Microsoft Defender ATP on Linux requires systemd

There seems to be documentation issue with Microsoft Defender ATP for Linux. The system requirements, as far as I can see, do not mention that systemd is needed. I found this on a Debian 9 (Stretch) system that was configured with SysV init. The post-install script of mdatp performs some tests that use the systemctl command, which is of course missing without systemd.

Chef Infra Server Moving to Cloud

As part of a blog post about the new v14 of Chef Infra Server, it was announced that from now on existing functionality will be deprecated in favor of the cloud version. It will be interesting to see how this works out. Personally, I have never been a friend of forcing customers off an existing product. It is a dangerous move that bears the risk of customers switching the vendor entirely. Especially so, if it comes with a major architectural shift like from on-premise to cloud.

I have been a happy user of Chef Server for about five years now, although only for a very small number of machines (single digit). The decision for Chef had been made at a time when Ansible was still in its early stages. But with this latest development I will need to move away from Chef. It is pity, because I really like the tool and have done various custom extensions.

Deciding Where to Lay Off People

I just read a message in the news that a company which, among other things, runs an online job portal for software developers, plans to lay off staff for that portal. The argument made in the news interview, was that this line of business was particularly affected by COVID-19 and to save costs 30 people would be fired. The organization in question, and that is a critical point for this post, has several business lines, and some of the less affected are operating in markets with far less growth potential. Or in other words: they are the core business.

This is a classic example of sacrificing a company’s future and long-term success for some quarterly or yearly goals. Of course there can be situations, which are so extreme that this is the only option. But, frankly, this usually also means that not one but ten things have gone wrong and that also over a longer period of time. So in the majority of cases such an approach is simply an example of what I consider incompetent management.

Let me come back to the reasoning (as per the aforementioned interview) for this job cut. Since when is it a good idea, unless the company is at the brink of bankruptcy, to look primarily (or even only) at the contribution to the financial bottom link for making such decisions. It is in my view at the core of good management to balance the present and future of the organization. And the job market for software developers is certainly something I consider to grow substantially.

I also want to come back shortly to the idea of “core business” and what its properties are. The most important one is certainly financial contribution. But this is more a consequence of a number of underlying properties (think balanced scorecard). In this context the most relevant one is that it is an established business. Or in other words: living off the past. Of course there are exceptions, but for non-startup organizations core business usually means a mature market, investments that are largely written off, well established processes and procedures, etc. Also innovation is hardly found in such an environment.

For a well-run company the approach is always that the current revenues fund the investments for the next big thing. Cutting back on emerging business either means that people have meanwhile realized that it is not such a great idea as initially thought, or that the situation is really bad. But I think it is mostly about personal bonuses of managers and nothing else. Yes, that sounds cynical. But if you have looked the history of businesses in the last couple of decades, it is the most probable cause.

 

Installing ecoDMS 18.09 on Debian 10.5

I had recently installed ecoDMS 18.09 on a Debian 10.5 VM and it was a pleasant experience overall. However, the following things had to be done differently compared to the installation manual

  • Install gnupg via sudo apt-get install gnupg (this seems to be installed out-of-the-box on Ubuntu)
  • Do not install any Java environment but let this be handled by the normal dependency management

The system is currently in light use (still in testing) for my newly founded company and runs quite well. The VM is hosted on ESXi 6 that runs on a Celeron 3900 (yes, two cores) and for a single user with just a few documents stored the performance is really nice.

I so far intend to stay with that system and will keep you updated.

 

Microphone BOYA BY-M1

If you are looking for a cheap lavalier microphone to have better sound at video conferences or to get started with YouTube I can recommend the BOYA BY-M1. It provides really good value for money and can usually be found for around 20 Euros (25 US Dollars) online. I got mine from Amazon (affiliate link to amazon.com / amazon.de) for about 18 Euros.

One differentiator compared to other similar microphones that are often advertised specifically for use with smartphones, is that the BY-M1 can also be used with devices that do not provide power. Smartphones and modern laptops usually do this, but professional audio equipment (e.g. dedicated audio recorders) only provides 48 V phantom power and will therefore not work with a typical smartphone microphone. For those cases the BY-M1 comes with a small battery (LR44) and also a 1/4″ TRS adapter.

If you use a different microphone I would be interested to hear about your experience in the comments.

Cause and Effect

As per “Google Cloud Application Modernization Program: Get to the future faster” (citing DevOps Research and Assessment) “teams that ship code numerous times per day are 1.53 times more likely to achieve or exceed their commercial goals, including profitability, and market share.” What many people will make out of this is that it should be  sufficient to increase the release rate to be successful.

A similar study (I cannot remember the source right now) shows that people who use Firefox as their web browser have a better career. And I guess there are many more comparable “findings” that you can come across. Unfortunately they are somewhere between misleading and completely wrong.

The problem is that such statements often present two things as cause and effect. But in reality those two things are “only” correlated. So both the high deployment rate and commercial success are effects of the same cause. And that cause is that these teams have experienced people who really know what they are doing.

Windows 10: Restore Bootloader after Linux Test

I had recently installed Linux in a dual-boot setup on a test machine (an old Lenovo Thinkpad T430). What proved more difficult than in former times was to restore the original state. Most of the recommendations I found online were less than helpful. In particular, many of them ignored the fact that there are two entirely different approaches out there to handle the boot: UEFI and legacy or GPT and MBR respectively. My machine was using MBR (Master Boot Record), given its age.

What finally solved the issue was the following command:

C:\> bootsect /nt60 c: /mbr

I used a USB stick with Windows 10 Installer, but since then learned that you can get to the “repair” console easier, if your Windows 10 still starts. All you need to do is perform the following steps:

  • Log off.
  • When the login screen appears, press a key so that the password field shows up. This will also enable the “power” button in the lower right corner of the screen.
  • Press and hold shift
  • Left-click the power and choose “Restart”
  • Let go of the shift key and the repair menu appears.
  • Go to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command Line