Author Archives: Lewis Rosenthal

Arca Noae Package Manager version 1.0.2 has been released

Arca Noae is pleased to announce the immediate availability of an updated Arca Noae Package Manager for ArcaOS, OS/2, and eComStation. (1.0.2)

This is a minor release, but with lots of new functionality, including:

  • Prioritization of installed/updated packages, and prompted rebooting (should eliminate various problems when updating all packages).
  • Export & import of package lists, designed to make it easier to keep different systems in sync or when a complete refresh is required.
  • Fixed problems filtering out spurious checksum messages.
  • Improved error message formatting overall.
  • Program now gracefully handles bad or offline repositories.
  • Secure repositories can now be disabled/enabled in Repository Manager.
  • Cancelling credential entry for a secure repository now automatically
    disables it.
  • Some changes to menu names and arrangement.
  • Improved and expanded help guide.
  • Various bug fixes and other minor improvements.

Arca Noae Package Manager is available in English with Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, and Swedish language packs. Some have added help file translations in this version.

This open source utility is available to everyone, free of charge, regardless whether you have an Arca Noae software subscription or an ArcaOS license.

Please review the wiki for important first-time installation and upgrade notes and other tips.

Policy statement concerning Spectre and Meltdown exploits

Spectre and Meltdown are terms used to describe two potential exploits in a class of security attacks commonly termed “timing attacks” because they access data which may be sensitive in nature (passwords and other information) from areas of memory which may only be available at specific times (either moved elsewhere or removed entirely at other times). They belong to the more general class termed “side-channel attacks,” because they exploit the hardware itself, rather than breaking encryption or utilizing a software flaw. For more technical information regarding these exploits, please refer to the links section, below.

Arca Noae engineers are monitoring the situation, and while there is still much contradictory information crossing the internet at this time, we believe we have been able to assess at least some of the risk and provide some guidance to users of the OS/2 platform (OS/2 Warp, eComStation, and ArcaOS). As further reliable information becomes available, this post will be updated to reflect any change in Arca Noae’s position and any actions we may plan to take.

General information

In order to gain access to any information in privileged memory using one of these exploits, a user-level application must be launched on the specific machine to be compromised. This means that presently, an OS/2 executable must be used as the attack vector. As of this writing, we are not aware of any such code which executes on the OS/2 platform.

Browser-based attacks (running JavaScript) appear to require greater precision in a high-resolution timer than is currently available on OS/2, making such exploits more difficult than on other platforms, if not altogether impossible. It should also be noted that any such JavaScript-based attack would have to also be specifically designed to handle access to memory regions as managed by OS/2 (in other words, a malicious JavaScript program must be written for OS/2 and specifically to run in the OS/2 browser version in which it is running; a JavaScript program written for Windows or Linux will not work on OS/2). Realistically, the chance of this level of coding detail is extremely small.

Risks – virtual installations vs bare metal

By far, virtualized environments (running OS/2 as a guest under some other more vulnerable platform) are at the greatest risk, because the host system may rightly have access to the guest’s memory and virtualized processor. A host running a vulnerable operating system with an exploitable CPU which remains unpatched is the greatest concern. Arca Noae believes bare metal installations of OS/2-based operating systems are at much less risk.

Arca Noae’s current strategy

To date, we have not identified a need for a kernel patch to mitigate the risk of any hypothetical Spectre or Meltdown attack against OS/2-based systems. We continue to monitor the available information and will adjust our strategy as conditions require.

Arca Noae’s current recommendations

For virtualized and bare metal installations, Arca Noae recommends only running software obtained from trusted sources. Per stand practice, reasonable security precautions should be taken when accessing the internet, particularly when visiting unfamiliar or untrusted sites, and browser cache should be cleared regularly. The use of a NAT firewall is also encouraged (either a separate one, as built into a broadband router or at a minimum, a software firewall running on the local OS/2 system, such as InJoy Firewall).

Because a malicious application designed to utilize one of these exploits would have to be downloaded or copied to the target OS/2 system and then executed locally, normal malware protections remain the best first line of defense.

For virtualized installations, Arca Noae recommends applying to the host system whatever patches are made available and recommended by the developer of the host operating system.

Links

Official information

Spectre CVEs:

CVE-2017-5753

CVE-2017-5715

Meltdown CVE:

CVE-2017-5754

Mozilla Security Blog

CERT: CPU hardware vulnerable to side-channel attacks

Intel: Facts about side-channel analysis and Intel products

AMD: An update on AMD processor security

eCo Software Runtime packages updated

Arca Noae is pleased to announce the availability of updated eCo Software Runtime packages, downloadable from our downloadables page.

The eCo Software Runtime packages provide support libraries for several components of ArcaOS and eCS, as well as eCo Software applications. The four packages which comprise the set have all been updated as of 2017-11-13, and the Base package was further updated on 2017-11-15.

These packages are provided by Arca Noae as a convenience to our customers, clients, and the community at large. Arca Noae does not produce these packages, and the software is provided “as is” without any warranty of any kind. Support for the eCo Software Runtime is provided by eCo Software, in their support forum.

ArcaOS

Our first ever Black Friday Sale!

Arca Noae is launching our first ever Black Friday Sale!

If you’ve been waiting to get an ArcaOS license, either as a return to OS/2 after a long absence or because you’ve heard the buzz about the breakthrough Blue Lion distribution, or even if you’re a current ArcaOS licensee and want an additional license or two — or three — for some other systems, now is the time.

ArcaOS 5.0 personal edition licenses are on sale for just $109 from now through the end of 2017. Personal edition licenses include six months of support and updates, and after that, annual support renewals are available for a great price.

ArcaOS 5.0 commercial edition licenses are on sale for just $195 from now through the end of 2017, and include a full year of support and updates.

Get your ArcaOS licenses while they’re available at these great discounts!

 

Where’s the new Firefox?

We’ve received a few inquiries regarding the availability of Firefox 45.9 ESR. Please note that we have not yet released Firefox 45 due to some final performance and stability issues which we are working hard to address.

Please be patient, and we hope to have a release for general availability in the very near future.