Sam Trenholme's webpage
Support this website

March 2013 Microblogs


March 30 2013

Here are all of the microblog postings I made in March 2013. I discuss Linux and how TANSTAAFL (there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch), MaraDNS, gay rights, sex and being in the friendzone, etc.

==WPA in Linux without Gnome==

I know all of the hardware on my primary laptop, except for the wired ethernet, works in CentOS 6 Linux. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the time to figure out how to use wireless networks without using Gnome’s GUI; this blog answered my question:

Posted Mar 29 2013

==Thank you, anonymous poster==

Since I have no plans to post to Slashdot again until 2014, I will post a thank you to the anonymous hero who posted this at

Thank you for MaraDNS. It's a great piece of software. This incident again demonstrates, that DNS security is pivotal, and that is why I chose MaraDNS to manage my own domain name. It has all that I need, with everything explained in relatively simple terms and the security implications are always well-documented. Thank you!
I wish more people at Slashdot were as kind as this anonymous poster.

Posted Mar 29 2013

==Letting go of MaraDNS==

One of the challenges I am dealing with right now is letting go of MaraDNS. I’m not talking on a development level — I have long since stopped actively developing Mara and now only maintain her — but on an emotional level.

The truth of the matter is this: Back in 2002, MaraDNS was good because it was the first complete open-source authoritative and recursive DNS server besides BIND. Things have changed a lot since then and I no longer consider MaraDNS “Secure”, and I sometimes wonder what lies in the future for MaraDNS.

MaraDNS was an important part of the development of DNS options in the first 2000s decade, but that time is past and I need to find a different identity for myself in geek-space besides “the MaraDNS guy”.

In more detail:

BIND ultimately won 2001’s BIND-vs-djbdns endless flamewar because of DNSSEC; DJB tried to stop DNSSEC steamrolling djbdns with DNSCURVE. For better or for worse, DNSSEC won, and now DNS is no longer can practically be implemented by a one-man show any more. While I disagree with DJB on a lot of things, I understand why he rejected DNSSEC and proposed DNSCURVE: He wanted to keep DNS simple, to keep DNS something that a single talented developer can implement in their spare time.

I plain simply can not implement DNSSEC for MaraDNS unless someone were to put some serious money on the table. Neckbeards are good at operating computers, but their social skills and empathy for others is at best so-so, which makes them not very good at making that kind of money. (A “neckbeard” does not have to be literal; Sheldon Cooper, for example, is a canonical neckbeard)

As for the monoculture problem DNS had in 2001 (open-source DNS was a monoculture because djbdns wasn’t open-source back then), nlnet labs was, a few years after MaraDNS 1.0, able to get a government grant and use the money to develop a DNS server suite (NSD/Unbound) that not only fully supports BIND’s zone file format, but also fully supports DNSSEC. The sense I get is that many who used to use MaraDNS (people who wanted something open-source but wasn’t BIND) are now either using a newer BIND or a combination of NSD and Unbound.

I will continue to maintain MaraDNS but I will no longer define myself by MaraDNS.

Posted Mar 29 2013

==The gay marriage debate in 50 years==

The gay marriage debate in 50 years:

An older friend in the south who remembers the battle for civil rights in the 1960s tells me that it got really ugly.

Posted Mar 29 2013

==Living in mom’s basement==

In other cultures, multiple generations living under the same roof is normal; I feel the idea that a kid has to move out of the house at 18 to be a real man is one that is bad for families. It's actually in many ways good when a 45-year-old man still lives in his mother's basement, since he will become the one taking care of his aging mother instead of sending her to a nursing home.

Posted Mar 29 2013

==Linux Game Tome announcement==

Here is the Linux Game Tome announcement of the site shutting down:

Hi folks,

The Linux Game Tome will shut down on April 13. Those of us who have maintained over the years now lack both the time and the ambition to do what is necessary to keep the site afloat. If you've been paying attention, you've noticed the spam clogging the forums, the lack of updates and the increasing brokenness of the site. The code driving this site, written by a novice web developer in 1999, is sorely out of date. It's time to put it out of its misery.

If the community misses this resource, I urge it to build The Linux Game Tome v3.0. If such an effort ever came to fruition and publicly pledged to remain free and not for profit, I would be delighted to transfer ownership of the domain. Sometime soon, I'll make available a dump of the Game Tome games database (minus user information) that anyone may use for any purpose they'd like, including building a successor site. Before you ask: no, you may not have a copy of the site code. It is not fit for human consumption. Even as a reference, it can only corrupt.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the site over the years, either as moderators, contributors or benefactors.

Posted Mar 28 2013

==DNS and DDOS==

I will probably make this entry a full blown blog, but in the meantime, in light of the huge (300Gb/S) distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack against Spamhaus that used DNS, here are my thoughts:

  • MaraDNS 1 and Deadwood do not support a technology called “EDNS” that allows for large DNS packets. By only supporting 512-byte packets, both DNS servers do not allow for the 100x amplification used in this DDOS that other DNS servers have.
  • My DNS software does not come with unrestricted recursive access enabled by default, and the documentation strongly discourages open recursion.
  • I will have to double check, but, as I recall, the documentation and example configuration files do not include an example with unrestricted recursive access.

One feature that would be nice would be to be able to restrict how much data my DNS server sends to a given IP (again, as noted above, MaraDNS/Deadwood already has a form of this because they do not support EDNS). Unfortunately, since I am not developing new features for MaraDNS like this without being compensated for my time, I would need a corporate or government grant to implement this.

Posted Mar 28 2013

==Friendzone Powned==

In the old “That 70’s Show” episode “A New Hope”, the notion of a guy in a girl’s friendzone being able to convert the friendship in to a relationship is shattered to pieces. The episode can be seen here

For any guy in a relationship like this: Stop fooling yourself! While it is possible to have a productive friendship with a girl, a “friendship” when someone has more-than-friends feelings is just going to hurt until expectations are reset and the misplaced romantic feelings go away.

Posted Mar 27 2013

==Life Cycle of a Freeware Game==

Steffen, author of the open-source C-evo game, has an interesting summary on the life cycle of a freeware game:

I think this is generally true of all software, open-source or not. A new program hits the market, people have a lot of interest in it, it no longer is new and shiny, stops making money (if commercial), and eventually people lose interest in it altogether. It’s more true of games than applications, but the same cycle applies with applications (I see a lot more of Google Docs being used than Microsoft Office these days).

Posted Mar 27 2013

==Google Reader==

The lesson to learn from Google Reader is this: When using a free web service, said service can go away any time; especially if they can not figure out how to make money from its free users.

A web service is very different from a piece of software. It requires someone to actively keep the site up:

  • Upgrading the system the site is on with respect to security and other updates.
  • Paying hosting fees to keep the site up. Said hosting fees go up when the web site gets more users.
  • Keeping the site current so that it continues to work with newer browsers and newer environments that access the web.

This is the baseline maintenance needed for a web site; compare this to a piece of software, where baseline maintenance is fixing security bugs. Indeed, I still use a program called FVWM1 today, a piece of software which has not been updated for nearly two decades. I would not be able to use a web service the author lost interest in a year ago (much less two decades ago); their web site would have been shut down already.

Posted Mar 27 2013

==Mosaic’s default home page is still around==

Mosaic was the first mainstream browser; it made the Internet graphical instead of text-based. (Mosaic’s default home page) is still around and redirects to a page that says “get another browser”

Speaking of getting other browsers on older systems, newer versions of Firefox do not install in Windows 2000, but Firefox 10.0.12 ESR does:

Posted Mar 26 2013

==Linux Game Tome shutting down==

The Linux Game Tome has been, for years, a very useful resource for reviewing and finding games for Linux. They have announced yesterday that they are shutting down the site in April; the site is currently non-responsive. Here is Slashdot’s coverage:

The reason why many Linux and free software sites keep going down is because, without money changing hands, there is relatively little motivation for people to keep sites up, even if the sites are popular. TANSTAAFL (There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch). This sarcastic /. post summarizes what is wrong with a lot of thinking in the open source community:

The best monetization strategy I have seen for Linux websites is the one LWN uses:

Posted Mar 26 2013

==That red and pink equals sign==

That pink equals sign with a red background which a number of people are making their Facebook profile picture today is a symbol representing human rights for gay people.

It goes back to the book I’m reading right now—Orwell’s 1984. In 1984 “All marriages between Party members had to be approved by a committee”. I don’t want that. Our country is about freedom. It’s the freedom to say “I want to marry who I love”. It’s not the government’s place to say “You can’t marry this adult”.

Posted Mar 26 2013

==SSI Entitlements==

I can’t say that The Atlantic is a liberal shill. Not when they complain about this government entitlement:

The problem with SSI entitlements is that they are set up to encourage people to not work. If someone gets a job while on SSI, they take away the SSI entitlement and usually won’t allow them to get SSI again.

Pournelle’s “iron law of bureaucracy” is in play here:

I have a better idea: Anyone on SSI entitlements who gets a job is allowed to keep one dollar of every two dollars they earn. If they end up earning more than twice of what they got on SSI, and keep the job for a year earning that much, they are automatically taken off of SSI.

They are probably better ways to get someone on SSI working again. See Clinton’s “Welfare to Work” programs implemented in the 1990s.

Posted Mar 25 2013

==Proud to move away from Twitter==

And then, there’s people like me who no longer actively use Twitter. Real developers can implement their own Twitter clone in a day or two.

Posted Mar 25 2013

==LXC is still not there==

Back in 1991, Linux had no future and GNU Hurd was going to soon replace it. Didn’t happen. Likewise, for me to see OpenVZ replaced by LXC, it is going to have to be able to to do everything OpenVZ does first (or, at least, provide secure isolation from other containers). Here’s a comparison:

Posted Mar 25 2013

==Special Effects people not paid enough==

The only significant non-unionized group in Hollywood, special effects people, are not getting paid enough and, indeed, a number of special effect houses are going out of business:,0,1842816.story

Posted Mar 25 2013

==Reading 1984 again==

I’m reading Orwell’s 1984 again. I read this book once every decade or so to remind me why I must never take my own freedom for granted—or take anyone else’s freedom from them. It can be legally downloaded here:

I find it ironic that Kindle owners who had their copies of 1984 yanked from their Kindles by Amazon can now legally download 1984 from this site in a Kindle-compatible format (it’s also available there as epub and nicely formatted html; I’m using Lynx to convert the html in to text to read it in a PuTTY terminal)

Posted Mar 24 2013

==Finally, a patch for CVE-2012-1193==

It took over a year, but PowerDNS finally has a patch for CVE-2012-1193: I was about to declare PowerDNS’ recursor abandoned.

Posted Mar 23 2013

==Bad sex isn’t rape==

This one is personal to me: I had a friend falsely accused of rape after having consentual sex with a girl, because she didn’t want to admit she cheated. “My bad sex wasn’t rape”, by Anna March

Posted Mar 23 2013

==Friend zone==

I have had very positive friendships with women where sex or even the potential for sex was not on the table.

The thing men need to understand that being in the friend zone is just that—the relationship will never become physical.

Women in a friend zone relationships with men need to understand that it is not appropriate to ask for favors from male friends that they would not ask for from a female friend.

Posted Mar 22 2013

==Hookup culture==

Today’s “hook up” culture is downright dangerous. A society where the majority of women only have sex with relatively few Alpha males is a much more unstable society than one where lifetime monogamy is the norm.

Posted Mar 22 2013

==Alpha Beta==

Alpha Beta is not only a name of a defunct grocery chain|, it is also a view of human reproductive strategy: Alpha males end up having more access to females and, therefore, more offspring, while Beta males end up having fewer offspring.

The paper Strong gender differences in reproductive success variance, and the times to the most recent common ancestors by Maroussia Favre and Didier Sornette presents evidence that, historically, men had about a 40% chance of propagating their genetic code, while women have had an 80% of doing so.

One can read this paper here: (PDF file)

Posted Mar 21 2013

==How fame fades so quickly==

I’m amazed how quickly fame fades with those things that go viral on the Internet. Remember that young lady who got fired for posting a receipt online? (If not, I blogged about it at She now has a Twitter account, with all of 20 (yes, 20 as in twenty) followers, and still hasn’t found a new job:

In addition to my comment, when I discussed Adria Richards, about being very careful with one’s words in public that may reflect poorly on one’s employer, I also have this to say: I blog here so that, should something I post ever go viral, I’m the one making the ad revenue. This way, I still have something to show for my 15 minutes of fame once the Internet loses interest and moves on to whatever becomes viral next. I’m sure Ms. Welch would feel very differently today about how things went down if she had a few thousand dollars of ad revenue to show for it.

There’s one thing I don’t understand about people spending so much time on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and other corporate sites owned by someone else: Time spent there becomes money in someone else’s pocket. At least with Usenet, no megacorp was directly making money from people’s postings.

Posted Mar 21 2013

==Adria Richards==

To summarize a hugely viral story making the rounds right now:

  • One Adria Richards was at a “sausage fest” conference where she felt offended that a couple of men were making what she felt were off-color sexist jokes.
  • Instead of directly confronting the men, she took their picture, along with a short summary of their joke, and posted it on Twitter.
  • One of the men pictured was fired from his job
  • This person getting fired upset a number of people, resulting in Ms. Richards herself getting fired.

The lesson here is: Be very careful with what you say in public that may represent your employer. An off-color joke that may be OK when said in whispered tones in the corner of a cubicle should not be repeated in public—not with people one does not know well, not even in a personal conversation if said conversation is in a public place.

People had to be fired not because of the joke or because people were outed for saying said joke. People were fired because all of this happened in public, where the employers were forced to be held accountable.

My experience is that employers are a lot more tolerant of things that stay within the walls of their offices than they are of things that the entire Internet can see.

Here’s the best summary of the whole soap opera that I found:

Posted Mar 21 2013

==Nginx quirk==

With nginx, the following will show you the PHP source code for foo.php when going to

location / {
 root html/;
 index foo.php;

location ~ \.php$ {
 root html/;
 fastcgi_pass unix:/tmp/php.socket;
 fastcgi_index foo.php;
 include fastcgi_params;
 index foo.php;

To fix this:

location ~ \.php$ {
 root html/;
 fastcgi_pass unix:/tmp/php.socket;
 fastcgi_index foo.php;
 include fastcgi_params;
 index foo.php;

location / {
 root html/;
 index foo.php;

This way, all PHP pages are processed by fastcgi first.

Posted Mar 20 2013

To post a comment about an entry, send me an email and I may or may not post your comment (with or without editing)