Switching my OS full time to Linux/ Backbox

Switching my OS full time to Linux/ Backbox

Henry Dalziel | General Hacking Posts, Latest InfoSec News, Pentesting Distros | December 11, 2012

OK! I’ve decided to make the FULL transition over to use Linux as my main daily operating system. Like you, I am sure that you spend way too much time in front of your monitor or monitors, and since we work in the security business and I often crank open a linux pentesting distro – I have finally decided to go ahead and make the switch – permanent.

I used to dual-boot Backtrack 5R1 and Windows7 Ultimate. This worked great but I can’t help but feel like I’ve got two adoring admirers when all I want is to be monogamist. Boring I know, but….that’s just the way it is.

So which pentesting distro do I make my new home in?

Well…drumroll….the answer is Backbox! I posted a pretty lengthy post on ethical hacking distributions a while back that received lots of comments – and having played with several of them, I just find that Backbox fits my most precious needs.

I love Backtrack and it feels all so familiar, but there are really two main things that made me choose Backbox. First off, both Backtrack and Backbox are based on Ubuntu (with Gnome) which is great, but for some weird reason the latest version of Backtrack 5R3 won’t work on my machine – I think it’s a chipset or motherboard thing and I really haven’t got the time to play with the kernel to solve the issue. (I have Intel Core i5 520M @ 2.40GHz running on my Panasonic Tough book).

Anyway – I digress – the main reasons why I chose Backbox are: firstly, because Backtrack 5R3 doesn’t work on my machine as mentioned (I just get the black screen of nothingness) and secondly, because Backbox is by default run outside of sudo/ root. If I am going to use the machine and distro as my main system (i.e. checking emails, editing code, uploading documents via SSH or FTP, tweaking images etc) then I shouldn’t really be in root mode. Backtrack by default runs everything in root, Backbox doesn’t. Also, I should mention that I really like the design and “out-of-the-box” feel of Backbox. But, with Backbox being an Italian project – we would expect nothing less than beautiful design. In fact, this is the guy that heads the development – Raffaele Forte – @raffaele_forte

Another thing – Backbox just worked right-away. The system picked up my sound card and everything else – i.e. nothing had to be tweaked – so that just saves a bunch of time. I had to spend considerable time tweaking things with Backtrack, but again, that is likely because I do have a weird machine – a Japanese laptop (bought in Japan, i.e. keyboard is in Japanese) that is not really high-spec – its more designed for toughness.

To make the transition to just one operating system and one distro – I needed VMWare or Virtual Box to run things like Dreamweaver (until I make the switch to Komodo) and Adobe Fireworks (which is basically like Photoshop but for web images). Yes! I know – I can use GIMP, but I just don’t have the time or bandwidth to learn that now….when I do then I will even ditch the virtualization. The only program that I was worried to leave behind since it seems to run best in a windows native environment was CloudBerry – which is like Filezilla and able to manage Amazon S3 buckets. But no fear – I discovered Disk Dragon which seems to work perfect on Ubuntu/ Backbox.


My thoughts, and these are just mine, is that Backtrack is excellent but probably best run as persistent USB or via live CD – primarily because you are always in root mode. If you want to combine your email and daily functions, in my opinion, it’s better to be out of root. Maybe you completely disagree! Let us know in the comments below or do you have any comments regarding our top ten pentesting distro’s? (This list has actually become the top twelve due to useful comments that were made to the post).

  • pritesh

    really nice post. i recently discovered of the backbox and other pentest OS blackubuntu and was searching around to see which is better as i found backtrack to be really ustable and not usable for me as i am kind of doing all round things on my OS and i like it to seem mine only as customization is really rare in backtrack i would like to know if blackubuntu or backbox would suit me ? as i like it to look out of this world and armed. 😉

    • I had exactly the same experience as you. I am really pleased with Backbox – its really worth you having a look at it. The good thing about backbox is that is runs with XFCE which I was unfamiliar with but am really enjoying – its lightweight and just seems to work really well. I’d say that Backtrack is best run from as a live distro and backbox is more for day-to-day use. I spend a lot of time having to fix things with Backtrack but with Backbox – well, it just works!

      In fact I am using backbox is my daily machine. If you need any windows programs then just run them through virtual box which again works great. So summary – yes definitely try backbox. The support community is pretty decent as well – let us know how you get on! Thanks – Concise Team

  • H***********h

    You just managed transform a hardcore NodeZero addict into Backbox user..

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you are liking BackBox. I am curious about Kali Linux though! BackBox is completely part of my daily routine so I certainly won’t be making the switch over to Kali but it does also seem like a great distro, especially since they have completely revitalized the problems like fixing drivers and wireless connectivity issues etc.

  • Robert Smith

    I have two hard drives for my ThinkPad T510. Being on a corporate network, the Windoze drive takes up to 5 minutes to boot. With, BackBox, I’m up and running on the corporate network in less then 30 seconds and it does more stuff faster than Windoze. I find myself not using the Windoze drive very much. I threw on LibreOffice and tn5250. I use it for everything. Great job. Highly recommended.

    • 100% agree. It must be the XFCE environment that makes the boot time so fast. I’ve had my laptop on for days on end and it never fails. I remember do an update with the old BackTrack it was a wing and a prayer that it all worked afterwards.

  • Henry great article. Couldn’t agree more. Love BB3. When I make a goof on BB3 it doesn’t take hours for me to rebuild and do my tweakz to it. About an hour and half to be honest. That’s what allows me to keep learning and not get overwhelmed as much. BB3x64 runs solid on my HP Probook 4430s with hdmi out to the big screen. Thanx again for a great article.


    • Hi! Thanks for your comment and really great to hear your enjoying BB – i completely agree about the fact that you don’t have to spend hours tweaking. When I first started using Ubuntu back in the Hardy Heron days of 2008 it became normal to have to spent A LOT of time trying to figure out the sounds problems, driver issues etc etc. BackBox just seems to work. Thanks again for your comment!

  • wardana

    Hi nice info, you know I just install Backtrack 5r3 but it’s have a lot problem. and i just found your post. I think I will try backbox 🙂

  • huh,who?

    i,m going to try backbox,thanks for your article 🙂

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