Monday, June 13, 2011

Ubuntu goodies

My wireless router and firewall broke.  Before reinforcement arrives, I found a soft firewall - Firestarter.  It's better than anything else, including a hardware box.

Linux has a pretty good firewall built in.  All you need is a easy to use GUI.  A resident firewall manager is easier to use than any separate firewall box.  Firestarter understands the software that needs external connections such as Openvpn and Tor.  If you install those from the package managers, it's likely Firestarter understands it.

Being resident, Firestarter notifies you when an attempted attack occurs, which is frequent if you surf the net unprotected.  Attack means attempt to connect to your machine.

You can be paranoid enough to allow selected applications to use the internet.  It can be like Zone Alarm if you like to.

More useful to me is not the firewall functions.  You can see active connections.  I can see what traffic is routed through my VPN, my proxies, or chained.  It is simple enough that I can actually make good sense of it in real time.

The bad thing is that your external IP is stored on your computer.  Spyware can just read it.  But still they have to get external connection to report the IP.  If they get an external connection, in theory they can bypass your proxies and VPNs to get your real external IP.  It's not likely though.

The other goodie is the Windows equivalent of the task bar, as shown.  You can almost install or drop anything into it, plus select almost any picture for your icon.

Your can have your own script, add an icon to it, and put it on the task bar.  Firstly it's so simple that you can have two versions of everything.  When your fingers are on the keyboard, the need to pick up the mouse is greatly reduced.  When your hand is on the mouse, the need to bring up the terminal is also greatly reduced.  You can have one task bar to as many as you want.

A month without booting into Windows.  When it's cool to use Google Docs, there's no need to.  Google Docs is better with auto save and auto version control.  The version control in Words is laughable, and therefore you probably never heard of it.

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