Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cracking Windows passwords with Linux

Disclaimer: Do not try this on unauthorized systems.

If you lose a Windows password, or you buy a system that has an OS on it, but you don't know the password, what are you to do? The best thing to do would be to throw in a Linux CD, format the drive, and install the Distro. But, what if you want to boot to the system and see what's on there, and get data off?

Well, we have quite a few options. I'm going to cover two of them. I'll start with ophcrack. http://ophcrack.sourceforge.net/

"Ophcrack is a Windows password cracker based on rainbow tables. It is a very efficient implementation of rainbow tables done by the inventors of the method. It comes with a GTK+
Graphical User Interface and runs on Windows, Mac OS X (Intel CPU) as well as on Linux."

We're going to use ophcrack live cd, which is a stripped down version of slax using fluxbox, with ophcrack running on top. The cd can be downloaded here. Ophcrack LiveCD
Once you burn the ISO, you just boot the cd, and it goes right to work. In my case, because I'm running on a 64 bit system, I had to pass the noapic option on bootup.

I setup a couple different accounts to test the ability of the software. With the first account, I used a simple password "coldplay". With the second account I used a simple, but randomly generated password "wzgqptjb". For the third account, I generated a 12 character random password with symbols and special characters, "c?4"e9n^bA!t". The last account had the same criteria, "\O0//|?3>q)h".

The results were somewhat predictable, except for the last two accounts. Within 2 minutes, the first two passwords were revealed in the window. I figured the other two may take a while, so I went and played guitar hero for a while, coming back occasionally to check on them. After about 30 minutes, it had completed it's cycle, but told me that the last two passwords weren't found.

For plain character passwords, it doesn't seem to matter whether it's randomly generated, or just a word. They were discovered simultaneously. But as far as the second two go, I guess 12 random special characters is enough to stump ophcrack. I figured it would just brute force it, if nothing else. But that wasn't the case.

So with that program, I was halfway successful. I might have gotten lucky and gained administrative priviledges with those 2 accounts, but with passwords like that, they're most likely regular user accounts.

On to the next program. This is my favorite one, because it's around 3MB for the entire image, and instead of going through a crack process, it completely blanks the windows password in very little time. It's called "Offline NT Password & Registry Editor", and can be downloaded from this website.


Just download the image, unzip it, and burn to cd. Cd's are cheap, so don't complain about wasting a cd for 3MB of space.

Once you boot to it, it will try and autodetect everything. Unless you install Windows in funky directories, all defaults will do the trick. The menu is very straightforward and easy to use.

I selected the admin account (the more difficult password) which is the default. Then I used the command * to blank the password. Then I typed in the name of the other account, and blanked it as well. This took around 3 minutes total including boot time. Then I exited, making sure to save my changes. Once I rebooted into windows, I logged into my accounts with NO password. Everything worked perfectly and I had admin privilges.

With this program, it's really irrelevant how long your password is. It just blanks it with a quick registry edit. Why wait for password cracking software when you have this? Consider your system owned if someone has physical access to it. It's a great precaution to use secure passwords on your systems, but, security is relative and there's always a way around things. You could of course enable a bios password to bump the security up a notch.

Be smart, and never think that your system is impenetrable, especially if you use Microsoft's products.

If you're interested in recovering passwords in linux, here's a great article on ubuntology....

One last thing.....
I wanna give a big HELL YEAH to Wayne, over at fsckin w/ linux. His site is great, and it's only getting better as time goes on!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cleaning up after Windows Media Player on a Samba share

My music collection is on my NAS and since my wife uses Windows, the only way to share files with her is on a samba share. Since she listens to music a lot with Windows Media Player, it ends putting a lot of unnecessary files into the music folders. Typically, it puts 3 different sizes of the same jpg in a folder, plus an .ini file. On a large music collection, that could end up being quite a large amount of crap files that I don't want in my music folder.

My solution is quite simple, but requires the command line.

You may or may not be familiar with the find command. I use it, along with another, rm, to remove all the waste files. The syntax of the combined commands is a little tricky though. It goes like this....

find . -regextype posix-awk -regex "(.*.jpg|.*.ini|.*.rtf|.*.url|.*.txt|.*.log|.*.sfv|.*.nfo|.*.md5|.*.m3u)" -exec rm {} \;

This tells it to recursively find everything starting from the current directory that has any of the above extensions, and delete it. These are all the BS file extensions people put in shared music folders that I don't want.

Now my music diriectory is de-bastardized and only contains music.

I run this command just before I sync my music directories on my desktop and server, so I'm not syncing a bunch of extra crap. Technically, rsync could handle that too, but I prefer to do it this way.

This could very easily be turned into a bash script and run daily with a cron job, which would completely automate the task. Once you know the commands, the command line can be a much quicker way to accomplish tasks.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Super cool file parity tool

I've used par2 quite a bit, and always found it amazing. The typical use for it would be to repair corrupt files you download on usenet, but you can also use it on your own system to prevent data loss. What it does, basically, is create files that can be used to reconstruct files in the case that they've been corrupted, or even deleted, in most cases.

I'm going to show you how to use a GUI front end for par2 called PyPar2, in Ubuntu 7.10. The interface makes creating file redundancy a breeze. Here's their home page.. http://pypar2.silent-blade.org/

So, the first thing you need to do is go to Add/Remove Applications, and do a search for par2. Two programs come up, but it doesn't look like the first one actually supports creating par files, but only verifies. (I didn't test it though, so correct me if you know different) We're going to select the second one, and install it.

Once it's installed, it will show up under "Other" in the Applications menu. Go ahead and run it. Here's a screenshot in it's default state. As you can see, it's very plain and simple.

Since we'll be creating parity files, click on the "Create" tab. Now you'll see an empty window there. At this point all you have to do is drag and drop files, or in my case a folder into the window. If you drag a folder into the window, it will automatically list all the files from the folder in the window.

I'm going to click the "use advanced settings, so I can get some more options. Let's click on the redundancy tab, and set it at 15%. I'm also going to click on the "parity files" tab and set it at 5, with uniform parity file size.

When you have that set, click on the Go button and it will ask you where you want to store the files. I just used the default location, but changed the file name to suit my needs better. Then, when you click save, a console will pop up and show you all the files it's working on, and show a percentage of completion for the redundancy files. On a music album on my system, this process took about 30 seconds.

Now if you look in the folder where your files are stored, you'll see all your regular files, plus 6 par files. 1 main par file, and 5 par files with the main data. And here comes the super cool part. I have 11 music files in my folder. I'm going to go ahead and delete (YES, DELETE) lucky song number 11. If you don't feel comfortable deleting your file, move it to another location so we can test this stuff out.

Once the file is deleted, I'm going to go back to the PyPar2 program and select the other tab "Check". Then you select your par2 file. Any of the files you created will work, but it's standard to work from the first one (the one with the shortest name). And, because we already know our file is completely missing, we're going to choose "Repair".

Click on go, and a console will pop up again, and it will scan through your files, see what needs to be repaired, and if you have enough parity blocks (we should have more than enough) it will repair your file, or in our case completely rebuild it.

By now, I'm sure some of you have examined the size of the parity files. My parity files for one album were 10MB, and one mp3 was 6 MB. So, of course there's enough data in the parity files to recover an mp3. What's the big deal? Why not just back up the mp3's to another folder? Well, here's why this program is amazing. We could have deleted any one of those mp3's(not all at once, please) and it would have been abe to recover it. How does it do it? I have no idea, but after reading a little about it, I discovered it works on the same mathematical principles they use for redundancy in a raid array. As long as it has enough parity chunks to repair your files, it will have no problems. And, in the advanced tab, you can adjust the amount of parity according to your needs. And of course this can be used on any file type, not just mp3.

If you would like to read more about par and par2, here's a link for the wiki.

Thank you and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I want to FLAC you like an animal!

After the astounding response from my article on Ogg Vorbis What the hell is Ogg Vorbis, and why should I use it?, I thought it would be nice to do a follow up article on another open source audio format called FLAC.

So, what is FLAC? FLAC is an acronym that stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. Flac is completely non-proprietary and free of licensing fees, unlike mp3. Flac is also much higher quality than mp3 or Ogg. This format compresses the data without having to dispense of any data.
Essentially, when you rip your cd's to FLAC format, you have an exact digital copy.

I took a CD and used Sound Juicer (opens automatically in Ubuntu when you insert an audio cd) to rip the music to my hard drive in two formats: CD quality Ogg (default) and FLAC. The difference in size is AMAZING.

Duration: 43:15
Album ripped to Ogg - 48.2MB
Album ripped to FLAC - 292.9MB

And, for a song for song comparison...

Duration: 4:04
Song ripped to Ogg - 4.6MB
Song ripped to FLAC - 28.5MB

Wow, I never expected to see that huge of a difference in file size. If I was to have my trivial music collection in FLAC format, it would require at least 60GB, compared to the 10GB required for Ogg. Hard drives are getting larger and cheaper, but that's still a lot of storage space for a relatively small amount of music. There must be a huge difference in the audible quality then, right?

I very un-scientifically listened to multiple songs, first in Ogg, then in FLAC, to see if I could distinguish a difference. Surprisingly, I heard almost no difference at all. In some songs, the FLAC format sounded a little more full than Ogg, but I really had to strain to hear the difference. Although, I am using pretty regular speakers, and soundcard, and I'm by far not a sound expert. I'm just the average user, as far as music goes.

For the average user, it seems much better to stick with the Ogg format for audio. The small difference in audio quality, and huge difference in file size just wouldn't justify switching to FLAC, for most people.

So, when would you want to use FLAC? If you want to make an exact digital backup of your whole music collection, FLAC would be a good way to go (space permitting). If you have an incredibly loud, crisp, clear sound system that can piss off your neighbors two houses away, you'll probably be able to hear a difference as well. Or, if you're an audio aficionado, you'll probably be picky enough about how your music sounds to shell out the extra money for hard drive space so you can listen to everything in great detail. FLAC is also very well supported across OS's Linux, MAC, and Windows. There are also quite a few home theater devices that support FLAC.http://flac.sourceforge.net/links.html#hardware
I'm not aware of any portable devices that support FLAC, and with size constraints I can see why. (please comment if you know of any) As a commentor pointed out, FLAC would aslo be useful if you're encoding to many different formats because it's more or less as if you're ripping directly from cd since it's lossless.

Impressive as FLAC is, I can't recommend it for the average user. There's just not enough difference in audio quality to justify the huge difference in storage space.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

IE vs Firefox, Linux vs Windows vs Mac - Site Stats

I was looking at visitor statistics to my blog and found the stats to be somewhat interesting, being that's it's a Linux specific blog. I'm definitely glad to see the amount of Firefox vs IE users. This lumps all versions of browsers and all version of OS's into the same category.
So, here they are:

Firefox - 73.4%
IE - 16.46%
Mozilla - 6.59%
Opera - 3.55%


Windows - 55.22%
Linux - 39.91%
Mac OS - 4.87%

I'm glad to see so many Windows users interested in Linux. The curiosity must be driving them mad. They should just install Linux already and get it over with. They won't regret it.

(These stats are from this blog when it was fairly new, so it may not be that accurate. I feel that the future stats from the site will show a more complete picture)

Linux Spyware/Virus challenge: UPDATE

In my original article I outlined how I had challenged a co-worker with the task of infecting a Linux system with spyware and/or viruses within a period of one week. I even offered him a system of mine to use, with a fresh install of Ubuntu. Let me also state that I know that no system is completely immune from viruses or spyware. I just know the risk is very very low.

The Linux spyware challenge

He has officially declined the challenge. He didn't give me an exact reason why, but something along the lines that he was worried that he could possibly infect his other systems (windows), or that his ISP would think his internet activity is suspicious. I think that really, deep down, he knew just how much I would be able to rub it in when he lost.

Now I would like to give the same challenge (minus monetary compensation) to anyone that has had problems with viruses or spyware on windows, or anyone who knows people that have been infested. Why not install Linux on your system or someone else's and show them how great a virus/spyware free system can be.

Enjoy the freedom!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Easy, secure, remote (gui) access for Linux! (10 minutes or less)

If you've ever tried to use the built in remote access for the Linux destkop, you'll know that it's typically laggy, especially if you're connecting remotely using a vpn. Also, nothing is encrypted, making it very non-secure.

I'm going to show you how to remedy these problems with a program called NOMACHINE....

The first thing you need to do is download 3 nomachine programs. The Node, the Client, and the Server. All three of these have to be installed on the "server" that you'll be connecting to.

We'll start with the client. Download the package appropriate for your distro. We'll wait until we have them all downloaded to do anything with them.

NXClient Debian Package (Debian, Ubuntu, Dream Linux, etc)
NXClient RPM Package (Fedora, Suse, PCLinuxOS, etc
NXClient Tarball (Slackware)

And now the node.
NXNode Debian
NXNode RPM Package
NXNode Tarball

And last but most important, the server package.
NXServer Debian Package
NXServer RPM Package
NXServer Tarball

Now that you've got all those downloaded, you need to install them. Since they have dependencies, you have to install nxclient first, then nxnode, and last the server, the same order we downloaded them in. Install them using your package manager. If you're using Ubuntu, all you have to do is click on the package and the package manger will pop up, and you just need to click on the install button. Do that for each package and that's it for installation.

We'll go ahead and test the connection now, with the client that's already on your server. It sounds kind of stupid, but yes, we're going to be connecting to your server from your server to test it and make sure it works. One more thing.... make sure you have openssh-server installed. Ubuntu by default does not install it for some reason. To remedy this, do an apt-get install ssh, and the correct package will be istalled. Other distros I've used have all had it installed.

If you're using Ubuntu, you'll find nxclient is now in your menu, under the internet section. Go to that, and you'll see an nx connection wizard. You'll just need to enter a session name (call it test, unless you have something better) and the ip address of the system you're using. Click next, and select whatever display manager you're using. In Ubuntu's case I would select Gnome. Next, next, let it create a shortcut if you want. Then it will ask you for a password. By default it's setup to use your system users passwords. Go ahead and put in your password and click login. If everything goes well, you'll be seeing your desktop soon. By default, you can't use root to connect, which is a good thing for security.

If you were able to connect, you should be able to connect using any other system on your network. To try it out, download the client program for your other computer and install it, and connect the same way we did with the sever. There is a client available for Mac and Windows as well, so you can connect to your linux server from any computer you want.

Enjoy your new fast and secure remote management!

Friday, October 19, 2007

How do I get root access in Ubuntu?

I first encountered Ubuntu while going to school for a linux certification. I was fairly accustomed to how things were done with rpm packages and how things worked in opensuse. This particular lab I was studying told me I should be using Ubuntu. At the time, the distribution supplied to install and use was Hoary Hedgehog. I quickly realized I hadn't supplied a root password during install, and the lab manual mentioned nothing about it. So, of course I googled it to find out why. I found out Ubuntu implements sudo to give users access to root commands. Interesting. I thought I could deal with that. But, after continuously entering sudo in front of any command that needed root access, it got very old. I thought there must be a way to enable the root account. It turns out, it's actually very simple to do just that.

All you need to do is: sudo passwd root
Then it will ask you for your password, then you have to enter root's new password twice and you're all set. Now you can login to the root account just like you would on any other distro.

Some may argue that sudo is a security measure, because it's in a way disabling root's account. This is true to a degree, but you could also argue that now there's only one password to circumvent instead of two. And user passwords would typically be much simpler than a root password, for convenience. Some may think enabling root's account opens another hole, by allowing the user to login to the graphical environment as a root user, since that's what they may be used to doing in other less secure OS's (microsoft, anyone?). This isn't the case with Ubuntu though, as gnome by default does not let you log on as root.

A definite advantage to having sudo by default is that new users can't login to the root account and obliterate the system with a command a buddy jokingly tells them to execute (rm -r / is a fun example). But any experienced user would have no issues using root's account, as that's what they're accustomed to with other distros anyway. Personally, every system I install Ubuntu on that I'll be using gets a root password assigned. I couldn't have it any other way.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ubuntu, Satanic Edition!

I was excited when I found this edition of Linux. I'm not Satanic, but I really don't think there should be a separate distro for the Christian edition of Ubuntu, so I thought this was a nice counter distro.

This actually isn't a self contained distro at all. You won't be able to download an ISO even if you try. Satanic Ubuntu basically has a bunch of artwork for the gnome and kde desktop available for download in a repository. They actually suggest installing over the Ubuntu Christian edition (sounds like fun to me) :)

Here is an example of one of their amazingly well done wallpapers. If I recall correctly, they used Blender to render all their 3d artwork.

And here are links to more screenshots.
Their artwork is great as you can see. Top notch. Ultimately for me, the desktop was too dark. I tend to like lighter colors for my desktop. Maybe that's one of the reasons I hate Vista so much. In fact, I think that's even why I hated Windows Media Player 11, on XP. But I guess that's all personal preference stuff.

To actually install Satanic edition is very simple. First, on your existing (K)Ubuntu install, you have to add the repositories to your /etc/apt/sources.list file.

# Ubuntu Satanic Edition
deb http://ubuntusatanic.org/hell feisty main
deb-src http://ubuntusatanic.org/hell feisty main

Once that's done, do an:
apt-get update
apt-get install satanic-wallpapers satanic-gdm-themes usplash-theme-satanic

Or, if you use KUbuntu
apt-get install satanic-kde-themes

To install the screensaver, just do an
apt-get install eternal-damnation

and if you want a ubuntu logo thrown in there as well you can do
apt-get install eternal-ubuntu

Then, depending on your desktop, follow the instructions from their website
Gnome - http://ubuntusatanic.org/configuration.php
KDE - http://ubuntusatanic.org/kde-config.php

You'll be burning in Hell in no time at all! :)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

All your IP are belong to Microsoft!

Microsoft's employees like to flap their lips about Linux violating patents, but they seem to know they have nothing that would actually stand up in court. They claim that there are at least 235 Microsoft patents that are being violated. Somehow they came to the conclusion that the Linux kernel alone violates 42 patents. That's probably the worst insult I've heard in a long time. How is it that the Linux kernel, which works completely different and more efficient than Windows, violates their patents. It sounds like a case of jealousy to me.

Microsoft, if you're going to sue me, do it already! I use many different distros, including openSUSE, Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint, Slax, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon, etc. I have a test partition on my drive just to test out different distros. I don't see how you can exclude one distro or the other in a lawsuit. If you're going to sue one, you need to sue them all. The different distros may use one program or the other that's different, but they all use the Linux kernel, which you claim violates 42 of your patents. (what a bunch of shit) And the majority of the distros use either gnome or kde, which evidently violate another 65 patents. So, how can you target one distribution (Redhat, for example), and say that they violate your patents. It's an all or nothing situation with Linux.

We as Linux users aren't scared of your false claims. By threatening to sue, you're just reassuring everyone how greedy and selfish your company is. Your latest operating system was a flop (and Office as well) and Linux is becoming more competitive than you ever imagined, and you can't handle it. So now you're trying to scare people away from Linux. Well, it won't work. You can shove your evil tactics up your ass, because we're going to continue using Linux, and Linux will continue to thrive. Open source software has a major advantage over propietary software, and that advantage is that there isn't one central point of failure (or control). One distro may go away (for one reason or another), but overnight 5 more distros could be started.

Thank you, and goodnight.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What the hell is Ogg Vorbis, and why should I use it?

Artigo em português

Most Linux users have probably at least heard of Ogg Vorbis, while most Windows users most likely haven't, unless they are super nerds.

The Ogg Vorbis website sums it up quite nicely.....

"Ogg Vorbis is a new audio compression format. It is roughly comparable to other formats used to store and play digital music, such as MP3, VQF, AAC, and other digital audio formats. It is different from these other formats because it is completely free, open, and unpatented."

Ok, so now we know that it's absolutely free. That alone gives us users some advantages. Linux distributions in general have Ogg Vorbis support built in. That means no additional codec installs. That's good for everyone.

Of course there are other advantages as well. Installing an mp3 codec in linux could be against the law, depending on where you live. Using Ogg Vorbis, you will be worry free and law abiding.

The Ogg Vorbis format will save you hard drive space. If you choose to save your Ogg files at the same quality as your mp3's, the Ogg files will be smaller. Or, you can use a higher quality than the mp3's and still use the same amount of space.
If you're a developer, there's a very large advantage. You can include sound files in your software and you won't pay any licensing fees at all. Many game developers (Epic Games and EA Games for example) have realized this and started using Ogg to keep the money in their pocket.
Ogg Vorbis is also streamable via the icecast audio server. So, there is an alternative for websites and for home media servers that also happens to be completely open source.

At this point, you're probably thinking......... Portable music players don't play Ogg Vorbis. You're absolutely right, if you're talking about the ipod. But, there are actually quite a few players on the market that support Ogg Vorbis. Don't believe me? Here's just one of the many links to lists of Ogg players.... http://www.ciao.co.uk/Portable_MP3_Players_5266512_3-ogg_vorbis

Why should we put up with closed source, licensed, audio codecs when there are perfectly usable alternatives? Why don't we change the world instead of going along with it?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Puppy Linux 3.00 Review

After reading some great reviews of Puppy Linux, I was anxious to download it and take a look, especially since I have some older systems that could really use a light Linux distro. Booting Puppy the first time I was a little surprised for a live cd distro to ask me for the keyboard layout. I selected U.S. and proceeded. I was then prompted to select wether or not I wanted to use xorg or xvesa for the x server. Again, I was surprised but selected xorg, because it's the standard and the only one I had heard of. It then asked me for a resolution. I selected 1280x1024 and continued. The desktop came up in the proper resolution with no issues, but I had already been prompted for three different inputs on a live distro. Incredible. For being a distro that prides itself on quick booting, it really wasn't so impressive in this aspect.

Once the desktop came up, I was greeted by the most horrendous desktop I've seen in a long time. I'll post it here for all to see, but I have to warn you that this could possibly ruin your entire day.

Adjusted slightly to a less horrendous background color, and no instructions built into the wallpaper (ugggghhhhh)..........

As you can tell, I'm not very impressed up to this point. So, I thought I would try out a little web surfing, to see how quick and light the OS and browser were. Here is the result.......

What? No network connection? Let me make it very clear that I'm using a desktop system (wired) and I don't even remember the last time I had to manually configure the network connection. So, to get the network connnection up, I clicked the "connect" icon, clicked all in separate dialog boxes the "connect to internet by net interface", "eth0", "autodhcp", "yes" (to save the config), and "done". So, 6 clicks and five dialog boxes later, my network connection was setup. I didn't actually put any settings in there, I just clicked. There's absolutely no reason this couldn't be scripted at boot time.

At this point I was starting to get quite frustrated. I had read some great reviews, and was really looking forward to having an outstanding experience. So far, I was experiencing just the opposite. This distro had transported me back 10 years to the days of windows 98. The graphics are very poor quality, the fonts are fairly small and hard to read, and the entire documentation of the distro seems to be included in the dialog boxes. The sea monkey web browser seems to be an odd choice, even in a light distro. There are light browsers that are much more aesthetically pleasing and don't look like they're from the 90's. But, 90's seems to be the theme for the whole distro so it actually blended quite well with the rest.

The package manager of Puppy seemed to have a fairly large amount of packages in it, but there is no search feature, so you're stuck looking through all the packages. The installed password manager is Gpasman which looked very dated just like the rest. Even in a light distro, Keepass would fit right in, and look much better.

One program that is included in Puppy that ABSOLUTELY floored me was fragger. I had never even heard of this program, but when I opened it up I was very shocked to see that this was a program that graphically displays disk (or file) fragmentation. Maybe someone should explain to the Puppy developer(s) why fragger is so ironic in linux. I couldn't actually get fragger to view my hard drive fragmentation, but here's a screenshot of the program in all it's windows 98 glory.

Is your jaw on the floor yet? I've got more.........
When you go to the terminal, you already have root access, even if you install it to the hard drive. Press ctrl-alt-backspace to get the terminal and you're given a message that you should type in "xwin" to start xorg again (huh, I could have sworn I was running Linux). Trying init 0 or init 6 to restart the system got me absolutely nowhere. In all it's windows likeness, I guess it forgot how to do linux commands. And last but not least, shutdown is an unknown command.

I almost forgot. Included in Puppy is possibly the worst looking graphical editor I've seen in my life. It closely resembles paint from windows, but it's much more ugly. Here's a screenshot.

On a side note, I did find a couple things that were fairly acceptable with Puppy Linux. The drive mounting program was able to see all drives, mounted or not, and mount or unmount with a single click (a refreshing change from the rest of the distro). The firewall setup program was also very simple. Also, because the programs were all loading from memory, they opened very quickly and the system was very responsive, even when testing on an old system with only 128Mb of memory.

To sum things up, I guess Puppy is an appropriate name for this distro. Puppy is full of energy and very fast, but often misbehaves and poops all over. I completely understand the light concept, but with distros like Slax around, there's no excuse for outdated programs that look like they belong in a Microsoft OS. And for humanity's sake, remove fragger from your distro. What the hell were you thinking?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Connecting to a Windows VPN server with Debian based distros

Debian based distros, specifically Ubuntu, make it a snap to connect to Windows based vpn's.

Here is the link to the RPM for network-manager-pptp, in case you want to do this on an RPM based distro.
network-manager-pptp RPM
--End Edit

You'll need to install two packages... pptp-linux, and network-manager-pptp. If you're using synaptic, just do a search for pptp and select both packages.

You can of course use apt-get install pptp-linux network-manager-pptp if you prefer the command line. (use sudo with apt-get if you chose not to create a root password)

Once those two packages are installed, you can click on network manager and you'll see there's a new entry there called VPN Connections.

Click on Configure VPN.

And, you'll get the VPN Connections dialog.

Click the Add button which will bring you to the next dialog. Click "Forward"

Unless you have other vpn packages installed, pptp should be your only option and you won't have to select anything. Otherwise select pptp tunnel from the list.

Now you just have to enter your VPN info in the next dialog. The most likely case is that you will only have to use the first tab. If you know your VPN has special requirements, go ahead and fill those in, in the other tabs.

Just click finish on the next dialog, and done on the next one.

Now that it's all configured, all you have to do to connect to your new vpn is click on the network manager in the panel, select VPN connections, and select the new VPN that you just created. There will be a little animation above your network manager icon until it's connected. Then you will see a lock on your icon, as long as you're connected. Disconnecting the VPN is done from the same area but you just select disconnect vpn instead. It's very simple and straightforward.

Note: This can also be done on RPM based distributions (or others) if you can find an rpm for network-manager-pptp (you could also compile the source, if you feel so inclined). As far as non-Debian based distros, I have only tested this on SLED, and OpenSuse, and had to search for quite some time to find the rpm as they don't seem to be included in the distro. You're supposed to be able to configure vpn's through yast, but I could never get it to work.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Reasons why I love Microsoft's Operating sytems

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I love playing games to put off all those other really important things I need to get done.

There's nothing I like better than to watch my hard drive defragment. It soothes and relaxes me.

After I do a fresh install, I love the hours of challenge provided by hunting down all the drivers for the devices windows doesn't recognize.

I feel like I'm saving the world from viruses when I install anti-virus software on my system. I'll be recognized someday for all the cpu cycles I've used to defend the world from viruses.

Spyware is a tricky animal, but I vow to kill it with my bare hands and drink it's blood. It's the thrill of the hunt.

I think it's important to support billion dollar corporations. Without people like me buying their software they wouldn't be able to control the world. I also love to support all the other billion dollar software companies that I buy my add on software from. It's very invigorating.

I like to reboot after every install and update. It makes me feel fresh and clean like a virgin. And it helps fill the voids in my life.

I like to see those beautiful blue screens that magically appear to me after I install new drivers. I'm always ready for a new challenge.

(Vista Specific) I'm click happy. I love to click and click. I don't care what those dialog boxes are saying. I just want to click some more. Thank you vista for fulfilling my clicking needs.

(obviously, this is satire)