Wandering Thoughts archives


I wish systemd would get over its thing about syslog

Anyone who works with systemd soon comes to realize that systemd just doesn't like syslog very much. In fact systemd is so unhappy with syslog that it invented its own logging mechanism (in the form of journald). This is not news. What people who don't have to look deeply into the situation often don't realize is that systemd's dislike is sufficiently deep that systemd just doesn't interact very well with syslog.

I won't say that bugs and glitches 'abound', because I've only run into two issues so far (although both issues are relatively severe). One was that systemd mis-filed kernel messages under the syslog 'user' facility instead of the 'kernel' one; this bug made it past testing and into RHEL 7 / CentOS 7. The other is that sometimes on boot, randomly, systemd will barf up a significant chunk of old journal messages (sometimes very old) and re-send them to syslog. If you don't scroll back far enough while watching syslog logs, this can lead you to believe that something really bad and weird has happened.

(This has actually happened to me several times.)

This is stupid and wrongheaded on systemd's part. Yes, systemd doesn't like syslog. But syslog is extremely well established and extremely useful, especially in the server space. Part of that is historical practice, part of that is that syslog is basically the only cross-platform logging technology we have, and partly it's because you can do things like forward syslog to other machines, aggregate logs from multiple machines on one, and so on (and do so in a cross-platform way). And a good part of it is because syslog is simple text and it's always been easy to do a lot of powerful ad-hoc stuff with text. That systemd continually allows itself to ignore and interact badly with syslog makes everyone's life worse (except perhaps the systemd authors). Syslog is not going away just because the systemd authors would like it to and it is high time that systemd actually accepted that and started not just sort of working with syslog but working well with it.

One of systemd's strengths until now has been that it played relatively well (sometimes extremely well) with existing systems, warts and all. It saddens me to see systemd increasingly throw that away here.

(And I'll be frank, it genuinely angers me that systemd may feel that it can get away with this, that systemd is now so powerful that it doesn't have to play well with other systems and with existing practices. This sort of arrogance steps on real people; it's the same arrogance that leads people to break ABIs and APIs and then tell others 'well, that's your problem, keep up'.)

PS: If systemd people feel that systemd really does care about syslog and does its best to work well with it, well, you have two problems. The first is that your development process isn't managing to actually achieve this, and the second is that you have a perception problem among systemd users.

linux/SystemdAndSyslog written at 23:42:47; Add Comment

My Firefox 37 extensions and addons (sort of)

A lot has changed in less than a year since I last tried to do a comprehensive inventory of my extensions, so I've decided it's time for an update since things seem to have stabilized for the moment. I'm labeling this as for Firefox 37 since that's the just out latest version, but I'm actually running Firefox Nightly (although for me it's more like 'Firefox Weekly', since I only bother quitting Firefox to switch to the very latest build once in a while). I don't think any of these extension work better in Nightly than in Firefox 37 (if anything, some of them may work better in F37).

Personally I hope I'm still using this set of extensions a year from now, but with Firefox (and its addons) you never know.

Safe browsing:

  • NoScript to disable JavaScript for almost everything. In a lot of cases I don't even bother with temporary whitelisting; if a site looks like it's going to want lots of JavaScript, I just fire it up in my Chrome Incognito environment.

    NoScript is about half of my Flash blocking, but is not the only thing I have to rely on these days.

  • FlashStopper is the other half of my Flash blocking and my current solution to my Flash video hassles on YouTube, after FlashBlock ended up falling over. Note that contrary to what its name might lead you to expect, FlashStopper blocks HTML5 video too, with no additional extension needed.

    (In theory I should be able to deal with YouTube with NoScript alone, and this even works in my testing Firefox. Just not in my main one for some reason. FlashStopper is in some ways nicer than using NoScript for this; for instance, you see preview pictures for YouTube videos instead of a big 'this is blocked' marker.)

  • µBlock has replaced the AdBlock family as my ad blocker. As mentioned I mostly have this because throwing out YouTube ads makes YouTube massively nicer to use. Just as other people have found, µBlock clearly takes up the least memory out of all of the options I've tried.

    (While I'm probably not all that vulnerable to ad security issues, it doesn't hurt my mood that µBlock deals with these too.)

  • CS Lite Mod is my current 'works on modern Firefox versions' replacement for CookieSafe after CookieSafe's UI broke for me recently (I needed to whitelist a domain and discovered I couldn't any more). It appears to basically work just like CookieSafe did, so I'm happy.

I've considered switching to Self-Destructing Cookies, but how SDC mostly works is not how I want to deal with cookies. It would be a good option if I had to use a lot of cookie-requiring sites that I didn't trust for long, but I don't; instead I either trust sites completely or don't want to accept cookies from them at all. Maybe I'm missing out on some conveniences that SDC would give me by (temporarily) accepting more cookies, but so far I'm not seeing it.

My views on Ghostery haven't changed since last time. It seems especially pointless now that I'm using µBlock, although I may be jumping to assumptions here.

User interface (in a broad sense):

  • FireGestures. I remain absolutely addicted to controlling my browser with gestures and this works great.

    (Lack of good gestures support is the single largest reason I won't be using Chrome regularly any time soon (cf).)

  • It's All Text! handily deals with how browsers make bad editors. I use it a bunch these days, and in particular almost of my comments here on Wandering Thoughts are now written with it, even relatively short ones.

  • Open in Browser because most of the time I do not want to download a PDF or a text file or a whatever, I want to view it right then and there in the browser and then close the window to go on with something else. Downloading things is a pain in the rear, at least on Linux.

(I wrote more extensive commentary on these addons last time. I don't feel like copying it all from there and I have nothing much new to say.)


  • HTTPS Everywhere basically because I feel like using HTTPS more. This sometimes degrades or breaks sites that I try to browse, but most of my browsing is not particularly important so I just close the window and go do something else (often something more productive).

  • CipherFox gives me access to some more information about TLS connections, although I'd like a little bit more (like whether or not a connection has perfect forward secrecy). Chrome gets this right even in the base browser, so I wish Firefox could copy them and basically be done.

Many of these addons like to plant buttons somewhere in your browser window. The only one of these that I tolerate is NoScript's, because I use that one reasonably often. Everyone else's button gets exiled to the additional dropdown menu where they work pretty fine on the rare occasions when I need them.

(I would put more addon buttons in the tab bar area if they weren't colourful. As it is, I find the bright buttons too distracting next to the native Firefox menu icons I put there.)

I've been running this combination of addons in Firefox Nightly sessions that are now old enough that I feel pretty confident that they don't leak memory. This is unlike any number of other addons and combinations that I've tried; something in my usage patterns seems to be really good at making Firefox extensions leak memory. This is one reason I'm so stuck on many of my choices and so reluctant to experiment with new addons.

(I would like to be able to use Greasemonkey and Stylish but both of them leak memory for me, or at least did the last time I bothered to test them.)

PS: Firefox Nightly has for some time been trying to get people to try out Electrolysis, their multi-process architecture. I don't use it, partly because any number of these extensions don't work with it and probably never will. You can apparently check the 'e10s' status of addons here; I see that NoScript is not e10s ready, for example, which completely rules out e10s for me. Hopefully Mozilla won't be stupid enough to eventually force e10s and thus break a bunch of these addons.

web/Firefox37Extensions written at 02:14:56; Add Comment

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