InfoWorld stops print publication

The only print publication on the subject of technology that I read is InfoWorld. I've read it since Stewart Alsop was editor.

It was clear that the print publication was going away when they did a format change from a large format to a slick magazine format, laid off the columnists that wrote nearly all of the parts of the magazine that I read, and started adding inscrutable technobabble articles aimed at C*O's.

I'm sad about the change, because though I follow a gaggle of online news sources, InfoWorld was something I that I read offline. Now I'll have to make polite conversation instead.

Transparent bridging firewall

I had occasion today to set up a transparent bridging firewall. It's basically a computer that sits on the wire and silently drops packets matching certain rules.

In my case I wanted to restrict traffic to certain subnets without disturbing anything. So I took an Pentium Pro based HP Vectra (I'm telling you, those old HPs never die!) and put in two PCI-based ethernet cards, an Intel card and a trusty 3Com 905. It was nice that I had two different cards lying around, since they can be easily identified within FreeBSD by their separate interfaces (fxp0 and xl0, respectively). I installed FreeBSD 6.2 from a CD with minimal settings -- in particular, I declined to configure the network interface cards.

After install, I added the following line to /boot/loader.conf:


Added the following lines to /etc/rc.conf to force the two ethernet interfaces up and set up the bridge.

ifconfig_bridge0="addm fxp0 addm xl0 up"

Added the following to /etc/sysctl.conf:

Then I added ipfw rules to /etc/rc.firewall.local.

Note that I did not assign an IP address to either network card. That means the only way into the machine is through the console, and the only way to tell that it's there on the wire is to guess because response time is a tiny bit longer.

So far it looks like even a Pentium Pro is overkill.


Off to the Printer

As we were writing the Drupal book, Matt and I frequently wondered how many pages it would come out to. We estimated about 300 pages.

When the book went to the printer, the total page count was just above 450.

Online/Offline Applications

Joyent is a company that offers shared and virtual hosting. I was able to get an opinion of their approach from some people whose opinions I respect at the recent OSCMS conference, and have pretty much decided not to go with them for my hosting needs (I'm currently looking for a hosting service).

However, their recent announcement of Joyent Slingshot is interesting: Joyent Slingshot allows developers to deploy Rails applications that work the same online and offline (with synchronization) and with drag into and out of the application just like a standard desktop application.

Radio Userland pioneered the idea of the local/remote web application and it's something for the Drupal community to consider. Drupal applications running locally and remotely. Syncing together (I know, I know, the publish and subscribe modules need a little love and a 5.0 release), maybe doing peer-to-peer. Hooking into iPhoto. Offline mirroring. There's so much to do!



Subscribe to SysArchitects RSS