Monday, September 20, 2010

Time For a New Computer? With Linux Maybe You Don't Need It.

According to this article on wikipedia.org, "As of the end of August 2010, Windows XP is the most widely used operating system in the world with a 53.1% market share".

Now that's a lot of computers! And as a technology expert, I know my way around computers, and I also know Windows XP. And something else I really know, is how SLOW any Windows computer gets over time. It's like this disease sets into the Windows(often in a matter of just months) that just sucks the life out of it. This is a very nasty, and terribly debilitating disease. It can slow your progress to a stand-still, and it can add excruciating pain to your digital life. Logging in takes forever, programs are slow to start, the task-bar and startup process become riddled with junk, and your system becomes a real dog.

While often this terrible performance is just the rot that Windows suffers over time, in a significant number of cases - the slowness can be caused by other means - like malicious activity. Consider this for a moment... How would you like to find out that your computer has been a spam-spewing email server, controlled by evildoers from the other side of the planet? Sound good? Your Windows computer could be, right at this moment, being controlled remotely as part of a botnet of hundreds, or perhaps thousands of other zombie computers that are used by the world's best crackers to attack other computers all around the world? Or, perhaps the malicious software installed on your machine right now, is recording your every keystroke, passwords, private messages, everything - with a keylogger. Sound nice? Sound like something you bought your computer to be used for? Not to me it doesn't. Not no but HELL NO! I'm not trying fear monger here, really, I'm not. But this nightmare can be true, particularly and statistically and especially if you are using Windows as your operating system.

Now you could go to your nearby computer store, and purchase some type of system utility or anti-malware software to try to fend off the bad guys. But as a computer professional of more than a decade, I don't recommend it. In fact, I believe this software is a wast of your hard-earned money. Especially with the advent of zero-day viruses and rootkits. There is a better way... and guess what? It's FREE!

Ever noticed how windows takes so long to boot up, and so long to login? With GNU/Linux, you will not have that problem anymore. The latest Ubuntu GNU/Linux is built to boot up very fast, and to get you up and running ASAP.

Most people who experience this end up thinking, "well, I guess it's time to buy a new computer". But this can be expensive. And I bet that even if you buy a new computer, it will come preloaded with a bunch of crapware that will slow down your computer, similar to what your last computer started off with.

I'm here to tell you, there's a better way. There's a better way to make your OLD computer faster, to run your computer without having the malware infections and remote hackers controlling it, to get back the speed that you once enjoyed, and to take ownership of your computer back. The better way is GNU/Linux. GNU/Linux is all around us, from Google.com(and most of the web) to your local school library, from TVs to Cars, from Scientific Research to Hollywood (e.g., Shrek (and many more)).

So hold off on buying that new computer. Give GNU/Linux a try first. Go to ubuntu.com or fedoraproject.org and download the latest "LiveCD". Then, download infrarecorder, a FOSS iso buring program, and burn your new Linux distro to a cd disk. If you'd rather start with a USB thumb drive, checkout unetbootin.

Boot your old computer to the Linux LiveCD of your choice, check to see if everything works, and if it does shut it down and start planning your next steps. First of all, take a good backup of your important data to usb drive, or cd disk, or even upload it to Ubuntuone, Dropbox, or other free online storage. At this point, with Ubuntu - you could even install it inside windows - just pop the disk in after you have logged into windows and run the setup. Otherwise, if you are all set to move forward with your regular GNU/Linux install, see my next blog entry for some considerations and an overall plan.

Are you ready to get a faster computer? With GNU/Linux, you're on your way.



Cheers!
Shannon VanWagner
09-20-10


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How To: Tether Windows to the Internet via your Android


First Things First

The first article I wrote about this subject was for Tethering your GNU/Linux machine to the Internet via your Android. That article has been visited and proven to be useful by many, many visitors, including callout  from this story at hak5.org

As for this entry, I decided to write it for two main reasons. 1.) I wanted to see how easy it would be to use FOSS tools to connect windows to the Internet via the Android, and 2.) Some friends and co-workers of mine have asked for the windows version of the tethering instructions. By documenting this process, IN NO WAY do I endorse using windows as your primary operating system! 

Let me be clear... My suggestion is that you use GNU/Linux instead of any other operating system! I say this because GNU/Linux is the only truly Universal Operating System and therefore it’s vastly superior to other operating systems that are available today. And now that I have your attention, please take some time to learn about how you can truly be enabled by Free Software, and by the GNU/Linux operating system by visiting these links: gnu.org | fsf.org | linux.com | getgnulinux.org | ubuntuguide.org | whylinuxisbetter.net | distrowatch.com | makethemove.net | livecdlist.com | thedocumentfoundation.org ubuntu.com(you can install Ubuntu Linux inside windows). You really should set yourself FREE and be truly enabled with technology. Do this by using GNU/Linux/FOSS! Furthermore - A gigantic THANK YOU goes out to all the wonderful humans in the world for making GNU/Linux/FOSS possible for everyone on the planet to benefit from. Because of you, we truly are Riding Upon the Shoulders of Giants. Your works are immensely appreciated!
-Shannon VanWagner




Now for the details on how to get connected to the Internet via your Android with windows.

Note: This tutorial assumes you are running your computer with administrative privileges, if this doesn’t apply to your situation, you may have to launch the “start.bat” executable (in step 10 below) as a user with administrative privileges for it to work. Also, I’ve only tested this process using windows xp. Feel free to leave any comments about your experiences at the end of this post.


1.) First, install azilink (credit) on your Android by launching the link below from the phone.
Note: you may have to put a check by Settings > Applications > “Unknown Sources - Allow installation of non-market applications” before you can install azilink. If this is the case, be sure to go back and disable that setting after you’re done installing azilink.
http://lfx.org/azilink/azilink.apk


2.) Download the Android SDK Installer for Windows and extract it to a directory (e.g., “%userprofile%\android-sdk-windows” folder) http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html


3.) With Internet connected, launch the “SDK Manager.exe” program from within the extracted Android SDK folder from step 2 above. Then click to select “Available Packages” from the “Android SDK and AVD Manager” window. Next, you’ll expand the https://dl-ssl.google.com... site by clicking the “+” on the left of it, place a checkmark next to “Usb Driver package, revision 3”, then click “Install Selected”. Accept the license and click Install to download the usb drivers. This process will create a folder named “usb_driver” in the same folder where the “SDK Manager.exe” is (e.g., “%userprofile%\android-sdk-windows\usb_driver” ). Close the Android SDK and AVD Manager after you’ve downloaded the drivers.


4.) Now, modify the “%userprofile%\android-sdk-windows\usb_driver\usb_driver\android_winusb.inf” installer file per the instructions below to include the Droid Incredible drivers reference (credit) (or other phones, TBD).
In the section labeled [Google.NTx86], add these lines at the end of the section:

;
;HTC Incredible
%SingleAdbInterface%        = USB_Install, USB\VID_0BB4&PID_0C9E
%CompositeAdbInterface%     = USB_Install, USB\VID_0BB4&PID_0C9E&MI_01
;
;Motorola Droid X
%SingleAdbInterface%        = USB_Install, USB\VID_22B8&PID_4286
%CompositeAdbInterface%     = USB_Install, USB\VID_22B8&PID_4286&MI_01


Then, under [Google.NTamd64] Add these lines at the end of the section:

;
;HTC Incredible
%SingleAdbInterface%        = USB_Install, USB\VID_0BB4&PID_0C9E
%CompositeAdbInterface%     = USB_Install, USB\VID_0BB4&PID_0C9E&MI_01
;
;Motorola Droid X
%SingleAdbInterface%        = USB_Install, USB\VID_22B8&PID_4286
%CompositeAdbInterface%     = USB_Install, USB\VID_22B8&PID_4286&MI_01




5.) Now, go to your Android and enable "USB debugging" via Settings > Applications > Development, and attach the Android phone to the computer via the USB cable. When prompted to install drivers for ADB, select the “%userprofile%\android-sdk-windows\usb_driver” (android sdk folder from step 2 above) so windows can see the android_winusb.inf installation file. The driver installation will then proceed.


6.) Install OpenVPN onto the windows computer. Download it from http://openvpn.net/index.php/open-source/downloads.html


7.) Place the azilink.ovpn configuration file in the “tools” folder of your extracted Android SDK directory,  (e.g., “%userprofile%\android-sdk-windows\tools”)(This is also where the adb.exe file lives). You can get the configuration file from https://github.com/aziwoqpd/azilink/blob/master/azilink.ovpn, or you can simply create a file in the tools directory, edit it to include the text below, then rename it to azilink.ovpn.

dev tun

remote 127.0.0.1 41927 tcp-client
proto tcp-client
ifconfig 192.168.56.2 192.168.56.1
route 0.0.0.0 128.0.0.0
route 128.0.0.0 128.0.0.0
socket-flags TCP_NODELAY
#keepalive 10 30
ping 10
dhcp-option DNS 192.168.56.1





8.) Now, navigate to your Android “%userprofile%\android-sdk-windows\tools” directory where adb.exe is located, then create a file with the text below and rename it to start.bat. At this point, my suggestion would be to create a shortcut to the start.bat by right-click-dragging it to your Desktop (or quicklaunch), then select “Create Shortcuts Here”. You can then rename the shortcut to something simple like “Tether” or whatever you like. This new shortcut will be what you use to launch the tethering process.

adb forward tcp:41927 tcp:41927
openvpn --config azilink.ovpn

pause




9.) Enable azilink on your phone by launching azilink (it’s the flying insect application icon), then put a checkmark by “Service active” so your Android can receive the tether connection.

10.) To connect your computer to the Internet via your Android, simply launch the “start.bat” executable via the shortcut you created in step 8 above. You will see the command window appear with some stuff happening and then the “Initialization Sequence Completed”. At this point you should be able to access the Internet. Note: in Firefox, you may have to uncheck “Work Offline” via the File menu before you can surf. Note: While the Android is tethered, a command window will be present, don’t close it because that will disconnect you. Simply minimize the command window to get it out of the way.

11.) To end your tethered connection, simply close the command window from step 10 above, then disable azilink on the Android phone.


Disclaimer: I do not offer any warranties for any information on this site, and I cannot be responsible for any damage you do to your computer after using the above steps. Furthermore, it is your responsibility to check with your provider to see if you need to pay an additional fee for using the tethering process covered in this article. By using these instructions, you assume all responsibility for any consequences of your actions. If the above configuration steps are too much for you, perhaps you should try PDANet by June Fabrics instead.

Cheers!
Shannon VanWagner
09-14-10 Updated 9-09-17