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Unix Edition

Dec. 28, 1999
_______________________________________________________________________
See the Happy Hacker web site at http://www.happyhacker.org
URL of the Week:
_______________________________________________________________________

 

***********************************************************************
*** Editor's Comments
***********************************************************************

Happy holidays, everyone, whatever particular religion you may follow, I
presume some time in this month there's something you keep, so, enjoy it.
OK, this is the issue some of you have been waiting for... the *nix opinion
issue. There's also a bunch of other stuff, so enjoy. BTW, on the topic of
the holidays... here a cool tip/trick. I discovered this one a few nights
ago while showing a friend of mine how you can scrape off the top layer of a
CD-R... to scrape off the layer of gold (if anyone plans to get rich, be
aware it's about 50 - 80 _microns_ thick... not worth too much :) ). The
cool idea is: scrape off the top surface using an X-acto blade backwards, so
it sprays the shredded foil all over the room. While it's a pain to clean
up, it looks really cool while floating down. Try it once :).

To all the people who have been sending me positive (or constructively
critical) email, thanks a lot! I really enjoy hearing from people who enjoy
the digest; I also enjoy (well, sorta) hearing constructive cricism. And to
new subscribe IM (with the alter ego)... welcome. Now onto the computer
stuff...

***********************************************************************
*** Readers' Submissions
***********************************************************************

frank e. hudson <frankh@transport.com> surfed to:

Hello CM. Just wanted to mention a truly useful (IMHO) linux utility
for those of (like me) who need to set up a firewall quickly but are
not yet linux experts. The utility is called pmfirewall and can be
downloaded at www.pointman.org. This nifty utility will configure
ipchains (and ip masquerading if desired) in about 5 minutes. I used it
to set up a firewall and ip masquerading on my 2 computer home lan
running mandrake-linux on box 1 (the router) and windows 98 on box 2.
It works great. Check it out. Let me know what you think.

[Editor: I've seen this program before, I've never used it, but I've heard
good things about it. My only concern would be how secure it is... i.e.,
does it make secure firewalls? The reason I ask is, and I'm not trying to be
critical of the author, but he says an earlier version had a bug that
enabled IP masq even if it was told not to. Obviously, bugs like that are
serious potential security holes. Has anyone used this software? In general,
my impression is that it would be a very useful piece of software, though,
subject to peer review.]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

ererye tthh <neo_buzz@hotmail.com> asks:

hi
i have a big problem at home i have windows98 on my computer and i want
delete it all off and just have red hat linux 6.0 on its own my hard drive
is 3.0gb.please tell me

[Editor: Hmm. It's funny you should write this, b/c just recently, Microsoft
posted instructions on how to delete Linux, leaving only Windows 98. I guess
it's time for a counterpoint. Do you already have Linux installed? If not,
just delete the windows partition using either FDISK or one of the partition
programs supplied by your distro (e.g., the cfdisk utility). If you already
have a satisfactory installation, you can just delete your windows partition
and create a new linux partition. From there, mount it as you would any
other partition.]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

ozone <ozone@ucsd.com> wonders:

Hello Unix-Edi,

Thanks to all around for starting such a kewl[sic] mailing list... Actually,
I
started getting mails right now only..

Coming to the topic, I want to know about the passwords in Cisco and
Digital Unix. I got a cisco router config file, from which I could get some
info abt the router and all. I found a line like
"enable password 7 234E2123". Is this the password for the router ? If not,
else what ? I think it is encryted too... How do i decrypt it.

In Digital Unix, in /etc I found files passwd, passwd.pag and passwd.dir.
Can I create the orginal unshadowed passwd file from this ?? I found some
utility for DGUX v4.x to get passwds from some directory like /usr/tcb and
all. But I want to know about the case in v3.x. If these are not the actual
passwds files, then where are they located ?

[Unix-Edi[tor]: Thanks for your support. One of the things I need to learn
is router technology; I am a true router newbie. Well, I can identify one on
the shelf, but that's about it. If anyone knows either: a. the answer to
ozone's question, or b. a good site I can learn some router info from,
please email unixeditor@cmeinel.com . As far as the second question: if
the password file is shadowed, you can't get it from the passwd file. Even
if you have the shadow file (or the original file), unix password files are
one-way, meaning they can't be decrypted. To check if a password is correct
(at login, for example), the computer encrypts the attempted password (I
think using the username as the salt), and checks to see if the new string
matches the encrypted password. Oh, and I hope you don't plan to use that
for an illegal purpose ;).]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Luis Calero <sicko@accessnet.es> suggests:

From your last Unix-digest:

> Alistair Brown (AlistairB@ince.co.za) is looking for:
> Can you please tell me where I will be able to get the source code for
> Linux.

Maybe he's asking for linux _kernel_ source files. You can point him to
ftp.kernel.org then...

Bye!

[Editor: Good point, thanks!]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Phreak A Zoid <phreakazoid69@juno.com> sends in:

I'm working on building the TIS Firewall Toolkit, and find the
documentation seems lacking. I'd like a sample file if someone would be
willing to send me one. I'm trying to get Solaris 2.7 (x86 version)
running with two NIC's to be the firewall/gateway to my cable modem
Internet connection.

Also, if anyone has done dual NIC's with Solaris on x86 and come across
it hanging on the Network Configuration section, I'd love any pointers.
I've got it setup to grab a DHCP address for the first NIC (nei0), and
created /etc/hostname.nei1 and a compatible entry in /etc/hosts to match
for the second interface. It was working with one NIC, and would grab the
DHCP address. I added the second NIC and it was fine until I created the
hostname.nei1 file and rebooted.

[Editor: Never used it. Anyone?]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

***********************************************************************
*** Unix Information
***********************************************************************

The following is compiled from the responses I got. I left the original
writers email attached so you can contact them further.

You asked our opinions about the best Unix, well in my opinion Debian
GNU/Linux is very very good, for a variety of reasons:
- Stable/Bleeding Edge, apt-get: When you get the latest 'stable' version,
currently Slink (2.1), you can be certain you have a rock-stable
high-quality system. But if you are a developer, you can get _all_ the
programs on your disk updated with just one command (two really: apt-get
update; apt-get upgrade) upgraded to the last-minute-newest version.
- When you get the CD's, you will not have to download anything for a long
time. The CD's contain almost everything you could wish for.
- Some other distro's 'hide' what happens behind a GUI. In Debian,
everything can be done from the command-line and with editing config files.
This however does not mean that there are no GUI _utilities_ to aid you, but
_you are in control_. As opposed to Windows and to a certain extent Red Hat.
Debian is very good to learn stuff. Some say compiling everything yourself
(as with Slackware) teaches more, but I disagree. As someone stated, 'Debian
offers manuals and examples for exactly how to do everything, where
Slackware forces the user to reinvent the square (? as in a box) wheel. And
learning stuff is what hacking is all about, imo.
- The packaging system (.deb) totally rules. Much better then the Red Hat
.rpm's. But you can, using the program 'alien', install .rpm's.

I hope I made some good points here, you will find more on the website.
www.debian.org. Just try it, you'll grow to love it. It has a reputation of
being hard to install, but I had absolutely no problem following the
manuals. And it was the first Linux distro I installed.

Oh, and if you ever run into a problem with Debian, you will find great
support on the mailing lists. Absolutely superb. But that's just mho.

Regards,

Arnout Engelen (aka Lyca0n)
arnout.engelen@beer.com (Lyca0n@iname.com)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, Linux isn't exactly Unix, but since you mention Red Hat and Slackware,
CNet posted a review of various linux distributions, recently...

http://home.cnet.com/software/0-3721-7-1473248.html?tag=st.cn.1.tlpg.3721-7-
1473248

Blake R. Swopes <bhodi@bigfoot.com>

[Editor: Oh yeah, I forgot about to mention that a few weeks ago. Oops.]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Myself, I say go with Redhat, because it's an easier install than most
Linux distributions, has great support (via their website) and comes with
a nice suite of apps (admittedly, some of these are superfluous from an
admin/networking POV).
If you actually PAY the $ for the official package, it's even better.

If this is your first or only Linux install, go with Redhat.

JWH
Columbus OH
<jhardin@mail.sbc-adv.com>

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Replying to "the best type of unix to buy/download":
Of course it is a matter of prefence and style. I personally use Redhat
(currently 6.1). Redhat was the main distro. when I started with linux and
I contiue to run it. For beginers the new 6.1 is great, the install is
simple and setup is clean. There are many resources for redhat users, ie.
books, internet sites.

For the mroe advanced user, redhat provides alot of packages for
whatever you wanna do, and they are always informing users of problems an
bugs so that you may upgrade. With probably the largest following, I see
Redhat as the best. But hey try everything then decide for yourself, I run
SunOs (love it) and Redhat like I said its a matter of style.

altomo <altomo@nudehackers.com>

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Here's a few thoughts on this question:

1) If you want to use Linux, this is what I have personally found:
- Red Hat
This is a distribution that was most likely (maybe not, though)
designed for ease-of-use if nothing else. It has been reported
to be the easiest to install and maintain. However, I tried it
and did not find it anything like this. I suppose it is easy if
you use their utilities; however, this teaches you nothing about
Linux. Red Hat administrators often ask the easiest questions
about Linux, simply because they've never had to actually really
deal with the underlying system. All they know is the
point-and-click menus, which didn't help them much when their
system was down. I know this because I frequent several Linux
IRC channels.
- Slackware
My personal favorite; you get to learn Linux the hard way. The
installer is nice, but doesn't get in your way. Neither do any
utilities or easy-to-use configuration tools. They are there,
but only if you want to use them (like netconfig for example). I
also like the fact that it uses XF86Setup, which I like better
than Xconfigurator. When you use Slackware, you get to know the
system underneath the fancy-dancy GUI (X Windows System). So,
when your system fails to function the way you expect, you are
much more aware of where things could go wrong and what to do
about it. The other nice thing about Slackware: it's not
commercial.

2) What I've found about Unix:
- FreeBSD
I have only used FreeBSD once or twice. I sort of liked it, I
think. If you need a good BSD-based Unix on a i386 or higher PC,
this is a pretty good choice. It is being used to host large
websites and the like (www.yahoo.com, for example). Support for
it is good, as well as it has the distinctive advantage of being
able to share sources, etc with NetBSD.
- NetBSD
Another very good BSD choice for a _large_ number of platforms.
I have successfully installed and used it on PowerPC and i386
platforms. Support is excellent, and new features (like Linux
emulation; and improved Linux emulation) are being added all the
time. I like NetBSD because it feels very "clean" and
uncluttered. Sites like Saab (www.saab.com) are using it to host
their websites.
- Solaris (7)
This is a very nice product from Sun Microsystems which I have
had the pleasure of using on my Pentium here at home and a
Pentium Pro at work. If you plan on running this, you'll want a
slightly faster computer (at home here, with a Pentium/75, it's
not too speedy). Make sure you have a fair amount of RAM, too;
the 128MB EDO RAM in this computer is probably the only reason
why Solaris runs at all on it (although I'm sure it would do fine
with less). It feels very nice, very polished. I really like
X on it, especially multi-language support and having both CDE or
OpenWindows to choose from. A *lot* trickier to install and
configure (not necessarily, but on this machine it was), but
worth it for me. Solaris makes a great server: I've been assured
by many, many people that it is one of the best. A handy tip:
get yourself the print edition of the manuals, and a C compiler.

To summarize:

Solaris is very good, but you have to pay for it (unless you're just using
it to develop software). The good side to this is that you may get good
technical support options. If you are looking for better security, get
OpenBSD. FreeBSD or NetBSD are very nice BSDs (but you can't pick up the
phone and call them for tech support [directly anyhow]). Linux is also
nice but not always stable (and there isn't a big central group working on
all aspects of it, like the BSDs).

In short, try them all and make your own decision as to which you like
best.

Hope this helped (or lessened the confusion),

--fission

Here's a few thoughts on this question:

1) If you want to use Linux, this is what I have personally found:
- Red Hat
This is a distribution that was most likely (maybe not, though)
designed for ease-of-use if nothing else. It has been reported
to be the easiest to install and maintain. However, I tried it
and did not find it anything like this. I suppose it is easy if
you use their utilities; however, this teaches you nothing about
Linux. Red Hat administrators often ask the easiest questions
about Linux, simply because they've never had to actually really
deal with the underlying system. All they know is the
point-and-click menus, which didn't help them much when their
system was down. I know this because I frequent several Linux
IRC channels.
- Slackware
My personal favorite; you get to learn Linux the hard way. The
installer is nice, but doesn't get in your way. Neither do any
utilities or easy-to-use configuration tools. They are there,
but only if you want to use them (like netconfig for example). I
also like the fact that it uses XF86Setup, which I like better
than Xconfigurator. When you use Slackware, you get to know the
system underneath the fancy-dancy GUI (X Windows System). So,
when your system fails to function the way you expect, you are
much more aware of where things could go wrong and what to do
about it. The other nice thing about Slackware: it's not
commercial.

2) What I've found about Unix:
- FreeBSD
I have only used FreeBSD once or twice. I sort of liked it, I
think. If you need a good BSD-based Unix on a i386 or higher PC,
this is a pretty good choice. It is being used to host large
websites and the like (www.yahoo.com, for example). Support for
it is good, as well as it has the distinctive advantage of being
able to share sources, etc with NetBSD.
- NetBSD
Another very good BSD choice for a _large_ number of platforms.
I have successfully installed and used it on PowerPC and i386
platforms. Support is excellent, and new features (like Linux
emulation; and improved Linux emulation) are being added all the
time. I like NetBSD because it feels very "clean" and
uncluttered. Sites like Saab (www.saab.com) are using it to host
their websites.
- Solaris (7)
This is a very nice product from Sun Microsystems which I have
had the pleasure of using on my Pentium here at home and a
Pentium Pro at work. If you plan on running this, you'll want a
slightly faster computer (at home here, with a Pentium/75, it's
not too speedy). Make sure you have a fair amount of RAM, too;
the 128MB EDO RAM in this computer is probably the only reason
why Solaris runs at all on it (although I'm sure it would do fine
with less). It feels very nice, very polished. I really like
X on it, especially multi-language support and having both CDE or
OpenWindows to choose from. A *lot* trickier to install and
configure (not necessarily, but on this machine it was), but
worth it for me. Solaris makes a great server: I've been assured
by many, many people that it is one of the best. A handy tip:
get yourself the print edition of the manuals, and a C compiler.

To summarize:

Solaris is very good, but you have to pay for it (unless you're just using
it to develop software). The good side to this is that you may get good
technical support options. If you are looking for better security, get
OpenBSD. FreeBSD or NetBSD are very nice BSDs (but you can't pick up the
phone and call them for tech support [directly anyhow]). Linux is also
nice but not always stable (and there isn't a big central group working on
all aspects of it, like the BSDs).

In short, try them all and make your own decision as to which you like
best.

Hope this helped (or lessened the confusion),

--fission
fission@mb.sympatico.ca

[Editor: About solaris: if you register as a developer, it's about $28
(media cost + shipping), not really _so_ outrageous.]

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