Public Timeline

The Library of Ashurbanipal from the 7th century BC, was found in the ruins of the ancient Assyrian capital Nineveh and contains 30,000 priceless cuneiform texts in clay tablets . H.G. Wells called it “the most precious source of historical material in the world.”

The Winged Victory of Samothrace, 2nd century BCE. Made of Parian marble, It depicts Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory. It is considered by many to be “the greatest masterpiece of Hellenistic sculpture”. Displayed at the Louvre.

Generic Linux distributions (i.e. Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, …) adopted Full Disk Encryption (FDE) more than 15 years ago, with the LUKS/cryptsetup infrastructure. It was a big step forward to a more secure environment. Almost ten years ago the big distributions started adding UEFI SecureBoot to their boot process. Support for Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs) has been added to the distributions a long time ago as well — but even though many PCs/laptops these days have TPM chips on-board it’s generally not used in the default setup of generic Linux distributions.

How these technologies currently fit together on generic Linux distributions doesn’t really make too much sense to me — and falls short of what they could actually deliver. In this story I’d like to have a closer look at why I think that, and what I propose to do about it.

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Verse of the Day: Great Expectation - 1 Peter 1:3

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation

After using code coverage information and real-world files to improve an audio metadata parser I am writing in Zig, the next step was to fuzz test it in order to ensure that crashes, memory leaks, etc were ironed out as much as possible.

The problem was that I had no idea how to fuzz Zig code. While Zig uses LLVM and therefore in theory has access to libFuzzer, the necessary integration with SanitizerCoverage has yet to be implemented (see also this comment on a closed PR), so I figured I would try to to find another avenue in the meantime.

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Ayma, Anatole Henri de Beaulieu

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Sid Meier is famous for creating the video game Civilization. He’s also known for having his name on the box. Meier released Civilization thirty years ago this month, after developing it with Bruce Shelley, a veteran board-game designer. The pair were inspired by the illustrated history books you might find on a middle-school library shelf, and by titles like Seven Cities of Gold (1984), a video game of Spanish conquest created by the designer Danielle Berry. In Civilization, you start with a covered wagon on a map that is largely obscured. You found a city. You learn metalwork, horse riding, feudalism, democracy, and diplomatic relations. Eventually, the rest of the world is revealed—a patchwork of nations. You can dominate your neighbors or strive to outshine them. History rolls on.

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If you woke up under a tree with a beard and 70 extra years in your past, who is the first person you would try to find? For Choni Hamagel (AKA Babylonian Rip Van Winkle) a man in the 1st century BC, it was his chavrusa. The word ‘chavrusa’ literally translates to something like ‘companion’- but the word communicates a lot more than that. A chavrusa is an intellectual spouse, a spiritual colleague, and a second brain. A chavrusa is a soundboard, a mental sparring partner, and a beloved spiritual archnemesis.

Choni Hamagel got his name by demonstrating that he was more stubborn than god. A terrible famine had struck the land, and rabbis were beseeching the lord for rain, to no avail. Choni drew a Magel- a circle- in the parched dust and calmly informed God that he was not going to leave the circle until it rained, which it promptly did. That’s a real chavrusa. A person who, to access life-giving rain, digs their heels all the way in, who will challenge God himself if they feel they are close to the truth. I mean this literally- even from within the strict parameters of religion, the Talmud is very clear that it is not the mandate of heaven to decide what god’s will is- it belongs to chavrusas, to humans interpreting the divine word. Modern chavrusas take this further; I had the privilege of being part of chavrusas that teased apart and redefined our very belief in divinity, which blurred the lines between our traditional training and contemporary understanding.

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A Bronze Statuette of a Dioskouros Greek, Hellenistic. ca. 150 B.C.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune - Nghi Vo (2020) [2020 Tor.com edition] designer: Christine Foltzer, illust.: Alyssa Winans.

The Cat Who Saved Books - Sōsuke Natsukawa (2017) [2021 HarperVia edition] designer: Yuko Shimizu.

Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang.

The Broom of the System - David Foster Wallace (1987) [2016 Penguin Orange Collection edition] designer: Eric Nyquist.

In Linux there are so many permission mechanisms, depending on exactly what you want to do, it dazzles the mind. There is suid, dbus policies, polkit, Linux capabilities, files attributes, PAM modules, SELinux and the list goes on. It does not surprise then, that choosing the correct approach can become paralyzing or give anxiety inducing.