Thursday May 01, 2008

Jonathan on closed MySQL extensions

I have just been reading some questions and answers with Jonathan from Tim O'Reilly. One that jumped out at me was a question he passed on from Jesse Stay. I'm going to quote both the question and answer below in full. The added emphasis is mine.

JesseStay : does he anticipate a fallout of original MySQL users or fork in the mysql code and how will they handle that if it does happen?
2008-04-25 12:26:30

JonathanSchwartz: I'm not anticipating a fork - Marten Mickos (SVP, Database Group at Sun, former CEO, MySQL) made some comments saying he was considering making available certain MySQL add-ons to MySQL Enterprise subscribers only - and as I said on stage, leaders at Sun have the autonomy to do what they think is right to maximize their business value - so long as they remember their responsibility to the corporation and all of its communities (from shareholders to developers). Not just their silo.

I think Marten got some fairly direct and immediate feedback saying the idea was a bad one - and we have no plans whatever of "hiding the ball," of keeping any technology from the community. Everything Sun delivers will be freely available, via a free and open license (either GPL, LGPL or Mozilla/CDDL), to the community.


No exception.

I think puts things pretty much into black and white. I wonder if we will see some egg on face retractions from those who tried to pin keeping some bits proprietary on the Sun purchase, as it looks like the opposite is actually the case. That is, the Sun purchase is what is going to ensure that these extensions are open. You know, I'm not holding my breath for any "Oops I got it wrong" type comments.

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Tuesday Oct 23, 2007

Sun Developer Days

OK, I got back from CEC on Saturday a week back and walked into the house at about 9:30 absolutely knackered. About 2pm my pager went off and I discovered that I was on VOSJEC duty that weekend and ended up with a righht horror of a call that lasted the rest of the weekend (that I won't go into detail here with, save to say that I got an action plan out to these ghuys at about 00:30 on Monday morning.

Early Monday morning (ok I did get some sleep, this is real morning about 10-11), I got a call from Laurie Wong. Apparantly the DTrace speaker they had organised for the Developer Days couldn't make it and they really couldn't find anyone else. After some discussion with my boss, we agreed that I would go fly to Melbourne the next day to cover this and also cover Sydney on Wednesday.

Had an awful time actually using the system that we are supposed to use to book the flight, ended up taking me a bit over an hour and by that time the fare had risen 50% !!! Anyway got that all sorted and boy am I glad that I booked to get my self well ahead of when I spoke.

First off, I was using someone else's slides, so of course I had to work out what I was going to say to each one (I use flash cards to remind me of what I want to talk about so I'm not just reading the slides). Going through the slides I noticed that the information on the javascript provider was actually out of date. Indeed, you can actually download a firefox 3.0 alpha that has the new provider in there and looks pretty damned spiffy. So, I updated that stuff, then I discovered that there were actually two sections of the talk not present in the slides. This was the "tie it all together" bit and the summary. Well I didn't have the time to write a "tie it all together bit", so I removed that from the agenda slide and did up an "in conclusion" slide.

The other part of being glad I booked an earlier flight is that even though we boarded close to time, we were about an hour late getting off the runway! I got in to Melbourne at about midday. Fortunately we were able to put another speaker in front of me so I could finish writing the talk which I ended up giving at 4pm.

Anyway, the talk covered some background on DTrace (and the slide author provided some really nice graphics and animations), and discussion of various providers. In particular I talked about PHP, javascript, and postgresQL. I did demos for some of the basic DTrace, javascript and postgreSQL.

I Also touched on the shell provider I'm working on and encouraged folks to get involved with working on and testing new providers.

Amazingly, without having timed this or even thought about the length, I managed to finish exactly on time.

Laurie took me into the QANTAS lounge where we were able to relax a little before the flight home. With the flight and the train trip I got home about midnight.

The next day was in Sydney, so I only needed to take the train into the city.

After finding the venue (google maps on a treo 750 is really useful!), I sat in on a couple of the other talks and quite enjoyed those. In Sydney my talk was at 3:15 and again went pretty well.

Headed home after being treated to a really nice dinner at Doyle's on the Harbour.

Unfortunately I had a prior commitment on Friday so I couldn't give the talk in Canberra.

These were probably the largest audiences that I have ever presented to (combining both talks I spoke to about 580 people). I actually enjoyed it and I think my audience had a bit of fun as well. It's nice to do this kind of thing every so often.

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Thursday Feb 15, 2007

more on the in.telnetd patches

As many folks have stated. Sun Alert 102802 and the patches are available on Sunsolve.

120068-02 SunOS 5.10_sparc: in.telnetd Patch
120069-02 SunOS 5.10_x86: in.telnetd Patch

I've had it pointed out to me that the patches are marked "Reboot after installation required". This is actually not the case and a bug has been logged to get the tags removed from the patch.

For what it is worth, I tested the fix by applying the patch while the systems were multiuser and the fix was immediate. I did not even have to restart the services. in.telnetd is fork/exec'd by ineted. It's generally short lived. Adding the patch replaces the binary that is exec'd. You do not need to perform a reboot to get this patch installed.

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Tuesday Feb 13, 2007

The in.telnetd vulnerability/exploit (3rd update)

Before I get into the meat of this posting, let me acknowledge that, yes, this was an almighty cock up and should not have happened. It did happen. Let's move on.

Also, while I might not agree with the publication of zero day exploits. Again, It happened. There's really not much I can do about that. There's really no point in being upset about it.

The upside to the posted exploit was the fact that because the code was available, the poster included an analysis of what was going wrong, pointing at the code that was broken. This almost certainly saved us some time in troubleshooting the issue. For this part of the post, you have my thanks.

I would certainly be interested if the person who posted the exploit could tell us how he found the problem; for no other reason, than I'm simply interested.

Anyway, this blog is supposed to be about getting it fixed.

All the times below are Australia/NSW.

One of our National SSEs (Rodney) was on-site with a large customer yesterday. This customer had asked him about a telnet exploit and described the problem to him. Rodney gave me a call and asked me about it at about 1pm. I hadn't and on hearing the description (initially only described to him as a root exploit) Ttwo of us (thanks for your help Chris) dove into the code to start looking at how telnet -l-froot could behave as it did. At this point I did not know about the zero day exploit posting. Once we worked out what was going on, I called Rodney back and explained the full implications of the bug to him so he could explain it to the customer.

We told them that they could block the root vulnerability by uncommenting the CONSOLE= line in /etc/default/login. Note that this has been the default since Solaris 10 update 2 almost forever. However, I still see lots of customer configurations where it is commented out. The only other way to protect against the other implications (login as any user without a password) would be to disable the telnet service until we could fix the issue. eg

# svcadm disable svc:/network/telnet:default

We then started looking through the code to determine the best way to fix this. I logged an internal escalation and was in the process of logging a high priority bug when I saw the following in the SCCS history of usr/src/cmd/cmd-inet/usr.sbin/in.telnetd.c

D 1.67  07/02/11 19:46:41 danmcd        90 89   00009/00010/04896
6523815 LARGE vulnerability in telnetd

I immediately had a look at the bug and banged of an email to Dan stating that I could probably get IDR patches built for on10 pretty quickly. After a brief discussion of the bug and the fix, he pointed me at the manager of the group responsible for the backport and I started the backport (actually a very simple fix).

I got the IDRs built and basic testing done by about 5pm and started writing the Sun Alert.

The documentation for how to write a Sun Alert and specifically the actions that need to be taken to get interim fixes available were spot on and I sent off the initial draft at about 6:45 along with sending a request for getting the IDR patches turned into ISR patches (Interim Security Relief) and getting them published.

Just before 9pm, I started getting into discussions with UK based folk in Derrick Scholl's group about getting the Sun Alert out and what needed to happen for me to get a gate open to get the fix back into the patch gate.

Thanks to Angela, Paul, Brent and Bill for working hard to get to the point that I could log the RTI at 10:10, and start doing the minor nit type stuff that needed to be done before Bill could pass the RTI onto the on10-patch gatekeepers and I could go home (at about 11:15).

As an aside, I missed my train connection by four minutes due to a late running North Shore train and spent an hour sat on a blacked out Hornsby station, getting home at about 2:30am)

While I was traveling (and sleeping) the heads up went out to the gatekeepers and all folk who needed to know about this so that when I came online at 8 this morning, I had very little to do before doing the actual putback into the patch gate (which happened at about 8:30).

The gatekeepers immediately closed the gate and started work on a patch.

The reason that I've detailed what I've been through with this is to point out one thing.

The speed at which I was able to do this and get to the point that an ISR patch will be shortly available publicly, is nothing short of phenomenal. For Sun to respond to and address a vulnerability like this in around 24 hours would have been completely unheard of even two to three years ago.

But it's not just the processes here. What really made for speed here was an incredibly focussed and helpful who had an interested in rapidly getting this addressed. Without the help of folks like Dan, Rodney, Chris, Angela, Paul, Brent, Bill and Seth, and not forgetting the gatekeeping team for pulling out the stops to start building a formal patch, none of this would be possible. If I've missed anyone, please forgive me, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night :)

I love working for a company that has people like this.

update 1

The ISR patches are available for free download from The details of the patches are:

   IDR125457-01 SunOS i386_x86: in.telnetd can call login with an
                option given as a username

   IDR125456-01 in.telnetd can call login with an option given as a

update 2

Sun Alert 102802 is publicly available talking about this issue. Section 4 should shortly be modified to add the following paragraph:

Interim Security Relief (ISRs) are available from for the following releases:

SPARC Platform

Solaris 10 IDR125456-01

x86 Platform

Solaris 10 IDR125457-01

Note: This document refers to one or more Interim Security Relief (ISRs) which are designed to address the concerns identified herein. Sun has limited experience with these (ISRs) due to their interim nature. As such, you should only install the (ISRs) on systems meeting the configurations described above. Sun may release full patches at a later date, however, Sun is under no obligation whatsoever to create, release, or distribute any such patch.

Update 3

I've just been informed that the formal patches are release ready and should be released to sunsolve in the next few hours. Keep an eye out for:

120068-02 SunOS 5.10_sparc: in.telnetd Patch
120069-02 SunOS 5.10_x86: in.telnetd Patch

As these are security patches, they will be publicly available.

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Friday Jan 12, 2007

Modifying your predictions does not make them true

I've been hanging off writing this as I wanted to think about it a bit first.

I'm referring to Bob Cingley's predictions for 2006.

You might recall that I made some comments on him changing the prediction so he got it right last year. Well, he's playing the same games again this year.

The actual prediction was:

Sun's Woes Continue

Still no good news for Sun. Those Galaxy servers are very nice, but they aren't enough to support the company and Eric Schmidt is too smart (I hope) to bail out his old firm.

And in his evaluation of his predictions he writes:

4) More bad news for Sun. That's true.

Notice the subtle difference. More bad news in the evaluation and Still no good news in the prediction.

Reading the prediction, one has to think that if Sun had any good news last year, then he scored a clean miss.

I definitely think we had lots of good news last year.

Like many folks in other forums who have commented on this particular prediction (When was the last time you saw non-Sun folks standing up for Sun on slashdot!), I think the question has to be asked, What axe has Robert X Cringley got to grind against Sun Microsystems?

Bob, if you have any shred of credibility left, you really should come clean and score #4 from 2006 a clear miss.

One other interesting thing that I just noticed from my prior discussion on this. In January last year, the Sun prediction was #5, it's #4 now. Did a prediction get deleted?

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Friday Nov 03, 2006

You Tube vs UTube - Turn the problem on it's head for a solution?

I noticed YouTube faces UTube Lawsuit on El Reg when I came in this morning. While discussing it amongst colleagues (and I don't pretend to know the ins and outs o fthe legalities involved in the suit), it occurred to me that these folks were missing a giant opportunity here.

The way I read it is that the basis of their problems stems from:

In the suit, Universal Tube alleges that its traffic has soared from around 1,500 hits in a month to over two million because of vast numbers of visitors looking for "lewd and other disgusting video".

The answer, as I see it is really simple. Get hold of a Try and buy T2000 server to handle the load, and place some google ads on the page. The income from the ads would then fund the infrastructure upgrades.

Simple huh? :-)

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* - Solaris and Network Domain, Technical Support Centre

Alan is a kernel and performance engineer based in Australia who tends to have the nasty calls gravitate towards him


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