Monthly Archives: May 2015

Top 12 greseli ale utilizatorilor Windows care trebuiesc evitate pentru a face tranzitia de la Windows la Linux mai usoara

In acest articol am de gand sa va impartasesc cateva din sfaturile pe care trebuie sa le luati in considerare inainte de a face trecerea de la Windows la Linux. Haideti sa numim aceasta lista de sfaturi si greseli “mica biblie a incepatorilor in Linux”. Nu va pot garanta insa va pot spune ca va va face mult mai usoara trecerea la Linux. Sunt de parere ca daca noii utilizatori ar sti sa omita cateva greseli totul ar fi mult mai simplu. O lista a acestor greseli ar fi:

ubuntubible

 

1. Sa crezi ca Linux e ca Windows

Este una dintre cele mai grave greseli pe care absolut toti noii utilizatori Linux o fac. Majoritatea utilizatorilor nici macar nu stiu sa defineasca corect cuvantul “sistem de operare” ca sa nu mai spunem ca multi nici macar nu au idee ce diferente sunt intre Windows XP sau Windows 7, ce este un kernel, ce inseamna erarhia fisierelor intr-un sistem de operare si asa mai departe. Linux nu este Windows, Linux este un kernel ce sta la baza altor sisteme de operare precum Ubuntu, Linux Mint si alte distributii. Aceste 2 sisteme sunt complet diferite asemanarile fiind doar in interfata grafica acestora si atat.

2. Sa incercati sa faceti ca fisierele .exe sa se execute in Linux

Trebuie sa recunosc ca asta a fost greseala pe care am facuto si eu. Linux nu are nevoie de fisiere .exe pentru a instala sau rula programe. Defapt asta e si punctul forte a Linuxului si una din principalele motive pentru care Ubuntu si alte distributii Linux sunt atat de sigure, acestea nu ruleaza fisiere .exe (cel putin nu nativ) Fisierul .exe este unul dintre cele mai manipulabile fisiere din lume asta insemnand ca cei ce vor sa faca rau pot foarte usor sa va “otraveasca” sistemul prin simpla manipulare si modificare a unui fisier .exe. Din fericire nu si pe Ubuntu Linux! Si totusi daca doriti neaparat sa rulati .exe in Linux o puteti face cu ajutorul lui Wine insa nu este nevoie. Sunt softuri pentru Ubuntu Linux suficiente cat sa va satisfaca nevoile.

3. Sa alegeti o distributie gresita

Foarte multi fac greseala de a alege o distributie gresita atunci cand vor sa treaca la Linux. Imaginati-va un incepator alegand Gentoo, Fedora sau Slackware. Nu spun ca nu sunt distributii bune, ba din contra, sunt foarte bune dar nu sunt adresate incepatorilor. Nu sunt distributii populare asta insemnand ca nu veti gasi articole ajutatoare sau discutii despre acestea pe net in cazul in care o sa va loviti de o problema. Pentru incepatori cele mai recomandate distributii sunt Linux Mint, Ubuntu sau PinguyOS, in general distributiile bazate pe Debian sunt cele mai usoare. Aici castiga Linuxul, ofera libertatea fiecarui individ de a alege distributia preferata. Zilnic iau nastere distributii noi bazate pe nevoi si medii de lucru. domenii de activitate. Spre exemplu, exista o distributie numita Ubuntu Studio, o distributie ce vine cu o gramada de softuri dedicate celor ce se ocupa de editarea audio, video sau foto. O alta distributie ar fi Edubuntu, ideala pentru profesori, cadre didactice etc. Si lista poate continua in functie de activitatea pe care o aveti.

4. Sa nu gasiti softuri pentru Linux

Cand am instalat prima data Linux, prima directie a fost sa merg pe site-uri de download si sa descarc softuri asa cum faceam si in Windows. Nu este nevoie sa mergeti pe site-uri sa descarcati softuri, asta pentru inceput. Pe Linux, softurile vin la voi. Fiecare distributie are inclusa un manager de pachete. In Ubuntu spre exemplu aveti Ubuntu Software Center .  Pe Ubuntu Linux softurile se instaleaza in cu totul alt mod decat pe Windows si aici trebuie neaparat sa repet avertismentul: LINUX NU E WINDOWS ! Tot in tutorialul din link-ul de mai sus am vorbit despre metode de instalare a softurilor, de unde le luam, cum le cautam. Va recomand sa cititi textul aflat deasupra acelui tutorial.

5. Sa trimiteti documente facute si salvate in formatul default Open Office celor ce folosesc Microsoft Office

Iarasi este o mare greseala. Cand editati un document sau creati un nou document in Open Office, in momentul in care ati salvat documentul, Open Office il va salva in formatul sau default. va trebui sa alegeti “Save as…” pentru a avea posibilitatea sa schimbati extensia/formatul documentului in cel compatibil pentru Microsoft Office. Tot vad pe forumuri indivizi (chiar si pe forumul ubuntu.ro, autointitulat reprezentant oficial al Ubuntu Romania) care in loc sa fie clari cu userii ii iluzioneaza bagandu-le pe gat noilor useri ca Open Office e la fel ca Microsoft Office, ca e gratuit, ca nu vor mai avea niciodata nevoie de Microsoft Office. TOTAL GRESIT Open Office nu poate inlocui Microsoft Office. Open Office este doar o alternativa la celelalte procesoare de text existente pe piata. O sa mai aveti nevoie de Microsoft Office mai ales daca sunteti student. Chiar daca o sa salvati documentele din Open Office intr-un format compatibil suportat de Microsoft Office, fisierele facute in Open Office si deschise cu Microsoft Office nu se vor afisa la fel, de multe ori o sa observati ca se vor afisa total aiurea, va trebui sa il rearanjati.

6. Sa evitati linia de comanda, Terminalul

Asa cum am spus si in cele 3 tutoriale realizate de mine pe tema “introducere in terminal” multi gresesc incercand sa evite folosirea terminalului. Daca veti privi serialul dedicat Terminalului, o sa va convingeti ca nu este deloc greu si imposibil asa cum probabil va imaginati. Terminalul ne ajuta enorm de mult si ne salveaza timp pretios. Nu este deloc greu daca avem rabdare sa citim putin despre acesta, despre ce putem face cu el. La urma urmei nimeni nu sa nascut invatat si haideti sa ne gandim cati din cei ce utilizeaza windowsul stiau sau stiu sa-l foloseasca cu adevarat? Chiar si sa folosesti windowsul a trebuit sa inveti la un moment dat, nu? Nu vad sensul unor tipi care argumenteaza “aaa terminalul e greu, trebuie sa il inveti, sa stii comenzile” Corect, dar Windowsul l-ai stiut de cand ai pus mana pe calculator? nu cumva l-ai invatat in timp lovindu-te zi de zi, de una, de alta? Totul se invata, trebuie doar rabdare si sa va placa sa cititi.

7. Sa va dati batuti prea repede

Dupa cateva ore si uneori dupa cateva zile, multi se dau batuti prea usor si asta pentru faptul ca nu citesc documentatia sistemului inainte sa il foloseasca. Au falsa impresie ca e doar un sistem de operare si ca tot ce stiu ei in Windows se aplica si pe Linux. Daca nu va iese ceva, daca intampinati probleme, singurul vinovat de aceste lucruri este doar cel ce se loveste de ele, cel ce se afla in fata pc-ului. Pe ubuntu.ro exista o intreaga documentatie despre sistemul de operare Ubuntu scrisa in limba romana. Toate distributiile au materiale informative sau manuale de folosire fie pe site-ul propriu fie pe wikipedia fie un manual in format pdf descarcabil. Fiti rationali si ganditi logic. Nu aveti cum sa pilotati un avion fara sa faceti scoala de instructaj cum nu aveti cum sa folositi un sistem de operare pana nu cititi bazele acestuia si macar capitolele principale dedicate noilor utilizatori. Nu mai fugiti de informatie, nu mai fugiti de citit!!! Si cand utilizati windows si intampinati greutati mergeti pe google si cautati rezolvari, cititi forumuri. La fel procedati si pentru cazul in care folositi Ubuntu Linux sau oricare alta distributie. Majoritatea distributiilor au forum dedicat pentru suport insa nu o sa fiti ajutati daca faceti abuz de bunatatea acestora si nu cititi documentatia sistemului de operare.

8. Sa credeti ca ierarhia fisierelor si folderelor din Windows e la fel si pe Linux

Nu exista sintaxa “C:\” in Ubuntu Linux sau oricare alta distributie. Nu exista partitia C sau D sau E, nu exista Programs Files, nu exista Registry Editor, si absolut nimic din ce cunoasteti din Windows. Ubuntu si alte distributii Linux in general au o cutotul alta erarhie a fisierelor.

9. Sa amanati update-urile de sistem

Cum majoritatea utilizatorilor de Windows folosesc versiunea piratata a acestui sistem de operare, acestia au deja in reflex ca primul lucru pe care il fac dupa ce isi instaleaza windowsul, se duc sa dezactiveze Automatic Updates. Acest lucru nu este valabil si in cazul in care folositi Linux, indiferent ce distributie. Ubuntu Linux si celelalte distributii sunt sisteme de operare open source ce nu au nevoie de cheie de licenta la instalare. Toate softurile folosite de acest sisteme de operare sunt gratuite si tot odata open source. Updatarea sistemului fiind chiar vitala in cazul folosirii acestui sistem de operare. Prin update sistemul isi ia unele fix-uri pentru eventualele brese de securitate, isi imbunataseste unele module, isi updateaza softurile folosite, repara unele probleme, aduce noi functii si il face mai stabil. Nu exista nici un motiv pentru care sa fugiti de update-uri.

10. Sa va logati ca root

Pe Ubuntu si celelalte distributii userul root este userul suprem ce are toate privilegiile necesare pentru a face orice doriti in sistemul de operare. Toate distributiile Linux in momentul instalarii va crea userul root si un al 2-lea user al vostru pe care va trebui sa il folositi de zi cu zi. Apelati la root si folositi-l doar in cazuri extreme si doar atunci cand altfel nu puteti sa faceti lucrurile sa mearga decat cu privilegii de root. Inca o cauza pentru care Linuxul este atat de sigur este crearea unui user limitat la instalare asta insemnand ca nu puteti sa va faceti rau avand drepturi limitate asupra sistemului. Pentru a folosi drepturile root ca sa indepliniti anumite task-uri ce nu pot fi facute de userul obisnuit, folositi comanda su sau sudo insa nu va logati niciodata ca root.

11. Sa va pierdeti ferestrele in celelalte Desktopuri virtuale

Un mare plus al sistemului de operare Ubuntu este posibilitatea de a lucra pe mai multe desktopuri virtuale. multi insa nu inteleg adevaratul rol al acestui “bonus” si deseori isi pierd ferestrele pe celelalte Desktopuri crezand ca aplicatia respectiva, deschisa defapt pe alt desktop, insa ne prezenta in cel curent, a facut crash sau nu e buna. Fiti intotdeauna atenti unde dati click si priviti mereu indicatorul de langa cosul de gunoi situat in panoul de jos, partea dreapta, pentru a sti unde va aflati si pe ce Desktop lucrati. By default ubuntu Linux va seteaza 4 Desktopuri (spatii de lucru) virtule avand astfel posibilitatea sa va manageriati si sa va organizati intr-un mod mai usor munca la PC

12. Sa ignorati securitatea doar pentru ca folositi Linux

Chiar daca e Linux, riscuri exista in orice sistem de operare, doar ca aici sunt mai putine sau foarte putine insa asta nu inseamna sa cadem in extrema cealalta numita ignoranta. Cititi cu atentie si cereti opinia unui cunoscator inainte sa executati comenzile citite pe unele site-uri in diferite tutoriale text sau video. Cititi mereu comentariile de la acel articol/tutorial pentru a afla si opiniile celorlalti vizitatori, astfel va puteti da seama daca indrumarile autorului sunt corecte sau menite sa va faca rau. Siguranta e cruciala indiferent ca folositi Linux, Mac OS X sau Windows

Acestea sunt cele mai intalnite greseli la noii utilizatori ce vor sa utilizeze Linux. Multi cad prada acestor greseli dar voi le putetii evita daca ati citit acest articol pana la capat. Ajuta si pe altii sa le evite spunandu-le despre acest articol si indrumandu-i sa il citeasca. Fiti  calmi, cititi, documentati-va si cel mai important, aveti rabdare!!

Southpark Windows vs Mac vs Linux video

Hardware Stress Testing with Linux

Linux is a flexible and universal operating system because of many positive properties. One of its less well-known applications, however, is as a hardware diagnostics tool.

For functional and performance tests, many people still tend to rely on expensive special solutions running on other operating systems, but the small StressLinux Live distribution lets you test your system’s capabilities without the complex handling and high costs of other tools.

Based on openSUSE 11.4 and BusyBox, StressLinux is available as a 200MB, or 225MB ISO image for 64-bit and 32-bit architectures. Alternative versions are available for use with USB storage media or in a virtual machine. You can find easily understandable documentation for creating a bootable medium at the project website.

Blackbox

After launching, StressLinux initially comes up with an anachronistic text screen and rudimentary line graphics on a black background. Once the operating system is ready, you need to log in: The username and password are both stress . The routine then branches to the YaST2 configuration tool in text mode, which first customizes the keyboard, if needed, in the familiar blue window. The software prompts you to enter the motherboard. If you are not sure what board you have installed, or you use a laptop with a motherboard designed specifically for mobile use, simply press the OK button to enable the first list entry, Run_sensors-detect . Your hardware is then checked in several individual steps for the availability of various sensors. On completion, the system shows possible test and benchmark commands in a table, displays a prompt, and waits for your input (Figure 1).

stressfig1

Figure 1: StressLinux offers a wide range of stress tests.

The top of the table displays an impressive number of test routines that are customized for specific hardware. These routines are sorted by manufacturers Intel and AMD. Below are programs that cover a wider range of tests, as well as tests that check network speed and mass memory. If you don’t know what hardware is installed in your system in detail, you can list the most important components by running the lshw command. The output from lshw is extensive, but you can page the output on screen with:

lshw | more

so you can view the details at your leisure. To determine the exact processor type, enter x86infoat the prompt; this gives you the most important technical data for your CPU (Figure 2).

stressfig2

Figure 2: Short and to the point: CPU specs.

CPU and Chipset Testing

The first six programs in the list are available in some software repositories as part of the cpuburnsuite. These programs test processors and chipsets from Intel and AMD – including the legacy K6 and K7 series, as well as modern compatible systems – at the highest possible load, allowing you to determine the extent to which a processor is suitable for overclocking and helping you home in on hardware problems. For example, a system under full load that switches off after a few minutes could indicate defective or insufficient CPU cooling.

You can start the test program in each case by running the console command specified in the list; this does not require administrative privileges. Because the programs do not usually output anything on screen, you should run your hardware tests in the background, so you can work at the console while the application is running. To test your state-of-the-art Intel CPU extensively, type in the command sequence

burnP6 || echo $? &

at the console. The CPU is fully loaded, so if you now run the top command on the console to display percent system utilization by various processes, burnP6 will always appear at the top of the list with a permanent CPU load of well over 95%.

StressLinux monitors the thermal performance of your system under load almost in real time, showing the relevant information with F10 through F12 key combinations.

The keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+F12 takes you to the current temperature display for all sensors found on the system and displays fan speeds. Nearby is the CPU temperature display, which also indicates the maximum permissible operating temperature. If the display shows a sharp sensor temperature rise after a short time, and a higher fan speed does not have any influence on the heat development recorded by the sensors, it is best to check the cooling system. This is especially true for CPU cooling, in that thermal paste that dries over time directly on the processor can act as an insulator, ultimately resulting in damage to the system.

The keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+F11 displays the current storage device temperatures. Under full load, and even after prolonged exposure to the stress test, the hard disk operating temperature should not rise above 50C; otherwise, you could experience data loss and damage.

Pressing Ctrl+Alt+F10 takes you to a graphically enhanced display of your network throughput; only the eth0 interface is monitored. This display remains inactive for CPU and chipset tests.

System Test

Typing the stress command launches a more comprehensive system test; in addition to the CPU, it checks the memory interface, memory, and, if necessary, storage devices. Because this test suite has an impressive number of parameters with which the individual routines can be adjusted, you should first run stress –help to get an overview of the possible options. To automate tests without overloading the system with too long a run time, you can set a time limit for the stress test run.

Storage

As hard disks grow older, they often become the weak component of a system; loss of data from a technical defect can have fatal consequences. StressLinux checks the health of your hard disks with two tools, bonnie++ and smartctl . Whereas Bonnie++ is a tool for benchmarking storage media, Smartctl supports test runs and shows the current technical condition of the hard drive. To start this useful tool, you must be the StressLinux root user or equivalent. The su – command gives you root privileges after entering the root password, stresslinux .

If you run the

smartctl -a <drivename> | more

command and see some data in the error log, you should back up at least your most important files. If you want to perform some additional test runs, typing smartctl –help will list the extensive set of parameters along with a few examples (Figure 3).

stressfig3

Figure 3: Smartctl can squeeze out all the details about your storage devices.

Network

To measure the throughput of your network interface, StressLinux provides the netio program, which measures data transfer between two computers, with one computer acting as the server.

After launching StressLinux on both machines in Live mode, you can launch the program on the server with the command

netio -s

and on the client by entering:

netio <server IP address>

StressLinux shows you the data throughput in list form with different packet sizes. Alternatively, you can display a bar graph of the transfer speed with Ctrl+Alt+F10.

Conclusions

StressLinux is a useful tool that can thoroughly put your hardware through its paces. The software does not dazzle with elaborate graphical gimmicks but does expect the user to have some knowledge of the command line.

As a Live “mini-distribution,” StressLinux will help you locate possible sources of errors and bottlenecks quickly and reliably, without the need for a time-consuming installation on the hard drive. In particular, StressLinux proves to be an excellent tool if you want to troubleshoot problems with the processor or cooling system. Of course, you need to keep an eye on the thermal performance of your system under load to prevent damage from overheating in the event of insufficient cooling capacity.

For serious PC users and IT engineers, StressLinux is an indispensable tool for diagnosing hardware problems and therefore belongs in every well-stocked toolbox.

Linux Remote Administration on Android and iOS

Smartphones and tablets have lost their gadget status and become part of the system administrator’s tool kit. We look at the most important apps for admins.

In the pre-smartphone era, which was not so long ago, it was hard to imagine a practical use for a mobile device in system administration – if you discount laptops with graphical and web interfaces or terminal software designed for high latency.

All that has changed: With ubiquitous broadband and mobile data connections and with hotspots and WLANs widespread in the enterprise, admins are increasingly able to leave their desks and get out of the server room. Smartphones and tablets with sufficiently large screen sizes are mutating into multifunctional tools that can do most of the important tasks while on the road or in an emergency.

Device Zoo

Android devices are not characterized by any kind of version homogeneity, so we decided to test the programs on various devices: a Nexus 4 with the latest Android 4.3, a Nook HD+ with a slightly older version of Android 4, an ancient Motorola Defy with Cyanogen Mod 7 Android 2.3.7, a Sony Experia with Android 2.3 and many backports by the manufacturer, and an HTC Desire Z with Android AOSP 4.2.2. None of the tested programs had compatibility issues on any of the devices.

On the Apple front, we had access to an iPhone with iOS 6 and a first-generation iPad with iOS 5 – again, with no compatibility issues (Figures 1 and 2).

fig1

Figure 1: It doesn’t always have to be the laptop. Smartphones and tablets of various sizes, price ranges and flavors support mobile administration.

fig2

Figure 2: Even elderly devices like the HTC Desire Z, which is several years old, can be used for quick admin work on the go. A current, reasonably secure Android with VPN is a must-have in this case.

Stores and VPN

If you rummage through the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store, you are likely to find a large number of mostly free apps that help sys admins manage the systems they support in a reasonably convenient way while using a fairly small mobile device. Additionally, a variety of tools sprinkled throughout the web make life easier for IT professionals.

Most systems are not exposed to the Internet without protection but are, instead, well hidden behind a firewall, so access can only be made via a VPN connection in most cases. Setting up this connection is described for Android and iOS elsewhere.

Lord of the Console

If you frequently manage Unix and Linux servers, your primary tool is going to be an SSH client. On Android devices, ConnectBot by Kenny Root and Jeffrey Sharkey is probably the best choice at this time (Figure 3).

fig3

Figure 3: SSH with ConnectBot (from the developers’ website).

It supports logins using SSH key pairs and can also tunnel ports, which proves especially useful if you want SSH access to replace a full-fledged VPN.

ConnectBot establishes several simultaneous sessions and enables copy and paste to other applications – for example, to inform colleagues of the current system status by mail or to use a cheat sheet with frequently used commands. Even those who use a password manager likeKeePassDroid on the road will soon appreciate this function. A nice detail is that ConnectBot can issue commands automatically for the user after login. This post-login automation then takes care of standard tasks such as checking active logins or resources.

X for Android

Executing commands on startup is also useful for exporting a display, so you can start graphical applications in combination with the X Server for Android. Unfortunately, android-xserver does not support the necessary extensions to launch Firefox, for example. Nevertheless, it continues to offer the most comprehensive X server implementation on Android.

Hacker’s Keyboard

If you are familiar with the advantages of keyboard-based controls in a shell, you will definitely appreciate some advanced features for touchscreens, including the often missing Tab key for auto-completion. Only a few Android devices have this practical detail preinstalled (Figure 2), andHacker’s Keyboard (Figure 4) makes the Unix shell with ConnectBot far more pleasant to use by retrofitting Tab, Ctrl, Esc, and arrow keys.

fig4

Figure 4: ConnectBot and Hacker’s Keyboard in action together. Friends of the command line will feel more at home with this than with the standard layout.

During installation, note that new Android keyboards are not automatically active for safety reasons; instead, the user needs to activate them in the system settings. Although this seems unnecessarily complicated at first, it actually makes perfect sense: Unintentionally installed keyboards could act as keyloggers and sniff passwords, among other things.

Apple Console

On the iOS front, iSSH (Figure 5) provides a powerful SSH client.

fig5

Figure 5: iSSH for iOS devices provides an integrated X server (showing Xclock here) and can also start Firefox in addition to X11 applications.

Apart from the features described for ConnectBot, it even supports Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Virtual Network Computing (VNC) out of the box, and it comes with its own X server.

You can launch Firefox without any problems, although you do have to make some compromises compared with the mobile version, which is optimized for tablets and smartphones. It’s still better to use a slow Firefox tunneled over SSH than to expose intranet resources.

Thanks to its own X server, iSSH is much more convenient to use than teaming up ConnectBot and an X server because much less configuration effort is necessary.

Remote Windows

If command-line access is not enough, and you also need access to Windows systems, individual apps for terminal server protocols such as RDP and VNC offer a wide selection. This desire for more convenience leads to an app with the cumbersome name PocketCloud Remote RDP/VNCby Wyse Technology, which allows RDP and VNC access to Windows, Linux, and Mac systems and is available for both Android and iOS.

The app supports two ways of logging in. The first asks for the IP address or hostname of the target system, the destination port, and any other necessary login information. The second method, automatic mode, requires PocketCloud Companion to be installed on the target system and a Gmail account. This alternative is especially interesting for private systems regularly monitored beyond the corporate network.

The major restriction with the free version is that it only lets you store one connection. Before creating a new connection, the user must delete the existing one. If this is not enough for you, you can purchase the commercial version for about US$ 15; the Pro version has no such limitations and even includes 256-bit NLA/TLS encryption for RDP connections and support for VMware View.

If you often need to open several different RDP sessions, you can use 2X Client RDP/Remote Desktop. It works even with the ancient Android version 1.6 and allows you to create multiple connections. For VNC access only, Mocha VNC Lite provides an alternative for Android and iOS. Unfortunately, it also allows only one server.

NoMachine

Admins who depend on managing their remote systems on Free NX or the proprietary NX by NoMachine are left out in the cold. Currently, not a single client runs on Android or iOS, although a how-to for geeks describes how to run NX in a chroot environment with Ubuntu on Android; however, the benefits of this solution in the daily grind would appear to be minimal.

NoMachine is apparently working on a client for Android and iOS, but it was not available before we went to print, although it is scheduled to debut December 2013, according to the notice on the download page. The website does not indicate whether versions older than V4 of the protocol are supported. The formerly Italian, now Luxembourg-based, manufacturers have taken some time with the recently released fourth edition of the program – many years in fact, much to the dismay of customers. Patience seems called for.

TeamViewer with Remote Touch

The popular proprietary, but free for personal use, desktop sharing software TeamViewer (Figure 6) is available for the most common desktop operating systems – Windows, Mac OS, and Linux – as well as in a client version for Android and iOS.

fig6

Figure 6: TeamViewer (managing a Mac OS session here) is available for a variety of client-server combinations.

TeamViewer can be used for online presentations or meetings, but is also suitable for remote maintenance tasks. A positive effect to notice here is the Quick Support version that requires no installation and is therefore particularly suitable for spontaneous and uncomplicated support of less technical users.

The users only need to download a program and run it. The software then displays a session ID and a password. If need be, users can pass both of these on to the mobile helper on the phone, which then connects to the system and solves the problem. The remote helper then takes over the helm and can even manage the system via gesture control and handle file transfers in both directions.

Handcrafted

As elegant as a console or a graphical login session can be, a system administrator often just needs answers to the usual questions. How full are the file systems, how many users are logged on to the system, and how long has it actually been running?

If you have not organized your systems in a comprehensive monitoring system like Nagios, you might well appreciate a tool such as Cura-SysAdmin (Figure 7), which is only available for Android.

fig7

Figure 7: Cura-SysAdmin shows the most important monitoring data in an Android view.

Cura answers these and other questions and also includes a rather rudimentary terminal emulator, the Nmap port scanner, and a logfile viewer, providing pre-configured access to the main system logs in /var/log, which you can even store on the Android device.

An inelegant, optional feature of Cura prevents installation on Android devices that do not have a SIM card. Cura implements an option for remotely deleting the Cura database and for sending text/email messages with the current positional data in case of loss; thus, GSM connectivity is imperative.

Managing Files with ES File Explorer

Users looking for a file manager that is also suitable for use on a network will inevitably end up knocking at the door of ES File Explorer. Besides its functionality as an easy-to-use file manager with support for ZIP and RAR archives, it offers an integrated file viewer that can handle most formats, and a search function to help you find all files of a certain type on the device, for example.

In the world beyond your own, device-wide protocol support becomes very important. ES File Explorer supports access via FTP, SFTP, FTPS, WebDAV, and CIFS. If you store your data in the cloud, you can open a connection to Dropbox, SkyDrive, GDrive, and Amazon S3, among others. In heterogeneous environments, in particular, it would be delightful to have an implementation of the Network File System (NFS) and the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP), but that is rare on mobile devices.

iOS users who want to access network shares and cloud resources turn to tools such as the commercial FileExplorer, whose free version (FileExplorer Free) remains limited to one target.

Scanning and Sniffing Your Network

Once you have had enough mobile management and want to check out your own network, the versatile Fing (Figure 8) is good for starters.

fig8left

Figure 8: (Left) Fing lists the services running on a scanned system and the associated access programs; (center) Fing shows information about the current WiFi network and determines the ISP; (right) the password manager KeePassDroid acts as a mobile wallet for passwords.

It works on both Android and iOS and scans all the devices registered on the network, revealing the hostname, IP and MAC addresses, and, if possible, the manufacturer of the network device. The concise list can help you quickly determine the IP address of a forgotten device or check to see whether a machine is online and then discover which DHCP address it was assigned by the server. The lists can be stored either on the device or in the manufacturer’s cloud, Fingbox, which is a commercial operation.

Tapping an entry starts a port scan on the corresponding target. If you find open services, you can run the appropriate apps for the service right away. The app suggests ConnectBot for SSH and AndFTP for SCP and SFTP. Also, direct access to CIFS connections via AndSMB is preconfigured, as is access to any web interfaces you discover.

Additionally, you can run a number of classic network tools (e.g., Telnet, Ping, and Traceroute) against a host. The ability to wake up a system using Wake-on-LAN (WoL) is also in place. If you want to wake a device that is not on your list, you can do so via the global settings menu. This is also where you can perform DNS lookups or run pings and traceroutes against any computer.

Fing is also useful as a security tool. For example, you can find out whether a router on the hotel WLAN uses client isolation (i.e., whether the individual devices can see each other) by running Fing. If you see other systems and services, you should transfer unencrypted data only after careful consideration.

Wifi Analyzer

Admins who are less interested in exploring the devices on their own networks and more interested in the wireless networks in the area should take a look at the classic Wifi Analyzer. The intuitive tool, which is suitable even for non-experts, scans all the wireless networks found in range and presents them in the channel overview as a colored graph (Figure 9), which can be helpful in analyzing reception problems or planning WLANs.

fig9

Figure 9: Wifi Analyzer shows all the wireless networks it can find and allows you to search for less frequently used channels.

A needle graph shows the signal strength of an access point in real time, ranging from green (strong) to yellow to gray (weak). If you enable sound, the app can be used like a Geiger counter, giving you acoustic feedback on the quality of reception.

Interference Analysis

Channel evaluation also lets you operate your own wireless network on a channel that is as interference-free as possible. This process rates the individual channels with asterisks and helps to determine the least frequented channel, which is definitely a challenge in densely populated areas.

The AP list, which is designed more for technically interested users or for advanced debugging, gives you the names of the individual networks, channels used, frequencies, encryption type, and signal strength – and even the details of multiple available access points that share the same ESSID.

Apple: No Sniffers

In the iOS camp, the choice of applications has deteriorated significantly since Apple systematically began to remove sniffers from the App Store in mid-2010. The reason? Sniffers rely on unauthorized “private frameworks for spying on access and wireless data” (i.e., they tap the wireless chips directly, instead of using the library calls required by Apple).

However, applications that have their own WiFi database are still allowed; except it is of little use for exploring the wireless networks in your neighborhood. The only solution here is a jailbreak and detour via the alternative Cydia app store, which offers a wider selection of sniffers.

Administrators must decide for themselves whether root access is an alternative; many security experts advise it, quoting the motto, “if it is possible, do it yourself, rather than leave it to a hacker.” Nevertheless, this question is a matter for heated debate among security consultants.

If you are less concerned with individual devices but instead want to see the big picture, you will typically already have a monitoring solution like Nagios or Icinga in place. Matching apps and web interfaces are available for both, thus helping admins keep track of all their critical systems on a small screen. The Nagios website even names a number of mobile interfaces.

Conclusions

Smartphones and tablets with Android and iOS have advanced in recent years to the extent that they can be useful alternatives for admins when it comes to taking a quick look at a supervised system. Despite serious security deficiencies, they have lost their dubious reputation as admin tools. A wide selection of apps for virtually any application turns these mobile devices into general purpose tools – even without root permissions on the devices (see the box “More Fun with Root Privileges”).

rootfun

f10

Figure 10: zAnti scanning local networks for vulnerabilities.

The mobile admin’s backpack is becoming significantly lighter now that the laptop and PC can stay at home. However, for long sessions, it doesn’t hurt to have a laptop at hand – or at least a proper Bluetooth keyboard. Everything else is touch.

Info

[1]WiFinspect

[2]zAnti

[3]Android Forensics with Volatility and LiME

Original on : Linux Magazine

Upstart Russian browser strips down to take on Google

Yandex.Browser puts tabs on the bottom to give as much attention to the Web app or website you're using.
Yandex.Browser puts tabs on the bottom to give as much attention as possible to the Web app or website you’re viewing.
Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

You wouldn’t call it a war, but we may be in the middle of a skirmish that pits an upstart Russian browser maker against the mighty Google.

That company is Yandex, which on on Thursday released a beta version of its streamlined Yandex.Browser that strips away the clutter that obscures how we see the Web. The browser features a dramatically pared-back interface that puts almost all the focus on websites and as little as possible on browser controls like buttons and search bars. For example, tabs that house individual websites are moved down to the bottom of the page, reflecting their subordinate status.

The beta release signals that Yandex is ready for a wider audience to test the browser — it’s available now for Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s OS X and is coming later for phones and tablets. Additionally, it shows that the company is committed to its browser project, despite the fact that the vast majority of the browser market power is in the hands of Google, Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla.

To be sure, Yandex.Browser isn’t likely to push aside the browser heavyweights outside Yandex’s core market in countries like Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. But even a second-tier browser can have a big impact on the market. Norway’s Opera Software, for example, pioneered now-universal technologies that millions of users take for granted. These include tabs to keep multiple pages open at once, pop-up blockers to squelch intrusive ads and a box to launch searches directly from the browser. Google Chrome pioneered a clean interface.

Yandex.Browser could influence the industry to take that even further.

Competition helps improve software, and browser competition has triggered an explosion of development that has made the Web vastly more useful to the average person. Better performance and new features mean the Web is becoming much more sophisticated as a publishing medium, even as it expands into a foundation for interactive applications. Spartan browser interfaces show those sites and apps to their best advantage, making them more engaging and immersive.

Mozilla’s Firefox steered browsers away from Microsoft’s in-house Web technology toward newer, standardized features any browser could use. Apple breathed life into mobile browsers. Chrome pushed browser speeds ahead. All this led Microsoft to throw away old Internet Explorer baggage and start fresh with the modernized, fuller-featured new Edge browser that’s due later this year with Windows 10.

Concentrated power

So far though, the browser world’s power is concentrated in Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer. But Yandex has some reason to believe in its project.

In Russia — which ranks sixth in worldwide Internet usage — Yandex is something of a mini-Google, operating a search engine and online services including email, maps, cloud-based document storage and online translation. It’s held its own competing against the larger US company in Google’s core business, search. Yandex online search site has almost 58 percent share of usage compared with Google’s 34 percent, according the latest measurements from LiveInternet.

Yandex.Browser places seventh in global PC browser usage -- but only accounts for only 0.4 percent of website usage.
Yandex.Browser places seventh for global PC browser usage — but only accounts for 0.4 percent of website usage.
Data from StatCounter; chart by Stephen Shankland/CNET

So why is Yandex developing a better browser? To grab more advertising rubles for search ads that show up alongside search results. Search ads account for about 97 percent of Yandex’s revenue.

“Securing search share was one of reasons we had to launch our own browser,” Yandex spokesman Vladimir Isaev explained. According to Isaev, it had become harder for third parties to integrate their search services into Chrome and more difficult for people to select Yandex. “We would be in trouble on desktops [without] launching our own browser.”

Worldwide, Yandex.Browser has attained a seventh-place rank in the browser market, but that’s only 0.4 percent of desktop browser usage, according to StatCounter.

Yandex.Browser's icon
Yandex.Browser’s icon
Yandex

Companies that have their own browser have another financial advantage: they don’t have to share revenue with other companies that refer traffic to their search engine. That’s one reason Google came out with its own Chrome browser. In 2013, Google paid Mozilla $314 million for searches conducted in Firefox.

Meet Yandex’s browser

This is where we get into the weeds: Despite challenging Google, the Yandex.Browser also relies on it.

That’s because Chrome is based on the open-source Chromium browser project, using elements like the Blink engine to turn website programming instructions into the pictures and text you see on the screen. Open-source software can be freely used and modified by anyone, and that’s what Yandex is doing.

Piggybacking on Chromium is important: The table stakes for offering a browser are high, and using Google’s software means companies don’t have to spend lots of money paying programmers to reinvent the wheel. That’s also why Opera Software switched from its own browser foundation to Chrome, why Google based Chrome on Apple’s open-source WebKit project, and why Apple based WebKit project on another open-source browser called KHTML.

Using Chromium also makes it easier for developers, who have their hands full making sure their websites work properly on multiple browsers.

Yandex.Browser offers a choice of search engines when first installed. The choices vary by country.
Yandex.Browser offers a choice of search engines when first installed. The choices vary by country.
Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Yandex offers differences, though, besides the interface. For instance, it has its own safe browsing service to try to keep people from visiting sites infected with harmful software. It also has a turbo mode licensed from Opera that can compress text, images and video for speedier performance on slow networks.

Stealth mode

Yandex.Browser also has a “stealth mode” option developed by AdGuard, easily enabled by clicking an icon of a stealth fighter jet in the upper-right corner of the screen. It blocks website analytics tools and other technology that can be used to track user behavior.

Yandex.Browser also took steps to ensure users’ privacy as it expanded into international markets. In countries including the US and Germany, for example, the browser won’t share anonymous usage data with Yandex unless the user specifically enables it. Yandex.Browser is now available in 15 languages.

The software includes Adobe Systems’ Flash Player plugin — a technology that’s fading from modern websites but is still widely used for things like streaming video and games. For viewing PDF (Portable Document Format) files, Yandex includes the PDFium software from Google.

Yandex.Browser can also use extensions to add abilities. Saving articles with Pocket to read later, synchronizing passwords with LastPass and storing notes with Evernote are all available options. A Yandex.Browser extensions site, operated by Opera Software, lists more than 600 extensions, but the software will also run add-ons from Google’s Chrome Web Store, Isaev said.

Yandex.Browser is a balancing act between the company’s own software and technology from others. Its international ambitions are limited, but closer to home, Yandex thinks it’ll keep its edge.

“We think we can compete in this market,” Isaev said.