debconf10 talks from day1

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Supporting Debian machines for friends and family

Francois Marier talked about some things he'd done to setup some computing for his Dad. Francois lives in New Zealand, and his Dad lives in Canada, so one of Francois main goals was to minimize support issues. He was also keen to provide a enjoyable computing experience, so his Dad has a good experience of free software.
Even though he was using desktop machines, he recommends raid1, as he had a total of 4 drives fail. He also recommends a UPS. He does the normal sysadmin things of apticron and unattended-upgrades, deborphan and debfoster, logcheck. He uses sysstat to write a log of system statistics (though I'd prefer munin for something graphical). Also uses mcelog, smartmontools. He taught his Dad to write down the exact time that a problem occurs.

He mentioned molly-guard (asks you to confirm name of machine when you go to reboot), safe-rm (has a blacklist of paths to refuse to delete) and etckeeper.

When it comes to security he was looking for minimal effort solutions that give only a modest security increase. So he's happy using debsums, fcheck, chkrootkit, checksecurity, rkhunter and tiger. He uses fwknop for remote access. fwknop sniffs for a UDP packet on a particular port, and checks it's signature. If the checks pass it opens the firewall to that IP address for 30 seconds. So the firewall he uses is really simple, it blocks everything coming in. The sniffing software always sniffs before the firewall.

For backups he sends configfiles to and S3 amazon instance using duplicity (which uses encryption). He also backups mythtv dump, list of packages, emails, bookmarks and his dads ~/documents/safe. He requires his Dad to dump to CD anything else.

Pedagogical Freedom

This was a panel discussion about educational issues. Most of it didn't interest me hugely. Ahamed Shameem mentioned Fedena, a open source school management system (built with Ruby on Rails). Looks like it could have been a competitor to Synergetic at Trinity, but obviously that is a battle that will be very hard to fight just now.

Project Caua

Jon Hall (alias maddog) spoke about Project Caua. This is a project to put a whole bunch of low cost devices and servers into Brazillian cities to help low incoming people get digitally connected. They are including training for locals to become system administrators, both the technical skills necessary, and the business skills needed to run a business supporting a building full of these low cost devices. They are organising for these sysadmins to have access to loans, so that there will be no charity involved, it will be an economically sustainable initiative. Their goals are to create millions of private sector jobs.

I'd heard of maddog over the years, and it was great to see him speak. He's a good speaker. His goals are ambitious, but they don't sound crazy.

How Government Can Foster Freedom in Technology

This talk was given by a local politician. It was interesting hearing of her experiences, and the things she has worked on. I didn't make any notes during the talk (battery was running flat). She did highlight (and someone in the audience emphasized) how useful it is when people turn up to express their opinion, as it really makes it easier for her to state her case to other people. This will be true for back at home as well.

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This page contains a single entry by Geoff Crompton published on August 6, 2010 1:44 AM.

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