There is some vague possibility some folks might find this useful…
The other day I hauled out my Win7 laptop to complete formatting before submitting my book to the publisher. It had a copy of Word 2003, the last version I can tolerate, and Word format is pretty much required by the publisher (it’s pretty common among publishers) but mine isn’t too picky about the version. I had WINE running on the laptop with Word 97, but that’s too old for the publisher’s scripted conversion process.
This required a very long and convoluted process of updating everything on the Win7 laptop. At least one update persistently failed, and nothing I could find would resolve this. It’s typical of MS products, as you may know, that the least bit of individualizing of your system breaks everything because the Borg of Redmond is hostile to human uniqueness. You have to understand that Windows development tends to be highly compartmentalized, while the system is not. So the developers of one part are not only clueless about what the folks in the other parts are doing, but might actually be in some kind of perverted passive-aggressive competition to break each others stuff. This, in the guise of insisting they are doing it right and the other teams need to get on board. At any rate, it was the usual tears and agony for the end user in my case.
Granted, this is a relatively low-spec laptop, so the hardware is already a tad cranky, but it’s the best I could do. Win7 was the least painful of the MS solutions that run on this device. But this was aggravated by the pervasive “screw-the-user” attitude of all the essential supporting service companies: anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc. All of them have adopted the MS attitude of simply forcing the system to do certain things without giving the user a clue what or why. The only time they bother to inform you is when they can profit from exaggerating or outright lying about what’s going on. The exact same companies never treat Linux users this way when they make products for Linux.
I decided it was time to research afresh the various options I can tolerate in Linux and see if I could ditch Windows on this laptop (Dell Inspiron 15-3542). First, backup the Win7 installation completely so it can be restored (I did the same with the original Win8.1). The RedHat clones had already failed, much as I like them. The stable Ubuntu and friends were a mess, so I tried OpenSUSE 13.2. No consistent sound and it simply locked up when I tried to log out. Before giving up, I tried the latest weekly update of Debian 8 pre-release (AMD64 version).
Worked perfectly out of the box. So I’m writing this on said Debian laptop right now. Yes, the hardware is still a little wonky (especially the cheap touchpad) but it was worse under Windows. I decided to use the “non-free firmware” version of the net install CD, because I knew the networking stuff was not fully Open Source yet (RealTek 8101 ethernet and Atheros 9565 wifi) and only needed one other non-free package for the Bluetooth (an ar3k module).
That meant I would need to add a VM to run WinXP with Office XP (still got good CDs for those). Since Virtual Box was already in the standard Debian repo, that was the shortest path. However, it’s been broken into lots of little packages, so I had to figure it all out and install most of them:
But this allows you to install from the CD you put into the host-machine tray, instead of forcing you to extract the ISO from the CD and mount it as a virtual drive, as is the normal practice with Virtual Box. So I was able to process the book that way and it’s all good.
The only other issue remaining is that I am still trying to parse the various options in
synclient to tame this cranky touchpad.
Otherwise, Debian 8 AMD64 runs very on Dell’s Inspirion 15-3542.
Addenda: Joking comment about how much the US Army needs to re-hire me as a civilian cyber security guy and train military folks to use Linux so they can stop getting serious viral infections just about guaranteed due to obstreperous bureaucratic habits. I’m ready to go to work yesterday, but I tend to think it would require some pretty heavy pressure from way up the chain of command before anyone would take seriously such a suggestion. Windows-based habits are burned into the very concrete on which military computer offices stand.
A psalm from the Korahites, Martin Luther said this was the basis for his famous “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” hymn, but there are also more recent songs from it. This and the next two seem to form a trilogy on the same impetus. While most scholars guess it was a particular historical event, nothing in the trio offers sufficient specifics to identify.
We are left awe-struck at the soaring praise.
God is our shelter from threats and the reason we boast. He’s always between us and trouble. Even in the earth itself should be our trouble, we have nothing to fear. Instead of crashing waves, we have a sweet stream of clear water in the place where God instructed us to meet with Him. And who could roust Him from where He chooses to be found? He wastes no time, but at first light brings His mighty deliverance.
The psalmist makes a blunt statement that human politics are subject to God’s whims. The whole world could assemble together as one, but He still shuffles things around as He sees fit. At His command, the earth itself would melt under their feet. Stop and think just Who this God is we are talking about. This is the one who defeated armies by His own miracles when they could otherwise have overwhelmed Israel.
And He can simply stop all wars, too. He could humble the whole human race at His feet; someday He will. Nothing and no one in this Creation resists the power of the Creator. And when you serve this God, when your actions reflect His revealed character and His will, His heavenly army has your back.
While whistleblowing is almost pure politics, leaking is a divine art.
The Internet itself is pretty deceptive. That is, the same systemic deception you see everywhere else has invaded the Net, in that the coolest and most attractive sites are those that participate in the standard official lies. Some of you are aware that there is an entire range of alternative news sites that serve merely as controlled opposition. There are also a jillion cranks who really don’t get it and never will. The Net is wonderful place, though, because the few who are willing to tell the honest truth about things can find a voice, as well. That’s been quite rare in human history. Still, the Net as a whole is only slightly better than any other form of communication in terms of content.
And all those other forms of communication are fully under control of those who represent the system. Just keeping your private communications private is nearly impossible. Meanwhile, those who represent the system can easily keep vast piles of secret data.
Let’s learn some generalities, starting with Holy Cynicism. All human flesh is fallen. Your own flesh will oppose righteousness to some degree. Since you can’t really trust that person in the mirror completely, you should realize you can’t trust anyone else completely.
Every successful whistleblower was pre-approved before they came out with their story. Otherwise, they never would have gotten the information in the first place. This I know from first-hand experience. Somebody in the system wanted that story told. Learn to doubt that you are getting the whole story. Always keep a measure of suspended judgment on everything.
Assume that every leak was officially approved by somebody with the power to stop it. The purposes for leaks vary widely, but most of it serves the larger purpose of keeping us in the dark. Leaking one fact and fluffing it can pull attention away from something even more important.
Nobody famous got there without someone in power sponsoring them. Be aware that sponsorship can come in the guise of neglecting to stop something. This is not about gossip; we aren’t any kind of Truth Police. Rather, this is more about abuse of power. Moral leaking aims to warn others of a genuine threat. All of this is based on the fundamental characteristic of God and revelation itself, which includes exposing sin. However, let him without sin cast the first stone when it comes to personal stuff. Exposing the sin within systems is another matter.
Let’s pretend you actually do have access to data that your heart tells you must be leaked. First, slaughter without mercy any notion of blowing the whistle. The very concept itself implies a certain desired result from the disclosure. The system will ensure you are crushed if you go that route. If it doesn’t, it’s because you are participating in some worse deception, probably without knowing it. The notion that we could somehow stir up resistance and stop something is for movies and political manipulations. The proper moral consideration is simply making available something kept secret, something that affects people, but they don’t know about it.
Develop the moral orientation of simply letting folks make what they will of the data. Don’t attempt to shape the human response or attempt to put your own spin on it; otherwise you become part of the systemic abuse. Don’t even trust the data, regardless whether you participated in gathering it. The system tends to lie reflexively, and the best stuff will be compartmentalized, so that no one can get the whole story who isn’t under the system’s control. No, just put it out there and let God worry about what happens. Follow your heart.
Never trust an outlet that doesn’t share this brand of cynicism.
For nerdy computer related stuff, try Pastebin. The fundamental purpose of that site is to temporarily store code snippets and related material, so this is the place to leak source code. You’d be amazed at how many folks have nothing better to do than look for stuff like that. You can also do similar things on Github Gist.
More typical government and large corporate leaks might pass better through Cryptome. Cryptocomb is a little more narrowly focused, but similar in nature. Cryptocomb does a good job of outing CIA agents. However, just plain documentation leaks can be easily handled at Public Intelligence. You should visit the sites and read up on the preferred means of transmission.
Religious scandals are easy: Just pass the information to anyone who has attacked the involved religious institution, or someone who attacks religion in general. If nothing else, try What Really Happened on such things; it gets a lot of eyes. However, they prefer links to posted material, so if you want to insulate yourself for any good reason, you need to find someone willing to post it somewhere.
There is no cowardice or dishonesty in avoiding attention. If you know someone who is able to handle this stuff with a reasonable degree of fairness, pass it on. However, it then becomes their story and you can’t hope to control what happens. A critical element in all of this is verifying the source of information. The more emotionally involved you are, the more likely you’ll betray yourself in every sense of the term. Stop and think what it might take to show that this isn’t some wild nonsense in your own head.
And don’t take my word for it; do your own research. If you even suspect you’ll be exposed to threatening secret data, now is a good time to bone up on methods of leaking, and deciding how much risk you’ll accept to obey your heart on this matter.