Ubuntu 17.10 – First impression

If you are a Linux user then you will more than likely be aware that Ubuntu 17.10 is just around the corner and there are some massive changes coming. Unlike previous version of the Ubuntu that has come with the Unity Desktop environment, this time they are mixing it up and are going to begin using the Gnome desktop environment as standard. ( You can currently use either Ubuntu Gnome or install the Gnome environment alongside unity) 

At first hearing about this I had some reservations because I was very comfortable within the Unity environment and had very little experience with the Gnome desktop, bar what time I had spend using it within Kali Linux. But after reading into why they have decided to cut the Unity desktop it makes sense. I mean would you spend the time creating and maintains something more or less from scratch when it is deployed on a very small percentage of machine that run your OS.

But again when reading that Gnome was going to be the default environment I was somewhat disappointed because of the ascetics, for those of you who use Gnome you might like the cold gray and blue that it styles it self with. But I’m a huge fan of how warm and nice Unity looks. Well from some screen shots I have you can see that although they are using Gnome they have managed to add that Unity flair to it. 

Take a look in the images below and let me know what you think in the comment section, and check this space for more information on Ubuntu 17.10

(Images from omgubuntu.com)

Reasons for Full Disk Encryption

To those who are unfamiliar with the concept of full disk encryption it is very simple, normal your computer or mobile devices will store data on a HDD (Hard Disk Drive) without the requirement for a password or any verification to access it bar maybe a password to log into the machine. And this is all fine and well in a lot of cases, your average user might simply use there laptop for basic web browsing or to use services such as Netflix or Gmail.

But for some users personal or sensitive information might be stored on the computer, meaning that if the devise was to be stolen then all of this information could be accessed and could potently have massive consequences. But by using full disk encryption it makes it almost impossible to gain access to the drive and therefore the information stored on it. The best part is you don’t need to be “tech-savy” or a “computer genius” to achieve this level of protection. And it is also a huge amount easier to achieve than it might sound.

Firstly there are a number off different methods to protect your computer with full disk encryption, this could be in the form of a downloaded application but most operating systems these days also allow the user the ability to use full disk encryptions.

Listed below are a few of the easiest options to secure your PC with full disk encryption

Bit Locker

Bit Locker is Microsoft Windows answer to full disk encryption, and was introduce with Windows Vista, but only on the higher tier packages such as professional and business. This could be a slight restriction to some users who have the home version of Windows.

But much it is a very effective and smooth process to encrypt your disk using Bit Locker, and with it being built it it is also very easy to set up and use. Unlike TrueCrypt this is ran through Microsoft, meaning constant updates and improvements to security and as a result making your data as safe as it can be.

TrueCrypt

Before Bit Locker was around full disk encryption was hard to come by, but there was an open source tool that gave users this ability. And this was TrueCrypt a very easy to use and secure full disk encryption software. That has unfortunately been unsupported since 2014. However your are still able to downloaded it, and even though it states on the website that you should migrate to Bit Locker I personally feel that for your average user that wants a little extra security it will still do an effective job. Largely due to the fact that if your devise was to get stolen, unless the thief was very technically able it would be incredibly challenging for anyone bar an expert to utilize the security vulnerabilities said to be within TrueCrypt.

TrueCrypt Disclaimer
Source – http://truecrypt.sourceforge.net/

 

Ubuntu Home Folder

If you are a Linux user then Ubuntu has you covered on the encrypted folder front, during the install process for Ubuntu you are given the option to password protect your home folder. If you opt to set up a password your home folder will then be encrypted requiring a password to access once logged into the system. It is really nice to see it in the installation stage as it means once your system has been installed everything is set up for you and you will not have to go and set it up after. Although if you use Ubuntu and didn’t do it during the start up, don’t worry about it because you can do it after while usng the system. There are guides to this on the official Ubuntu website.

 

In some cases there are different methods to unlock an encrypted drive, this could be done in a few different ways. One of the more popular is using a UBS drive as a decryption key. Meaning to access the encrypted drive the user will need to have access to the specific USB drive. This is very similar to using a key card to access the encrypted drive. In my opinion it is also a little bit more user friendly as you will not have to keep typing out what should hopefully be a lengthy and complicated password.

And one of my personal favourites is the use of biometrics such as a finger print scanner. These can be purchased online and with a little but of work in some cases, allows the user to have a scanner on the desk, and once a finger print is detected open the encrypted drive.

There are also other methods to be able to add secure sections to your files system, one I have a lot of experience with is use BitDefender. The BitDefender has an option to protect certain folders, Essentially setting up an encrypted location that requires a password to access, although it is not quite full disk encryption its a very easy and manageable way to secure some of your files. It also requires the user to select how much space is going to be need meaning that the area that you secure could be a large as you need.

 

Lenovo T400s: Ubuntu Machine Part 5

So after using the T400s as my daily driver for the past week I have found that the small screen is a slight limitation. Largely due to the fact that i tend to use it on a desk and have to lean in occasionally to see certain things.

Then I remembered that I had an old 21.5 inch monitor lying around somewhere, and I could find it then i would be able to utilise it in my set up. As part of the setup I modified an old file box that i had lying around by cutting 2 slits into it one on the front and another on the back. The purpose of this was to not only raise the T400s screen to around about the same level as the monitor but to also alow for me to attach a keyboard and mouse with out the being cables all over the place. I then found a USB hub that i placed within the box that the mouse and keyboard connected to. This mean that when the T400s was in the ‘Dock’ only one of the rear USB ports was being used.

When I connected the monitor I was unsure what would happen, as is the case with windows that you can occasionally be greeted by either an extended display or and extension of the primary display. But this wasnt an issue, as soon as the VGA cable was connected the monitor sprung to life and extended the desktop onto the monitor. This was a very pleasant experience as not only was i able to use a full size keyboard and mouse but for some graphical work i needed to do. So after using ubuntu across 2 screens and on more of a desktop based manner, I have the intention of installing Ubuntu to my main desktop PC that is currently running windows 10. This will of course be in the form of a dual-boot as im not yet ready to commit myself fully to ubuntu due to the requirement of specific software that i use not being available on Linux. But unless I need to use them certain application there is a high chance i will be using ubuntu because the dual screen felt smooth and clean.

 

Lenovo T400s: Ubuntu Machine Part 4

I have been using Ubuntu as my daily driver now for about 4-5 days, and i had not really had to touch on productivity applications and other utilities of this nature. When you install Ubuntu it comes pre-packaged with a nice free office suite called LibreOffice. I have only really touched on the word processing application and was plesentaly surprised. Although it does look rather basic in comparison to other office packages such as the most common Microsoft office.

It does how ever have all the features needed for a nice writing exsperiance, i have not written any large documents on it yet but feel it will be nice and accessible when it come time to write some larger reports. I have also been able to download drop box to my Ubuntu system, this was nice because i can back up all of my word documents and images to my dropbox starlight from the file directory on the system. This is great because it means I can use these documents on a number off different devices quickly and easily, but it also means that if I decided to uninstall Ubuntu to do a fresh install it won’t effect any of ,y documents.

I have been using my Ubuntu machine to write most of these blog posts as well and was surprised and deleted to find a WordPress as in the Ubuntu Software Center. This is basically just a port of the website, but it is nice to have your browser and blog software somewhat separate. I found this useful during research stages as to not keep clicking on word press. It works well as I said it’s just the word press website but it has a nice logo and fits well in the launcher bar. 

I am still finding my feet with Ubuntu and have not yet hit any limitations as to what I can and can’t do within it. And as I keep exsplorimg I will keep finding solutions to the issue I have.