Sectoo--A Live Look at Gentoo

Monday Sep 11th 2006 by Rob Reilly
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Live Linux CDs are popping up all over the place. Mainstream distributions like SimplyMepis let you try before you install, as does Ubuntu and Linspire. There are also specialized distributions like Knoppix and Dynebolic. One Gentoo Linux-based distribution, called Sectoo, might also warrant a "live" look.

Live Linux CDs are popping up all over the place. Mainstream distributions like SimplyMEPIS let you try before you install, as does Ubuntu and Linspire. There are also specialized distributions like Knoppix and Dynebolic.

One Gentoo Linux-based distribution, called Sectoo, might also warrant a "live" look.

Anthony Rousseau, a native of France, created Sectoo so that penetration testers and consulting companies would have a toolbox designed to help them during their work.

"Another purpose may be for the network administrators who want to test their own network themselves and find security holes. White Hat Hackers can use it with the same purpose, and discover new vulnerabilities. And, anyone can take an old box, get the Sectoo Linux CD, and transform this box into an "out-of-the-box" intrusion detection system with Snort," Rousseau said. Check the list of network specific tools.

"I'm sure that other purposes can be found, let your imagination work!" he commented.

Rousseau wanted to make Sectoo Linux a lightweight system, in terms of minimal requirements. He said that 64MB or even 32MB of RAM should be enough to run Sectoo.

For a long time Rousseau liked Trinux and other "security related" distros. Unfortunately Trinux is no longer supported. Another problem was that he was always missing a needed tool or some of the tools just didn't work. "I also wanted to find a new challenge for myself and to learn some new things, explore different ways. That's what I try to do with Sectoo Linux, to be as much complete as possible. Since this is the very beginning of the story, there is still very much work to accomplish, but the challenge is very interesting."

Rousseau tried many distributions. He now uses Gentoo as his main OS, both for laptops and servers. It was natural for him to base Sectoo on Gentoo. Sectoo is not getting official support from Gentoo, although they are using their forum boards and bugzilla system. He said that this is quite sufficient, as the Gentoo forums are very reliable.

At the moment, Sectoo is only a "hobby among friends." The friends are not all that interested in making profits, but since they have some costs for hardware and test machines, all donations are certainly welcomed. He said that if Sectoo becomes a really big distro, the team might transform the "hobby" into a company, but this is not on the agenda, now.

The team has also set a priority of creating a "LiveUpdate" system for Sectoo. "We are thinking of a rsync system with a repository, just like Portage," Rousseau said. He also wanted to improve the graphical interface, make a better menu for Xfce, write all the manuals, and support their users. They are looking for someone who likes to write documentation.

Along with finding out about how Sectoo came to be and what the team had in mind for the future, I downloaded the distribution, burned it, then gave it brief whirl.

Downloading the 410 MB ISO file from the Sectoo website went without any problem. After burning the image onto a rewritable DVD, I was able to boot using my HP Athlon 64 Pavilion notebook.

Alt-F1 will let you watch all the drivers and services start up.

Eventually I received a root command prompt and logged in with a carriage return. I entered the usual startx, at the root command line, to bring up the Xfce window manager.

Sectoo was immediately able to find my built-in RealTek RTL8139 ethernet chip. Although I was hopeful, my Broadcom 4306 WiFi chip was not detected. Sadly, the situation happened with my USB powered D-Link DWL-122 WiFi adapter. Rousseau mentioned that ndiswrapper worked, but I simply didn't have time to get everything configured.

Keep in mind that this is a very early Alpha release and there are probably still a few glitches.

Normal services like SSH, Apache2, Snort, and Samba all started automatically.

Users will need to know their way around networking because I couldn't find any selections (on the desktop menus) to help in setting up wireless cards or restarting network services.

Using the 10/100 card, common programs like nmap, netstat, and tcpdump worked properly.

Users accustomed to seeing OpenOffice.org, Konqueror, or the KDE desktop will be a little out of their element.

Again, judging from the tool list, this distribution is definitely built for a niche group of security oriented users.

Overall the Xfce interface worked well and was fast, in spite of running from a live-CD. Firefox is always there to help find information, as long as your ethernet cable is connected.

Although the Sectoo team is just a handful of "friends," they show that anyone can take Open Source programs and create a useful live CD product, that scratches a specific itch.

If you are a security professional, with an emphasis on network testing, Sectoo might just fill your needs.

Download it and give it a try. If you like what Rousseau and his team have built, be sure to give them your support and feedback.

Rob Reilly is a consultant, trend spotter, and writer. He is a contributing editor for LinuxToday. He advises clients on mobile business computing and presentation technology integration. You can visit his web page at http://home.earthlink.net/~robreilly.

This article was first published on LinuxPlanet.com.

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