[OT] A quiet read about Ubuntu

Richmond Mathewson richmondmathewson at gmail.com
Thu Jun 9 09:11:14 EDT 2011

On 06/09/2011 03:22 PM, Richard Gaskin wrote:
> 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.
> <http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p=10139529&postcount=5>
> You can verify this using ShieldsUp, a web diagnostic tool for port 
> scanning available here:
> <http://www.grc.com>
> 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.

Frankly the stuff about the firewall did seem a bit odd; although I 
couldn't for the life of me have
explained why in the way you did.

I actually felt that this article was a bit odd in that what it seemed 
to be saying was that
Ubuntu was not as "goofy" as an plain vanilla install of Windows; i.e. 
not as easy for end-users
to play silly films on. What could also be pointed out is that people 
like myself keep being rung up
by desperate people who have bought PCs with Windows installed on them 
(usually illegally, here in
Bulgaria) by "engineers" who don't really bother hardening the install 
at all, so that the punters will
come back on a 4 to 6 weekly basis and pay good money for sorting out 
problems with a Windows
install that shouldn't have occurred had the installer taken a spot more 
trouble over it.

My experience is that a plain vanilla install of Ubuntu (i.e. monkey 
just keeps pressing the
  default button during system installation, and does nothing further 
after install) will be entirely
usable (apart from mentioning that Linux doesn't "do" viruses), while 
Windows will keep flashing up
cryptic messages about drivers and so on, ad nauseam; as well as getting 
compromised really
very rapidly indeed.

As far as I can see the only "sin" of Ubuntu is that Shuttleworth and 
his merry men have managed
a very clever balancing act with Canonical in keeping Ubuntu largely 
open source, and free, while
making money at the same time. To me that seems far from sinful; even if 
it has both Richard
Stallman and Bill Gates frothing at the mouth.

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