May 20

Essential Ubuntu Software

A short post to outline the command that I end up issuing to every Ubuntu install I perform. This specific to Ubuntu 14.04, but you can most likely use it on other Debian-based distributions too – just remove any packages that they complain about.

apt-get install autofs cifs-utils samba zenmap x11vnc ubuntu-restricted-extras gufw sound-juicer soundconverter phatch gparted vlc vlc-plugin-pulse htop iotop xchat-gnome chromium-browser ttf-mscorefonts-installer build-essential libmotif4 gdebi compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins-extra shutter dconf-tools keepassx indicator-multiload diodon diodon-plugins build-essential cdbs dh-make dkms execstack dh-modaliases fakeroot libqtgui4 linux-headers-generic synaptic gthumb pidgin ttf-ancient-fonts putty xournal hardinfo bikeshed

The resultant install list will be pretty big, but worthwhile. After running this, you’ll have a much more feature complete system especially in terms of codecs, thanks to ubuntu-restricted-extras. All you’ll need to do after this command is install Java 8:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install oracle-java8-installer

Happy installing!

Aug 13

Replicating Computrace Using Reverse SSH Tunnels

Background

At my work I was recently asked to investigate whether Computrace was available for Linux, specifically Ubuntu, and if so, install it. Having a remote wipe mechanism available is part of our Security Policy.

For those of you reading this that haven’t heard of Computrace, it’s a clever little rootkit for Windows that will allow a (usually corporate) administrator to log into a web page and remote wipe the laptop on which Computrace is installed. It even uses the rootkit part to re-install itself after the wipe. Actually “rootkit” isn’t a perfect description – Absolute Software have actually worked with various motherboard and chip manufacturers to have their agent incorporated quietly into the firmware of supported devices. Therefore, even if you steal one of our company laptops, wipe it, then re-install Windows, the moment you connect that fresh Windows install to the internet, Computrace will immediately wipe it again.

(In case you’re curious, you can still install Linux on the stolen laptop and use it with impunity. The embedded agent will only detect Windows and re-install the Windows version.)

But while Computrace did support Ubuntu 10.04 and have recently updated their support page to reflect 14.04 (the jury is out as to what happened to 12.04 support!) it transpires that this support only extends to the Computrace reporting function. It does not support the remote wipe function.

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Jun 07

A Minor Change

Just a short note to say that despite many fine years with Catalyst.net, I’ve finally moved hosting provider. This site is now hosted on Krystal.co.uk.

One piece of incredible technology to highlight – UpdraftPlus. This is a WordPress plug-in that takes a copy of your site in its entirety and uploads the resulting files to the cloud service of your choice, Dropbox in my case. It can also schedule the uploads. When you’re ready to move hosting providers, or if the worst happens and your site is hacked, simply create a WordPress instance (perhaps through Softaculous if your cPanel provides it), install UpdraftPlus, then either upload the files, or re-link to your cloud provider and press the “Restore” button. Fantastic work by the developers.

So. All change!

Oct 28

Ubuntu to Android Tethering over Bluetooth

I’ve been using my Galaxy Nexus device as a bluetooth internet gateway for my Nexus 7 for a few months now. While Android to Android tethering should rightly be quite straightforward, it may be surprising to learn that the same device can be used as an internet gateway for Ubuntu using much the same technique.

Using these simple steps, you can take your Ubuntu laptop to the local coffee shop, pub or library and use your Android phone as a tether. Sure, you could also use the local WIFI in those establishments, but putting aside the hassle of connecting to a new hotspot each time, do you actually trust them in the first place? Firesheep was an eye opener and if you think it’s never been repeated less publicly, then you’re more trusting than I.

And besides, this technique will work in places you can’t get free WIFI, or indeed any WIFI at all, such as your hotel room, the airport, train, or even your local park. As long as your phone can get signal, you can use it to get an internet connection to your laptop.

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