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DVD it in many colours

HP confirms plan to attack Sun via Solaris

HP has gone really, really public about its support for Sun Microsystems Solaris 10 operating system by sending out an internal memo. HP has long "officially" supported various versions of Solaris on its Xeon- and Opteron-based servers. Now, however, it's kind of ready to talk about this support. The company this week "announced" support of Sun's version of Unix in a statement to staff, according to insiders. The Solaris embrace is being pitched as HP's answer to disgruntled Sun customers trying to make their way off SPARC systems and onto HP's x86 kit. "As HP is recognized as the leading supplier of standards-based servers, many Sun customers are approaching HP to help them make the transition," an HP spokesman told us. "Specifically in the entry-level UNIX server space, many Sun customers are looking to transition from under-performing SPARC systems running Solaris to better price/performance of an HP x86 platform running Linux. "However, as we know, many of these customers have a large installed base of legacy technologies. They have invested in people and processes to run, manage and support this technology. Therefore, they are seeking help from HP to smooth the transition from a proprietary Solaris platform to HP standards-based servers by enabling some legacy Solaris environments during the transition." The verbose spokesman continued. "Enabling 64-bit Solaris 10 on Opteron-based ProLiant servers is an extension of HP's Sun Attack program - a way to provide a solution for customers who are interested in moving from Sun/Solaris to an Industry-Standard HP solution." A hardware win is a hardware win, and a customer win is a customer win. So, HP makes a decent case for supplying and supporting Sun's operating system. However, don't expect to see Sun fighting to stop customers from running Solaris on HP's boxes. An army of Solaris-equipped ProLiants would fit right into Sun's ambitious plans to sell more enterprise software and to advance the Solaris franchise. We hope, for HP's sake, that this Solaris promotion isn't the central piece of the company's Sun Attack program. Since reviving Solaris x86, Sun has now managed to push HP, IBM and Dell into admitting that they will sell the OS if customers ask for it. HP has long been the most able Solaris x86 supporter. This is largely a result of a decent sized Solaris x86 business at Compaq. IBM follows with its recent agreement to let Sun service Solaris running on Big Blue's blades. And Dell only ships Solaris when customers order a ton of servers and demand the OS. The impressive Solaris x86 download figures quoted by Sun and buzz around Open Solaris seem to center on academic users and hobbyists. This makes it difficult to tell how many large customers have decided to run Solaris x86 in production. If you are such a customer, please let us know. In the meantime, you can check out HP's support matrix for 64-bit Solaris 10 here. It's an Opteron fiesta. ®
Ashlee Vance, 21 Jan 2006

MS, AOL and Yahoo! caved to Feds' fishing expedition

The US Justice Department confirmed yesterday that Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL have already complied with its request to hand over the details of queries submitted to the search engine - a fact that was disclosed in court documents this week. The DoJ wants the information, not for a criminal prosecution, but as background materia to bolster its attempt to revive a Clinton-era anti-pornography law. Google is the only one of the four major search engines to balk at the request, a stance which has won the company a lot of goodwill this week. The EFF heaped praise on Google for resisting the subpoena [*]. But on closer examination, Google's reasons for fighting the subpoena are less altruistic and more to do with its familiar refrain, of protecting "commercially sensitive information". And as a justification, that's almost as redundant as the DoJ's fishing expedition itself, when we remember that AOL uses Google search technology. The Feds already have what they want. No discussion of this case is fair without two important pieces of context. Under the PATRIOT Act, law enforcement can demand information from ISPs and search engines without notification. We can assume such requests, which reveal personally identifiable information, are not uncommon. Secondly the Bush Administration has insisted on its right to use wiretaps and other surveillance methods without judicial approval. Illegal wiretaps, we recall, are what ended the Presidency of Richard M Nixon - but the Justice Department maintains that Congress in 2001 implicitly granted the executive power to eavesdrop without judicial approval. Last week, the ACLU sued the administration arguing that this violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. So Gonzalez vs Google isn't exactly a skirmish that's defining the frontiers of internet privacy - that's taking place in the air war, far overhead. Now let's see what Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL gave the government, and what it wants from Google. Gimme the rude words The Child Online Protection Act, or COPA, was struck down as unconstitutional two years ago after a court case brought by the ACLU. The Justice Department seeks to revive the law, and its case is based on proving that it is more effective than filtering software in protecting children. To bolster this case, it's asking Google by subpoena for two sets of data. One is every search query submitted to Google in a one week period (the DoJ had asked for every query made in June and July last year), "absent any information identifying the query", and a random sample of a million URLs in Google's database. The Feds had asked for Google's entire database. A subpoena was served to Google on August 25, and negotiations continued until a formal objection by Google on October 10. Google cites objections of relevance, privilege and burden and has refused to comply. The DoJ counters that shorn of identifying information, the queries it wants don't invade Google users' privacy. Google says that since all the other search engines have produced the information requested, it doesn't have to. The DoJ counters that to develop "a sample of the overall universe of queries", it needs Google's information too, and that in any case, Google is the largest. Google claims the information on how many searches are made each day is a trade secret. Google takes offence at the DoJ's view of its "highly proprietary search database" … "as a free resource that the [DoJ] can access and use, some levels removed." The DoJ points out this information wouldn't be disclosed to the public or Google's competitors, and notes Google has failed to show harm. "Google cannot expected to know - or figure out - 'all information' in the possession, custody, or control of its attorneys, agents, employees, boards, consultants, contractors and other representatives," the company claims. And you thought they were in the search business? Google's defence isn't the sturdiest we've ever read, but it didn't cave at the first opportunity, and it's making the government work for its data. As it should. But in the context of warrant-free wiretaps, and secret PATRIOT disclosures, this is a mere show trial. ® [*] Just in: EFF congratulates Police for not beating up homeless guy.
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Jan 2006

Windows back door rumor is bunk

Contrary to a recent rumor circulating on the internet, Microsoft did not intentionally back-door the majority of Windows systems by means of the WMF vulnerability. Although it is a serious issue that should be patched straight away, the idea that it's a secret back door is quite preposterous.
Thomas C Greene, 21 Jan 2006

Wild Packets

Good to talk to Chris Bell of WildPackets about networking again (apparently the much-maligned Token Rings are still out there - happy memories). WildPackets' Omni platform is a universal real-time protocol analyser with a GUI interface: its founder came out of Novell, got fed up with the command line and originally developed his product on the Macintosh. Anyway, Chris was really there to talk about his Developer Network and the WildPackets SDK - which I think has applications beyond the niche world of network management.
David Norfolk, 21 Jan 2006