Geekery, Technology

It is always inspiring to see a geek get his day. I don’t really get into the stock market but seeing the look on Mark Zuckerberg‘s face as pretty awesome. You could almost hear him thinking: “Holy crap, I did this?” I thought he may actually shed a tear. I’m sure I’m not alone in dreaming of being in a similar position some day.

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Geekery, Programming

I love developing with multiple desktops. For a long time I was looking for a solution that would work for me in Windows 7. Some worked, but they all seemed to have difficulties with my terminal windows or just not work very well at all.

I use Cygwin running through mintty for my development in Windows. Because I use Vim for my programming, it’s important that my terminal windows work as I need them to. Why weren’t the various multiple desktop solutions available for Windows 7 able to handle my terminal windows? I tried different programs and eventually wrote it off as there being an issue with how the terminals were running.

Skip forward a few months and I have a few free cycles at work. I decided to give multiple desktops in Windows a try again. I like being able to cleanly switch between my casual web browsing, email, programming, browser, and so-on without having everything on one desktop. I knew there had to be some solution out there that would work for me. I decided to stick with VirtuaWin and figure out, once and for all, how to get it working. Performing the installation process with high hopes, I got things running and decided to give it a shot again. Unfortunately, the terminal windows were still appearing on every desktop.

Altering the options available in VirtuaWin didn’t seem to help and neither did the suggestion in the FAQ:

Some applications refuse to disappear when I change desktop.
Yep. Some applications use a special type of window (ex. Winamp and ICQ). This makes it hard for VirtuaWin to find them. But it is possible to configure manually how VirtuaWin should treat them, see the help about “Window Rules”.

After more Googling, I came across a bug report that seemed an alternative explanation for my problem:

Howdy,
In Windows 7 pro, I work as an unpriviledged user but need to run some applications (e.g. Across) with admin rights. These application windows appear on all virtual desktops which I find highly annoying. When run as mortal user, the window rules I set up work as expected: The application window appears on one desktop only.
Any idea how to persuade applications started as admin user (runas) behave normally?
Thanks & cheers

Because I use Cygwin for many tasks on my computer, I do have it running in administrative mode. After a quick switch for the VirtuaWin shortcut to always run in administrative mode, I found that my multiple desktops were behaving as expected.

Finally, a decent multiple desktop experience in Windows! It isn’t quite as smooth as native implementations in other operating systems, but it’s better than nothing. Hopefully others having this problem will be able to find the solution a bit quicker in the future.

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Geekery

I had always taken for granted that my SSH sessions were, well, secure. I just assumed that the contents of the scrollback buffer in a terminal would not be saved anywhere locally for something like this. My assumption was that it was stored in memory and flushed when the session was over. This allowed me to look at sensitive data, passwords, emails, and so on without worry about it leaving traces locally.

It turns out, my assumptions of security may have been wrong.

On Hacker News, today, a link was posted with the title: Terminal scrollback written to local disk, including remote ssh sessions. This led to a page over at climagic.org: Bugreport – libVTE scrollback buffer written to disk, affecting gnome-terminal, xfce4-terminal, terminator and more.

When I started reading, a sinking feeling in my stomach began to overtake me. An understanding that I had about the security of what I was looking at over SSH sessions was suddenly compromised. The list of common terminals that were affected was troubling:

gnome-terminal
terminator
xfce4-terminal
guake
evilvte
lilyterm
sakura
termit
Anything else that uses libVTE for a terminal widget.

The clear and concise disclosure was well-written and provides information about what can be done to fix this. The author was even kind enough to provide an explanation and demonstration video:

While this may not be a security issue for a lot of users, it is nice to have an understanding that what you are looking at over that remote secure shell session may leave traces on your computer locally.

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