Sandra Henry-Stocker

Author Archives: Sandra Henry-Stocker

Improved telepresence — in your face with the new BeamPro 2

For those of us intrigued by telepresence technology, the new BeamPro 2 might be just what Santa should have left under our trees – except, well, that it wouldn’t have fit. But on other scales, the release of this new and improved device promises more realistic visits with colleagues, customers, patients, and others with respect to video, audio and maneuverability.Available this summer, The BeamPro 2 provides better face-to-face interactions with its enlarged multi-touch display and vertical screen height adjustment. It has been engineered to move more easily around crowded spaces with its wide angle cameras and additional sensors for detecting obstacles. It also provides improved audio and video.To read this article in full, please click here

Red Hat responds to the Intel processor flaw

How are the Linux vendors addressing the recently-exposed Intel processor flaw? I asked Red Hat and got some solid answers.What is the nature of the problem? Discovered some time ago, but only just yesterday brought into public view, the CPU flaw allows an attacker to bypass restrictions to gain access to privileged memory (which should be inaccessible) -- possibly stealing sensitive information from computer systems, mobile devices, and cloud deployments. There are actually two problems and they've been dubbed "Meltdown" and "Spectre". They potentially affect 90% of computer servers and virtually every Intel microprocessor.The Meltdown flaw is specific to Intel while Spectre is a design flaw that has been used by many processor manufacturers for decades.To read this article in full, please click here

Linux resolutions for 2018

It’s always a good idea to start a new year with renewed intentions to be even better users and administrators of our Linux systems. For auld lang syne (for the sake of old times), let's touch on some of the ways we might improve our system practices in 2018.1: Automate more of the boring stuff There are several good reasons to turn tedious tasks into scripts. The first is to make them less annoying. The second is to make them less error-prone. And the last is to make them easier to turn over to new team members who haven't been around long enough to be bored. Add a small dose of meaningful comments to your scripts and you have a better chance of passing on some of your wisdom about how things should be done.To read this article in full, please click here

Squinting at ASCII on Linux

Back when I started working with computers, understanding the nature of ASCII was exciting. In fact, just knowing how to convert binary to hex was fun.That was a lot of years ago — berfore ASCII had yet reached drinking age — but character encoding standards are as important as ever today with the internet being so much a part of our business and our personal lives. They're also more complex and more numerous than you might imagine. So, let’s dive into some of the details of what ASCII is and some of the commands that make it easier to see coding standards in action.Why ASCII? ASCII came about to circumvent the problem that different types of electronic systems were storing text in different ways. They all used some form of ones and zeroes (or ONs and OFFs), but the issue of compatibility became important when they needed to interact. So, ASCII was developed primarily to provide encoding consistency. It became a standard in the U.S. in 1960. Initially, ASCII characters used only 7 bits. Some years later, ASCII was extended to use all 8 bits in each byte.To read this article in full, please click here

How to extract content from compressed files on Linux

The easiest way to extract the content of compressed files (and compressed archives) on Linux is to prepare a script that both recognizes files by type and uses the proper commands for extracting their contents. Almost every compressed file will have an easily recognizable file extension — .Z, .gz, .tgz etc. And while the commands aren’t very complex, there sure are a lot of them and many options for each.So, why not attack the problem with a script that saves your precious brain cells for more challenging work? Let's look at an example that you might want to consider.To read this article in full, please click here

Peeking into your Linux packages

Do you ever wonder how many thousands of packages are installed on your Linux system? And, yes, I said "thousands." Even a fairly modest Linux system is likely to have well over a thousand packages installed. And there are many ways to get details on what they are.First, to get a quick count of your installed packages on a Debian-based distribution such as Ubuntu, use the command apt list --installed like this:$ apt list --installed | wc -l 2067 This number is actually one too high because the output contains "Listing..." as its first line. This command would be more accurate:$ apt list --installed | grep -v "^Listing" | wc -l 2066 To get some details on what all these packages are, browse the list like this:To read this article in full, please click here

How to squeeze the most out of Linux file compression

If you have any doubt about the many commands and options available on Linux systems for file compression, you might want to take a look at the output of the apropos compress command. Chances are you'll be surprised by the many commands that you can use for compressing and decompressing files, as well as for comparing compressed files, examining and searching through the content of compressed files, and even changing a compressed file from one format to another (i.e., .z format to .gz format).You're likely to see all of these entries just for the suite of bzip2 compression commands. Add in zip, gzip, and xz, and you've got a lot of interesting options.To read this article in full, please click here

Linux for the Industry 4.0 era: New distro for factory automation

NXP Semiconductors, a world leader in secure connectivity solutions, just announced a Linux distribution that is intended to support factory automation. It's called Open Industrial Linux (OpenIL), and it's promising true industrial-grade security based on trusted computing, hardened software, cryptographic operations and end-to-end security.The fact that factory managers and industrial equipment manufacturers are turning to Linux is not surprising considering its operational stability, professional approach to system security, and its obvious low cost of ownership. The importance of the security and reliability of manufacturing security to the well being of any industrial nation is clear from the focus that DHS places on this sector.To read this article in full, please click here

Why Linux can make you feel thankful or merely stuffed

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. While I’m looking forward to turkey, stuffing and pie, I’m also thankful to have been able to spend most of my career administering Unix and Linux systems. So, today’s post is going to focus on some of the things I’ve felt most thankful for and most gratified by over the span of more than 30 years with Unix and Linux.Also on Network World: 14 Linux apps that will change how you work There are many reasons why I came to appreciate Unix and then Linux and why they became such an important part of my life. These operating systems provided a focus and a career specialty that I've greatly enjoyed. I appreciate Linus Torvalds and the many thousands of developers who have contributed their time and energy into building a powerful, efficient and enjoyable operating system. I appreciate the many tools and commands that make them so easy to use and get my work done. And I appreciate the chances that I've had to share what I've learned with so many others. It's been fun, and it's been very rewarding.To read this article in full, please click here

How to build command groups with sudo

When managing your /etc/sudoers files, it’s a good idea to organize user privileges in ways that make them easier to manage over the long haul and to assign permissions based on the roles that users play in your organization.One very useful way to do that is to group related commands together — such as all commands related to running backups or managing web sites — and assign them to the individuals or groups that require these privileges.Setting up command groups in /etc/sudoers To create a command group, you use what is called a Cmnd_Alias in your /etc/sudoers file and give the new command group a meaningful name. Here are some examples. Note that full pathnames should be specified for all of the commands included in a group. Otherwise, you are likely to see an error like this when you try to exit visudo. And remember to only edit /etc/sudoers with the visudo command to allow it to warn you in ways like this and prevent errors.To read this article in full, please click here

Building command groups with sudo

When managing your /etc/sudoers files, it’s a good idea to organize user privileges in ways that make them easier to manage over the long haul and to assign permissions based on the roles that users play in your organization. One very useful way is to group related commands together – such as all commands related to running backups or managing web sites – and assign them to the individuals or groups that require these privileges.Setting up command groups To create a command group, you would use what is called a Cmnd_Alias in your /etc/sudoers file and give the new command group a meaningful name. Here are some examples. Note that full pathnames should be specified for all of the commands included in a group. Otherwise, you are likely to see an error like this when you try to exit visudo. And remember to only edit /etc/sudoers with the visudo command to allow it to warn you in ways like this and prevent errors.To read this article in full, please click here

5 tricks for using the sudo command

The sudoers file can provide detailed control over user privileges, but with very little effort, you can still get a lot of benefit from sudo. In this post, we're going to look at some simple ways to get a lot of value out of the sudo command in Linux.Trick 1: Nearly effortless sudo usage The default file on most Linux distributions makes it very simple to give select users the ability to run commands as root. In fact, you don’t even have to edit the /etc/sudoers file in any way to get started. Instead, you just add the users to the sudo or admin group on the system and you’re done.Adding users to the sudo or admin group in the /etc/group file gives them permission to run commands using sudo.To read this article in full, please click here

6 IoT skills that will future-proof your career

What can you do to ensure your technical skills remain relevant and in demand even as technology evolves?For years, I've suggested that sysadmins and other technology professionals who want to stay ahead of the curve focus on: Developing skills for the next wave of technology innovations Routinely picking up some in-demand skills Investing some of their time in side projects that may not pay off right away While that still seems to be excellent advice, it appears a specific focus on the Internet of Things (IoT) should be added to the list. Earlier this year, Gartner predicted that 20.4 billion IoT devices will be connecting in 2020. That's just over two years from now, and that's a lot of devices. Srini Vemula, global product management leader at SenecaGlobal, believes this influx of new IoT devices will lead to tens of thousands of new jobs in the IoT economy.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Future-proofing your career with IoT

What can you do to ensure your technical skills remain relevant and in demand even as technology evolves?For years, I've been suggesting that sysadmins and other technology professionals who want to stay ahead of the curve focus on: developing skills for the next wave of technology innovations routinely picking up some in-demand skills investing some of their time in side projects that may not pay off right away While this still seems to be excellent advice, it appears that a specific focus on IoT should be added to the list. Earlier this year, Gartner predicted that 20.4 billion IoT devices will be connecting in 2020. That's just over two years from now and that's a lot of devices. Srini Vemula, global product management leader at SenecaGlobal, believes that this influx of new IoT devices will lead to tens of thousands of new jobs in the IoT economy.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Beam me up and over — test-driving telepresence technology

Telepresence has become a very intelligent business strategy, especially for companies that are spread across multiple sites or for those that have clients in many locations that they need to deal with on a fairly regular basis. Using what is in essence a fairly simple robot, anyone can transport himself to another location, move around through offices and interact face to face with people they might not otherwise ever meet. Granted they’re going to look something like large iPads held up by a couple metal rods riding on top of self-propelled vacuum cleaners, but the experience is still surprisingly effective.I recently had a chance to transport myself using one of the Beam presence systems built by Suitable Technologies. I sat in my office in the mountains in Virginia while being transported to an office suite in Palo Alto, California, and interacted with two members of the staff. I had previously spoken with one of the same company’s customers at yet another location to get a feel for how they were using their Beams.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Beam me up and over — test-driving telepresence technology

Telepresence has become a very intelligent business strategy, especially for companies that are spread across multiple sites or for those that have clients in many locations that they need to deal with on a fairly regular basis. Using what is in essence a fairly simple robot, anyone can transport himself to another location, move around through offices and interact face to face with people they might not otherwise ever meet. Granted they’re going to look something like large iPads held up by a couple metal rods riding on top of self-propelled vacuum cleaners, but the experience is still surprisingly effective.I recently had a chance to transport myself using one of the Beam presence systems built by Suitable Technologies. I sat in my office in the mountains in Virginia while being transported to an office suite in Palo Alto, California, and interacted with two members of the staff. I had previously spoken with one of the same company’s customers at yet another location to get a feel for how they were using their Beams.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Beam me up and over – test driving telepresence technology

Telepresence has become a very intelligent business strategy, especially for companies that are spread across multiple sites or those with clients in many locations that they need to deal with on a fairly regular basis. Using what is in essence a fairly simple robot, anyone can transport himself to another location, move around through offices and interact face-to-face with people they might not otherwise ever meet. Granted they’re going to look something like large iPads held up by a couple metal rods riding on top of self-propelled vacuum cleaners, the experience is still surprisingly effective.I’ve recently had a chance to transport myself using one of the Beam presence systems built by Suitable Technologies. I sat in my office in the mountains in Virginia while being transported to an office suite in Palo Alto, California and interacted with two members of the staff. I had previously spoken with one of the same company’s customers at yet another location to get a feel for how they were using their Beams.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Beam me up and over – test driving telepresence technology

Telepresence has become a very intelligent business strategy, especially for companies that are spread across multiple sites or those with clients in many locations that they need to deal with on a fairly regular basis. Using what is in essence a fairly simple robot, anyone can transport himself to another location, move around through offices and interact face-to-face with people they might not otherwise ever meet. Granted they’re going to look something like large iPads held up by a couple metal rods riding on top of self-propelled vacuum cleaners, the experience is still surprisingly effective.I’ve recently had a chance to transport myself using one of the Beam presence systems built by Suitable Technologies. I sat in my office in the mountains in Virginia while being transported to an office suite in Palo Alto, California and interacted with two members of the staff. I had previously spoken with one of the same company’s customers at yet another location to get a feel for how they were using their Beams.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Beam me up and over – test driving telepresence technology

Telepresence has become a very intelligent business strategy, especially for companies that are spread across multiple sites or those with clients in many locations that they need to deal with on a fairly regular basis. Using what is in essence a fairly simple robot, anyone can transport himself to another location, move around through offices and interact face-to-face with people they might not otherwise ever meet. Granted they’re going to look something like large iPads held up by a couple metal rods riding on top of self-propelled vacuum cleaners, the experience is still surprisingly effective.I’ve recently had a chance to transport myself using one of the Beam presence systems built by Suitable Technologies. I sat in my office in the mountains in Virginia while being transported to an office suite in Palo Alto, California and interacted with two members of the staff. I had previously spoken with one of the same company’s customers at yet another location to get a feel for how they were using their Beams.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Scary Linux commands for Halloween

With Halloween so fast approaching, it’s time for a little focus on the spookier side of Linux. What commands might bring up images of ghosts, witches and zombies? Which might encourage the spirit of trick or treat?crypt Well, we’ve always got crypt. Despite its name, crypt is not an underground vault or a burial pit for trashed files, but a command that encrypts file content. These days “crypt” is generally implemented as a script that emulates the older crypt command by calling a binary called mcrypt to do its work. Using the mycrypt command directly is an even better option. $ mcrypt x Enter the passphrase (maximum of 512 characters) Please use a combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers. Enter passphrase: Enter passphrase: File x was encrypted. Note that the mcrypt command creates a second file with an added ".nc" extension. It doesn't overwrite the file you are encrypting.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here