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MIS180 - Random Thoughts

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Post-it Note Page

Last Modified: Wed 04/01/09

An old Chinese saying:     "A one-thousand mile journey starts with a single step."

Temp notes

Many of the package management commands on Fedora are different than on Ubuntu, please see: Table of Equivalent Commands for some details.

If you are going to try Ubuntu, we have both the 32bit and 64bit available locally - download and burn the CD. If you don't know what that means, I might suggest going to the Ubuntu download site because they have detailed instructions.

I have the iso's for several current distributions. In lieu of downloading to your computer and then burning, if you would prefer to stop by my office with a blank CD (a CD for Ubuntu, a DVD for Fedora) I can burn a copy. You are welcome to borrow a Fedora 10 (64bit) DVD.

I have the following iso's:

A VERY brief introduction to Regular Expressions

I have a page with some Basic Linux commands - this command page will get updated as the term progresses.

Brian Bentz sent me the following links:

Accounts on our department server have been created, this includes web content (see LOCAL HELP for details (user/passwd info).

You are welcome to add content, however:

OpenOffice NFS locking problems:

(OpenOffice opens files over NFS in read-only mode, and doesn't let the user save the changes to the file.)
Open up the file (in a simple text editor, say emacs) on you local machine:
/usr/lib64/openoffice.org3/program/soffice and comment out the following lines: (or for ooffice 2.#: /usr/lib64/openoffice.org/program/soffice)

# file locking now enabled by default

To produce:

# file locking now enabled by default
(obviously /usr/lib/openoffice.org/program/soffice on a 32 bit version)

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If you have a reasonable amount of Linux experience, you may find our textbook to be aimed at the beginner level. There are many good texts aimed at the intermediate/advanced level. A few that come to mind are (no order intended):

Linux - General

Very well organized and clearly written, you can't go wrong with a Sobell book (I learned Unix using Mark Sobell's : A Practical Guide to the Unix System)

Linux - System Administration

No surprises here, I have had three versions of these classics.


Arranged in order of preference, so if I am stepping on any ones toes. The first is GREAT (look at the reviews)


Arranged in order of preference The first book is perfect (look at the reviews)

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Password Selection

Essential password rules

Rule 1 – Password Length: Use passwords that are at least 10 characters in length. The more characters in the passwords the better, as in harder to crack.

Rule 2 – Password Complexity: Should contain one or more characters from at least three of the following groups.

  1. Lower case letters
  2. Upper case letters
  3. Numbers
  4. Special Characters

General Guidelines

  1. Must be at least eight characters long (ideally it should be ten or more characters).
  2. Should contain at least 5 unique characters. You already have 4 different character if chose one from each group above.
  3. Mix Upper and Lower Case Letters .
  4. Mix Letters and Numbers -- especially when added to the middle (not just at the beginning or the end).
  5. Include Non-Alphanumeric Characters -- Special characters such as &, #, $, %, < , @, ^, *, and punctuation (preferably a few of them).
  6. Use Password Manager. Strong passwords are hard to remember. So, as part of utilizing a strong password you need a reliable and trustworthy way of remembering the strong password. Using a password management tool to store passwords should really become a habit. Anytime you create a password, immediately record it in a password manager tool. Then your password will be encrypted and stored away password protected.
  7. Be significantly different from prior passwords. It is important to differentiate between Important and less important passwords.
  8. Pick a Password You Can Remember -- the SysAdmin can not 'look up' your password.
    If you don’t want to use password management tool, Use Passphrase to easily remember the passwords. You can use initials of a song or a phrase that are very familiar to you.
  9. You may take a word you like, say redmeat and substitute some characters to get: r{*Meat!#     (don't use this one).
Do NOT Do the Following:
  1. Do NOT Use Only dictionary words or only numbers.
    BAD: 8148242123, changeme, password, secret, qwerty, Qwerty123 (or ANY single dictionary word).
  2. Do NOT Use Recognizable Words (even from Foreign Languages).
    BAD: roger1, mentat123, bienvenido1, 1dumbKopf.
  3. Do NOT Use less than 10 characters for a password.
  4. Do NOT Use a sequence of characters from the keyboard.
  5. Do NOT Use Personal Information.
    Such as: Your name, The names of pets, The names of family members, Your phone number or zip code.
  6. Do NOT Use the same password on multiple machines.

We require strong passwords. These policies will be enforced. We run a password cracking program against the password file, any passwords which are cracked will have that account disabled.


You may wonder why? Prior to setting up IP rate limitations, on some days we have in excess of 4000 attempted logins on our server (the maximum was 27,000 in one day).

Why mixed case and symbols?       (~28 different symbols and 10 digits)
For example a four character password, just lower-case, allows 264 or about 457,000 variations.
Whereas, with mixed case and symbols a four character password allows 904 or about 65 million variations Still crackable).
But an eight character password (our minimum) allows 908 or about 4.3 quadrillion variations (4300 trillion).   (26+26+28+10 = 90)

By the way I will not look kindly on those of you attempting to run a passwd-crack program (or similar types of mischief) on our server. That sort of playing sould be done on your own machine.

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Notes ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

Why Windows is less secure than Linux - Answer number 1,641,317

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, used a simple analogy to explain the timing of his involvement (in the Linux/Open Source movement): "When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. When is the second best time? Now."
Commenting on human potential behind any undertaking, he added: "A small group of passionate people is all it takes to change the world. In fact, if you look through the history of humanity, they are the only ones who have ever changed anything."

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In Computer Heaven:
The management is from Intel, the design and construction is done by Apple, the marketing is done by Microsoft, IBM provides the support, Dell determines the pricing.

In Computer Hell:
The management is from Apple, Microsoft does design and construction, IBM handles the marketing, the support is from Dell, Intel sets the price.

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By the end of this class you should find this humorous: Why Linux Viruses are fairly uncommon

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Mar 7 - Welcome to Linux - I hope you have as much fun as I do
all time - A primary reason many use Linux is well explained by the GNU Project - see 'Free as in Freedom' link.
- Roger Griffiths
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Useful Links

When you run into excellent online resources please drop me an email with the link, then I can share it with the class.

Our Help For Local Users Page. (needs a little work right now)


A collection of links to a variety of different types of Linux related information.

Fedora Specific

Multimedia packages for GNU/Linux



By the way Emacs is available for windows (free). There are a number of nice simple text editors for windoze, my personal favorite is WinEdt (nagware - currently $30). <Advertisement> WinEd is a powerful and versatile ASCII editor and shell for MS Windows with a strong predisposition towards the creation of [La]TeX documents... </Advertisement>




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