Maybe less than a week ago there was a pretty neat event called ConSecWest. It’s main purpose is for white hat security researchers to gain recognition for successfully exploiting popular Internet software such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Google Chrome, among others. A very cool program! Though, I think the researchers deserve more than $5,000 for finding a bug–but, how can one place value on recognition? A prominent ex-NSA security researched Charlie Millier who was interviewed at tomshardware.com discovered severals flaws at the event one of which exploited Firefox.
Two things need to be done. First, props need to be given to the Firefox team for quickly resolving these flaws and releasing Firefox 3.0.8.
Second, though, just because a new version of the software is available does not mean that a system is now protected against the vulnerability. But, that is not so far from the truth. The most important step is to actually update your system and for a brief second I thought that maybe I would have to update my system manually. I mean, the new version was released so recently! Once again, I doubted the Ubuntu distribution probably due to being scarred by years of using Fedora Core. The moment I discovered there was a new version of Firefox, Ubuntu had notified me of new updates! To my surprised, it was Firefox 3.0.8… Excellent work Ubuntu! Your timeliness is very appreciated.
Mozilla Firefox 3.0.8, Copyright (c) 1998 – 2009 mozilla.org
I’ve recently decided replace two of my home servers with an Intel Atom system. The Atom is a low-power CPU which comes in various flavors which you can read about at wikipedia.org. What I will tell you about is the huge success that my upgrade has been and how extremely happy I am with this processor. You will also find a detail listing of the various components that compose my system, how the system is being used, and my overall opinion of the processor.
- Athenatech Black Steel A100BB.270 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
- Kingston 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) Desktop Memory Model KVR533D2N4/2G
- ECS 945GCT-D Intel Atom FCBGA 437 Intel 945GC Mini-DTX 200x170mm Motherboard/CPU Combo
- Transcend 4GB Compact Flash (CF) Flash Card Model TS4GCF300
- LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30
- Addonics CF – SATA HDD Adapter
Total Price: $251.44
I went with the ECS 945GCT-D motherboard because it comes with a PCI-e slot. This is a very useful feature which will increase the longevity of your system giving you room for any possible future upgrades. For me however, I’m using the slot to stow my external RAID controller card which is the core component of my 5 terabyte data storage solution. The motherboard claims it supports a maximum of 2gb of RAM–1gb stick in each slot. Though, I’m having no issues with a single stick. One last thing I’d like to mention is splurge and purchase the highest quality compact flash card you can afford. I experimented with several models and found them lacking in performance. Worse, a Kingston stick I first purchased had constant data corruption issues. Avoid! The CF card listed above will not disappoint featuring 45Mb/sec transfer rate.
I am extremely happy with the performance of this system. It makes absolutely no noise though it has a PSU fan and two small case fans. It is ideal for my home server needs and this box currently serves the following purposes:
- MySQL Database Server
- Apache/PHP Web Server
- DNS Server
- NIS Server
- NFS Server
- MythTV Front/Backend
- SVN Server
All of the above services took a solid week and a half to match the flawless configuration of the systems it replaced. During this process, I experimented with several Linux distributions including Fedora Core 10, Ubuntu 8.10 Server, and Ubuntu 8.04 Server. Ultimately, I had the most success with Ubuntu 8.04. It was an interesting experience attempting to configure the system with FC10. I had configured almost all of the above services but failed to get sound working with MythTV. I won’t get into the details of the problem but my conclusion is that Ubuntu has come a long way not just as a Desktop but as a Server. The configuration of Ubuntu was much easier not just because it is better documented but the overall higher quality of the packages offered by Ubuntu makes configuration of the above services a much better experience. It is worth mentioned that because I only have 4 GB of disk space on this system I could not afford to install unused packages (e.g. Ubuntu Desktop). The FC10 base install took ~1.4GB compared to Ubuntu 8.04 which took ~500MB. After installing all the necessary packages to support my configuration, my disk usage is:
/dev/sdg1 3753400 1723876 1840364 49% /
Which is perfect.
This $250 system is a perfect home server. I’ll take it a step further and dare to mention that running X (specifically, LXDE) on the Atom system is just as responsive as on my dual-core box. Unless you need heavy computing power (e.g. gaming/video editing) you will be very happy with the Atom processor. I can’t wait to build another one.