Using the Strict-Transport-Security header

Julia Evans has an excellent write-up on “Using the Strict-Transport-Security header” – what it is, why you’d want to use it, and what are some of the consequences of using one.

As always with her blog posts, this one is very focused on one particular subject, easy to read, and explains things simply, so that the reader’s technical level is always irrelevant (OK, OK, you do need a basic understanding of how HTTP works, but not more than that).

Bashing up

Here are a couple of useful Bash resources that came upon my radar recently.

First one is Julia Evans’ blog post “Bash scripting quirks & safety tips“.  It’s quite introductory, but is has a few useful tips.  The one in particular I either didn’t know about or completely forgot  mentioned recently is on how to make Bash scripts safer by using “set -e“, “set -u“, and “set -o pipefail“.  These go well with another post of mine not so long ago.

The second is Sam Rowe’s blog post “Advancing in the Bash Shell“, which I found useful for all kinds of navigation and variable expansion in Bash command line.  Especially the bits on searching and reusing the history.

Amazon AWS : MTU for EC2

I came across this handy Amazon AWS manual for the maximum transfer unit (MTU) configuration for EC2 instances.  This is not something one needs every day, but, I’m sure, when I need it, I’ll otherwise be spending hours trying to find it.

The maximum transmission unit (MTU) of a network connection is the size, in bytes, of the largest permissible packet that can be passed over the connection. The larger the MTU of a connection, the more data that can be passed in a single packet. Ethernet packets consist of the frame, or the actual data you are sending, and the network overhead information that surrounds it.

Ethernet frames can come in different formats, and the most common format is the standard Ethernet v2 frame format. It supports 1500 MTU, which is the largest Ethernet packet size supported over most of the Internet. The maximum supported MTU for an instance depends on its instance type. All Amazon EC2 instance types support 1500 MTU, and many current instance sizes support 9001 MTU, or jumbo frames.

The document goes into the detail of how to set, check and troubleshoot MTU on the EC2 instances, which instance types support jumbo frames,  when you should and shouldn’t change the MTU, etc.

The following instances support jumbo frames:

  • Compute optimized: C3, C4, CC2
  • General purpose: M3, M4, T2
  • Accelerated computing: CG1, G2, P2
  • Memory optimized: CR1, R3, R4, X1
  • Storage optimized: D2, HI1, HS1, I2

As always, Julia Evans has got you covered on the basics of networking and the MTU.

Dissecting an SSL certificate

Julia Evans does it again.  If you ever wanted to understand SSL certificates, her post “Dissecting an SSL certificate” is for you.   This part made me smile:

Picking the right settings for your SSL certificates and SSL configuration on your webserver is confusing. As far as I understand it there are about 3 billion settings. Here is an example of an SSL Labs result for There is all this stuff like OLD_TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_CHACHA20_POLY1305_SHA256 on that page (for real, that is a real thing.). I’m happy there are tools like SSL Labs that help mortals make sense of all of it.