Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Daniel Cid

Daniel Cid

Security researcher, developer (OSSEC)

Posted in bsd, developer, linux, security

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Daniel Cid. I am current the CTO of a security company called Sucuri. But don't let the title fool you, since we are a small company, I do real work and I spend most of my time doing malware analysis, security research and trying to recover compromised servers for our clients.

In the past, I founded the OSSEC project (an intrusion detection system) and was the lead developer there for many years (2003-2011). In the meantime the project was acquired by Trend Micro in 2008 and I joined them and kept working solely on OSSEC until last year (2011).

What hardware do you use?

I am well known for not using any fancy hardware (yes, people make fun of me because of that). For many years (until 2010), my main development server was a very old PIII with very little memory that I just used to SSH in and do most of my work. It worked well and I took pride on being so backwards in time. I also had a SPARC server sitting under my feet that I used to help my posture and keep my feet up. It once got to more than 1,000 days without being shut down.

Unfortunately, the PIII died, so I had to buy a new one. The SPARC was very noisy and heavy, so I had to let it go.

Lately, I do all my work on my laptop (cheap HP Pavilion g) with 4G of ram. I don't even use desktops anymore and I store all my work on a remote dedicated server.

Another important part of my hardware setup is my keyboard and chair. I avoid using the mouse as much as possible and since I have back/neck problems, I use that funny looking kneeling chair and it helps tremendously with my posture. For my keyboard, I can't use anything but the Apple keyboard (even though I don't use a Mac).

I am very lean in terms of hardware, and I don't even use a watch or cell phone or any of the fancy new tools that most tech people like. If you checked my site a week ago, it would still be all in ASCII.

And what software?

I always ran OpenBSD on both my servers and desktop, but when my old PIII died, I got lazy and just installed Xubuntu on my laptop and have been using and enjoying it since. Very lightweight and simple. For my servers I have been using Linux CentOS.

Most of my development work is done in C, so I use the best combination that there is: terminal (xterm) + vim + gcc. Even when I need to do PHP work, I still use vim via the terminal.

For my servers, I keep the minimalistic setup, installing only the necessary. Apache for web (using Nginx as a proxy when necessary), PHP for dynamic content and qmail for email serving. I also (obviously) run OSSEC every where and love to monitor and watch all the logs coming through.

I store every thing remotely and I use sshfs (SSH file system) to access it and HG (mercurial) for source control. That allows me to easily switch laptops without losing any data.

What would be your dream setup?

I don't have much of a dream setup as long as everything works. But I would certainly like to have a more lightweight laptop that I could still use Xubuntu in there. Something like the MacBook Air, but without the Mac :)