01/27/2005: There is a techie joke from a year or two ago...
about the fact that Linux users were "missing out" on the Windows virus trend. An email meme broke out, and if you were one of the lucky recipients you received and email that read something like this:
You have just received the Linux "Honor System" virus. Send a copy of this email to every person in the address book of your email client. Then go to a command line, navigate to the system's root directory, and execute the following command:[For those of you who aren't up on your *nix command line commands, that's the command for "delete all files and directories, and DON'T ask me if I really want to do that." --LRC]rm * -rf
I was reminded of this joke today by an item in the Lockergnome Linux Fanatics newsletter, which talks about--no joke--running Windows viruses on a Linux system. If you're interested, you can catch the full story over at Newsforge, including reports of how each of a number of Windows viruses ran on a Linux system under the WINE emulator:
It just isn't fair that Windows users get all the viruses. I mean really, shouldn't Linux users be in on the fun as well? Well... thanks to the folks running the Wine project, Linux users can "catch the virus bug" too -- sort of.So if you're a Linux user wanting to join the fun world of Windows viruses, you may have a wait ahead of you....
Linux just isn't user-friendly when it comes to viruses. You have to work to find and run them. It doesn't happen automatically as it does with Windows. The GNU/Linux folks really should improve this glaring discrepancy.
While I have friends that collect viruses, I didn't need to bother them. I found plenty by looking through my staggering collection of bogofilter sorted mail. I apt-getted a copy of ClamAV, and after siccing it at my spam-and-other-things-I-don't-want-to-read collection, I yanked out a half-dozen unique, only Windows-compatible, viruses. That "only Windows-compatible" part was about to change.
The SomeFool first-generation worm (Netsky.D according to some folks) actually installs its winlogon.exe file under Wine, and, as an added bonus, seems to get stuck in an endless loop, thus really having a negative performance impact on my Linux machine! I'll give this one 4/5 penguins for not only running and sort of doing what it was supposed to, but actually doing mildly bad things to Linux -- at least until I hit Control-C in the terminal from which I was running Wine to stop it dead.
Out of the five Windows viruses I ran under Wine, not a single one was able to send email and propagate itself. When I went out of my way to be part of the Windows community by doing my part to propagate Windows viruses (lots of Windows users seem to think this is important, seeing as how they run random executables and use Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer) I discovered that it couldn't easily be done with GNU/Linux tools. Oh sure, I could manually forward these viruses to the folks in my address book, but where's the fun in that? Besides, these viruses usually lie in the From: line and use a handful of different Subject: lines. As a GNU/Linux user, I really don't want to miss out on these important functionalities.
I tip my hat to the creators of the SomeFool virus, for actually (albeit temporarily and minimally) affecting my Linux experience. However, if that's the most damage I can get by running viruses with Wine under a dummy account, then it's clear that the Wine developers have a long way to go before Wine is truly Windows compatible.
Len on 01.27.05 @ 07:55 AM CST