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Publishing Plans, Webmail, Kernel Hacking, and PHP Logging

by chromatic
Linux Newsletter for 10/13/2003

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Linux newsletter, a catch-all category of the new and intriguing in the open source worlds of security, administration, development, and even a little policy.

Your editor spent last week with the other O'Reilly editors, both from book publishing and online publishing. We're planning the next year right now for both sides. The plan for Linux and open source coverage is more of the same, with three or four articles per month on a particular topic from several sides. We'll also revisit some of our "classic" articles, updating them with new information and techniques. As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated, from general questions to article and site feature suggestions. We're building a community here with conversation at its heart.

With that in mind, let's jump right to this week's new articles:

Noel Davis led off with Denial-of-Service Attacks, another Security Alerts column. Remote vulnerabilities may exist in Apache, Perl CGI programs, OpenSSL, lsh, Teapop, ProFTPD, TclHttpd, MPlayer, the FreeBSD kernel, and mpg123. Please check your version with your vendor for updates.

In the PHP world, John Coggeshall wrapped up his PHP Security series in PHP Security, Part 3. Preventing people from being able to do things you never intended is good, but it's not enough. Keeping good logs—-and knowing how to look for anomalies-—-can provide a safety net that will help you catch bad guys before they can strike.

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Running your own secure and powerful mail server is quite convenient until you (or your users) go on the road. (This is particularly personally painful.) Secure IMAP and POP3 work for certain occasions, but dealing with large volumes of email over a slow connection can be painful. Not everyone wants to or can SSH into the mail server to run mutt. That's where a nice webmail package comes in. In Building an Advanced Mail Server, Part 2, Joe Stump explains how to install and configure Apache and SquirrelMail to allow remote users to access their mail through a handy web interface, safely and securely.

Kernel programming can sometimes seem like a black art. Sure, most people never need to do it, but the bare-metal coding has a sort of primal appeal. While you may not need to tweak a filesystem or a virtual memory manager, you may find yourself needing lower-level access, say to a new piece of hardware or to provide an extra compatibility layer. New author Kevin Lo's Adding System Calls (an OpenBSD Example) demonstrates why and how to modify a kernel to add a system call. Though the example is OpenBSD-specific, the techniques are similar no matter which open Unix you run.

This week's weblogs feature Alan Graham promoting International Spam Awareness Day, your editor reminiscing about innovation in library card catalogs, Anton Chuvakin introducing SANS top 20 vulnerabilities, Andy Oram camping out at FOO (Friends Of O'Reilly) Camp, and William Grosso covering uncovered FOO Camp sessions. (Your editor is the pensive one at the end of the table.)

That's all for this week. Upcoming articles include a look at an open source MMORPG engine, the economics of open source in business, and upgrading database-driven applications.

Until next week,

Technical Editor
O'Reilly Network and Linux DevCenter Top Five Articles Last Week

  1. Adding System Calls (an OpenBSD Example)
    Kernel programming sometimes feels like a dark art where application programmers should never venture, but sometimes it's the right way to solve a problem. (Oh, and it's also very interesting.) One of the easiest places to start is by adding a new system call to a kernel. Kevin Lo explains how and why, with the OpenBSD kernel.

  2. Installing Oracle 9iR2 on Red Hat 9
    While Oracle's understandably proud of their Linux support, Oracle 9i is unsupported on the latest and greatest Red Hat. That doesn't mean it doesn't work, just that you'll have to do a little tinkering. Roko Roic demonstrates how to install Oracle 91R2 on Red Hat 9.

  3. Denial-of-Service Attacks
    Noel Davis looks at denial-of-service attacks against Apache, OpenSSL, and FreeBSD, and problems in Perl, lsh, Teapop, ProFTPD, TclHttpd, MPlayer, Node, mpg123, and Freesweep.

  4. Building an Advanced Mail Server, Part 2
    A modern mail server just isn't quite complete unless you allow your users to roam; while secure IMAP works for some people, others swear by webmail. In the second installment of "Building an Advanced Mail Server," Joe Stump explains how to install, secure, and extend your mail server with SquirrelMail.

  5. Diving into Gcc: OpenBSD and m88k
    Until recently OpenBSD's m88k port used an aging version of the GNU C Compiler, gcc. When an upgrade prevented the port from even compiling, the compiler had to be fixed. How do you track down errors in a compiler, where processor-specific optimizations rule and the debugger doesn't work? Miod Vallat explains the detective work required to fix gcc for OpenBSD's m88k port.

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