Tails above the Rest, Part II
Beyond browsing, instant messaging is another communication tool that could benefit from some privacy. Tails includes the Pidgin instant-messaging client and by default enables only the communication plugins for IRC and XMPP, as they are considered to have a decent security track record with respect to fixing security bugs. Each time you start Tails, it creates a random English-sounding user name for Pidgin to help aid in your anonymity. In addition, it includes the OTR (Off the Record) plugin that helps you have private IM conversations by not only encrypting the communication end to end, but it also authenticates the person you are chatting with, has forward secrecy, and even adds a deniability element to make it difficult outside the conversation to prove who said what (there's more information about how OTR achieves this at http://www.cypherpunks.ca/otr).
I'll cover e-mail in more depth in a follow-up column where I discuss encryption, but Tails includes the Claws mail client that you can use to access any personal e-mail accounts. Of course, it's worth saying that if you do access a personal e-mail account without using SSL encryption, even over the Tor network, someone who is sniffing the traffic coming from that Tor exit node, or sniffing traffic coming into your e-mail provider, will be able to correlate your account with that particular Tor session.
Beyond e-mail, Tails also includes the OpenOffice.org productivity suite, so you can work on documents and spreadsheets, the GIMP for image editing, and Audacity so you can listen to and edit audio files. Many people could very well spend their entire day within Tails and get work done.
Once you are done with Tails, you can log out and select to reboot or shut down the computer. In either case, since anything that might identify you resides only in RAM, Tails makes a point to wipe the contents of RAM before it completely shuts down. I've noticed on my computers that this results in strange artifacts showing up on the screen during that process, but once it's done, Tails will shut down safely, and you can remove the DVD or USB drive.
This covers just some of the basic usage of Tails, but in my next column, I'll cover some of the more advanced uses, including persistent disks, encryption and some of the other internal Tails tools that are dense enough topics that they deserve their own treatment. In the meantime, enjoy your safe and private Internet browsing.
Kyle Rankin is a VP of engineering operations at Final, Inc., the author of a number of books including DevOps Troubleshooting and The Official Ubuntu Server Book, and is a columnist for Linux Journal. Follow him @kylerankin.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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- Stunnel Security for Oracle
- The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- Google's SwiftShader Released
- SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Released
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space