Archives for category: Software

I was looking for an answer to this. And found this answer on whathifi.com forum

Windows 7 does not provide any built-in quality backup software, but luckily, they provide a free product called SyncToy.

The product is very easy to use. You create a folder pair which are to be synced. You can choose to synchronize, echo or contribute; the former being the default, and in my eyes the expected behaviour. Using the synchronize setting, any changes you make on either the two folders, will be copied to the other folder. This allows multiple computers sync, e.g. photo from a server to multiple computers, where all editing will be synced to all computers.

The only real drawback, is that syncing must done manually. The changes are not synced in real-time. The help text provides an easy way to schedule a synchronisation event; using the Task Scheduler in Windows.

It may just be me – maybe my skills using the mouse pad or the over sensitive index finger mousy-thingy between GHB is bad – but why the hell is Cancelled positioned at bottom!? The result for me, when I accidentally double click, I stop the download…. jeez

A new photo organizer. Well – it’s not brand new, but pretty new. I am not able to get Picasa to work as I want on my Ubuntu 10.04. So, I needed an alternative photo manager. Shotwell entered the field. And do not dismiss this tool by it’s look. The simple GUI is one of the key attractions for me.

Of the fancy features, it has auto grouping by events; the default being by date. You can easily rename these events to your liking.

You also have the basic crop, red-eye and tuning that you expect. It also has a “magic” button – auto enhance which works quite well.

The version I tested was 0.5.0. I upgraded to 0.6.1 by adding their launchpad repository. They have made some changes under the hood. The most significant for me is the importing of folders which lets me choose to link instead of copy the files. It also allows external editors to be launched.

Oh – and did I mention it was fast? It is fast!

Kudos to the developers at yorba!

For more detailed story, see the Gnome journal here.

I am currently trying out Mint on my new laptop. I love its easy of use, and the fact that things simply works. My main issue at the moment is that I am unable to get sound from my headphone jack. After som searching it seems to be a kernel bug.

But the most annoying and intrusive behaviour is to be seen in Mint’s version of Firefox – the have their own custom google search. I like Google’s normal search result page! After some ranting on their forum, I eventually found a link to an old blog post explaining why they have included it. And I must admit – I understand their reasons. Also, I am very thankfull that they have posted a workaround or revert procedure on their own.

The reason is simple – money. They get money for using this custom search. So everytime we use, we are actually supporting Mint.

Read more at http://www.linuxmint.com/blog/?p=142

I ended up installing the original Google search. Time will show which one I’ll be using.

I have Windows XP running in a virtual machine under GNU/Debian, with LXDE/Openbox as DE/WM. I use Qemu to run my virtual machine.

Now, I wanted to have Qemu running in desktop 4, fullscreen, above everything (including my lxpanel). A little adjustment in the rc.xml (lxde-rc.xml under LXDE) fixed this. You may set default action on every application you want to run. My entry looked like this:

<application class=”qemu-system-i386″>
<decor>no</decor>
<shade>no</shade>
<focus>yes</focus>
<desktop>4</desktop>
<layer>above</layer>
<iconic>no</iconic>
<skip_pager>no</skip_pager>
<skip_taskbar>no</skip_taskbar>
<fullscreen>yes</fullscreen>
<maximized>true</maximized>
</application>

I now reloaded my config file, and WinXP now runs fullscreen at default above everything in desktop 4! As easy as that!

encfs – is a tool for encrypting a filesystem, i.e. a folder. It is very easy to use.

The debian package should be available in Debian and Ubuntu. Simply

$ sudo aptitude install encfs

encfs uses FUSE works perfectly for this kind of task. If you don’t have it installed, it should be installed with encfs. Remember to add yourself to the FUSE group.

$ sudo usermod -a -G fuse username

Now, there is mainly two commands you need to focus on. The one which mounts and creates the encrypted folder, and the one that unmounts it.

Create and mount

$ encfs /fullpath/.cryptic /fullpath/readable

You now answer a few question, and voila – good to go! Next time you simply issue the same command to mount an existing encrypted folder.

Unmount

$ fusermount -u /fullpath/readable

How hard can that be, right!

Applications of encfs

You may use this in several ways. One and maybe the obvious, is to have your own personal folder with encrypted data – just for fun, or to avoid your girlfriend/boyfriend finding out about your deepest secrets! It sure is an easy way of keeping a diary.

You may also use this to make your home-folder encrypted. I have read somewhere that Ubuntu is planning to make encrypted-home as an option sometime. And I believe encfs is the candidate to use. There exists another package which uses the PAM for authorizing. This way, you may automount your folder when you login, making it ideal for home-folder encryption. Follow the links below for further information.

Links:
A howto is located at ubuntu’s help.

http://www.linux.com/feature/52820

Alternatives:
http://www.debianadmin.com/filesystem-encryption-tools-for-linux.html

Updated 12th May 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 ships with Ubuntu One pre installed. It does not take much effort to sync your files to the cloud. It’s even more easy to share your files on the cloud. You right click on a file that you have on your cloud ( read Ubuntu One folder ), and publish it. Then you may send the link to this published file via email.

Security on the other hand is somewhat sparse. Yes, they do use SSL to sync the files from your computer to your storage place in the cloud. But your data is not encrypted on the server – anyone with access may read it. This is not so good!

This old post is now more valid than ever. Use encFS and sync your encrypted folder – keep the decrypted folder on your local machine. Trying to sync the actual encrypted folder did not work for me – Nautilus simply closed down. I believe this is an implementation issue with encFS as it uses fuse. The solution is to have one extra layer – sync the folder of which the encrypted folder resides.

I created a folder ~/cloud which I’d like to keep synced. The idea is as follows; you store the files you’d like on the cloud in this folder. But these files themselves are not encrypted, so this folder will not be synced. The paralleled encrypted folder, you should store on the existing Ubuntu One folder or in some other folder were you keep encrypted stuff.

Suggested setup:

$ mkdir ~/cloud
$ mkdir ~/Ubuntu One/clouded

Thus my mount command:

$ encfs ~/Ubuntu One/clouded ~/cloud

First time you execute this command, you must provide a password. Note the folders must exist. Now, I save all the files I am working on inside the non-encrypted ~/cloud folder. The encrypted folder ~/Ubuntu One/clouded is synced.

I wanted to make a keyfile for added security in TrueCrypt. You may use any filetype you’d like, but to create a new layer of security, I made a pass-phrase and encrypted this into a file using bcrypt. The same approach may be used to encrypt any file you want, to share with a friend or send by e-mail. Just as long as the decrypter knows the password, you are good to go.

Bcrypt uses the Blowfish algorithm, and is available in the official Debian repo.

Encrypt

$ echo “pass-phrase” > keyfile
$ bcrypt keyfile

You will be asked to provide a password, and the encrypted file is created.

Decrypt

$ bcrypt keyfile.bfe

Provide the password used for encryption, and the file is converted back to the original ‘keyfile’.

In my journey in the GNU/Linux world, I am always look to adapt good ideas, and to embrace excellent GNU/FOSS software. If it for some reason is not open source, it needs to be really good, and fit my needs and expectations to the fullest – i.e. Opera, Dropbox, Picasa and Google Earth.

The last couple of days, I have found two excellent softwares, one being “free speech” and the other being “free beer” – TrueCrypt and DropBox.

TrueCrypt
Is a one of them things you just gotta love! It is a piece of software that let’s you create a virtual encrypted file system within a file. For a normal user, this is transparent. You create a file, specify which algorithm to use, set a looong password, and then you mount the file as a volume. In this way, you may store sensitive information encrypted on your computer. Given the use of a file container to hold this virtual filesystem, you may transport, copy the file and mount it on another computer just as easy as mounting an external harddrive.

Applications of TrueCrypt
I discovered TrueCrypt when browsing the Dropbox forum. There I came across a discussion about the security of the Dropbox account. Dropbox uses SSL to send and recieve files from your computer to the Dropbox account. Dropbox then uses the Amazon S3 storing service to host your files. The files itself, and your entire account, is encrypted with AES on the server.

However, the discussion was mainly about where the AES key was located – at Dropbox or at Amazon. Either way – somebody may have access to your uploaded files, so the need for encrypted files gave spring to the solution of using TrueCrypt localy and uploading this file.

Dropbox+TrueCrypt

First of all – Dropbox is in beta, and their license is “AS IS”. If they run out of funds, or for some reason terminates their service, your online files MAY be lost. So you should always keep a backup of sensitive information elsewhere. Because you keep your files locally on your computer, you always have backup. The folder gets synchronized with your Dropbox account when you connect. If their service for some reason is down, you will not loose your files, because you have them stored locally on your computer.

So – to get started – my initial thought, was to store a key-file – a password file on my Dropbox account – for easy access from the computers I use daily. I have a lot of accounts in the cloud, and I rarely – if ever – use the same password twice. And everyone of them are generated.

Therefore – I wanted to store my encrypted password file in a virtual encrypted filesystem in my Dropbox account (which is also encrypted) for shared access from my computers.

I use Gnome Revelation password manager to store my online/offline password for various services. I store this file within my virtual encrypted filesystem-folder, which is then synched to my Dropbox account.

About security
The password file itself is encrypted – I need a password to open it. The filesystem to which the file is stored, is encrypted – I need an even longer password. My Dropbox account is encrypted – so a third password is needed.

I am not that worried about security!

Outside the box
Okei – so now I have my password file available from my computers. Next step must be to have a common set of config-files on each of them. I am not going to say much about this – it is simple enough. Just think of what sym-links can do!

Dropbox is THE file-share-over-multiple-systems thingy you’ll ever need! What is dropbox? Take a look at the image below – it says it all! In simple words – you have a folder on your computer, which is synced with an online folder at all times. You simply link every computer you want to this folder – and you have a share-folder! Version control, trash-can, public folder etc is available. It rocks!

I came across these to posts which is worth a read:

Both of them use a NON-gnome environment, and both came up with the same solution. Just download the Linux tar, start the daemon, and you are up and running! The hype about Nautilus/Gnome is that they have made a Nautilus-plugin – which you really don’t need.

I have made a request of choosing which filemanager you want to open your Dropbox-folder in. Hopefully – it will be heard!

Share over multiple systems

Share over multiple systems (from https://www.getdropbox.com/tour#3)

User control

Computers with several users who don’t want DropBox, may be somewhat turmoiled by the reoccuring registration window for DropBox. This is simply fixed – and a rather elegant and “WTP” solution was found on the DropBox forum, posted by user infinito d:

# addgroup dropbox
# chown root:dropbox /usr/lib/nautilus/extensions-2.0/libnautilus-dropbox.*
# chmod 640 /usr/lib/nautilus/extensions-2.0/libnautilus-dropbox.*
# adduser <username> dropbox

<username> is the user who will have Dropbox enabled. Repeat that steps to allow more users to use Dropbox. Be aware that paths are for Ubuntu, maybe those can change on other distros.

I personally use LXDE+Openbox on a Debian system. So I don’t have DropBox installed as a .deb-package. I rather have it located in at /opt/.dropbox-dist. And the daemon starts by having a .desktop file located in ~/.config/autostart which exec=/opt/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd, which would also be the location for the how-to above.

Updated – TrueCrypt and Dropbox

I have made new post which talks about TrueCrypt and Dropbox – check it out!