Schneier on Feudalism

Security expert Bruce Schneier has been comparing the modern internet to a virtual feudalism for some time – most recently here. I understand most of his reasoning on the topic, but in the post linked above, he started to lose me with this paragraph:

On the policy side, we have an action plan. In the short term, we need to keep circumvention — the ability to modify our hardware, software, and data files — legal and preserve net neutrality. Both of these things limit how much the lords can take advantage of us, and they increase the possibility that the market will force them to be more benevolent. The last thing we want is the government — that’s us — spending resources to enforce one particular business model over another and stifling competition. [emphasis added]

I absolutely agree with him on anti-circumvention regulation. It should be legal to use your hardware how you want. I’m not convinced on net neutrality, at least as it’s understood by most people. More on that in a moment. Obviously, the other statement I disliked was calling government “us”. There’s a theoretical sense in which that’s true, and politicians tend to tailor their major positions to the median voter; but as every intelligence scandal and rights-eroding legislation shows, there is a gap between people who comprise and run the government and people who must comply with the formers’ decisions, or else.

Back to net neutrality, Schneier also expresses concern that “every part of the Internet is owned by someone.” I think this is most worrisome at the physical layer. You can’t visit any web property without going through a very large company’s network. I think in the not-too-distant future this will be mitigated by ad-hoc, peer-to-peer mesh networking and high-speed wireless technologies. This assumes, though, that the FCC removes a lot of restrictions in the face of the reality of intelligent spread spectrum radios.

Install Exacq Server on Ubuntu Server 10.04

I just finished setting up an Exacq video recording server for one of our remote sites. I decided to try my hand at installing on Ubuntu. Exacq’s documentation is a bit sparse for Linux installations, so here is my record of the steps needed.

Hardware

The machine I used was a brand new Dell R210 II PowerEdge 1U server with 2x2TB hard drives and a Core i3 processor. Since this is only for a few cameras, the storage and processing capability should be more than enough.

Software

The operating system, as noted in the title, is Ubuntu Server 10.04 i386. According to Exacq, that is the latest version they support, though I assume they will support 12.04 soon. I tried 12.04 initially, but had a lot of dependency issues, so I went back to 10.04. For some reason, though, installing 10.04 from a thumb drive gave me issues, so I ended up using a CD. That’s not an Exacq issue, so I won’t elaborate.

I did install OpenSSH server at the optional packages. I don’t recall if the NTP server option is on that list, but if so, go ahead and install it; or once the operating system is running, install ntp using:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ntp

Installation

I downloaded the Linux installation files from Exacq, but I just tried and succeeded at using wget, with this command

wget --no-check-certficate https://username:password@exacq.com/reseller/Ubuntu/Dapper/exacqVisionServer.deb

You can replace “exacqVisionServer” with “exacqVisionWebService” or “exacqVisionClient” to get the other components. Use the username and password you got at Exacq reseller training.

Then install the package using

sudo dpkg -i exacqVisionServer.deb

To install the web service (optional, for mobile and browser clients), install some dependencies first:

sudo apt-get install libterm-readline-perl-perl spawn-fcgi lighttpd

Then install the web service package:

sudo dpkg -i exacqVisionWebService.deb

I haven’t been able to get the web service to actually work, though. Whenever I try to access it, lighttp returns a 500 error. The lighttp error logs show that the fcgi handler turns itself off. I think I might try using Apache instead.

These services should run just fine without a GUI. Of course, the Linux client requires X.org, gtk (I think), and a window manager such as Gnome. You can always run the client on another machine on the network like you would any Exacq server.

Cameras

The cameras we’re using are Axis P3304s. I really like Axis cameras, not just for their quality, but for their features and ease of installation and maintenance. Once I had the Exacq server running and had set the IP addresses of the Axis cameras, the server saw the cameras in its scan, but would not connect. I thought maybe there was a networking issue with the operating system, so I ran Wireshark and saw that the cameras were sending a 401 “Bad Request” error. In the error page was some ONVIF XML saying the requested stream required authorization. As it turns out, with recent updates to both Axis cameras and Exacq servers being more ONVIF compliant, you have to set up ONVIF users on the camera. The unfortunate thing is that Axis’s Camera Management tool doesn’t support setting that with a parameter file yet. According to the Axis FAQ site:

For products running firmware version 5.40 and higher ONVIF access is disabled as soon as root’s password is configured and to enable it an ONVIF user needs to be added under System Options > Security > ONVIF.

So I would suggest if you’re using Camera Management to set IP addresses and upgrade firmware, do not set the password and do not try to log in to the web interface until you’ve connected the Exacq server to it.

Summary

So, you can set up Exacq on an Ubuntu Server, but should you? If you’re proficient at Linux, and you want to keep all your servers on a consistent OS, then yes, it is at least as good as a Windows box. However, if it’s just to save the cost of installing Windows 7, then I would suggest you reconsider. The cost of a Windows 7 Professional license is a fraction of the cost of the Exacq license, and it will integrate with a Windows network more easily. Exacq also sells pre-configured IP-only and hybrid servers with either Windows or Ubuntu, and they add a lot more security features and remove unneeded software as well.

Good Post on Health Care Costs and Economics

Over at Mises.org they have a very good and thorough explanation of the economics of health care, written by an M.D. It includes a breakdown of costs, a description of Medicare liabilities, an explanation of why health “insurance” is not really insurance, and the fallacies of socializing all costs. Here’s a snippet on licensure and regulation:

Regulatory burdens plague American business in general and US healthcare in particular. There are so many regulations that no provider can possibly be aware of them all. Lawyers and consultants must be hired to advise what the law actually means. The complicated nature of the regulatory environment is intentional. When the law is so complicated that nobody understands its boundaries, then government agencies can terrorize every provider about compliance with the law.

Quote of the Night

From Leftism, by Erik Kuehnelt-Leddihn

The deeper meaning of history is theological and he who flees theology can only try to solve the riddles of history by offering banalities of a moralizing nature … This world, however, is a vale of tears and man, from a purely terrestrial viewpoint, a tragic creature. The trouble is that America and Europe, after a long process of de-Christianization, are no longer capable of assimilating a philosophy of the tragic or a theology of the Cross.