FBI Rule 41

For those of you that don’t know, the FBI is trying to enact a rule in December, known as Rule 41, where they have the power to access any computer they wish, and it does not matter if they are doing anything wrong or not. They are receiving support from some branches of the government and none from others. What exactly is it though? Let’s go through some of the benefits and cons.

The Good

Before we go into the bad, let’s at least see what the changes could help bring. Here are some of the major benefits:

  • Using various methods in order to track criminals via things such as TOR (The Onion Router) and i2p.
    • Many of these individuals use tools to try to conceal their activities and can cut down on some of the issues surround illicit stuff.
    • Cut down on the illegal distribution of drugs and human trafficking as well. This is not a limited issue but a global one.
  • Ability to find terrorists before they attack.
    • Safety of the people argument can be used under this point.
    • Help reduce the issues surrounding some of these types of problems.

The Bad

Now, here are some of the things that can potentially go wrong with the changes:

  • Endangerment of victims.
    • Many individuals use things such as TOR to circumvent their governments (i.e. Cuba, North Korea, China, etc).
    • Many victims might be using TOR to try to communicate with the outside world in a safe manner and these individuals could be harmed.
    • Endangering lives at hospitals (see below). If medical staff can’t access records due to government interference, then it could be catastrophic.
  • Illicit accessing of certain records they shouldn’t be accessing.
    • Think hospitals for example.
      • Could slow down the accessing of vital information that many medical staff need. This is essential for their ability to function
    • Could create more issues when trying to do everyday activities like checking bank accounts as well.
    • People’s important documents could be “erased” against their will, and it could be essential for their school work.

My Thoughts

I can agree with the FBI on the following sentiment: cybercrime is a very real issue and a problem. It does need to be addressed in the world. Having the ability to properly be able to deal with these problems can help deal with also many of the social issues going on as well.

With that said, I think a different approach is more suitable and conducive for law enforcement to access these criminal’s computers and devices. While not a TOR user myself, I do believe in people’s rights to privacy. If two people want to use TOR to conduct private business, let them use it. They now have fear that they are going to be in trouble for doing so.

Installing OpenSUSE In VirtualBox

We are going to cover a tutorial teaching you how to install OpenSUSE Linux within a VirtualBox environment. First, download OpenSUSE Leap via the website:

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Clicking on the right will take you to a screen like:

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Go ahead and click on the install Leap. There are going to be options on this screen:

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I usually go for Bittorrent because it seems to be an easier/faster way to download with the Internet speeds in my area. The ISO version might be good if you want to wait 1 to 4 hours for it to download via your web browser.

Now, it is time to install VirtualBox. I have grabbed it via my Linux repositories (i.e. software packages for the distribution). On Linux, it can be done via the following commands:

apt-cache search virtualbox
sudo apt install virtualbox
On Fedora Linux (since I am on my Ubuntu machine and don’t have time to check), you can search for the package via dnf search virtualbox and install the appropriate package.

Launching VirtualBox should bring up a screen like this:

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Click that blue star at the upper left screen. It’ll bring up a screen like this (I’ve already filled the information in on this screen):

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Click the next and give it plenty of RAM. I gave it 2048M of RAM just to be safe. On the next 2 to 4 screens, I just left the default selections. On the screen that allows you to select the HDD (hard drive) size, I am going to select around 25 GB and finish the setup this way.

VirtualBox’s default screen should look like the following:

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Click on the green arrow and select the OpenSUSE iso that we downloaded from earlier. We are going to start the installation process. Select Installation and we are going to start installing. The screen is going to run through a few options and we are going to agree to the license that comes with the Linux distribution.

I did not select anything after that and just clicked next. We should be at the Selected Partitioning screen:

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I clicked the next button, agreeing to these changes. I selected my timezone and clicked next:

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We are now at the desktop selection menu:

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I selected GNOME (because that is a personal preference). KDE is also nice too. Let’s fill out everything for the new user:

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I made sure to disable automatic login. Some might like that, I don’t. We are going to be brought to the installation screen, so if everything looks good to you, click install and get going. It’ll take a while, but it should complete and be finished within an hour.

Thoughts on Choosing A Computer or a Laptop

Everyone has different needs when selecting their computer. Some need a powerhouse and others just need something that can get them by for the time being. This is something that most will have to look into before making their next purchase. Here are some considerations:

  • Are you planning on using a lot of programs at once? If so, don’t scrimp on the amount of RAM that you have on the computer. The more you have, the more likely you can run those programs without bogging your computer down.
  • Are you a movie or a song lover? Make sure your storage drive is large enough. Larger drives can store higher definition songs with ease and can also be big enough to hold those songs you like listening to as well.
  • Do you plan to be drawing? A touch screen might be a nice feature that allows you to be able to forgo the need for a drawing tablet. This could be especially useful if you are also seeking to use a drawing pen with the computer as well.
  • Do you plan on playing a lot of games? Then make sure that you get a laptop that has the RAM and storage for it, and maybe even invest in a laptop or a computer that has a discrete/dedicated graphics card for those nice fancy graphics! These might cost a little bit more than what others might like, but they can be well worth it.

In addition, when it comes to extras, make sure that they are worth the investment that you might make. Some of these are practically useless and will do nothing but bog down your computer’s speed. Others might be worth the investment if they can be used to protect your valuable data from prying eyes and theft.

Building a Kernel

This post is not geared towards the process of making a kernel, but rather the introduction to the kernel process as much as possible. It is designed to be as best of an introduction as it can be. Most Linux and Unix users are familiar with some of these basic instructions. There is a lot of information that surrounds this particular part of the OS and this is something that many individuals might find to be essential to know more about before they dive into building their own version.

What is a kernel?

In a nutshell, the kernel is what interacts with the CPU, or the central processing unit, of the computer. It translates all of the inputs and outputs, as well as several other elements into tasks that the computer can understand. There are several different types of processors, each with their own set of instructions and assembly version that could make it much easier to carry out these tasks.

Sample processors include:

  • ARM
  • 32 Bit Intel and AMD
  • AMD64, or 64 bit processor
  • Sparc
  • MIPS
  • PowerPC

Many of these can differ in some of the instruction sets that they have. A kernel is adapted to interact between these processors and the main parts of the OS, allowing the user to be able to carry out tasks that the computer can understand. The list of processors can extend far beyond what is provided here, each is unique.

Types of kernels

There are two major types of kernels that you can focus your efforts on:

  • Monolithic
    • All system services are interwoven into the basic set of instructions. Some say this is easier to debug and maintain. This is the primary kernel type behind many Linux distributions.
  • Microkernels
    • These kernels run some of the essential services in the user space, or the part of environment available to users. Everything is separated out accordingly. Several Unix kernels use this model as their kernel type.
Why Build Your Own Kernel?
  • First, to learn how the internals of an operating system works.
    • These are great for helping with learning how to build an entire system later on, especially useful you are looking into something like software engineering.
    • It’s also great to help with contributing to the community. You might find something that is a great issue and can help to fix it. You might find a better way to do something that can help many to develop better systems.
  • Second, performance tuning on a certain platform.
    • You might be interested in adapting a Linux distribution to run on a mainframe, and getting it perform rather well. Tuning this can make it easier if you are looking at being able to perform intensive tasks such as genome sequencing.
    • You might be able to strip out some of the unnecessary things. Many Linux distributions ship with services that might not be needed. Custom building a kernel might allow you to simplify a lot of this process and tasks that might not be needed.