Friday, January 28, 2011

Linux Plays well with Others

Two of my friends transfered out NIU this semester, both of them are running various forms of GNU/Linux on their personal computers. One of them is not so technically inclined and he asked me to help him trouble shoot why his Ubuntu system could not get an internet connection. After doing a bit of searching online I found that NIU had some special settings for connecting to their wired network via Cisco NAC.

What Cisco NAC does is monitor what systems are on the network and what they are running. The reason NIU provides for using Cisco NAC is that:

"In the past, due to the impact of viruses and worms on the NIU network:
  • The resources at the ResTech Helpdesk were stretched to the limit by the sheer volume of infected computers that needed disinfecting
  • Viruses destroyed information on student computers and compromised other computers on the NIU network
  • Hundreds of residents’ computers have been so severely infected that they have been removed from the network for days or even weeks"
Just a friendly reminder of one of the many reason I began using a Linux based operating system. Anywho - after I got past the big and scary I got to the section for getting your computer on the network. This is about the time I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. The four checks Cisco NAC performs are the following:
  • Microsoft Critical Updates
  • AntiVirus Software Installed
  • AntiVirus Definitions
  • Enable Windows firewall and Automatic Updates
After I read the first line my brain started going through what kind of hacks I could rig up to get the network to think he was running Windows. We tried a few different things, I even talked to my other more tech savvy friend that was at NIU and he was unsure as well. Alas it was as Saturday night and he wouldn't be able to get help from the tech desk till Monday morning. After about half an hour of trying we ended up calling it a night.

Now I would like to share a lesson with you that I have been taught a few times by this point in my life.

When reading directions always read all the directions before starting.

In case you didn't follow the link I provided earlier the very next line after all that mumbo-jumbo about Windows is:

Linux must authenticate by logging in via a web page.

Thats it. Just a web login. No anti-virus, no update monitoring, no mandatory firewall, no big-brother type behavior of any sort. To quote my friend "I guess they believe that linux machines behave well enough that they don't need big brother".

That there is even a mention of Linux on a page such as this reminds me of the fact that regardless of what people think the OS market shares are - there are obviously enough Linux users out there to provide support to them.

What about you? Ever found support for your operating system from somewhere you weren't expecting to find it?

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. Yup, we are the good guys, we linux users :-)

  2. I have actually started noticing our little "Tux" on more and more Hardware boxes from shops around here. So good to see :D

  3. linux sucks (even ubuntu)
    stable but limited it is awful that i have expensive machine and i can't install most wonderful things that the world can offer yes windows sucks more but there is always a work around for not limiting my machine capabilities for those wonderful things
    life is short i dont have to limit my self for what i could have

  4. Yes, life is short.
    So stop wasting it on stupid computers
    --enjoy nature
    --get a girlfriend
    --get a life

  5. Funny that, I installed GNU/Linux because I don't want my machine being limited by Windows. And Ubuntu, 4 other computer users wanted it on their machines because of Windows limitations.

    Cisco is using Linux on their products extensively, if not even exclusively. Good thing that they support desktop Linux users too. Not all companies do that. I'm pointing 1 finger to TomTom.

  6. I use Ubuntu 10.04 on my office computers, but my customers use Windows and Macs. Because I deal with e-mail attachments every day, I use ClamAV to list the items 'Found' which I later clear from my machine.

    But before I clear the bad items, I try to trace where the infected file(s) came from. (could be from one of my customers) Knowing that information helps me to get to the infecting computer or perhaps information about a website--hopefully not mine.

  7. Every OS has its strengths and its limitations. It doesn't matter if it is Linux, UNIX, OSX, Windows, OS2, Mac OS Classic, Plan9, or any other flavor or form. The reason Linux plays well on networks is because of its connection to UNIX systems; it was designed as a multiuser network environment from the get go, Windows was not.

    This is one of the major reasons Windows has so many holes. MS had to back track in order to add features that it was lacking in earlier versions of Windows while maintaining compatibility with legacy code. It comes down to The Airplane Rule, the more complicated it is the more likely it is to crash.

    Windows employs tens of millions of lines code over a framework that was designed for sneaker-net. Linux/UNIX never had this problem being designed from the get go as networkable Operating environments. Because of this they are smaller and more efficient than Windows.

    So, I will say this to everyone, on the net Linux/UNIX is king. That is the bottom line in both ROI and TCO. Security and efficiency is the key on a network; not to mention that fact that you don't need CALs to run a Linux server.

  8. I have been using Linux for only a year. And having run into challenges before with Ubuntu (9.10-10.10), I was aware that problem solving skills were necessary to being a power-user, but also a fun part of using Linux.

    But I have been using Linux Mint 10 for the last couple of months. I decided I would try ripping a DVD for fun, just because I had never tried it and I wanted to see if I could do it with a Netflix DVD. =)

    To my surprise it was incredibly easy. Maybe the encryption on the movie I ripped wasn't the best. But my son spends hours on cheating the "trial version" of some Windows program that he uses by manipulating the registry so he can back up his own DVDs. I was really amazed at how easy and quick it was with dvd::rip to do something I had never even tried before. (Use responsibly!)

  9. TO:
    "Anonymous said...
    linux sucks (even ubuntu) is short...."

    A Valid question is why a person witch thinks linux is a wast of time, wasts his time reading and commenting a linux blog :P

  10. Yes! Life is short. ;)

    Our company forced to change to windows in 1 month because of the fast faced environment.
    Our IT crippled when executives wanted an abrupt system implementation.
    Our IT said not possible for linux.
    Our executives pointed out we have the money and we do not have to limit our capabilities.

    I believe they just wanted what the other major company has.

    Windows are stable it depends how much you can provide and how system to be forced.

  11. Yeah, the university I attend has the Cisco thing as well. At first, I thought that I wouldn't be able to use it, but I only have to login on a separate webpage. And I don't have to worry about being completely up to date on everything in order to go online :D