Friday, January 28, 2005

Which OS?

I used to have about 10 computers at home. It was combination between 2 Pentium 4 machine, 3 Intel notebooks, 1 Sun Cobalt, 1 Ultra 5, 1 AMD Duron machine, 1 Powerbook G4 and 1 Pentium II box.
Well, I'm not trying to show off here, and anyway I have removed most of them. Currently I have 'only' IBM T42 notebook, 1 P4 machine, Powerbook G4, Sun Blade 100 and the Pentium II box.

Why should I have more than 1 machine?
Because I used to search for immortality, hunted down the uncertainty, tried to stay at bleeding-edge technology by installing several OS in different machines and test them.

And what's the conclusion?
For normal desktop, office work and multimedia, I believe Mac OS X is the best. Panther has very beautiful aqua interface and at the same time offers BSD console, so it won't stop me installing tcpdump, snort, hping and all tools I need to run everytime I get bored.
My powerbook stays as the multimedia center until I get the cute-looking MAC mini.
So this is the OS that I would give to my wife and kid. Beauty and virus-free.

For security stuff, including wireless, I decided to install Gentoo dual-boot with WinXP in my IBM. Hey, the XP comes with my T42, so I keep them to make sure I get the OS that I (must) purchased with the notebook. Micro$oft still gets my money anyway, so why should I throw their OS away?
And most of my customers are still running Windows, so I still need this OS to check particular client software or for WPA configuration testing, for example.
I made 2G FAT partition so I can share the files between OS. Yes, guys, I know that the current kernel even can support read-write NTFS partition. Just as precautions.

Gentoo is good to make me stay at bleeding-edge. I have two main purposes with Gentoo: penetration testing tools (including wireless wardriving stuff) and intrusion detection analysis. Later when my skill is appropriate I want to use it as forensic as well.
Meanwhile I keep my Blade running Snort IDS to monitor my small network and at the same time acts as a place to compile necessary testing exploits.

How about *BSD? Well, I use OpenBSD as firewall to protect my personal lab. I love PF very much and this powerful OS can live in my Pentium II machine. Try to run XP on that machine!

Personally I love Debian as well. I have been using Woody and one of Sarge-based distro, Xandros, for about a year without any complaints. I like knoppix-std too. Live CD is a good concept to distribute security tools knowledge without installing the OS.
My brain is limited, so I have to focus. I decided to stick with Gentoo. Especially since Gentoo allows me to build the system (almost) from scratch. Btw, I have tried Linux From Scratch as well :)

Is it enough? Unfortunately no.
Corporate customers still stick with big name and stable vendors. Here comes Sun Solaris and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. That's why I still have one machine running Fedora and currently downloading Sun Solaris 10 iso CDs. Sight...

But that's the beauty of life. Everything is so different. Diversity.
And one thing for sure: open-source is bliss.

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