5 Free Linux Backup Solutions

If you’ve ever lost data due to a system crash, you know how crucial backing up important files can be. Here are 5 Linux Backup Solutions you should check out. I recommend you implement at least one of these Linux Backup Solutions before it’s too late.

rsync

There are tons of Linux users and administrators out there who have customized rsync scripts to handle incremental backups automatically on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule. From the manual, rsync is described as a program that behaves in much the same way that rcp does, but has many more options and uses the rsync remote-update protocol to greatly speed up file transfers when the destination file is being updated. The rsync remote-update protocol allows rsync to transfer just the differences between two sets of files across the network connection, using an efficient checksum-search algorithm described in the technical report that accompanies this package.

Here are a few resources for learning how to set up a Linux backup solution using rsync:

http://www.mikerubel.org/computers/rsync_snapshots/

http://finmath.uchicago.edu/~wilder/Security/rsync/

http://www.sanitarium.net/golug/rsync_backups.html

mondorescue

Mondorescue backs up your GNU/Linux server or workstation to tape, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R[W], DVD+R[W], NFS or hard disk partition. In the event of catastrophic data loss, you will be able to restore all of your data [or as much as you want], from bare metal if necessary. Personally, I like using Mondorescue to create DVD disk images of my system periodically. Upon initial installation and configuration of my Linux or Windows machine, I create a DVD disk image with Mondo so that if anything ever gets screwed up, I can pop in the DVD disk and restore back to my original configuration. The mondorescue team is great and the lead developers of the project are very active on the public mailing list offering help to normal users whenever needed.

Simple Backup Suite (Ubuntu, Gnome)

If you’re running Ubuntu Linux and are looking for a quick backup solution, I suggest checking out Simple Backup Suite, or sbackup for short. Simple Backup Suite is a simple backup solution intended for desktop use. It can backup any subset of files and directories. Exclusions can be defined by regular expressions. A maximum individual file size limit can be defined. Backups may be saved to any local and remote directories that are supported by gnome-vfs. There is a Gnome GUI interface for configuration and restore.

Amanda

AMANDA, the Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver, is a backup system that allows the administrator to set up a single master backup server to back up multiple hosts over network to tape drives/changers or disks or optical media. Amanda uses native dump and/or GNU tar facilities and can back up a large number of workstations running multiple versions of Unix. Amanda uses Samba or Cygwin to back up Microsoft Windows desktops and servers.

Bacula

Bacula is a set of computer programs that permits the system administrator to manage backup, recovery, and verification of computer data across a network of computers of different kinds. Bacula can also run entirely upon a single computer and can backup to various types of media, including tape and disk. In technical terms, it is a network Client/Server based backup program. Bacula is relatively easy to use and efficient, while offering many advanced storage management features that make it easy to find and recover lost or damaged files. Due to its modular design, Bacula is scalable from small single computer systems to systems consisting of hundreds of computers located over a large network.

Great writeup on How to Switch from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.org:

How to set up OpenOffice.org to work how you want it with templates and clip art, configurations, shortcuts, and more (download the PDF file for this article)

Switching to OpenOffice.org: Step 1

The first step, of course, is to get the software. Here are some options:

Then install OpenOffice.org. Just double-click the downloaded file, or follow the instructions for installing it for your operating system here. http://download.openoffice.org/common/instructions.html

Read more..

7,000 Linux Guides for the Linux Laptop

TuxMobil has announced that the number of howto’s and guides on their site has more than doubled, with more than 7,000 Guides for the Linux laptop.

The TuxMobil project covers all aspects concerning Linux on laptops and notebooks. The number of free guides and how-to’s has more than doubled in less than three years, and more than 7,000 links to Linux laptop and notebook installation and configuration guides are now listed at TuxMobil.

Congratulations to TuxMobil on their hard work and dedication.

There are many of you out there who are looking to make a change from your current Windows operating system to the Linux operating system. Some of you may have doubts, many of you most likely have questions before taking the plunge. I’ll try to point you in the right directions before you switch from Windows to Linux.

Back up your important files

You’ll want to back up all important Windows files including documents, media, bookmarks, application settings, etc. Throw everything on a USB key, CD/DVD, or an external hard drive.

Grab a live CD of the distribution you are going to install

A live CD will allow you to ensure that your hardware is compatible with the Linux distribution as well as give you a feel of the desktop usability. You should be able to gather if the distribution you choose is right for you by running the live CD. However, not all Linux distributions contain a Live CD version, so be sure to check if the Linux distro you are choosing has one available.

Determine what functionality you will need

If you are a normal user who mostly enjoys browsing the web, using e-mail, chatting with friends online, and using media, then Linux is a great option. If you enjoy playing popular computer games, you want to check with Cedega to see if your favorite game is compatible before you switch from Windows to Linux.

Check out Distrowatch

Distrowatch has a variety of useful information from user reviews of many Linux distributions as well as the current most popular distros.

Check out Wine and CrossOver Office

Wine is an open source application that allows you to run a variety of Windows applications. CrossOver Office is similar, and built on top of Wine to give the user an easier experience in installing and using the Windows applications on your Linux desktop. Be sure to browse through the compatibility list before assuming your favorite Windows application works with CrossOver Office.

Understand basic Linux commands

You can’t always rely on the beauty of the desktop with most of todays Linux distributions. What if X crashes and you’re sent to the command line? Rather then rebooting, check out this site for a straight forward guide on some of the basic Linux commands.

Read the article Alternatives to Windows Programs

Also check out Open Source Alternatives and The Linux Alternative Project.

Read the article 20 Must Read HOWTOs and Guides for Linux

This article is very useful to new and old Linux users and contains a variety of quality guides gathered throughout the years.

Can you think of any other tasks to complete before making the switch to Linux? Leave your ideas in the comments.

Photoshop CS2 on Linux

If you’re tired of using GIMP to edit images, or you recently switched to Linux and still are stuck on using Adobe Photoshop, it’s still possible using Wine.

Check out this detailed guide on installing Photoshop CS2 on Linux with wine.

5 Reasons your parents should NOT use Linux

This is a devils advocate post in response to my original post:

5 Reasons your parents should use Linux

Though my original post intended to explain 5 reasons you should switch your parents to Linux, this post will address what many people have commented on in the past few days. 5 reasons why you should NOT switch your parents to Linux. I still stand by my original post in that I feel Mom and Dad running Linux is a better alternative if all they simply do on the computer is everyday tasks such as browse websites, e-mail, word processing, etc. If there are restrictions that tie someone to using Windows, theres no need to switch your parents to Linux.

  1. Applications
  2. Lets face it, there are some parents that insist on using certain applications that are strictly made for Windows and just do not function properly in Wine. Some parents do not want alternatives to Windows applications, they want the same application Uncle Joe uses to manage his bank accounts regardless of the cost.

  3. Look and Feel
  4. There are a good majority of parents out there that will look at the Gnome, KDE, or any other desktop GUI and not accept the “change” of it being different than Windows. It’s a sad but true statement to say that some people just can’t stand change. Sure, there are themes available that can make the desktop window manager look like a Windows desktop, but really, is it worth it?

  5. Usability
  6. What happens when Dad goes to Wal-Mart and buys this cool computer game he saw on sale? He’s not going to be able to simply pop in the CD and install it. The usability of Linux definitely has its restrictions. The biggest one being that Linux is still not completely mainstream enough for you to tell your Dad that if he buys a computer application or game to check the back of the box and ensure that it works on Linux. Even if you did tell him to do that, 98% of the time the boxed product will likely not support Linux.

  7. Support
  8. If you’re not living at home with your parents there may be some things that are just too complex or difficult to support or troubleshoot over the phone. Mom and Dad can’t simply call the neighbor over to help fix their desktop issue because chances are when he gets there he’ll look at the GUI and become confused.

  9. Learning Curve
  10. Many parents are content with the fact that they had to adapt to this whole new age of technology as it is. There are some of us out there that just can’t convince their parents that this “Linux” operating system is worth re-learning everything they have come to know on Windows.

Changing your parents from Windows to Linux can have its advantages, but when you have to explain to Mom that she can’t use this application, and Dad can’t use that application, they might not accept the idea. Your parents should NOT use Linux if they have applications that tie them to Windows, can’t agree to accept changing to alternative Linux applications, and are not willing to relearn a few things.

5 Reasons your parents should use Linux

It’s no secret that tech-savvy computer users typically become the go-to guy for all technical help in their circles. More specifically, Mom and Dad tend to always ask us for help with their computers. If you’re tired of the phone calls from Mom and Dad complaining on how sloooww their computer has become, how fast it used to be, how many pop-ups there are, etc., spending hours upon hours fixing and repairing, re-installing and scanning, then this post should convince you with 5 reasons why your parents should use Linux.

  1. Security
  2. The most obvious and important reason your parents should run Linux is the security the Linux operating system provides. While many of us tech-savvy computer users have little to no problems surfing the web and staying connected 24/7 without running into viruses and spyware, it’s almost inevitable for a non-savvy Internet user [read: majority of moms and dads] to stumble across a virus or malware on a website or in an e-mail. Linux is well known for the safety and security of browsing the web without the worry of the popular viruses that plague a good portion of the Internet. The main reason being that virus and malware developers stick to Windows due to its popularity and worldwide reach.

  3. Cost
  4. Why should your parents have to pay money for an operating system and additional applications when there are hundreds of Linux alternatives that can do the same things they probably need for absolutely free? The GNU General Public License (GPL) gives users the freedom to change and share free software. This is where GNU/Linux derives from. Mom and Dad shouldn’t have to fork out upwards of $300 just for the basics of an OS. Linux is free and widely available, it should be a no-brainer.

  5. Hardware
  6. One great aspect of Linux is that it works well with old hardware. Many times I’ll find that a lot of my friends parents have older model computers. They are brainwashed into thinking that in order to get off Windows 98, or Windows ME, they need to upgrade their whole system so they can install Vista. Linux works great on old machines – don’t even think about installing Vista on your Moms old 386, it just won’t work.

  7. Administration
  8. Administration of a Linux machine involves little to no work. If you chose to install Ubuntu Linux on your parents computer, they most administration they would have to do is click yes to install the updates when the Update Manager prompts them to. As an additional plus, for us savvy Linux users, if we needed to, we can open up SSH with a port forward and log into our parents computers remotely if needed. Additionally, I’ve had Linux computers that have literally sat turned on for years in a closet with very minimal administration. Linux just works.

  9. Dell
  10. You no longer can use the excuse that when you install Linux on your parents computer, it doesn’t work “out of the box”. With the semi-recent Dell and Canonical partnership you now have an option of buying a computer or laptop that comes pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux.

Alternatives to Mom & Dad’s Windows Applications

Below are a few alternatives to some common Windows applications that Mom and Dad may frequently use. For a more detailed list, see Alternatives to Windows Programs, Open Source Alternative, and The Linux Alternative Project.

Windows: Internet Explorer
Linux: Mozilla Firefox

Windows: MS Outlook
Linux: Mozilla Thunderbird or Evolution

Windows: Solitaire
Linux: AisleRiot Solitaire

Windows: ITunes
Linux: Banshee or Amarok

Windows: MS Word
Linux: OpenOffice.org

What do you need to do?

Step 1. Head over to the Ubunutu download site and download the latest Ubuntu Desktop ISO image.

Step 2. Burn the ISO image to a CD-R.

Step 3. Bring the CD-R to your parents house.

Step 4. Back up any necessary files on your parents computer.

Step 5. Place the CD-R in your parents CD-ROM drive.

Step 6. Reboot the computer.

Step 7. Install Ubuntu by following on screen instructions.

Step 8. Reboot after installation is complete.

Step 9. Enjoy the fact that your parents will stop bugging you to fix their computer. Instead you’ll get calls from mom asking Linux questions – isn’t that awesome?

Howtoforge has a nice user submitted article explaining the steps it takes to install Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (LAMP) on Ubuntu for beginners. The article includes installing apache, testing the apache install, installing PHP, testing the PHP install, and installing and configuring MySQL.

Check it out here.

Getting started with GRUB

Chad Files over at Linux.com has a great introduction article on installing and configuring GRUB (the GRand Unified Bootloader).

Also included on the sidebar is how to boot from a USB drive using GRUB.

Go check it out!

The Best Linux Security Tools

You can never be too safe these days. Viruses, spyware, rootkits, remote exploits, you just never know what security issue is going to be your downfall. That’s why it is important as a Linux administrator to have an understanding of some of the best Linux security tools available to you. In this article, you will learn about ten of the best Linux security tools, and resources on how to use them to your advantage.

  • Nmap Security Scanner
    Nmap, which stands for “Network Mapper” is a free open source utility that allows you to explore and audit a network. From the website: “Nmap uses raw IP packets in novel ways to determine what hosts are available on the network, what services (application name and version) those hosts are offering, what operating systems (and OS versions) they are running, what type of packet filters/firewalls are in use, and dozens of other characteristics.”
    For Nmap installation documents, go here.
    There is a very useful tutorial here on the numerous scan types Nmap allows.
    This PDF is a great print-out reference that includes all of the major Nmap options.
  • Nessus Vulnerability Scanner
    Nessus is a vulnerability scanner that probes your network machines against an up-to-date security vulnerability database, alerting you of security holes, with detailed analysis on how to fix each hole. From the Nessus website: “Nessus is the world’s most popular vulnerability scanner used in over 75,000 organizations world-wide. Many of the world’s largest organizations are realizing significant cost savings by using Nessus to audit business-critical enterprise devices and applications.”
    See an example scan report here.
    For Nessus installation documents, go here.
    A nice technical guide to Nessus can be found here.
    The Nessus knowledge base is here.
  • Clam AntiVirus
    ClamAV is a GPL anti virus toolkit. The main purpose of ClamAV is the integration with mail servers, but can also be used to scan files for viruses on the command line. It provides a flexible and scalable multi-threaded daemon, a command line scanner and a virus database that is kept up to date. The most popular use of ClamAV is on a mail server, tied in with a anti-spam application like Spam Assassin.
    For installation help, go here.
    The Clam AntiVirus wiki can be found here.
    This PDF document covers all you need to know about ClamAV.
  • Snort
    Snort is one of the greatest weapons you can have in the fight against intrusions. Snort is mainly used in three different ways: as a packet sniffer, a packet logger, or as a complete intrusion detection system (IDS). From the website: “Snort is an open source network intrusion prevention system, capable of performing real-time traffic analysis and packet logging on IP networks. It can perform protocol analysis, content searching/matching and can be used to detect a variety of attacks and probes, such as buffer overflows, stealth port scans, CGI attacks, SMB probes, OS fingerprinting attempts, and much more.”
    The official Snort users manual can be found here.
    For a very complete comprehensive list of documents, go here.
  • Chkrootkit
    Chkrootkit is a tool designed to locally check for signs of a root kit on your Linux machine. “Root kits” are basically files that can hide on your machine after a break in that allow the attacker to gain access to your computer in the future.
    This PDF explains adding chkrootkit to your auditing arsenal.
  • Tripwire
    Tripwire is a security and data integrity tool useful for monitoring and alerting on specific file change(s) on a range of systems. Basically, tripwire has the ability to alert you when files have been modified on your system.
    A comprehensive guide to implementing tripwire can be found here.
    This is a nice howto on setting up tripwire.
  • Rootkit Hunter
    Rootkit Hunter is a great tool for analyzing and monitoring the security of your systems. Like Chkrootkit, this tool also checks for rootkits that may be hiding on your machine, as well as other tools on your system that may be potentially dangerous.
    A detailed guide on downloading and installing Rootkit Hunter can be found here.
  • Kismet
    From the website: “Kismet is an 802.11 layer2 wireless network detector, sniffer, and intrusion detection system.” If you have a wireless network, or travel with a laptop, this security tool is a must have.
    This Kismet readme covers just about all you need to know.
    There is also a lot of useful information located within the Kismet forums.
  • Shorewall
    Shorewall is a very powerful and flexible firewall that utilizes iptables and Netfilter. Very flexible configuration allows the firewall to be used in a wide variety of firewall/gateway/router and VPN environments.
    The Shorewall Installation document can be found here.
    Here is a quick start guide to using Shorewall.
    Shorewall Features can be found here.
  • Ethereal (Now called Wireshark)
    Wireshark is a very popular network protocol anyalizer that has a varaiety of security features including a packet browser, live capture and offline analysis and more. Basically, Wireshark captures packets going across the network and displays them to you with as much detail possible. From the users guide: “You could think of a network packet analyzer as a measuring device used to examine what’s going on inside a network cable, just like a voltmeter is used by an electrician to examine what’s going on inside an electric cable (but at a higher level, of course).”
    Here is the Wireshark users guide.
    The Wireshark wiki is here.

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse at ten of the best Linux security tools, it is up to you to install them and put them to use in your network environment.