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Posts published by “Don Parris”

Don Parris wears a Facility Services cape by day, and transforms into LibreMan at night. He has written numerous articles about free tech, and hangs out with the Cha-Ha crowd, learning about computer security. He also enjoys making ceviche with his wife, and writing about his travels in Perú.

A Guided Tour of LibreOffice

LibreOffice logoI have been using LibreOffice since it was called Star Office and all documents opened in a tabbed interface, as in most modern spreadsheet applications (anyone remember those days?). From those early days until now, I have considered Star Office/OpenOffice.org/LibreOffice to be an excellent, if not superior, tool compared to many on the market.

Setting Up Shop With KDE’s Plasma

We’ve all seen those “screenshot tours” of FOSS desktops, but how about a real, guided tour of the Plasma (KDE) desktop? There are still a great many people who simply are not familiar with Plasma’s features. A large number of people never had any computer training, and when they find themselves in such an advanced environment, they feel completely lost. Many people can barely find their way around a single desktop; the concept of multiple virtual desktops is completely lost on them — never mind Plasma’s activities. So let’s take a little time and make some very basic changes to our desktop theme, and then organize our work. After all, that’s what activities are all about.

Some of my favorite features of Plasma are:

  • Customizability: we can change just about anything I want
  • Activities: allow us to organize our tasks into related groups
  • Virtual Desktops (workspaces in some environments): standard fare in FOSS desktops
  • Application Set: Kontact, Digikam, Kate, K3B and Amarok — the apps by which I live and die

Don Parris wears a Facility Services cape by day, and transforms into LibreMan at night. He has written numerous articles about free tech, and hangs out with the Cha-Ha crowd, learning about computer security. He also enjoys making ceviche with his wife, and writing about his travels in Perú.

Using the New iproute2 Suite

For years, even in 2015, web tutorials, college textbooks and lab simulators have all been teaching the traditional networking utilities, such as arp, ifconfig, netstat and route. Whether you know it or not, most of these commands were deprecated years ago. They were replaced with commands from the iproute2 suite of utilities. Most Linux distros have continued to install the traditional tools, but CentOS, Arch and now openSUSE (among others), are moving to put them into deprecated status. That means we’ll need to start getting used to the new tools.

For those not familiar, the 2.2 Linux kernel revision (way back in the olden days) brought about some changes to the way the kernel handled networking. New features were introduced back then that had not been implemented anywhere else. The old tools use the /proc interface, while the newer tools use the newer kernels’ netlink interface. At least some of the older tools are no longer in active development. The bottom line is that the iproute2 suite offers some definite advantages over the old tools.

Don Parris wears a Facility Services cape by day, and transforms into LibreMan at night. He has written numerous articles about free tech, and hangs out with the Cha-Ha crowd, learning about computer security. He also enjoys making ceviche with his wife, and writing about his travels in Perú.

Wetware: The Most Important Trend in Malware

Blaster worm screenshot
Hex dump of 2003’s Blaster worm, that left a message for Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.
On Thursday, Christine Hall looked at the economy of cybercrime. I also took a peek at the Symantec report, and indeed, the statistics are sobering. There is one statistic, however, that Symantec has ommitted from its report. They did not report – at least not numerically – on the trend of growing wetware vulnerabilities that take advantage of users’ bad habits.

Don Parris wears a Facility Services cape by day, and transforms into LibreMan at night. He has written numerous articles about free tech, and hangs out with the Cha-Ha crowd, learning about computer security. He also enjoys making ceviche with his wife, and writing about his travels in Perú.

Limit Your Linux Super Powers With su & sudo

I recently offered some security tips aimed at new system administrators. And hey, the home users among you should take note, after all, you’re the administrator of your home system! One of the tips was “Don’t run as root.” Today I would like to expand on that a bit. First, we’ll take a look at why you should limit the use of your super powers. Then we’ll look at the best ways to use su and sudo to help you limit your risks.

Don Parris wears a Facility Services cape by day, and transforms into LibreMan at night. He has written numerous articles about free tech, and hangs out with the Cha-Ha crowd, learning about computer security. He also enjoys making ceviche with his wife, and writing about his travels in Perú.

Five Security Tips for New Linux Admins

It’s generally fairly easy for new Linux administrators to get up and running with the basics of installing, configuring and managing Linux systems at a basic level. Truthfully, though, it takes years to get the in-depth knowledge required in many server environments today. One thing I really recommend learning early on — i.e. from the beginning — is security.

Monitor padlockI participate in a group of professional penetration testers (the nice folks who help you test your security as if they were the bad guys) called Charlotte Hackers Anonymous. I asked the group what they thought were the most important tips for new system administrators, and below are their tips, along with my thoughts on each.

Don Parris wears a Facility Services cape by day, and transforms into LibreMan at night. He has written numerous articles about free tech, and hangs out with the Cha-Ha crowd, learning about computer security. He also enjoys making ceviche with his wife, and writing about his travels in Perú.

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