Monday, 15 February 2010

Why Fire Fox is not Doomed?

Okay I was going to comment on the article it's self. However InfoWorld appear to be afraid of feedback and require some sort of lengthy vetting process after registering. Like seriously!?! What is that all a bout!?!

So Firefox is doomed. I would disagree. Google might cut funding to better support it's own browser. But then again the whole point of Google funding Firefox is to get the default search position in the search bar. So far as I know Google don't intend to exit the search business just yet. So while Chrome is something of a threat or competition at least to Firefox. It's not the end game until Chrome gets significantly more market share.

IE is an immovable object? Clearly Randell is deliberately ignoring the fact that IE is well into decline. It's only actual strong hold now where Microsoft can still feel safe is on the corporate desktop. Everywhere else is up for grabs. Which is why every other major web browser on the market namely Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome are all gaining market share while IE is losing market share. What's more these browsers are gaining as much market share between them as IE is losing. Which means they're taking it from IE.

If that wasn't enough at least 3 or 4 countries have advised their citizens to ditch IE and use something else instead. Then of course there are countries like Brazil where significant numbers of people don't even use Windows let alone IE. They're all on Linux. So IE an immovable object? I hardly think so.

As for the critique of Mozillas intention to opt for smaller updates? This is what the Ubuntu developers do. They focus on one major thing they want to make better and by and large deliver on their goals. That doesn't mean other things don't get fixed or don't change. Clearly they do. But the developers do well out of that intense focus. Which is perhaps something Firefox actually needs.

I also don't think it's fair to compare Mozilla to Microsoft or to compare incremental updates to hot-fixes. First of all Microsoft and Mozilla are two entirely different companies with different motivations and goals. They have totally different business models that dictate how much funding they can dedicate to a single project and how the end product is marketed.

Hot-fixes are also intended to be temporary fixes to tide Windows over until the service pack arrives. Again that's a different coding style from an incremental update. A hot-fix is a quick and dirty patch to fix a problem in the short term. An incremental update is something that is integrated properly to the existing code base. That is what Mozilla does at the moment. The fact that it might want to do less but do it better doesn't mean the product will suffer.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Ubuntu Targeted By Malware!

Apparently some malware has been found in both a .deb file claiming to install a screen saver and a theme pack over on Gnome-Look. Which is a shame since I use that site regularly to find new wallpapers and themes.

So Ubuntu is now the target of criminals? All the tech press places all of desktop Linux at 1% of the market and claim in the same breath that figure is a generous estimate. Why then are criminals targeting something that has only 1% of the desktop PC market. It makes no sense unless Linux is much bigger than 1%. It would be interesting to find out what has changed the criminals minds. Are Linux users simply too naive? Too cocky? Too arrogant? Too stupid? Clearly criminals now see Linux desktops as vulnerable targets ripe for the picking.

This is both an interesting and frighting development. However we have at least exposed a vector of infection for Linux systems. Anybody could build a .deb or .rpm package file or even a normal tarball. Clearly without the protection of the community maintained repositories these methods of installation are just as vulnerable to misuse as Windows .exe files. Which is something many people in the Linux community including myself hadn't considered. Normally we tell people an installation script requires permission to run. So we're protected. The trouble is I don't think many people give entering their password a second thought when installing from a .deb package. Most of us simply trust them.

So this is a wakeup call to Linux users and in particular to Gnome and Ubuntu users. Be vigilant. Be careful about your chosen software sources. If you're installing something from a web site be sure to scan it first! Linux has a very good anti-virus application available in the repositories of most decent distributions. It's called ClamAV. While this is a command line application there are several front ends available. The most popular at the moment is ClamTK. Use the following commands to install them to your system. Remember you'll need to enter your password when installing software.

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Type sudo apt-get -y install clamav clamtk then press enter.
  3. Remember to scan your system regularly.
There are other anti-virus scanners for Linux. They're not hard to install. Most come in .rpm or .deb files. The ones that come as tarballs generally tend to be binaries. So there's no need to compile anything. Check out this article for more info.