Tag Archives: os/2

Support FreeRDP for OS/2!

If you have a need to access a remote Windows desktop, the best option is using a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client. Using RDP, the local system’s drives may be mapped (redirected) into the remote system to access local files, and even audio from the remote system may be redirected to the local system.

Currently, the RDP client of choice on OS/2 is RDesktop, ported by Andrey Vasilkin. However, RDesktop is showing its age, and a newer, more active project, FreeRDP, has become very well known.

Andrey proposes porting FreeRDP to OS/2, which poses its own set of challenges, so in order to do that, he needs support from the OS/2 user base. This project will take several months, but when he is done, all users of OS/2 warp, eCS, and ArcaOS will have a free, modern, remote access tool.

Sponsoring units for this work may be purchased in the Arca Noae store, in $15, $25, $50, and $100 increments, and of course, it is possible to purchase multiple units at one time.

As with all of the sponsoring collected through Arca Noae 100% of your donation (subject to currency conversion) goes to the project or to the developer. Arca Noae absorbs any related transfer fees.

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.

Updates

2019-02-14: Security researchers apparently conclude in this whitepaper that Spectre cannot be entirely mitigated at the software level.

2019-10-07: Intel engineers have proposed (official/latest Intel PDF, here) a new memory type, speculative-access protected memory (SAPM), to mitigate a common factor in side-channel attacks which access cache/memory.

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

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!

 

October 2017 happenings

ArcaOS 5.0.2 in the works

We are hard at work finalizing the last bits to be included in ArcaOS 5.0.2. Among the enhancements and features are a few bug fixes, updates to included RPM packages, updated Samba client, and the new ability to install from an ArcaOS bootable USB stick (or local partition). We call this new feature AltBoot, and it is a milestone for OS/2. This should assist those with USB 2.0 capability but no optical drives in getting ArcaOS installed and running.

Arca Noae experimental YUM repository access now restricted

In an effort to better ensure the integrity of packages provided by Arca Noae in our release and subscription channels, we have now restricted access to the arcanoae-exp repository to developers and the test team only.

Rest assured, any software which you may have installed from the experimental repository will continue to function just as it did before. However, we strongly urge that if you have installed the arcanoae-exp RPM to configure the experimental repository in Arca Noae Package Manager (ANPM) or YUM, you uninstall that package. It will be withdrawn from the Netlabs stable repository shortly.

Firefox 45.9 RPM coming soon to an Arca Noae YUM repository near you

Firefox 45.9 GA should be arriving soon for installation via ANPM as part of the subscription content for ArcaOS licensees with active support and maintenance and Drivers & Software subscribers. This new packaging should ease the burden of upgrades by managing dependencies and better ensuring a successful installation. More details will be provided in an upcoming post. (Of course Firefox is free for all to download as zip from Netlabs. There is no requirement to maintain a subscription with Arca Noae in order to get the latest Firefox for OS/2.)

If you are still running OS/2 and/or eComStation systems and haven’t yet purchased a software subscription, this is a great reason to do so now. It may also be a good time to consider moving up to ArcaOS.

A Note about Third-Party Components in ArcaOS

You may be aware of the recent massive Equifax security breach and the Company’s explanation surrounding a vulnerability in Apache Struts (CVE-2017-5638) disclosed by US CERT in early March 2017. Some reports have implied that the company has somehow blamed Apache Software Foundation for the breach, specifically by not moving quickly enough to address the security flaw. Apache has responded to these allegations clearly and concisely. In light of this incident, we thought this a good opportunity to help provide some clarity concerning third-party work and open source components, in general, as they pertain to ArcaOS and Arca Noae’s position regarding their fitness for use, and who is ultimately responsible to maintain his or her or, in the case of enterprise use, its own systems.

Arca Noae includes several components in ArcaOS developed by reputable third parties, including IBM, Apple, and others. Some of these components are open source, as well, meaning that the code for compiling these components into machine-readable form is freely available to the public. Open source software is often more secure than proprietary software, by nature of the fact that many (sometimes thousands) of developers around the world contribute to the code. This (often massive) group effort allows such projects to react quickly when flaws are discovered, and to work to constantly monitor and maintain the software. However, whether proprietary or open source, Arca Noae may have no control whatsoever over these components, inherent flaws, or as-yet-undisclosed security issues.

It is Arca Noae’s position that each ArcaOS licensee (whether an individual or an enterprise) bears the sole responsibility to consider his or her or its own interests and security. While we do what is within the realm of reasonable possibility to stay abreast of current trends and vulnerability disclosures (CVEs), we cannot guarantee that all issues will be identified and/or reported to our users by us. Thus, best practices dictate that each user remain vigilant and aware of the connected ecosystem in which we live and to take steps to mitigate his or her or its own risks.

Arca Noae welcomes reports from our users of disclosed and non-disclosed vulnerabilities. While we normally encourage our users to avail themselves of our Mantis ticketing system to report issues, those of a sensitive nature (such as an as-yet-undisclosed or little-known security flaw in a bundled component) should be reported through our contact page.

We would also like to take this opportunity to remind all of our ArcaOS licensees that ArcaOS does not utilize telemetry of any kind to communicate with us. We firmly believe that when a user licenses a copy of ArcaOS, his or her or its data should remain on the system as directed by the user, shared only by the user, and with the user’s full knowledge and consent.

The next exciting update to ArcaOS 5.0 is in the making, too. Watch the Arca Noae blog for a release announcement in the coming weeks.

ArcaOS

Have an enterprise Windows XP application and can’t upgrade Windows?

Talk to us about the possibility of wrapping that Windows XP (or 2000 or even NT 4) app and running it under Odin32. Similar to running an application in a container under Linux, the application itself is the only thing running in a Windows-compatibility environment, while the rest of the system is not subject to Windows security vulnerabilities on the LAN or on the internet. In this configuration, the only user training required is getting the system booted, authenticating to the network, and clicking the program object to start the same Windows application with which your users are already familiar.

Have a Windows application which requires LAN transport, but the version of Windows now in use is too outmoded for the latest file transport security? No problem. Applications running under Odin32 on ArcaOS which need to access network shares may do so using the integrated Samba 4 networking in ArcaOS, which appears to the application to be a local drive. All authentication, security, and transport encryption (if so configured) happens at the ArcaOS level, outside the Windows environment.

Maintain your critical applications on OS/2, DOS, or 16 or 32-bit Windows, on modern hardware or virtualized, while running on a secure, stable, maintained platform: ArcaOS 5.

Note: Any application accessing the public internet may be at risk. ArcaOS itself cannot defend a Windows application running under it against such exploits, if that application is vulnerable to attack.