Monday, December 17, 2018

Notes/Domino security vulnerability patched by IBM. You should apply this fix soon.

IBM has discovered and (on Friday, December 14, 2018) released a patch for a security vulnerability in NSD (Notes System Diagnostics) for Windows. So now is a really good time to upgrade your Windows-based Domino servers to 9.0.1FP10IF5 and your Windows-based Notes clients to version 9.0.1FP10IF6. (Or you could upgrade them to version 10.) Here's the Technote with the details. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Beware of stray cables

I just watched this scary video demonstration by Kevin Mitnick of KnowBe4 of a lightning cable that infects any computer you plug it into (well, the demo used a Windows 10 computer) with malware. In the demo Kevin suggests that we stop leaving cables plugged into our work computers, implying that the demo lightning cable could be swapped in when our back is turned. And don't use any old cable that you might find lying around? "You need to stop, look, and think", he says, "before you plug any device into your computer."

But Kevin leaves a lot of other questions unanswered:
  • How can we determine if a cable is malicious?
  • How can we tell if a cable we buy in a store is malicious or not? 
    • Do we have to stop buying non-Apple branded lightning cables now?
    • Are Apple branded cables save, even?
  • Can we use anti-malware software to protect ourselves if such a cable is plugged into our machine?
Hey, reader, sleep well tonight!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

IBM Notes 9.0.1, MacOS High Sierra, and Java 8. Part 2.

After I wrote my Jan 24 post about running Notes on MacOS in Basic Mode, IBM released Notes 9.0.1 for MacOS Interim Fix 13. IF13 provides a fix for the problem I described in that post, which was that upgrading Java on the Mac to a version higher (more recent) than Java 8 Update 151 caused Notes to fail to start. That surprised me because, on the Windows platform Notes provides its own JVM; you can install whatever Oracle JVMs you like under Windows without affecting Notes at all. But it turns out that Notes running on the MacOS platform does not come with its own JVM and does rely on the Oracle JVM that you install on the machine. And, of course, Java 8 Update 152 caused Notes to choke and die.

In any case, the workaround at that time was to run Notes in Basic Mode, which effectively reverts Notes to running the old Release 7 Notes client written in C++, naked of the Expeditor wrapper that provides the new features of  Notes that debuted in Release 8. In Basic Mode, Notes does not use any Java-based features.

Another odd thing that I discovered since writing my last post is that the Notes 9.0.1 installer for the MacOS platform is "broken" with respect to MacOS High Sierra. The first time you run it on a machine running MacOS, it fails in the Provisioning stage, with the following error message:
File /Applications/IBM not found. Provisioning process failed to launch or was terminated before status could be determined.
Then the installation fails.

The fix for this is, of all things, to rerun the installer. The second time around it succeeds all the way through. Go figure.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How to run IBM Notes in Basic Mode on MacOS

Late last week a RockTeam client notified me that a user upgraded Java on his Macintosh to Java 9.0.1, then discovered that IBM Notes would no longer start on the machine. The client is a software publisher and the user is a developer. He figured out how to run Notes in Basic Mode (i.e., without the Eclipse wrapper that provides additional, Java-based functionality to the Notes client, which is known as "Standard Mode") and concluded that his upgrade of Java must have caused the problem.

My client asked me to help figure out what the problem was and how to get Notes running again in Standard Mode. With IBM's help (I opened a PMR) I soon discovered two things:
  • This IBM document states that 64-bit Notes running on MacOS does not support Basic Mode.
  • This IBM document states that 64-bit Notes will not run on MacOS if you upgrade Java to version 8 Update 152 (or later).
The first document above turns out to be inaccurate; Notes will in fact run in Basic Mode on the Mac. The second document is accurate; Notes will not currently run in Standard Mode if you install Java 8 Update 152 or later on your Mac. So the user has two options: Downgrade or remove Java; or settle for running Notes in Basic Mode. Running in Basic Mode, one loses the Open button, the full-text search field in the upper right corner of the Notes window, and the right sidebar and all the Java-based apps that it contains.  The subject user has decided for now to live with Basic Mode. The company isn't a big user of the "Social Edition" features of Notes, so Basic Mode probably meets all of this user's current needs.

What interested me about this was that, from the way he described the problem, it was obvious that our user was not a Notes guru, knowledgeable about Notes's different running modes. He is a developer, though, and knowledgeable about Java and Eclipse. So he was able to just figure out how to get Notes to run without Eclipse. I thought that was pretty ingenious of him and asked how he managed to do it. So far the only answer I've received from him is "by brute force".

But I did some testing myself and learned that you can indeed start Notes in Basic Mode on the Mac. Here are the two ways I found:
  • Set the variable UseBasicNotes=1 in Notes Preferences. Notes Preferences is the Mac equivalent of notes.ini, where one would set this variable on the other supported Notes platforms. When you set this variable, Notes always starts in Basic Mode, i.e., without trying to wrap itself in Eclipse. If you want to run Notes in Standard Mode, you have to remove this variable or reset its value to "0".
  • Issue this command in Terminal:
    "/Applications/IBM" -basic
    • NOTE: The quotes are necessary because of the space between "IBM" and "". 
    • Notice also (my fellow geek) that I appended "-basic" to the command. Under Windows you could append either "-sa" or "-basic", but "-sa" did not work for me under MacOS.
I know there's a way to create a script to run the above command with a mouse click (or two). I'm not a UNIX guru, so I don't know how by heart. When I find some time, I'll figure it out and post that information here.