Category Archives: Technology

Security vs. encryption

What follows is a letter I’ve just sent to my Congressman, Reid Ribble.

Dear Mr. Ribble,

After last Friday’s attacks in Paris I can’t help but notice the steady drumbeat of voices blaming strong encryption. As an IT professional, let me assure you that these voices are at best misguided. If a backdoor is built into commercially-available encryption, there is no amount of care that will prevent that backdoor from being exploited by malicious parties, whether they are state or criminal actors.

Also, it’s important to understand that only a modest amount of technical ability is needed to acquire and use encryption. Any move to weaken the built-in encryption of our computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. will serve merely to expose the less technically savvy to criminals – e.g. identity theft – and provide no meaningful increase in our physical security. Even petty criminals could continue to enjoy covert communications channels, and technically literate organizations like ISIL will not be deterred in any way.

I urge you to be a voice of reason in any conversations that may come up on this topic, and to vote against any legislation that aims to weaken our digital security. The only people who ultimately benefit from encryption backdoors are criminals and foreign adversaries.

Thanks for your time,

Scott Reynolds

How the GPL self-limits to irrelevance

Via TuxRadar, “OpenSolaris vs Linux“:

Linux has no ZFS support in the kernel because the Free Software Foundation doesn’t consider it free enough to be bundled with GPL software,[…]

ZFS is one of the more interesting developments in the *NIX world in this first decade of the 21st century. While efforts like the Linux ext4fs filesystem directly address very practical problems with its predecessors, ZFS instead tries to build an entirely new – and better – way of organizing storage. It’s hard to imagine any incentive for volunteers to invest the resources required to build something like ZFS from the ground up. Instead, continuing the previous thought,

… in Linux you have to mount the ZFS filesystem with Fuse as a filesystem in userland.

This sort of also-ran treatment of such a significant new technology seems to be representative of the status quo for Linux; that is, to see innovation and emulate, rather than to actually innovate. This will need to change at a fundamental level before Linux can be taken seriously.