Open Source & Digital Media for Newbies
 Open Source & Digital Media for Newbies
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Oct 282014

While you’re relaxing at the beach or barbecuing smoky kebabs over the weekend, unbeknownst to you nasty elements in Mumbai, Turkey, Ukraine, China, Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran, New York, Dallas etc are relentlessly plotting to do your business harm by hacking your web site, stealing customer credit card details, filching Social Security Numbers, vandalizing the web pages and ruining your livelihood.

Some hackers do their nefarious deeds for money by selling the stolen information on shady online black markets while others are in it for the thrill.

As Alfred tells Bruce a.k.a. Batman in Dark Knight:

Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Whether hackers are doing it for money or thrill, the damage is real.

In recent months, hackers have penetrated computer systems of Staples, Morgan Stanley, Target, UPS and countless other American companies and stolen valuable information like customer credit card details, address, social security numbers and other precious private information.

Every day brings worrisome news of a new security breach.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently warned that over 1,000 U.S. retailers could have malware in their cash register computers.

Even employees of the Department of Homeland Security are not immune from the reach of malicious hackers. Media reports in August 2014 said internal records of 25,000 DHS employees containing sensitive information were exposed after a computer attack at a contractor.

Given the numerous security breaches, there’s obviously a good job market for people with solid Linux skills and expertise in penetration testing of computers and networks and who can help to to prevent the next round of attacks or mitigate its severity.

Understanding Penetration Testing

To understand penetration testing, there’s no better place to start than Professor Patrick Engebretson’s book The Basics of Hacking and Penetration Testing.

Although Professor Engebretson’s book is three-years old and the BackTrack Linux OS he describes in its pages has been succeeded by Kali Linux, it’s still a valuable primer on the subject of penetration testing.

Our below discussion on penetration testing draws from his book.

What is Penetration Testing

Simply put penetration testing refers to legally authorized attempts to exploit computers (including servers, desktops and point of sale systems) and networks to make them more secure (see chapter 1 of Prof. Engebretson’s book). Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:49 pm
Oct 212014

Linux distribution Ubuntu should soon be wrapping up work on Ubuntu Touch, its first iteration for smartphones.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical (the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu), wrote in a blog post Monday, October 20, 2014:

Our ventrous quest to put GNU as you love it on phones is bearing fruit, with final touches to the first image in a new era of convergence in computing. From tiny devices to personal computers of all shapes and sizes to the ventose vistas of cloud computing, our goal is to make a platform that is useful, versal and widely used.

Ubuntu has partnered with mobile device manufacturers bq of Spain and Meizu of China to bring Ubuntu Touch based smartphones to consumers globally.

Ubuntu Touch should be available eventually for both low-end and high-end smartphones. The goal for the high-end version is to provide a desktop Ubuntu experience when users connect it to a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Applications designed for Ubuntu Desktop should also run on Ubuntu Touch since the core technologies underpinning the two platforms are the same. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:00 am
Oct 212014

The Tails project is asking users to upgrade to its newest release, Tails 1.2, stating that it has fixed a bunch of security issues and bugs in the new version.

Tails (an acronym for The Amnesic Incognito Live System) is the Debian Linux-based anonymous operating system that provides greater anonymity and privacy compared to other operating systems.

The free software is meant to be run off a DVD, USB stick, or SD card and leave no ‘fingerprints’ on the computer.

Highlights of Tails 1.2

* Fix for the POODLE vulnerability by replacing the Iceweasel-based browser with Firefox 31.2.0 extended support release Continue reading »

 Posted by at 7:44 am
Oct 192014

If you ask me, all the great men (and women) in history rose to eminence without ever clicking on a notes application.

Alexander the Great, Galileo, Isaac Newton, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and countless other ‘illustrious’ figures never clicked on a notes app.

Gibbon and Nabokov wrote their classic, timeless works without a notes app (Nabokov famously used index cards to write his peerless novels).

In what can only be described as the hallmark of greatness, these giants seemed to instinctively know what’s important in their lives and what’s not. Which task to focus on first,  which ones to get to later. and the ones to ignore.

Lesser Mortals

But for the lesser mortals of our era, life without icons for a bunch of notes apps on our PC desktop is inconceivable.

Truth be said, it seems like all life would come to a screeching halt without notes apps.

So there are notes applications galore for Windows, Mac and even Linux.

EverNote may be getting all the hype in the notes universe but there are several unsung heroes for Linux too.

Here are a bunch of notes applications for Linux (I’ll focus on Ubuntu and LinuxMint)


TomBoy is an extremely simple, lightweight note app to use.

Tomboy Notes App for Linux

Tomboy looks bare bone but will probably do the job for most people who don’t need the bells and whistles.

Creating a new note is as simple as clicking Ctrl + N. Supports formatting with bold, underline, font size increase/decrease, italics etc. Comes with sync, export to HTML and search features.

Notes are automatically saved.

Should you want more features, Tomboy has a bunch of Add-ins (plugins) that you can download to expand its capabilities.

Search Feature in Tomboy Notes App

I found Tomboy on my Linux Mint 17 PC. I’m not sure if it came with Linux Mint or I installed it later. Check in the Applications of your Linux Mint system and if you don’t find it, you can install Tomboy via the Synaptic Package manager or Software Manager. The version of Tomboy on my system is 1.15.4 (as of October 2014).

If you’re using some other Linux distro, you can download TomBoy on the Gnome site.

Besides Linux, Tomboy is also available for Mac and Windows.

Get all the information about Tomboy notes app on the Gnome page.

By the way, there’s a C++ port of Tomboy called Gnote. If you’re running Ubuntu, get Gnote from the Ubuntu Software Center. In LinuxMint,the application is available on Software Manager and Synaptic Package Manager.


MyNotex is what I use for my notes.

MyNotex Notes App for Linux

This app is more sophisticated than Tomboy/Gnote and includes formatting options like bold, italics and color options for the text. You can insert files and pictures into your notes. There’s a search feature that lets you search by title, keyword or date. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 9:43 pm