17 November 2006

Linux is more secure... isn't it?

Something the advocates of linux are always telling me. Linux has far fewer holes than Windows. Well I'm not so sure.

The true test is when you go back to a machine you haven't used for some months (or years) and discover you can't remember your admin password. Yesterday was the first time this has happened to me with a linux machine and I was a little shocked at how easy it was to remove the root password.

To reset the root user password in slackware you just need to boot the machine using ANY linux live cd, mount your slack installation drive and edit the \etc\passwd file with a text editor. Remove any characters between the root: and the following : and save the file. Viola, now when you reboot the machine you can login as root without a password.

Of course you can reset the administrator password in a windows installation using one of the linux-based password hacker floppy disks, or make yourself a UBCD4win disk which is the windows equivalent of a live cd. The thing about these tools though is that you need to know what you are doing when using them. Any monkey can edit a text file so I have to conclude that if you have physical access to the machine then Linux (or at least Slackware) is less secure than windows.

10 November 2006

Gmail - Gone mail?

Ever remember seeing something online or in the shops, taken a small interest in it but then when you decide you want one you discover they're all sold out and nobody stocks them anymore?

Such is my current situation. I'm looking for an email solution which is always online, can forward selective messages to different email accounts based on words found in the content.

The easy solution is to leave a machine running with outlook or outlook express. By building junk mail rules, certain messages can be sent on to other accounts. The problem with that is inefficiency since it means leaving a computer switched on all the time (at extra cost both to me and also the planet).

I was quite happy to learn that Gmail supposedly has this ability built-in. The only problem is that it doesn't seem to be possible to sign-up for a Gmail account. Come back Gmail!!!! we don't mind the privacy invasion if it does the job (at least I don't, but then I have nothing to hide).