LCA Sessions: Day 1 - Afternoon

Getting back from lunch with more time to spare than I expected I continued hunting Jon Oxer. His Self Healing MySQL Schema talk was interesting but I’m not sure we’d ever use it. In essence he keeps a copy of his schema with the relevant application module (as a reference) and, using error trapping, any time a query hits certain error conditions, such as a table not existing, it looks up the reference schema and if it knows about it then it creates it on the fly. This tact gets rid of upgrade scripts and a lot of schema / code versioning hassle but it has some down sides such as temp tables when doing ALTER TABLES and requiring schema manipulation privileges in your scripts.

I then went to see Russel Coker present on “Security Improvements needed in Debian”. I’ve never seen him present before but I’ve read a fair amount with his name on it so I knew the material would be good - and I wasn’t disappointed. He covered some of the Linux kernel capabilities and how they’re too coarsely grained, the benefits gained by using polyinstantiated directories (which I’d never heard of before) and some of the attack use cases they prevent and how they live with PAM and how to exec a program as another user; both interactively and when running as a daemon. He mentioned an exploit I’d never heard of before and I’m going to be re-writing a couple of init scripts when I get home. Oh, and SELinux came up ;) Although Russel wasn’t an exciting speaker, he was well paced, had some great material and really knows his field. Great talk.

I then went to my second talk of the day on MySQL schema changes, this one focused on using VIEWS and TRIGGERS. The speaker did a good job of getting his ideas across but they left me cold, the examples had a lot of caveats (and what looked like a data corruption race condition) and so while it was nice to see some real world examples of MySQL VIEWS and TRIGGERS I didn’t get much from the talk.

The first days sessions ended with Laura Thomsons session on MySQL Trouble shooting. Which was a good mix of case studies and war stories. I really enjoyed the session, it had a good pace, the speaker was enthusiastic and I took almost no notes - which is always a good sign. It’s worth noting that her slides stand alone and are worth a look when they hit the LCA site.

After everything had finished I started the long walk back to a bus stop that’d get me back to my room, I’m feeling a bit sore and very sunburnt at the moment; ironicly I got sunburn looking for a chemist that sold decent sun block. So I was a little antisocial and cut out for an early night in my nicely air-conned hotel room.