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Linux Netwosix One Year Later Print E-mail
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Source: Vincenzo Ciaglia - Posted by Vincenzo Ciaglia   
Features This brief article outlines the history and story behind Linux Netwosix, a security-focused distribution that is still in early stages of development. Vincenzo Ciaglia, its Italian founder, gives the Linux community an update on how the project has progressed after 11 months.

About Linux Netwosix
As you can read on the main page of the project at http://www.netwosix.org, Linux Netwosix is a powerful and optimized Linux distribution for servers and Network Security related jobs. It can also be used for special operations such as penetration testing with its big collection of security oriented software and sources. It's a light distribution created for the requirements of every SysAdmin and it's very portable and highly configurable. Its philosophy is to give greater liberty for configuration to the SysAdmin. Only in this way  he/she can configure a powerful and stable server machine. Linux Netwosix also has a powerful ports system (Nepote) similar to the
xBSD systems but more flexible and usable.

Why a new distribution?
This is probably the first question that you keep in mind when you will going to read this article. It's right. Well, I created Netwosix only with a simple concept, the big passion for Linux security and networking. There aren't many distributions that include all of the same fuctions and the clear structure as Netwosix does. Anyway you're totally free to choose another distribution to work with.

Where's the power?

This is a very important question. Well, we think that Netwosix is a powerful distribution because in comparison to the others doesn't install useless packages or double or more one with the same functions by default. We choose for you the best software for your daily usage of your Linux system. For this reason Linux Netwosix can be run on the not powerful x86 architectures, too, with very high results. The average time to install the complete system is about 8/10 minutes on the not power architectures and 5-6 minutes on the power one. It's a good results for us and we think that no other linux distributions could install a complete system in less time than Netwosix.

What makes Netwosix suited for network security work?
We think its light structure. For a good network plan the sysadmin  needs of a light system, highly configurable and not with not usefull packages. Every SysAdmin wants to configure its networks and works with them with the possibility of doing everything alone. Linux Netwosix iso image is about 220 Mb, very fast to download and burn on a cd. Moreover Netwosix chooses for you the best "network security" related software. After you have burn your iso image, infact, you will find many addictional packages ready to be compiled and configured. Morover, you could use Nepote to compile , without doing anything alone, your packages in the best way possibile your system. On this side we're working very much. Please read the chapter "Further developments".

The installation method and the default system
After you format and mount your partition, there are two simple commands that will install Netwosix for you: "netwosix_install" and "netwosix_upgrade". The first one, will install the system from scratch and it might be used by the first installation users. The second one, will upgrade an existing Netwosix System to the latest release with the right improvements. It's a textual and very easy setup tool that can be used from the not expert users,too.  The default system is a .tgz package that will be compiled on your system once you run the "netwosix_install". It contains the base packages for a correct use of a "very very base" linux system. Here the complete list of the packages contained on the official cdrom "http://www.netwosix.org/packages.html".

After the installation process is completed, you can use the command "LN-secure" to secure your system from malicious users after you have already configured everything. It's a set of permission used to improve the security of your Netwosix systems.It's optional and not required from Linux Netwosix. However it's recommended.

Who is using Netwosix?
Linux Netwosix has been downloaded from about 25.000 users in less than 1 year of life and has been attached to one of the most famous Linux Magazine in Italy. Moreover it's supported from many famous agencies like the Finnish Minister of Education, the Garr, the heart of the Italian University research and others. I would want to use this few lines to thanks everybody who supported me and Linux Netwosix.

Nepote

Nepote is the official package tool of Linux Netwosix. It's the acronim of NEtwosix POrting Tool Environment. Actually I'm developing more features to improve Nepote. Now it gives users the possibility of installing packages through our portage tree rather than installing many packages from the Internet, similar to xBSD systems. Howere we're planning to improve Nepote with many new features and ports.

NEPOTE and its uses


There are some options that you must learn to better use NEPOTE. First of all, launching "nepote" and selecting the option number 2 you have the possibility of upgrading your portage tree from the Official Netwosix Download Center and using the Official Netwosix Portage Tree or upgrading through a different place. With Nepote, then, you have the possibility of creating a personal
portage tree and use it.  After that, we talk about the directory that contains the portage tree: /usr/ports.

      # cd /usr/ports

There are many categories of software selected for you. If you go into "ftp" folder, for example, you have the possibility of installing a particular program related to this category with few commands.
Example:

      # cd ftp
      # cd program

After you have chosen the desired package, you must change to its  directory and run "sh nepote"
(as root).

      # sh nepote
          or (when necessary or required)
      # sh nepote-dep

Launching "sh nepote" will install your desired package using our portage tree. If during the installation process you see some problems due to bad dependences, you can run "sh
nepote-dep" and install the program with complete dependences (library and other). There is also another important function in nepote: "nepote-find". If you want to find a particular package in our portage tree, you can do:

      # nepote-find

... and follow the instructions.

Does the Netwosix project need volunteers? If so, in what area? How can someone get involved?

Yes, of course, volunteers are welcome! We are interested to this kind of helps:

  • Improving setup tool ;
  • Build security tools for remote administration of Netwosix ;
  • Improve Nepote and its functions ;
  • Build administration tools ;
  • Improve the system configuration ;
  • Building specifics portage trees ;
  • Maintain Netwosix packages ;
  • Porting of Netwosix to other architectures (PPC, SPARC, others) ;

If you are interested in, join to our developers community subscribing your email address to devel@netwosix.org (send a blank mail to devel-subscribe@netwosix.org).

Netwosix projects and initiatives
We're always happy to help our users and not. For this reason we started some interesting initiatives like the "Internetworking" mailing list (available from http://internetworking.netwosix.org) , Netwosix Bugzilla (http://netwosix.org/bugzilla), Netwosix Official Support Mailing Lists (http://netwosix.org/mailing.html).

Some words about Linux Netwosix 1.2...

From the announcement release you can read this "The system has been completely rebuilt, now assures a high security for your network. Linux Netwosix 1.2 solves all the critical problems discovered into releases 1.0 and 1.1 and now could be considered like one of the most important distribution in this field thanks to its lightweight and clear structure and now it's more configurable and secure." No more words.

Further developments
We're planning to develop a new branch of our project: 2.x. Here we will introduce more graphics environments like setup and configuration scripts to help not expert users to use in the best way possible our distro. However we'll continue to parallel release other versions under the branch 1.x. We're always open to possible collaborations. We want to improve our team. If you want to help us, write to Vincenzo.

Linux Netwosix , official Home Page

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