Tag Archives: open source

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Talk of tech innovation is bullsh*t. Shut up and get the work done – says Linus Torvalds by Thomas Claburn via the-register

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Configure OpenDNS on your Ubuntu Computer through DDclient in just 6 steps – Tutorial

1 – Why should I change DNS? 
You “use” them in any moment, every time you are in front of a computer but usually you don’t consider to directly manage or change them because you think that it is not worthy to do anything with them. 
On the contrary, you know that many different online companies offer dedicated DNS addresses you can use to substitute the default DNS addresses provided by your ISP.
So, at this point, your main question is “Why should I change DNS on my route or my computer”?
For example, for one or more of these different reasons:
– to have a chance of a possible increasing of speed and reliability when you surf Internet; 
– if you want to delegate to a third “professional” part some security tasks (e.g. third party security filtering to protect yourself against phishing or viruses);
acces websites that are normally geoblocked by commercial policies/agreements or censorship imposed by Governments;
parental monitoring if you prefer to have a rough idea of what websites your children visit or if you whant to filter some specific contenents.
2 – Choose a reliable DNS provider
If you decide that you want to try a different DNS provider you need to choose a reliable one. A quick search on Internet will help you to find the most appropriate DNS Provider for your needs.
In this specific case we are examining how to configure the DNS from OpenDNS.com so, if you want to test it, you have to sign up for a free account on opendns.com or simply copy the DNS addresses you find in the bottom right of their homepage or sign up for a OpenDNS.com free account. In the last case, you have the possibility of monitoring your traffic in a professional statistical way and probably you will satisfy one or more of the reasons that may explain your choice to use different DNS. 
3 – Install DNS from OpenDNS on your router
If you want to use OpenDNS on your LAN you have to configure the router through the its configuration interface. The way you can do this varies from one router to another but in all the popular models you will easily find a specific sub-menu where you could activate the “use predefined DNS” option compiling the two addresses provided by OpenDNS.
In this way all your LAN traffic will be pipelined through OpenDNS and you will not need to singularly configure each computer you have.
dns4

Image from: oriental-press.com

4 – Install DNS from OpenDNS on your Linux computer
4a – Preliminary configuration.
The problem with opendns.com is that it doesn’t provide an official tutorial to correctly install its DNS on a Linux machine. For this reason you can follow this brief notes that I wrote after installing it on a Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Ubuntu computer.
Go to the OpenDNS.com support page dedicated to the installation on Ubuntu and follow their instructions:
I exactly followed all the instruction till the point 8 but, when I had big problems when I typed:
sudo ifdown eth0 && sudo ifup eth0
because this message appeared:
ERROR unknown interface eth0=eth0
The matter is that my ethernet is really named eth0 (I double checked using the commands ifconfig and netstat -r -n) but it was not possible to operate on it.
To solve this problem I used the Poorak’s Blog suggestion and I had to open the interface file via Terminal with:
sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces 

– or if you prefer:

sudo gedit /etc/network/interfaces
and manually add these lines:
auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp
then I restarted my networking
sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart
4b – Install DDclient on Ubuntu if you have a dynamic IP
Normally the Internet Service Provides provides a dynamic IP to users that may change over time. So, if you don’t want to pay more to obtain a static IP, you need to install a software that could constantly communicate your actual IP address to OpenDNS.com. In my case, I dedcided to install DDclient to be able to continue to properly use the OpenDNS.com services.
To install DDclient I preliminarly had to install coreutils through Terminal:
sudo apt-get install coreutils
and the required SSH and SSL sockets:
sudo apt-get install ssh libio-socket-ssl-perl
and finally the DDclient:
sudo apt-get install ddclient
At this point you manually edit the configuration file:
sudo nano /etc/ddclient.conf
(or, if you prefer sudo gedit /etc/ddclient.conf)
typing:

##
## OpenDNS.com account-configuration
##
use=web, web=myip.dnsomatic.com
ssl=yes
server=updates.opendns.com
protocol=dyndns2
login=opendns_username
password=opendns_password
opendns_network_label

where:

– ‘opendns_network_label’ is the label given to the network you’re updating in your account.
If you have spaces in your network label, replace them with an underscore ( _ ) 
You can find the network label in the Settings Tab of the OpenDNS Dashboard.
– the login is your email address with OpenDNS
– the password is your opendns password. 
“If you have special characters in your password wrap the password in single-quotes ( ‘ ). 
If there are any single-quotes in your password, put backslash ( \ ) before the single-quote to escape the character”.
References:
5 – Start OpenDNS and DDclient on your Ubuntu computer
At this point you have all the elements to start  so you can open a Terminal and type: 
sudo /usr/sbin/ddclient chkconfig ddclient on && sudo /usr/sbin/ddclient service start
On the other side, if you want to check the status of DDclient, you will type:
sudo /etc/init.d/ddclient status

6 – Configure Linux OS to start DDclient at boot on Ubuntu

On Ubuntu is really simple to configure DDclient to start at the computer boot. You have to open the Session and Startup manager through the desktop Dash. Now you are able to Add a specific command to the Application Autostart menu to run DDclient at the boot:
sudo /usr/sbin/ddclient chkconfig ddclient on && sudo /usr/sbin/ddclient service start
If you are configuring OpenDNS through DDclient on a different Linux distribution you can google the right tutorial or follow the guide created on aboutLinux.info.
At this point you will automatically use OpenDNS on your Ubuntu computer. 

TrueCrypt – Try it again! Waiting for CipherShed…

truecryptlogo_256TrueCrypt is safer than we thought! A specific audit tested TrueCrypt 7.1 unmantained through a complex verification process and the results are surprising.

First of all we have to consider that TrueCrypt is not mantained since 2014 and that its “natural” fork, VeraCrypt, is directly developed by Microsoft. For this simply reason many former TrueCrypt users prefer not to use VeraCrypt.

Secondly, the bugs revealed by the testers in TrueCrypt are less worrying than that discovered using its competitors solutions.

For this reason I decide to install TrueCrypt (that I use previously it was unmantained) on my Fedora 22 laptop.

To begin, I searched for a good repository and, at the end, I opted for that mantained by GRC. So I downloaded the TrueCrypt 7.1 archive from GRC that is still storing all the others TrueCrypt versions.

I decided to use the 7.1 version because it has more features than the last 7.2 version (the last known release of TrueCrypt). In any case I am monitoring the Swiss website and I wish that the CypherShed project will be completely developed soon.

After I extracted the file and moved it to a specific folder.

Last but not least I opened Terminal and typed:

sudo ./truecrypt-7.1a-setup-x64

and the software was correctly installed into my Fedora 22 OS.

After some tests I can adfirm that TrueCrypt is still a good security solution not only for the above mentioned audit but also because it is really stable, flexible, full of useful features and simple to use.

To sum up: Try it… again!

Pandora for “dummies”…. when you are outside the USA… – Firefox, Chrome and Opera add-on –

The last time I wrote a post about connecting to Pandora  when you are outside the USA was just (sic) three years ago. Meanwhile a lot of things changed and Anonymox, the Firefox add-on and proxy service I suggested in 2012, it is not free now.

It happens but when my nephew asked me something similar and really intuitive to connect to Pandora I was in trouble… more in trouble than I could imagine…. In fact when I started to search something alternative, I found a lot of very good proxy add-ons for Firefox. It was a pleasure to discover some of them because they are technically well done and offer a lot of flexible features for privacy purpose. But this is not the topic of my post… for today.

After many unlucky trials, where I tested different add-ons that were not able to guarantee a minimal rate of usable connection,  I found ProxMate .

ProxMate is an open-source, SSL proxy manager for real dummies. As Firefox add-on you can install it on your browser in just few clicks and then you practically don’t need to configure anything. The only requested thing after installation is to decide the websites and services you want to connect through ProxMate. The internet connection has a good speed rate and the music flows as silk through your Pandora account.

You can install ProxMate searching it through the add-on panel you find in Firefox or you can decide to directly open the link from the  ProxMate website. After the installation ( no restart required) you have to find the “shark fin” icon into your Firefox bar. If you don’t find it immediately, you have to manage your icons and manually personalize the bar.

Then, click on ProxMate “my button” icon and select: “Install New Packages”. You are redirect to the ProxMate website where you can select Pandora or others interesting websites (e.g. Netflix, iHeart Radio, etc..) with specific IP restriction policies. 

Now, you select your desired website/service and follow the instructions (click selection) that will appear on the screen to complete the installation.

Last but not least, don’t forget to click again on the ProxMate icon and enable the proxy service.

As usual, I recommend to NOT forget to disable  ProxMate (as every other proxy server) when you don’t need to use it.

Oops, I forgot to say that ProxMate is free of charge……. Enjoy it!!

——————

References:

https://addons.mozilla.org/it/firefox/addon/proxmate/?src=search

https://proxmate.me/

The dawn of Morpheus’ era. Google’s supremacy and your privacy: short considerations about Google+

In the last days, I tested Google+ and it really works! It’s fast, well-organized with a really intuitive graphical interface and, for the “first time”, I was able to start conversations with different groups without worrying to say something inappropriate to the wrong person. The problem is that it wasn’t the very “first time” I had the possibility to share a conversation because, for some months, I was one of the testers of Diaspora, an open-source project, which was financed through kickstarter.com

Diaspora is a start-up project in its alpha release and the most interesting supported features are the https streaming and the possibility to create separate conversations with preselected groups. During the past months Diaspora has not  grown fast but this kind of timeline is not unusual considering the number of developers involved, the financial capital used and all the different problems that a start-up has to solve during the first year of existence. The Diaspora’s real added value was the idea of a more secure social media through https and dedicated conversation shared between homogeneous groups of people.

On the contrary Google hasn’t had this kind of problems while developing a similar project, Google+. Anyway Google is so well structured and financially powerful that can reach the goals in a very short time if someone, at Mountain View, really believes on the future possibilities of a project. In few words, this is the natural dominance of a big player in an imperfect market where the start-up can be annihilated by a faster and richer competitor which is able to use more human resources and capitals.

I personally believe that Google, in such a way, has contaminated the natural software “diversity” growth and has too easily prevailed over the Diaspora’s guys. I am not talking about copyrights or trademarks which have often damaged the software development, I am talking about software evolution, the “natural” selection that allows small groups of people with better ideas to survive and prevail over the bigger companies. We cannot be sure that, after the completion of Diaspora, new valuable projects wouldn’t have springed from that team. Perhaps it’s time to critically ask ourselves if Google has become too big and too powerful over the web and if we need a new generation of laws or rules just to perimeter it (not to censure its works or split the company).

Back to Google+, I can strongly affirm that all the features I tested were well programmed and extremely intuitive to use. Moreover, Google+ integrates many other Google products (e.g. Picasa, YouTube, Voice, etc..) and you can share a lot of contents directly with the right people using the, now “famous”, Circles feature.

But at this point, we need another old -no software related- question mark. How many information about our lives are stored in Google servers? All the Google online software are successfully principally due to their high level of usability. None force you to use Google’s products, you are 100% free to decide but usually you have specific accounts to manage your photographs, favourite RSS, documents, phone directory, emails and now also your friends, family and more… All these information profile you and your personal attitudes better than ever. Using the right mathematical function, Google potentially has an accurate profile of you than no one else and sometime it is reasonable to believe that Google knows us better than we do.

In this prospective the “digital identification” card someone proposed some years ago to better regulate the web and check the people online activity, sounds prehistoric. The natural evolution of the net, connected to the lack of a real liberal regulation, has created a “nice” superpower company that potentially has the possibility to share our most intimate data with third parties influencing in a way or another our destinies. Can the privacy disclaimers we accept with each Google service protect our data in a bullet-proof way? Personally I have some little doubts!

On the other hand, during the last year we assisted to the dawn of more decentralized online services (www.yacy.net, www.faroo.com, www.majestic12.co.uk, etc..) and payment systems (www.bitcoin.org) which are able to guarantee a more efficient encrypted privacy. To  extremely simplify the concept it is possible to say that these new technologies represent a possible future horizon that will be developed in few years. Consequently, it is reasonable to predict that two parallel Internet will exist in the near future.

The first is the logical evolution of the web we know today with a more “efficient” control developed by Governments and specialised “agencies”. The second will be something near to what we watched in the Matrix saga. A semi-secret Internet, developed by unknown “experts” where the privacy will be one of the most valuable elements and where we will use a new generation of dynamic encryption software. If we consider that nowadays it is technically possible to build low-cost telecommunication satellites, the only residual barrier for the creation of this new web is represented by the cost of the vectors to bring them into the space. Waiting for a cheap orbital launcher, new technologies have been experimented to build alternative webs. The transmission of encrypted computer data through the radio frequencies is one of the most interesting projects. But this is another story also because we should consider the risks related to a second new encrypted Internet if not used in a proper way…

To conclude, let me say that Google’s people are the best but now, it is time they start thinking a little bit less about online software or visionary technologies and much more about the potential social and freedom risks of their work. There are not precise rules about these topics because just few politicians have a real knowledge about the “digital frontier” and for this reason they have the terrific possibility to regulate themselves in the best way and be really transparent. History rules, when there is not effectiveness regulation, there is the risk that, sooner or later, lobbies persuade politicians to law in a wrong way. If we think about what happened in the last thirty years we can focus our attention on specific tragic events which allowed Parliaments to overreact and chain our civil rights and our privacy in a way that has not roots in our democratic societies.

On the contrary, with new democratic and “illuminated” rules or self-reforms, honestly created by real experts, there will less needs for a parallel Internet and perhaps the dawn of Morpheus’ era will be postponed for a while. At the moment we can only hope that Google people are not became too old to consider that they could change their point of view. The current Google technological path is just one of the many they can develop. Now this path seems to be efficient and, of course, profitable but perhaps the near future needs something different and less dangerous for our privacy and civil rights… (to be continued, sooner or later…). AddThis

Enabling remote desktop on a VirtualBox Machine

To enable remote desktop on a VirtualBox machine, you have to follow these steps:
VBoxManage modifyvm MachineName -vrdp
This command enables rdp on the virtual machine
VBoxManage startvm MachineName -type vrdp

It starts virtual machine, listening for rdp request on port 3389 (default port)
rdesktop-vrdp localhost

Connects virtual machine with rdp (You can use rdesktop too).
If you want to change rdp port, use this command:
VBoxManage modifyvm MachineName -vrdpport

Also, enabling authentication for rdp is possible:
VBoxManage modifyvm MachineName -vrdpauthtype null | external | guest

VBoxManage is the command line interface of the VirtualBox.
You can make these settings with GUI: Settings -> Remote Display -> Enable VRDP Server
If you want to use your virtual machine with vrdp only, you can use this command simply:
VBoxHeadless -startvm MachineName

Note: RDP server is not included in Open Source Edition of the VirtualBox. If you want to use this feature, you have to use closed-source edition. AddThis mp3 link