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Re: [linux-dell-laptops] Re: Fedora 4 on Dell XPS M140

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  • Herman
    Oh good grief - consider that I have 10 Mandriva, 7 Fedora and one Ubuntu machine at last count (and countless Windoze machines). ... What I mean is that by
    Message 1 of 12 , Jan 2, 2006
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      Oh good grief - consider that I have 10 Mandriva, 7 Fedora and one
      Ubuntu machine at last count (and countless Windoze machines).

      parenthetically_yours wrote:

      >Nope there's usually a separate boot, swap and the rest is a LVM
      >partition.
      >
      What I mean is that by default everything of importance is in /.
      Therefore, when you want to re-install the system and have to format /,
      your home dir is also formatted and all your data is wiped. It is very
      easy to create a /home during installation and resizing partitions later
      is easy too. Then you can re-install without having to reformat /home.
      So, just be careful during the install of FC - don't just blindly accept
      all defaults.

      >I suspect for most users encrypting the disk will be more trouble than it's worth.
      >
      >
      Encrypting the /swap and /home partitions is very easy with Mandriva.
      The system asks you for your passphrase at startup and after that it is
      transparant. See this: http://www.aerospacesoftware.com/raid-howto.html
      and scroll down to the heading Encrypted File Systems.

      It works on servers too. If a server would reboot due to a power
      failure, then the passphrase request will timeout. You can then later
      log in via SSH and mount /home manually, at which point the system will
      ask for the passphrase.

      The Dell password system is useless - a 10 year old can rip the disk
      drive from a machine and read it on another...

      >The gist of it was that the small performance
      >improvement would cost lots of hassle in finding compatible pre-built
      >software and would cause hassle for people that build software.
      >
      Sorry, it is a performance hit and what is that about difficulty with
      finding software? My Mandriva 2006 mirror occupies almost 30GB. That
      is the opposite problem of having a shortage. Anyhoo, source code is
      processor independent.

      BTW, all my Fedora machines are running standard kernels downloaded from
      kernel.org and compiled for i586. That happened due to a SSL problem in
      FC4. I had to re-install and recompile a shedload of stuff to make FC4
      work. Overall, I am extremely unimpressed with FC4 - it cost me a hell
      of a lot of time and money, but the client wanted it...

      Cheers,

      H.
    • parenthetically_yours
      Herman I hope we re on the same side here - pro linux on Dell laptops. To be honest I have nothing against Mandriva, but I find your anti Fedora comments
      Message 2 of 12 , Jan 2, 2006
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        Herman

        I hope we're on the same side here - pro linux on Dell laptops. To be
        honest I have nothing against Mandriva, but I find your anti Fedora
        comments unhelpful.

        > Oh good grief - consider that I have 10 Mandriva, 7 Fedora and one
        > Ubuntu machine at last count (and countless Windoze machines).

        Fine - I would have thought that gave you a more balanced viewpoint.

        You suggest disk encryption, which will cost a 2% performance hit
        (according to the link you gave). It will also make it harder to reuse
        the home partition with other installations of linux.

        You recommend using i586 optimised binaries on an i686 which will give
        you what performance improvement over typical i386 code? I'm guessing
        you'd struggle to get 2% without fiddling the benchmarks. Try harder,
        read the kernel docs and go pester your distro for i686 binaries :)

        Now bear in mind that most processes are IO-bound (rather than CPU
        bound). I'll take my 2% performance boost by having unencrypted disk
        access, thanks.

        Finally, you say the Dell HDD password is useless, I disagree, you'll
        find that it's cheaper to replace the HDD in a stolen notebook than
        send it off to get the HDD password reset. Yes it's possible to
        circumvent but the disk won't just work in another machine, and the
        average 10yo won't be much help. It also protects the whole disk,
        including the windows partitions, with no overheads (unlike software
        encryption of specific partitions).

        (ref: http://www.pwcrack.com/harddisk.shtml,
        http://www.vogon-forensic-hardware.co.uk/forensic-hardware/data-capture/password-cracker-pod.htm)

        /PY
      • Herman
        ... You can t replace the HDD in a stolen notebook - the machine is gone - you don t have it anymore. Unless you are the asshat whole stole the notebook...
        Message 3 of 12 , Jan 2, 2006
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          >Finally, you say the Dell HDD password is useless, I disagree, you'll
          >find that it's cheaper to replace the HDD in a stolen notebook than
          >send it off to get the HDD password reset. Yes it's possible to
          >circumvent but the disk won't just work in another machine, and the
          >average 10yo won't be much help. It also protects the whole disk,
          >including the windows partitions, with no overheads (unlike software
          >encryption of specific partitions).
          >
          >
          You can't replace the HDD in a stolen notebook - the machine is gone -
          you don't have it anymore. Unless you are the asshat whole stole the
          notebook... ;-)

          The purpose of encryption is to prevent the person who stole the
          machine, from reading your accounting and other sensitive data.
          Mandriva uses AES encryption. Without the passphrase, a thief cannot
          access your data. The only thing the thief can do, is format and
          re-install. (I had an IBM Stinkpad stolen and got an $8000 credit card
          bill a couple of months later - since then, I'm using encryption
          religiously!).

          The Dell BIOS password doesn't help in this regard, since it is trivial
          to circumvent. As I mentioned, simply insert the disk drive in a
          desktop machine and read it. The password may be good protection
          against your little kid sister who doesn't know how to use a screw
          driver, but it sure won't help against my teenage son... :)

          Cheers,

          H.
        • parenthetically_yours
          Herman Not sure if you re aware of the Dell passwords. There are three, user, admin and a separate HDD password. The HDD password does pretty much what you
          Message 4 of 12 , Jan 2, 2006
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            Herman

            Not sure if you're aware of the Dell passwords. There are three, user,
            admin and a separate HDD password.

            The HDD password does pretty much what you describe, and more. It
            prevents the disk from being used outside the machine. IT WON'T WORK
            IN A DESKTOP WITHOUT THE PASSWORD. A thief can't even reformat and
            reinstall which is why I say it's cheaper to replace the locked disk
            than read it. The links I posted give more details.

            You mention being defrauded after losing a thinkpad - out of interest,
            why did you feel the need to store information that could let you be
            defrauded in the first place? If you knew you had lost such
            information surely you'd have to do the same things you'd do for a
            lost wallet (cancel cards etc.)?

            /PY
          • herman@aeronetworks.ca
            parenthetically_yours wrote .. ... OK, wasn t aware that Dell now use those kind of disks. However, all you need to do to recover the data, is replace the
            Message 5 of 12 , Jan 2, 2006
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              parenthetically_yours wrote ..
              > prevents the disk from being used outside the machine. IT WON'T WORK
              > IN A DESKTOP WITHOUT THE PASSWORD.
              OK, wasn't aware that Dell now use those kind of disks. However, all you need to do to recover the data, is replace the controller card. If a perp has hardware access to the disk drive, then only encryption can keep the data safe.

              Only the paranoid will survive... :-)

              > why did you feel the need to store information that could let you be
              > defrauded in the first place?
              I run Quickbooks on my notebook, since I work all over the place, this is handy. Older versions of Quickbooks work on CxOffice.

              However, I think what the perp accessed was a scan of a credit card statement, which was still on the desktop. Fortunately, the damage to me was only $50, thanks to state law.
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