Category Archives: Free Software & Open Source

checkPTS: A script to detect if someone is trying to hide his presence on the server

I added a new script to the repo “ala-scripts” called checkPTS. This script is to check if any logged in user tried to hide his status by removing his entry from utmp, so if you are online, and you type “w” to check for logged in users, you wouldn’t see him.

This method is used by a lot of hackers (I mean the ones that try to gain illegal access to your box) to hide there presence.

When this happens, the script issues a bunch of commands, and add some log files and send that to me by email (using mutt).

Please if anybody finds an issue in that file, please send me, either here or on github.

Ternary Computers

If you have been following me on twitter, you would notice that I came interested in this topic very recently.
Well, it started as we were discussing performance, and Moore’s law. So according to this law, computers will get more performance in the same size, until something around year 2025 or something, when it would be impossible to add more transistors in the same space.

So for this to happen, computers, and processors would need to change the way they are working, maybe a biological computer would appear, or maybe a Ternary Computer.

So we started to imagine how things would work out if the world needed to upgrade to Ternary Computers, where data wouldn’t be represented in 1 and 0, it would be more like 1,0,-1 or 0,1,2, at first thinking of the logic was confusing, as there would no longer be true and false, but another state would be added. After doing some research, I started to understand how things would be done, and at some point, I thought it would be more logical than binary.

Also, the interesting part is, that such a computer was built before, and it was called Setun, and it was in USSR. And it did actually have better performance for cost than the regular binary computers. As in 1965 when they halted the production of it, the binary computer who matched the performance, costed 2.5 more than Setun.

Now just imagine, what if the production of this computer wasn’t halted, and it was accepted as the ultimate processing architecture, who much more advanced we would be, processors are cheaper, and preforms better.

Now let’s imagine, if we started to implement such computers, we would need a totally new hardware, and software. and The flip-flop-flaps would rule :). Thus the commercial interest in this would be very low. who would want a computer that doesn’t work with all your cool hardware laying around, and more, none of your applications would work on. Although I’m not sure how the regular networking protocols would work with such device. The whole world is built on 1s and 0s, and 8-bit bytes, how would it handle 6-trit tryte (which can hold the same values of up to ~9.5 bits).

I would think a good place for such a technology to shine is embedded systems, Imagine your car running such system. (Although your CDs would need another system).

I think at one point, we will have to deal with such an improvement.

Mp3 to Ogg converter

For some time, I needed to convert a big number of files from mp3 to ogg format, as I didn’t see any loss of quality with the ogg format, also it need less space.

The problem was that I want to keep my id3 tags, rewriting them would be a pain in the a**. I searched the web for free tools to do that, but I couldn’t find any, maybe I didn’t look enough. So I had to implement it myself.

Also, as I’m learning ruby, I thought it would be a good idea to use it for the script.

The tools I needed to do this, were mplayer, id3tool, and oggenc (vorbis-tools). Also in order to utilize my quad-core processor, I built it in a multi-threaded way (not so much, but it works :-)).

Now, I noticed that oggenc takes a lot of time, more than mplayer, so it was loading my tmp directory, so I made the mplayer thread wait when oggenc has 20 or more in it’s queue to process. Also, for more utilization, I put 3 threads for the oggenc to process.

I think that the script can use some improvements, feel free to post your feedback.

The script is available at git-hub at http://github.com/alaaibrahim/mp3toogg

Enjoy

Happy Software Freedom Day

Software Freedom Day

Software Freedom Day (SFD) is a worldwide celebration of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Our goal in this celebration is to educate the worldwide public about of the benefits of using high quality FOSS in education, in government, at home, and in business — in short, everywhere! The non-profit company Software Freedom International provides guidance in organizing SFD, but volunteer teams around the world organize their own SFD events to impact their own communities.

Open You Windows To Freedom (ReactOS)

While surfing the Internet last night, I reached some sites talking about a free (as in freedom) clone of MS Windows called ReactOS, ReactOS is an effort to create a Free Software replacement for Microsoft Windows(TM) that is compatible with existing hardware and software!
A good review for the product can be found on The NeoSmart Files here.
Well, it’s still in an alpha version, but they seem to have a lot of good work done.
Now to my point of view, for GNU/Linux which is based on UNIX, the root is not a proprietary to anybody, it’s based on the POSIX standards (which the only UNIX that doesn’t comply them is Sun Solaris, I don’t know if Sun ever heard about it), so any change in UNIX is not forced to be done by the GNU team, when it comes to ReactOS (also WINE) I guess this is going to be a problem, there root is Microsoft, which means any change Microsoft makes, they should do it too. Also would it be really free, GNU/Linux was a crowning achievement in the free software world, because it eliminated the one remaining barrier to having a 100% free software environment on your computer. ReactOS isn’t leaning that way, because even though it’s shooting for a free kernel, O/S, and GUI, you’re still doing it in the service of proprietary applications.
Anyway, I guess I’m going to try it soon using VMWARE, and surly I would post my feedback.
And remember, A computer is like air conditioning: it becomes useless when you open windows.

Firefox 2.0 alpha available

If you aspire to be an early adopter, here’s your chance. An alpha version of Firefox 2.0 called “Bon Echo” is available on Mozilla’s FTP servers, and you can choose from the Windows version, Mac OS X version, or Linux version.

Due out later this year, Firefox 2.0 promises a handful of improvements and new features over what is already a very solid browser. (By way of disclosure, I use Firefox 1.5 exclusively on my PC.)

Version 2.0 has a handful of new features. One of the more interesting features is the revamped places menu, which is accessible from the bookmarks toolbar. Clicking on that brings up a box that will allow you to search your history, bookmarks, and RSS subscriptions for a keyword. Very useful if you remember reading about something interesting earlier in the day and need to quickly locate the web page again. Aesthetically speaking, there are a few minor tweaks to the UI, such as Xs on inactive tabs for easy closing.

Google’s antiphishing tech is also planned for inclusion in a future version of Firefox. Although it does not appear to be incorporated into this early alpha of 2.0, Google Safe Browsing—which uses a combination of blacklisting and “best guesses” about a site’s intention—may yet make it into the final release of Firefox 2.0.

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