[kwlug-disc] so ... what's your opinion on linux anti-virus software?

Charles M chaslinux at gmail.com
Fri Feb 6 06:45:01 EST 2009

> Switching to Linux is a learning experience that should not be wasted.

I like Linux for this reason, but I don't expect others to like it for the
same reason. Linux reminds me of the C64/Vic 20 days when we used to have
presentations on how to create a light pen with a magic marker and
electronics. It had little to do with Commodore BASIC, but still applied to
the C64/Vic 20 and was an interesting learning experience. One of the things
that I found disappointing when the club began to change from a Commodore to
a PC club was a dumbing down of presentations, it became application
oriented instead of solution oriented. (Of course that just requires a
slight shift in focus and some presentations did this) Any kind of hardware
hacking knowledge fell completely off the radar. The "Linux learning curve"
has always reminded me of the excitement I found learning the C64/Vic 20 and
the many hardware projects out there.

> I know _I'm_ not going to visit my friends' houses everyday to do an
> apt-get update && apt-get upgrade.  They need to learn to do that for
> themselves.  And if it is wrapped in a GUI, and it works, and it's easy

So here's what I've done. For CR volunteers I've created a Drupal portal and
explained apt-get update && apt-get upgrade as a part of the Ubuntu Linux
post-install procedures. I've explained that on slower machines it can save
them as much as 1/2 hour finishing the machines. A number have tried the GUI
update process and now understand the importance. As the portal grows I'll
probably transfer some of the information on to a handout people get, or a
bunch of static web pages.

> These are all very simple operations.  If all you want to do is write a
> letter and print it out, Linux can be made to be that easy as well.

It can be made to be that easy, but when person x goes out and buys a
printer/scanner that doesn't work with Linux they get upset at the OS. Now
here's the bitter irony, we have a few scanners in the shop that wouldn't
work with Windows XP (because of age and companies refusing to release new
drivers) but work with Linux.

People trust Rogers and Symantec.  And Rogers and Symantec are in the
> business
> of making money and selling "solutions."

Most people don't actually trust Rogers, at least in our experience. We've
heard many people moan about Rogers, but the thought seems to be that
there's currently nothing better at the price point, or that they don't want
to switch because of the convenience of the "all in one" (TV/Intenet/Home
Phone) combos. Sure there are a lot of combos out there but they always seem
to be minus one of these things (TV).


The OS does matter though! Yes, applications matter, but if the underlying
OS supports features like OS X's Data Detectors (see
http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/300.html) it makes life easier for end
users. It isn't just a feature of the program, but the OS itself. Being able
to click on a time and date in an email and set up a calendar appointment is
pretty neat.

> The whole point of a PC, and the whole point of an OS, is to be general
> purpose.  I can put a student, a child, an engineer, or an accountant

Ah... now the C64 wasn't really a great machine for accounting, but I know
accountants who bought and used one. As long as there's a will, there's a
way. This is where that whole learning thing came into perspective. I think
the issue here is that we have separate groups of people, some who want to
learn while they use their machine and others who just want to get the job
done (but they also want the machine to be flexible that they can do other
things without learning a lot).

> That kind of complexity doesn't come for free.  And the OS world isn't
> advanced enough yet, in Windows or in Linux, to make it look free.  The
> costs keep leaking through the cracks in the facade.

Hmmn... I'm starting to wonder about the OS world not being advanced enough,
especially having recently seen some of the features of OS X (haven't used
it so I can't say, it just looked good). It almost seems like the features
are there we're just not using more than 20% of them.

This was a discussion of Anti-viruses awhile back and it was interesting to
see the different recommendations. One of the tools we've used in the past
is F-Secure's rescue CD. We've had mild success with it (it missed some
malware even with updates). I've also used ClamAV and found similar results,
it found viruses, but didn't get everything.

We've started to build a new AV machine for CR. The box is a tower case with
a 3GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, and hot swappable HD trays. We were planning
on booting Linux + AV scanners off a USB key (in the past we've done CD
which is great for write protection, but updates seem just as important, so
we've decided on USB). We haven't quite yet decided on an AV scanner and
even considered using WINE or a VirtualBox to run a scanner...

Charles McColm
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