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Knoppix
Look mah, Linux!

www.knoppix.com

Knoppix is a cd boot of linux. It autoloads any window partition to access your files. Its fun to use if you wanna mess around with linux. I'm not familiar with any security holes in it, although I've heard a few stories. But who cares, if you run this baby on someone's computer you can access their data without having to even see the windows end.

One more reason to have password protected bios.

So called 'live' distributions of Linux are very cool because they provide you a completely functional operating system without touching the existing one on your hard drive (usually Windows). It's like a one night stand: You have your fun, and when your done, you go back to your normal life without any commitment and without anyone being any wiser. They are absolutely vital for doing things like forensics, security mishap recovery, and crash recovery, because they completely bypass the existing software security measures and allow you unrestricted access to the hardware on the computer. There's many 'live' distributions of Linux which you can download, burn to a CD, boot off of, and when your finished, take the CD out and reboot back into windows like nothing happened. Knoppix just happens to be a more popular 'general distrubution' targeted at desktop Linux users.

Password protected BIOS's however do NOT provide any security. If the person is able to drop a CD-ROM in your computer and hit the reset button, they are equally capable of shorting the BIOS Reset jumper on your motherboard. It also won't stop them from taking your hard drive out and sticking it in a non-BIOS-password-protected computer.

One of the rules of computer security is 'physcial' security. If the person in question has physical access to your computer, your computer is not secure from that person. Period.

Things like encryption can keep the person from reading your personal files, but it won't stop them from taking a large mallet to the hard drive. Denial of Service attacks (ie turning the machine off) is a real threat in terms of computer security.

Physcial security should not be dismissed with trivial solutions like BIOS passwords.

-Kevlar

Some of us even run it as a VM guest OS 'cause we use the utilities all day long and are too lazy or time stressed to install an OS, compile and install all the utilities we need, keep it updated, blah blah blah.

Kevlar speaks the truth.

One thing in particular bears repeating:

Quote: from Kevlar on 4:28 pm on Dec. 22, 2004[br]If the person in question has physical access to your computer, your computer is not secure from that person. Period.

Amen brother, amen.

If you're interested at -all- in computer security, allow me to toss in a shameless plug for the Internet Storm Center of which I am a part.

And if a complete graphical operating system for your machine which dosn't touch your existing operating system isn't cool enough for you...

Games Knoppix comes prepackaged with tons of games, AND 3d graphics card drivers.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the true power of open source/free software: Someone creates something cool to scratch an itch, and anyone else is free to take their work and scratch another itch with it.

Priceless.

-Kevlar

mmmmm one night stands.

anyway I hate windows but dont have the IQ to mess with linux so what else is there as an OS that might be good for people like me?

Uhhh... Linux?

No, really.

Don't dismiss it as 'overly difficult' without giving it a fair shot.

Go, get Knoppix, have yourself a one night stand, and them make an educated reply instead of "I'm too stupid."

If you think it's even slightly cool, give Mandrake a try. It's even cooler.

Don't, however, succom to the urge to try something like Debian. You'll hate it.

-Kevlar

Knowing Knoppix is a beginner-friendly, 134 page freely downloadable book (released under the GNU Free Documentation License in PDF format) designed to familiarize new users with the Knoppix LiveCD distribution, GNU/Linux in general, and (as listed first on the description) Windows disaster recovery using Knoppix.

If your someone who dosn't feel comfortable with doing something new without a book in front of you... well, here you go.

And it's free.

-Kevlar

Fedora's a good start, as is the above stated Mandrake.  I've been running Core2/3 for about ten months now as my primary OS, and though it hasn't always been easy, it's been a fun and interesting learning experience.  Never forget the fact that there is an entire community of people to whom you may turn in the event that you have questions.

It's called Slashdot  >=)

(J/K.)

It's called Fark.  No, wait.  Sindome.  

Anyways.  Have fun, and give me a holler if you ever get stuck on something.  If I don't know exactly what to do.  I can google it :-D

Night,
Grim