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Linux / UNIX Desktop Fun: Let it Snow On Your Desktop

Feeling lonely this holiday season? Try Xsnow. This little app will let it snow on the Unix / Linux desktop. Santa and his reindeer will complete your festive season feeling with moving snowflakes on your desktop, with Santa Claus running all over the screen.
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Download of the day: OpenBSD 4.3

OpenBSD 4.3 has been released and available for download. From the announcement page:
We remain proud of OpenBSD's record of more than ten years with only two remote holes in the default install. As in our previous releases, 4.3 provides significant improvements, including new features, in nearly all areas of the system:

=> New/extended platforms

=> Hardware and driver support

=> Over 4,500 ports and much more

Download OpenBSD 4.3

Visit the offical project web site to grab installation media. You can also order CD from official web site.

The portupgrade command is used to upgrade installed packages via ports or packages. This is one of the tool you need to use under FreeBSD. However, recently, it give me out following error on FreeBSD r6.2-p10-amd64 bit:
missing key: categories: Cannot read the portsdb!
/usr/local/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8/portsdb.rb:567:in `open_db': database file error

The solution is pretty simple tp fix this error, enter:
# rm -f /usr/ports/INDEX*.db /var/db/pkg/pkgdb.db
# pkgdb -fu
# rm -rf /usr/ports
# portsnap fetch && portsnap extract && portsnap update

Next find out current portupgrade version:
# pkg_info | grep portupgrade
Sample output:

portupgrade-2.4.3_2,2 FreeBSD ports/packages administration and management tool s

# pkg_delete portupgrade-2.4.3_2,2
# cd /usr/ports/ports-mgmt/portupgrade && make clean && make install clean
# portupgrade -a

See /usr/ports/UPDATING file for more information.

PC-BSD review

FreeBSD logo

PC-BSD is a Unix-like, desktop-oriented operating system based on FreeBSD.
The main aim is to be easy to install programs by using a graphical installation program, KDE - pre-installed graphical user interface.

PC-BSD does not use ports style package management, instead it use .pbi files. You can just double click on .pbi file to start installation wizard (just like Windows XP).

From the article:
Well, I thought it was about time I got around to doing this properly.

I've been using PC-BSD for approx. 10 Months so I've had enough time to see what life throws at me with it. My first install was 1.0 Release Canadate (RC) 1 and I currently run PC-BSD 1.2 (the current release) on my laptop and have a beta version of 1.3 installed on my desktop for testing. This will cover PC-BSD 1.2 and PC-BSD in general.

PC-BSD is primarly for desktops but makes a darn good laptop/workstation system. I won't cover installation details as this is changing in future versions and often reviewed. My reviews sole interest is in a End User perspective.


HowTo: Tunneling VNC Connections Over SSH

Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a desktop sharing system which uses the RFB (Remote FrameBuffer) protocol to remotely control another computer. It transmits the keyboard presses and mouse clicks from one computer to another relaying the screen updates back in the other direction, over a network.
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FreeBSD Enable Security Port Auditing to Avoid Vulnerabilities With portaudit

This is new nifty and long term demanded feature in FreeBSD. A port called portaudit provides a system to check if installed ports are listed in a database of published security vulnerabilities. After installation it will update this security database automatically and include its reports in the output of the daily security run. If you get message like as follows

Vulnerability check disabled, database not found

You need install small port called portaudit. From the man page:

portaudit checks installed packages for known vulnerabilities and generates reports including references to security advisories. Its intended audience is system administrators and individual users. portaudit checks installed packages for known vulnerabilities and generates reports including references to security advisories. Its intended audience is system administrators and individual users.

Install portaudit

1) Install port auditing (login as root)
# cd /usr/ports/ports-mgmt/portaudit
Please note that old portaudit port was located at /usr/ports/security/portaudit/.
2) Install portaudit:
# make install clean

===>  WARNING: Vulnerability database out of date, checking anyway
===>  Extracting for portaudit-0.5.12
===>  Patching for portaudit-0.5.12
===>  Configuring for portaudit-0.5.12
===>  Building for portaudit-0.5.12
===>  Installing for portaudit-0.5.12
===>   Generating temporary packing list
===>  Checking if ports-mgmt/portaudit already installed
===>   Compressing manual pages for portaudit-0.5.12
===>   Registering installation for portaudit-0.5.12
===>  Cleaning for portaudit-0.5.12

3) Fetch the database so that port auditing get activated immediately. By default it install a shell script 'portaudit' in /usr/local/etc/periodic/security/:
# /usr/local/sbin/portaudit -Fda

auditfile.tbz                                 100% of   47 kB  405 kBps
New database installed.
Database created: Wed Feb 27 06:10:01 CST 2008
0 problem(s) in your installed packages found.


  • -F: Fetch the current database from the FreeBSD servers.
  • -d: Print the creation date of the database.
  • -a: Print a vulnerability report for all installed packages

4) portaudit script automatically get called via FreeBSD's periodic (cron job) facility. So your database get updated automatically everyday.

Let us assume you would like to install a port called sudo. If it has known vulnerabilities it will not install sudo:
# cd /usr/ports/security/sudo
# make install clean

===>  sudo- has known vulnerabilities:
=> sudo -- local race condition vulnerability.
   Reference: &tt;http://www.FreeBSD.org/ports/portaudit/3bf157fa-
=> Please update your ports tree and try again.
*** Error code 1
Stop in /usr/ports/security/sudo.

For more information refer portaudit man page:
$ man portaudit