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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday February 26 2014, @12:30PM   Printer-friendly
from the Boot-him?-I-just-met-him! dept.

jbernardo writes:

"Having had several issues with systemd, and really not liking the philosophy behind it, I am looking into alternatives. I really prefer something that follows the Unix philosophy of using small, focused, and independent tools, with a clear interface. Unfortunately, my favourite distro, Arch Linux, is very much pro-systemd, and a discussion of alternatives is liable to get you banned for a month from their forums. There is an effort to support openrc, but it is still in its infancy and without much support.

So, what are the alternatives, besides Gentoo? Preferably binary... I'd rather have something like arch, with quick updates, cutting edge, but I've already used a lot in the past Mandrake, RedHat, SourceMage, Debian, Kubuntu, and so on, so the package format or the package management differences don't scare me."

[ED Note: I'm imagining FreeBSD sitting in the room with the all the Linux distros he mentioned being utterly ignored like Canada in Hetalia.]

 
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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26 2014, @04:28PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26 2014, @04:28PM (#7385)

    Binary log files ( prevents tampering with them).

    How so? I'd expect the typical binary file format to be easier to tamper with, because typically binary data has well-defined data boundaries. So to change a number from 3 to 127, you'll typically just have to change one byte, while with text files you'll have to insert the bytes, changing the file length.

    If you want to secure your log files against tampering, why not hash/digitally sign them? And if you now say that this is not secure because the key would have to be on the same computer, well, it's no less safe than binary files. If you want true tamper security for your log files, you'll not get to avoid sending them to a place where they cannot be rewritten from the computer generating the log files.

    But even without a second computer, a certain security can be achieved be regularly generating new keys and destroying the old private keys (keeping the public keys for integrity checking, of course). Then the attacker cannot replace any entry in the log file before the latest key change (because the old key is gone).

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Bill, Shooter Of Bul on Wednesday February 26 2014, @05:02PM

    by Bill, Shooter Of Bul (3170) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @05:02PM (#7404)

    Yeah, I was kind of fast and loose with that explanation.

    Here's Lennartt's description of the security from https://docs.google.com/a/nmi.com/document/pub?id= 1IC9yOXj7j6cdLLxWEBAGRL6wl97tFxgjLUEHIX3MSTs&pli=1 [google.com]

    "The Internet is a dangerous place. Break-ins on high-profile web sites have become very common. After a successful break-in the attacker usually attempts to hide his traces by editing the log files. Such manipulations are hard to detect with classic syslog: since the files are plain text files no cryptographic authentication is done, and changes are not tracked. Inspired by git, in the journal all entries are cryptographically hashed along with the hash of the previous entry in the file. This results in a chain of entries, where each entry authenticates all previous ones. If the top-most hash is regularly saved to a secure write-once location, the full chain is authenticated by it. Manipulations by the attacker can hence easily be detected."

    Why he uses googledocs for some things, his blog for others, and freedesktop for still other parts, is kind of beyond me. I wish he and the systemd team would aggregate their documentation/raison d'etre for all of systemd in one spot.

    • (Score: 1) by MrNemesis on Wednesday February 26 2014, @05:19PM

      by MrNemesis (1582) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @05:19PM (#7410)

      Damnit, ninja'd! But thanks for including the extract as google docs in on the firewall blacklist :) But it seems to reinforce the point in my post below that you still need to be using a "write only" syslog server for it to have any guarantee of integrity.

      --
      "To paraphrase Nietzsche, I have looked into the abyss and been sick in it."
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26 2014, @05:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26 2014, @05:35PM (#7415)

      OK, so he uses cryptographic hashes for security. But that doesn't need binary log files. It can be done with text files quite fine.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26 2014, @06:06PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26 2014, @06:06PM (#7435)

      And the irony here is, that all of this could have been done with text based logs. Git's trees and blobs, afterall are just text once decompressed, and it 'authenticates' just like LP's explanation.

      No need to "go binary" just to get tamper detection.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Bill, Shooter Of Bul on Wednesday February 26 2014, @08:01PM

        by Bill, Shooter Of Bul (3170) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @08:01PM (#7516)

        Yeah, that make sense. My crazy mind combined those two for some reason. The binary nature of the log is to allow you to log binary objects as well as text, I think. It also allows for some of the meta data, event correlation, and searching capabilities I believe.

    • (Score: 1) by weilawei on Wednesday February 26 2014, @08:17PM

      by weilawei (109) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @08:17PM (#7532)
      The fact that it's binary has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the ability to cryptographically hash things and create a hash chain. You can do that with "plaintext" just fine (since "plaintext" is a special subset of binary; see EBCDIC, ASCII, Unicode, etc.). The fact remains that quality viewers and editors exist for "plaintext", whereas for "binary" formats, I need a more specialized viewer. It breaks the UNIX philosophy BADLY. systemd does too much, in the wrong ways, and is a plague upon Linux.
      • (Score: 0) by Bill, Shooter Of Bul on Wednesday February 26 2014, @10:46PM

        by Bill, Shooter Of Bul (3170) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @10:46PM (#7603)

        Just so you see this, that was my mistake linking binary to the hash chain not anyone elses.

        If it makes you feel better, it can be converted to text very easily. journalctl spits out text, so it can be piped into other text based tools if you want.

        In general, anyone who complains about breaking UNIX philosopy should take a deeper look into it. There are some good reasons why it is the way it is, and why many competing distros have adopted it. They aren't all idiots willing to sacrafice the UNIX way for a flash in the pan. I'd also argue that UNIX is very much a part of systemd, but most who would rationally debate it won't bother to consider any arguments at all.

        • (Score: 1) by weilawei on Thursday February 27 2014, @01:45AM

          by weilawei (109) on Thursday February 27 2014, @01:45AM (#7704)

          They aren't all idiots willing to sacrafice the UNIX way for a flash in the pan.

          I've seen this one a lot, but not one single person (not one!) who has said this has provided an actual example of a reason for moving toward a monolithic tool, specifically. Not one single person has raised an actual argument, based on anything more than "they're not idiots" for why it needs to be monolithic, and the bits implemented by systemd couldn't be done better in a modular fashion. Modular code is more maintainable, more extensible, and has a clear separation of concerns--something lacking in systemd. Someone who is a systemd supporter needs to step up to the plate and illustrate how this monolithic structure is better in those categories.

        • (Score: 1) by weilawei on Thursday February 27 2014, @01:49AM

          by weilawei (109) on Thursday February 27 2014, @01:49AM (#7707)

          Replying again, since I should have made this point as well. Saying that they're not all idiots who are willing to sacrifice the UNIX way for a flash in the pan, saying that they're maintainers of distros, is not an argument--that's an appeal to authority. Please, stop with the fallacious appeals and provide REAL arguments based in actual software engineering concerns, usability concerns, system administration concerns, etc.. I don't care if you want to play sheep to the shepherd, but I want to know WHY systemd should be monolithic and not modular.