Archive for the Random Category

No more free hosting!

Posted in Random on November 12, 2009 by lucywitdiam0nds

Hi all,

Seeing as I have taken quite an interest in this, I have decided to forget about just alright free hosting on, and I have moved to a full on host :)

The new website is:


Not too much different, but a LOT more stuff to play with for me :)

I hope you guys continue to read, and enjoy!

Its very nice, I like very much


“My Cluster”…Making RAM faster with every simulation (hopefully).

Posted in Random on November 11, 2009 by lucywitdiam0nds

I use both the words “My” and “Cluster” in quite a loose sense. Mainly because it’s not mine, and it’s not quite a cluster. It is owned by Brian Davis, one of my professors here at tech, but administrated by me, funded by grant money for a project that he got a few years ago.

Essentially the grant (and simulations) are to find a better way to organize memory. If you think about the way that memory is in the conventional sense, you have programs interacting with first the CPU cache, then to the RAM, then to the HD as a ‘last resort’. Got it. Right.

What he’s aiming to do is essentially provide another layer between the RAM and the HD (and in the future between the RAM and the CPU cache) that essentially has an algorithm to organize it, both physically (reducing copper wire latency) and programatically (in page size, as well as frequency of use). I’m not too sure on the specifics past that, and that was only one branch of what he’s actually researching, but it struck me as quite interesting!

I’m hoping at some point to get job management going properly, as well as “actual clustering” going. Right now people just ssh into the head, and have a trust setup between head and nodes, so they don’t have to login after they’ve authenticated through the head. The nodes are pretty easy to start and compile code on, so it works for all the simulations, at least for now.

Every node is running Redhat Enterprise Linux 5, and the simulations are written in C. I’ve got everything setup to kickstart whenever I need it. Take tonight for example, my nodes have been mysteriously dying, and I have a feeling that someone’s code corrupted something in the T3 module, and they just kept trying to run it on all the nodes.

Thankfully I have set it up so its nice and easy to wipe everything clean. Thank god for kickstart, this is a copy of mine :

Running through my kickstart, you see that it puts every node on the same NIS domain (, and uses an ftp server to grab all the necessary packages and files. No X windows, as there isn’t a need for it. Generates the swap partition depending on memory size, and fills the rest of the partition with ext3 (forget LVM!). Installs all the packages it really needs, and on the post install it does the following:

Changes the passwd binary for all nodes to yppasswd, so when people try to change their password, it propagates properly through the NIS domain.

Adds “+::::::” to /etc/passwd – this basically states that the rest of the file should be looked up in “Yellow pages” (or the NIS server, whichever you prefer :-P )

Adds “+:::” to /etc/group, and does the same exact thing as the previous one, but with groups instead of passwords.

Puts an entry in /etc/fstab to connect to the NFS share I have running for everyone’s homedrive, allowing SSH trusts to remain in place no matter how many times I wipe them :).

These things seem relatively simple…now. Trust me, it took me many many hours to figure out exactly what I needed to do to get everything working like this. Now all I have to do to “refresh” the nodes is PXE boot them, and reboot after they’re done. Since nagios only checks SSH and ICMP connectivity to all nodes, it will still be fully functional.

All in all, it has been a huge learning experience for me, getting to know a lot about RHEL administration. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ll get into all the scripting that I did to make everything work flawlessly :).

I’ve got a lot of things happening using cron and bash scripting, but I don’t feel like getting into that right now.

Also look at the blast from the past that I found today at work!






I saw it sitting there and literally burst out laughing. There was a huge cart of old crap sitting on the left when I walked in and I spent about 20 min digging through it for nostalgic things like this :).


Posted in Random on November 11, 2009 by lucywitdiam0nds

Horay! I just joined the League of Professional System Administrators.I have a feeling this is going to be a good outlet for both learning as well as finding contacts in the future. I joined on the advice of Matt Simmons, so thanks for letting me know about it!

If you’re interested in System Administration, you should check it out, its only 25$ to join if you’re a student :).


Also I joined both of my zeroshell tutorials together into a page, check it out!


Windows 7 Driver Signing = Headache, but its for a reason?

Posted in Random on November 10, 2009 by lucywitdiam0nds

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why driver signing is necessary. I do. But I gained a higher appriciation for it when I mentioned something about it to my professor. Some of his prior students actually work for Microsoft currently, and one of them had discussed this with him at some point.

It all comes back to Apple. I know it sounds a bit werid, but they inadverntently forced microsoft to adhere to stricter conventions to improve the overall stability of their OS.

Something like 90% of all windows based crashes (blue screens of death) are caused by 3rd party drivers functioning improperly. I can see it being the issue because there is very limited checking when it comes to drivers in the first place. Drivers are written mostly in assembly, which means to have something to test if it is going to interact with the windows kernel fine is a damn near impossible task.

This is where Apple actually does something right. They control every aspect of the hardware and software with their computers, which means that all their drivers are professionally written, and tested throughout for stability. When I came to that realization I felt like someone had slapped me in the brain. Apple…did something RIGHT?
I’ve been a longtime advocate for Windows and Unix-based operating systems (EXCLUDING Apple’s OS) for obvious reasons, and seeing that Windows 7 is taking a leaf out of Apple’s book is a bit weird for me. Its still a pain in the ass, as with most Apple based decisions, but it is almost necessary for Microsoft to improve the stability of Windows.

I understand Microsoft’s mentality on this, but it should still acceptable to use unsigned drivers when you really want to, perhaps with a warning that it may cause stability issues.
Namely – I want to be able to use my hax0red Xbox controller damn it! (And yes I know that the Xbox used USB with a different port configuration :-P) it is the one thing that doesn’t (and will never) work on 7 unless I reboot and go to “disable driver signing”, but when I restart it re-enables it :(. Sure there are ways to edit your bootloader to always boot into this special debug mode, but wtf. WHY?

The only reason for this is the fact that you have to have a valid certificate from VeriSign ($300-$400 a year!)

Shenanagins I say!

Milw0rm…I miss you!

Posted in Random on November 8, 2009 by lucywitdiam0nds


Le sigh. That is all I have to say about milw0rm being down for so long. I mean obviously I don’t really use it for exploits, as there really aren’t any viable ones (good in a crunch though if you DO find an unpatched system though) after patching and such, but I miss reading about the ones that they DO have.
I mean come on, this was like the first security-oriented website I REALLY started reading, and that was all because of a bookmark toolbar enclosed with backtrack 3 (or was it 2?).

At least I still have, a great security oriented forum with programatic POC’s that are very helpful for learning both optimized coding and how many security exploits are actually written.

For me security is something that has fascinated me from the start. To me theres nothing better than finding a failure in a system that can be leveraged to do something proactive and offensive. Not offensive in the malicious sense per say, but failures are generally considered a shortcoming, something that the system is lacking. The ability to transmute this failure into something that accomplishes another task is damn near like alchemy.

I make no claim to be an expert in any sense. I am a student, and I always will be. I break things, but that is a natural path to take when trying to become intimately familiar with a system of any sort. I am just curious, and while this has gotten me in to trouble in the past, id rather have my curiosity then be oblivious to anything security related, because that is how bad administrators are made.

You can make any system secure enough that it isn’t worth a hackers time. That is the number one thing, even if your good, you need all the information before you can even remotely evaluate the most vulnerable spot. While its true in some sense that any system can be compromised given enough time, that also assumes that the system is static in nature. As computing grows more and more powerful, it also gets more dynamic. People are starting to write software with security in mind, and while there will always be bad sys admins and bad programmers failing miserably, we are seeing our world transition from a hacked together system full of bugs to a beautifully built juggernaut of entropy. All security is security by obscurity, but we’re talking about trying to find a needle, buried a mile in the earths crust, from a different galaxy.

On a different note, its getting way to dark way to quick. Its 6:00 and its pretty much black. An average day for me starts at 2:00, so needless to say I’m not going to be getting much sunlight so far up here. This is the part that kills me about being up here. It’s cold, lonely, and boring. Don’t get me wrong. I love cold weather and snow, but when it’s too cold for me to go snowboarding (one of the ONLY ways I can relieve stress up here), thats where I draw the line.

My freshmen year up here, we had 1 snow day, and thats all I’ve seen in the past 3 years. It got down to -35, and nobody’s car would start :-P

I have a feeling I’m going to be writing a lot more articles this winter.


The begining words

Posted in Random, Unix, Windows on November 7, 2009 by lucywitdiam0nds

Hello cyberspace.

I peruse you as a (big) part of my daily life, and for a time now I’ve wanted a place to rant and rave about the ongoing plethora of computer nerdom that I’m exposed to on a daily basis.

I will use this space to retroactively delve into my prior projects/jobs and a place to divulge what I find in the future. I feel as though this is a bit overdue, as I’ve got lots of things rattling around in my brain and no where to properly put them.

My true niche is security, both in the cyber-world as well as the physical world. I like dealing with the failures of  systems and the like, especially when the system was designed explicitly *not* to fail.

As I sit here contemplating on what I could write about a world of possibilities are opening up. Some of my posts might hold some music-related things, although I’m not sure about that. I’m a lot more knowledgeable about computers than I am about music.

There are many many things that I will write about, although i’m not sure how much time I will have to do it. I work a lot, and a lot of my job is pretty much all the time.

I’m a bit new to wordpress, so I’m going to use this post to get acclimated with the tools as well.




  • Hey look!
  • I found some bullets :)
  1. I think I also found
  2. Some numbers :)

Blockquotes? I have a feeling I know what this does, but I could be wrong


Randal Graves

This is Randal, he is a slacker