Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is anybody at Press TV or al-Manar paying attention?

Interesting story this morning on the BBC: it appears that some unidentified "nation state" has put huge efforts into creating a sophisticated worm with "incredible amount of code" "probably targeting "high value" infrastructure in Iran".  Read the full BBC story here; its confirmed by NZZ here and here in English.  The key sentence in the BBC report is this:" it infects Windows machines via USB keys".

That's right, this super-dooper-worm can only infect Windows based machines.  The Windows operating system has a long and unmachted record  of being the worst operating system ever designed.  Not only does it have a history of collaboration with the US NSA, but all its individual components (Outlook, Word, ISS, the registry, the WinAPI, etc) are terribly designed and highly prone to failures, flaws, bugs and corruption (I will spare you the technical details).  In contrast, there are other operating systems out there which are highly stable and secure, and which are available at zero cost: GNU/Linux of course, but also the three BSDs - OpenBSD, FreeBSD and NetBSD.  For a price, you can also get Mac OSX which, being based on BSD, is also far superior to anything Microsoft ever produced (all these operating systems are either based on, or derived from, the UNIX family of operating systems which typically run on larger computers).

Furthermore, Windows is what is called "bloatware": the underlying code of Microsoft applications is inevitably large (which is not a quality, the rule of thumb being that each time you double the size of the source code, the number of bugs in it *squares*!) and requires recent, powerful and expensive hardware to run.

The amount of money wasted by any organization using Windows is absolutely staggering.  Think about it:

1) Being very crash-prone, Windows requires constant attention for system administrators just to keep it running.
2) Being highly insecure, Windows requires constant and sophisticated efforts by system administrators to keep it as secure as possible.
3) Windows licenses are cumbersome to administer and expensive to pay for.
4) Windows bloatware running hardware being cutting edge is expensive to procure and maintain.
5) Microsoft software is either expensive to purchase or illegal to use without a license.

And yes, the Empire can easily target any computer running windows to create havoc in any country or organization it wants to target.

You would think that with that kind of nightmare scenario, organizations such as Press TV or al-Manar, to pick to examples, would avoid *any* Microsoft product like the plague.  You would be wrong.

Let's check what kind of web servers Press TV and al-Manar are is running (using the Netcraft website):

Press TV: Microsoft-IIS on Windows Server 2003
al-Manar:  Microsoft-IIS on Windows Server 2003

Amazingly, these two websites are running the same toxic witches' brew of IIS on Windows Server 2003.  Which is quite amazing considering that the Press TV servers are run by Irnetco on behalf of the Alalam News IT Department while al-Manar seems to have it's own IT department and hosting.

But that's not all, things get worse once you get to their actual websites.  Al-Manar streams its video signal in the ASPX format which comes from its hyper-proprietary ASP.NET framework.  What about Press-TV?  Press TV offers a choice of Flash and MMS formats.  While MMS is 100% Microsoft, Flash is not, but that is not much of a consolation since Flash is also a terrible format, which uses up a huge amount of memory and which is almost as bad as anything produced by Microsoft.  Alas, Flash is still very ubiquitous and is found on most websites offering video.

Bottom line, not only do Press TV and al-Manar use the absolutely worst (and expensive!) technology out there, they are pushing their supporters to do likewise.

Is that not absolutely crazy?

And its not like we are talking rocket science here, the solution is really simple: run an Apache webserver on a *BSD or Linux server, offer video streaming in various formats like, for example, DemocracyNow! does and run all your other computers (desktops, file and printer servers) on Debian or Ubuntu GNU/Linux.  This is nothing new, it's just a variation of the so-called the "LAMP" technology.  As for the users, they should all be encouraged to use Ubuntu (with the OpenOffice Suite), by far the best and easiest operating system for desktops ever created.

[Yes, 10 years ago it took the equivalent to a PhD. in computer science to run GNU/Linux systems (such as Slackware or Debian).  Nowadays, I can personally attest that Ubuntu is far, far FAR easier to install, configure and use than WindowsXP.  Finally, almost all Windows applications have equivalent, and often better, in the world of free software.  Check here, here, here and here for details]

As an aside, I would note that ALL the so-called "BRIC" countries have already made a fundamental and strategic decision to switch to free software and free themselves from the horrors of "Microsoft-world".

Is anybody at Press TV or al-Manar paying attention?

Maybe you guys want to drop them a note?