Issue #4 February 2005

Ask Shadowman

Shadowman is putting away the old fedora this month, in exchange for a powdered wig and a stovepipe hat. Can there be a more fitting Presidents' Day tribute than that? For Shadowman's friends who don't know much about American history, February is the month when we Yanks celebrate two of our great patriots, Abe Lincoln and George Washington. Shadowman doesn't ditch the funky red lid often, but for these two old school freedom fighters, Shadowman must show the love. Shadowman is all about the freedom, and those Dead Presidents knew how to represent. Especially Abe. If the original Slim Shady were around today, you know he'd be looking mighty good in his copyleft muscle tee, no doubt. And besides, that tall black hat is a look that Shadowman could get used to.

Got a question that you'd like Shadowman to answer? Ask him.


Getting There asks:

I am still using telnet sessions as it is good enough for me. It still is. On RHL 6, the telnet session appears almost instantly on my client. I have just moved to RHL 7.1 and enabled telnet. It took about 6-8 seconds for the telnet session to appear on the client pc. It cannot be the hardware. Any way of speeding it up like RHL 6 ?

Shadowman replies:

Shadowman is no longer in the habit of being rude; Mama Shadowman broke him of this habit years ago with her steel ruler and her total lack of sympathy. In this unfortunate case, however, Shadowman feels compelled to make an exception because it's for your own good:

Have you lost your mind?

Shadowman can not, in good conscience, help you fix this "problem" so that you may continue to use one of the most insecure protocols ever invented. Do you know what kind of people live out there in the cruel and vicious world? Why, in the name of all that is good and holy, if you were upgrading from Red Hat Linux 6, did you move to Red Hat Linux 7.1, for which Red Hat stopped issuing security patches sometime around, oh, the Carter administration? And even if you've got a perfectly reasonable explanation for your curious "upgrade" path—why, why, why are you not using ssh? Why are you ever logging into a remote machine without encrypting that session? Why do you not use OpenSSH which has come standard with every flavor of Linux everywhere for years and years and years now? Why, oh why do you persist in daring the world to do you harm?

Getting There, please forgive Shadowman for his overreactive and parental advice—but you are not leaving the house dressed like that, young man. Now go to your room and read this and this and this and then disable telnet access on every system you own.

Kids these days. My stars. Oh, and gentle readers: feel perfectly free to bombard Shadowman with all of the perfectly legitimate uses of telnet, for which ssh is, by comparison, wholly unsuited. Consider that a dare.

Wallace asks:

I have Red Hat Linux program installed on my personal computer at home. Recently I have forgotten my password and cannot even log on. Can you tell me how to go about finding my password. Thank you.

Shadowman replies:

Typical Shadowman. Berates one reader for exposing potential security holes and then turns around and tells another user how to root his own box. Hypocrisy, thy name is Shadowman.

Maybe so. Nevertheless, Wallace has a problem, and Shadowman has the answer. At least, he has the answer for users who (a) have physical access to the system, and (b) haven't installed boot loader passwords.

The basic idea is not to recover the password—Linux makes it tougher to do that—to change the existing root password. At boot time, Linux provides you with multiple boot options; one of these options is to boot into a special mode called "single-user mode." From there, you can reset the password for the root user. Read more about it here.

Also, Shadowman recommends not forgetting your password in the first place which Shadowman realizes is easier said than done.

Morten from Norway asks:

Does Red Hat have an "official" site with RPMs for:
- DVD decoding - xine, mplayer
- MP3 encoding/decoding - xmms in fedora, RHEL does not have mp3 support.

Shadowman replies:

Absolutely, Morten! In this great land of innovation and freedom... (sorry? Come again? Not licensed to open source developers? Oh, I can't, can I? Is that so? Well, you just watch ol' Shadowman.)

In honor of Presidents' Day, Shadowman would like to declare a general software amnesty! From this day forward, devotees of open source software may now find these RPMs... (sorry? What's that? Lawyers, you say? In the lobby? Hm. No, I don't want to go to any prison!)

Official implies legal, Morten, and while Shadowman would love to tell you where and how to get those excellent RPMs, there's no such thing as an "official Red Hat RPM" for something that isn't legal in the United States. See, there's this little thing called "contributory infringement" that prevents Shadowman from saying the first thing about how one might get this kind of software. Really. Honestly. So sorry. Please drive through.

And on that note, may Shadowman wish a happy Presidents' Day to everyone. Let freedom ring.