Broken Link Checker

I got fed-up on waiting well over a YEAR (more like 2 i think) for the developer of the WordPress plugin, Broken Link Checker, to fix his/her buggy-ass code, and so i wrote my own buggy-ass code :)

I gave my script the same name as the WordPress plugin just to poke them in the eye a bit (fully expecting i may have to change it in the future after an obligatory refusal period).

Broken Link Checker is a bash shell script (think Linux - i don't do windows) that will extract all URLs from a plain text, XML or HTML file, or a database export file from ClassicPress or WordPress blogs, and check each one using curl, then write the broken links to a text file. The file output by Broken Link Checker can then be processed with Broken Link Replacer to replace the broken links.

Lastly, another tool, Dirty Link Scrubber, can clean garbage from URLs, such as Google tracking parameters, and convert a few encoded characters to their plain text equivalents.

The scripts are on my Codeberg repository.

Feel free to report bugs or feature requests either here or on the repo.

Linux - The absurdity of choice

In the world of personal computers, what is a computer used for? I would argue that its purpose is to 'get shit done', whether it be watching BitChute videos or compiling the Linux kernel. Whatever the case, it ought to just work. It ought to be stable, polished and intuitive, however in the world of Linux-based operating systems, finding one that meets all three requirements is somewhere between impossible and improbable. Such an animal simply doesn't exist, at least this is what my experience has led me to believe.

I've been through a bunch of Linux distros over the years including Red Hat, Mandrake, SUSE, Mint, Debian, Manjaro, Artix, and probably a few more i forgot about, and in every case there were bugs, big and small, that never should have been present in a "stable" release. Now to be fair, i haven't messed with some of these distros in roughly two decades, but i have recently used both Linux Mint and Manjaro Linux for more than a year each. OK, we can argue that Manjaro, which is based on Arch, which is a cutting edge OS, shouldn't necessarily be considered when stability is crucial. Grant so. But either are any of the others and i have some thoughts on why that is.

Choice!

Linux is all about choice we are told. Not only are there a truck load of Linux-based distributions to choose from, which is far more than confusing enough for users wanting to make the switch, but then they have to choose a 'desktop environment'. And as the new user learns more, assuming they make it that far before giving up, the number of choices only increases. A rolling or point release? Which file system? Which package manager? Which package repository? Flatpak or Snaps? Which theme? Which window manager? GTK or Qt apps? Which terminal emulator? PulseAudio or PipeWire? Systemd or a traditional init system? Open source or proprietary drivers? Which kernel? And on and on and on and on.

The problems with all these choices are obvious and many. Software often has to be configured or modified to work on each system the developer wants to market to. Now you find a bug in the software and the developer can't reproduce it, so he/she asks which Linux distro you're running and whether you compiled it from source or downloaded it from some repository and, if so, whether it was the Qt or GTK version, or whether you installed the Flatpak or Snap package, etc.. You can see what a nightmare all these choices can create for software developers and end users alike and this is only the beginning of the 'choices' problem.

Stand-alone packages like Flatpak packages are an attempt to combat the non-uniformity and dependency issues that all these crazy choices naturally lead to, but this seems like a band-aid approach in my opinion. For example, you have multiple pieces of software that all use a library for which a serious vulnerability is found. Now, instead of pushing a single shared library out at the OS level, each software developer has to update their package which may or may not happen in a timely manner, or at all. Then there's the efficiency thing that's kicked out the window because every Flatpak/Snap/etc. package which uses the same library has included in it... the same library. If portability is a priority, stand-alone packages may be great, but for the average desktop/laptop user it can be a colossal waste of storage space.

Don't get me wrong, i am pro-choice, however i am also anti-stupidity and anti-inefficiency and thus i find it patently stupid and inefficient that all these choices exist. The waste in infrastructure alone to support all the software repositories for all the distributions must be overwhelming. And in my opinion, from my perspective, it is all these choices that are partly responsible for exactly none of the mainstream Linux distributions being stable or coherent. I think it's absolutely dumb and counter-intuitive that, even though the user selects a "global" window theme, a window designed with Qt looks and acts different than one designed with GTK, or that your mouse cursor theme is obeyed by one window and ignored by another, or that the KDE desktop may be more buggy in one distro than another, etc. Users expect uniformity, so when they run into these kinds of problems, to them it's a bug when, in fact, it's the almighty god of 'choice' rearing it's ugly head exactly as intended by the plethora of developers who ignore what many end users actually want and need.

Why in the world do we need multiple window managers? Why do developers need multiple widget tool-kits? Why in the hell does nearly every mainstream distribution need its own software repository... with a lot of the same software as in the next software repository and so on?

Sure, Linux-based OS's are all about choice. Unlike Windows or Mac or whatever, it is very easy, even for a new user, to configure a system that is unlike any other, and therefore harder to troubleshoot when something explodes. On the other hand these choices come at a potentially huge cost. If one uses 'x' distro with 'y' desktop environment, they're essentially railroaded into whatever software repository is provided by that distro which means software they may want or need isn't easily available to them. Uniformity is lost and bugs abound.

Why people choose Linux

Why in the world would the average PC user want to use a Linux-based operating system in the face of all these problems (and *many* more which i haven't mentioned)? I'm not in a position to answer the question from any viewpoint other than my own and that of people with similar values. We value privacy. For users like myself, the thought of using proprietary software made by massive corporations who have zero concern for the inherent rights of human beings, especially with regard to privacy, is completely intolerable. Furthermore, i like some of the choices one realizes with Linux-based OS's. I want to be able choose a desktop theme. I want to not have to worry too much about whether my software contains malware, plus it's extremely convenient to be able to find what i want in a central location.

Choice is fine, but dammit to hell man, in moderation! Sacrificing stability for excess choice is a shortsighted mistake in my opinion and this is one of my greatest gripes with the Linux desktops where an out of hand number of choices has led to a fracturing of the Linux community which, in turn, causes nothing but headaches for many end users, the vast majority of which would probably happily sacrifice many of the trivial choices they are forced to deal with.

So, you're the Windows user who *was* considering a Linux OS right up until you read my rant. My advice is to not throw in the towel. If you care at all about your privacy and software ethics, you have no choice but to abandon Windows. If stability is more important to you, i would suggest trying Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop. Mint, based on Debian and Ubuntu, is pretty stable and user friendly. If you're wanting something a little more cutting edge with newer software on the other hand, i might suggest Manjaro Linux. Manjaro, based on Arch, is a rolling release which means, in theory, you can just keep updating it without ever having to reinstall it. Personally i prefer the KDE/Plasma desktop, but the choice is yours :)

Also see my accompanying article, A personal perspective: From Windows to Linux to Windows to Linux to....

Linux Hardening Guide

A reader sent me a link to what appears to be a very comprehensive Linux Hardening Guide by 'madaidan'.

I'm not exactly sure what to think about the author as far as their technical knowledge since they promote some stuff i do not necessarily agree with, such as using Tor instead of a VPN. The author is completely correct in that there are risks to be assumed with any VPN, however i believe, and i think the evidence dictates, that the same is true with the Tor network (see here and here for instance). Also the author complains about Firefox's security, yet the Tor browser is a fork of Firefox.

The author also makes some potentially sketchy claims regarding Android, stating that "The best option for privacy and security on Android is to get a Pixel 3 or greater and flash GrapheneOS".

From everything i understand, exactly none of the mainstream phones can be considered privacy or security friendly as long as the baseband firmware shares the same memory as the user-facing OS, nor can they be made to be so. Contrary to the authors advice, i would recommend, a) ditching your mobile if at all possible or, b) considering devices from PinePhone and Purism where the proprietary baseband firmware is isolated from the OS and which have hardware switches to actually (really) power off certain components. The author recommends to avoid these devices, but i'm not sure how strong of an argument they make and the arguments miss many other advantages of such devices.

Commenting in an area i know a bit more about, the author states, "You cannot configure your browser to prevent tracking either. Everyone will configure their browser differently so when you change a bunch of about:config settings such as privacy.resistFingerprinting and pile on browser extensions like Privacy Badger, you're making yourself stand out and are effectively reducing privacy."

That's a very crude statement in my opinion. First of all i personally don't recommend Privacy Badger. Secondly, standing out (appearing unique to a web server) is not a bad thing as long as the browser fingerprint isn't static. Firefox has many preferences other thanĀ privacy.resistFingerprinting which can be leveraged to make it more privacy and security complaint. I maintain two guides if interested.

All that said, the Linux Hardening Guide may indeed be a great guide and i think it's certainly worth a read.

Linux vs. Windows - from a privacy perspective

First of all let's make it clear that Linux is not an operating system (OS), rather it is the integral part of many Linux-based operating systems known as the 'kernel'. While there are perhaps hundreds of operating systems that use Linux, there is only one Linux kernel as far as i'm aware (not including forks). Similarly, most Windows operating systems use the NT kernel.

While there are many fundamental differences between the Linux and Windows family of operating systems, the most important for our purpose here is that most Linux-based operating systems are open sourced while Windows operating systems are proprietary black boxes. Given the title of this article, it may already be obvious which is the better choice for those of us who are concerned about our privacy.

Bill Gates never intended to help anyone, not then in the tech industry nor now as a philanthropist. Gates is one of the more evil people on the planet and this is evident when one reviews his actions.

Jeffrey Epstein, sex offender, with William 'Bill' Gates
Jeffrey Epstein, convicted sex offender, with William 'Bill' Gates

Although one of Gates' goals with Microsoft was to make himself filthy rich, i suspect he had others that were far more nefarious and which involved mining data from those using Windows operating systems. Indeed, data is the new oil and large tech corporations, governments and intelligence communities absolutely lust for it. Windows 10 literally meets the definition of a virus in that it harvests an enormous amount of data and information about the person using it without their explicit consent and sends that data over the network. Contrary to what some Windows geeks might believe, there is nothing one can do to mitigate all the potential risks simply because all the risks can never be known.

It is simply not possible to trust any proprietary operating system or software. If the source is not published than, other than those designing it, essentially no one can audit it, and if you cannot analyze the code, then you cannot know everything it is doing. Windows is a black box and there is reason to suspect that back doors have been built into it that can be accessed by certain third parties, such as intelligence communities. Whether such back doors exist or not doesn't matter because the fact is, one can never know for sure.

Linux, on the other hand, was designed by Linus Torvalds for his own purposes. Upon realizing that it could be useful to others, he published the source code on the internet for free. He too likely could have become an extremely wealthy man, but unlike Gates, he chose to help people by giving away his work. That ethic has been carried forward by many thousands of people in the Linux community. Although the kernel is apparently heavily developed by large corporations today, the code is still open source, as is most of the software, and Linus is still involved in the project.

While you may think that i'm a Linux fanboy, i assure you i'm not. There are a lot of problems with Linux-based operating systems and you can read about some of my criticisms in my article, A personal perspective: From Windows to Linux to Windows to Linux to.... I didn't choose to use a Linux OS because i liked Linux, i chose to use it because i saw it as the only viable choice. Once i understood that Windows could not ever be trusted with my privacy, regardless of how many tweaks, registry edits and anti-spyware tools i threw at it, and once i decided that my privacy was more important to me than a workflow that i'd become accustomed to, the decision to abandon Microsoft made itself. All i needed to do was find a replacement.

How much you value your privacy is your choice, just know that with Windows there can be no reasonable expectation that it isn't spying on you. Should you decide to experiment with alternatives to Microsoft Windows, you may want to read the article i linked to earlier.

Linux goes ((( inclusive )))

yesterday...

today...

Linux Kernel Preparing New Guidelines For Using Inclusive Terminology - Phoronix

Prominent upstream Linux kernel developers are working on adding "inclusive terminology" guidelines to the Linux kernel coding style requirements.

The new inclusive terminology documentation applies to new code being contributed to the Linux kernel but ultimately in hopes of replacing existing code with words deemed not inclusive. The exception being granted though is where changing the terminology could potentially break the user-space ABI given the kernel's longstanding guarantees on not breaking that interface.

These new guidelines for Linux kernel developers call for initially avoiding words including "slave" and "blacklist" to instead use words like subordinate, replica, follower, performer, blocklist, or denylist.