PDA

View Full Version : OT Shopping for a new high end computer



tattoomike68
02-21-2008, 05:12 PM
I am an HP fan but would be willing to get a better box of any brand if it has more power. I looked at getting a mac pro but $4,400 is a bit too much.

I am looking at getting this system or better.

http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product_Id=4212865&JRSource=become.datafeed.HP+M9180F#productTabDetai ls

Its hot but the HD DVD will have to go into the trash right away. :(

Anyone know where to look for good deals?

Mcgyver
02-21-2008, 05:31 PM
I've often thought there was room for some firm to develop a brand as the 911 turbo of PC's. Never been impressed with off the shelf stuff, they always seem to try and cheap out on elements they figure 99% of consumers won't notice or care about.

last time i semi built my own. I spec it and then fine tuned it with a computer shop who put it together. They didn't change much but i figured its a waste of time trying to come up to speed on a rapidly changing market for one build. I could have assembled it myself but the incremental cost was sooo small it was better to have them worry about it, takes time to buy everything, put it together etc and then if there's a problem its their headache.

retusaf99
02-21-2008, 08:10 PM
I've built myself a new PC about every three years for the last 10 or 12 years. I like

newegg.com

as a reliable, fast, and very price-conscious dealer. If you can run a lathe, you can put together a computer these days. I'm not sure you save any money, because they end up being apples/oranges comparisons, but at least you know what you have.

When I have a few bucks and newegg has a sale, I stash away a new case and power supply, some memory here and a hard drive or two there...Pretty soon there's a bargain cpu and video card and wow! where'd that computer come from???

Doug

kendall
02-21-2008, 08:38 PM
Same here, build em.

Not cheaper if you buy every component to build a whole new computer, but most often memory and drives are useable in the new system, so you can get a great performance increase cheaply with just buying a motherboard and CPU. Just make sure your ram is compatable

I used to upgrade every 6 months or so, but that was when new CPUs were coming out all the time that could noticeably outperform the last one, these days you can often go a year or two before there's enough extra power to make a noticeable difference. My feeling is that if you -need- benchmarks to tell its faster, it's not worth upgrading. (1.987 seconds compared to 2.00 seconds is a useless improvement)

Newegg is a great source of parts, decent prices, quick shipping, and without personal experience I understand they have a very good return policy. Son-in-law's testing that right now with a return

ken.

Walter
02-21-2008, 08:46 PM
What exactly are you intending to use the new computer for... start there and when you have the answers for that question then move forward. Most applications will get by Nicely on a mid range computer, but if your looking at high end 3d modeling, gaming, or the like then you need to bump up.

I STILL run a PII 400 (built sometime between 96-98 iirc) for general work and web browsing, etc. To date I have yet to find much of anything that I cannot do on my old bomber. My better systems are all AMD based and were built for gaming and 3D work. I run Win 2k pro for an operating system on all my machines, although I will at some point move forward and look at XP Pro for the next system I build.

I strictly build my own stuff and have always built absoloute top of the line post dated about a year. simply put I average spending $900-$1100 for the best components that have been out there for about a year.

Consider building a system yourself, it's not very hard.

Heres the problem with off the shelf systems, most of them (not all) are built on cheap, cramped combo/integrated motherboards, this means that you have limited upgrade abilities, generally inferior video/graphics, sound, etc. Lose the vid card and basically the system's junk, etc.

IF you have to buy off the shelf then keep a few simple rules in mind...

First, get/insist on the "professional" versions of the operating systems, (IE: XP Pro, 2k Pro). these tend to have less of the bloat and more stability.

Second, RAM is far more important than more CPU speed. the fastest system out there will still be limited by it's memory capacity. These days there is literally no reason to have anything LESS than 2gb of ram. You may never use it all, but it's there if needed.

Third, be sure to learn the expansion capacity of the system your buying. Can you add a hard drive, upgrade memory, expansion cards, video, etc...

You may be best served by going to a local small computer shop and having a system built to your needs/specifications.

If I was going to buy off the shelf, high end, PC, and had the extra cash to play with, I'd start here. but thats just me.
http://www.alienware.com/

Evan
02-21-2008, 08:58 PM
I've often thought there was room for some firm to develop a brand as the 911 turbo of PC's.
There is room and the company is called Alienware.

http://www.alienware.com/

Heh, didn't see the link at the bottom of the previous post.

BadDog
02-21-2008, 09:12 PM
IMO, AlienWare is WAY over priced. I build my own and generally wind up with a better/faster system than ANYTHING that can be bought in a box (including AW!) for less than a midrange boxed PC. The key is finding out what works, what is hype, and what conflicts with other stuff. I don't follow Hardware enough to keep up with all that's going on, much less separate the hype from what's real. So each time I get ready to upgrade, I spend some time "catching up". Best resources to get started are generally (in my order of preference) www.tomshardware.com, http://www.anandtech.com/, and http://www.sharkyextreme.com/. However, if I'm in a hurry, or just need to knock something together to replace a burn-out on my Wife/Son/Daughter's computer, I generally go to Sharkey and look at recent Mid-Range game PCs. This will almost always give a GREAT bang for the buck on typical family game/internet/personal computer setups. For more savings, go to the next older version and you may find many of the components now on clearance/sale (and sometimes you can get SMOKING deals on what was the high end system components 3-6 months ago!!!). I've even built my own based on those recommended systems, tweaked for my own needs of course.

Just my take on it...

lazlo
02-21-2008, 11:41 PM
Dell bought Alienware in the beginning of 2006. Like BadDog says, it's a overpriced "boutique" brand with overclocked components and aggressive memory timings.

You can build the same thing for less than half the price at Fry's, and even less if you mail order the parts.

JDF
02-22-2008, 02:20 AM
While working on a Baja SAE team at undergrad we won a 'high end' Alienware laptop as result of winning a race. Was a mixed blessing from the start. I have no idea what that thing would have cost at face value, but I have no doubt it would be considered overpriced by most. My off-the-shelf Dell M90 puts it to shame in all regards.

No idea about other flavors of Alienware. Might be some value in there. For my desktop machines I search between the previously mentioned www.newegg.com and www.tigerdirect.com for parts and/or bare-bone systems to build from. Have ordered a good bit of kit from both and been largely satisfied with the results.

macona
02-22-2008, 03:00 AM
The Mac Pro compared to an equivalent speced PC will be the same price.

There is a new motherboard called Skulltrail. Uses 2 quad core xeon processors. Looks to be one heck of a board. Though the top of the line processors to go with the board are over $1300 each. Using lesser processors you can build a nice system for about $2500.

http://techgage.com/article/building_an_affordable_skulltrail_system/

I recently yanked the AMD board and processor out of one of my systems. I regret buying AMD over Intel. Never do that again. Threw in a 2.2ghz core2duo processor and a cheap-o ECS motherboard from frys. $120 for the board/processor and $40 for 2 gigs of DDR ram. Nice speed boost. Would be better if I had a decent video card. Nvidia released a pretty fast card at the sub $200 mark today.

Evan
02-22-2008, 03:17 AM
Didn't know about Dell buying AW. Oh well, they used to be good.

Sure 'you' can assemble a better faster computer than you can buy for the same money. Not everyone can though. Not everyone wants to even if they can. I bet Billy doesn't build his own any more. Or Jobs. Also, if you assemble your own you have essentially no warranty. White box CPUs from Intel, last I checked, have a 90 day warranty. Retail warrantees are at least a year with all of it covered at the same reseller. Based on my almost ten years experience selling computers I would say there is about a 20% chance of something going wrong with the hardware in the first year. It's a seriously low margin cutthroat business and the OEMs will do all they can to save a tenth of a penny on a system and the parts that go into it.

To give you some idea what the margins are like on laptops I used to sell Acer laptops. My dealer price on a particular model would be $950 and the MSRP would be $999. That's a 5% margin and 5% is common in the business for systems. The real markups are on the piece parts such a DVD burners. They used to cost me $17 dollars when they retailed for $49. Ram is another high markup item as well as accessories such a cables. I used to pay $8 for a 50 foot pre made LAN cable and $1.25 for a USB 2.0 printer cable. Staples sells the printer cable for $15.

Bottom line is that if you can build a system you might not really save money but you will get the best bang for the buck if you do your homework. Any savings you do realize will evaporate if a major part fails as it usually isn't worth the trouble dealing with the manufacturer's warranty.

Forrest Addy
02-22-2008, 08:35 AM
I don't know what the fuss is about fast computers unless you're into game playing or something that uses tons of processor time.

Computers would be much faster if if wasn't for Microsoft Windows which can be likened to a Model T Ford with layers of transportation technology encrusted around it until its finally wrapped with the Space Shuttle. Some one once made the point that personal computer technology would be ultimately be better off if the present archetecture was just scrapped and a complete new default computer and systemware built to replace it.

As far as that goes does anyone know why system software isn'ti nstalled as ROM and replaced as manually installed chips or as SIM cards? That way the system itself would be inaccessible to hackers and the computer would boot faster.

A friend of mine has a $4000 PC with the very latest whistles and bells. It doesn't boot any quicker than my bare bones entry level machine nor will it open a document significant;y quicker. It's only significant speed advantage is internet access but that's because he has a cable modem.

Nope. I'm real skeptical about "fast" computers. They can be real expensive and boast a lot of impressive numbers but in the end they're like cars. You never get your investment back in any form. They just sit in your driveway or take you to the grocery store and in doing so, depreciate.

When it comes to boot up speed my 1993 Mac is still quicker than my PC.

Mcgyver
02-22-2008, 08:57 AM
unless you're into game playing or something that uses tons of processor time.

not the game playing, but lots of apps will bog down all but the fastest. Heck, I have 50 meg spread sheets, integrated and linked with others that'll kill an all but top of the line machine - you sit there drumming fingers will it goes through its machinations. Start droping them in as linked excel files in a word doc report and you wish for more power still. I do agree uncle Bill's microslop is responsible for a lot of the woes, but still, however they're caused, the need for speed is real for many of us.

bikepete
02-22-2008, 10:04 AM
I'd previously built my own but recently needed a new one for work and just couldn't be bothered with all the research and messing around to get the best possible bang for buck - any price difference is worth less than my time is. Anyway, only really speed intensive stuff I do is processing camera RAW files.

Recommend the HP Workstation range. I got a lowish end one and build quality is really solid, components seem good, plenty of space for extra hard disks etc. You add graphics card of your choice. Nice thing was that it came with a fairly clean install - hardly any 'free trials' and other crapware you get on consumer models, which saves more time.

Cheers
Pete

Evan
02-22-2008, 10:16 AM
I routinely do graphics work that will bring any machine to it's knees. I have always been limited by the machine and always exploit it to the point where further use of resources brings unacceptable performance. When massaging astrophotos, for instance, it isn't unusual to have an image with multiple layers that consumes 500 megs of ram and takes minutes to perform a single unsharp masking operation. I recently created a display poster for a trade show that consumed over 700 megs of ram and I had to do that at half resolution and resize to full as the last step.

Ray tracing is another application that will humble the fastest machine. The holy grail of computer graphics is 60 frames per second full ray traced images. Not just for games but virtually anything from talking heads delivering the news to simulating your new kitchen cupboards. We are still a long way from that in anything that sits on a desktop as it will require orders of magnitude more processing power than is currently available. It's an application that works best with massively parallel processing. Massively parallel means 1000's of CPUs, not a mere 4 or 8.

Mcgyver
02-22-2008, 11:30 AM
or video processing. now thats a hurry up and wait on even the fastest machine..... the concept of machine speed is an overall balance of components and what you are asking it to do...matching high speed raptor drives set up for RAID 0 with a fast processor and lots of memory and it still takes hours to run. as Evan suggests, its not like this is handling Ciscos new high def holograms or something, this is run of the mill stuff. speed & power is good.

that reminds me.....i highly recommend a RAID 0 set up on a high end machine. for high performance, the bottle neck is often I/O and this is a great way to improve it. right now I've two 60G's raptors raided for the main drive and two 500G's raided for bulk storage. add usb drives where necessary. be diligent with your back ups (as you always should - i just used large USB drives and copy everything), a disk error with RAID 0 set up means starting over.

BadDog
02-22-2008, 12:46 PM
I do software dev in my "day job", so I live in a computer. "Time is Money" has never been more true than when I'm waiting on a compiler or debugger to do it's thing. With some of my client's I've got builds that take nearly an hour to complete. Test suites that take half a day. And my system was pretty much top of the line (except for video, no gamer here) when I built it a few months back. I also routinely run at over 3GB RAM in use (and that's real use, not task manager) out of 4GB (@$## motherboard doesn't let me have all of it, most won't even if they claim they will!). I also tend to run mutliple systems at one time on the same machine using VMs. I'm using one at this very moment that is dedicated just for access to the Internet (no worry about spyware or virus here!!!). I've got others configured for specific clients, and I can fire up anything from Win2k up to pre-release versions of Windows at a moments notice, all with no affect on the host system. Try that in your entry level PC. :D

Me, I want the fastest system I can build, and I can do it cheaper than a mid-range Dell most of the time. And when I feel the need for an upgrade, I hand my system down to my son (gamer) who only needs to upgrade the video card and still has a machine that's faster than mainstream. That happens about every 6 months. However, when I buy laptops or systems for my family (Mother, Father, etc.) and friends, I buy Dell (through Small Business only, retail SUCKS). I also get them the 3 year next day on-site warranty so they don't bother me. <grin> "What, it won't print, call that Dell number I gave you..."

As already noted, and of more interest to most on this site, CAD systems are notoriously hungry (both CPU and memory as well as disk access). Particularly if you use the modern 3D modeling systems. And for most of the folks who don't seem to be able to keep spy/malware off their computers, you need a fast computer so that it can do it's job as a spam bot and still have enough left to open the next porno site to get more spyware... ;) Not that anyone here would have such a problem. Hehe...

motomoron
02-22-2008, 01:23 PM
What are you doing?

I work in SolidWorks alot plus regular daily business stuff and it all runs fast enough on mid level HP workstations at home and at work.

In both cases my graphics card and RAM cost more than the computer.

I use an ATI FireGL 5100 at home and 7100 at work, both w/ 2 gigs of decent RAM.

XP pro on both. Vista pro on my Vaio notebook (1 gig RAM) which will run SW well enough to do small assemblies.

tattoomike68
02-22-2008, 02:22 PM
So this is the core system I want but think I want to max the ram with 8 gigs and be done. I dont have the cash to get a new computer but every 5 years so Im willing to go all out to some degree.


Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 2.66 GHz Processor
8MB L2 Cache, 1066MHz FBS
4096MB DDR2 (PC2-5300) RAM Max: 8GB
1TB (2 x 500GB, 7200RPM) SATA Hard Drive
NVIDIA Geforce 8800GT with 512MB Dedicated Graphics Memory, with up to 1791MB shared

I plan on a making it a muti boot system running vista, XP pro and linux.
I also want 2 monitors.


*Windoze XP 32 bit won't recognize (use) any more than 2 gigs of RAM
*XP 64 will use no more than 4 gigs of ram.
* 64-bit versions of Windows Vista Home Basic: 8GB
* 64-bit versions of Windows Vista Home Premium: 16GB
* 64-bit versions of Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate: 128GB

My thoughts are that when a box gets 3-4 years old its not worth sinking money into upgrades when that money will by a better box to start with. Thats why I want to max it out with upgrades on day one, and just use it and be done fooling with it.

I want to do more video work but the box I am running is ridiculous.(P4 2.66gh) I start Sony Vagas video editor and can go make a pot of coffee and pour a cup before the software will start.

I also edit photos and am running flash mx and audio editors and stuff and it bogs this old machine down bad, I feel like im running an old 286.

I also work on web sites and would like to run a virtual server to test out code before I go live with it but I wont even try that on this old box.

I am afraid to build my own even though im sure I can do it but I have enough things going on without adding one more project to the heap.

thanks for your input everyone, I have not made my mind up yet and may just build the box yet..

I only get one shot at this before my woman cracks down on my funds, Im sure you all can relate to that. ;)

kf2qd
02-22-2008, 03:08 PM
Personally I like the Dells I have had my hands on. I have a dell desktop I bought 8 years ago(off lease) and it is still running strong, Used and abused a number of Dell laptops, Have a nice dual core desktop I got for Christmas. Have never had a problem with off the shelf parts, (Have tried to change drives in HP's and Compaq's and the stupid boxs wouldn't recognize the drive...)

Figured the time put into building a box and the price wasn't enough different to say I saved anything. A few years ago I did do an upgrade on my own and saved a bunch (Brnad new 586 motherboard, so that dates that purchase...) but the past few years it has been more of a wash when looking at building or buying.

Michael Edwards
02-22-2008, 09:15 PM
I plan on a making it a muti boot system running vista, XP pro and linux.
I also want 2 monitors.

*Windoze XP 32 bit won't recognize (use) any more than 2 gigs of RAM
*XP 64 will use no more than 4 gigs of ram.
* 64-bit versions of Windows Vista Home Basic: 8GB
* 64-bit versions of Windows Vista Home Premium: 16GB
* 64-bit versions of Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate: 128GB
;)


Windows XP Professional x64 Edition supports up to 128 gigabytes (GB) of RAM and 16 terabytes of virtual memory but it comes with a warning.

Important: Windows XP Professional x64 Edition cannot be installed on x86 (32-bit) systems or 64-bit Intel Itanium–based systems. 32-bit device drivers are not supported on Windows XP Professional x64 Edition

So it's hit and miss on weather there is a driver for your video cards, wireless USB, printer, etc.

ME

kendall
02-22-2008, 09:45 PM
Major issue I had was printer drivers. Everything else was fairly easy to find xp64 drivers.
I don't run xp enough to realy judge, but it felt a lot more responsive than XP.

Ken

BadDog
02-22-2008, 09:48 PM
The OS is currently not the limiting factor. It's brain dead mobo "chipsets" that ignore anything beyond ~3.5 GB. And that's true of almost EVERY consumer grade motherboard out there (as of a few months back anyway). Even the moderately high end (though not server) mobo I selected only gives me around 3.5GB of the 4GB installed. But that is NOT an OS problem. I really don't see any incentive what-so-ever to running 64 bit OS, particularly with the drive issues...

lazlo
02-22-2008, 09:57 PM
The OS is currently not the limiting factor. It's brain dead mobo "chipsets" that ignore anything beyond ~3.5 GB.

That's true -- it's a chipset market segmentation strategy. Although every x86 CPU made since Willamette supports 36 (or more) physical address bits (i.e., 64 GBytes of physical memory), the desktop chipsets clamp the address on the front-side bus to 32-bits == 4 GByte. The rest you're missing is the BIOS and OS reserving physical memory for IO devices, the GART aperture, SMI, ...

The server/workstation chipsets all support the full physical address space of the CPU.

lazlo
02-22-2008, 10:11 PM
By the way Mike, if you're really looking for a cutting-edge machine, the PC workstations (like the Dell Precision series, and the HP XW workstations) use the server/workstation chipsets, and can all use up to 64 GByte of physical memory. The server/workstation chipsets also have a heck of a lot more PCI Express bandwidth than the desktop chipsets.

A big caveat on the quad-core CPU's you're looking at: they will only accelerate applications that have been multi-threaded, which are still relatively uncommon. Most games, and most CAD programs, are not multi-threaded, and can't take advantage of the 4 cores, 8 hardware threads.

tattoomike68
02-22-2008, 11:41 PM
By the way Mike, if you're really looking for a cutting-edge machine, the PC workstations (like the Dell Precision series, and the HP XW workstations) use the server/workstation chipsets, and can all use up to 64 GByte of physical memory. The server/workstation chipsets also have a heck of a lot more PCI Express bandwidth than the desktop chipsets.

A big caveat on the quad-core CPU's you're looking at: they will only accelerate applications that have been multi-threaded, which are still relatively uncommon. Most games, and most CAD programs, are not multi-threaded, and can't take advantage of the 4 cores, 8 hardware threads.

Thanks I will look at the workstations, they will hold the Ram Im wanting.

Im thinking that I need a good cpu to use the larger ram.

I dont want to try and push the titanic with an evinrude but on the same hand dont want a jet boat with a 5 gallon gas tank.

Im not a gamer so buying apple is not out of the question , it just the money thats hard to part with for a computer I dont know how to use.

This forum has given me better info then some of the tech forums I have been reading, those guys seem to be gamers and overclockers who overclock just to see if they can do it. Kind of like some members here who buy and rebuild machines but dont make any parts on them. :p

BTW I was looking at the mac pro and if you max it out from the start you can get $28,140.90 into it. :eek:

macona
02-23-2008, 12:35 AM
I don't know what the fuss is about fast computers unless you're into game playing or something that uses tons of processor time.

Computers would be much faster if if wasn't for Microsoft Windows which can be likened to a Model T Ford with layers of transportation technology encrusted around it until its finally wrapped with the Space Shuttle. Some one once made the point that personal computer technology would be ultimately be better off if the present archetecture was just scrapped and a complete new default computer and systemware built to replace it.

As far as that goes does anyone know why system software isn'ti nstalled as ROM and replaced as manually installed chips or as SIM cards? That way the system itself would be inaccessible to hackers and the computer would boot faster.

A friend of mine has a $4000 PC with the very latest whistles and bells. It doesn't boot any quicker than my bare bones entry level machine nor will it open a document significant;y quicker. It's only significant speed advantage is internet access but that's because he has a cable modem.

Nope. I'm real skeptical about "fast" computers. They can be real expensive and boast a lot of impressive numbers but in the end they're like cars. You never get your investment back in any form. They just sit in your driveway or take you to the grocery store and in doing so, depreciate.

When it comes to boot up speed my 1993 Mac is still quicker than my PC.

For me good computing power is necessary. I use my machines for everything from watching movies (Mac mini core2duo in front room w/infocus SP5000 projector and 7.1 surround) a core2duo machine in my bedroom where I do solidworks and the like plus it acts as a file server and runs Azareus, and a AMD64 in my CNC mill.) Newer codecs for video need more power to keep file sizes down when you are dealing with High Def video. 720p video takes about a 1 gig of space per hour minimum, 1080p is coming in about 1.5 gigs per hour. These figures go up with digital audio tracks like DD and DTS. 1080p takes a good chunk of power to decode especially at the higher frame rates. My mac*mini will handle 1080p, but not by much and that little machine is no slouch.

MS Windows has been rewritten from the ground up. They just dont keep piling it up in general. They are writing the next version as we speak. Mac OS also has been rewritten. Starting from scratch sound nice but people want to use their old software and hardware. And if you did just scrap the current and start anew who would decide what goes in it?

You dont need OS in rom to be hacker proof, you just need a good OS. Mac OS is for the most part hacker proof. Only one virus out there. Security holes are patched quickly. The US Army uses Apple's X Serves for their web servers and they are attacked around the clock.

OS on ROM would be a nightmare. Updates, cost, and convenience. With most OS's weighing in at over 4 gigs thats not going to be cheap to distribute. You cant download updates either.

The capabilities of a 1993 mac vs a new 4k pc are quite different. Just because they boot at the same speed means little as the new machine is loading a heck of a lot more code. A Commodore 64 boots in seconds, means nothing. There are just going to be limits on how fast you can open a window or a text file.

Computers are not an investment unless you are doing business with them. For me they are primarily entertainment. I dont really play games any more though Crysis looks really neat. Cars can pay for themselves if you keep them around long enough but most people trade them off as soon as they have been paid off. I think I have hear you need to keep your car for at least 7 years after its paid off to get your money out of it. At least with cars you dont have to worry about them becoming incompatible with the roads!

Evan
02-23-2008, 02:34 AM
You dont need OS in rom to be hacker proof, you just need a good OS. Mac OS is for the most part hacker proof. Only one virus out there. Security holes are patched quickly. The US Army uses Apple's X Serves for their web servers and they are attacked around the clock.
Nothing is hacker proof with the possible exception of certain strong encryption systems. There is no totally secure OS. Apple for many years relied on "Security through Obscurity" meaning that there were so few that the Apple computer population wasn't an attractive target.

The US military has two networks. The public internet attached system on the regular address spectrum contains no classified information and is always assumed to be already compromised. The secure system operates in "black" address space when it is connected and is never connected to the regular internet, known as an "air gap" defense.

The truly professional hackers are not caught. They usually operate alone and they don't brag or tag their victims. An example turned up a few years ago in the Linux code base.

In the course of a archive server upgrade the linux source code base tree was being checksummed. A discrepancy was discovered in one kernel module. It was a single byte change in which the comparison operator "=" was replaced by the assignment operator "==". This was thought to be a simple typo except that didn't explain the checksum error. After studying the effect of the alteration it was discovered that it opened a "back door" for even a guest account to elevate privileges to root. This would mean that somebody would be able to "own" any system running that version simply by logging in with a guest account.

Another example is the server software that I run. It isn't Microsoft and until today it had no known vulnerabilities. Today I discovered a way to crash it dead remotely by simply uploading a 2k size file via FTP to a public guest account on the server. BOOM! One dead server. With a little more studying I am pretty sure I can narrow it down to a 10 or 12 character sequence which can be sent to every machine on the net that is running Xitami with a public FTP account..

Of course, I wouldn't do that. There are those who would.

BadDog
02-23-2008, 04:52 PM
Nothing is hacker proof with the possible exception of certain strong encryption systems. There is no totally secure OS. Apple for many years relied on "Security through Obscurity" meaning that there were so few that the Apple computer population wasn't an attractive target.

<snip>

The truly professional hackers are not caught. They usually operate alone and they don't brag or tag their victims. An example turned up a few years ago in the Linux code base.



On the first point, I've been trying to tell people about that for YEARS, but you simply can't convince a Mac fan of that. The WinNT Kernel OS is actually very secure, it's the default install that's brain-dead, which combined with uneducated (and willfully ignorant in many/most cases) users is causing 99% of the problem. If folks ran Windows like *nix operators run their machines, it would be a whole different world... And nothing (*nothing*) is hacker proof unles it's inside an issolated container with no input of any kind. Even strong encryption is considered "hack proof" only so long as the computers (and algorithms) are slow enough that known attacks (and they always exist) take so long that the data is either meaningless by the time you could get it busted, or the effort is too large for the return. It's all about value, even for hacking...

Also true on the second point. You'll never hear about them (unless they are stupid enough to get caught, re: bragging) because the really big stuff doesn't hit the news (or internet) due to "vested interest" in covering it up by the victims. And THOSE systems that got/get hacked are very unlikely to have been Windows based (though more likely now that 5 years ago).

HTRN
02-23-2008, 06:51 PM
The US military has two networks. The public internet attached system on the regular address spectrum contains no classified information and is always assumed to be already compromised. The secure system operates in "black" address space when it is connected and is never connected to the regular internet, known as an "air gap" defense.

It's called the Global Information Grid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Information_Grid)


HTRN

Evan
02-23-2008, 11:05 PM
Two networks. The other one is the Internet. The internet that we are using right now was and still is in part military. It was developed and placed in service by DARPA, the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency. The US government still maintains the right to approximately half of the possible address space on the internet and addresses in that space will not be routed or recognized by the public system even though the data travels over the same networks. Those reserved addresses are sometimes called "black addresses".

This is the current allocation of internet addresses. The blue is publicly allocated addresses and the black areas are the reserved addresses.

http://vts.bc.ca/pics3/bas.jpg

Also, all network traffic that crosses the US border, in or outgoing, is routed through or copied to the NSA as part of the Echelon Sigint system. This even pertains to traffic originated in the US and destined for the US when it is routed via nodes outside the US, such as in Canada which is very common.

lazlo
02-23-2008, 11:25 PM
It's called the Global Information Grid

The Global Information Grid is a gigantic, multi-billion dollar pork-barrel program that attempts to bridge together all the ad-hoc networks that are in place by the various military services, the CIA, and the NSA, each of which has their own networks, network security policies, and hardware/software.

I was a computer engineer for 13 years at the Army Research Laboratory in D.C., and sharing data between the various services, and especially the civilian intelligence groups, was a friggin' nightmare.

A lot of data, especially for compartmented sources, is hand-carried.

lazlo
02-23-2008, 11:30 PM
Also, all network traffic that crosses the US border, in or outgoing, is routed through or copied to the NSA as part of the Echelon Sigint system.

According to articles in 60 Minutes, the Economist, and the New York Times, the NSA now actively scans domestic network traffic under the Homeland Security Act.

The NSA has set up sniffing farms with all the major ISP providers in most cities.

The 60 Minutes article interviewed former AT&T cable employees who have testified under oath that they were required to help the NSA set up cloning routers and massive data farms. 60 Minutes was even able to get the procurement list of the specific sniffing hardware that the NSA procured for the San Francisco AT&T office.

There are a slew of lawsuits that have been underway for at least 3 years...

AT&T Seeks to Hide Spy Docs
http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/04/70650

Mark Klein, a former technician who worked for AT&T for 22 years, provided three technical documents, totaling 140 pages, to the EFF and to The New York Times, which first reported last December that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on citizens' phone calls without obtaining warrants.

Klein issued a detailed public statement last week, saying he came forward because he believes the government's extrajudicial spying extended beyond wiretapping of phone calls between Americans and a party with suspected ties to terrorists, and included wholesale monitoring of the nation's internet communications.

AT&T built a secret room in its San Francisco switching station that funnels internet traffic data from AT&T Worldnet dialup customers and traffic from AT&T's massive internet backbone to the NSA, according to a statement from Klein.

Klein's duties included connecting new fiber-optic circuits to that room, which housed data-mining equipment built by a company called Narus, according to his statement.

Narus' promotional materials boast that its equipment can scan billions of bits of internet traffic per second, including analyzing the contents of e-mails and e-mail attachments and even allowing playback of internet phone calls.