From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Friday, September 16, 2011

eCryptfs in the Wild

Perhaps you're aware of my involvement in the eCryptfs project, as the maintainer of the ecryptfs-utils userspace tools...

This post is just a collection of some recent news and headlines about the project...

  1. I'm thrilled that eCryptfs' kernel maintainer, Tyler Hicks, joined Canonical's Ubuntu Security Team last month!  He'll be working on the usual Security Updates for stable Ubuntu releases, but he'll also be helping develop, triage and fix eCryptfs kernel bugs, both in the Upstream Linux Kernel, and in Ubuntu's downstream Linux kernel packages.  Welcome Tyler!
  2. More and more and more products seem to be landing in the market, using eCryptfs encryption!  This is, all at the same time, impressive/intimidating/frightening to me :-)
    • Google's ChromeOS uses eCryptfs to securely store browser cache locally (this feature was in fact modeled after Ubuntu Encrypted Private Directory feature, and the guys over at Google even sent me a Cr48 to play with!)
    • We've spotted several NAS solutions on the market running eCryptfs, such as this Synology DS1010+ and the BlackArmor NAS 220 from Seagate
    • Do you know of any others?
  3. I've had several conversations with Android developers recently, who are also quite interested in using eCryptfs to efficiently secure local storage on their devices.  As an avid Android user, I'd love to see this!
  4. There's a company here in Austin, called Gazzang, that's developing Cloud Storage solutions (mostly database backends) backed by eCryptfs.
  5. And there's a start-up in the Bay Area investingating eCryptfs + LXC + MongoDB for added security to their personal storage solution.
Exciting times in eCryptfs-land, for sure!

Which brings me to the point of this post...  We could really use some more community interaction and developer involvement around eCryptfs!
  • Do you know anything about encryption?
  • What about Linux filesystems?
  • Perhaps you're a user who's interested in helping with some bug triage, or willing to help support some other users?
  • We have both kernel, and user space bug-fixing and new development to be done!
  • There's code in both C and Shell that need some love.
  • Heck, even our documentation has plenty of room for improvement!
If you'd like to get involved, drop by #ecryptfs in, and poke kirkland or tyhicks.


Ubuntu Monospace Font

At long last, we have a Beta of the Ubuntu Monospace font available!  (Request membership to the  ubuntu-typeface-interest team in Launchpad for access.)

Here's a screenshot of some code open in Byobu in the new font!

It really has a light, modern feel to it.  I like the distinct differences between "0" and "O", and "1" and "l", which are often tricky with monospace fonts.  Cheers to the team working on this -- I really appreciate the efforts, and hope these land on the console/tty at some point too!

I've only encountered one bug so far, which looks to have been filed already, so I added a comment to:  I think the "i" and "l" are a little too similar.  if-fi statements in shell are kind of hard to read.

Anyway, nice job -- looking forward to using this font more in the future!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Enterprise Software History

I've visited the Computer History Museum in Mountain View three times now.  I love reading Steven Levy's dramatic biographies of the unsung heroes of technology.  Heck, I even took an independent study class at Texas A&M on the History of Mathematics :-)  Geek: yes.

Anyway, I recently came across a nice little series of articles about the history of software, specifically:

Linux got a mention, but no sign of Ubuntu yet, in the annals of Software History.  Best start working harder ;-)


Saturday, September 3, 2011

5.1 Ubuntu Login Sound now in a PPA!


Thanks for all the positive feedback to my last post!  I have made a couple of updates to the 5.1 channel Ubuntu login sound, namely:
  1. Remastered based on the original wav files, since my previous version was based on the lossy, compressed ogg files.
  2. Adjusted a couple of levels, having actually tested it on as many different 5.1 and 2-channel stereo environments I could find.
  3. Updated the ubuntu-sounds package and pushed to bzr and a PPA for easier installation on lucid, maverick, natty, or oneiric!
So now, you can install the 5.1 channel Ubuntu login sound easily from this PPA to any supported Ubuntu release with:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:kirkland/sound
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-sounds

Log out, and then log back in.  If your Ubuntu system is hooked up (correctly) to a 5.1 stereo receiver, then you should hear the login sound start in the center speaker, then spread outwards to the front left and right channels, with the sound moving from the front to the rear for the whoosh and crickets at the end.  Oh, and the bongos should be bumpin' in your sub woofer :-)

If you're interested in the sources, they're in bzr too:

bzr branch lp:~kirkland/ubuntu-sounds/834802

Finally, if you'd like to see this land in Ubuntu, mark bug #834802 as "affects me too"!

I'll embed the audio here, but it sounds really different in the various browsers I've tested (Firefox, Chromium, Chrome).  Sounds like the the multi-channel OGG is being correctly passed to Pulse Audio for proper downmixing/discrete playback in Firefox, but not in Chrome/Chromium.  So your mileage may vary! :-)