Samurai Linux – Review Screenshots – Web Testing Framework

Samurai Linux – Testing for security, penetration, and reconnaissance

The Samurai distro is available as a Live CD and it comes with the a gob of testing tools for security and applications.  Samurai is Gnome-based and has a pleasant, yet simple, interface.  The real wealth of this distro is in the number of security and testing related apps pre-installed.

Reconnaissance Tools Fierce domain scanner and Maltego.

Mapping Tools WebScarab and ratproxy.

Discovery Tools w3af and burp.

Exploitation BeEF, AJAXShell, etc…

Th Live CD comes with a pre-configured wiki that you can set up to be the central information store during your pen-test.

The Gnome Menu creation tool is installed, so you can rearrange the menus to your own liking.

Wine is also pre-installed with none other than the venerable Windows Notepad.  Interesting.

Conclusion

If you are doing extensive app security testing, or like to hack in your spare time, this distro is what dreams are made of.  If you are look for eye-popping graphics and nifty graphics, try a different flavor of Linux.

Gallery of Samurai Linux Screen Shots

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Windows 7 Ultimate Screenshots Review – A lot like Linux

Is it Windows or Linux?

Let’s take a look at the latest Windows 7 Ultimate RC.  After spending some time with it, the bells started ringing.  It became quite evident that they were recreating the best elements of Linux while reversing some of the confusion created in Vista.  As a matter of fact, the widgets look like direct copies of KDE 4.x plasma desktop.

What’s new in Windows 7

Windows 7 does a much better job of presenting video and images than any previous version of Windows, and it’s centrally designed and fully upgraded Windows Media Player organizes all your various media into one location.  The aggregation of media is surely Windows 7’s finest feature and is far superior to any competing product in that space.

The installation was painless, so let’s get right to the desktop and sees what’s cooking…

Nice clean desktop with many options

There is a large assortment of desktop images and eye-popping screen saver themes to choose from.  You do not have to download ‘extras’ as in the past.  You simply go to the desktop configuration applet (similar to Gnome or KDE on Linux) and choose the elements of the theme that you want to replace.

Windows 7 Desktop
Windows 7 Desktop

I downloaded and installed Irfan, the great freeware graphics program.  Windows 7 popped up with a warning notification that this application I was about to install wanted to modify registry information.  The rest of the screen went dark to draw attention to this Yes/No decision of going forward or not.  That’s a good security feature.

Windows 7 Security in action
Windows 7 Security in action

Sticky Notes – borrowed from Linux

Usually I’ll get a phone call and will need to jot something down. I’m always looking for a pen on my real desktop.  Now, with sticky notes you’ll never have to jostle again.  Thanks to Sticky Notes, you just type something on to your Windows Desktop, and there it will stay until you make it go away.  This is a great feature for Windows enthusiasts.  Linux users will be less impressed since we’ve had Tomboy Notes and the like for many years.

Sticky Notes (A nice Linux feature import)
Sticky Notes (A nice Linux feature import)

Calculator, Screen Capture

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The calculator got a bit of a face lift.  Notice that scientific looking Zero…  Then of course Windows 7 adds the extremely useful (and baked into Linux for many generations) Screen Capture utility.  It works well, and I am glad they finally added it into the basic toolset.

Windows 7 ships (so far) with IE8.  Since you are already probably using IE8, there’s not much new to report there.  IE8 does give a good preview of the design and centralization of Windows 7.

The Newly Revamped Windows Media Player

It’s gorgeous eye candy, and it’s functional too.  This is the crown in the jewels of the new Windows OS.  Microsoft has captured all the media related elements of the OS into a cohesive entertainment center that is both aesthetically pleasing and useful too.  The thumbnails barely do justice to the beauty and ease with which you glide from TV to Videos to images to music to live entertainment guides and more.

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Mirosoft Widgets Look like KDE 4.2 Plasma

Microsoft lets you widgetize your desktop and pull elements from the Media Player on to a separate and smaller widget.  Look at the TV listings widget below.  Does this not cry KDE 4.2 Plasma?  I wonder who dreamed up the plasma look first?  The folks at KDE or Microsoft.  I also wonder if there isn’t a patent infringement somewhere in the offing?

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Windows Libraries (aka Explorer)

Nicely organized, slightly updated look, still Vista-looking, and essentially the same functionality as from XP.

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KDE or Windows?

Is it just me, or does this new tab menu interface borrow a lot from Linux KDE?

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Windows Power Shell

Finally we have something to sink our programming teeth into.  The power shell combines many of the best shell and terminal commands from Linux into the Windows command line utility.  Notice the ls and dir work here.

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Conclusion

This is still an early review and Microsoft is still tweaking elements before the actual release of Windows 7 scheduled for next year.  Clearly they are on the right track.  By combining many of the best of Linux, side-stepping the potholes of Vista, and fusing the Media Player as a central ‘meeting spot’ on the desktop, Microsoft will reclaim its glory with Windows 7.

Note – we have mostly focused on the visual and functional elements for this review.  There are many enhanced security features, that we have not reviewed, which Microsoft touts as a major reason to move to the new OS.

Dreamlinux 3.5 Quick Review and Screenshots

Dreamlinux 3.5 is a Debian (Lenny 5.0) based popular Linux distro from Brazil.

Dreamlinux can be run directly from a CD/DVD/USBStick or to a Hard drive. Dreamlinux comes with a selection of the best applications designed to meet most of your daily needs.  Dreamlinux ships with the XFCE desktop, which is pleasant and easy to navigate.

This distro is really suited for a USB disk on key install, and the installation disk offers several easy step installations depending on your intended media (USB, CD, Hard drive, etc…).

In pursuit of the perfect Linux Distro

The folks at Dreamlinux have a goal, to make a distro where ‘dreams can come true’.  The idea is to take a solid core Linux distro, Debian, make it look pretty, add the coolest and most-needed apps, then make it easy to install to just about anything.

The distro lives up to the magic of easy to distribute and pretty looks.  As for the most-needed or best apps, I guess that’s a matter of personal preference.  I for one would have liked to see Gimp, for example.  But then again, with Linux, you are always just an install away from your favorites that may have been left out from the start.

Bottom line

Dreamlinux is a good distro and looks great.  Do they have the stamina for udpates and consistency of the larger distros?  Maybe users with more experience on this distro can chime in here.

Let’s take a walk through the OS with screenshots.

Dreamlinux 3.5 login screen
Dreamlinux 3.5 login screen

Nothing fancy here, but wait, the good stuff is soon to come.

I’m running this in a virtual machine (VMWare) so you can see the VMware menus straddling some of these snapshots.

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Nice looking desktop with easy to navigate menus.  Here’s the Office menu.  No suprises here.

Dream Linux 3.5

A matter of personal taste.  Many users like the menu bar with the Mac look.  As you mouse over the icon enlarges to give the 3d effect.

Gallery of Screenshots

Here’s a gallery of screenshots, including the nifty compass that appears as the default homepage on the internet browser.


Open Suse KDE Live CD Quick Review – Snapshots

Looking for a KDE replacement for Kubuntu…

Open Suse KDE with Live CD

Novell has got this baby hopping and it’s a serious contender for the Kubuntu replacement that I’ve been searching. Although it’s running on KDE 4.1, they seem to have put the pieces together nicely.

Plasma Desktop – like it or not
The plasma desktop, which is the new interface for KDE 4, is one of the ‘like it or not’ kind of things.  I personally do not like it one bit.  The tab menus are confusing.  The lack of a simple “desktop” metaphor that we’ve become accustomed to, and the hokey clicking on arrows to get to sub menus, just doesn’t ‘do it’ for me.

Loading took a long time

Loading of the live CD took about 3 minutes, which seemed like forever.  The CD was quiet once the loading stopped.

Beautiful Desktop

The default desktop is a very pleasing green with nice menu colors.  The tools are all there as you’d expect.  No surprises.  You will have to install Gimp on your own.

Screenshots

Open Suse KDE 4 Screenshot
Open Suse KDE 4 Screenshot
Open Suse KDE 4 Tab Menus
Open Suse KDE 4 Tab Menus

Ubuntu vs. Kubuntu – A Linux Lover’s Challenge

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s assume that you’ve already decided on or are using the Ubuntu distribution of Linux.  e.g. There are plenty of linux flavors out there, and this article will only discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Ubuntu and Kubuntu.

First of all, both Ubuntu and Kubuntu are based on the same cannonical distribution and core.  The only (and important) difference between them is the desktop environment offered with either option.  Ubuntu comes with the Gnome desktop environment, whereas Kubuntu offers the KDE desktop.

KDE vs. Gnome
Many will say that the value of Gnome vs KDE is in their graphical presentation.  KDE is a 3D highly graphical environment with much eye-candy objects.  Gnome is a more basic, pleasant IMO, graphical implementation.  It more resembles Windows XP in form and function.

In addition, KDE and Gnome each have different software packages that are specific to them. For example, KATE is a KDE text editor.  Amarok is a KDE music player.  Gnome has a whole set of tools specific to it as well.  Most of these tools will work fine on either desktop.  I have used Amarok on KDE and Gnome with no problems in either case.

Review
I have used Kubuntu as my desktop operating system for the last three years.   I use my desktop PC for development, email, media, file management, SSH connections with servers, and just about everything else. I need my OS to be a workhorse.
After three years of strong Kubuntu performance on KDE 3.x, I upgraded first to Kubuntu 8.x which upgraded the KDE to 4.0. I found the desktop interface changes to be clumsy, and although well-meaning, were essentially a dud. After reading the much-hyped reviews of Kubuntu 9.x which shipped in May and included the update to KDE 4.1, I thought maybe we could go back to the ‘good ole days’. My wishes were not delivered. Kubuntu had been slow and causing many crashes – primarily with the media players. I found myself on a regular basis having to kill the mplayer or npviewer.bin (the 32 bit wrapper for the Adobe flash player on 64 bit OS). Granted, there are other factors, possibly hardware and/or configuration changes due to added software, but the same machine performed well in the past and after the upgrade to 9.x and until my switch to Gnome (Ubuntu) last week, had become nearly unbearable.

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Verdict
After much consideration, I have changed the desktop environment on my copy of linux Kubuntu to Gnome. Essentially, I am running Ubuntu, but the logon splash screen says Kubuntu. Since both desktops rely on the same core operating system, i was able to upgrade (or simply to switch) to Gnome / Ubuntu by going to the upgrade manager and requesting the Gnome desktop. The upgrade/switch took about 20 minutes, and not only was it seamless, even the bookmarks in Firefox and all the configurations are still in place.  Here’s a tutorial for Kubuntu users to switch to Gnome.

Therefore, my experience has been that if you are looking for a dependable Linux OS and without the bells and whistles of a developmental phase of KDE (at least until it’s fully baked in this new 4.x generation), stick with Ubuntu.
What have been your experiences with Kubuntu and Ubuntu? Please share with us.

Kubuntu Download
Kubuntu Download

Ubuntu Download
Ubuntu Download