March 26th, 2008


Linux geekery

I won't talk too much about open source device drivers, I promise.

A little while ago, Dad got some peculiar mail purporting to come from one of my home machines. I know that spam comes from all over the place, and you can't trust everything you read in a header anymore, but the fact that this mail listed the internal name of my machine made me worried - as though the mail was coming FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE. (Cue needlessly campy, scary, suspenseful music.)

I had been thinking it was time to upgrade my Linux box, and this one piece of email makes me think I might be too late, that the thing is already compromised and Evil-Doers are using it to send out spam.

So, last night, I cozied up to the thing with a copy of Fedora 8 (which, itself, is nearly obsolete, but since it's been running on Fedora 6 all this time, I can't wait for 9), and booted to the installer. And it hung. Ah, right - this is why I didn't upgrade to 7; the same issue. I poked around and found some arcane options to get past the hang, and hung again a little later on. Even more arcane options, and I proceeded to wade through the "careful, you might reformat all your drives if you click this button" stages, and started updating the 850 or so packages I have installed before I went to bed.

This morning, I got up to find everything updated, which is good, but I'm worried that somewhere, there remains some lurking security hole - perhaps a rootkit that might be lurking out of sight.

So, now I want to migrate the good stuff off that machine onto a clean box, but that's sure to be a lot of work. Being a geek is hard.