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What is Linux anyway?

March 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Everybody knows Windows, and not always for the right reasons. Linux on the other hand can seem like dark magic only known to geeks and computer nerds to those of us on the outside. While it is harder to master than Windows, it is much more rewarding in that you finally gain control of your own PC. No more nagging from the operating system telling you it didn’t like what you just did, or not allowing you to delete that file you wanted to get rid of. If Linux tells you not to do something you can be sure it’s for a good reason!

Linux is an operating system that has its roots in Unix. It can do (almost) everything Windows can, and most of the time it can do it better. The fundamental difference between Windows and Linux is the approach. Windows is a commercial product designed to appeal to the widest possible audience and their various computers. It makes things as easy as possible to use, and hides all the workings from the user. This entails compromise.
Any system that tries to covers as wide a field as Windows isn’t going to be able to do everything well. To make it appeal and work for the widest audience the users have to be ‘protected’ from damaging the system and cede most of the control to it. Linux on the other hand has a more sensible approach. It has a core system which you can then bolt extras onto if you need them. You can tailor it to an amazing degree to your specific needs. It (mostly) isn’t a commercial product, and is maintained and developed by enthusiasts throughout the world.

The differenced I think can be summed up in one sentence. Windows was designed to sell, Linux was created to work.
Most distributions or ‘distros’ are free. You can download them, use them, abuse them, and pretty much do what you like with them. Most of the utilities and applications are also free. This is the other main attraction to new Linux users. Freedom. Not only do you not have to pay for any of the software, although I would encourage donations where appropriate, you have the freedom to do what you like. There are no lengthy Terms and Conditions to read, or copy protection because the software is free to use and distribute.

Linux main downside is that it is harder to manage to begin with. It can seem daunting at first, but well worth it once you get the hang of things. A lot of work has been done, and is being done to make the system easier for the newbie. The documentation is pretty good, and because the following of Linux is pretty fanatical there are hundreds of online forums and resources to help you along the way.
Linux, like your PC itself is made up of several components which I shall briefly describe below.

Processor
Even though you can see it, your operating system is doing several things at once. Most of them will have to go through your processor. Linux has a scheduler which prioritizes all the different demands and gives them to the processor in order. It decides what is important and what isn’t and ensures the processor deals with the important ones first.
Memory
Linux tries to use your available memory as much as possible as it works much faster than your hard drive. The processes mentioned above are stored here while they are being worked on. If you memory gets full then it has an overflow called Swap Space which pretends to be memory so your processor can use it.

Devices
Your PC is made up of any number of combinations of hardware. Sound cards, video cards, network cards, hard drives, the list is endless. Somehow Linux manages to support the majority of them while remaining a decent size. It does this by using modules. These are like ‘bolt-ons’ that can be added if they are needed by the system. This allows the flexibility to add and remove hardware as you need to.
Kernel
The kernel is the heart of Linux. It is the sun around which everything orbits and receives life. This is what makes Linux what it is. It is a core program that controls everything around it. It coordinates everything that goes on within the system.
File System
Where you had FAT and NTFS in Windows, here we have ext2, ext3 and others. Think of them as a library. Your hard drive is the book shelf, and the file system is how the books are arranged. There has to be a system for you to quickly find your book and the same for computer files.
GUI
The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is the pretty desktop you see. Windows is purely GUI driven, in that everything you do is dragging and dropping from one window to another, which is where it got its name. Although Linux can do the same, it works differently. At its core Linux is controlled from the command line. You type in commands and the machine does its thing.
Applications
These are software addons you can install to achieve a certain goal. Things like music players, office tools, web browsers etc. Exactly the same as buying a firewall or office suite for Windows, except for the most part, applications for Linux are free. There are commercial applications out there which you have to pay for, but they are in the minority, and unless your needs are extremely specific, not really necessary.
Utilities
These are similar to applications in that you can install them on your system for a specific purpose. However that purpose is very different. Applications are like productivity tools, they help you produce something. Utilities help you manage your system like managing hard drives, monitoring networks, firewalls and that kind of thing.
That is your Linux system in a nutshell. As with everything, there is as much technical detail as you could wish for if that’s your thing, but this was just an overview to familiarize you with Linux. Pretty straightforward once explained isn’t it?

Debian 5 Lenny Released!!!!

February 15, 2009 Leave a comment

It is official Debian 5 Lenny has now released.

deb5_468_2

From the Website
The Debian Project is pleased to announce the official release of Debian GNU/Linux version 5.0 (codenamed “Lenny”) after 22 months of constant development. Debian GNU/Linux is a free operating system which supports a total of twelve processor architectures and includes the KDE, GNOME, Xfce, and LXDE desktop environments. It also features compatibility with the FHS v2.3 and software developed for version 3.2 of the LSB.

Debian GNU/Linux runs on computers ranging from palmtops and handheld systems to supercomputers, and on nearly everything in between. A total of twelve architectures are supported: Sun SPARC (sparc), HP Alpha (alpha), Motorola/IBM PowerPC (powerpc), Intel IA-32 (i386), IA-64 (ia64), HP PA-RISC (hppa), MIPS (mips, mipsel), ARM (arm, armel), IBM S/390 (s390), and AMD64 and Intel EM64T (amd64).

Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 “Lenny” adds support for Marvell’s Orion platform which is used in many storage devices. Supported storage devices include the QNAP Turbo Station series, HP Media Vault mv2120, and Buffalo Kurobox Pro. Additionally, “Lenny” now supports several Netbooks, in particular the Eee PC by Asus. “Lenny” also contains the build tools for Emdebian which allow Debian source packages to be cross-built and shrunk to suit embedded ARM systems.

Categories: Uncategorized

Wireless Basics Finding Answers

January 25, 2009 3 comments

As a Linux user the best way to begin solving your wireless problems is to develop a basic understanding of how wireless fits into networking and to understanding the terminology describing wireless. These links are designed to also provide a number of examples of how to set up wireless on Ubuntu 8.10, Fedora 10 and Damn Small Linux. Those different examples cover just about all of the different options that you will see for wireless.

Here are a number of links that take you through the process of understanding how Linux Wireless can be set up and configured on several different Linux distros.

Helpful Wireless Links

Understanding Wireless

Network Relationship

Network Connections

Wireless Security

Wireless Router

Wireless Channels

Wireless Range

Fedora 10 Wireless

Ubuntu Wireless

Damn Small Linux Wireless

Wireless Tools

WiFi Radar

iwconfig

iwlist

Dealing With Content Spam

November 30, 2008 1 comment

EMail Spam is against the law, however, it still fills your inbox. However, content Spam, which is on the rise, is not technically against the law or at least has less liability for those who do it. As a result many of us are constantly cleaning forums and blogs from this kind of trash. This tutorial will help you deal with the majority of Content Spam.

1. Restrict Comments to Some Boards
You can usually turn some boards off from comments as they are not necessarily where you want people to place comments anyway. This may even take a redesign of your blog so that you have fewer boards where they post. True, this does not stop Content Spam, however, it does cause them to recognize that the forum or blog is under supervision and being watched.

2. Require a Review on New Accounts

This is one thing I found very useful. When a new account signs up one way to check them is to take the IP Address that they registered from and put that in the Google search. If they ar known Spammers you will see a whole list of links about people complaining about these known Spammers. Then just ban the IP Address, the email and the account forever.

3. Create a Firewall to Limit Access

I basically became so frustrated with Content Spam I reviewed almost 8 million IP Addresses and subnets and created a list of the most frequent offenders. This is a very aggressive list and it certainly has subnets that contain some innocent users, but I put this together to stop Spam…period.

If you are using a CPanel you can enter subnets like you see below in the Firewall Options.

deny

If you are using an iptables script you can add this section toward the top of the firewall:
You will need to create a file called /etc/rc.d/banned and list subnets one line at a time as you see in the example below.

#####################################################
# BLOCK COUNTRY ATTACKS #
#####################################################
BADIP=”/etc/rc.d/banned”
BANNED=$( grep -v -E “^#” $BADIP )
for ip in $BANNED
do
iptables -A FORWARD -p tcp -s $ip -j DROP
done

# Example banned file
113.10.10.0/20
113.11.12.0/20
114.0.0.0/8
115.0.0.0/8
116.0.0.0/8
117.0.0.0/8
118.0.0.0/8
119.0.0.0/8
121.0.0.0/8
189.0.0.0/8
190.0.0.0/8
194.0.0.0/8
200.0.0.0/24
201.0.0.0/24
217.0.0.0/24
24.0.0.0/8
58.0.0.0/8
66.0.0.0/8
71.0.0.0/8
78.0.0.0/8
77.0.0.0/8
79.0.0.0/8
81.0.0.0/8
82.0.0.0/8
83.0.0.0/8
84.0.0.0/8
85.0.0.0/8
86.0.0.0/8
88.0.0.0/8
92.0.0.0/8
93.0.0.0/8
94.0.0.0/8
99.0.0.0/8

Again, these subnets include some IPs that should not be in there but it is easier to ban a subnet than to create 750 lines of code for the 8 million addresses I reviewed. Use at your own risk.

Worse Case Scenario: What to do when Comment Spam gets out of control.
1. Stop All Comments
Once you stop comments you will see that there is no point for Spammers. You must only use this as a temporary situation as it will not fix anything, it only gives you time to adapt a new strategy.

2. Stop All New Accounts
Again, this is temporary. Place a message in the blog or forum telling people that it is temporary and then work on a permanent solution, most people will understand especially if you tell them that it is only for 48 hours, etc.

Categories: Uncategorized

November 12, 2008 Leave a comment

Add User on Ubuntu 8.10

This video depicts how to add a new user to your Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex desktop

Categories: Uncategorized
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