[OT] A quiet read about Ubuntu

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Thu Jun 9 08:22:57 EDT 2011

Richmond Mathewson wrote:

> Takes about 10-15 minutes and is really very thought provoking:
> http://www.osnews.com/story/24803/The_Sins_of_Ubuntu

It's an odd choice of a title for an article that largely says that 
Ubuntu is doing well in nearly every category he discusses with only a 
few exceptions, and those exceptions are more understandable with a 
little background.

For example, one of these exceptions in the article is:

   It Doesn't Install Secured

   Comparative studies and vendors alike confirm that Linux has
   a superior track record as a secure operating system. Ubuntu
   upholds this great tradition. You'd be hard-pressed to find
   evidence of malware infections in the Ubuntu community.

   But does Ubuntu install as secure as it could, right out of
   the box? Surprisingly, no.

   Take the default firewall as an example. In version 10.x, the
   Uncomplicated Firewall, or UFW, installs as Disabled. You'd
   think such a fundamental security tool as a firewall would
   default to Enabled. Or failing that, that the installation
   panels would give you a checkbox for enabling it.

With all due respect to the author, it seems he doesn't understand 
either Ubuntu or its firewall.

This post from the Ubuntu forum explains it well:

   You don't need a personal firewall running on your computer.
   A default install of Ubuntu does not listen for incoming
   connections. You'd only need a firewall if you installed
   some software that listens (or if you enabled Remote Desktop)
   and DIDN'T want anyone to be able to connect outside your
   own computer.

   Besides, your broadband modem probably already has a NAT
   firewall built-in anyway.

   Windows requires firewalling because it ships with services
   enabled that listen for incoming connections, and attackers
   can take over those services and use them to get access to
   your computer. Ubuntu doesn't come with any gaping security
   holes like that, so you don't need the firewall.

You can verify this using ShieldsUp, a web diagnostic tool for port 
scanning available here:

The other two exceptions to his explanation of how he feels Ubuntu 
generally does a good job are related to drivers.

While I wouldn't mind seeing Canonical invest in making drivers, given 
the dizzying variety of hardware out there and the challenges of working 
with so many vendors, some of whom feel their firmware is proprietary, I 
can hardly blame Ubuntu for not being 100% compatible with all devices 
in the world.

On the contrary, Ubuntu runs on far more machines that one can install 
Windows on out-of-the-box.

It's easy to forget that part of the OEM bundling that often occurs with 
Windows includes the manufacturer's alteration of the default install to 
include their own custom drivers.

This is why a new PC comes with a restore CD.  If instead you tried to 
restore a PC using an off-the-shelf copy of Windows, in many cases it 
would fail because it won't be able to obtain the custom drivers.

All in all, the title is the only scary part of the article.  The rest 
offers a good explanation of why and how Ubuntu is as it is, and the 
author seems to feel it's doing rather well.

  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World
  LiveCode training and consulting: http://www.fourthworld.com
  Webzine for LiveCode developers: http://www.LiveCodeJournal.com
  LiveCode Journal blog: http://LiveCodejournal.com/blog.irv

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