Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fixing VMware Workstation 6.5.3 and Linux kernel 2.6.32 Issues

I updated my kernel to 2.6.32 tonight. The VMware Workstation 6.5.3 module configuration build failed horribly. I am using Sidux, a bleeding edge Debian sid distribution. This Arch Linux link solved the problem. These instructions should help users of Debian and Debian based distributions, such as Ubuntu, get VMware Workstation working. The directions assume that you are the root user. If you are an Ubuntu user, try sudo su to get a root prompt.

The first step is to perform the following commands:

# cd /tmp
# tar xf /usr/lib/vmware/modules/source/vmnet.tar
# vi vmnet-only/vnetUserListener.c (near line 37 add #include "compat_sched.h")
# tar cf /usr/lib/vmware/modules/source/vmnet.tar vmnet-only
# tar xf /usr/lib/vmware/modules/source/vmci.tar
# vi vmci-only/linux/vmciKernelIf.c vmci-only/include/pgtbl.h (add #include "compat_sched.h" around line 30)
# tar cf /usr/lib/vmware/modules/source/vmci.tar vmci-only
# vmware-modconfig --console --install-all

The last command will fail, so you probably don't even want to try it. Then go to this section of the Arch Linux wiki page.

Download the vmware-build-modules shell script.

Now check your version of gcc. If it is gcc-4.3, install the latest version and change the symbolic link.

# cd /usr/bin
# ls -al gcc
# apt-get install gcc-4.4
# rm gcc
# ln -s gcc-4.4 gcc
# ls -al gcc

Now cd to the directory you downloaded vmware-build-modules and fix the permissions and execute the shell script.

# cd Desktop
# chmod 755 ./vmware-build-modules
# ./vmware-build-modules

VMware Workstation 6.5.3 should now work properly under Linux kernel 2.6.32.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Environmental Flux

The planet is in a state of flux due to humans. The Aral Sea is almost gone. The Southern Aral Sea is likely gone for good. That's a lot of fresh water lost to cotton irrigation and bad irrigation infrastructure.

NASA time series mosaic of the Aral Sea

Links: The Aral Sea Foundation
The Times Online article (2007) . If the URL fails, here's the Google Search URL


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stealing a Server Remotely

With the creation of virtual machines for PCs and servers, it was only a matter of time before someone wrote a program to remotely steal unsecured virtual machines (Shmoocon presentation pdf). To use the program,, you have to install Perl CPAN modules which is practically trivial.

Here's a screenshot of a theft:

Stealing a VMware Virtual Machine

This is just a variation of remote file transfer since VMware virtual machines are just files. VMware has patched this flaw. You can search for public facing VMware Servers using Google:

Finding ESX Servers on the Internet (redacted version).

If you put your ESX Server's web access on the Internet, you better have patched the server and have a web application security proxy in front of it or you will lose more than just data. You'll lose system passwords, system configurations, internal network mappings, and your data.


A Wily Escape

Prisoners of the Taliban who managed to escape and fly to freedom. It's now a movie called Kandahar (Kandagar). The LA Times interview of the director is here.

The preflight process in Russia is interesting. There's likely a variation of it here in the U.S., but no one remarks about it. Notice that the instruments are labeled in English.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kingston MicroSD Forensics

That Kingston microSD card you just bought was made by SanDisk/Toshiba (hat tip to Security Monkey aka Chief)


Thursday, February 18, 2010

RootKit Authors Patch Their Software

The MS10-015 patch BSOD issue was mainly caused by a rootkit on the infected systems. But it's not a problem any more, because the rootkit authors patched their software.


The Problem of Information Leakage

Twitpic can be "scraped" by scripts supplied by SANS Johannes B. Ullrich. Twitpic screwed up their Terms of Service. But the data scraping will continue and people will compromise their locations from posting their pictures.

The PleaseRobMe site scrapes Twitter and a geolocation site to tell robbers when you are not home.

Both of these issues are due to people posting too much information on the Internet which companies and others can use that information any way they see fit. Paudotcom discussed both of these issues.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow in Dallas

Dallas Snow

DFW Airport got a foot of snow. Ft. Worth likely received more.


Monday, February 08, 2010

A Hellish Prebiosis

Science moves by fits and starts. Sometimes an Einstein or other genius comes along and knowledge advances in a bound or leap. Often though, knowledge progresses in tiny steps. Little is known of the prebiotic world due to planetary and biological evolution which are now intertwined together as one. We know that the atmosphere we have today isn't the original atmosphere. The original atmosphere was primarily nitrogen and carbon dioxide with other trace gases. The earth was an anaerobic world. Where did the oxygen come from to make the present aerobic world? It came from cyanobacteria and simple plant life, algae. As the concentrations of this toxic byproduct of photosynthesis rose, organisms evolved to take advantage of the plant waste and use it for their own energy production. However, oxygen levels didn't rise enough to support complex large multicellular animal life until 500-750 million years ago. That is likely true for plants as well. Plants likely colonized land before animals did.

But what came before it all? When did life arise in the Archean geologic eon? Better yet, where did it arise? The traditional school says that life arose in a warm little pond full of prebiologic precursors. Up until the 1990s, there was no other school of thought. With the discovery in the 1970's of deep sea hydrothermal vents and their continuing analysis, an alternative school of thought arose. One that suggested that hydrothermal vents were the birthplace of early life. (I am a member of that school of thought.) This article suggests that early life arose in a particular type of hydrothermal vents, alkaline hydrothermal vents that have chemical gradients to support a proton driving force for the production of energy. This protonmotive force exists in bacteria, choroplasts, and mitochondria, and is called chemiosmosis, the production of a selective ion gradient (hydrogen protons from water molecules) across a semipermeable membrane. I'm sure that the debate is just getting interesting, but perhaps one day the textbooks will be rewritten to suggest that the first life arose in what we mesophiles would call an underwater hell.


Are Dinosaur Descendants Alive Today?

Looks like a bird, doesn't it? This fossil may be a transition between dinosaurs and birds. I think that these discoveries mean that one group of dinosaurs became birds. Or perhaps as this article suggests, birds and dinosaurs had a common ancestor, but birds diverged early from dinosaurs. The problem with paleontology is that fossils are rare, whole fossils with soft tissue preservation are even rarer, and evidence is fragmentary. I would like to see more bird whole genome sequences so that we might be able to reconstruct the common ancestor to all birds. It would be a theropod for sure. Would the earliest common ancestor look like a bird or a feathered dinosaur like Anchiornis huxleyi though?


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