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).