY WEIRD. Why would a person want to have a computer like mine, that is invulnerable to the scourge of USB viruses?

I turned to my student and said to him: "You think that my keeping of the USB viruses is weird. Well, they are harmless in my computer. I believe it's weirder to know that these viruses can destroy your OS and you, as a meek sheep, simply accept to live with that condition".

I saw something sparking in his eyes as another student asked me to help him install Linux in his computer.

25 comentarios:

  1. I like the way you describe a normal Linux computing experience into 'weird'. At ALC the students that do not have their PCs yet, bring in their USB keys which have been attached to windows PCs (from home, the public library, public schools,etc.) and count the number of files that 'magically' appear on them. They consider it a game and have the senior students (our span of students are either very young and senior citizens) terrified. These kids are sharp and consider what in the windows computing world would be a hazard into amusement.

    OTOH using a windows platform in mission critical environments is no joke; it can border on negligence.

    http://blogs.computerworld.com/16801/murder_by_malware_can_computer_viruses_kill

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  2. Taking viruses lightly at a personal lever is one thing, but at larger levels (industrial, medical), they are more than a simple annoyance. I still don't understand why people actually accept viruses and all the problems they cause. It's not hard to run a Linux computer, but they prefer to keep suffering! I bet the kids at ALC are teaching a very valuable lesson to their seniors. Way to go!!!

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  3. Awesome story. I'm running some of those legacy OSes to use as a petri dish for virus pets.

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  4. FYI: http://www.net-security.org/malware_news.php?id=1444
    http://maratux.blogspot.com/2010/08/who-dares-using-windows-in-critical.html
    http://it.slashdot.org/story/10/08/26/1343206/25-of-Worms-Spread-Via-USB

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  5. @ pjcolon,
    Thanks for sharing! What a scary world we live in if people make reckless decisions as putting Windows into system that is related to a plane...

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  6. You know: Setting Windows Explorer to show hidden and/or system files and extensions, and a good attrib /S /D -s -r -h * command is enough to get all the bastard viruses and weird folders to the light of the sun.

    As a former Linux user and returning Windows XP user I have to say: Thanks for getting that poor kid into the world of kernel panic, lack of drivers, unstable taskbars and file managers, freedom as in paranoia, failing suspend/hibernation, stupid arguments treating technology as a religion, and constant regressions.

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  7. @ Theguy,
    That should be enough to see them...but seeing them is not the same as REMOVING THEM! You forgot to type the process to clean the viruses (from the OS, not cheating with additional AV software) and also missed the point: getting hit by them. Oh, and you also forgot the AV rituals (that's paranoia). In that sense, Windows is more like a religion...you even have to pray for the computer not to get infected, hahaha!

    Sorry, but none of what you mentioned has happened to me. Well, except the lack of drivers, but that is not the fault of the OS, so it's a strawman fallacy.

    Funny that you returned to XP...If Windows is so good, you should be using 7, as Brother Ballmer commands every XP user to ;-)

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  8. love the story. I had to use my linux to clean and move files of my wife's work computer cos every time I put in a USB stick an copied files off, a virus copied on as well and I had to remove the virus before transferring them to the new machine.

    They pay me to fix Microsoft, I use linux to get the job done.

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  9. "Cheating" with additional AV software?

    Seriously?

    That's all I have to say about that.

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  10. @ TJ,

    By cheating I mean that Linux bashers always resort to the lack of drivers to disqualify Linux as an operational OS although drivers are not part of any OS. However, when talking about viruses, Windows requires additional help (third-party AV software) to deal with them. So, I'd like Windows supporters to see their reality: Windows, as an OS, is a terrible platform to deal with viruses by itself.

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  11. Boy, how come someone who is clinging to the dying XP dinosaur mentions the word "regressions"?? Maybe his system was not "good enough" to run Seven. Really...even Windows supporters are bashing XP nowadays and this person still holds to it...Either he failed to see his own reality or he thinks Microsoft will back up XP forever! I wonder what he'll do once XP gets well-buried in a couple of years. Windows users are so quick to mention "religion" to bash Linux but their own "faith" does not count, it seems. A little honesty, please!!! Run your great windows system for 3 months without any AV, anti-malware software, anti-spyware software and without those precious "patches" and service packs and see if it is as good as you claim. If you don't dare, then don't chant the supremacy of your OS, priests!

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  12. @ Megatotoro,
    Yes, and he even insulted me in another comment...Boy! Of course, I pity the poor sore ego of his because of his nightmarish experience with Canonical's distro...but you know the saying: "If you cannot handle your Ubuntu, you cannot migrate from XP to 7"! :-P

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  13. October/2010 is the support ending date for xp.

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  14. So soon? I read somewhere it had been extended to 2014 (at least for SP2 & 3

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  15. It's never written in stone but it has been 'announced'. If OLPC's effect on the 'netbook' market hadn't happened support for xp would've ended sooner. With microsoft it's always a case of moving goalposts and revenue($s).

    MS 'technical evangelists', astroturfers, trolls, fanbois and spin masters(IDC/IDG, ZDNet, Cnet, etc.) can bash GNU/Linux all they want. Once a user is on the *NIX platform very few go back.

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  16. "Run your great windows system for 3 months without any AV, anti-malware software, anti-spyware software and without those precious "patches" and service packs and see if it is as good as you claim."

    Easy unplug your ethernet, turn off your wireless og viola your are well protected and your produtivity are on par with Linux ;-)

    Windows requires additional help (third-party AV software)

    not necessarily third party apps. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Security_Essentials

    Comon guys!! This article is bollocks. Linux guys still clinging on to the Windows vira(and etc. myth). Actually it is not a strength itself that Linux does not get harmed by virus, spyware, etc. (although it is great when surfing pr0n). It's just indication how hard it is to write a virus to a system that has very small userbase and more importantly to target all the major distros - they are to diverted. Different kernel, different libs, different ABI's, different broken version of KDE, and the list goes on. No virus on Linux ; it's not feature, it's a bug!!

    Takes cover ;-)

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  17. WW3!?! OMG!! Where ?!?! The same world where Windows constantly crashes with a bluescreen?? Same world i said that Linux is bug. Nah i didn't say that Linux itself is a bug - but the missing binary comp. is bug. Maybe i'm seeking a minor flamewar. But calling Linux (please remark that i'm not using the GNU/*) a bug is just plain stupid. I have people for these silly wars ;-)

    However, there are records of Windows systems that were compromised via flashdrives.

    And what is it with you and flashdrives?? :-) You can also compromise a Windows system with CD-roms and Floppies. Like you can comprimise a Linux system with an owned repos.

    Just for the record, and i know this is kinda boring, i'm not a particullar OS-fanboy. I use Mac OS X, Linux (Since 2001) and Windows - depending on my needs. The funny thing about the OSS scene ; it hadn't change, speaking of arguements, that much since 2001 ;-)

    And that is my point. It's not that it's a myth that Windows can't get infected - it can be done. Very easily. But it's myth that you to spend 95% of your time removing spyware, malware, etc. on a Windows box - like it is myth that you will have to be a geek that never seen a naked lady in your life to set up a working Linux box.

    Could we please get a little more pragmatic and less zealousness ;-)

    Just standing and waving

    Mads

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  18. @ Mads,

    Don't worry. No sticks and stones here. Save your cover for WW3.
    Windows viruses are a myth? A rather factual myth, I'd say, hahaha! If ancient Greek gods were like them...
    So, Windows is more secure if I'm isolated from the world...I can't debate that :-) However, there are records of Windows systems that were compromised via flash drives.

    About the MS Essentials: they rely on AV services outside MS; that is, they are NOT part of the OS. Some of them are currently spreading fake antiviruses (ransomware) that install malware and demand payment from the user to remove part of what they install. Nice protection!

    Linux as a bug: Well, my position is this: give me any bug that keeps my banking safer than it is in Windows and I'll be happy.

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  19. @ Mads,
    "But it's myth that you to spend 95% of your time removing spyware, malware, etc. on a Windows box"

    Nope, no myth there. Actually, that was the reason that brought me to Linux. I realized that most of the computer knowledge I had gathered in over 10 years was for Windows self-defense. Even my friends would call me to repair their Windows boxes...and I'm no technician! That's when I thought..."Why do I have to use so much of my time to protect Windows machines at home, work, etc? I need to do what I like with my computer! Let MS defend their own system!"

    Your contributions and pragmatism are always welcome and appreciated here. Regards,

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  20. @Mechatotoro : What happen to the thread? Ahh different timestamps :-).

    Well the reason for my Linuxleap in 2001, and to 2009 running Linux 100%, was for a simpel reason ; curiosity. just like an amateur mechanics fiddles with his car. I was very fond of Linux and how you could customize it for your needs. But the lack time (suddenly i got three lovely kids) and a photoeditor which was on par with Lightroom, An accurate CD-ripper and some other minor thing made me go back to Windows again as my primary OS. With some small experiments with Pardus and Mac OS X.

    Nope, no myth there. Actually, that was the reason that brought me to Linux.

    Ok, that is not my experience :-) And it's not that i'm not believing you ;-)

    But when it comes to spyware, virus, etc. it has not been the mayor issue when repairing a Windows box. Most of the questions are very basic ; installing a program, installing hardware, upgrade, etc.. The few times i have helped out friend with security issues, then it's because the lack of updates, A/V-software (which are not the difficult to install and a tendency not to use your common sense when surfing the net. The same lack of comon sense when newbies just add a new repo to their favorite distrobution without questioning it origins :-)

    cheers

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  21. @ Mads,

    Three children! Well, I'm about to get my first one...let's see if I can manage to keep posting after she is born ;-)

    I wish everyone understood the value of plurality regarding OSs as you do. However, here, we still live in the stone age of technology, not because of lack of technology, but because of lack of involvement. For instance, last week one of my university students asked me what a netbook was...So imagine what Windows security is like here in my country. This issue actually explains my "fixation" with USB drives: most of the problems and complaints I get are related to them.
    Yet, I understand what you say about a false sense of security in any OS.

    Regards,

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  22. @Mads,
    "Easy unplug your ethernet, turn off your wireless og viola your are well protected and your produtivity are on par with Linux ;-)"

    That's totally true, but I certainly doubt most Windows users will put your method into practice, even if it could save them lots of headaches. I, for one, do it the few times I have to use Windows and I guarantee DOES work!

    Let me thank you for your discussion here. It's great to find users (Windows, MacOS, Linux, whatever) who are critical and open-minded at the same time. They promote thought and help others learn.

    Regards,

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  23. Thats the awesome way to describe the security of Linux....Great story :)

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  24. Well, I'm about to get my first one...let's see if I can manage to keep posting after she is born ;-)

    Congratulations!! :-)

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  25. Thank you! She was born today...a truly amazing experience.

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