Synergy – Cross Platform Mouse and Keyboard Sharing

SynergyTim Haroutunian recently discovered the open-source, cross-platform utility Synergy which allows you to seamlessly share a keyboard and mouse with several computers of varying platforms.

The behavior of Synergy is similar to having multiple monitors on a single computer with the added advantage that you’re controlling multiple systems. Since I have both a Mac OSX desktop and a Windows laptop on my desk it was nice to reduce myself to one keyboard and mouse! Even clipboard data is shared between the systems.

Setup was a little less than intuitive but well worth it. Out of the box, security is fairly weak, however the Synergy project page does have instructions on how to tunnel Synergy traffic through SSH. Mac, Windows and Linux binaries are available along with the source code for those DIYers.

kvm, cross-platform, software, systems administration, linux, OSX

SSH Without A Password

Zach has posted a good quick reference for setting up SSH to use a shared key for authentication instead of a password on a UNIX system. It’s important to keep your keys secure, but this can allow you to set up scripts to execute commands or move files between multiple hosts without prompting for passwords.

If memory serves this type of authentication is enabled by default on most ssh servers, but if it doesn’t work talk to your sys-admin to see if it is disabled.

unix, linux, solaris, mac osx, osx, ssh, security

Biometrics

FingerprintDon Burleson over at Burleson Consulting has written an interesting survey of Oracle biometrics applications.

With the inherent problems associated with passwords Oracle security administrators are finding that Oracle biometrics is a more secure and cost-effective solution. Oracle biometrics system offer more secure environments and also remove the need to dedicate a help-desk person to manage changing passwords for hundreds of end-users.

It’s interesting to see what’s out there, but as Zach will always remind us, biometrics will not hold up in the long run. As biometrics become commonplace they will be hacked. What will you do when someone steals your fingerprints (or the digital representation of them.) You can’t change them. Hell, you can’t even keep from leaving them behind just about everywhere you go.

If a lock can be opened, it can be picked; and if your password can be used, it can be forged. The more common biometrics become (Don mentions in his article that fingerprint readers are now less than $31) the more folks will set their sights on hacking them. These devices work on common interfaces and pass their information over networks potentially exposing your personal password to unknown parties.

If biometrics catch on you could be required to provide fingerprint identification to use your credit card at your local convenience store. Do you really trust them, or worse yet, the government (who can’t even keep your SSN secure) with your password to your bank account, business account, desktop computer and medical history?

So if biometrics isn’t the holy grail of electronic security what is?

I don’t know what the future of password management is. The most holistic solution I’ve seen yet is the one that Zach and I proposed last year where users are provided with a “password change authorization code” which they are encouraged to keep with their birth certificate (or in another safe place) which allows them to change their password through a self-service page in the case of password loss.

biometrics, fingerprint, security, hacking, hacks, oracle

Shifting Demand for Database Books

Donald Burleson of Burleson Consulting points out some interesting statistics from Tim O’Reilly on trends in the tech book market.

If we assume that people are buying books because of a market demand, we see Oracle is steep decline and SQL Server book sales up 83%, followed closely by PostgreSQL. We saw this exact same trend in 1992-1995 when Oracle books started to dominate the database book market, displacing DB2 and IDMS/R books.

As a whole, the big news is that database book sales are way-down with the exception of PostgreSQL and SQL Server books, which are up 83% and are now double the size of the Oracle market.

Check out Donald Burleson’s full article

Some of this shift may be due to the recent release of Microsoft SQL Server 2005. Dispite it’s small overall percentage, the growth in PostgreSQL book sales is significant enough to keep an eye on it in the near future.

Also interesting is the stagnation of the MySQL book sales, down 2% from last year. With the number of blogs, wikis and other relatively hot technologies running on MySQL I’m surprised this number is down.

In contrast to the book sales, Alexa, which measures a number of statistics to determine rank among web pages, shows increased web ranking for Oracle, MySQL and PostgreSQL, while showing decreased traffic to Microsoft’s corporate site.

Graph by Alexaholic.com

For the full scoop according to Tim O’Reilly, check out his articles State of the Computer Book Market, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

books, book, tech books, technology, computers, database, dba, database administration, publishing, oracle

Thank You Oracle

Yesterday Scott Maziarz got this error in the log of an Oracle Application Server instance:

[Tue May 16 13:27:52 2006] [warn] long lost child came home! (pid 8134)

I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

funny, fun, error, error message, oracle, oracle application server, oas, dba, system administration, sysadmin, database administration